Crossing Into North Carolina
Chapter 67 (February 28, 1865 – March 13, 1865)
On these marches the boys would shoot all the bloodhounds whenever and wherever they were found, as these dogs were used for trailing Negroes who had escaped.
Tuesday, 28th, struck tents, crossed Linche’s Creek, marched six miles. The roads were so bad that nearly every foot of the way had to be corduroyed. Continuous rains had swollen the swamps and river, and made the roads almost impassable. We were right in the midst of the alligator country, and everybody was talking alligator. One evening we had gone into camp a little early upon nice, level land, and about a half-mile away a group of soldiers were gathered. We were just getting our suppers, when some one passed the word around that the party of men we saw had just captured a large alligator.
Well, such a rush as we had. Nearly our whole brigade started out. General Geary’s headquarters were along the road and the general and his staff, who were just eating their suppers, came out of their tents and asked what was the excitement. The answer was an alligator. They joined us and went along with the exception of the General himself. This was a forced march and when we got there we found it to be a fake. When we passed headquarters on our return, the General came to the front of his tent and said: “Well, boys, did you see the alligator?” and laughed heartily about it. Some thought he knew all about the joke. We saw several alligators, which had been caught and killed, but saw no live ones.
February 29, all day, we remained in camp, owing to the rain and bad roads. While the people of the North were enjoying their good homes and warm beds. Company G, with thousands of others were wading in the Southland thru mud and swamps without a stitch of dry clothing to our backs, not for a day only but for weeks at a time. We never experienced harder times than we did while out in the army. And all was done that this Nation might live.
Wednesday, March 1, broke camp, marched 10 miles and bivouacked. March 2, today we marched six miles.
March 3, Friday, broke camp, marched 14 miles and encamped near Chesterfield court house. March 4, left camp near Chesterfield court house, marched nine miles.
Sunday, 5th, remained in camp.
Monday, March 6, marched thru Cheraw and crossed the great Pedee River, traveled 18 miles. Today we crossed the State line into North Carolina. A great amount of goods was sent by the Rebels to Cheraw from Charleston and other coast towns for safe keeping, never perhaps thinking that Sherman’s army would pass that way. Twenty-four cannon, 2,000 muskets, and 3,600 barrels of gun powder were found here. By accident or carelessness the powder was exploded, which killed and wounded a number of men.
Here we received a ration of sturgeon. This was out of the ordinary but it had been captured among other Confederate supplies, and then issued to the boys. Our outdoor exercise had been first class and as you know the doctors always say that it aids digestion, we got away with it without any bad results.
Tuesday, March 7, struck tents, bugles sounded the forward call and we put in another day’s march thru the rain and mud, marched 13 miles.
On the 8th, left camp, crossed railroad below Rockingham, marched 10 miles and encamped. On the 9th, traveled nine miles.
On the 10th, only three miles.
Saturday, March 11, struck tents, crossed Little Pedee River and encamped. Traveled 10 miles.
Sherman keeps pushing the Rebels, and we march to Fayetteville and encamp. All the army corps had concentrated at Fayetteville. The 14th corps was the first to enter the town and took possession of the arsenal, etc. Here Sherman first came in communication with the outside world, having left Savannah, Georgia, on January 27, just 45 days. After this the army was in daily communication with the North.
The four corps and cavalry crossed Cape Fear River at this place, having only one pontoon bridge. General Joe Johnson was now in command of the Rebel forces and we had more or less skirmishing every day. Late in the afternoon of March 13, Monday, we were marched into the town of Fayetteville.