Soldier Interactions

Confederate Troops-Harper's Weekly
This image from Harper’s Weekly in 1861 shows Confederate troops on the James River Canal

Soldiers during the war came into contact with civilians as they marched through urban and rural areas. Union troops often recounted their interactions with the local Southerners, many of whom remained loyal to the Confederacy in spite of the presence of the Union army. The women of the Confederacy could be especially hostile towards Northern troops, and often used subtle language to voice their resentment, as Charles Halpine details below.

Charles Halpine Sandusky Collection

Charles Graham Halpine was an Irish emigrant whose pre-war occupations included journalist, copywriter, and editor for various newspapers and magazines, such as The New York Herald and The New York Times. He became a lieutenant in Company D in 69th New York State Militia soon after the firing on Fort Sumter. After resigning from service in 1864 from poor eyesight, he returned to New York City and became the editor of The Citizen while also publishing two books: Miles O’Reilly His Book (1864) and Baked Meats of the Funeral (1865). He also became very involved in local politics and founded the Democratic Union, which devoted itself to rooting out political corruption. He died in 1868 after accidentally overdosing on chloroform which was intended to cure a severe headache.

Halpine was serving on General Hunter’s staff during the Battle of Lynchburg in 1864. He, along with General Hunter and the rest of his staff, occupied Sandusky, and during his time at the house encountered Major Hutter’s daughter Ada, whom he described as having a “pure silvery voice and exquisite repose of manner,” and whom many of the staff referred to as “the divine.” Yet he recounts a moment where, when witnessing how her family’s home would likely become the center of a conflict and be threatened with ruin, she spoke with great force about how though she wished for peace, it would not be the peace of subjugation. He remembers her saying, “Oh, we have given up everything for the cause, save the barest necessities of life; and I cannot believe that God would allow a people to suffer so much as we have done, if not intending to reward us with final victory.”

Primary Source:

General Charles Halpine, Baked Meats of the Funeralp. 344-345.