Scotland County farm holds relics from Sherman’s march

CSA Today

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#1
WAGRAM — Retired Scotland County farmer Whit Newton doesn’t have to use much imagination to think what it might have been like in Scotland County when Sherman’s Army invaded from South Carolina in March 1865. He has a trunk full of yellowing family letters saved by two great-aunts. Then there’s the old muzzle-loading musket left by a hungry Union straggler begging a bite to eat.

http://laurinburgexchange.com/news/...-County-farm-holds-relics-from-Shermans-march
 

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CSA Today

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#3
That's a remarkable story. I wonder who he was.
The Newtons live about 3 or 4 miles from me on a main road (Old Wire Road) used by Sherman on his way north to Fayetteville. From what I understand, the soldier was friendly and quite talkative, but as far as I know his name has been lost. Both he and the lady were badly frightened – the lady was alone with small children and the only food in the house was a sack of flour she had hidden when Sherman army had passed through on March 8-9 – the man showed up several days later.

The Federal soldier, an apparent deserter, was afraid the Home Guard might get him and had hidden during the day and travelled only at night until hunger drove to the woman’s door. According to the newspaper story, the lady reminded him to take his weapons when he left, but another story is the lady told him the Home Guard was less likely to shoot him on sight if he was unarmed.
 

johan_steele

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#6
A rifle musket and a sword... is the first flag. Straggling at that time & in that area is the second flag. In the spring of 1865 I can find no Regt in Shermans Army reporting P53 Enfields... third flag. By the time that Sherman's Army was in NC very little straggling was going on... fourth flag on the play.

A lot of stories get told, many untrue; that doesn't stop them from growing in the telling. That is what makes history an interesting study; sifting through the chaff to find the reality.
 

CSA Today

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#7
A rifle musket and a sword... is the first flag. Straggling at that time & in that area is the second flag. In the spring of 1865 I can find no Regt in Shermans Army reporting P53 Enfields... third flag. By the time that Sherman's Army was in NC very little straggling was going on... fourth flag on the play.

A lot of stories get told, many untrue; that doesn't stop them from growing in the telling. That is what makes history an interesting study; sifting through the chaff to find the reality.
We should have known you would know more about the incident than the family that actually experienced it. Thanks for sharing your intuitive knowledge of what happened in my neighborhood 150 years ago.
 
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#8
The sword, Newton said, was later lost in a relative’s house fire. He still has the gun, a British-made Tower musket made for the Confederacy in 1861, probably smuggled through the blockage at Wilmington. How it fell into the hands of a Union straggler is anybody’s guess.
I'm going to guess he picked it up off the ground. Somehow, that didn't make it into anyone's official report. Therefor, it could not have happened. :rolleyes:
 

johan_steele

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#9
We should have known you would have known more about the incident than the family that actually experienced it. Thanks for sharing your intuitive knowledge of what happened in my neighborhood 150 years ago.
I applaud Mr Newton sharing his family history; he has some absolutely wonderful artifacts. I hope he cherishes them as they appear to be a link to his family heritage.

I'm sorry if your myths must be held so highly that they cannot be questioned. If anything the straggler sounds more like a Confedrate deserter trying to make his way home.

It's rather clear your own knowledge of what is happening in your own backyard is apparently rather lacking. Whether that is 1865, 1965 & even today. As I said I like to sift through the chaff to find the reality.
 

CSA Today

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#10
I applaud Mr Newton sharing his family history; he has some absolutely wonderful artifacts. I hope he cherishes them as they appear to be a link to his family heritage.

I'm sorry if your myths must be held so highly that they cannot be questioned. If anything the straggler sounds more like a Confedrate deserter trying to make his way home.

It's rather clear your own knowledge of what is happening in your own backyard is apparently rather lacking. Whether that is 1865, 1965 & even today. As I said I like to sift through the chaff to find the reality.
Yeah right, now I understand your disquietude, you can’t stand the thought of a Yankee deserter in Sherman’s army --- the staggering Federal desertion rate by 1864 must have all been in Grant’s army.

