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In "Dixie."

AS I was in Montgomery on the 1st, in Macon on the 3d, in Augusta on the 7th, in Columbia on the 10th, in Raleigh on the 13th, and in Richmond on the 10th of March, I think I can give you a better picture of Dixie's land generally than even the "reliable gentleman" of the newspapers.

Alabama is my home. For the past twenty years I have continued to cultivate a small plantation, beginning with seven slaves, and now owning twenty.

Fifteen years ago my State was, as to general commercial and agricultural interests, enjoying a prosperity as great as could be desired. As an illustration of the average circumstances of those within my own acquaintance, I will select my friend and neighbor, Mr. Ames, and tell you what were then his possessions and prospects; premising that, before my letter is over, I will let you know how as to the same respects he stands to-day. Mr. Ames was then a married man with two children. He was twenty-six years old. He owned eight hundred acres of excellent land, with twelve laborers and eight servants too young to labor. He employed no overseer, being himself very industrious, a good farmer, and fond of devoting all his time and energies to his plantation. The following is a fair estimate of his capital and stock in the business of agriculture, in gold, at that time:

Eight hundred acres of land $8,000
Twelve laborers 14,000
Eight other servants 4,000
Cattle and farming implements 1,000
Seven mules 1,080
One horse 200
Total $28,250

The annual product of this farm, over and above the supplies raised for the family and servants, was sixty bales of cotton, which, at the rate of ten cents per pound, or fifty dollars per bale, amounted to three thousand dollars per annum. Of this sum one thousand dollars was all he expended beyond what his land produced for the wants of the household, so that his annual savings were two thousand dollars, to be invested from year to year in grown hands, or women with young children, or in land; it being necessary to increase his land twenty-five per cent. every eighth year to accommodate his increasing help.

His home was pleasant, and furnished with every thing necessary for comfort. As to clothing his family made a respectable appearance, and he was educating a daughter at a considerable expense in a neighboring female seminary. He was a very pious member of the Methodist Church, liberal in his gifts to benevolent objects, and his house was noted as the home of preachers as they passed through that county.

As to his future prospects in life, there was every reason to suppose that at the age of forty he might increase the comforts and luxuries of his family; annually visit the Northern States or enjoy a European tour; and educate his children either at home or abroad in the best manner; while, if spared to the age of fifty years, it would be equally probable that his property would by that time have reached the amount of $125,000, which would provide ample fortunes to each of a family of five children. In fact, it was a common declaration of business men in that county that they doubled their capital every five years; or, to use the language of their ordinary statement, "A man may buy a plantation and negroes without a cent, borrowing the money for the purpose, and make both pay for themselves in five years, the overseeing and managing being thrown into the account."

I may add, although it is not essential to complete the estimate of my friend's fortune and prospects, that Mr. Ames, although finding, as he came on the stage of life, slavery to be the normal condition of the blacks in his State, and, while obtaining his servants by the gift of his mother and his wife's father as part of his capital in commencing business as a planter, yet had no violent sentiments as to its extension or perpetuity. He was known to be conservative as to Southern rights and demands in the incoming States, and was a friend to the doctrine known as "Popular Sovereignty." He had, however, no scruples as to the system as he found it in Alabama, and expected its continuance in the Cotton States.

I have purposely selected this individual as representing to my memory the average thrift and intelligence of the community in which he lived; and this general description of my friend would answer to describe many others residing near him, and who were accustomed to daily intercourse at the county seat, or a country store nearer home. In this county the large body of citizens were men of similar opinions and information. Mr. Ames read no daily paper, but took one religious and two secular weeklies.

This was fifteen years ago. At that time, however deep the seeds of disunion may have been sowed in our vicinity, we heard or read nothing of secession from the Union. But in 1850, when the compromise measures were discussed in Congress, many of our local politicians openly avowed the opinion that, to enjoy the highest prosperity, the South must declare itself an independent Government. My friend was active in the expression of an opposite sentiment; was a strong supporter of Mr. Clay's "Compromise;" was spoken of for the Legislature, and, had he consented, could have been elected by a large Union majority.

