Eyewitness Account of the Invasion

John Stevens was 60 years of age in December 1864, and paralyzed in one leg. He resided on Palmyra Plantation, estab­lished by his parents, John and Amarintha Munro Stevens, who died before the Civil War. After the war he wrote an article for a Macon newspaper which delineated the invasion of Liberty County by U.S. Army troops:


“The federal troops came flocking in by the hundreds. I got one servant to run to the corn crib with the key, but before he got there they had broken down the door and taken the corn, rice, and potatoes. My sister’s bedding, which was left in my care, was ripped open and the ticking used to make bags. They smashed all of my furniture, robbed my bee hives, and slaughtered my hogs, cattle, and poultry. They went to the Negro quarters and robbed them of their cooking utensils, blankets, in fact everything they possessed.”


The federal troops threatened to kill Stevens if he did not give them his gold watch and other valuables, which Stevens had hid is a safe place. For two days they kept returning to his home demanding valuables and terrorizing him in several ways. He finally left his home and started walking about the area.


“‘I came across a large crowd of Liberty Countians who had been made prisoners by federal troops,” he wrote, “and some of them were Captain John Winn, Reverend Robert Q. Mallard, Joseph A. Anderson, Captain Benjamin Darsey, and five of my nephews. I marched along with them to the federal army encampment at Midway Church, and inter­ceded in their behalf to get the non-combatants released. Five of the prisoners were released, but I could not get them to release Reverend Quarterman.”


John Winn, a former captain in the Georgia Militia, was one of the prisoners released by the federal troops. He was 60 years of age and so badly crippled by rheumatism that he could walk only with a cane. He and Stevens went to the Winn home and remained there the rest of December 1864. For three weeks the federal troops continued to terrorize the two men in their search for valuables. The Negro slaves were treated just as badly.


“An old colored preacher named Toney Stevens,” Stevens recalled, “licensed by Midway Church to preach to the Ne­groes, who was, and had been for a long time, bed-ridden and since died, they robbed of everything-even his blankets. He pleaded hard for his horse and wagon, but to no avail.”


The two men were delivered a note by a slave from Mary Jones, widow of Reverend Charles C. Jones. She begged them to come to her home and offer her some sort of protec­tion, as federal troops were threatening to burn her home if she did not give them valuables. They even threatened to dig up her husband’s body and throw it in the woods. The two men were unable to walk the long distance to the Jones home.


The two men watched with stricken eyes as Liberty Coun­ty was ravaged. “As we neared Lambert’s causeway,” Stevens said, “we passed at least 60 wagons loaded with provisions and guarded by infantry. In the rear were mules loaded down with all kinds of poultry. The raiders told us that it was the richest county they had struck on their march from the mountains. “