John J. Hight.

History of the Fifty-eighth regiment of Indiana volunteer infantry. Its organization, campaigns and battles from 1861 to 1865 online

. (page 39 of 47)
Online LibraryJohn J. HightHistory of the Fifty-eighth regiment of Indiana volunteer infantry. Its organization, campaigns and battles from 1861 to 1865 → online text (page 39 of 47)
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painting black of the doorsteps is a strong confirmation, but
within there is an altar railing, which tells a Methodist tale.
It must belong to our people.

We marched, to-day, as we have every day for some
time, in the rear of all things. This is usually our fate,
when marching with that mismanaged institution, the 14th

After a march of eighteen miles, we camped, at seven
p. m., at Fiddle Pond. I could learn nothing of the pond.


Nearl}^ all the dwellings along the route of this day's marc!h
had been burned.

A peculiar old negro came into our camp, after night.
He had tollowed us many miles, to pick up any old clothing,
which might be left in camp to-morrow morning. He gives
no flattering account of the beauties of slavery.

We passed three churches, to-day, the first of which was
Smyrna Baptist Church. This is a large frame structure,
intended to be nicely finished within, and there are two
melodeons and a baptistry. The second was the Savannah
M. E. Church, which is a substantial frame building, and
there is a cemetery near by. The last was Mt. Arkon Bap-
tist Church, frame, and smaller than either of the others.

Saturday, February ii. — We marched at eight o'clock
this morning, and soon came to Morgan's Division, lying to
the left of the road, and waiting for our column to pass.
The 14th Corps concentrates in front of the Salkehatchie, a
swampy stream, or rather two streams, where we crossed.
The rebels had constructed a line of earthworks, to defend
the crossing; but, as usual, their hearts failed them, just
before the Yankees came up.

From Salkehatchie to Barnwell, a distance of two miles,
tlie soil is fertile, and under cultivation. We reached the
village at twelve m., and pulled out to one side for every-
body to pass. This gave us an opportunity to feed the
stock, sleep, and view the town. Most of the business por-
tion of the town, including the court house, is burned, and
other houses are burning continualh'. Hence, the soldiers
call this "Burn well." No efibrt was made to guard prop-
erty, and the soldiers are permitted to take anvthing tliey
desire. Tliey are not slow to improve the opportunity thus
offered them. The rebels are now reaping the just reward
of their long oppression of the slaves.

'J'houijh the mills of God grind slowly,

^'et, they grind exceeding small;
Though with patience he stands waiting',

With exactness grinds he all,


Adjutant Behm, noticing some small children, with blue
pants on, playing, inquired where they got the pants; and,
in childish simplicity, they told him that their father pulled
them ofF of dead Yankees. He is a soldier in the rebel army.

About dark, we left Barnwell C. H., and marched three
miles by 7 :t,o p. m. We went far into the brilliantly illumi-
nated camps before stopping. The Major had one of his
peculiar tits on him to-night. He arrested and "bucked''
the commissary guards, who had stolen whisky and sold it
to a train guard, who had gotten drunk, and permitted some
mules to be stolen. They deserve it, but why not "buck"
the officers who draw the vile stul?\ "Ah I Ah I " said the
judge, "circumstances alter cases." While the Major w'as
charging around, attemptiug to restore long neglected dis-
cipline, the Adjutant was engaged in the more peaceable
occupation of making "souse." It was splendid — the souse,
I mean.

Sunday, February 12. — Marched at 7 :30 this morning,
following the reserve artillery, which follows Morgan's
Division. We marched seven miles north to Williston, and
seven miles northeast to the South Edisto river. There was
a lake district about our camp, but some of the lakes had
been partiall}' or entirely drained. Before reaching W^illis-
ton, we came up an elevation of twentv or thirty feet.
Here was an entire geological change. The loose sand
gives way to red clay and gravel, and we have a greater
variety of timber. At Williston we found Captain Whiting
and his section of the train, waiting to join us. Here Gen-
eral Davis' headquarters were put up. Our cavalry had
reached the raih^oad on last Wednesday-, and are now gone
to the left. The ist Michigan Engineers and Mechanics are
destroying the road east of here. All the remainder of the
road is to our right. W^illiston seems to have but one street,
and it runs along the railroad. The army seems now to be
moving on Columbia.

It was eight p. m. — long after dark — when we camped,
in a dirty little field, exposed tQ the chilling river wind, and


destitute of tirewood. Many stafl' officers were young
boobies, hanging to their mothers' apron strings, before the
war, and have no more sense about selecting a camp for a
Pontoon train of one hundred wagons than a child. Such
must have been the case to-night.

