Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bachman letter, part 7 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:

"As yet, no punishment had fallen on the brutal hyena, and I strove to nurse my bruised body and heal my wounds, and forget the insults and injuries of the past. A few weeks after this I was sent for to perform a parochial duty at Mars Bluff, some twenty miles distant. Arriving at Florence in the vicinity, I was met by a crowd of young men connected to the militia. They were excited to the highest pitch of rage, and thirsted for revenge.

They believed that among the prisoners that have just arrived on a railroad car, on their way to Sumter, were the very men who committed such horrible outrages in the neighborhood. Many of their houses had been laid to ashes. They had been robbed of every means of support. Their horses had been seized; their cattle and hogs bayoneted; their mothers and sisters had been insulted, and robbed of their watched, ear, and wedding rings. Some of their parents had been murdered in cold blood.

The aged pastor, to whose voice they had so often listened, had been kicked and knocked down by repeated blows, and his hoary head had been dragged about in the sand. They entreated me to examine the prisoners and see whether I could identify the men that had inflicted the barbarities on me. I told them I would do so, provided they would remain where they were and not to follow me. The prisoners saw me at a distance, held down their guilty heads, and trembled like aspen leaves. All cruel men are cowards. One of my arms was still in a sling. With the other I raised some of their hats. They all begged for mercy.

I said to them, “the other day you were tigers ----you sheep now.” But a hideous object a soon arrested my attention. There sat my brutal enemy---the vulgar, swaggering lieutenant, who had ridden to the steps of the house, insulted the ladies, and beaten me most unmercifully. I approached him slowly, and in a whisper asked him : “Do you know me sir?----the old man whose pockets you first searched, to whether he might not have a pen knife to defend himself, and then kicked and knocked down with your fist and heavy scabbard?”

He presented a picture of an arrant coward, and in a trembling voice implored me to have mercy; don’t let me be shot; have pity! Old man begs for me! I won’t do it again! For God’s sake save me! O God help me!

“Did you not tell my daughter there was no God? Why call on him now.” I turned and saw the impatient flushed and indignant crowd approaching.

“What are they going to do with me? Said he. “Do you hear that sound—click, click? Yes, said he, “they are cocking their pistols.”

“True said I; “and if I raise a finger you will have a dozen bullets through your brain.”

“Then I will go to hell; “don’t let them kill me. O Lord have Mercy!’

“Speak low,” said I “and don’t open your lips.”

The men advanced. Already one had pulled me by my coat. “Show us the men.” I gave no clew by which the guilty could be identified. I walked slowly through the car, sprang into the waiting carriage, and drove off. END