“The Lowest types of “poor buckra”
The enemy cavalry reached Lancaster, South Carolina on 23 February 1865 as it continued its feint towards Charlotte. The invader had crossed “the Catawba at Rocky Mount” known for its scenes of a previous invader and struggle for American independence. Mrs. Foster’s father had already lost three of his plantations to enemy depredations – he hesitated about leaving his home on the approach of the enemy but her “mother insisted that he should leave us to our fate, and God’s providential care.”
From Mrs. J.H. Foster’s Diary:
“We awaited the coming of Sherman’s army with the greatest apprehension, for the reports that preceded its approach of the destruction and burning of everything in its wake were calculated to arouse the alarm of any civilized community.
I was standing in a high back porch, looking towards the old Methodist Church, when I saw one, two, then several, Yankees riding rapidly to Main street crossing; then I heard a gun fired, an a Negro girl ran through the hall and, in great excitement, said: “Lor’, they done killed old Mr. Jack Crockett.”
He was an old citizen who was too old to go to the war, to which he gave his two sons. He was crossing the street just as the Yankees rode into town, and they fired, without hitting him.
This, the beginning of the rabble, was rapidly increasing in numbers. They were entering residences on every hand, and as I turned to enter the hall, numbers were rapidly entering our front door and, very unceremoniously walking into bedrooms or other rooms; they asked for food, proceeded into closets, the storeroom, dairy, smokehouse. If the keys were not furnished, the butt end of a musket served to shiver the timbers, that they might gain access.
There were but few men in town. The white women and children, and their Negroes, were there to meet the emergency as best they could. As children, we looked with wonder at all those rude soldiers, going through closets, cupboards, drawers; desecrating, even by the touch of their hands, the very Lares and Penates of our household. We could see that our mother was very much exercised, for she thought best to unlock every door, drawer, or any place they might suspect her of hiding gold or silver, of which they seemed to think we had plenty.
Those Yankees filled their knapsacks with whatever pleased their fancy. The hams were tied to their saddles, or slung two across, and they ransacked every nook and cranny of the house. Many of them seemed drunk to me. They asked for whiskey, but my mother said she had none. They did not believe her and went searching through everything for it.
Several of them took the house servants and searched them for the jewelry we might have hidden on them. Even old mammy was forced to the smokehouse by threats and the pistol, to give up anything she had concealed. Our Negroes were too indignant over this treatment ever to have any use for Yankees. They believed them to be the lowest types of ‘poor buckra”….and their minds seemed set upon finding treasure.”
(When Sherman Came: Southern Women and the “Great March,” Katherine M. Jones, Bobbs-Merrill, 1964, pp. 230-232)
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