Diary of George Nichols, March 14, 1865
George Nichols, a lieutenant-colonel in the Union Army, wrote of the disappointment he experienced when in North Carolina, just before he and the rest of General William Sherman’s army set off for Goldsboro. As shown in Item 268, Nichols and others in the Union Army expected to find strong Union support within North Carolina. However, as Nichols recorded upon leaving Fayetteville, that so far, citizens were, “offensively rebellious.” Overall, the Union had, “been altogether disappointed in looking for the Union sentiment in North Carolina.” The strong Union support that many expected was very limited. North Carolina had been, to some Union soldiers, more offensive than Columbia, the capitol of South Carolina, and the supposed worst state in the Confederacy. Nichols still complimented part of the army, the 14th Corps, for behaving properly and keeping order in such rebellious conditions. This particularly demonstrated that Nichols saw the burning of key buildings, like arsenals, and cotton factories, as legitimate, and that excessive foraging was necessary. The above pictures is of an outline of Fayetteville, particularly the area in which the arsenal stood.
Thus far we have been altogether disappointed in looking for the Union sentiment in North Carolina, about which so much has been said. Our experience is decidedly in favor of its sister state; for we found more persons in Columbia who had proved their fealty to the Union causes by their friendliness to our prisoners than all in this state put together. The city of Fayetteville was offensively rebellious; and it has been a matter of surprise that our soldiers, who are quick to understand the distinction, have not made the citizens feel it in one way or another. Perhaps it is partially due to the fact that the 14th Corps has guarded the city, that such strict order has been maintained. This corps has had its share of the hard work, and but little of the perquisites of the campaign. Occupying the extreme left of the parabola, and harder work than any other corps, and has never had the fortune to capture a city, the central column generally striking important positions. But in this instance the left wing, in order to enter the town first, was swung round (as was the right, but withheld by orders from garrisoning the town). For these reasons, I suppose, the men of the 14th Corps wished to show the rest of the army how order they could behave, and they have succeeded remarkably well.
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