State spared worst punishment by Sherman’s troops

” ‘The army burned everything it came near in the State of South Carolina,’ Major [James] Connolly concurred, ‘not under orders, but in spite of orders…. Our track through the State is a desert waste.’

“But, Connolly added, ‘Since entering North Carolina the wanton destruction has stopped.’ It was true…. North Carolina was not a part of the Deep South, was known to harbor significant Unionist sentiment, and had been one of the last states to secede [the last, in fact]….

“The abrupt cessation of the maelstrom that engulfed South Carolina formed one of the strongest proofs of the sense of discriminating righteousness that animated the Federal rank and file. For some it had an Old Testament flavor to it….”

— From “The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865” by Mark Grimsley (1997)


Soldiers in New Bern planted trees in the midst of war

“The city park movement, instigated by Andrew Jackson Downing, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in the 1840s and 1850s, demonstrated that Americans needed to balance city life with healthful interactions with nature….

“In the context of the landscape of war, which transformed forests into camp villages seemingly overnight and often seemed to wipe out all vegetation and animal life, soldiers sought to reinsert nature into their lives by planting flowers and especially transplanting trees.

“Ensconced in camp near New Bern, North Carolina, in 1863, George Troup and his brother, Charles, worked on two different tree transplantation projects….”

— From “Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War” by Megan Kate Nelson (2012)

Is anyone else startled to read of such a landscaping project in the midst of war? How long might the Troup brothers’ trees have survived?


Behind the lines, fighting malaria with whiskey

On this day in 1863: Private D.L. Day, Co. B, 25th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, writes in his journal at Hills Point on the Pamlico River:

“This being an isolated post and several miles from any commissary or sutler, the officers feared it would be terribly infected with malaria; having regard for the health and welfare of the men, they prevailed on our assistant surgeon, Doctor Flagg, to order whiskey rations.

“Up went the order and down came the whiskey, and now the order is to drink no more river water, but take a little whiskey as a preventive. This will prove a terrible hardship to the boys, but the surgeon’s order is imperative.

“Commanders of companies deal out the whiskey to their men, consequently, I deal out to mine, and when I wish to reward any of my braves for gallant and meritorious conduct, I manage to slop a little extra into their cups. That keeps them vigilant and interested and gallant. Meritorious conduct consists of bringing in watermelons, peaches and other subsistence, of which they somehow become possessed.”