Savannah was occupied and held by Geary's Division of the 20th Corps, the rest of the troops camping around the city. A period of three weeks was spent here, the recollection of which will ever be pleasant to those who shared in the quiet rest of that beautiful Southern city. Though midwinter, the verdure of the live-oak, presented the appearance of the early spring time, and the air was balmy as that of May in our Northern latitude. The days sped rapidly by, while busy preparations for a new campaign into Fourth Carolina, for the possession of Charleston, were everywhere observable.
The Army of the Tennessee was ordered to Beaufort, S. C., by water, and removed to that place early in January, while the left wing attempted to move up the coast, along the line of the Charleston and Savannah Railroad. The (p270) Seventeenth Corps arrived at Beaufort, followed by the Fifteenth Corps, on the 10th of January. The left wing crossed the Savannah about the same time, when heavy rains set in and rendered the advance of troops and trains through the lowlands impossible, and the Fourteenth and Twentieth Corps were forced to return to Savannah. This misfortune greatly retarded the operations of the army.
Meanwhile the Seventeenth Corps advanced from Beaufort to the mainland, and occupied Pocotaligo--after a slight engagement on the 17th of January. The Fifteen corps arrived at Beaufort on the 11th, and remained in camp on the Island till the 19th, at which time the First Brigade of Hood's Division removed to Gardner's Corners, fourteen miles inland.
While at Beaufort the Regiment received an assignment of recruits numbering nearly two hundred men, of whom one hundred and fifty reached the command January 12th, and were subsequently assigned to the several Companies.
The following promotions were made during this period:
Major Baldwin to Lieutenant Colonel, vice Goodnow,
resigned, January 6th, 1865.
1st Lieutenant Robert Alfont, Co. G, to Captain, vice Huston, deceased, to date from January 1st, 1865. (p271)
2nd Lieutenant Ralph Copper, Co. G, to 1st Lieutenant, vice Alfont, promoted, to date from January 1st, 1965.
1st Lieutenant Lemuel Hazzard, Co. I, to Captain, vice Anderson, deceased, to date from January 1st, 1865.
Orderly Sergeant Anderson Andrew, Co. I to 1st Lieutenant, vice Hazzard, promoted, to date from January 1st, 1865.
Colonel Williams and Chaplain Gage joined the Regiment January 22d, via New York, the former having been absent since September 17th, and the latter since November 9th. Colonel Williams assumed command on the day after his arrival. Quartermaster Lee resigned his position on the 15th of January, and Lieutenant Hubbard, of Company F, was detailed as A. Q. M.
General Logan returned to Savannah in January, and resumed command of the Fifteenth Corps. General Osterhaus was ordered to Missouri, and Brevet Major General Charles F. Woods was appointed to permanent command of the Fist Division. Colonel William B. Woods, of the Seventy-sixth Ohio, was appointed Brevet Major General, and assigned to command the First Brigade, superseding Colonel Smith on the 23d of January, who at once tendered his resignation.
Captain Lenfesty, of Company C, had been acting as Picket Officer, on Colonel Smith's staff, (p272) during the Savannah campaign, and was retained in that position on the staff of General Woods. Adjutant Parks was also detailed as Aid-de-camp, and First Lieutenant Copper, of Company C, was detailed as Adjutant, January 23d.
During the latter part of January the left wing of the army was moving up the west side of the Savannah, to Lister's Ferry. The Fourth Division of the Fifteenth Corps, under Major General J. M. Corse, which had been left at Savannah, moved with General Slocum's command, and joined the Corps on reaching the South Carolina Railroad.
On the 30th the right wing advanced from Pocotaligo, the Seventeenth Corps on the extreme right, with its right flank resting on the Combahee, while the Fifteenth Corps moved forward with its left on Coosawhatchie. When the left wing had crossed the Savannah the army held the entire region between that river and the Combahee. The force moving into the heart of South Carolina was somewhat larger than that with which General Sherman marched through Georgia. Large numbers of convalescents and recruits had been received, while others had been discharged on the expiration of their term of service, and all that were enfeebled had been left behind. The accessions had, however, exceeded the losses, and the strength of the avenging force was not far below seventy thousand men. (p273)
Our course was marked by the burning dwellings and out-houses of the wealthy planters, who had fled on our approach. On the evening of the first day's march the column halted at McPhersonville, five miles north of Pocotaligo, where the First Division remained in camp during the ensuing day. This little town lay nestled among pines of almost a century's growth, which covered a large cotton plantation, abandoned on account of sterility. Tens of thousands of acres, once under cultivation, are now surrendered to the restoring hand of nature. Pines, in all stages of growth, from the short to the tall stately tree, stand among the cotton rows of former plantations. This is the Southern mode of cultivations, under the influence of slavery, the very grounds being cursed in consequence of the sin of the people. No effort is made to recruit the waste of productive elements, in the light soil of the vast pine region of the Carolinas, by the use of fertilizers, but when old fields are exhausted they are given up to the invigorating power of nature, while new tracts are brought under cultivation, and after a long series of years the new growth of forest is again removed, and thus the careless round of unrequited toil goes on.
