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Letter from Nellie Worth to Cousin Pattie, March 21, 1865


Letter from Nellie Worth to Cousin Pattie, March 21, 1865


Nellie Worth, a local woman of Glen Burnie, North Carolina, located outside of Fayetteville, wrote the letter to her cousin, Pattie, nearly two weeks after Union General William Sherman and his men had passed. Worth wrote of the harsh treatment she received from Union soldiers, as they took nearly all of the food she had and even personal items, such as dresses. The situation of Sherman’s men taking vast amounts of food was not uncommon, as it occurred in Fayetteville, a short distance away, a couple of days later. Worth did speak kindly of one Union soldier that provided protection, but this one soldier could not change the animosity she possessed towards the Union. The harsh treatment led to Worth proudly displaying her Confederate nationalism, as she sang Confederate songs to Union soldiers, and wished for, “all the power of earth and heaven . . . to destroy them, may their land be one vast scene of ruin and desolation as ours is.” In a situation like Worth’s, the treatment by Sherman’s men led to her withdrawing any support towards the Union, and proudly supporting the Confederacy. The image is of a historic road mark, which stands in Nellie Worth’s hometown to mark Sherman’s passing.


Nellie Worth


Letter from Nellie Worth to Cousin Pattie, March 21, 1865, in When Sherman Came: Southern Women and the "Great March," Katharine Jones ed., (Indianapolis, Indiana: Bobbs-Merrill, Inc., 1964), 259-261.




Tim Justice




Glen Burnie, North Carolina
Cumberland County, North Carolina

Original Format



There was no officer with the first men that came, and our drooping spirits were revived about one o’clock by the sight of a Yankie officer. He came in the house and introduced himself as Lt. Bracht, Mamma and I immediately appealed to him for protection and he soon had order restored in the house, and gave us a guard. I think he was very much of a gentleman. He was very kind to me, that was something I did not expect, I did not think there was a gentleman in the whole Yankie Army, but now I know there is one if no more. He came too late to save any of our property that the Yankies wanted. They carried off every single thing we had to eat, did not leave a grain of corn or coffee, or anything that would sustain life one day; they found all our silver and took every knife, fork and spoon we had in the world.

. . . . They carried off a great many of our clothes, have not left to flinders and carried off my best dresses and two of Mama’s alike. Every one of our darkies went and Ma and I have had to do all of the washing and ironing and scouring. I have done all the cooking. The house is so dirty I don’t think we will ever get it clean in ten months. The Yankies burned our barn and swore they would burn the house over our heads, but Providence saved it, I can’t tell you now how.

. . . . I sat in the parlor and played on the piano, and sang for the Yankies till twelve o’clock Thursday night. The first that came compelled me to play for them, but I vowed I would play nothing but Southern songs and I know you would have been surprised if you have looked in an seen how coolie I was sitting there surrounded by most deadly enemies, singing the “Bonnie Blue Flag” and “Dixie” with all my might, I am confident that I never in all my life sang so well. I breathed all the fire in my soul into those two songs.

Well Pat, I must close by telling you that the Yankies never caught papa and that we are not quite starved to death, though we came very near it, we went five days without a mouthful of bread. You will excuse the paper I know asitis all the Yankies left in the house, and tis a wonder they left this. Oh how I do hate the very name of Yankie! They can never prosper. May the chilling blight of heaven fall on their dark and doomed souls. May all the powers of earth and heaven combine to destroy them, may their land be one cast scene of ruin and desolation as ours is. This is the blessing of the innocent and injured one, I forgive them? May heaven never.


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Nellie Worth, Letter from Nellie Worth to Cousin Pattie, March 21, 1865, Civil War Era NC, accessed May 21, 2024,