A correspondent relates the following interview of a Federal foraging party with a Tennessee farmer:
At another place we called on the owner, a man of over sixty years, well saved, yet evidently much cast down and disheartened. He was polite, and answered all questions studiously. On being asked what he had to spare, he answered, “Not much; indeed, nothing.” His wife and four children, standing beside him, said not a word, but the countenance of the whole group showed that the old man told the truth. “Indeed, I have nothing,” said he; “what, with one army and another campaigning through this part of Tennessee, they have stripped me of all I could spare and more too.”
“Have you no horses or mules?” asked the officer.
“Yes,” answered the man, “I have one more mule, which is entirely broken down; it was left by a trooper, who took my last horse in its stead.”
“No beef-cattle?” was the next question.
“No, not one,” was the answer.
“Yes, sir; I have four pigs, which I had intended for my winter’s supply of meat.”
“Any negroes?” asked the officer.
“No, not one; my servants all left me two or three months ago. I have not one on the place. I have to chop all my wood, and my wife and daughters do the in-doors, what they can.”
“Any corn or wheat?”
“No wheat, and only two or three barrels of corn,” was the reply.
“Let’s see your mule,” said the officer. It was brought up, and was as the old man said.
“Show me those pigs,” was the next demand.
When the old man heard this, he could hardly speak; his hopes were almost at an end. He showed the pigs, however; they were no more than such a family would need, nor as much.
The officer then kindly said: “You may keep all these things; they will help you and can be of little good to us,” and gave the old man a “safeguard,” which might save his property from our troops. Three years before, this man owned a large, well-stocked plantation; had cattle and hogs in plenty, with servants to come at his call, and corn to sell or keep. Now, he was sincerely thankful, and much moved that we spared him his four little shoats, his pittance of corn, and his old mare-mule with which he hoped to make a small crop next spring. The war has been at his very door; he had seen it in all relations, and knew that it was vigorously prosecuted.
Originally posted 2009-01-14 19:34:48.