I know what you are up to, you are trying to get the thread locked --so rant on, I stand by the Newton story and have nothing else to say to you.
 

johan_steele

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#11
As I said I applaud Mr Newton sharing his family history; he has some absolutely wonderful artifacts. I hope he cherishes them as they appear to be a link to his family heritage. It's too bad you view such as offensive.

It seems though that no one is all that interested in seeing who this deserter/straggler soldier was or even if he was real or just a story that came about to explain to a child why a surplus P53 was sitting in the corner. I've looked through a lot of records and have found no references to straggling men from Shermans Army during that period. Those men were tough, fit and dedicated. I find it more likely a CS soldier making his way home after the surrender opted to thank a woman who fed him w/ some sort of payment. A CS deserter/straggler or returning veteran would have far less to fear from the NC Home Guard than a US deserter who would be taking his life into his hands just for approaching a habitable house after the US forces were gone. Not that the NC Home Guard was good for very much at that point.

I won't get this thread locked by asking questions, at least I would be really shocked if honest questions would get a thread locked. That you take such umbrage from questions... is an issue you have to deal with.
 

CSA Today

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#12
As I said I applaud Mr Newton sharing his family history; he has some absolutely wonderful artifacts. I hope he cherishes them as they appear to be a link to his family heritage. It's too bad you view such as offensive.

It seems though that no one is all that interested in seeing who this deserter/straggler soldier was or even if he was real or just a story that came about to explain to a child why a surplus P53 was sitting in the corner. I've looked through a lot of records and have found no references to straggling men from Shermans Army during that period. Those men were tough, fit and dedicated. I find it more likely a CS soldier making his way home after the surrender opted to thank a woman who fed him w/ some sort of payment. A CS deserter/straggler or returning veteran would have far less to fear from the NC Home Guard than a US deserter who would be taking his life into his hands just for approaching a habitable house after the US forces were gone. Not that the NC Home Guard was good for very much at that point.

I won't get this thread locked by asking questions, at least I would be really shocked if honest questions would get a thread locked. That you take such umbrage from questions... is an issue you have to deal with.
Flag one--your apparent belief a Confederate deserter would feel safer making his way home dressed in a Federal uniform.

Flag two
– the lady would have made mistaken someone dressed in a Confederate uniform as a Federal soldier. If she hadn’t seen an enemy soldier before March 8th she would have seen thousands, in front of her house, headed north by March 9th.

Flag three
– the only Confederate regulars in the area was a small group from the 5th Tennessee cavalry screening the approach of Sherman’s Infantry corps. The had killed two Federal scouts about 3 miles north of the Newton house, but that was days before the Federal deserter showed up at the lady’s door. If , by change, one of these men had deserted he hardly would have abandoned his horse and marched south before turning around and marching north again, he would have ridden his horse west towards Tennessee.

Flag four
– a poorly thought out assumption that any Confederate deserter wanting to get away from the war would march north into it.

Flag fi
ve-- With the Federal desertion rate averaging 7,333 a month by 1864, it is delusional to think they were all in Grant’s army, some other Federal command, and none in Sherman’s army.
 

Lost Cause

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#13
Flag one--your apparent belief a Confederate deserter would feel safer making his way home dressed in a Federal uniform.

Flag two
– the lady would have made mistaken someone dressed in a Confederate uniform as a Federal soldier. If she hadn’t seen an enemy soldier before March 8th she would have seen thousands, in front of her house, headed north by March 9th.

Flag three
– the only Confederate regulars in the area was a small group from the 5th Tennessee cavalry screening the approach of Sherman’s Infantry corps. The had killed two Federal scouts about 3 miles north of the Newton house, but that was days before the Federal deserter showed up at the lady’s door. If , by change, one of these men had deserted he hardly would have abandoned his horse and marched south before turning around and marching north again, he would have ridden his horse west towards Tennessee.