By this process the town of McPhersonville, which once stood among fields of snowy cotton, now lay in the midst of a vast pine forest, a curious spectacle to eyes accustomed to scenes of (p274) beauty and fertility in the vicinity of rural villages of the North. A day was spent in this abandoned town, which, though occupied till the recent advance of our forces to Pocotaligo, had been deserted by all its white inhabitants. The houses and furniture of the wealthier citizens, who probably owned rice plantations in the adjacent river bottoms, were left to their fate, and on the morning of our departure nearly the whole town was consumed by fire, leaving the little church, where we worshiped the previous day, and a few dwellings amid the ruins of this secluded place.
On our advance, February 1st, the same scenes of desolation marked the course of the several columns, while the people were stripped of all means of subsistence, and left in a famishing condition. The ubiquitous cavalry of Wheeler, who had kept at a safe distance on the march to Savannah, were again in our front, but they invariably fled after a few shots, and often before our advance could reach them with their guns.
A slight skirmish occurred at Hickory Hill, on the Coosawhatchie, February 1st, with a regiment of cavalry occupying the west bank of the river, in which two of our advance were killed. The troops camped at this point, General Sherman occupying the abandoned residence of Mrs. McBride, a wealthy widow, who had fled toward Columbia, leaving her aged Negroes in a helpless condition, (p275) while the able-bodied were removed to a place of safety. This was one of the evidences of that strong attachment said to exist between the master and his chattel, the force of which seemed to be in proportion to the value of the property. Before General Sherman had left, the next morning, the unoccupied out-houses were in flames, and he had scarcely seated himself in the saddle when the house was also fired. The act was unauthorized, but none would attempt to put out the fire, and so the rich widow was homeless on her return. No doubt she still anathematizes the Yankees for the wanton destruction of her property.
On the 3d of February we entered Barnwell District, and moved toward the Big Salkehatchie, at Buford's Bridge. Our advance skirmished with Wheeler's Cavalry, while the Seventeenth Corps attacked and drove the enemy from a strong position on the east bank of the river, the troops charging through water up to the waist, in the face of a heavy fire. This movement uncovered the crossing at Buford's Bridge, where the enemy also held a fortified position, against which our forces must have advanced for more than a mile, through the swampy bottom overflowed by the river. We reached this point and crossed without opposition, on the morning of February 5th, after constructing twenty bridges which the enemy had (p276) destroyed. To effect this the buildings in the town of Buford's Bridge were torn down to obtain materials. In this manner the enemy necessitated the destruction of many valuable buildings.
The thirst for burning was for a time partially appeased by the scenes of the past few days, and the troops turned their attention to the business of foraging, in which they were eminently successful. Provisions of all kinds were brought into camp in buggies, barouches, wagons and carts, which were almost invariably burned before leaving camp. During the campaign thousands of vehicles of all kinds were thus destroyed, amounting in value to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was not an uncommon occurrence to see three or four valuable carriages piled up and burning in camp of a single regiment. As we advanced into the interior few abandoned dwelling were found, and therefore few buildings were burned.
On reaching the Little Salkehatchie, February 6th, the Third Division in advance, a charge was made upon the enemy by the skirmish line, the troops rushing through the stream with a yell, firing as they advanced, and gaining the position, with a loss of seven men wounded. Again we were delayed by obstructions in the road, and by (p277) the removal of the bridge, which was soon restored and the troops crossed the river. On the 7th the Fifteenth Corps struck the South Carolina Railroad, at Bamburg, seventy-six miles from Charleston and sixty-four from Augusta, the Seventeenth corps at the same time reaching the road at Midway, and the Fourteenth and Twentieth at Blackville and Graham's, soon after. At this point we were seventy miles from Beaufort, which distance had been accomplished in nine days.
