Chapter 65 (January 23, 1865 – February 10, 1865)
The time in Savannah passed rapidly away and we left the city with many regrets. Sherman’s army was again ready to move. Clothing was supplied for all our wants. Our wagon trains were filled with rations for men and horses for a certain number of days.
On Monday, January 23rd, 1865, a division of the l9th corps from the army of the Potomac took our place in the city. On the 26th, orders were issued stating that the army would move the next morning, Friday, January 27th, 1865. This proved to be Sherman’s last campaign, and a very successful one it was. We left the city with banners flying, bands playing and the men everywhere cheering and all seeming anxious to cross the Savannah river into South Carolina, the hotbed of secession, and where the first hostile shot was fired upon that dear old Flag we all love so much.
We marched by the river and along the Charleston and South Carolina railroad for 12 miles and encamped. On the 28th we continued our march up the river, traveling 11 miles.
On the 29th, Sunday, struck tents, marched 10 miles and encamped. Here we remained until February 4th, Saturday. Owing to much rain the streams were swollen everywhere. Crossed the river at Sisters’ Ferry, traveled about three miles and encamped. One of our iron clad gun boats was brought up the river and stationed here to protect the pontoon bridge and the men while crossing into South Carolina.
Here Lieutenant B. T. Parks returned to the company after an absence of six months, owing to a gun shot wound received at Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia, in July, 1864, the ball having passed thru his head, striking near his right eye, and coming out near his left ear. He lost the hearing of one ear, also the sight of one eye. When he left us we never expected him to return. We were all overjoyed to have him with us again, for I know that every man in Company G had a great, big warm spot in his heart for our brave little lieutenant. When he was wounded he was taken back to the hospital at Nashville, Tennessee, and while convalescing he was placed in command of the military detective force of the city. He also was volunteer aid upon the staff of General Miller, and as aid he participated in the battles of Nashville and Franklin. He came on, traveling about 1,800 miles to join his old company and do his part in the closing days of the war. Who among us would have done as well as he?
When we had reached the South Carolina side of the river, General Geary rode along the marching column and said: “Boys, are you well supplied with matches, as we are now in South Carolina.” It was not necessary for the General to remind the boys of this fact.
February 5, broke camp, passed thru Robertsville, South Carolina, and encamped, marched six miles.
On the 6th, Monday, struck tents, marched about 13 miles and encamped. A great deal of corduroy road had to be made for the troops and wagon trains to pass over owing to the wet season and the many streams and swamps. The Rebels had put down some corduroy roads, and had placed torpedoes in them and a goodly number of these exploded, when our troops and wagon trains were passing over, killing many horses and men. General Kilpatrick had captured large droves of cattle, so to insure the safety of the men these cattle were driven ahead of the marching troops, and wherever a torpedo was touched the cattle were blown up, thus saving men and horses.
February 7, marched six miles and encamped at Poolsville.
Wednesday, 8th, struck tents, crossed Big Saltkahatchie Swamp and encamped at Beaufort bridge, traveled about 12 miles.
Thursday, February 9, struck tents, marched along the Charleston and Savannah Railroad, destroying railroad, railroad bridges and everything that might be of any value to the Confederates. Encamped at Blackville, marched 12 miles.
Friday, February 10. From this place the company and regiment went out on a foraging expedition, and it was amazing to see how expert the men had become in this branch of their business, for in returning to camp they had a bountiful supply of all the country afforded.
South Carolina was now feeling the heavy hand of war. We marched inland from the Atlantic coast from 60 to 90 miles, and a scope of country about fifty miles wide was made desolate waste by our army of 60 or 65,000 men. As a general thing the destroying of private property was done by bummers and not by the regiment commands. The latter looked after railroads, bridges, and any and everything else that might be a benefit to the Confederates, which were destroyed without ceremony. I have seen where families were driven out of their homes and their houses burned to the ground. In starting out on the march in the morning you might look in almost any direction and see smoke ascending, from the destruction of property and as the innocent had to suffer with the guilty South Carolina got her full share.