Flag four
– a poorly thought out assumption that any Confederate deserter wanting to get away from the war would march north into it.

Flag fi
ve-- With the Federal desertion rate averaging 7,333 a month by 1864, it is delusional to think they were all in Grant’s army, some other Federal command, and none in Sherman’s army.
When a portion of Sherman's Army was utilized to forage liberally, or steal, from dwellings and lands throughout countryside, the absolute argument that there no stragglers in Sherman's Army is delusive. The ability to comb the countryside, separated from the main army, was often directly proportional to the lack of enemy combatants in the area. Still, an understandable fear likely existed if a straggler who did not have revenge in his heart was caught by the Confederates who did not differentiate between the guilty and non guilty.

The following link lists the number of Sherman's foragers, or "Bummers" as ten percent of his army. It also provides interesting accounts of the march through Cumberland Co., North Carolina.

http://files.usgwarchives.net/nc/cumberland/military/shermn01.txt
 

CSA Today

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#14
When a portion of Sherman's Army was utilized to forage liberally, or steal, from dwellings and lands throughout countryside, the absolute argument that there no stragglers in Sherman's Army is delusive. The ability to comb the countryside, separated from the main army, was often directly proportional to the lack of enemy combatants in the area. Still, an understandable fear likely existed if a straggler who did not have revenge in his heart was caught by the Confederates who did not differentiate between the guilty and non guilty.

The following link lists the number of Sherman's foragers, or "Bummers" as ten percent of his army. It also provides interesting accounts of the march through Cumberland Co., North Carolina.

http://files.usgwarchives.net/nc/cumberland/military/shermn01.txt
Right, it would have been dangerous, even downright deadly, for one of Sherman’s men to wander too far a field in Confederate territory. The most fantastic idea of all is that a Confederate deserter, headed home, would feel safer disguising himself in Yankee blue.
 

johan_steele

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#15
CSA Today has his myths, and they are many, I think this is just another one of them. We are to take a 150 year old tale as gospel when it is apparent the man defending it most stridently has made no effort, nor has anyone else apparently, to identify this person who abandoned his arms at a strangers house in hostile territory. It was hostile whether he was a US soldier or a CS soldier for that matter. And as doubts of the story appear... we hear more material apparently pulled out of thin air.

The original article doesn't say bummer, a term which the typical southerner was well aware of. I suspect the current owner's historical knowledge to be typical for most Americans, benign at best. He may simply be repeating a story he was told by family. Such repeating of a story doesn't make it automaticly true. The idea that the elder generation always tells the truth... memories grow lax, confused or fictionalized. I don't know in this case as all I have to look upon are an article from a newspaper, a less than perfect source. Along with the zealous protestations from an anonymous screen name from our unimpeachable CSAToady giving us info that isn't in the article and info he hasn't shared before. It's almost as though it's just been dreamed up. He first broached the story several years ago facing the same questions he's had ample time to research answers to those questions and he still hasn't.

There is no cartridge box, no bayonet and no mention that there ever was... if a soldier is dropping his rifle and his sword I expect he would drop the rest of his traps. I half suspect if the story is even remotely true there is an unmarked grave not to far from the homestead. But as I don't recall seeing a lot of men missing from Shermans command in March of 65... lets just say I have my doubts about the veracity of the story we're getting from CSAToday. We're getting this second hand info from a man who isn't famous for astounding research... at best it needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

March of 1864... the war was all but over, even CS civilians knew it & only the diehards and staybehinders wanted to keep fighting. Everyone else just wanted to get home. We are to belileve a lone US solider decided to go home by abandoning the safety of the column, future rations that kept him going and the sure pay and transportation home that was just a few weeks away along with taking on the stigma of a deserter. If he was with Shermans Army he knew full well the fate of US soldiers caught by CS Home Guards. Are we to believe this man was stupid? CSA Today would have us believe so; he would also have us believe the countryside was rife w/ pillaging, raping, murdering US soldiers.