Monday, February 13. — Remaining for some hours in
camp, this morning, we have some time for rumors, news,
and opinions. Rumors sa}^ the 23d Corps is at Beaufort,
and coming up. Thomas is coming through, and we are
going into North Carolina. The news is that Kilpatrick was
repulsed at Akin, and that Orangeburg has been captured.
My opinion is that the rebels are going under.

We marched at 12:30. Crossed the South Edisto on a
trestle bridge made by the army. The main channel is
about thirty yards wide. Beyond this, there is corduroy for
three-fourths of a mile. After passing this, we went into
camp, within I'orty-five miles of Columbia, from a miscon-
ception of orders. Moved on Columbia road, at two p. m.
Crossed Dean swamp and camped on a ridge — the highest
we had seen in South Carolina. I suppose it to be the
dividing ridge between the North and South Edisto. We
have a good camp — protected from winds — rails to burn —
good water — sand beds. We got snugly into quarters before
dark .

Tuesday, Febriary 14. — Tk^fore day, all the troops were
out of camp, and moving rapidly towards the North lulisto.
We follow the 1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics. We
moved rapidly lor eleven miles to tiie river, arriving at
eleven o'clock. Tiie river is eighteen yards wide, and the
bridge mostly destroyed by rebels. The mechanics repaired
it in an hour, and the arm}^ moved on. Camped about dark
at the eighteenth mile post from Congaree river, and near
Little Cedar Swamp.

Wednesday, February 15. — Moved rapidly back two
miles to cros: -roads. Speculations rife. Ari> we i?'^'"^ ^^
Charleston? Is something {he matter on ahead? At tlie
cross roads, we mo\'ed to the left. The general direction is


north. Country barren — white sand, looking like snow ;
beautiful little bushes, resembling pine ; cross Congaree
creek at Clark's Mill, the owner of which is said to be a
Union man. Rebels are plentiful hereabouts. We camped
at Boozer's Cross-roads, one and a half miles from Lexing-
ton C. H., at four p. m., having journe3^ed twelve miles
to-day. The assembly- sounded in many camps, just after
we got in, and Morgan's Division moves on.

Thursday, February i6, — Ready to march at six.
Orders came to divide the train. Colonel Moore and Cap-
tain McDonald go with the right wing, and half of the train
accompanies the 14th Corps. Major Downey marches to
the right with the remainder. We came, in a little wa}^ on
the camp of the 20th Corps. While the Adjutant has gone
to report to General Williams, I notice, with admiration, the
promptness, precision, and soldierly bearing ot the men of
this Corps. In these respects they out-shine all the Corps of
this army. Hence, in a great measure, the jealousy of the
14th Corps.

The Adjutant soon returned and we moved on slowly.
There were some rebels in front. We seemed to be going
directly to Columbia. Our Battalion is received with
marked courtes};- by the officers and men of the Corps.
Diligent inquir^^ is made into the wants and desires of the
Major. Men are offered in such numbers as he desires for
guards or mule foragers. A place well up in the column is
assigned to the train.

After marching through a poor country for live miles, we
camp, about two p. m. There was evidently some change
in the programme. Knowing nothing, rumor supplies the
place. It is said Columbia is evacuated and Colonel Moore
is to come up with his section and we will bridge the Con-
garee, which is too wide for half the bridge. The Colonel
is on a left hand road, a mile or so from us. Some of our
boys were out there foraging this afternoon.

We had just gone to bed, expecting an undisturbed night's
rest, when marching orders came, at eight p. m. We



moved down the Columbia roads, about two miles. We
then turned northwest. We rejoined Colonel Moore, after
a march of seven miles, at Zion's Church, on the Saluda
river, at one a.m. There was a nearer road through. I do
not know '^vhy it was not traveled.

We had been passing through sand pine and stunted oak
land. But during the night the soil grew solid beneath our
tread, the sand disappears, we came to rocks, and the dick-
ering lights revealed new^ species of trees. A part of the

wa}' was lonesome, and to
us, uncertain, as there had
been considerable skirmish-
ing yesterday.

When we came to Colonel
Moore's camp, we were
very coldh' received. No-
body got up to show^ us a
place to camp. "Any-
where" is the Colonel's
usual camping place ; so we
groped about in the dark,
and finally settled down on
the stones, which covered
the hard ground. But a
harder fate than this awaited
Companies B and (j. They
are sent directly on to General Howard, with twelve sections
of pontoon — 120 feet.

Friday, Fichruarv 17. — The order of march for this
morning is Carlin's Division, Morgan's Division, baggage
of troops, reserve artillerv, ist Michigan Engineers and
Mechanics, lastly, the battalion of Pontoniers. The Pon-

UEV. Wit. [CV KNOW Lies,*
Private Company A.

