Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Maybe it was hell for some of them Yankees ..."

Former slave Henry D. Jenkins of Fairfield County, South Carolina, interviewed in 1936:

"When the Yankees come, what they do? They did things they ought not to have done and left undone the things they ought to have done. Yes, that ’bout tells it. One thing you might like to hear. Mistress [Sara Howell, wife of plantation owner Joseph Howell] got all the money, the silver, the gold and the jewels, and got the well digger to hide them in the bottom of the well. Them Yankees smart. When they got there, they asked for the very things at the bottom of the well. Mistress wouldn’t tell. They held a “court of enquiry” in the yard; called slaves up, one by one, good many. Must have been a Judas ’mongst us. Soon a Yankee was let down in the well, and all that money, silver, gold, jewelry, watches, rings, brooches, knives and forks, butter-dishes, waiters, goblets, and cups was took and carried ’ way by an army that seemed more concerned ’bout stealin’, than they was ’bout the Holy War for the liberation of the poor African slave people. They took off all the horses, sheep, cows, chickens, and geese; took the seine and the fishes they caught, corn in crib, meat in smoke-house, and everything. Marse General Sherman said war was hell. It sho’ was. Maybe it was hell for some of them Yankees when they come to die and give account of the deeds they done in Sumter and Richland Counties.”

From SC Slave Narratives, vol. 14, pt. 3, pp. 23, 26; quoted in Walter Brian Cisco, War Crimes Against Southern Civilians (Gretna, LA: Pelican, 2007), pp. 185-6.

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