The work of destruction was at once commenced, and the only line of communication between Richmond and the Gulf States again severed, before the portion destroyed on the march from Atlanta had been repaired. The thoroughness of the ruin wrought from Branchville to within fifteen miles of Augusta rendered the re-opening of the line impossible for months to come.
The rebel authorities were more perplexed by the movements of the "great flanker" than they had been during his march to the coast. Charleston was still held by the forces under Beauregard. Hardee was like a fox at bay, not knowing whither to move. Hood's late army, now under command of Dick Taylor, was at Augusta for the purpose of re-enforcing Hardee, and a portion of the troops had passed over the railroad a few hours before our arrival at Bamburg, while the main body was cut off at Augusta from all efficient cooperation (p278) against Sherman. Wade Hampton alone was in our front, his command including Wheeler's Cavalry. In this scattered condition of the enemy's forces, our movements upon the South Carolina Railroad, first threatening Charleston from Branchville, and then Augusta from the left--where Kilpatrick was operating with his usual activity--added to the confusion prevailing throughout the Confederacy. Ignorant of our designs, and deceived by our movements, all effort to check our progress was futile. Like a strong man in communication with a surcharged galvanic battery, the enemy stood trembling under the shock, anxious to avert the further influences of its power, but unable to move.
On the 11th of February the army was again put in motion. The Seventeenth Corps crossed both branches of the Edisto, striking the Columbia Branch of the South Carolina Railroad at Orangeburg, which was thoroughly destroyed, cutting the communication between Charleston and Columbia. The Fifteenth Corps met no resistance in crossing the South Edisto, and moved forward to Poplar Spring, in Orangeburg District, on the 11th. A force of the enemy was posted on the North Edisto to dispute our passage, causing a long delay on the 12th. The skirmishers of Hazen's Division succeeded in crossing the stream below, coming upon the enemy's flank, and driving him from his position. (p279)
On the 13th we crossed the river and marched sixteen miles, through an uninhabited pine region. A vast turpentine orchard extended for miles on each side of the road, and stretched away to the right and left indefinitely. In the midst of this forest the product of the orchard was stored. During the afternoon a dense volume of pitchy smoke was seen rising above the intervening pines some distance to the right. The day was clear and the sun shone in its brightness, cheering all hearts. The cloud of smoke rose rapidly, spreading far and wide over the line of march, almost obscuring the sun, which appeared pale and sickly. Urged by curiosity we turned aside, with Dr. Lomax, to observe this singular conflagration. After riding vigorously for nearly half an hour we reached the scene of attraction. Some of the soldiers had discovered the accumulated product of the orchard, amounting to nearly a thousand barrels of rosin, and had applied a match to the building in which it was stored. The flames roared fearfully as they broke forth -- like the fitful glare of lightning -- from the impenetrable volume of smoke, which rose in awful grandeur toward the heavens. The vast mass of rosin, melted by the intense heat, had run down the hill-side, on which the storehouse stood, into a ravine through which a narrow swamp stretched away toward the east. Upon the surface of the water a crust of emerald (p280) hue, had formed. The fire had not yet reached this point, and a handful of lighted grass was thrown upon the surface, igniting the combustible mass, and producing a flame that leaped to the highest tree-tops, melting the branches like threads of wax, and sending a column of smoke aloft that was awful to behold. Mingled with the roar and crackling of the flames was the hissing produced by the commingling of the burning mass with the water beneath. The scene recalled the vivid pictures of Dante's Inferno, Milton's Paradise Lost, and the Scriptures of Divine truth, illustrative of the punishment prepared for the devil and his angels.
The Fifteenth Corps arrived at Sandy Run, fifteen miles from Columbia, on the 14th of February. A dash was made upon the picket line in the evening, and a number of men captured, among whom were four of the Regiment, viz: George Hahn, of Company A, George W. Starr, of Company C, William H. Bowen and James Compton of Company F.
Our forces advanced the following morning, skirmishing with a small force of the enemy, till we approached Congaree Creek, five miles from Columbia, where a Brigade of Kentucky rebels was posted, with a strong skirmish line in front. Several hours delay was occasioned by the resistance offered, brisk skirmishing continued at intervals during the day. The Third Brigade was (p281) sent around upon the flank and forced the enemy across the stream. His attempt to destroy the bridge proved unsuccessful, and the crossing was effected during the afternoon. In the skirmish the Second Brigade lost a number of men, killed and wounded.
