Official report relative to the conduct of federal troops in western Louisiana during the invasions of 1863 and 1864 Compiled from sworn testimony, under direction of Governor Henry W. Allen
Dr. Davidson’s statement.
” In the progress of the barbarous and unnatural war by the North against a country guilty only of loving the laws and religion of liberty,events have transpired having no parallel in history, and whose recital will never be believed save by thoee who witnessed them”.
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Beport of Honorable Thomas C, Manning, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Louisiana. Federal Atrocities—Burning and Sack of Alexandria.
Alexandria, La., December 22nd, 1864.
To His Excellency,
Henry W. Allen, Governor:
The devastation of this town and Parish by the enemy during the occupation of last spring was very thorough. Whether maddened by the failure of their campaign in it« ultimate purposes, they determined to destroy what they could not hold—or whether they only pursued here the policy of systematic pillage and conflagration, which their Press enforces and government approves—it is bootless to enquire.
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The gunboats appeared before the town on the 15’h March, and’ were soon succeeded by transports conveying the 16ih and I7th. corps d’armee of U. S., under command of Genl. A. J. Smith, from Fort De Russy, which he had captured a day or two before. License for unlimited pillage vas either expressly given or tacitly permitted them. Roving at will through the town, entering and sacking private houses and stores, the common soldiery had but to imitate the conduct of their officer in enacting the most degrading acts of dishonorable meanness.
A Capt. De West, of Mower’s division, with two privates; after pilfering sundry inconsirerable articles, espied a silver watch on the persou of a Negro man. He was in his master’s yard, watching the extraordinary spectacle of white men stealing in the open day, little dreaming that his own watch was in any danger. They relieved him of the encumbrance very speedily. (Affidavit No. 9.)
A characteristic instance of their affectionate care for the blacks is developed in affidavit No, 4. The affiant, you will perceive, is a free Negress. —– She speaks with feeling of the loss of her sheets, table cloths and looking-glasses, her knives, forks and plates. Perhaps I shall be more graphic if I transcribe her own words. “The Yankees,” says the woman, ” came to my house the first day they entered town, and commenced stealing my poultry. On seeing me they asked who I was. I told them. They asked me who my master was. I said I had no master, that I was a free colored woman. They said I lied and that my master was hid. They commenced pillaging the house, taking out my knives and forks, plates, and table cloths, sheets, and looking glasses, and then palled down my house, which was a frame house- They asked me who the house belonged to. I told them it belonged to me, at which they cursed me, and called me liar again, and said niggers could not own property in the South, and before they stopped the house was cleaned pulled down, and even the bricks taken out of the chimney. My own clothes, and my daughter’s, a grown woman, were all taken by them—among them some merinos and lawns, and my husband’s gold watch, which I minded more than the clothes. My husband has been dead two years.”
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The daughter of this free Negress, (Affidavit No. 6), went on the same day to Gen. Mower, and told him his soldiers had stolen ” all her clothes, bonnets and jewelry.” She got no satisfaction, and made no further effort to recover them, nor did she get back anything. ” The Yankees said we should not have our things back; that they knew they were not ours, for colored people were not allowed to own so much property down here. * * * I went to Col. Shaw and told him the Union soldiers had killed and taken away my mother’s hog, and had taken all of her provisions, and wanted him to give me some. He said I could go and kill some of the rebels’ hogs ; that if I wanted to stay down here, I could get the rebels to feed me.”
— When the Negro failed to disclose his hoarded earnings the soldier or officer found access to his cabin, and soon brought to light the object of his search. But in most instances the Negro was seduced into an unsuspecting confidence by the assurance that the persons thus inquiring for his treasure were deputed specially by “Old Abe,” or Gen. Banks, (the commander of the expedition,) to gather all such valuables, and that the negro would receive it again so soon as it and himself wore transported beyond the reach of the rebels. In this way large sums in the aggregate have been transferred from the pockets of our slaves to those poverty-stricken wretches of the North, whose eyes were never gladdened by a sight of much comfort, at their own homes as they found in our Negro cabins. Of course I refer here to the poorer class of whites, who compose the file of the Federal array.