It's very important to understand that the original article is full of holes and they are holes most likely innocently left. What CSA Today is peddling is something quite different.
 

CSA Today

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#16
CSA Today has his myths, and they are many, I think this is just another one of them. We are to take a 150 year old tale as gospel when it is apparent the man defending it most stridently has made no effort, nor has anyone else apparently, to identify this person who abandoned his arms at a strangers house in hostile territory. It was hostile whether he was a US soldier or a CS soldier for that matter. And as doubts of the story appear... we hear more material apparently pulled out of thin air.

The original article doesn't say bummer, a term which the typical southerner was well aware of. I suspect the current owner's historical knowledge to be typical for most Americans, benign at best. He may simply be repeating a story he was told by family. Such repeating of a story doesn't make it automaticly true. The idea that the elder generation always tells the truth... memories grow lax, confused or fictionalized. I don't know in this case as all I have to look upon are an article from a newspaper, a less than perfect source. Along with the zealous protestations from an anonymous screen name from our unimpeachable CSAToady giving us info that isn't in the article and info he hasn't shared before. It's almost as though it's just been dreamed up. He first broached the story several years ago facing the same questions he's had ample time to research answers to those questions and he still hasn't.

There is no cartridge box, no bayonet and no mention that there ever was... if a soldier is dropping his rifle and his sword I expect he would drop the rest of his traps. I half suspect if the story is even remotely true there is an unmarked grave not to far from the homestead. But as I don't recall seeing a lot of men missing from Shermans command in March of 65... lets just say I have my doubts about the veracity of the story we're getting from CSAToday. We're getting this second hand info from a man who isn't famous for astounding research... at best it needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

March of 1864... the war was all but over, even CS civilians knew it & only the diehards and staybehinders wanted to keep fighting. Everyone else just wanted to get home. We are to belileve a lone US solider decided to go home by abandoning the safety of the column, future rations that kept him going and the sure pay and transportation home that was just a few weeks away along with taking on the stigma of a deserter. If he was with Shermans Army he knew full well the fate of US soldiers caught by CS Home Guards. Are we to believe this man was stupid? CSA Today would have us believe so; he would also have us believe the countryside was rife w/ pillaging, raping, murdering US soldiers.

It's very important to understand that the original article is full of holes and they are holes most likely innocently left. .
CSA Today has his myths, and they are many, I think this is just another one of them. We are to take a 150 year old tale as gospel when it is apparent the man defending it most stridently has made no effort, nor has anyone else apparently, to identify this person who abandoned his arms at a strangers house in hostile territory. It was hostile whether he was a US soldier or a CS soldier for that matter. And as doubts of the story appear... we hear more material apparently pulled out of thin air.

The original article doesn't say bummer, a term which the typical southerner was well aware of. I suspect the current owner's historical knowledge to be typical for most Americans, benign at best. He may simply be repeating a story he was told by family. Such repeating of a story doesn't make it automaticly true. The idea that the elder generation always tells the truth... memories grow lax, confused or fictionalized. I don't know in this case as all I have to look upon are an article from a newspaper, a less than perfect source. Along with the zealous protestations from an anonymous screen name from our unimpeachable CSAToady giving us info that isn't in the article and info he hasn't shared before. It's almost as though it's just been dreamed up. He first broached the story several years ago facing the same questions he's had ample time to research answers to those questions and he still hasn't.

There is no cartridge box, no bayonet and no mention that there ever was... if a soldier is dropping his rifle and his sword I expect he would drop the rest of his traps. I half suspect if the story is even remotely true there is an unmarked grave not to far from the homestead. But as I don't recall seeing a lot of men missing from Shermans command in March of 65... lets just say I have my doubts about the veracity of the story we're getting from CSAToday. We're getting this second hand info from a man who isn't famous for astounding research... at best it needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

March of 1864... the war was all but over, even CS civilians knew it & only the diehards and staybehinders wanted to keep fighting. Everyone else just wanted to get home. We are to belileve a lone US solider decided to go home by abandoning the safety of the column, future rations that kept him going and the sure pay and transportation home that was just a few weeks away along with taking on the stigma of a deserter. If he was with Shermans Army he knew full well the fate of US soldiers caught by CS Home Guards. Are we to believe this man was stupid? CSA Today would have us believe so; he would also have us believe the countryside was rife w/ pillaging, raping, murdering US soldiers.

