Mr. Tom Vereen brought
me a wonderful letter the other day. It was written by Mr. Vereen's great
grandmother McNair. It is used here with his permission.
We'll share the letter this week and most likely the next two weeks,
The letter begins: When I Visited Moultrie - The First and Last Time.
Perhaps there are none present why were residents of the City of
Moultrie when I spent a night long to be remembered on that wonderful
location, destined to be one of the greatest cities in Georgia - its age
and opportunities to be fairly compared with other more favored. It is
necessary to tell you, as I think I should, when I was privileged to make
this visit and the circumstances, which gave me this opportunity. Perhaps
old people are prone to be (???) (??? = Could not decipher Grandmother
McNair's handwriting), still I am endeavoring at this time to make a long
story short, and also to revive memories in your own experiences of the
long ago - 57 years ago. We were (???) skedaddling before General Sherman
in his notable "March to the Sea" in that fateful year 1864 during the
last days of November.
We were cut off from, as I will explain later. (I had been called to
Crawfordville, Georgia, because of the serious illness of my mother. My
husband and little son hurried to me when General Sherman began to vacate
Atlanta.) So, we met in Augusta and started a return trip toward Macon
about 3 a.m. on a certain Sunday morning while Tecumseh was amusing
himself by burning houses and capturing horses and cattle on his southward
line of march - which ended in Savannah along about Christmas time. The
wives worked all night after we reached Millen, but we were halted about
ten miles south of the railroad bridge over the Oconee River (???) by news
that Sherman had fired the bridge and we couldn't go to Macon by that
route any longer.
The tidings were distressingly gloomy as you may be sure. The bridge
had heavy pillars of masonry, but the bridge proper was constructed of
rich pine lumber. The smoke was black, and the turpentine made a blaze
that nobody could forget - who saw it and who had journeyed so far, and
could go no further in that direction, as did we.
The train backed away - perhaps twenty miles - and we spent that Sunday
night in those crowded railroad cars (there were no sleeping cars yet
invented), and the lunch I had prepared for the trip was almost consumed.
We expected to reach Macon early in the morning of Monday and get to our
refugee shack four miles out for our next meal.
A drizzling rain set in. We halted in a forsaken piney woods tract and
there was nothing to buy and nobody to beg from. There were four in our
party, and the situation indeed was gloomy. There was no place to lie
down unless you stretched your aching limbs (between the two seats we
occupied) on the dirty floor. Next morning after that hot, steamy, rainy
night, my husband secured some fried sweet potatoes from a cabin he found
outside. We debated periodically - pro and con - ever hour or so as to
whether to go back to Crawfordvill or to pursue the trip to Macon via
Savannah, Quitman and Thomasville and try to secure a conveyance to Albany
- or Allbenny as the natives called it. After morning light appeared, we
concluded to try the last named route, because all we had in the world was
in our refugee home, except the land we had vacated in Bartow County
nearly a year before.
Why the trip was so tedious to Savannah, I cannot now explain. I have
likely forgotten why we did not reach the Pulaski House until after dark,
and there were said to be three (???) passengers on that train, and while
we had a charming room appointed for us, we were graciously told the hotel
had been literally eaten out during the days, etc., etc.
We'll continue this true story next time! Thanks to Mr. Tom Vereen for
allowing us to share it with you!