At night we occupied the high ground south of the Congaree River, three miles from Columbia, which was hidden from our view by a dense fog. A force of rebel cavalry formed in line, on a ridge in our front, and the skirmishers were advanced, while a battery was planted and opened upon the enemy, who quickly fled, leaving us in quiet possession of a large region of cultivated land, from all points of which the Capitol was distinctly visible the next morning. The scene before us was one of great beauty, the unfinished structure of the new State Capitol rising above the surrounding mass of buildings in snowy whiteness, and reflecting the soft light of the morning sun.
The enemy retired across the Congaree during the night, destroying the costly bridge to prevent pursuit. The bridges over the Saluda and Broad Rivers were also burned, and our advance delayed. The batteries of the enemy, posted on the north side of the river below the city, opened upon us in the fields, but could not reach our position. The pontoon train received a furious shelling as it moved up the south bank of the stream, but passed the ordeal in safety. At 10 a.m. February 16th (p.282) our forces moved forward to the river, opposite Columbia, and the batteries opened upon the city, producing great consternation among the inhabitants. No reply was elicited.
In the evening the Fifteenth Corps took the advance, moving up to the crossing of the Saluda, where the pontoons were already laid, and marched across to the south bank of Broad River, these two streams uniting above Columbia to form the Congaree.
Under the cover of the night a portion of the Third Brigade crossed the Broad River in pontoons, forcing the enemy's pickets from the north bank on the morning of the 17th, and uncovering the crossing. The pontoons were at once laid, while the Third Brigade advanced toward the city unopposed. Mayor Goodwin came out, with a flag of truce, and formally surrendered the city into our possession, at 10 A.M. The remainder of the Division, followed by the other Divisions of the Corps, crossed during the afternoon, and moved through the city, with music and banners. The Regiment led the column, on this triumphal march through the proud Capital of the Palmetto State. The troops camped north of the city, while the Third Brigade occupied the town. The Seventeenth Corps crossed Broad River during the night, and the left wing effected a crossing at a point above. (p283)
The enemy, under Wade Hampton, had evacuated the city on the previous day, and retired toward Charlotte. Beauregard had been present, and directed the evacuation, and had also sent instructions to Hardee, at Charleston, to abandon that city, as our success at Columbia rendered it useless to attempt to hold the place longer. Its communications were severed with Savannah, Augusta and Columbia, while Wilmington was already environed, if not occupied, by our forces under Terry.
The beautiful city of Columbia, where the first secession Convention met to precipitate the Southern States into rebellion, suffered a terrible fate on the night succeeding its occupation by our forces. Early in the evening a fire was discovered in the heart of the city. The wind was blowing strongly from the south-west, and the flames spread rapidly, in spite of every effort to check their progress. The fire engines soon failed, and the city was abandoned to its inevitable fate.
More than half the city was consumed, including the entire business portion, the Ursuline Convent, two Churches, and a large number of costly residences. Such a scene we hope never to witness again. Families fled in dismay from their mansions, with such articles of value as they could carry with them, leaving all their magnificent furniture to be destroyed. No pen can depict the (p284) fearful scene that prevailed through all that long night. The flames lighted up the surrounding country with the brightness of noon-day, while the roar of the fierce conflagration and the crash of falling buildings spoke of the onward progress of the destructive element. Many houses were saved by great exertion, and the fire was finally checked. All night long the troops stationed in the city aided the citizens, who were fleeing from their dwellings, in saving some of their most valuable effects, or labored for the arrest of the conflagration, by protecting occupied buildings from taking fire. The Regiment worked faithfully, and --forgetful of the enmity of the citizens--assisted them to the utmost in the defense of property, for which they received the thanks of those they aided.
It has been charged upon General Sherman that the destruction of Columbia was an act of wanton barbarity, authorized by himself. Nothing is farther from the truth. The burning of the city was the result of incendiarism, and none of the military authorities contemplated or approved the firing of any occupied buildings, in town or country. It was the sole purpose of General Sherman to destroy public property, valuable to the interests of the rebellion. And in the general system of foraging adopted, as well as in the destruction of more substantial property, it was not designed to (p.285) produce individual suffering, but to diminish the resources of the enemy. But acts of carelessness will be committed by individuals, and the burning of Columbia may be ranked in that list of unauthorized deeds of violence that mark the progress of all wars.
