|Many Southern cities and towns were sacked by Federal troops. In this|
contemporary drawing, it is Federals sacking Fredericksburg, Va.
(Library of Congress)
[Richmond Daily Dispatch, July 15, 1863]
If there was any motive lacking to induce the people of the South to form associations for home defence, the following account of the sacking of Clinton, La., by Federal troops, should stir them up to the initiation of measures which may prevent their own homes becoming the scenes of similar outrages. The city was entered by Grierson's Federal cavalry about daylight on Sunday morning, and they immediately commenced searching for arms and arresting citizens. A correspondent of the Atlanta Appeal says:
They arrested the citizens and took them to the Masonic Hall, leaving none but the women and children at the houses, and when there was no one, the houses and everything in them were broken open and examined, and when anything suited the fancy or taste of the searcher he appropriated it. From some houses they took every suit of gentleman's clothes, not leaving the owner a change; from others they took as many shirts as they needed, and wherever a gold or silver watch was found, with a few exceptions, it was pocketed Many ladies breast pins found their way into the pockets of the 6th and 7th Illinois cavalry. Every dairy and cupboard was emptied of its eatables and every cook was employed in preparing them breakfast. From almost every corn-crib they took corn to feed their horses. The citizens around and near the Masonic Hall, where the officers [ were, were ] not molested, except the stores. Under the pretext of searching for arms they broke open every store and office in the town, scattering the goods and papers in every direction, and loading some of them in wagons. The windows and show cases were ruthlessly and needlessly smashed.
Some of the soldiers rode their horses into the stores and into some of the offices. While the citizens were at the Masonic hall hospital, many soldiers were seen riding by with boots, hats, and dry goods of various kinds, and large bundles of tobacco. The officers in command could not fail to see this, and knew that their men were pillaging the town. The men seemed to think that any amount of guns and ammunition were concealed in the iron safes, because they broke open almost every one in town, none of which had any money in them except one, and that but a small amount — Every horse they could see and catch, with every bridle and saddle, they took and carried off. A great many of the men urged the negroes, wherever they met them, to run away, and some one or two they forced to go, one of whom has returned. Some nine or ten went off with them, and during the week some twenty or thirty followed them from town. They burned the depot and machine shops, and the machinery of the Louisiana penitentiary, stationed here, which is a great loss to the Confederacy.
With pistols in hand, and presented, they demanded the watches and money from some of our citizens: They got some four or five gold watches, and perhaps as many silver ones. They even robbed an old negro man of Mr. F. Hardesty of an old silver watch.
They visited the residence of Mrs. Lee, and, presenting a pistol to her head, demanded all the money in the house. They cursed and abused her very much, and greatly terrified her and her daughter, Mrs. Batchelor. They put a pistol to the breast of Rev. Mr. Hamlin, at his residence, and demanded his watch, threatening to shoot him if they did not get it. They did the same with Dr. E. Delong, but neither of these gentlemen owned watches, and of course the members of Grierson's Western cavalry did not get them They paroled all the sick and all the straggling Confederate soldiers they found in town. They left about half-past 9 o'clock A. M. During their stay they were the most alarmed set of men our citizens ever saw.
A portion of the men who were detailed to guard the citizens, saw Capt. Hayden with a gold watch; when the citizens were dismissed they followed him to his home and presenting their pistols forcibly took his watch and chain. As soon as they finished paroling the citizens they left with their plunder. On Monday evening following five of them went to the residence of A. D. Palmer, about four miles from town, during the night, and inveigled the old man from his house some distance, and then pretending to have an order from Gen. Banks to take him and his papers and box to Gen. B., they forced the old man to give them his money box and papers, robbing him of six thousand dollars. A few days since they robbed Mr. George Keller, near Jackson, Louisiana, of fifteen thousand dollars.