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Addition to the Heyward Family Papers, 1864-1865
    A gift to the SCL Manuscripts Division announced in 2004

| Gifts to Manuscripts 2004 | Front Page 2004 | Friends of the Library | Endowments |

Eight letters, 24 July 1864-16 January [18]65, written by Edward Barnwell Heyward (1826-1871) and directed to his wife, Catherine Maria Clinch, affectionately known as “Tat,” and his father, Charles Heyward, complement other Heyward family papers holdings at the South Caroliniana Library and offer remarkable insights into Barney Heyward’s involvement with the Confederate military as a lieutenant of engineers.

Writing on 24 July 1864 from Chisolmville to “My dearest Tat,” Barney shared details of his work-- “Yesterday among other official papers came one from one Gen’l Jones asking for a report of the work done on the Observatory. Now in truth the Capt. hasn’t done one single bit on it and I do assure you I believe would have continued to neglect it entirely but for my own plans.” “I have to answer this letter and you just ought to see my attempt at concealing the truth,” he quipped. “Tomorrow I am going off to be absent three or four days and prepare for going up Saltketcher [Salkehatchie] for good....I have to go about to hire carpenters and will have some rough times before my return....An Asst will go along and I will try to get Boineau’s son detailed as my commissary and with thirty carpenters I think will make the pine land ring. The investment to planters to hire me their negroes is to save their being sent on the coast, which of course is a great advantage.”

The letter continues on to describe Heyward’s daily routine, making specific reference to a Heyward family slave who attended him-- “Darling, you needn’t trouble yourself much about me. I am really quite comfortable and I feel so when I wake in the morning and see my clean bed and Shandy brings in my boots shining, and nice fresh water and my clothes all clean and I know there is a pretty good breakfast getting ready downstairs with a cool cantaloupe and nothing particularly disagreeable to do. How can I complain? No, dearest, I am just resting and ready at my time to go anywhere I am ordered and enjoying myself as I go.”

On 17 August 1864 Heyward addressed his father in a detailed letter, noting that his unit was “very busy, having one hundred and fifty negroes under our charge. Thirty of them being axemen, and at work on the observatory hewing out the pieces, as you may suppose very roughly, to be hauled to the spot, and piled in parcels of assorted sizes and we will then send for a competent Mechanic to frame it.” While it was true that the Confederates were disadvantaged by “there being so little corn for the animals,” he noted that there were “two overseers for the hands on the fortifications” and that he had “pretty nearly come back to my old business, and...it comes quite natural to me, to make lists of negroes and call out names.” “The greatest trouble is the rations of course,” Heyward complained. “The usual army ration of bread stuff, not being sufficient, and the General has ordered an increase and also the ration to be of only one kind, as the different kinds of bread stuff given to the troops is thrown away on negroes. The corn meal is also unsuitable but I tell them to trade it away to the soldiers for Rice which is easily done and the trading carried on by Mr. Chisolms negroes with the troops is awful for all parties for the Green Corn is stolen on one side, & the clothes of the soldiers given in trade, is a great pity. Mr. Chisolm will have paid his tithe, ten times over. Having a Reg’t on your plantation, is the same as a village, and the corruption of every kind is shocking; you must remember that nearly every man in the Rgt has one or two servants, and how are they fed? certainly not by the rations.”

Like many planter-soldiers, Barney was obviously frustrated that his absence from home disadvantaged him from being able to tend to business matters, some details of which he had to entrust to his father. “I am glad you have got off the beef cattle at the Wateree,” he wrote, “and I hope the man will not fail in his promise to give the receipt in my name and I still think it would have been better to have sold them simply as mine, and then there would have been no occasion to ask for any promise for my name & you may depend upon it, the ‘Exemption officer’ would refuse the paper, and will endeavour to get the beef from both of us. In the case of Boineau any Beef that he should sell now will help on the Bacon tax and it will end perhaps in our paying the whole amount of meat in Beef, since you tell me, all my Hogs are gone. If ever again any one comes to buy for government, just say the stock for Sale is mine, and it will save all the trouble of any condition which might not be complied with.”