I do not propose to detain you with a history of the change in public opinion and its causes, so familiar to all, but will say that in the last Presidential election, after the Charleston Convention had broken up, it was the hope of the Union men at the South that no candidate would be chosen by the people, that Congress would elect a President, and that the choice would fall either upon Douglas or Bell, whose election would not furnish to the violent secession men the pretext they would plead if Mr. Lincoln were chosen.


When Sumter was reinforced, attacked, and finally taken, the leaders of disunion took pains that every where there should seem to be demonstrations of great rejoicing; but there were not a few who, justly appreciating the magnitude of the contest before them, regarded the event with a deep, anxious, heart-rending solicitude.

These prime leaders of the rebellion, who first controlled and still hold in tyranny our crushed and manacled South, inspired all the newspapers to give forth the same utterances that filled the public messages and proclamations sent from Montgomery, and afterward from Richmond. The following are fair specimens of these utterances:

"President Lincoln will never dare to make war."

"It will be impossible to raise a man or a dollar to de-fend the Union cause against seceding States."

"Troops never can march an inch through the Border States on such an errand."

"Foreign recognition is a certainty, and there is no question as to it except of a few weeks or more in time."

"The slaves will supply by their labor all necessary productions for an army to defend the South, or, if necessary, invade the North."

"Even should there be an attempt to organize an army to oppose secession and maintain the Union, Washington must fall, and the national Administration with it, before inch an army can be matured."

Such were some of the axioms studiously instilled into the minds of the people of the South; and under the influence of these and similar statements, relied upon and gradually confided in, a deluded people were hurried into what has already brought desolation and death into many of their homes, and made the whole land weep with garments rolled in blood. Not more certainly did a "lying spirit" of old enter into all the prophets that Ahab, King of Israel, might fall in battle, than did a lying spirit seem to twist and distort the condition of every thing in the minds of the leaders of the rebellion, giving heed to which the South is to-day suffering its present extremities. The first signs of actual warfare appeared in the daily and nightly drilling of the uniformed companies of militia in the towns and cities. These companies were continually parading, with martial music. Banners were presented to them, speeches were made exhorting them to die for Southern independence, and they were organized into the army that fought at Bull Run.

After the result of that battle was known all supposed that there would be no more fighting and no more troops needed. Victory was with the Confederacy, Washington was theirs, the North would yield and obey, and Southern independence was achieved. Such was the universal cry of the Government, the army officers, and all the journals.

No other topic was heard; and all comparisons instituted between North and South ended by declaring the people of the latter to be the most intelligent, refined, wise, and brave on the face of the earth. It was not safe to hazard, the supposition that the North had brave men or noble women; to infer that she would fight; or speak of the battles of Revolutionary times, in which the forefathers of Northern men were victorious. The only qualities which "the Yankees" could be praised for without personal danger were money-making without labor, and knavery in the spheres of peddling, manufacturing gilt jewelry, compounding patent medicines, and the like. As to statesmanship, philosophy, literature, learning, science, or art, any advances or proficiency in these it was universally claimed were only derived or copied from the savans of Europe or of the Confederate States.

The almost universal impression has been that "the Yankees" could only fight under the protection of their gun-boats, or with a numerical force double that of their antagonists; and not until the successes of Vicksburg and Gettysburg has this conviction been at all shaken.

The general estimate of the chances for the South in this matter may be thus briefly stated:

If a compromise candidate or even a War Democrat is elected, there will be a show of war, but only a show, and then a peace will be concluded on the basis of two Governments. If another war or Anti-Slavery candidate is chosen the old army of office-holders and Government contractors will be ejected, and the new and successful aspirants for their vacant places will succeed in prolonging the war for their own advantage. Then, as Micawber says, "something will turn up," and recognition abroad or dissatisfaction at home will give victory to the Confederacy. But if Lincoln is elected all hope for the Confederacy is dead.

Do you ask me whether we feel the war much yet? Hardly, in our pockets. The Government has spent such enormous sums that money is very plenty, but is principally in the hands of producers of surplus provisions, contractors, speculators, and manufacturers. Shop-keepers are as a class abolished; their stores are closed, and, as such, they can not operate.

