Mrs. Felton’s Recollections of Life As a Refugee
The Courant American
January 24, 1889, Page 1
|Transcribed by 2006|
Thrilling War Incidents.
Mrs. Felton’s Recollections of Life As a Refugee.
The Doctor’s Narrow Escape – Going For a Guard – A Sad Day – A Burglar’s Clean Scoop – The New Start in Life.
[Maud Andrews in Constitution.]
The story of Mrs. Felton’s experience during the war is as replete with humor and pathos as one of Dicken’s novels.
As we sat by a great wood fire after tea she commenced to talk upon it.
“I do not believe the people who had their homes ruined during the war ever recovered their loss afterwards,” she said. We refugeed from this very house during the first part of the war. We left a comfortable home nicely furnished. We returned to a shell utterly demolished of comfort. We went to a place near Macon, and there the hardships and dangers were fearful. The firing of pistols about the premises was a common occurrence, and we felt our lives momentarily in danger. One night a pistol was fired right by the window where we sat, and Dr. Felton was fired at twice late in the evening when he was seeing to things about the lot. I became so alarmed about my husband’s safety that I determined to go to Macon, which was five miles off, and ask General Wilson to give us a guard for protection.
“In the midst of all this danger and uneasiness, my last living boy was taken with a congestive shill and died in a few hours. Ah, that was a sad time. We sold the handsome carriage that had been our pride in better days for a pittance, and that paid my child’s funeral expenses. Then when my boy was buried, I got in my buggy and started to Macon alone. On the way, I stopped at a friend’s house, and he insisted on sending his little boy with me for protection. So the child and I took the journey, crossing the Ocmulgee on a pontoon. I went to General Wilson’s quarters and asked an interview. He refused, sending word he would see no more Southern women, as some had been insolent. His provost general gave me a guard, however, after my declaring myself unarmed, and the soldier, a pleasant faced young Irishman, and I drove off.
“On my way home we stopped at a farm house, where a friend slipped a pistol in my hands and I hid it in the buggy. When we got home, and my husband came to meet me, I insisted on his bringing my work-basket out to the buggy. It is a wonder the man did not suspect something, but I got my basket and slipped the pistol in it.
“The days went very well then, and one day, shortly before the guard’s departure, Dr. Felton and he went out to shoot off some firearms. My husband called to me to bring out my old weapon. I brought it out and told the story to the Federal soldier; but he looked upon me distrustfully and lost faith in my honesty after that. He departed in peace soon after that and then came the going back to our house.
“The first thing I saw upon entering my gate was a piece of the woodwork to one of my parlor chairs, and then I found the house a scene of wreck and desolation. My parlor had been turned into a stable. Bedding and furniture upholstery was cut into bits. Many of the window sashes were out and there was not a pane of glass in the whole building. For a long time we were so poor that we could not put any glass in and – it was cold.
“Dr. Felton and I went right to work teaching school in Cartersville. I made one hundred dollars teaching school in the autumn term. It seemed more money than I ever saw or ever will see. Money was so scarce with our poor people then, and the land was still in misery and disorder. There were riots up the road from my house. One night they had a vendetta and brought a dead man along the road to be buried some miles below where he had been murdered. These horrible scenes were common, and it seemed as if the country would never again see peace and prosperity. We were sadly wanting in clothes and house comforts, but we had enough to eat for some sheep and cows were left on the place, and I said we ate so many of them that we’d get to bleating and bellowing. We saved the wool from the sheep.
“One day my husband came in and said a Methodist woman who believed in immersion wanted to be baptized, and insisted on his doing it. He said he had no decent clothes to wear, and I sent the wool off and had it dyed and woven, and made him a nice suit of clothes. Later on he came in looking spick and span in his new suit, with new gloves, hat and shoes. He had gotten his school money and still had fifty dollars left after his purchases. When he took off his clothes that night he started to leave his money in his pants pocket, but I said:
“’I’m going to take that money and put it under my pillow; something might happen.’
I did so. The next morning when he got out of bed I saw him look in vacant despair at the empty chair where the clothes had been.
“Where are they,” he asked sadly.
“They were gone – hat, suit, shoes and all – not a thing left. A footpad had helped himself to them and the poor woman had to wait for her immersion ‘til he got some more.
“Yes, those were hard times, but we recovered by work, and I can look without bitterness and hatred over it now into a vale of peace and plenty. I have no animosity toward the North, but I believe that the only thing that will create a perfect harmony and understanding between Northern and Southern people is a war with a foreign nation. A heroic remedy, perhaps, but the only perfect one in my judgment.”
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Last modified: September 26, 2006