Civil War Letter

My dear Mrs. Howard,

On Friday March 3rd 1865 I being one of the home guard started out with a message to Chesterfield S.C. that the Yankees were expected in town at any time.

I had a brave heart and (we all had a brave heart) flustered. My desire was to let my own family and neighbors know as I went by. The route was too risky for I ran right into Kilpatrick’s brigade. They of course made me a prisoner and bought me back to Wadesboro. Spies were out and the Yanks were sighted. As they were only Kilpatrick’s brigade a long, about fifty citizens of town and about three hundred negroes were lined up. From a little distance they looked like quite a little company. There was a small skirmish in which one of Kilpatrick’s men was killed. They soon took their dead man and we prisoners south where a large army had gone. We were taken to the home of the late David Tillman’s home in whose front yard they buried their dead man. (Mr. Tillman later had him moved) My horse had been taken from me. I had been forced to exchange my ______ shoes with a Yankee for his old ragged dirty black (_________ I have never liked Yankee blue since) Here was nothing for me to do but watch them burn gin houses and cotton pilfes and destroy every thing they could lay hands on.

What corn they could not carry off with them was poured out on the ground for the horses to trample on. All wheat, flour, meat, and molasses and provisions of all kinds were either carried off or destroyed. They even took quilts, silver ware and every thing of any value. That whole country around Deep Creek was blue with Yankees.

Many was the cow and sheep that was killed.

They gathered up every horse that was any good. and were so afraid they would leave one that we might use, that they, on being persued by Wheeler’s men killed more than a hundred horses in and around Miss Ann Ratliff’s yard. So great was the stench that my Aunt had to leave her home for months. Then 16______

On Sunday Wheeler’s men could be seen coming from towards White Store. Twas then the Yankees pulled out in the direction of Morven.

Between Lowry’s store and Deep Creek_______ Wheeler’s men begun to canonade the Yankees. There were a number of cannons fired on each side but no one killed.

I thought surely I could get away then but not until we reached Fayetteville did our men become strong

Mrs Howard I am an old man and soon pass to the "great beyond". Before going I want to leave this message The South was never whipped.

They out numbered us, They destroyed our property. We saw starvation for our wives and children. For this reason alone Lee surrendered. Sherman paid. It makes the blood boil in my old veins every time I hear the word Sherman’s raid. If he had staid out of the South with the noble women (God bless them) at home doing their parts we would have won the victory or been fighting today. Tell the rising generation we did our best.

Very Sincerely yours,

George C. Ratliffe

This letter was written by George Cotton Ratliffe (1838-1920), son of James Hamer Ratliff and brother to John Perry Ratliff. The copy was given to May MacCallum by Phyllis R. Steagall- Nov. 1988.

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