SUBMITTED BY: Cheri Todd Molter
In March 1865, D. A. Covington owned two plantations, one in Anson County, North Carolina and another in South Carolina. Covington wrote to the editor of the Western Democrat on March 13, 1865 to complain about Sherman and his men taking all his animals, food, and cotton from his N.C. plantation; however, he also reported that his plantation in South Carolina was totally decimated. There, Sherman’s men burned and destroyed all the dwellings rather than just pillaging them. Covington, like so many other North Carolinians, was greatly concerned about how he, his wife, and their daughter were going to manage to survive without their stores of food and cotton. Here is Covington’s letter:
Editor of the Western Democrat:
“MY DEAR SIR: -I write to inform you and your readers how those fared who were so unfortunate as to be on the route or in the line of Sherman in his recent vandal march or raid through this county. My plantation lies 22 miles S.E. of here on the State line between Anson county and Chesterfield District. The Yankees were there on the 1st, 2nd and 3d instant, robbing burning and destroying nearly everything that fell in their way. They first took every horse and mule I had, even to[ok] a colt that never had been bridled; they took all my negro men and boys that were able to ride (16 in number) except one, who kept out of their way. I had killed fifty hogs at my plantation, the meat of which was all there, except what my negroes had used; they took it all except about 50 pieces that was hid out, and two fat hogs they also took. My last year’s crop of corn was rather scant, though, I had spared out of it 100 bushels to soldier’s families to prevent starvation and had left for myself and family perhaps enough to do us until harvest. Those heartless wretches emptied my crib, and I am informed did not leave me more than 25 bushels. They burnt, fed away and wasted, out of a bountiful supply, every bundle of fodder and oats I had -tore down and burned about one thousand panels of my fence.
I had upwards of one hundred bales of cotton -the most of it I had made before the war -they burnt it and the houses that contained it. My negroes, however, begged them for some to spin, and they put out five bales. I had sold the State 50 bales, which was in the house with mine, and it shared the same fate. They knocked out the heads of my molasses barrels, (several of them) eat and wasted my potatoes. both sweet and Irish; took my tobacco; killed and eat my geese, chickens and turkies, [sic]
shot down some of my cattle and hogs; roobed [sic] my negroes of their money and “Sunday clothes;” broke up and burnt cotton cards; carried my wagon and plough [sic] gears off; took several axes. &c, &c.
This will give you an idea of how the people generally fared where Sherman and his vandals went. In South Carolina, near my plantations, I hear of more dwelling houses being burnt. In North Carolina, though they burnt some in Anson near my farm, and in some instances, corn cribs. Gin houses they generally burned, but from some cause [sic] they did not burn mine -my negroes claim to have saved it, and I am inclined to think it is so.
Many families in that section (and I suppose it is so all along the line) are now almost destitute of any thing to subsist upon. The prospect is gloomy indeed; starvation is looking us s’ernly in the face, but God has always provided for us, and I believe He will still take care of all who love and serve Him.- ‘Tis true He has permitted us to be scourged, and doubtless for our benefit; and it may be in eternity we will praise God for bringing these afflictions upon us, to wean us from the world, and to humble is before Him, whom we have been too much inclined to forget.
My negroes have all returned but four. I hear or some plantations where only one or to out of a dozen have returned: One of the four of mine that is missing, a boy by the name of Sam, only 14 years of age, I know would come back if he could. I mention this with the hope that I may get him again.
Only a squad of Kilpatrick’s robbers came to this place (Monroe). I had two carbines presented by them at my bosom at one time. They presented their guns at the breast of my innocent wife and defenceless [sic] daughter, demanded gold and silver, threatened to shoot us and burn our house. They got my wife’s gold watch. …May God help us and take care of us and provide some way of escape from such demons.
D. A, COVINGTON.”