ATHENS, GA., December 31, 1864.
Honorable J. A. CAMPBELL:
MY DEAR SIR:
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Now, the matter to which I wish to call your attention is this: From my situation I feel fully authorized to say to you that Northeast Georgia is in a deplorable condition. Desertions from the army, straggling to an incredible degree, and all kinds of irregularly are broadcast all over the country, which are not only tolerated but I must say connived at by those whose duty it is to rectify these evils. Since the unfortune battle of Jonesborough Brigadier-General Reynolds has been assigned to the command of this district. When I returned from Milledgeville, which place I left the day before Sherman occupied it, I learned from official sources that upward of 1,000 rations were daily issued to those calling themselves troops in this neighborhood. (Athens is the headquarters of General Reynolds.) This has been the average state of things for several months previously and since. The general has never left the place to visit any other portion of the district. To my knowledge there are quite a number of able-bodied young men here composing the general's escort that belong to various commands, some to Alabama and some to Kentucky regiments. A number of these were passing through here on their way to their different commands, but stopped and joined the general's escort, and have remained ever since. I do not pretend to be a military man, but can but think there must be some strange irregularity about all of this. Of the general conduct of General Reynolds I shall say nothing; it is seen and known to all. But of the conduct of the men allow me to say their utter want of discipline, their drunkenness, daily and nightly thefts and depredations, is the theme on everyone's lips. Indeed, judge, the cruel treatment that old men and poor defenseless widows suffer at their hands is scarcely less severe than the ravages of Yankee raiders; and this, too, in defiance of the stocks, which General Reynolds has caused to be erected on the college campus, and which is the laughing stock of the whole community, while it causes the blush of shame to mantle the cheek of every lover of this our State university. But all this is merely preliminary to the object I have in view. Bad as the view I have now presented may appear, the condition of things is far worse in the upper portion of this State. General Wofford is a representative man, raised in upper Georgia, well-known through all that portion of the State. His high moral bearing, being a man of the strictest sobriety, and, indeed, of irreproachable moral character, eminently qualifies him to have the command of this portion of Georgia. His property was all scattered and destroyed by the enemy in Bartow County, and on a recent visit to this State on short furlough, and seeing the condition, of the country, as I have attempted to picture it, he seemed to feel deeply the necessity of reform which we all believe so much needed. General Cobb has, I believe, command of the whole State, under General Beauregard. His headquarters are at Macon. Now that all communication almost is interrupted by the damage done the railroad he cannot be cognizant of the condition of things in this section of the State, and, of course, cannot give them his personal supervision. Southwestern Georgia and the country adjacent thereto will engross all of his time and attention. Would it not be advisable,
62 R R-VOL XLIX, PT I