6 October 1863: “Becky & Eliza were faithful and the Yankees called Becky “Secesh” because she told them she was not willing to leave her master.”

Item description: Entry, dated 6 October 1863, from the diary of Samuel A. Agnew.  He describes his escape of Union troops plundering his home and their attempts to free his family’s slaves. He also notes the cavalry’s “sweet tooth,” stating that they ate his mother’s pound cake and took all of her preserves.

[transcription available below images]

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Item citation: From folder 9, volume 7b of the Samuel A. Agnew Diary, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

October 6. As I anticipated the mule Dave is dead this morning.  Pa started Wile over to Mrs. Walts with a load of cane to have the juice pressed out by her mill.  But Wile returned before he got there with the news that that the Yankees were again in the neigh-borhood and that they were fighting over about Humphreys and after I heard this I myself heard the report of several guns in the direction of the Cross Roads.  Wile said Pa had gone on towards the Cross Roads to gather facts.  With the mules I with Wilse Neil and Erskine went to the thickets back of our fields.  About 10 heard a considerable volley as of a platoon fired.  I think in Tish-omingo bottom.  Occasional firing was heard on down the Pontotoc road.  This morning Pa was in a 1/4 mile of them in Tishomingo bot-tom and reports them stretches from Humphreys to Scotts.  At Hollands the rumbling of their waggons and the orders of the officers “fall in to the right” more distinctly heard.  After dinner I went [b]ack to the thicket having come home for the [d]inners, and lying a while in the woods rode [ov]er to aunt M.J.s and sat there a while and then returned to the mules (Worthy [with?] Watsons stock were near us).  Ike one of Watsons mulattoes came over and told us we might come in as the Yankees had gone below, but before we got up to start we heard the sound of numerous horse feet on the road leading from Uncle Josephs to my fathers (not more than two hundred yards NW of us).  This excited our serious attention and we all kept very quiet.  The mule Jake snorted frequently and I felt like I could almost cut his throat.  Wile crept up through the bushes to where he could get a glimpse of the road and came back and reported that a lot of cavalry was pass[ing?] along the road and he believed they were Yankees for they were too well dressed for our men.  He says one man have on blue pants and several blue coats. They were in great glee, laughing and talking.  We (Worthy, Wile & myself) then cautiously came up to the thicket in the back part of the field below the lane where we could see the lane and the lane was full of caval-ry men.  A covered waggon was just pas-sed through followed by troops dressed in black, the most of them, some however seemed to have on blue.  Those that seemed to be black was really blue I suppose.  Our idea was they were Yankees, but where had they come from, that was the mystery.  After they had pas-sed through Wile & I return to the mules. (Worthy had gone to Watsons to give notice of our fact.)  Wh[en?] we got to the mules we learnd that Worthy had returned and having received and that the cavalry we had seen were Hams men had gone with their stock home.  We could not think they was Hams men for we had seen them.  However we dispatched Erskine to the house on foot to ascertain facts.  He soon returned and reported that the Yankees were really there or rather had been but had gone up the Ripley road.  I then came over and find that we had been “visited” at last.  Pa had walked down to Watsons & Branyans and as he returned had heard the news Worthy took over.  He then came [home?] through the wood lot but being warned by Franky kept the bushes. at that time the yard was full of Yankees.  John Haddon happened to be here when they came up & they have taken him off as a prisoner.  They mounted him upon one of our old mules which we had left in the lot.  They rode all over the yard.  Several rode along the walk and sat on their horses in front of the portico.  Mother and the girls talked to them.  The Colonel was presented as Col. Heath of the 5th Ohio.  He regretted very much that he did not see the Doctor as he hoped , & Mother gave them all the victuals she had prepared and they stole a good many things, but noth-ing of much worth.  They took her fine knives and forks all her butter and every egg.  One fellow was in Pa and also Erskine’s trunks but we have missed nothing from them.  They were only in the dining room and Mothers sleeping room, they did not go up stairs, and did not plunder here like they did in some places.  They are a “sweet toothed” set.  They eat up Mothers pound cake with gusto all her preserves, taking the jars with them and breaking them when emptied, all the jellies in the safe, etc. etc. They drank up all the milk they could find, all in the place.  The negroes were still shucking corn when they came up and the Yankee advent was so unexpected that they could not get out of the way.  The little ones held their horses at the gate.  They asked them to come and go with them, but no one seemed disposed to accede to their invitations.  They had negroes with them.  Our negroes recognised Si-dulls John and Dobbins Harry.  John said he was doing as well as he wanted to.  The mules were the great object and they were vexed when they found them not here.  Mary heard a soldier report to the Colonel that he had been around the farm and had seen no mules.  They asked the negroes where they were and one even presents a pistol at the breast of Tom to make him tell but fortunately none of the negroes knew where they were.  Becky & Eliza were faithful and the Yankees called Becky “Secesh” because she told them she was not willing to leave her master.  All in all we have not suffered [as?] I expected we would have done.  They told the negroes that Pa had a fore-man who was out with the mules and they intended to kill him if they ever saw him.  It is wonderful how I did escape. To God alone am I a debtor for my deliverance.  To his name be all the praise.  Aunt M. J. tells me they came there when I had only a few minutes left and from the way in which they peered in this direction she thinks they got a glimpse of me.  She thought they would certainly overtake me but providentially I turned off the road just this side of the branch not thinking however of Yankees.  It was providential that they did not hear the mule Jake snorting as they came they examind the thicket and field below the lane, leaving the fence down in three places and I noticed one of their tracks (a shod horse) going down and up the trail back of the field.  It was providential that they did not meet up with us, nor we with them.  It was providential that Pa heard of the Yankees at Wat-sons, else he might have come right among them and been captured.  I cannot but see the hand of God in these deliverances Pa thinks that we have fared so well that the Yankees design another to-night and is in the thickets with us.  The day has been clouded and to night is rainy.

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