“The Shattered Remains of Lee’s Army…” Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

This document, which is an excerpt from the diary of Eliza Frances Andrews’ War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl: 1864-1865, shows the Civil War from a point of view which is not often recorded or preserved for the modern audience. Eliza Andrews was an aristocratic , young, Southern female noncombatant, who witnessed much of the destruction which was wreaked on the South as the Confederate army was beaten back by the Union forces. She recorded these events both as they pertained to her and, in some cases, as they related to the whole Confederacy. Particularly interesting is that Andrews’ father was a southern Unionist, while her brothers fully supported Georgian secession. This tension in the family, which was also a characteristic of the whole Civil War, is apparent in her diary, as she explains the workings of her daily life, the interactions of her family members, and the movements of the Union and Confederate troops in the South.

Summary Overview

This document, which is an excerpt from the diary of Eliza Frances Andrews’ War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl: 1864-1865, shows the Civil War from a point of view which is not often recorded or preserved for the modern audience. Eliza Andrews was an aristocratic , young, Southern female noncombatant, who witnessed much of the destruction which was wreaked on the South as the Confederate army was beaten back by the Union forces. She recorded these events both as they pertained to her and, in some cases, as they related to the whole Confederacy. Particularly interesting is that Andrews’ father was a southern Unionist, while her brothers fully supported Georgian secession. This tension in the family, which was also a characteristic of the whole Civil War, is apparent in her diary, as she explains the workings of her daily life, the interactions of her family members, and the movements of the Union and Confederate troops in the South.

Defining Moment

In January of 1861, Georgia seceded from the Union and joined the Confederate States of America. As for the citizens of Georgia, they had been firmly placed on the southern side of the conflict between the states, which became the Civil War. This war was not fought solely because the Northerners were opposed to slavery and the Southerners depended on it for their economy–it was also fought because the Southern states believed in a strong decentralized government, while the North preferred a larger federal government over individual state governments. While modern audiences tend to think of the South in a more negative light, documents such as this one written by Eliza Andrews show how these events cannot be viewed in such a strict, black and white light. Her father was a Unionist and a slave-owner. He owned nearly 200 slaves at the onset of the Civil War, but still he believed that secession was going to be detrimental to Georgia and the whole nation.

His belief was proved to be accurate in that nearly the whole South was decimated by the two armies which stormed through the land and wrought death in the fields. Firsthand accounts of these years show modern audiences how Southerners felt and were affected by the war, even if they did not support it at its outset. Printed years after the war had ended, Andrews’ diary gives an inside look at those individuals who were swept along in the politics of the war without having a say about the direction in which their lives were heading. Since the Confederacy lost the Civil War, and perhaps especially because of this fact, it is important to understand the reasoning behind their secession and how they were affected after their defeat. History has long been known to be written by the victors, but the two sides of any conflict must be understood to gain full knowledge of any event. Documents such as the following provide the necessary missing links. Southern soldiers were not simply rebels who fought against a righteous North; they were friends, brothers, sons and husbands of good people who loved them. To dismiss them simply as the “losers” or those who were “wrong” is to undermine their entire way of life and belief system. From the entries in Andrews’ diary, the soldiers are brought to life, as friends from her childhood and through her descriptions of her inability to turn away any in need, even though her family was deeply affected by the destruction rampant in the South.

Author Biography

Eliza Frances Andrews was born in 1840, on August 10, to a superior court judge in the Southern state of Georgia. From an upper-class family, Andrews was well educated and was assured in her station in life, due to her family’s prominence and wealth. Her family was heavily involved in slavery and the cotton industry, which was typical of upper-class families of the time. But contrary to conventional thought, not all Southerners were pro-secession, which created a conflict in the Andrew’s household. While her father was a Unionist, her brothers wished to secede.

Secession did come, however, and while the men of the Andrews family served their country to the best of their abilities, the women remained home (and eventually were forced to flee their home as the Confederate forces were overrun by those of the North). This time period is chronicled in Eliza Andrews’ diary, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865, from which the above quote and the following excerpt have been taken. The forced desertion of the family home on account of General Sherman’s army moving through Georgia in 1864 was a precursor to the eventual decline and ruin of the Andrews’ family fortune and aristocratic prestige.

This loss was a turning point for Eliza Andrews, and she dedicated herself to a life path that was nearly unheard of for any high-born woman in that time period. She decided to support herself. Some of her other published works, such as Journal of a Georgia Woman, 1870-1872 and A Family Secret, show her growth as an independent woman and the beginnings of her career as an author. She spent the rest of her life writing articles and books about her own experiences and those of others. She also became a teacher and combined those skills along with her passion for botany to write two high school textbooks on botany in the early 1900s. Andrews spent the end of her life in Rome, Georgia, and passed away on January 21, 1931. She died having been honored by becoming the only American woman member of the International Academy of Literature and Science.

