Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/210

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

to take anything' they wish except the chair I sit in." This man, wearing a brigadier general's uniform, but without the instincts of a brave man or the manners of a gentleman, when he departed from the home, had his ambulance filled with silverware, paintings, rare china and such other articles as struck his fancy, many of them of great value.

But the burning of the beautiful home was the special work of Major General A. J. Smith, who sent one of his staff officers, with a detail of men, for that purpose. He performed the duty in accordance with General Smith's most approved idea. Mrs. Thompson appealed to him and made a dignified protest, but he told her to get out, and if there were any articles she desired especially to save, he would allow her fifteen minutes to do so. The members of the family and a few faithful servants went hurriedly to work to save a few articles, which were placed in the yard, and when the torch was applied, the federal soldiers, who clustered around, took possession of every article and carried them off.

Nor was this an exception; houses everywhere were broken into and robbed of every article of value, and while a few subaltern officers seemed greatly chagrined, and made an effort to restrain the men from such disgraceful acts, no officer of rank or authority was heard to interfere or in any way attempt to suppress the disorder. But the scene changed. About 5 p. m. everything was in confusion, staff officers galloped here and there with orders to move. The federal commander had received the dreadful news that Forrest was in possession of Memphis, and doubtless felt some little concern for his personal safety. Very soon his entire force was hurrying towards the Tallahatchie river. The following morning General Chalmers was in hot pursuit. Leading Mabry's Brigade in person, he assigned to General Buford the other two. McCulloch's Brigade was commanded by Colonel William Wade. Do not forget that the federal forces had been guilty of the harshest and most inhuman excesses, and that numbers of our men lived in the country traversed by Smith's army. Every species of outrages and humiliation were inflicted upon those defenseless citizens, old men, women and children. It cannot be said that General