James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
wretched fare in the army were prolific causes of this abandonment of duty. Gettysburg and Vicksburg were potent arguments with the Southern people. Dear Seddon,1 wrote a friend from Mobile, we are without doubt gone up.2 Soldiers deserted by the hundreds; even whole regiments left at a time. Deserters almost always carried their muskets and when halted and asked for their authority to be absent from the army would pat their guns and say defiantly, This is my furlough. In the mountain fastnesses of South Carolina, bold and defiant deserters were banded together; with travelling threshing machines they worked their farms in common and congregated at still yards and houses where they distilled quantities of liquor and swore vengeance on any one who should attempt their arrest. Summing up the mass of evidence which came to the War Department, Judge Campbell3 wrote, The condition of things in the mountain districts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama menaces the existence of the Confederacy as fatally as either of the armies of the United States.4
The much rarer references to desertion in the official papers of 1864, the somewhat satisfied tone of Seddons report of April 28 of that year, the full ranks of Lees and Johnstons armies and their heroic resistance are evidence that, through the influence of public sentiment and the persistently rigorous measures of the Government the evil of desertion had by that time been greatly mitigated. The military operations of the autumn of 1864, however, resulted in disaster to the Confederates whilst Lincolns re-election amounted to a notification that there would be no cessation of the vigorous onward movement of the