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“Fighting for Existence”
March 6  – “The feeling which comes over me at the thought of seeing [Yankees] again is indescribable…..[their] presence and manner is an insult – they are so low, so incapable of appreciating courage in man or woman. They delight in making terrible threats and the gloat over our misery.
Yesterday a captain was here who pretended to be all kindness and sympathy. He was comparatively polite and did not enter the house. Perhaps he knew it was not worth while after the foragers. When he began to talk he proved almost worse than any of the others; he said he has vowed never to take a Rebel prisoner, and that he would delight in cutting one down, and often did it! My disgust was intense, but I tried very hard to keep cool.
He asked, “Do you know what you are fighting for?”
I answered “Existence.”
He said: “We wont let you have it.”
With a fearful grin he went on, “in four months we’ll have the Confederacy on its knees.”
I answered, “You must kill every man, woman and child first.”
He said, “We’ll do it, too. At the beginning of this war I didn’t care a cent about a nigger, but I’d rather enlist for ten years longer than let the South have its independence.”
Then, with a chuckle, he exclaimed, “We’ll starve you out! Not in one place that we have visited have we left three meals.”
At something D. said he exclaimed, “Oh, I know what you mean; you mean the Almighty, but the Almighty has nothing to do with this war!” Such blasphemy silenced me completely. I felt it was wrong, or at the least imprudent, to talk to such a creature.
We hear of unrestrained plunder and direction in every direction. The poor Negroes suffer also, and I fear we are all destined to feel the pangs of hunger. But after hearing that man talk I had rather do anything, suffer anything, than submit.
But to think of the noble, glorious men we lose by the hands of such wretches! Though everything looks black around I feel that we must succeed. I pray it is not presumption.”
(When Sherman Came: Southern Women and the “Great March,” Katherine M. Jones, Bobbs-Merrill, 1964, pp. 254-255)