Document Analysis

These journal entries, written by Eliza Frances Andrews, show not only the daily events in the life of a young Southern woman, but also the hardships which were faced by the civilians and how they interacted with troops, particularly in the final days of the Civil War. Instead of an abstract concept of loyalty to the Confederacy or fear for her family and friends, Andrews demonstrates her and her fellows’ need to help the returning and defeated soldiers in any way that they are able. This is not because they have been defeated, but in spite of it, as a show of gratitude and loyalty for unknown men who risked their lives. Through an examination of the journal entries of April 24 and April 25, Andrews’ account reveals how she herself and her family pushed through their own needs to attend to the soldiers and how she came to understand that her life was going to change and how drastically.

April 24, 1865

Eliza Frances Andrews’ journal entry of April 24, 1865 begins with a description of General Robert E. Lee’s army returning to the town in which Andrews and her family is currently residing. The “shattered remains” of the army evokes a fierce image of the once whole and proud army as broken down and despondent as the Civil War comes to its conclusion. Unlike previous entries which are largely concerned with the social visits and daily occurrences pertaining to Andrews’ family, this entry focuses exclusively on the condition of the army as a whole and the individual soldiers, as well as the effects they have on the town and Andrews herself. It is at this time that Andrews becomes fully aware of the state of the war and the prospect that independence for the South is not likely to be the outcome of their attempt to secede.

Andrews continues her entry by describing a “state of never-ending excitement” aroused by the soldiers and the stories that they bring back with them from the front lines. This excitement is not positive or even some sense of hope about the outcome of the war, but more of an agitation of the spirit. They know that the war is coming to a close and the Union troops may be closing in on their town. Now they are just waiting for the end.

The trials with which the Andrews family have had to deal, namely, moving from their home to a safer part of the country and the lack of abundance to which they were accustomed, begin to fade when they are faced with the needs of the Confederate soldiers. She states that numerous soldiers pass by their home and take some momentary rest in the trees that line the street. The pain of the soldiers touches both Andrews and her family so that they feel compelled to help, even though they are not sure there is enough for themselves to eat. Such devotion to the soldiers shows that even though the South has been defeated and the soldiers are now part of a losing army, the loyalty of the citizenry is not abandoned. Even when the soldiers do not ask for something from the family, they do their best to make sure that as many hungry and tired soldiers are fed as possible.

The beauty of the house in which Eliza Andrews lived is in stark comparison to the downtrodden state of the soldiers and their camp outside of town. The two officers who Andrews says came to the house looking for a place to sleep clearly did not want to leave the beauty and luxury of the home. The Andrews family obviously was not left in complete squalor on account of the war, even though their family did suffer numerous financial and social downturns. But, having dealt with their own troubles, they opened their home as much as they could, until they were “pack[ed] together like sardines” and were forced to turn away anyone else who wished to stay. They did all they could in order to support anyone displaced by the war, even though they themselves were equally effected.

The final section of this entry has to do with Captain John Nightingale’s servant, possibly his slave. While the story itself is light on particular details, it is representative of the status and class difference between the Andrews family and a “negro.” While the Andrews family did not seem to be cruel to the man, he was also treated with a generally disinterested air, especially since he had arrived without his master. She did not even deign to give his name in the entry, even though his master is named very definitely. This does seem to represent any particular dislike of black individuals on the side of Andrews, but clearly demonstrates the social distinction between a white woman, whose family owned approximately 200 slaves before the war (information given earlier in the April 21st journal entry), and a slave. In the end the man was sent off to stay with the other black servants and slaves, not out of any contempt for his person but simply because it was the thing to do.

April 25, 1865

This entry contains a mix of war-focused and socially-focused elements, which blend together to show how life for Andrews became a clash of soldiers returning from war and the normal daily events of aristocratic social life. In her attempts to continue her social rounds, such as visiting with General Elzey’s wife to inquire after the health of one of her husband’s men or the brief visit of a cousin on his way to New Orleans, she had to carefully find a way to move through the central square of town, which had been overrun with soldiers. Her loyalty to the troops is now mixed with a general sense of distaste at having so many men loitering in the town. This is idea is emphasized by her description of the men as “the poor, ragged, starved, and dirty remains of Lee’s heroic army.” Even though she wants to help the soldiers in need, Andrews is still at heart a fastidious aristocratic woman.

