Sherman’s March to the Sea
Chapter 60 (November 24, 1864 – December 11, 1864)
Thursday, November 24th, struck tents, left camp at Milledgeville and again marched east in the direction of Millen, at which place was a rebel prison pen. It was Sherman’s March to the Sea that closed Andersonville and Millen, two of the worst prisons in the South. Marched 10 miles and encamped.
Friday, November 25th. Marched eight miles and encamped.
Saturday, November 26th, broke camp marched thru Sandersville, a fine little town, and passed Tennile Station, marched 13 miles and encamped.
Sunday, November 27th, struck tents, destroyed about four miles of railroad, crossed the Connouchee river, passed thru Davisboro and encamped, marched about 10 miles.
Monday, 28th. We destroyed the railroad near Davisboro and we were so long delayed in our work of destruction that we encamped near our old camp of the day before.
Tuesday, November 29th, broke camp, passed Spiers Station, marched 15 miles and encamped. Wednesday, 30th, struck tents, crossed the Ogeechee river and encamped, traveled eight miles. Thursday, December 1st. Today we marched about 10 miles and encamped.
Friday, December 2nd, struck tents, marched 10 miles and encamped.
Saturday, December 3rd, broke camp, marched all day and all night. Crossed the Augusta railroad, which we tore up. This destruction of railroad and crossing swamps kept us busy. We were nearing the Millen Prison pen and our cavalry had a fight at this place with the rebels, defeating them and driving them away. Our soldiers, who had been confined in Millen and in Andersonville, had been removed before we were able to rescue them. Some of Company G boys had gone to see the stockades around the Millen prison, as our line of march was only about two miles from it.
Sunday, December 4th, marched six miles and encamped.
Monday, December 5th, struck tents, marched about 13 miles. Our entire regiment was placed on picket. We were now nearing the Savannah river, and a great deal was talked about as to where and when we would strike it. One day as we marched along the boys again said something about the Savannah river, when Jere Moyer said: “Ich mane mere setta boll on seller ferdifelder Susquehannah river cumma.” [“I think we should be coming to the fordable Susquehanna River soon.”]
Tuesday, December 6th. Today we traveled about 10 miles, and after going into camp a lot of peanuts were brought into the shelter tents, fires were built for cooking coffee, the peanuts were emptied along the fire to roast, and we all partook heartily. But Freddie Ulrich seemed to have gotten an overdose. After a while Freddie began to moan and groan, and asked his brother Jim to go for a doctor. This Jim did, and when the doctor came he gave him some medicine, but Freddie had no relief. He told Jim to go for another doctor and this he kept up until five doctors were called. The writer went to tell Captain Byers of Freddie’s illness, and he at once went to see him, and found Freddie crawling around in the grass. The captain, of course, sympathized with him, telling him that no doubt the peanuts had caused his trouble. Freddie said: “No it wasn’t the peanuts.” The captain went away, saying “Freddie won’t die yet, he’s too contrary.”
Wednesday, December 7th. Today we marched 12 miles to Springfield.
Thursday, December 8th, broke camp, passed thru Springfield and encamped traveled 12 miles. Friday, December 9th, marched only five miles.
Saturday, December 10th, traveled 15 miles.
Sunday, December 11, struck tents. Today we had our first sight of the much talked of Savannah river. We marched about three and a half miles, and halted about three miles from the city of Savannah. Then began the erection of breastworks. I will write about the siege and capture of the city later, as I want to relate some of the incidents which happened on this march from Atlanta to Savannah.
When we left Atlanta the boys were in high spirits, having all the confidence in our grand old Commander General William T. Sherman. Some band by accident on leaving the city played “John Brown’s Soul Goes Marching On.” The men caught up the strain, and never was the chorus of “Glory, Glory, Hallelulah!” given with more spirit, and more harmony than at this time.
The corps moved out on parallel roads and as near as possible ten miles apart. Each corps was to march a certain number of miles each day. Signal stations were placed upon elevations, and the general advised every evening of their camping grounds. After leaving the rolling or mountainous country, and getting down into the level country some distance south of Milledgeville, rockets were used to designate the camping grounds of the different forces.
With each column traveled about eight hundred wagons and ambulances, and these usually on the march occupied five miles or more of the road. About 900 feet of pontoons with canvas covered boats were distributed with each corps. A regular pontoon train had charge of these boats. Coming to a stream or swamp, the men in charge would put down a bridge ready to move troops, wagons and artillery over it without the rear of the marching column knowing anything about it until they arrived at the bridge.