Skip to main content

Archive:

War Stories and School-Day Incidents For the Children by B. M. Zettler

War Stories and School-Day Incidents For the Children
by
B. M. Zettler

Chapter XI
Prisoners at Sherman’s Headquarters

The following unique Incident will, I'm sure, prove interesting to many of my readers, though it is given chiefly for the benefit of my own children. Before they were old enough to appreciate fully the inherent gentleness, sweet disposition, and rare good judgment of the devoted wife and mother from whom we often heard it, her lips were forever closed. But in the novel and trying position which the incident describes, they will see these qualities strikingly displayed, and will hold the story as a tribute to her memory.

When Sherman's army reached the vicinity of Savannah the cavalry captured, near the Ogeechee River bridge, the last outgoing train on what was then called the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad. On this train as passengers were Mr. R. R. Cuyler, the aged president of the Central Railroad and two young ladies, Miss Guyton and Miss Cotton, who had "refugeed" from Guyton on the Central Railroad to Savannah, and were now again "refugeeing" to friends and relatives in Thomasville and Americus, determined to keep out of Sherman's way. But behold! here they were made prisoners by a band of his cavalry. The coaches were at once set on fire. While they were burning, the ladies noticed another body of cavalry coming at a gallop and, thinking they were Confederates coming to their rescue, they clapped their hands with joy. But they were mistaken. Their supposed rescuers proved to be a company of Federals. Their captors offered no indignities, not even requiring President Cuyler to give up his watch.

Soon an army ambulance drove up, and Mr. Cuyler and the ladies were told to get into it to be taken to General Sherman's headquarters. Luckily for them they found Sherman occupying as his headquarters the residence of the Rev. Mr. King, who had taught school in Savannah at one time and one of the young ladies had been his pupil. He was at home, though his family had ''refugeed."

The feeling of relief to the ladies on meeting Mr. King can be readily imagined. They were at once notified, however, by a member of Sherman's staff that they would be held as prisoners for several days, at least, and Mr King would arrange for their accommodation. Nothing could be done but ''accept the situation," and they resolved to do so with as good grace as possible.

When meal time arrived the ladies were notified that their meals would be sent to their room, if they preferred, but that General Sherman would be glad to have them occupy seats at his military family table. Knowing it would give less trouble to adopt the latter course, they did so.

Now it was Sherman who, on expelling the people from Atlanta, had written the memorable words, "The women and children must be made to feel the hardships of war as well as the men in the army;" and his soldiers in their march through Georgia and South Carolina were allowed to illustrate the meaning of his words by pillaging private residences and carrying off whatever suited their needs or fancy; but on this occasion he acted the gentleman, and when the ladies entered the dining-room he courteously asked that one of them take the head of the table. Willing to "promote the agreeable," even as a prisoner in the enemy's hands, Miss Guyton, the elder of the ladies, with her old teacher on one side and her "sister in affliction" on the other, occupied the seat at the head of the table, and for a week "poured coffee" for Sherman and his staff.

It was often the case that the officers discussed at the table the progress of the siege of Savannah and the preparations for the capture of Fort McAllister. On the evening before the assault was made on the fort, Sherman invited General Hazen to take supper with him to discuss the matter. In answer to Sherman's question, "Are you quite sure, General, that you are ready?" Hazen replied, "Our long range guns are all in position and by nine o'clock the fort will be yours."

The fort was built to meet an attack or approach from the sea, and its heavy guns could not be shifted to respond to this bombardment from the rear. So it proved as General Hazen predicted. After a few well directed shots it surrendered. 

"But imagine my feelings," I often heard one of these lady Confederate prisoners say, "as we sat at our window that night and looked towards the fort! How 1 wished for wings that I might fly over to it and tell our boys what was coming."

As soon as the fort was captured the prisoners at headquarters were told they would be sent anywhere, within forty miles, that they wished to go. The next morning they left in an ambulance for Guyton, about thirtyfive miles across the country, and arrived that afternoon without further incident of interest.

The young lady who poured the coffee for Sherman, a prisoner at his headquarters in Mr. King's home on the Ogeechee, afterward became my wife, the mother of my children, Guyton M., Gordon B., and Hattie Guyton (Mrs. H. W. Dent). It was from her own lips I learned this unique and interesting story.

B. M. Zettler, War Stories and School-Day Incidents For the Children (New York: The Neale Publishing Company, 1912), 162-166.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Origin of the Confederate Battle Flag

Origin of the Confederate Battle Flag


[The facts concerning the origin of the battle flag contained in this article are derived from a speech by General Beauregard before a special meeting of Louisiana Division, Army of Northern Virginia Association, December 6, 1878.—EDITOR.]
This banner, the witness and inspiration of many victories, which was proudly borne on every field from enemy. General Beauregard was momentarily expecting help from the right, and the uncertainty and anxiety of this hour amounted to anguish.
Still the column pressed on. Calling a staff officer, General Beauregard instructed him to go at once to General Johnston, at the Lewis house, and say that the enemy were receiving heavy re-enforcements, that the troops on the plateau were very much scattered, and that he would be compelled to retire to the Lewis house and there reform hoping that the troops ordered up from the right would arrive in time to enable him to establish and hold the new line.
Meanwhile, the unknown t…

Some Truths of History (I) by Thaddeus Kosciusko Oglesby

SOME TRUTHS OF HISTORY:  A Vindication of the South Against the Encyclopedia Britannica and Other Maligners by Thaddeus Kosciusko Oglesby
I.
Since the Evolution days the few thinkers of America born south of Mason and Dixon's line — out-numbered by those belonging to the single State of Massachusetts — have commonly migrated to New York or Boston in search of a university training. In the world of letters, at least, the Southern States have shone by reflected light; nor is it too much to say that mainly by their connection with the North the Carolinas have been saved from sinking to the level of Mexico or the Antilles. Like the Spartan marshaling his helots, the planter lounging among his slaves was made dead to art. It has only flourished freely in a free soil, and for almost all its vitality and aspirations we must turn to New England." — Encyclopedia Britannica {ninth edition), Volume 1, p. 719. 
If the sons and daughters of the South do not themselves uphold the truth of histor…

Confederate & Union Soldiers Had Slaves Compiled by Dr. Richard Lee Montgomery

Confederate & Union Soldiers Had Slaves Compiled by Dr. Richard Lee Montgomery
“They do not tell that General Grant, a slaveholder, was put as leader of the Northern Army and General Lee, who had freed his slaves, as the leader of the Southern Army, but they do say that the war was fought to hold the slaves yet do not tell that only 200,000 slaveholders were in the Southern Army, while 315,000 slaveholders were in the Northern Army.” Mildred Lewis Rutherford, Truths of History: A Fair, Unbiased, Impartial, Unprejudiced and Conscientious Study of History. Object: To Secure a Peaceful Settlement of the Many Perplexing Questions Now Causing Contention Between the North and the South (Athens, Georgia, 1920), iv.

By Fannie Eoline Selph: “The War between the States was not caused by the question of the emancipation of the slaves, nor did it begin with the firing on Fort Sumter. The cause and its declaration centered in the order issued by Abraham Lincoln for 2,400 men and 265 guns for the de…