The real purpose of General Sherman was effected subsequently, in the complete destruction of the depots, machine-shops, arsenal, and Confederate stores of various kinds. The large collection of medical supplies abandoned by the enemy had been destroyed in the burning of the city. The material for the manufacture of Confederate Treasury Notes which was exclusively carried on at Columbia, was only partial, the greater part of the machinery and paper having been removed. Large quantities of imported paper, for the manufacture of Cotton Bonds, were destroyed, and the publishing establishments of Evans & Cogswell, and Keating & Ball shared the same fate.
Among the books published by the former house was one entitled "Camp and Field, or Papers from the Portfolio of an Army Chaplain," by Joseph Cross, D. D., of Charleston. This book excelled, in glaring falsehoods, all we had ever seen in the productions of the rebel press, not excepting the editorials of the Richmond Examiner, Enquirer, Whig, and Dispatch. The author of this infamous book was nursed in the North, educated at Cazenovia, New York, and had prostituted his abilities (p286) to the most shameful abuse of those who had imparted instruction in early manhood to this English-born vilifier. The book was doubtless designed to rouse the sinking courage and hope of the Southern masses. In common with the literature of the Great Rebellion, this production of the cultivated intellect of the South -- in its subserviency to a vile system of oppression--will stand, in future generations, as an evidence of barbarism in the midst of civilization.
The work of destruction at Columbia, and on the railroads east, west, and north, was completed on the 19th of February, the left wing having been employed on the line of the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad, the Seventeenth Corps upon the Greenville Railroad, and the Fifteenth Corps on the Columbia Branch of the South Carolina Railroad and in the city. In removing the shells from the arsenal to the river a fearful explosion occurred, killing a Captain and several men, and shaking the city like an earthquake.
On the 20th of February the army again moved forward, none knowing whither. Various rumors prevailed as to our destination, most regarding Wilmington as the probable objective point. The enemy was led to expect our advance upon Charlotte, toward which place the left wing was already moving, on the evacuation of Columbia.
The Regiment was the last of the army to leave (p287) the desolated Capital of South Carolina. Adjutant Parks remained behind the command, and was captured by a squad of rebel cavalry who immediately entered the city on our withdrawal. Through the assistance of a friendly citizen he succeeded in effecting his escape during the ensuing night, and reached the command the next day.
The right wing moved directly northward, reaching the Catawba River on the evening of the 22nd, having marched forty-eight miles in as many hours. The left wing advanced as far north as Winnsboro, when the whole army turned toward the east. The occurrence of heavy rains delayed the crossing of the Fourteeenth Corps while the right wing had effected a crossing at Peay's Ferry, near Liberty Hill, on the morning of the 23rd.
In attempting to swim his mule across the river, above the Ferry, Samuel Humble, of Company F, was drowned. Being heavily loaded he sunk in full view of his comrades, who could render him no assistance.
The Corps advanced to Lynche's Creek, February 26th, where we were delayed four days by the high water, which overflowed the swampy bottoms along the Creek and rendered a passage impossible.
The Troops moved forward on the 2nd of March. The Seventeenth Corps moved forward rapidly to Cheraw, occupying that place on the 3rd, and taking seventeen pieces of artillery, abandoned by the enemy on his retreat across the Great Pedee. (p288)
Johnston had been placed in command of all the forces that could be collected to oppose the progress of Sherman, and had recently assumed command at this place, retiring, as usual, on our advance. On the 3rd of March the Fifteenth Corps reached the vicinity of Cheraw, and on the morning of the 4th camped north of the town, having marched thirty-five miles since leaving Lynche's Creek
A cavalry force was ordered to Florence, from Cheraw, to destroy communications and stores, there and on the way. The Seventh and Ninth Illinois, and Twenty-seventh Missouri Mounted Infantry, and the detailed foragers of the Fifteenth Corps--the entire force numbering six hundred men--were designated for the expedition, and Colonel Williams assigned to command. We advanced to within four miles of Darlington, and camped for the night. A detachment of the Twenty-ninth Missouri was sent out, under Captain Hart, to destroy the depot and supplies at Dove's Station, which was successfully accomplished, together with four passenger, and eleven freight cars. The supplies consisted of wheat, corn, and bacon, in small quantities.
Early on the morning of the 5th the force was on its way, reaching Darlington at 8 a.m., where a detachment was left to destroy the depot and supplies, and the main force pushed forward to (p289) Florence. Moving rapidly across the Wilmington and Manchester Railroad, we reached the rear of Florence, and made preparations for attack. The enemy moved out to meet us, engaging our skirmishers at Pettigrew's plantation, south of the town, and about a mile distant. The line of battle was formed and advanced, driving the enemy back to Florence, where a superior force of cavalry and infantry awaited our attack. The advance of our little band was met and checked, in the edge of the town. A heavy fire was poured in from the front, while it was ascertained that a force of cavalry had been dispatched to our rear, for the purpose of cutting off our retreat.
