The following is a letter written by Captain Henry Jacob Strobhar’s wife Henrietta Elizabeth Bevill Stobhar to her daughter Mrs. James Noble whose family pet name was Dolly. Capt. Strobhar of Company I, Regiment 5 of the Georgia Cavalry signed many papers of induction into the Cavalry in the Effingham area.
D. B. Morgan, Commander of the Georgia Division of Company I, 5th Regiment stated, “I was in the same company with Capt. Strobhar, where he was wounded in the knee, in an engagement with the enemy at Noonday Church, Georgia in the spring 1864; this wound gave him trouble as long as he lived.”
My Dear Dolly
I enclose what I have to tell. You wish me to write of some heroic deed of self-abnegation about the War Between the States. Alas, I have nothing to write about myself, only that I gave my husband and eldest son to fight for their rights. Our property consisted of slaves and land, and of course, I had to stay on our plantation with our children and an overseer to superintend the slaves, and make provision for us. Ere long the overseer had to answer the call for more troops, and I soon found that the whole management fell on me. Our slaves were obedient, but needed someone to guide them. I knew very little of farm work, but did the best I could. I shall never forget being aroused from my slumber one night about 2 o’clock by a rap on the window. It was a neighbor on the way to the city of Savannah and stopped to let me know that Sherman’s Army was only about 5 miles away, and would likely be at our house by breakfast.
No more sleep that night. I trembled with fear, knowing I had only my little ones for protection. Oh, the horror of that morning. I told my children we must keep together, which we did. We had just commenced to eat our breakfast when they rushed in saying, “Here we are” — the Yanks. I took a nervous chill not knowing what they would do. They did not, however, touch the children or myself. But they went all over the house looking for money and jewels. Of course, they got all I had, every piece of silver or anything of value they could lay their hands on. They took everything in the way of something to eat, covering, sheets and pillow slips and table linen was taken to fill with provisions — carried to their camp and then thrown aside to be picked up by the negroes. They were on our place over two days. During all that time, we had nothing to eat. We dared not try to. One of my little boys about 6 years old slipped out to our potato banks to try and get a potato. He found five, about the size of my finger, all that was left of 16 banks. He gave them to two younger ones to roast on the fire and while sitting there, a great strong dirty Yankee came in and seeing the potatoes, took them with one take of his huge paw and ate them. My little ones burst into tears. Was it heroism to stand that?
All my provision was gone before I could hardly realize it. Cattle were ruthlessly shot down, a piece cut out of them and the rest left to spoil. We had starved for three days. My little one was sick from it. My little babe (Dolly) fretted, for she could not get the nourishment God had provided for her. I had been under a strain of fear and excitement, without food, of course it was natural my milk had ceased to flow. Oh! Was ever a woman so desolate the morning they left our place. And my husband being a Captain in the Confederate Army, they refused to give me a guard to protect me. When I looked out, I saw nothing but destruction — fencing all burnt up, blinds torn from their hinges, and the carriage house torn down to make a bridge. My new carriage was taken out — the top cut off, the horses hitched to it, barrels of food put into it, and driven off before my eyes to Sherman’s camp and then set fire to it. Fields were so trampled that no one would think that grain had been planted in them. Our beautiful wheat patch was entirely destroyed. Can you imagine my feelings when I saw all of this? I was thankful though that they neither touched me or my children or ordered us around. I stood all of this and lived. Yes, lived to hear my little ones cry themselves to sleep — crying for bread I did not have to give. A neighbor brought me a little meal and I made some mush to feed them on. My husband had been home a month before having been wounded at Noonday Church. But he was called to Savannah to take charge of all of the wounded officers at the Isle of Hope. My eldest son was off in the Army. I knew not if he was living or not. I feared my husband would be taken prisoner. As I did not know how Savannah would do — either surrender or evacuate. They did evacuate and crossed over into South Carolina. The inhabitants there were fleeing for life as the Yanks swore they would burn every place in Carolina and blow the ashes away. I heard them make several such remarks. My husband obtained food from some families who were glad to sell their provisions, and sent it over to me. But they (the Yanks) kept scouts in the neighborhood nearly all the time. Our plantation was only 20 miles from Savannah. We could hear the guns all through the day and the night. Wheeler’s Cavalry pushed through hard and often while camping near my house. They would tell me they had a skirmish with the Yankees. At last they, Wheeler’s men, left and I felt as miserable all the time never knowing what minute there would be two or three Yankees in my house. I wonder how I came to live through it all.
To be continued next week….see more of the peril Mrs. Strobhar endured.
We thank Joe Oliver, a direct descendant, for sharing this with Historic Effingham. This was copied by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos to share, questions or comments, you can reach her at 754-6681 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.