“For many [in the ‘other South’] the past isn’t even past. In Warsaw, North Carolina, people giving directions for a back road route to Goldsboro commonly included the instruction to ‘turn left at Mattie Grady’s store.’ This store had been closed for years, and while the building was still standing, it took a close inspection to make out the faint outline of Mattie Grady’s name. To someone born and raised in Warsaw, it would always be Mattie Grady’s store, even when the store fell down.
“But… the growing number of people who have never farmed, the big city drug problem, the fleeing young people and the ubiquitous television culture do not bode well for such time capsules….”
–– From “Southern Culture: An Introduction” by John Beck, Wendy Jean Frandsen and Aaron Randall (2009)
On this day in 1865: A.O. Abbott, first lieutenant in the 1st N.Y. Dragoons, recalls the arrival in Goldsboro of a trainload of 700 fellow Union prisoners, these from Salisbury and Florence, S.C.:
“They had ridden all night in open flatcars, without a particle of shelter or fire. It was . . . a bitter cold, damp night, and, scantily clothed as they were, they had suffered beyond account. Three had died during the night, and were still on the train. Not one of them had a whole garment on, while nearly all were destitute of shirts or coats. A ragged or patched pair of pants, and a piece of an old blanket, constituted the wardrobe of the majority. Their faces were blackened by the pitch-pine smoke from the fires over which they had cooked their rations, while traces of soap and water were lost altogether. Hair and beard in their natural state. Yet all of this was nothing compared to their diseased, starving condition.
“In short, no words can describe their appearance. The sunken eye, the gaping mouth, the filthy skin, the clothes and head alive with vermin, the repelling bony contour, all conspired to lead to the conclusion that they were the victims of starvation, cruelty, and exposure to a degree unparalleled in the history of humanity.”