Finding the place too strong for assault, and aware of the danger of delay, Colonel Williams at once ordered the troops withdrawn, and commenced the return march in good order and without haste. Our loss was slight, most of the wounded being brought off. We captured thirty prisoners, losing seven men in wounded and missing. The enemy pursued vigorously to Society Hill, where he captured a Lieutenant and one private of the Twenty-ninth Missouri the next morning. The expedition reached Cheraw on the 6th, having destroyed the depots at Darlington and Dove's Station, four hundred yards of trestle work, two hundred and fifty bales of cotton, fifteen cars, and (p290) considerable quantities of supplies. For his services on this occasion Colonel Williams received the appointment of Brevet Brigadier General, to date from March 13th, 1865.
A fearful explosion occurred at Cheraw, on the morning of March 6th, which shook the earth for more than thirty miles. The ammunition abandoned by the enemy had been carelessly thrown into a deep ravine near town. Several tons of powder and shells were left thus exposed to ignition. Meanwhile troops were crossing the river, and Woods' Brigade had halted at this point, awaiting the order to cross. The Regiment was in close proximity to the dangerous spot, when, by some unknown means, the whole mass exploded, filling the air with fragments of shell and splinters from building destroyed by the shock. Forty persons were killed and wounded, and many more stunned by the concussion. Four of the Regiment were injured, but none dangerously
The march was resumed on the 7th, and on the following day we reached Laurel Hill, North Carolina, in the midst of a heavy rain. The march from this place was performed in the midst of almost insuperable difficulties. The rain of the previous day had rendered the roads almost impassable, and on the afternoon of the 9th a deluge was poured out upon the already saturated earth. The roads were easily repaired, where rails (p291) were accessible, the fences along the line of march being used for corduroy. But on reaching a low, swampy, pine region, with a deep quicksand just below the surface, into which the wagons sunk, through the yielding earth, the progress of the trains was next to impossible. All through that long night the troops toiled to extricate the wagons from the mire, as one by one they required aid, and some were hopelessly engulfed in the sandy bed, where they were left, after their contents had been destroyed. Others were brought through the following morning, after such a trial as even army teamsters seldom experience. A brief rest, on the morning of the 10th, was succeeded by the renewed toils of the march, but upon a firmer foundation after crossing Lumber River. But the use of rails was frequently necessary, and many a mile of our route was paved with the fences of the planters, who had a fine opportunity of repairing them on the return of spring.
The scene presented by the refugees, on this occasion, was worthy of the attention of an artist. The more fortunate, who had secured comfortable carriages on leaving Columbia, could pass the time very composedly. But the less favored, with jaded mules dragging dilapidated buggies, wagons and carts, loaded with men, women and children, black and white, took very little comfort on that dismal night. Least of all did those poor women and (p292) children on foot enjoy the weary hours. One poor, old, and blind colored woman, led by a frail girl, both bearing heavy burdens, and sinking into the soft earth at every step, and a little child not more than three years old, tugging to get through the mud, while the mother carried her babe in her arms, awakened a feeling of deep pity in the heart of the thoughtful man. Yet they patiently persevered, deriving consolation from the hope of freedom. One man promptly replied to our inquiry, if he thought freedom would repay him for such hardships, "O yes massa, if I should die now I am well paid for it all in being free." let none say that the bondsmen do not love their liberty, when such cheerfulness is manifested in the midst of trials attendant upon the pursuit of that object.
After a toilsome march of sixty miles the troops reached Fayetteville, which had been evacuated by Johnston on our approach. The city was occupied by the Fourteenth Corps on the 11th of March. The right wing reached the place on the following day, securing communications with Wilmington, and receiving Northern papers, after six weeks of silence in the heart of the Confederacy. Letters were also sent to the friends at home but no mail was received.
Fayetteville was held for a few days, the extensive arsenal being thoroughly destroyed by the (p293) First Michigan Engineers. The refugees and sick were sent to Wilmington, and a few supplies brought up for the army.
We had now marched three hundred and fifty miles without communications or supplies, cutting all the lines of the enemy's communication onthe route, securing the possession of Charleston, and shutting up the foe in the States of virginia and North Carolina, and all without a general engagement, and but three or four skirmishes of any magnitude. (p294)