Thursday, June 05, 2008

Bachman letter Part 1 of 7

A letter dated Charleston September 14, 1865, written by Rev. Dr. John Bachman, then pastor of the Lutheran Church in that city, presents many facts respecting the devastation and robberies by the enemy in South Carolina. So much relates to the march of Sherman’s army through part of the state is here presented:

When Sherman’s army came sweeping through Carolina, leaving a broad track of desolation for hundreds of miles, whose steps were accompanied with fire, and sword, and blood, reminding us to the tender mercies of the Duke of Alva, I happened to be at Cash’s Depot six miles from Cheraw.

The owner was a widow, Mrs. Ellerbe, seventy-one years of age. Her son, Colonel Cash, was absent. I witnessed the barbarities inflicted on the aged widow, and young and delicate females. Officers, high in command, were engaged in tearing from the ladies their watches, their ear and wedding rings, the daguerreotypes of those they loved and cherished. A lady of delicacy and refinement, a personal friend, was compelled to strip before them, that they might find concealed watches and other valuables under her dress.

A system of torture was practiced towards the unarmed and defenseless, which, as far as I know and believe was universal throughout the whole course of that invading army. Before they arrived at a plantation, they inquired the names of the most faithful and trustworthy family servants; these were immediately seized, pistols were presented at their heads; with most terrific curses, they were threaten to be shot if they did not assist them in finding buried treasures. If this did not succeed they were tied up and cruelly beaten. Several poor creatures died under the infliction.

The last resort is of that of hanging, and the officers and men of the triumphant army of General Sherman were enraged in erecting gallows and hanging up these faithful and devoted servants. They were strung up until life was nearly extinct, when they were let down, suffered to rest awhile, then threaten and hanged again. It is not surprising that some should have left hanging so long that they were taken down dead.