Heyward was still at Chisolmville when he communicated again with Tat on 20 August [18]64, commenting further on his responsibilities for the oversight of the slaves-- “gracious what a nuisance it is to keep all the negro list correct, the absentees, the sick runaways each day. The overseers keep their own book and I have to correct it at the end of each week.” He asked that she send him addresses for family members he wished to contact to see if they were interested in being supplied with iron he had bought from the wreck of Yankee steamer on the coast-- “for all planters are very much in want of iron which can scarcely be got now at any price.”

His letter of 17 August 1864 speaks of the means by which the Confederate military impressed slaves from planters and speculates that “the War can’t last long. I am sure I can see it in every line from the North, and plainer & plainer every week. Grant says he can whip Lee on the open field and there will now be another battle in the Valley where of course Lee will choose his own ground again.” Another, 19 September 1864, advises Tat that he was in good health-- “I am perfectly sure that plain living agrees best with me....I hardly know what a headache is and I feel better & have been better than for the last ten years. It may seem odd but it is a fact.” Barney noted, however, that the yellow fever was rumored to be bad in Charleston and that Yankee prisoners of war were to be removed from that area to Florence. “I hardly know what to say about War matters,” he mused. “McClellan has lost his chance of election and has played the mischief with his party and deserves to be kicked. He is a conceited ass and has ruined himself. He would have made a very poor President.”

Of particular interest is a letter that dates from 3 October [1864] and comments further on a slave attending Heyward as a body servant. “You ought to see Shandy since Bob has come down....the negroes expressed great surprise at Shandy’s improved looks and he has been showing off ever since, patronizes them all and in the house his performances are wonderful. He does everything but make out our reports and this he will soon attempt as he has already started to learn his alphabet from Bob, but you really would be surprised to see all that the little wretch can do. As to the chamber he is perfect and he never lets me forget anything and is just the head man in the establishment. He is so good natured & everybody here takes a great fancy to him. I think he will make a very useful servant about the house when he is taught.”

As Sherman’s army approached Savannah, Barney Heyward’s letters turned to practical matters concerning the protection of his own property. Writing on 12 December [18]64 from Green Pond, he reported that it was “very quiet here and hardly any signs of War.” Yet, he added, “I still feel what a terrible amount of suffering he has inflicted upon us, and it is just possible that the citizens of Savannah may be made to suffer more than any other City during the War, tho’ I expect great relief to them from this side and down the river in boats from Augusta. By the time he wrote a month later on 16 January [18]65, the panic of the impending emergency was far more pronounced. “I am...very much worried of course,” he confided to Tat, for “the time has come for me to take care of the property at Combahee & I can do nothing at all. I can’t even go over there and I can see nothing but that the whole concern will be lost. You can have no idea how much it troubles me.” Rice and corn crops were being removed, and Heyward expected that stock would soon be driven off. “Don’t tell my Father all I tell you,” he warned. “I feel perfectly sure the enemy will burn his steam mill on the river in a few days....The plantation is gone. I see it plainly. The river between us only allows us a little more time but I can do nothing and I fret so about it being the first time I was completely stumped.”

“Nearly all my negroes on Gov[ernment] work have run away,” the letter continues. Others, he surmised, would be willing to follow him anywhere. “Oh everything is upside down and it looks as if we had no Army to defend our homes with....there has been great exaggeration about the outrages of the Enemy while passing through....Our own troops are in this state and in Georgia more dreaded than the Enemy.” “I hear Gen’l Hardee is speculating in cotton at this minute and last week bought from a planter here his cotton which couldn’t be shipped to Charleston and half an hour after a train passed and it went off. You can have no idea of all the carryings on down here! Save me from my friends should be the cry now.”



This page updated 5 April 2004
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