Yankee Atrocities
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Atrocities In North Carolina Page 1

Eliza Nutt Parsley Refugees at Floral College

“As the Yankee troops marched through . . . the counties, they set fire to the turpentine distilleries and barrels of tar along the trek, creating dense black smoke. Pine forests caught fire lighting their way at night. Early in March, Sherman’s men destroyed in Lumberton the bridge over Lumber river, otherwise known as Drowning Creek, in addition to the railroad depot and six boxcars. Shoe Heel [present-day Maxton], located on the railroad had only a depot and one old turpentine distillery at the stop, which was demolished.

The Reverend Hector McLean, at Edinboro Plantation, had most of his possessions stolen. The bummers must have thought they hit the jackpot because of the enormous bounty they took consisting of four mules, six horses, five cows, one hundred and twenty-four hogs, two-thousand bushels of peas, one hundred bushels of wheat, twenty bushels of rice, sixty-five hundred pounds of fodder, seven thousand pounds of bacon, sixty gallons of syrup, one hundred chickens, and twenty-five thousand fence rails.

Reverend McLean wrote “Antioch Church was greatly injured by Sherman’s army . . . our Sabbath School [library] either destroyed or taken away.” For unknown reasons, the Lumber Bridge Presbyterian Church was burned after visits from Union troops.

Beside the Humphrey/Williams/Smith Plantation stood the Raft Swamp Post Office. Used by local citizens first, the office swarmed with bluecoats when the Fourteenth Corps swept through, plundering homes in the area. Elizabeth Nutt Parsley [of Wilmington], wife of Captain [later Lt-Col. William Murdock] Parsley, [refugeed] in Robeson County at Floral College.

The school was closed for students, but remained open to accept refugees. While her husband was away, the enemy came and took twelve horses. The Yankees tried to persuade her slave, Uncle Titus, by bribing him with a pearl-handle knife to come away with them. He refused. While at Floral College with her family [in early April], Mrs. Parsley received news of her husband’s death [three days before Appomattox].

To make matters worse, she had to leave her refuge because Sherman’s men burglarized the interior. Another prominent refugee family from Wilmington, Dr. [John D.] Bellamy, stayed at the college. They ran from the Federals only to collide with them again at Red Springs. Bellamy’s daughters told after the war that their mother, in searching for food, scratched around in the ground for corn kernels dropped by the enemy’s horses while at Shoe Heel.”

G.R. Nye remembered as a boy when the Yankees were rumored to be coming. He said the family hid valuables in the walls, the silver over the porch, and the meat was placed in a niche over the top of the stairs. Diarist Robeson inscribed, “March 12, 1865 . . . the Yankees paid me a visit. They searched to house for arms and ammunitions took all my hams and bushel and half and left.”

(Blood and War at My Doorstep, North Carolina Civilians in the War Between the States, Volume II, Brenda Chambers McKean, Xlibris, 2011, pp. 995-996)

Despite claiming malice toward none and charity for all, the following is what Abraham Lincoln authorized and unleashed upon the American South. Young Jane Dickinson Cowan lived in Sherman’s path near Laurinburg, North Carolina, and later wrote: “My mother had a spoon in which she was mixing medicine for her sick children snatched from her, and she was obliged to mix it in her hand and put it into their mouths with her finger. They pulled the rings from her fingers as she was holding in her lap, and kicked the cradle in which the other one was lying, with the remark, “That one is dead already.”

The unnecessary killing of the animals was most assuredly done to starve the South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com The Great American Political Divide

Sherman’s War of Terror

“Like most Northerners, William T. Sherman profoundly misunderstood Southern “Unionism.” Upon entering North Carolina he issued an order to Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick that the cavalry chief “deal as moderately, and fairly by North Carolinians as possible, and fan the flame of discord already subsisting between them and their proud cousins of South Carolina.

Sherman’s admonition to deal “moderately” was generally ignored, and he must have quickly realized that these people were not about to embrace his Union. “Poor North Carolina will have a hard time,” the general wrote privately after a month in the State, “for we sweep the country like a swarm of locusts. Thousands of people may perish, but they now realize that war means something else than vain glory and boasting.”

Monroe and Wadesboro were among the first to “have a hard time” at the hands of Kilpatrick’s troopers. Episcopal bishop of North Carolina, Thomas Atkinson, was threatened with death if he did not give up his watch, horse and possessions. Another Anson County man was robbed of his watch and money, and the next band of Federals to arrive at his home demanded the very same items [and] killed him when he could not produce them.

At a nearby home Yankees chopped furniture to pieces with an axe and scattered feathers from pillows on a bedroom floor and then poured buckets of molasses and stirred thoroughly. Ten wagons filled with unlucky refugees were overtaken and their possessions captured.

Anson County native Esther Alden grieved about the suffering of her neighbors as well over what the Yankees did to the animals:

“It is like some horrid nightmare. When I shut my eyes I see nothing but creatures and human beings in agony. The poor suffering horses! Some fortunately dead and out of their misery, others groaning in death pains, some with disabled limbs freely hobbling about to glean a blade of grass; the cows and oxen slaughtered and left to rot! I counted eight beautiful calves lying dead in one pen; many times we saw two or three lying dead side by side!”

In Fayetteville the Yankees destroyed one thousand horses and mules they had no use for. There were two killing grounds: one a field on the bank of the Cape Fear River, the other a corral in town. It took hours to kill them all. Trying to run, some of the terrified animals plunged into the river. Most were left where they fell, with no effort made by the Federals to dispose of the carcasses as the troops abandoned the town.

A dozen miles outside Fayetteville, at the home of Duncan Murchison, Kilpatrick’s cavalrymen charged into the bedroom of a small girl desperately sick with typhoid. They were looking for items to steal but found nothing . . . Seventy year-old Mr. Murchison was dragged to the swamp and assaulted while vandals destroyed furniture, slashed family portraits, and poured molasses into the piano. The little girl died while the troopers were still in her home. Federal horses left a little uneaten corn on the ground, for that was all the family had to live on after the invaders moved on.”

(War Crimes Against Southern Civilians, Walter Brian Cisco, Pelican Publishing Company, 2007, pp. 163-165)

The Governor’s Coffin

Richard Dobbs Spaight (1796-1850), son of a Revolutionary War veteran who was also a member of the North Carolina Legislature, United States Congressman and delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, served as governor of The Old North State from 1835 to 1837.

He was born in New Bern, and prior to being governor, he served in the State Legislature from 1819 to 1822, and again from 1825 to 1834. Spaight was the last governor to be elected by the legislature, and was a member of the 1837 Constitutional Convention which transferred the gubernatorial election to popular vote. During the War Between the States, Northern occupation troops used the Stevenson House (corner Pollock & George Streets) in New Bern as a hospital for wounded soldiers.

In a truly unbelievable act of barbarism, “the body of Governor Spaight was dug up by Northern soldiers, the skull placed on a gate post, and the metal coffin used to send the body of a federal soldier back North.”

(A New Geography of North Carolina, Bill Sharpe, Sharpe’s Publishing Company 1961, page 1232)

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