Dear Editor: Short and pleasant was our stay at
the beautiful and non-loyal Forest City of Georgia. The 17th
Corps left it the evening of the 5th, and marched to Thunderbolt,
five miles from Savannah, and next morning the Third Division,
commanded by General Leggett, embarked upon steamers, passed down
the Wilmington river and through the Warsaw sound, and entered
the rough ocean. After a stormy, rough sail, landed at Beaufort
at 10 P. M., and next morning encamped about four miles from
the town. Beaufort is pleasantly located on the Beaufort river,
Port Royal Island, and was the home of aristocracy. It was a
place of great wealth and influence. Every dwelling is a palace
built in costly style, presenting an air of neatness, comfort
and pleasure. It was captured by our troops, November 7th, 1862.
All the inhabitants left but one, and he says he would have acted
the fool like the rest, but was too drunk at the time. This one
man still remains, and is doing a flourishing mercantile business.
The town is now settled with Northern families, who are, some
in the service of the Government, some engaged in mercantile pursuits,
and some are becoming immensely wealthy in the cultivation of
cotton upon plantations either bought or rented of the Government.
The Island is ten or twelve miles square; the soil very rich.
Part of it has been sold to Northern men, and part appropriated
by the Government for educational purposes, and as the establishment
of schools for the contrabands. There are about one hundred teachers,
principally ladies from the North, employed for the purpose.
The people hearing so much about Sherman's army and
its vandalism, were here somewhat frightened when the Seventeenth
Corps arrived; even the Post Paymaster buried the few "greenbacks"
he had on hand. But the men proved themselves, by their conduct,
that they could and would respect the property of loyal people;
although ready and quick to destroy and lay waste in rebeldom,
they were as ready and quick to let alone when among loyal people.
This fact shows that our army is certainly the best disciplined
in the world, and that they act from necessity and by motives
of duty and principle, whether among the loyal or rebellious.
We received nothing but kindness, good will and favor from the
people in Beaufort, and received full rations for the men and
forage for the horses, for the first time in nine months. Quartermasters
and Government agents seem much more accommodating and obliging
than in the West, and rations are of much better quality.