Days Like These

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20 November 1864


commander of the Union troops

marching through Georgia

from Atlanta to the sea during

the American Civil War, writes in his diary:

"After supper I sat on a chair astride, with my back to a good fire, musing, and became conscious that an old negro, with a tallow candle in his hand, was scanning my face closely. I inquired, `What do you want, old man?' He answered, `Dey say you is Massa Sherman.' I answered that such was the case, and inquired what he wanted. he only wanted to look at me, and kept muttering, `Dis nigger can't sleep dis night.' I asked him why he trembled so, and he said he wanted to be sure we were in fact Yankees, for on a former occasion some rebel cavalry had put on light- blue overcoats, personating Yankee troops, and many of the negroes were deceived thereby, himself among their number, had shown them some sympathy, and in consequence been unmercifully beaten therefore. This time he wanted to be certain before committing himself; so I told him to go out on the porch, from which he could see the whole horizon lit up with camp fires, and then he could judge whether he had seen anything like it before. The old man became convinced that the Yankees had come at last, about whom he had been dreaming all his life; and some of the staff-officers gave him a strong drink of whiskey, which set his tongue going. Lieutenant Snelling, who commanded my escort, was a Georgian, and recognised in this old negro a favourite slave of his uncle, who resided six miles off; but the old slave did not at first recognise his young master in our uniform. One of my staff-officers asked him what had become of his young master, George. He did not know, only that he had gone off to the war, and he supposed him killed, as a matter of course. His attention was drawn to Snelling's face, when he fell on to his knees and thanked God that he had found his young master alive and along with the Yankees."