I have said that I was in Macon on the 3d of March, and perhaps I can not give you a better impression of how a business town now appears than by telling you what I saw and experienced there.

The cotton warehouses are loaded, I may say densely packed and overflowing. The cotton in them belongs to farmers, merchants who have closed business and thus invested, bank and railroad corporations, men claiming British, French, or German citizenship, or speculators who have made fortunes since the war, the latter of whom have largely invested in land, or cotton, or city property, all the funds not necessary for their business. I may add, many of the above are now enjoying the protection which a Northern residence affords them, and are to be found in New York, Philadelphia, and other cities of the loyal States. I found about half of the mercantile houses closed entirely and not used at all. Of the remainder half may be said to be filled with cotton or tobacco on storage, and the few others about half open, presenting much such an appearance as stores partially open on Sunday here present. Of articles to be sold there was to be found about a twentieth part of


the variety that could formerly be obtained. The merchants are without clerks and entirely indifferent as to whether they sell or not, generally seeming to prefer the articles on hand to Confederate money at any price.

My wife, who before the war was accustomed to every luxury, and always made her Northern shopping tour annually, had not purchased since the war a single dress, but was now extravagant enough to demand calico for one only. I purchased accordingly some articles for her, and here, with some annotations, is the bill which I paid:

10 yds. [narrow] prints [ž wide, said to be English, blockade;
but on examination bearing the label "Sprague's narrow prints"], $8 50 per yd
$85 00
20 yds. [coarse] muslin, $15 per yd 300 00
10 yds. [coarse poor] challis, $18 per yd 180 00
3 spools Coate's thread, $3 per spool 9 00
1 [narrow ribbon] cravat 3 75
1 card hooks and eyes [poor quality] 3 00
1 [small coarse] 5 00
2 slate pencils 5 00
  $590 75

Having traded to my satisfaction, I went to look at the mechanics shops. These are closed, except such as are under the supervision of and employed by the Government, or those having Government contracts, who, however, smuggle in a little work for individual customers or friends. All the mechanics thus employed are regularly mustered into the army, and are detailed for this duty.

The hotels are unswept and unwashed. The servants are few in number. So many soldiers, some sick, some with neglected wounds remain in them, that the rooms are in an ill plight as to cleanliness, and a disgusting odor fills them all. You register your name. If there is a room you get a portion of it, and the whole or part of a bed, by paying twenty dollars. The lodging is only ten, but you must pay for one meal also (tea or breakfast), to secure it: you then receive a lodging ticket and a meal ticket. You go to your room. The servant apologizes for the lack of every thing by saying, "The sold-jus done stole all de tings." So there is no soap, no bowl, no pitcher, no towel. Half an inch of tallow-candle is given you at bed time; you find but one sheet on your bed and very scanty covering. If you ask for a fire you pay two dollars extra. This is of course a wood fire, as there is no transportation for coal. If you can sleep, you do so; and then the following breakfast awaits you when yon give up your ticket at the dining-room.

STEAK. — [That is such beef as you may read of in Robinson Crusoe or Gulliver.]

COFFEE. — [That is a decoction of wheat, rye, corn, sweet-potatoes, or ground pease, with sugar from the bottom of a molasses barrel, nearly as black as tar, and the molasses not being dripped, out, of course wet.]

CORN BREAD and butter. — [The latter fair.]

The dinner is of a piece with the breakfast. It would seem that there could be but little temptation to visit the bar where liquors are five dollars a drink, which is doled out in a small wine-glass, no man being allowed to help himself.

The private residences wear the appearance of neglect; as there is no mechanical labor at command there are no repairs. All additions or alterations commenced before the war remain just as they then were. The streets are not swept, and are also neglected as to repairs, but crowded with a motley assemblage of refugees from the conquered portions of different States, who wander about almost without the means of living; for many of these once rich are now nearly beggars. I saw several from Charleston, Savannah, etc., in rags, and only saved from starvation by a State fund appropriated to the sustenance of poor soldiers families and the distressed generally. The universal dress is a home-made jean with shoes of cloth uppers and wooden soles. I visited a large house, almost the only manufactory I saw in the South that is not working for the Government, where they make ladies shoes with patent cloth uppers and leather single soles that are readily bought at from thirty to forty dollars per pair.

