12 December 1863: “Negro property is looked on as almost valueless in the situation. Negro men are being sold in market for 100 gallons of brandy.”

Item description: Entry, dated 12 December 1863, from the diary of David Schenck.

More about David Schenck: David Schenck (1835-1902), son of a doctor and apothecary of Lincolnton, N.C., attended Judge Fearson’s Law School in Rockford, N.C., and received his law license in 1856. He was elected solicitor for Gaston County and set up a practice in Dallas, N.C., before marrying Sallie Wilfong Ramseur in 1859 and moving back to Lincolnton in 1860. Schenck was a member of the North Carolina Secession and an active participant in determining the conduct of the war. Exempted from army duty because of ill health, he held briefly a position in the Army Commissary Department at Raleigh. He then returned to Lincoln County, where he held the post of receiver under the Sequestration Act for the remainder of the war. In 1866, Schenck applied for a pardon and resumed his law practice.


Item citation: From folder 4 (volume 3) of the David Schenck Papers #652, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

“Social Condition”
Dec. 12- 1863

The war which has brought desolation and ruin to the fairest portions of our country is now moving its stealthy step towards our home and its effects are being seen and felt among us. The retreat of Longstreet leaves East Tennessee almost abandoned and our mountains alone  [] to protect us from our enemies. Our people feel gloomy and sad; and begin to wonder what they shall do when the enemy comes among us.

But as much of our country has been desolated, and the population driven in that scarcity prevails everywhere. Many families in this town who were as we term it “good livers” and respectable families are without meat, sugar, coffee, butter and other usual articles of food & the prices are so enormous and the supply so []. Negro property is looked on as almost valueless in the situation. Negro men are being sold in market for 100 gallons of brandy. Stealing is becoming a nightly occurrence – fat hogs are stolen from pens in town almost every night. I have had to move my pen to the garden near the house.

Marauders and deserters haunt the swamps and forests and emerge at night to rob and plunder. Burglary is a very common occurrence; and always accompanied with robbery. Our people are greatly demoralized as virtue, honesty and truth have almost deserted our country. Such now is the sad condition of society here even where the wars have not yet been.

This entry was posted in Southern Historical Collection and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.