Vandals Liberate Furniture in Wilmington
The invading army swarmed into Wilmington, North Carolina in February, 1865, and the rank and file were joined by their officers in the usual looting of anything of value. Ellen Bellamy, below, was a young girl at the time who witnessed the scenes of thievery and uncouth behavior of the liberators.
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Vandals Liberate Furniture in Wilmington:
“The Federal troops captured Wilmington on February 21, 1865; they took possession of our home, which we had temporarily vacated, and it remained General Hawley’s Headquarters a long time, even after Lee’s surrender. It was very galling…”
[Mother] came up to own dear house, accompanied by a friendly neighbor…who was related to General Hawley, and had offered to introduce her. It was most humiliating, and trying, to be entertained by Mrs. Hawley, in her own parlor. Mrs. Hawley showed her raising by “hawking and spitting” in the fire, a most unlady-like act. During the call she offered Mother some figs (from Mother’s own tree) which Aunt Sarah had picked—our own old cook, who had been left there in charge of the premises.
My father made several trips to…Washington City before they would grant him his “Pardon.” For what? For being a Southern Gentlemen, a Rebel, and a large Slave Owner! The slaves he had inherited from his father, and which he considered a sacred trust. Being a physician, he guarded their health, kept a faithful overseer to look after them (his home being a regular drug store), and employed a Methodist minister, Rev. Mr. Turrentine, by the year, to look after their spiritual welfare.
Although the war was practically over seven months, we did not get possession of our home ‘till September. [T]he beautiful white marble mantles in the two parlors were so caked with tobacco spit and garbs of chewed tobacco, they were cleaned with great difficulty; indeed, the white marble hearths are still stained…No furniture had been left in the parlors…On leaving here, the Yankees gave [the] furniture to a servant…” In our sitting room, our large mahogany bookcase was left, as it was too bulky for them to carry off; but from its drawers numerous things were taken, among them an autograph album belonging to me brother Marsden.
A number of years later, when my brother John was in Washington as a member of Congress, this same Hawley, then a senator from Illinois, told him of the album “coming into his possession” when he occupied our house, and said he would restore it to him. However, he took care not to do it, although repeatedly reminded.”
(Back With The Tide, Memoirs of Ellen D. Bellamy, Bellamy Mansion Museum 2002, pp. 5-8)