"Yes; our folks took lots of prisoners; more'n'll ever be heard of agin."
"What became of them?" asked the lieutenant.
"Sent 'em to Macon, double quick," was the laconic reply. "Got 'em thar in less'n half an hour."
"How did they manage it?" continued the lieutenant, in a tone that showed he understood Sam's metaphor.
"Just took 'em out in the woods and lost 'em", he replied, in his jerky, laconic way. "Ever heerd of losin' men, lady?" he added, turning to me, with an air of grim waggery that made my flesh creep - for after all, even Yankees are human beings, though they don't always behave like it.
"Yes," I said, "I had heard of it, but thought it a horrible thing."
"I don't b'lieve in losin' 'em, neither, as a gener'l thing," he went on. "I don't think it's right principul, and I wouldn't lose one myself, but when I see what they have done to these people round here, I can't blame 'em for losin' every devil of 'em they kin git their hands on."
"What was the process of losing?" asked the captain. "Did they manage the business with firearms?"
"Sometimes, when they was in a hurry," Mr. Weller explained, with that horrible grim irony of his, "the guns would go off an' shoot 'em, in spite of all that our folks could do. But most giner'ly they took the grapevine road in the fust patch of woods they come to, an' soon as ever they got sight of a tree with a grape vine on it, it's cur'ous how skeered their hosses would git. You couldn't keep 'em from runnin' away, no matter what you done, an' they never run fur before their heads was caught in a grape vine and they would stand thar, dancin' on nothin' till they died. Did you ever hear of anybody dancin' on nothin' before, lady?" - turning to me.
I said he ought to be ashamed to tell it; even a Yankee was entitled to protection when a prisoner of war.
"But these fellows wasn't regular prisoners of war, lady," said the sick soldier; "they were thieves and houseburners," - and I couldn't but feel there was something in that view of it.
About three miles from Sparta we struck the "Burnt Country," as it is well named by the natives, and then I could better understand the wrath and desperation of these poor people. I almost felt as if I should like to hang a Yankee myself. There was hardly a fence left standing all the way from Sparta to Gordon. The fields were trampled down and the road was lined with carcasses of horses, hogs, and cattle that the invaders, unable either to consume or to carry away with them, had wantonly shot down to starve out the people and prevent them from making their crops. The stench in some places was unbearable; every few hundred yards we had to hold our noses or stop them with the cologne Mrs. Elzey had given us, and it proved a great boon. The dwellings that were standing all showed signs of pillage, and on every plantation we saw the charred remains of the gin-house and packing-screw, while here and there, lone chimney stacks, "Sherman's Sentinels," told of homes laid in ashes. The infamous wretches! I couldn't wonder now that these poor people should want to put a rope round the neck of every red-handed "devil of them" they could lay their hands on. Hay ricks and fodder stacks were demolished, corn cribs were empty, and every bale of cotton that could be found was burnt by the savages.
The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl by Eliza Frances Andrews
Original copyright, D. Appleton and Company, 1908
Reprinted 1960 by The Ardivan Press, Macon, pages 30-33.