It's very important to understand that the original article is full of holes and they are holes most likely innocently left. What CSA Today is peddling is something quite different.
Before you get too frenzied in your personal attacks on me, Let me just say that I am not a member of the Newton family nor was it I that wrote or reported the article in the Laurinburg Exchange. The only thing I did was to provide a link to the article to this forum.

The bilge you are trying to peddle is that the Newton family is lying because it would have been impossible that anyone would have straggled or deserted from Sherman’s army. All those thousands a month Yankee desertions occurred only in Grant’s army or some other Federal command, but no, nary a soul straggled or deserted from Sherman’s army according to your vivid imagination.
 
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#17
Most family stories have a grain of truth in there...but they tend to change with the telling.

My own family had this story that our great grandfather's farm was raided by ' black people. It was repeated and over. I did some research and found great grandfather's testimony to the Southern Claims Commission. His farm was raided by Confederates and Union troops. He went into great detail about it because he had to and his claim was accepted. Nowhere did he mention ' black people and yet this story of these phantom black raiders was accepted as gospel in our family for several generations. Who started it and why I have no idea. What is interesting is some of these same relatives were surprised to find out this particular ancestor had been a Unionist. I wondered if the ' black people' myth had been invented as a sort of cover up for that fact. I don't know.

Anyway I believe someone showed up at that farm. Whether he was telling the truth or not is up for debate.
 

CSA Today

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#18
Most family stories have a grain of truth in there...but they tend to change with the telling.

My own family had this story that our great grandfather's farm was raided by ' black people. It was repeated and over. I did some research and found great grandfather's testimony to the Southern Claims Commission. His farm was raided by Confederates and Union troops. He went into great detail about it because he had to and his claim was accepted. Nowhere did he mention ' black people and yet this story of these phantom black raiders was accepted as gospel in our family for several generations. Who started it and why I have no idea. What is interesting is some of these same relatives were surprised to find out this particular ancestor had been a Unionist. I wondered if the ' black people' myth had been invented as a sort of cover up for that fact. I don't know.

Anyway I believe someone showed up at that farm. Whether he was telling the truth or not is up for debate.
It is reasonable to speculate whether an enemy soldier suddenly showing up at your door, several days after his army had already moved northward out of the area, asking for food and telling the lady he only wanted to go home was telling the truth. He may have been a shirker hanging back to avoid battle-- by this time Sherman was aware that Joseph E. Johnston was assembling an army north of here. The man may have intended to rejoin his army once all danger had passed and lied to the woman to play on her sympathy to get food. But I hardly think the lying part is true, if the Newton family wanted vilify the man they could have said he took every last morsel of food in the house by force. But they didn’t, according to Mrs. McNeill’s account the man was frightened but otherwise rather nice – you don’t hear many stories about nice Yankees around here.

What I do find implausible is an assumption that the family is fabricating the story because there was no such thing as deserters and stragglers in Sherman’s army. Equally ridiculous is an assumption that since it was impossible for the man to have been one of Sherman’s men, the man at the door most likely was a Confederate deserter disguised in a Yankee blue uniform trying to get home and away from danger and conflict.
 
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#19
If he was lying how would the family have known he was lying? The family may have had no intention of vilifying him but simply took him at his word.

The story is probably true...and anything is possible. All I'm saying is double check the oral traditions.
 

CSA Today

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#20
If he was lying how would the family have known he was lying? The family may have had no intention of vilifying him but simply took him at his word.

The story is probably true...and anything is possible. All I'm saying is double check the oral traditions.
From everything I’ve read and heard about the encounter, the McNeill/Newton family took him at his word.
 



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