I might go on thus to sketch for you the aspect of Southern towns and Dixie's land generally, but have talked longer now than I intended, and will close by giving you, as I promised, a glimpse of my friend, Mr. Ames, as I left him a few weeks ago.

His workmen have increased, as he now owns twenty-four laborers. All his horses, mules, and stock, save those actually used in the tillage of his land, are impressed.

You ask how is this impressment conducted? Thus: The country is divided into districts, over each of which an impressing agent is appointed. These are ordered from time to time to take such property as is not actually necessary for the sustenance of families. The prices are fixed by two Commissioners, one appointed by the General Government, and one by the State Government. These Commissioners meet every month and assign the prices that the agents subject to them shall give for impressed property. The agents then are furnished with money, or, at the option of the owner of the goods, give a certificate payable in scrip. These agents are also instructed to purchase if they can at the same prices, and not to impress unless no purchase can be effected otherwise. If it is suspected that property is secreted, or its amount underestimated by the owner, his premises are most thoroughly searehed.

My friend has thus had all of his horses impressed. He is allowed by law to plant only three acres of cotton. All his meat (bacon) over one-half the usual allowance for bis negroes has been impressed. All his cattle, except oxen actually used on his farm and milch cows actually now giving milk, and all other cattle except sucking-calves, were impressed.


He is unable to obtain more than half the iron requisite for his plow-work.

His negroes have not for four years had a single blanket, but for a substitute a loose spongy fabric of home-made cotton. One of these poor substitutes for blankets is given each year to every adult negro. The children have none. He and his immediate family have only such clothing as they make from the fabric produced on their own wheels and looms introduced in 1861 and 1862. As they have no sheep they have no wool for blankets or aught else.

Besides these privations my friend suffers all the depression of spirits arising from the overthrow of all his plans for future life. Instead of riches and luxury, poverty and distress are before him. His property is consumed by taxation, his servants are a burden, he has abandoned the idea of educating his children or of foreign travel. He was intending to erect a pleasant dwelling, the old home of his family being much dilapidated; this intention he will never fulfill or his expectations of a comfortable living in his old age. As he now considers the rebellion a failure, and has given up all hopes of success under the present tyranny, he sees nothing before him but distress; and the premature whiteness of his locks reveals that there are secret corroding griefs within his heart that he dares not utter.

As I have shown you what he was worth fifteen years since I will furnish an estimate of his present possessions, reckoned in Confederate money and in cold.

  In Confederate Money. In Gold.
Eight hundred acres of land $40,000 $1143
Twenty-four laborers at $400 apeice 96,000 2742
Twenty other servants at $1500 each 30,000 860
Horses none, all impressed.    
Cattle and hogs. 4,000 114
Farming utensils 2,500 71
Total value of his property now $172,500 $4930

If we subtract from this the value at which we have put his slaves, which Mr. Ames says are not now worth to him a cent, and he believes will soon be free, the property that fifteen years ago was worth in gold $28,250 has dwindled down to $1328, while under good care and with hard and persevering toil expended upon it.

While his income is now small, the little cotton he does raise lying in his gin-house, and liable any day to be burned by Confederate scouts to keep it from falling into the hands of the Yankees, he must pay for iron to mend his tools $5 per pound; for cotton cards, $60 per pair; for a hat, $50; for salt, $150 per sack if "Liverpool," if "coast," $70 per 100 pounds.

If he should send a child to school, he must pay $60 per month for its board and $150 for its tuition. He has no opportunity or means to repair his furniture and the natural wear and tear of all household articles. His last carpet, being first cut into pieces two yards long by one yard wide, has gone where all his blankets and most of his coverlets have gone, to eke out the limited blankets of the soldiers; while his own misery is enhanced by the reflection that it is shared by most of his acquaintances and friends, and that through the agency of demagogues his much-loved native land lies desolate and mourning. The case of my friend Mr. Ames is a type of the whole South.