Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 13.djvu/510
Return of a Refugee. 599
having spoken, acted, or looked any sense of superiority to the race so lately their servitors, now their masters. I saw delicate, refined women summoned and taken before the military tribu- nals to answer to the charge of having asserted authority in their own houses. It was unsafe for young girls to walk in the streets in open daylight, the pavements being reserved strictly for the use of the "colored ladies," and even their escorts elbowed white citizens into the gutters, and took vengeance if resistance was made or a pro- test entered. It is hard to believe that such things were possible only a few years ago; but we of the South have good memories, and the generations to come must not remain ignorant of what was in- flicted and endured for the sake of that two-faced goddess called liberty.
Next to Columbia, Winnsboro suffered more than any other town in the State. The license given to the army in the former city had not yet glutted itself, and this town had to pay the penalty of lying in the line of march. The country around was one holocaust of flame that night of February 20, 1864. From the doorway of her dwelling in Winnsboro, my aunt, Mrs. James Stewart, counted sixteen distinct fires in the country around. Her own plantation, two miles west, was entirely destroyed. Not less than one dozen buildings were burnt, every head of cattle driven off or killed, horses and mules seized, stores and supplies consumed in the burning houses or poured out wantonly upon the ground, the frightened negroes robbed of their new supply of winter shoes. A three-years' crop of cotton disap- peared in the blazing gin-house, together with our wagons, car- riages, and every inflammable bit of material on the premises. One huge bonfire rejoiced the sight of these Parsees, who laughed and sang and shouted as the crackling flames licked the ancestral oaks, and that beloved homestead, whicn had sheltered so many warm and happy hearts, vanished into smoke and ashes.
Among such scenes as met me here I could not linger. A few days more and I went on to Columbia. An old-fashioned stage- coach, revived by the necessities of the case, ran between the two towns, and in this my seat was taken one August evening. The pas- sengers consisted of a merchant from Baltimore, two way-farers of the indefinite sort which leaves no vivid impression, and a very fat old lady, who was going as far as Ridgeway. The condition of the road rendered sleep impossible, and probably it was years before the footprints of Sherman's army were obliterated. Every available path was cut up by the wheels of heavy ordnance and wagon-trains;