Previous: Beall Springs People
When the family moved into the hotel, Fannie was 21 and headed for marriage a year later to a boy who was joining the Confederate Army. Jule, 20, was soon to be in the Confederate Army, along with Oliver, 17, and many cousins. Augusta Ann was 15; Missouri Amizon was 13; Elizabeth "Bet" was 10; Gus (my Dad) was approaching 7 and Arianne (Anna) was 4.
Five months after their move into the hotel the Republican Party, convening in Chicago, nominated Abraham Lincoln for the presidency. He was elected in November without having carried a single Southern state. On December 20 South Carolina adopted the Ordinance of Secession. By February of '61 six other states, including Georgia, had followed suit, and on April 12, 1861, the fat was in the firing on Ft. Sumter.
Dad lived through it; this is a good time to let him take over. The quotes are from letters written from St. Petersburg during the thirties:
"Around my seventh birthday my two brothers went into the Confederate Army, and this left me in more intimate association with my dad. This lasted through the balance of the civil war, during three years of which I was sick. At ten I began to fleshen and have kept going.
"Throughout the period of the war ('62, 3, 4, & 5) Mother received and cared for many wounded Confederate soldiers.
"Word came to my mother from counties north of us that the soldiers(?) were taking up boys from 8 to 12 years of age, carrying them 15 to 20 miles, and releasing them to get back home if they could. This should show you why Mother sent me with 13 negro fellows to a heavily wooded section about three miles from home, where I was kept until it was thought the menace had passed. At the same time two strong active negro men took my father and a horse to a swamp which was ordinarily considered well-nigh impenetrable, to remain there until a trumpet sounded the call to return.
"The camp I was in was not to wait for the trumpet call, but was to send one of the party to watch for the passing of the enemy. On his report that the danger was over we went back, only to learn that there were two sections, and that the second section would reach Beall Springs the next morning. Naturally, we went back to our hiding.
"We sent a courier the next afternoon. Mother sent us word to stay another night and then come near enough to see if the way was clear and if so to come on in. This we did and found that the second party had been much smaller than the first. But we found that a dirty pup among them had frightened Mother half to fits in this fashion:
"A sergeant and two pups questioned Mother as to where Dad was. She declared she did not know. After repeated demands he declared that if she did not tell where he could be found he would burn the house with her in it. At this she began to cry, which brought the Captain of the troop on the scene. The Sergeant explained what he had demanded.
"The Captain then asked Mother why her husband was away from his command and she told him that Dad was not in the Army; he was an old man (61), a long-ago Colonel of Georgia Militia. At this the Captain ordered the Sergeant to get the men together and move on. They left two or three hours before night and rode toward Louisville.
"After they had been gone an hour Mother discovered that Obediah, the one negro man left to take care of her, was gone. The next morning the party I was with returned and we were all grieved to learn that Obe had deserted us. At about 3 p.m. Obe returned with a very beautiful bay mare which he turned into the lot with the other horses.
"He explained that it was the Captain who had taken him away to be his body servant. While the troop was at breakfast the Captain had ordered Obe to saddle and fetch his horse. He did half of that, but when he saw an opening he mounted and dashed away. Knowing the country, he was almost instantly out of the way, and by circling he reached home from a direction opposite to his leaving. In the mean time, Dad was back and we lived happily ever after.
"The night before leaving for the woods I stood at one spot in our side yard and watched the glare of three big fires set by the brave non-Americans who constituted the Sherman Army.
"One was the tiny wheat and corn mill of Henry Coleman. It could not and did not grind more than 25 bushels of grain in any one day of its existence. The brave leader of the great army explained that the mill was burned in order to cut off the Confederacy's means of supplying its army. The mill never had ground a pound of meal or flour except for farmers families living within a radius of 5 or 6 miles. After that chivalrous act I have seen Mother crush corn in a cast-iron pot to get meal to feed us kids.
"The other two fires were the gins of Adam Long and Adam Cason. Jewell's cotton mill was a mile from Cason's gin, but when the army got there Jewell told them he had no kin in the South's army and was in fact from New Jersey. They didn't burn his mill, although we knew that he manufactured cloth used by the army.
"At Beall Springs the Yanks burned nothing, but an officer made Mother take off her watch and give it to him. God is wonderfully good to me that he never let me knowingly meet the man who did that. I think I've told you all that they did in our immediate vicinity; but people that we knew well fared maddeningly worse."
That's about all Dad ever had to say about the war, by mail or vis-a-vis. In one of his letters he did have a post-war note. After Lee surrendered, there was a great Yankee hue and cry to capture and punish all the war criminals (i.e., principals on the other side). Among them were two of Colonel Beall's lifelong friends, C.S.A.'s General Robert Toombs and Vice President Alexander Stephens (You may have seen their pictures and quotes from them in Ken Burns's Civil War series.)
Now for the excerpt in Dads letter:
"Colonel Beall numbered among his intimate friends such men as Hon. Alexander H. Stephens and Gen. Robert Toombs. When Gen. Toombs was making his successful effort to escape arrest after the surrender of Lee he came to Dad, who rode with him and his secretary through South Georgia on his way to Cuba. When Mr. Stephens, thru the help of Horace Greeley, was released from Fort Warren in Boston Harbor he came to the home of my father and mother to rest and build up after the brutal treatment he had received at the hands of the federal authorities."
Toombs's cloak-and-dagger run for the border was a lot more exciting than Dad made it out to be; there are accounts of it in print. He got away, spent two years in Cuba, France, and England, then returned to the practice of law in Georgia and helped to overthrow the state's Reconstruction government in 1870.
While he was recuperating at Beall Springs Stephens began writing A Constitutional View of the Late War between the States (a monumental multi-volume work of which Dad had an inscribed and autographed copy, passed forward to my attorney-brother Augustus Jr. early in this century). Less than a year later Stephens was elected to the U.S. Senate but was not allowed to serve. He again became one of Georgia's U.S. Congressmen in 1872, the year my grandfather died, and Georgia's Governor in 1883. Today he is Georgia's contribution to Statuary Hall in the U.S.Capitol.
Next: The Heyday of The Beall Springs Hotel