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A Virginia Confederate soldier's mother writes her son and offers a vivid description of the looting of the family farm, authorized by General John Pope: "you can form no idea what we suffered."
Rumford, [Virginia], September 8, 1862. 7.5" x 10". "Autograph Letter, 4 pages, 7.5"" x 10"", Rumford, [Virginia], September 8, 1862, in which a mother vividly describes the looting of the family farm by federal soldiers to her son, a Confederate soldier in the field. Expected folds, minor tear at bottom right, very minor soiling, else very good.On July 25, 1862, General John Pope, in command of the Army of Virginia ordered that "" guards will be placed over private houses or private property of any description whatever."" Charging the officer corps with maintaining discipline, Pope added that ""Soldiers were called into the field to do battle against the enemy, and it is not expected that their force and energy shall be wanted in the protection of the private property of those most hostile to the government."" The order was essentially a green light for soldiers to plunder the countryside?"which is described in great detail below:""...from the time that [General John] Pope's orders were issued to give no Guards and to allow the soldiers to take what they pleased you can form no idea what we suffered. Gen [Marsena R.] Patrick did all he could to protect us he placed a Picket at the stable and another at the road gate but they were opposed to protecting property and were just as bad as the others they came down in droves, took all our vegetables all my Fowls milked the cows ... your Aunt Agnes and myself were compleat [sic]prisoners for we could not venture out into the yard but until Burnside came they did not comd into the House we had the Sheep put into the yard every night and they would come in by nine oclock and in the bright moon light drive them up in a corner a kill them this was done by the Pickets, we would see them distinctlly [sic] and when your Father called to them from the window they told him to put his head in or they would Blow him Burnside was occupied in Johns field so we were best, Jinnie was with us and I soon found it would never do for her to remain all night I would not exaggerate to say there were 200 men in the yard at a time I got John Parke to get the carriage and we picked an opportunity when there were not many in the Front yard to get her and Matt to the carriage and I felt as if a load was off my mind when they got out of the gate the next morning by sunrise they commenced coming and by ten oclock we saw that they were bent on mischief a Lieutenant Mitchel came into the yard and at first we thought he would protect us as he was a Scotchman Your Father unfortunately asked him into the house and gave him some spirit he said he would make all the men go back to camp with him but when he went out they cursed him to his face and he told your Father they would not be satisfied until they reached the house so he brought in three men and said they must have some spirit they then went through all the rooms and took he two old guns and some of them went with the Lieutenant but the crowd was constantly on the inside. Eliza told me if I would write a note she would take it herself to the Col I did so and she stole through the corn and gave it to Major Cartwright who was in command but before he got home they broke into the Entry closet and took every thing they could take off broke into the meat house and took all the meat that was in it, which was very little broke into the cellar took all the milk and at last pressed so upon your Father that he called to me to open the door and let him in as I drew back the bot they rushed in, your Father collared the first man he seized up a book which happened to be Irving's Life of Washington asked him how dared he to have such a book threw it at him and stuck him in the mouth while another ran at him with a bayonet it was useless to contend they helped themselves to hats caps and everything they fancied at last they opened the glass draw and found your father's watch which he had taken out of his Pocket for safety this seemed to satisfy them and they left the house Major Cartwright came galloping into the yard I wish you could have seen the running not a man was to be seen in two minutes he seemed to regret very much that he could not give us a guard said he would do al that he could to protect us by a strong Picket and Patrole soon after he left the Officer of the Day Capt Ryly from Boston came in he made your Father describe the watch and the man who had broken into the house said he thought he knew the man who had it and after dinner he came riding down through the hot sun with the watch it was an Irish Company 28th Massachusetts... he called them up and told them that the man who had the watch was to be shot and the only way to save his life was to give it to him and he would not tell[.] he made them bring back Elizas Hog too and later in the evening Major Cartwright came back and told us that he could not leave us without a guard and that at the risk of a Reprimand he had taken the responsibility of doing so he sent a corporal and two men with orders to walk around the house and stables all night and he kept the guard until they all left the next day if you ever meet either of those men in distress remember their kindness to us I do not believe I told you that they had taken both the carriage horses... and we have only two mules and Old Fancy and little Billy left as to the corn Mr Brower[?] had a very good crop but it is all gone... ""The correspondent then describes the similar situations of various neighbors as well as the departures by family slaves. After the soldiers left, the remaining heads of livestock were driven south for safekeeping: ""you never saw such a stampede.... [a neighbor] sent York and Jemm[?] to get [a horse and mule cart] back from the Creek unfortunately for us Ralph who had been as faithful as he could he was induced to go with them and none of them have been allowed to come back. Todoath[?], Fanny and herself[?] asked my leave to go to Washington as she could get a great deal more to do there I very reluctantly gave my consent and now she cannot get back through she has Burnsides pass to go and come... we have no men upon the Farm but Stephen Harry Frank. Alek has gone, and Hugh and Caroline Tom and his children have moved down to the vacant houses.""Only four days after the date of this letter, General John Pope would be relieved of his command. Not only was Pope bent on allowing his army to plunder the countryside, he also proved indecisive on the battlefield and was routed by Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Second Manassas. ""Major Cartwright,"" has been identified as George W. Cartwright. A printer from Boston, Cartwright joined the 28th Massachusetts as a major in October 1861. Only days before he appeared at the Rumsey, Virginia farm, he had been wounded at the Battle of Second Manassas. He would be wounded again at the Wilderness in May 1864 while commanding the 28th Massachusetts. In the summer of that year, Cartwright attained the rank of Colonel and remained in command of the 28th until he was mustered out in December 1864. "
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