Yankees in Greene County
[Submitted by Scott Owens Anrkee@aol.com]
A Goodly Heritage, Greene County Historical Society, 1976, pp125-126
THE WAR COMES TO GREENE COUNTY
The War Between the States took its toll on Greene County as it did in many, many
Mrs. Virginia B. Willis tells of the experiences of two young ladies, Miss Mary
Crawford and Miss Anna Mary Garrow, for the southern section of Alabama who planned to
visit relatives in Eutaw. They took a boat to Gainesville, where the expected Colonel
Crawford to have someone meet them. All moved smoothly until arriving in Gainesville and
there they found no one to meet them. The more terrible still, they heard Mobile had
Two young girls cut off from their homes, one from Mobile and the other from Dallas
County. How would they get to Eutaw?
At last, as they waited somewhat hopelessly at the landing, news arrived that a battle
was impending near Selma, and two young Confederate surgeons had just arrived in an
ambulance hurrying toward the scene of combat. They gallantly offered to escort the ladies
to Eutaw, which was on the way.
Gladly, the girls accepted the invitation. They found the young men charming, and the
young men seemed to have found the girls delightful. Really, it was romantic to be
hurrying into battle in the company of two pretty, charming girls.
After reaching Eutaw and depositing the girls safely at the home of Colonel Crawford,
the young men continued their dash to get to Selma in time for the battle.
THE HIDDEN JEWEL BOXES
One day there was a chilling cry, "The Yanks are coming! The Yanks are coming! Hide your valuables."
The girls had taken off their jewelry and had it packed away in little boxes. Now the
question was where the boxes should be hidden. Realizing that there was no more time to
hunt for a safe hiding place as the blue lines were already arriving over the hill, they
hurriedly tossed the boxes from the upstairs window on top of the scuppernong arbor below.
The Yankee soldiers were all over the place searching every nook, corner, closet,
sideboards, chimneys, and the attic. They tore up the flower gardens with the blades of
their bayonets and also the ground beneath the scuppernong arbors. However, they never
looked up to discover the precious little boxes of treasures!
At last, finding nothing, the Yankees left without getting any loot.
When the Yankee soldiers, on their way through Greene County, reached Grassdale, the
Coleman plantation, it was a frightening experience for the two young women,
sisters-in-law, and a young brother of them who had charge of the plantation at this time.
They had made careful plans and with help had buried all the silver in stout metal boxes
before the Yankees arrived.
The soldiers searched the yard, grove, and garden in vain for hidden valuables, then
came into the house to continue that search, and to be sure there were no sick or wounded
Confederate soldiers on the place. When they started to go upstairs where the baby was
sleeping, Rhoda Meriwether, the babys aunt, took her seat on the narrow stair and spread her skirts across it. She
told the soldiers that no one was up there but a tiny, sleeping child, and that
they could not disturb or frighten her. The soldiers ordered Rhoda to move, saying that
they were going up. She looked calmly at them and said, "Only over my dead body will you go up there."
Somehow she won out, and the soldiers did not go upstairs, nor did they harm her or anyone
else on the place.
The 3rd Brigade, Dpt of the Gulf Cavalry forces, under the command of Brig Gen T. J.
marched from near Spanish Fort, Alabama, April 9, 1865, northward, ultimately reaching
Vicksburg, Miss, June 4, 1865. These guys captured CSA Gen. Pillow and Ala Gov A.B. Moore
in the course of their march.
OR, Ser 1, Vol 49, Part 2, pp305-307
"Marched the next day (May 15th) in the direction of Greensborough, sending a
detachment by way of Marion and the 2nd Illinois Cav from Greensborough to Tuscaloosa to
rejoin the command at Columbus, Miss. Crossed the Black Warrior at the pontoon bridge four
miles from Eutaw (this would be at Finchs Ferry), near which place we halted for the night of the 16th (of May
1865), leaving a provost guard in the town. Marched the next day (May 17),
passing near Pleasant Ridge Post-Office, across the Sipsey River. Marched
the next day (May 18) a short distance beyond Pickensville..."
OR, Series 1, Vol 49, Part 1, p 307
"I observed, in marching through the country, a great difference between the
conduct and feelings of the inhabitants who had before been visited by our troops and
those who had to a great extent escaped the losses of the war and the ravages attending
the passage of troops. In the former case we were treated with comparative respect and
civility, while in the latter the people manifested the greatest hatred and defiance
toward us, and had no hesitation in insulting our soldiers either by words or actions (?).
They still had confidence in the success of their cause, and declared most emphatically
their detestation of the Federal Government and a contempt for its authority. I met very
few of either class, more particularly among the wealthy, who did not desire the triumph
of the Confederacy, and submitted only to superior force. I have constantly exerted myself
to maintain strict discipline in my command, and any straggling or marauding, whenever it
has come to my notice, has been severely punished. Excepting in a few instance where
squads of men have stolen from the column and committed depredations, the people have been
respectfully treated by my troops. I found that many of the paroled soldiers of the
Confederate army returning to their homes were constantly committing outrages to a greater
or less extent, which acts a majority of the people were ready to attribute to the troops
of my command, though a number of citizens admitted that they had suffered in this way
from returning Confederates. I send, together with his report, a list of the number of
animals turned over by my quartermaster to citizens who claimed them to replace others
taken from them. A large majority of the animals captured on this march were brought to
the column by contrabands leaving their homes. In nearly every instance of negroes coming
to the column they have been mounted. Of course the animals were left in the
A little insight as to what conditions existed in west Alabama in May 1865, and the
morale of Confederate citizens even as late as May 1865, after the surrender of Lee was