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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/247

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Recollections of Army Life with General Lee. 239

per hour, and it took a nervy crew, indeed, to run a steamboat on Southern inland waters.

In the month of August, 1864, I came on furlough from the front at Petersburg, Va., passing througn North Carolina, South Caro- lina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, walking many, many miles, as the trains were then in Georgia, laden with the wounded from the front of Sherman. A survey of the country in North Carolina, as glimpsed from the railroad, showed nothing but pine wastes and resin piled at rotten depots.

The nearness of North Carolina to Lee's army had well-nigh ex- hausted its resources. South Carolina, being more remote, and naturally then a richer agricultural section, the people more thrifty, or, what is perhaps more to the point, being imbued with a greater degree of secession proclivities, and thereby more interested in main- taining an army, naturally showed more vim and thrift, even with the then shadowing clouds of dire disaster looming upon the horizon. In Georgia much push and stir was evidenced. Abundant crops greeted the eye, and all along the line of railway to Demopolis, on the Tombigbee, the same cheering features existed. On both banks of the Tombigbee vast heaps of corn, racked and cribbed, were to be seen. I wondered at the sight of so much provender for man and beast exposed to wind and weather, and rotting daily in the sum- mer sun. These were neighborhood collections of "tax in kind," a necessary feature of the Confederacy. These immense piles of corn, if speedily transported to the front, would have given new lease of life to our troops and restored the wasted strength of our animals, but we had no transportation facilities. Cotton was scarcely cultivated, except in the remote districts free from raids of Federal cavalry, and even of our own troops, who generally, under orders, burned all they could find. Field peas, sweet potatoes, peanuts and melons varied the aspect of the fields, and I longed for peace, sweet peace, to come, so that I, too, could once more enjoy the bountiful harvest that looked so tempting. Here I bought a small watermelon for a one-dollar bill, and thought what a time I would have with it. I even refused, in my selfishness, to divide with a forlorn soldier, and found that, from a long-enforced contraction of the stomach, I could not devour one-half of it, and, in disgust, pitched the remain- der to a cow near-by.

After this digression that gives to some degree an inside view of the Confederacy, I resume the thread of a soldier's life in the