A large portion of this entry deals with ideas of the future and what will become of the surviving Confederate sympathizers and soldiers once the war is officially concluded. Andrews has a front-row view of the partial contingents and administrative departments as they return to base after being destroyed in the field. There is no longer any hope for the Confederacy and this depression hangs over every aspect of Andrews’ life. The talk in the town and the party she attends is directed by each individual’s fears for the future–waiting either to flee to another country or be completely subjugated by President Andrew Johnson and the Union. One of Eliza Andrews’ most pressing concerns, however, is related to her social station and the idea that some upstart northern men will be “lording it [their victory] over Southern gentlemen.” Even with all hope of independence gone, Andrews is able to fall back upon her traditional southern ideals, firmly rooted in the superiority of some people over others, based on their family ties.

Essentially, this document shows the daily life of a southern aristocratic woman, her interactions with the soldiers in whom she dearly believed, and the social strata which defined her life. By reading such documents, very little new information about the Civil War as a dividing force is gleaned, but the details which make history more complete, the details about the human lives affected by events, become understandable. Confederate soldiers and sympathizers could be cast aside as simply the “losers” of the war, but there is much more to their story than that basic classification allows. Each civilian and each soldier had a story, a life, maybe a family who mourned their leaving, and should be remembered and respected for their sacrifice, even if in the end it was done in the service of a conquered people.

Essential Themes

The main purpose of this journal, as a whole, for a modern audience, if not for Eliza Frances Andrews herself, is as a chronicle of the trials and tribulations she and her family went through during the Civil War. This is an inside look into the lifestyle of an aristocratic family, especially during a time when they had been uprooted, moved in with family, and attempted to avoid becoming casualties themselves while the front lines of the war moved ever closer. These two entries, specifically, show how she and her family interacted with the soldiers and the loyalty she felt toward them, even after their defeat. Andrews does not waver in her support of the Confederate troops, which allows the modern reader to have a deeper and more complete understanding of the “other” side of the Civil War and the role patriotism played with Southern civilians, as well as the soldiers with whom she came into contact.

The chapter introductions also help to show how Andrews, many years later, was able to look back on her experiences and help to provide even more detail so that the later generations were better able to understand the context of her diary. Whether or not it was her main intention, Eliza Andrews’ diary gives detailed information about aristocratic Southern life and the changes through which it was forced to go between the antebellum and Reconstruction periods of American history. This excerpt in particular highlights both her care and concern for the troops which are taking refuge with her family in Washington, Georgia, and also the conditions which the army, and the civilians who tried to aid them, faced once they were forced into retreat. To truly understand all aspects of such a war, it is not enough to know the dates and numbers of casualties on either side of the conflict. Each statistic comes from the suffering of a human being who was fighting for what he or she believed, and Eliza Andrews helps to give names and faces to those who could otherwise be lost or relegated to just one more piece of data.

Bibliography
  • Andrews, Eliza F. “The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865.” Documenting the American South. University of North Carolina: Chapel Hill, 2004. Web. 23 Aug. 2013.
  • Henderson, Harris. “Summary of the War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girls: 1864-1865.”Documenting the American South. University of North Carolina: Chapel Hill, n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2013. Rushing, S. Kittrell. “Eliza Frances Andrews (1840-1931).” New Georgia Encyclopedia. N.p., 29 July 2013. Web. 24 Aug. 2013.
Additional Reading
  • “Andrews, Eliza Frances (Fanny).” Georgia Women of Achievement. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2013.
  • Andrews, Eliza Frances. A Family Secret. Ed. S. Kittrell Rushing. Knoxville: U of Tennessee P, 2005. Print.
  • Andrews, Eliza Frances. Botany All the Year Round: A Practical Text-book for Schools. New York: American Book, 1903. Print.
  • Andrews, Eliza Frances. Journal of a Georgia Woman, 1870-1872. Ed. S. Kittrell Rushing. Knoxville: U of Tennessee P, 2002. Print.
  • Ford, Charlotte A. “Eliza Frances Andrews: A Fruitful Life of Toil.” The Georgia Historical Quarterly 89.1 (2005): 25-56. JSTOR. Georgia Historical Society. Web. 24 Aug. 2013.
  • Garraty, John A. and Mark C. Carnes, eds. American National Biography. New York: Oxford University, 1999. Print.
  • Jones, Katherine M. Heroines of Dixie: Confederate Women Tell Their Story of the War. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1955. Print.
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