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Diary of A Woman of Fayetteville, March 22, 1865


Diary of A Woman of Fayetteville, March 22, 1865


The diary entry came from a woman who wrote it roughly ten days after Union general William Sherman and his army occupied the city of Fayetteville, North Carolina in the middle of March in 1865. The account discussed the horrors that citizens faced when Sherman and his “bummers” came to town. These bummers destroyed property in hopes to make the war logistically impossible for the South and supply the North’s army. These men also destroyed personal items, like the quilts and blankets that were not needed and even killed personal pets on the South’s home front to destroy the South’s will keep fighting the war. However, as shown in this anonymous account, those “barbarians,” as the woman called them, could take everything and she would live, “Upon patriotism; I will exist upon the love of my country as long as life will last.” This woman proved that Sherman’s men could take everything from her, but that would not stop her from supporting the Confederacy, increasing her patriotism. The main photo is of a skirmish in Fayetteville.


Anonymous Woman of Fayetteville


Diary of A Woman of Fayetteville, March 22, 1865,  When Sherman Came: Southern Women and the "Great March," Katharine Jones ed., (Indianapolis, Indiana: Bobbs-Merrill, Inc., 1964), 284-286.




Tim Justice




Fayetteville, North Carolina

Cumberland County, North Carolina

Original Format



Fayetteville, N.C., March 22, 1865

Sherman has gone and terrible has been the storm that has swept over us with his coming and going. They deliberately shot two of our citizens-murdered them in cold blood-one of them a Mr. Murphy, a wounded soldier, Confederate States army. They hung up three others and one lady, merely letting them down just in time to save life, in order to make them tell where their valuables were concealed; and they whipped-stripped and cowhided-several good and well known citizens for the same purpose.

There was no place, no chamber, trunk, drawer, desk, garret, closet or cellar that was private to their unholy eyes. Their rude hands spared nothing but our lives, and those they would have taken but they knew that therein they would accomplish the death of a few helpless women and children-they would not in the least degree break or bend the spirit of our people. Squad after squad unceasingly came and went and tramped through the halls and rooms of our house day and night during the entire stay of the army.

At our house they killed every chicken, goose, turkey, cow, calf and every living thing, even to our pet dog. They carried off our wagons, carriage and horses, and broke up our buggy, wheelbarrow, garden implements, axes, hatchets, hammers, saws &c., and burned the fences. Our smokehouse and pantry, that a few days ago were well stored with bacon, lard, flour, dried fruit, meal, pickles, preserves, etc., now contain nothing whatever except a few pounds of meal and flour and five pounds of bacon. They took from old men, women and children alike, every garment of wearing apparel save what we had on, not even sparing the napkins of infants! Blankets, sheets, quilts, &c., such as it not suit them to take away they tore to pieces before our eyes. After destroying everything we had, and taking from us every morsel of food (save the pittance I have mentioned, one of these barbarians had to add insult to injury by asking me “what you (I) would live upon now?” I replied, “Upon patriotism; I will exist upon the love of my country as long as life will last, and then I will die as firm in that love as the everlasting hills.”

“Oh,” says he, “but we shall soon subjugate the rebellion, and you will then have no country to love.”

“Never!” I interrupted, “never! You and your blood-handed countrymen may make me whole of this beautiful land one vast graveyard but its people will never be subjugated. Every man, woman and child of us will sleep quietly in honorable graves, but we will never live dishonorable lives.” And he turned and left me with a fiendish chuckle.


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March 11, 1865 Union Soldiers fighting at Fayetteville NC.jpg
A Woman of Fayetteville 1.jpg
A woman of Fayetteville 2.jpg


Anonymous Woman of Fayetteville , Diary of A Woman of Fayetteville, March 22, 1865, Civil War Era NC, accessed May 21, 2024,