On the 29th of April the Army of the Tennessee commenced the march to Richmond, via Louisburg, Warrenton, Lawrenceville, and Petersburg, the Army of Georgia moved at the same time and for the same destination, via Oxford, Boydton, and Nottoway Court House. All foraging was prohibited, and all necessary supplies were purchased by the Commissaries. The march was quiet and orderly, showing that strict discipline might be secured and the property of our subdued enemies respected, after the strife had ceased.
The Army of the Tennessee reached Petersburg May 7th, having marched one hundred and forty-eight miles from the Neuse River in seven days. The Army of Georgia reached Manchester, opposite Richmond, at the same time. In thus pushing the troops forward General Sherman's orders, which provided for slow and easy marches and (p311) allowed fifteen days to reach Richmond and be in readiness to resume the march for Washington, were disregarded.
After a day's rest at Petersburg, giving the troops an opportunity of observing the numerous points of interest on the extended field of Grant's operations, we again moved forward, reaching Manchester May 10th, and camping in view of the late rebel Capital.
The army remained in the vicinity of Richmond three days, during which time many viewed the city and those places of historic cruelty, Libby Prison, Castle Thunder, and Belle Isle.
General Halleck had proposed to review the army of General Sherman in Richmond, in the absence of the latter, who arrived in time to put an injunction upon the proceedings, declaring that he would march his army around Richmond, rather than suffer Halleck to review his troops.
The Army of Georgia crossed the James and marched through the city, on the 12th of May, followed on the morning of the 13th by the Army of Tennessee. The Regiment was the last of Sherman's army to tread the streets of the late rebel Capital.
Grant's army had preceded us to Washington, followed by the Cavalry under Sheridan. For more than fifty miles an almost unbroken column of troops and trains pushed forward on a single (p312) road, via Hanover Court House, Bowling Green and Fredericksburg, the left wing diverging from the main route, and passing over the bloody fields of the Wilderness and Spottsylvania Court House.
The right wing moved via Stafford Court House, through a region desolated by war, and reached the Potomac at Dumfries, camping at Occoquan, May, 18th. On the following day Woods' Division marched to Alexandria, via Mount Vernon, the troops passing, at shoulder arms, before the tomb of Washington, an honor which no other body of troops ever shared. It was a solemn spectacle, and one most appropriate to the occasion of our triumph and the character of the illustrious dead.
The army camped in the vicinity of Alexandria till the 23d, moving across the Potomac, at Long Bridge, on the 24th, and passing in the Grand Review, before President Johnson, and the Cabinet, General Grant and his subordinates, in the presence of an immense and enthusiastic throng of the joyful people, assembled from all parts of the loyal States to witness the grandest display ever presented on the American continent, and one never surpassed in the old world. It was an honor to move in that grand army, and share in the applause and grateful affections of the people, to whom we were just returning from the scenes of conflict and of triumph. (p313)
It was the privilege of the Regiment to lead the column, on the morning of the 24th. The extent of the crowd collected to witness the grand pageant, and the degree of enthusiasm that prevailed along the route, from the Capitol to the point of divergence from Pennsylvania Avenue, could only be appreciated by passing through on the line of march. The memory of the scenes then witnessed will never grow dim, but will be cherished by the soldier as a part of the reward bestowed upon him by the loyal masses of the people.
Nothing now remained to be done but to muster out the troops, designated for discharge by order of the War Department. This order embraced the three following classes: 1st, All regimental organizations other than re-enlisted veterans, whose term of service would expire prior to October 1st, 1865; 2nd, All recruits in old organizations whose term of service would expire previous to the same date; 3rd, All recruits in the several organizations, for one year's service, whose term should expire prior to that date.
The Regiment was included in the first class, excepting the recruits received subsequent to October 1st, 1962. Of this class two hundred and thirty were detached from the Regiment, May 31st, and retained in service with the organizations not included in the order, and were mustered out in July following. As rapidly as the rolls could be (p314) prepared the troops entitled to discharge were mustered out at Washington, and ordered to their respective States to receive discharge and payment. The rolls of the Regiment were in readiness early in June, and the muster out was dated June 8th, 1865, the discharges also bearing that date, but payment continued to date of arrival at the designated rendezvous for payment and discharge.
The following officers were promoted to fill vacancies during the continuance of the Regiment at Washington, but were not mustered in the rank to which they were commissioned, in consequence of immediate muster out in their previous rank:
Captain Samuel Boughter, Co. F, to Major, vice
1st Lieutenant Alonzo H. Hubbard, Co. F, to Captain, vice Boughter, promoted.
Orderly Sergeant Thomas C. Lessig, Co. F, to 1st Lieutenant, vice Hubbard, promoted.
Sergeant Benjamin F. Mankin, to 2nd Lieutenant, vice Webster, promoted.
Orderly Sergeant John C. Lewman, Co. A, to 2nd Lieutenant, vice Conner, resigned.
Orderly Sergeant William H. Ellis, Co. C, to 2nd Lieutenant, vice Williams, promoted.
Orderly Sergeant Amos J. Osborne, Co. D, to 2nd Lieutenant, vice Murray, promoted.
Orderly Sergeant Greenleaf N. Gilbert, Co. E, to 2nd Lieutenant, vice Shenafelt, promoted. (p315)
Sergeant Charles F. Hardin, Co. G, to 2nd Lieutenant, vice copper, promoted.
Sergeant Logan P. Herod, Co. H, to 2nd Lieutenant, vice Jones promoted.
Orderly Sergeant William H. Sparrow, Co. I, to 2nd Lieutenant, vice Andrew, promoted.
On the 9th of June we left Washington, with the Ninety-seventh and One Hundredth Indiana Volunteers. A tedious ride of two days over the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was succeeded by a delightful passage down the Ohio, to Lawrence burg, where we arrived June 13th, reaching Indianapolis on the following morning. A public reception was given the several Regiments, and a glowing address delivered by our noble Governor, whose interest in the welfare of the Indiana troops in the field had ever been manifested in active effort for their efficiency and comfort. The words which he addressed to the veterans of 1862 were as fully appreciated as had been his faithful labors in our behalf for three long years of toil, privation and danger.
The Regiment received pay and discharge, June 20th, and the organization with which we had served no longer had an existence. The members were soon on their way home, where warm greetings awaited them. But in many homes there was deep sorrow. The friends of our fallen comrades mourned in the full realization of their loss. (p316)
While joy came to other homes with the return of long absent husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers, a deeper grief than the afflicted had ever experienced came to homes desolated by the fearful ravages of war. Our rejoicing should be tempered with sympathy for those who mourn, and fervent gratitude should dwell in all our hearts and continually ascend to God who has so signally preserved us in the midst of all our perils. (p317)