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“One day, as I was riding the line near a farm known as Parson Fox’s, I heard that the family of a Mr. Wilkinson, of New Orleans, was ‘refugeeing’ at a house near by.  I rode up, inquired, and found two young girls of that name, who said they were the children of General Wilkinson, of Louisiana, and that their brother had been at the military school at Alexandria.  Inquiring for their mother, I was told she was spending the day at Parson Fox’s.  As this house was on my route, I rode there, went through a large gate into the yard, followed by my staff and escort, and found quite a number of ladies sitting on the porch.  I rode up and inquired if that were Parson Fox’s.  The parson, a fine-looking, venerable old man, rose, and said that he was Parson Fox.  I then inquired for Mrs. Wilkinson, when an elderly lady answered that she was the person.  I asked her if she were from Plaquemine Parish, Louisiana, and she said she was.  I then inquired if she had a son who had been a cadet at Alexandria when General Sherman was superintendent, and she answered yes.  I then announced myself, inquired after the boy, and she said he was inside of Vicksburg, an artillery lieutenant.  I then asked about her husband, whom I had known, when she burst into tears, and cried out in agony, ‘You killed him at Bull Run, where he was fighting for his country!’  I disclaimed killing anybody at Bull Run; but all the women present (nearly a dozen) burst into loud lamentations, which made it most uncomfortable for me, and I rode away.  On the 3d of July, as I sat at my bivouac by the road-side near Trible’s, I saw a poor, miserable horse, carrying a lady, and led by a little negro boy, coming across a cotton-field toward me; as they approached I recognized poor Mrs. Wilkinson, and helped her to dismount.  I inquired what had brought he to see me in that style, and she answered that she knew Vicksburg was going to surrender, and she wanted to go right away to see her boy.  I had a telegraph-wire to General Grant’s headquarters, and had heard that there were symptoms of surrender, but as yet nothing definite.  I tried to console and dissuade her, but she was resolved, and I could not help giving her a letter to General Grant, explaining to him who she was, and asking him to give her the earliest opportunity to see her son.  The distance was fully twenty miles, but off she started, and I afterward learned that my letter had enabled her to see her son, who had escaped unharmed.” – William Tecumseh Sherman, Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman (emphasis in original)

Published inAmerican Civil WarLit & CritWilliam Tecumseh Sherman

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