Citizens in the City
The city of Goldsboro, during Sherman's occupation, was well protected by General Schofield's security regiment that was set up days before Sherman arrived in the city. With the exception of a few instances of pillaging in the city, most of Goldsboro remained unscathed as compared to other cities of the South. Goldsboro had previously been pillaged before the Union came by their own Confederate army in late 1864 to early 1865. The Confederates raided the city like Sherman's had famously done with every Southern city they marched on. Most of the interactions with the citizens and soldiers came upon entrance in the city. The soldiers marched in and asked those citizens with larger homes for access to the bottom floors of the homes. Most of the instances, time was allotted for a family to move all of their belongings upstairs, where they could keep possession of them. Officers mainly occupied homes like this, with soldiers camping out in tents outside of these homes. 120,000 troops were estimated to be within the city, which sets up a pretty incredible visual of what the city looked like while occupied by Sherman and his troops. Citizens of Goldsboro got along better with the soldiers of Schofield's regiment, than with Sherman and his. They were described as more approachable than Sherman's troops, and more civilized. This was due in part to them assisting the citizens in setting up a security perimeter around the city. While there was a large number of troops in the area Emily Weil argued in her book After Sherman's March: Goldsboro at the End of the Civil War, that citizens in Goldsboro were able to move more freely about than any other city that was occupied by Sherman during his March to the Sea. (Weil 2007, 63) The relationship between the soldiers and the citizens in the city were far better than anyone around the city of Goldsboro. The citizens of Goldsboro could move about more freely and had more interaction with the soldiers that happened to be friendly and kind exchanges more so than encounters that were filled with tension and malicious intent.
Theodore Upson, a Union soldier, wrote in his journal about his time in Goldsboro in March of 1865. He described the people in the city of Goldsboro as "very kind and hospitable. There is none of the treachery we have found in other places." (Item 808) The citizens of Goldsboro were kind to the soldiers due to the compact described earlier with the mayor and Schofield's forces. The cooperation between soldiers and citizens was imperative for them to be able to live a normal life while being occupied by a large Union force. Since the Confederacy had already pillaged the city prior to the Union invasion, the citizens had little to nothing, and didn't want what little they had to be stripped from them. Their kindness and hospitality could also be attributed to the fact that many of the citizens in the city did not want to go to war in the first place. Upson later wrote of his encounter with a civilian man who had lost six of his sons in the Army. The man believed that North Carolina in general did not want to go to war in the first place, but the South left them with no choice but to enter the war on behalf of the Confederacy. With this mindset the citizens of the city saw how differently they were being treated and decided to cooperate with soldiers and assist them by giving away their homes to the officer's of the Union forces. Emily Weil argued that since the citizens had given their homes freely to the officer's of the Union army, and that order had been placed in Goldsboro by Schofield's forces that life could go on. (Weil 2007, 63) People began to interact more with the Union soldiers and life was close to being normal, though fear still lingered of the potential for the city to be burned down, like so many others had been. The citizens in the city had a feeling of hope that citizens in the outskirts could not have.
Security in the city of Goldsboro was something that citizens wished to bring to their own doorstep, and they wanted to take advantage of the service offered by Schofield upon his entrance into the city. While most of the wood (from fences, older buildings, etc.) in the city was used for firewood and other things, the city remained intact. Citizens who wished to protect their property from such destruction could have a guard posted at their home door if they requested it. J.M. Hollowell described this in his 1939 account of Sherman's occupation in Goldsboro. When the Union forces first arrived, some soldiers began pillaging immediately, but when a superior officer approached them they quickly fled. Hollowell recalled that: "When the first ones marched by two or three of the men opened the gate and came up on the piazza. They were partly drunk and asked for whiskey. They were told there was none there. By this time a mounted officer rode up hurriedly, and dismounting, ran into the piazza and ordered the men away, kicking one of them as he went out. The officer then asked if a guard was desired, and being answered in the affirmative, he immediately placed a guard at the gate." (Item 834) Officers were quick to protect the citizens of the city when pillaging seemed to be rising up within the security perimeter. Most of them punished those who attempted to vandalize property, or take what they wanted. In the excerpt we see that officers were in fact there to protect the well-being of the citizens. With this act Hollowell went on to say of those who guarded the homes that: "Pretty soon an officer came and said that Colonel Classen, of the One Hundred and Thirty-second New York regiment, wanted to occupy two rooms and the kitchen of the premises. Well, it is hardly necessary to say they occupied them; and I will do them the justice of saying that I never met a more gentlemanly behaved set of men than Colonel Classen and his staff." (Item 834) Classen and his men were very well kept and behaved in the treatment of those in the city. The incredible cooperation between the citizens and the soldiers gave them no reason to enforce their power of the citizens of the city. The citizens responded well to that, and showed a sign of respect, and in turn respect was given in return. We can see the relationship between the two were better than any other part of the South by the way Hollowell compliments Classen and his men. This is an intriguing account, since so much around them was filled with tension and angst, but within the city things seemed to be civilized, and life was better than any other city Sherman and his men occupied.
Mr. Sutton of Mosely Hall, in Goldsboro, had the courage to write a letter to General Sherman himself. In the letter, Sutton asked for Sherman to supply farm animals for him so he could produce yield from his farm. During his stay in Goldsboro, Sherman issued Special Field Orders, No. 56, on March 8, 1865, which called for the killing of all surplus animals in North Carolina. This was done to prevent the economy of North Carolina from potentially providing assistance to General Lee and his Northern Virginia army. Sutton had an estimated 100 animals killed on his farm due to this order which was a death sentence to his farm. Sherman responded to Sutton on April 4, 1865, and stated that he could not offer any assistance to the citizens of North Carolina until the state made a public announcement that they were supporters of the Union cause. In it he sympathized with Sutton but offered no help for him. (Item 166) The act of writing a letter to Sherman, showed that Sutton was comfortable with writing to the infamous Sherman and hoping for a positive response. Sutton felt he had the freedom and ability to be hear out by the commanding general of a large army that was occupying his home city, and had the capability and reputation of destroying a city with a single sentence. Sherman's response was different from what one would expect of a superior Union general to a Confederate farmer during his time of occupation. He sympathized with Sutton and wished he could do more, but even though the citizens of Goldsboro were cooperative and assisting his forces within the city, it still wasn't enough for Sherman to be willing enough to provide support for those he desperately needed it.
Goldsboro was occupied by a large number of Union soldiers during this time, and the vast number seemed to be enough to essentially force the citizens into cooperating with fear of their city potentially being destroyed at any possible moment. The city was littered with soldiers taking up every possible inch of land to lay their heads and establish camp. Cornelia Spencer described the scene in Goldsboro: "Every available spot in the town, and for miles around it, was covered with the two armies, estimated at one hundred and twenty-five thousand men." (Item 729) The description by Spencer is an intimidating one. With that many soldiers of the opposition occupying your city, it seemed that cooperation was the only way to spare the city and the inhabitants. Citizens may have seen this as an opportunity to begin reconciliation with the Union that they may have not wanted to part ways with in the first place in 1861. Giving cooperation with the massive Union force would allow for citizens to move more freely about the town, and give them more options to live a more normal lifestyle than those that had encountered Sherman and his chaos in the outskirts and in other parts of the South.