Marching to Richmond
Chapter 69 (April 10, 1865 – May 10, 1865)
Monday, April 10. And now being in this camp since March 28th, and all preparations completed for another forward movement, we broke camp, marched thru Goldsboro, traveled 12 miles and bivouacked. On the way during the day we had some little sport, which we all relished more or less.
George Noaker’s knapsack bursted and spilled all the stuff he had in it. Some one yelled: “Bucktails, fall in for your hardware.” This made the old fellow angry. And the language he used was what he knew before he went to service, and that which he learned in the service, and the combination of the two makes it entirely too strong to be printed here. The boys just delighted to get some of our old fellows angry.
On our marching into Goldsboro about two weeks prior a house of a planter stood along the road. A most delightful home. Now in marching back over the same road we passed the place where this fine house once stood, but had since been destroyed by fire. The family that once occupied it had gathered a few household articles and were now living in the corner of a field, near where once stood their beautiful mansion. Rails thrown on top of the fence, and these covered with corn fodder was the protection the people now had and there is where they lived.
Tuesday, April 11th, broke camp, marched to Smithfield and encamped, traveled 15 miles.
On the 12th, struck tents, crossed Neuse river and camped, marched 15 miles. Today when we reached Smithfield, N. C., we received the first news of Lee’s surrender. This was indeed good news for we knew it would be but a few days until General Joe Johnson’s army would have to surrender to General Sherman. We all marched on with lighter hearts, believing that the war would soon be over. We camped near Raleigh, the capitol of North Carolina. Marched 15 miles. We remained in this camp until the l9th, when we were out foraging.
On the 20th, we had Division review. We remained in camp. On the 25th, broke camp, marched to Jones’ Crossroads, three miles from Holly Springs, and went to camp. Traveled 12 miles.
On the 26th and 27th remained in camp.
Friday, April 28th, struck tents, marched back to our old camp at Raleigh, traveled 12 miles. On the 29th, in camp.
Sunday, April 30th. Today we start on our homeward march, the war being over and we are all happy. Left camp, crossed Neuse river, traveled 15 miles and encamped. The army under Joe Johnson had now surrendered. Some difficulty arose between Secretary of War Edwin M. Staunton and General Sherman as to the terms of surrender. All things now having been properly adjusted, we were ready to move.
After leaving Raleigh, N. C., and marching toward Richmond we met hundreds of Confederates, some of whom lived in the extreme southern part of Texas, going south to their homes. These poor fellows at first were twitted quite a good deal by our boys, but soon orders were given out not to molest them. They were ragged and hungry, and were fed from our commissary. Many a one, no doubt when he reached home, found his loved ones gone and his property in ruin. They all looked very much distressed, and presented a very pitiable sight.
Monday, May 1st, broke camp near Neuse river, crossed Tar river, marched 22 miles. May 2nd, Tuesday struck tents, marched 20 miles.
May 3rd, Wednesday, broke camp passed thru Williamsboro, N. C., crossed the state line between North Carolina and Virginia, and encamped about four miles from the Roanoke river, marched 10 miles. As the head of each brigade came to the state line the band stopped and played “Carry Me Back to Old Virginia.” It was a little over one year and eight months since we had left Virginia, to go west and unite our fortunes with Sherman’s army.
May 4th, Thursday, broke camp, crossed the Roanoke river and Coleman’s creek, marched 20 miles. It had been raining and our camp was a plowed field. You may imagine how we looked.
May 5th, struck tents, crossed Meherring river and encamped near Notaway Court House, marched 18 miles. Passed thru some fine country both in North Carolina and Virginia.
Saturday, 6th, struck the South Side railroad at Blacks and Whites Station, marched four miles and encamped at Wellville Station.
On the evening of the 5th, Major William Byers, of the 49th, P. V. I., which command was encamped at Blacks and Whites Station, and Lieutenant Adam Stahl came to meet us. General Slocum, who was at the head of the column, had told them on what road we were marching. They stayed with us all night and marched back with us next day, to where their camp was located.
Sunday, May 7th, broke camp near Wellsville Station, crossed Appomattox river and encamped, marched 17 miles.
Monday, 8th. Today we left camp near the Appomattox river, crossed Falling creek and encamped, traveled 17 miles.
Tuesday, 9th. Moved camp about one mile. On the 10th, remained in camp.
Secretary of War, Edwin M. Staunton, wanted General Sherman to have his troops pass in review for him when we marched thru Richmond, but owing to some misrepresentation of Sherman by Staunton about Sherman’s terms of surrender of Johnson’s army, Sherman said, that as much as he would like his army to pass through the Rebel Capitol, he would march them six miles around the city rather than pass in review for Mr. Staunton. We did not pass in review.