August 3, 1864

William King Diary Entry

Cobb County, Georgia

3 Aug’t. 1864.

After breakfast this morning I made Mr. Shepard a visit, found him busy repacking 1 Bale of his Cotton, which had been cut open & the Bagging stolen, then I met a Capt Watson, A. Q. M. he informed me that he was a nephew of Rev’d Joel R. Graves, & had [torn] years in Thomasville, Geo.& Monticella, florida, and knew many of my acquaintances and friends, he had returned from Geo. [torn] state about 10 years ago, his father and mother were still living at Quitman & he had a Brother in the Conf. Service. Soon after I returned Home a Capt’n with a A. Q. M. from Gen’l Thomas’ Army called to see me on the way from Marietta to the front, whence they left yesterday morning. They informed me that their entrenchments around Atlanta on the North were about 2 1/2 Miles from the Depot & on the east side 1 1/2, that they fire now & then into the city, but not frequently, being unwilling needlessly to damage the place–during the morning the Maj’r who so kindly furnished Mrs. McC. with a guard and one of his officers called to see me. Just before dinner 2 poor Women who live on the Powder Springs Road with 2 little girls stopped at the House. 1 of the Women I had seen before, as they could not get into town, they had been to the Hospital at the Mil. Ins. to exchange Blackberries for provisions, they come about twice a week to effect such exchanges for Provisions, they live 7 miles off & their Horse having been stolen, they have to walk in & out with their small supplies. Many of these poor robbed people, having nothing at Home to live on, and sustaining themselves by gathering Blackberries & exchanging them for food, when the blackberries are gone, which are now nearly over, they must suffer; the whole county in the wake of the 2 Armies has been robbed of every thing, growing crops, gardens, Provisions, Poultry, Hogs, Cows, Horses, nearly every thing, in many cases their clothing & furniture either taken or destroyed by the soldiers of both armies, & often by the people of the County. All the wicked passions of the people seem to be left without restrain– such are some of the fruits of war. How often have I wished that I had with me all the warm advocates of this War to witness with me from day to day the sad effects of war, sufferings enough to melt the Heart. These poor women told me that all their neyhbours were about in the same condition as themselves, many in actual suffering from want. The men are all gone & none left but women, children & old & sick men. They came to see me to get advice what they should do, as they are now, many must starve ere long. We having only enough left to supply ourselves until next Winter, we cannot give much. I have aided them a little, but the wants of myself & the servants must be cared for. Nothing can be bought to eat, no one is allowed by the regulations of the Federal Army to sell food or clothing to the citizens. I do not understand the phylosophy of it, but so it is. I promised these poor Women to see the Comm’t of the Post & represent their cases of suffering to him, & endeavor to do something for their relief. I have several times already represented the destitute to the Comm’t, their reply has always been, they are forbidden to give or sell, but they can exchange provisions for labor, and [torn] or send the poor off to the North. The women & children took dinner with me, of which they eat heartily, and then left for their Homes. How trying & painful my circumstances are, and yet how such greater are the sufferers from actual want of the multitude by whom I am surrounded. So far from complaining, how grateful ought I to feel. May God sustain me with patience & with sympathy for the sufferers around me. During the afternoon I went to the Mil’y Hill Hospital to make a visit to Dr. Miller (chief Surgeon) & Capt. Skrif, the Dr. & his Ass’nts were very busy amputating Legs & Arms, 250 new patients having been brought in from the front during the day & 200 more expected tomorrow. They now have at that Hospital 850 patients. I walked much among them, & saw enough, as I had often done before, to convince me that good & Christian men should always exert their influence to oppose Wars. A large number of the wounded were laying uncovered in the Yard, when a sudden & heavy storm of Rain & Wind came up. When it was over, near dark, I returned Home, & found an officer here to see me, their encampment was near the Rail Road by the front gate–he informed me that their Col’l (W. Ward, 37 Ind. Reg’t) was quite unwell & wanted to know if I would permit him to sleep in the House tonight. I told him certainly, he returned to the Camp & soon brought him over. I found him a very pleasant gentleman, & with whom I had much interesting conversation before bed time, he said on the 20th. Sept. he will have been in service 3 years & then intended to return Home to his wife & 4 little children. With what hopes of happiness all good men look forward to their return Home. He greatly deplored this War with all its sufferings, but said it could not stop until we are one people.

From Documenting the American South – UNC Chapel