“D—n your friends,” said the guerrilla leader; “I suppose they are Yankees?”
“Yes, they are; we should claim friendship with nobody else.”
“Then we want to see what they have, and go through them if it is worth the while.”
The strangers were unceremoniously searched. Their united contributions to the guerrilla treasury were two watches, two revolvers, three hundred dollars in money, and their hats and overcoats. Their horses and saddles were also taken. In consideration of their being guests of the house, these gentlemen were allowed to retain their coats. They were presented with five dollars each, to pay their expenses to Natchez. No such courtesy was shown to the lessees of the plantation.
On the following morning, I was awakened at an early hour by the arrival of a negro from our plantation, with news of the raid. A little later, Mr. Owen made his appearance, wearing pantaloons and hat that belonged to one of the negroes. The pantaloons were too small and the hat too large; both had long before seen their best days. He was riding a mule, on which was tied an old saddle, whose cohesive powers were very doubtful. I listened to the story of the raid, and was convinced another visit would be made very soon. I gave directions for the overseer to gather all the remaining mules and take them to Natchez for safety.
I stopped with my friend until nearly noon, and then accompanied him to Natchez. On the next morning, I learned that the guerrillas returned to our plantation while I was at my friend’s house. They carried away what they were unable to take on the previous night They needed a wagon for purposes of transportation, and took one of ours, and with it all the mules they could find. Our house was stripped of every thing of any value, and I hoped the guerrillas would have no occasion to make subsequent visits. Several of our mules were saved by running them into the woods adjoining the plantation. These were taken to Natchez, and, for a time, all work on the prospective cotton crop came to an end.
For nearly three weeks, the guerrillas had full and free range in the vicinity of the leased plantations. One after another of the lessees were driven to seek refuge at Natchez, and their work was entirely suspended. The only plantations undisturbed were those within a mile or two of Vidalia. As the son of Adjutant-General Thomas was interested in one of these plantations, and intimate friends of that official were concerned in others, it was proper that they should be well protected. The troops at Vidalia were kept constantly on the look-out to prevent raids on these favored localities.
Nearly every day I heard of a fresh raid in our neighborhood, though, after the first half-dozen visits, I could not learn that the guerrillas carried away any thing, for the simple reason there was nothing left to steal. Some of the negroes remained at home, while others fled to the military posts for protection. The robbers showed no disposition to maltreat the negroes, and repeatedly assured them they should not be disturbed as long as they remained on the plantations and planted nothing but corn. It was declared that cotton should not be cultivated under any circumstances, and the negroes were threatened with the severest punishment if they assisted in planting that article.