* Was mustered in at Camp Gibson, and served vvitli his Company until
the battle of Stone River, where he was severely wounded. On this account
he svas discharjjcd, April 22, 1S63, and returned home. Since the war, he
has turned his attention to the ministry', and after some years remoxed to the
Pacific Coast. 1 [e is now residini;- at Newman. California, and is actively
eni^ai,'ed in the Master's work,


toniers were Major Downey's party. We passed Zion's
Church, near the river bank. An old citizen near here
began a wonderful bellowing and pra3ang over some mis-
fortune befalling him. General J. C. Davis, who was on
his porch, made him hush, and told him to think himself
fortunate that his house was not burned. At the river we
saw genuine mud, which we had not seen before for many
a day. We had met much quicksand, but here is genuine
clay mud. The river is two hundred and fifty feet wide.
There are twent3'-one boats in the bridge. Colonel Moore's
battalion laid it. An army wagon had turned over from the
bridge into the water and some of the mules had been
drowned. The wagon is still in the edge of the stream.
The Saluda is a mud bottomed stream, with mud banks and
muddy water. I looked in vain for the picturesque.


Carolina Campaign Continued — Lexington District
— An Abundance of Forage — War's Desolation —
Thoughtless Destruction — Crossing Broad River
Under Difficulties — Bad Generalship — At Wins-
BORO — Columbia — Charleston Evacuated — Gen-
eral Sherman — Officers of 14TH Corps — A Roast
FOR General Davis — Crossing the Catawba — Dis-
aster TO THE Pontoon Bridge — The Boy that
Stood on the Bridge — In North Carolina — Fay-
etteville — Events Crowding upon Events.

WE moved out through a very muddv bottom road,
but soon reached higher ground. We came into
a high, rolHng country, which has a good soil, laid
upon a substantial base of red cla^^ This portion of
Lexington District is superior to any part of South
Carolina yet visited by us. We expected to pass
over the neck of land to Broad river. But it soon
became evident that we were to strike that river higher
up. We came to a land of plenty. The troops and
trains could not use the thousands of bushels of corn and
hundreds of stacks of fodder. The wagons are all loaded.
The men get plenty of bacon, poultry, and other eatables.
Many houses are given to the flames. Sometimes, not only
the whites, but the blacks are burned out, b}^ accident or
otherwise. Manv are houseless to-night. Thousands of
bushels of corn, in roaring heaps, are burned bv thoughtless
soldiers. This will cause suffering amongst the stock of the
many trains yet to come. The winds began to rise. The
fires spread in many places. Sometimes, the world seemed


to be on fire. We were almost stifled by smoke and flames.
Oh, that the planters of Lexington District had considered
what they were doing when they invited war, to desolate
their land. Men will persist in foolishly imagining that
there is some way of making war simply on armed men. It
cannot be done successfully. The fields and houses, the
women and children, always suffer. It cannot be other-
wise in war ; therefore let all people labor for peace. When
they invite war, they invite pestilence, fire, famine, flood
and death in all its most horrible forms. No land can pros-
per save in times of peace. When we came to the Fleshley's
Mill road, Carlin's Division continues on up the river, for
the purpose of destroying the railroad between Columbia
and Abbeyville. Morgan's Division moves to Fleshley's
Mill on Broad river. The trains park on a hill, about the
middle of the afternoon. Here, we remain until near dark.
In the meantime. Major Downe}^ and Lieutenant Wood go
forward to see the place where the pontoon is to be. It was
dark when we got started again, and we were behind every-
body, although we were expected to make the bridge over
which the others cross. The roads were very bad for four
miles to the river. The reserve artillery detained us until
one a. m. We passed a pine deadening, through which the
fire had been carried by the winds, during the day. It was
now splendidly illuminated. We had supper at two a. m.
Moving a Pontoon train in the rear of all things, on the day
a bridge is desired, is an exhibition of folly ; but only such as
is common with weak men, like General J. C. Davis. Then
there is talk of "the unaccountable delay of the pontoons,"
and all such stuff'. Poor little Davis, he expects to march in
triumph over Broad river in the morning. Yet he keeps
the Pontoon train back until near morning. But he is
not the only Jeff' Davis doomed b}^ foil}" to disappointed

Our men who had traveled nearly all last night, who had
carried their heavy burdens eighteen miles, to-day, who had
tramped over the hills, and rolled wagons through the mud.


who were stung by the injustice of requiring them to do
impossibiHties, are required to work all night. But I have
already trespassed on to-morrow. I must cease m}^ writing
under this date. I will add one statement. The stock of
the train is almost worn out by heavy loads, night traveling
and bad treatment.

Saturday, February i8. — There was no bridge, at day-
light this morning — in fact, there are not enough boats to
make one. The river is six hundred and forty feet wide.
General Sherman has played oft' on the left wing. If we
had our twelve sections here, which were sent with Com-
panies B and G to General Howard, we could complete this
bridge. Sherman favors the right wing ; Slocum favors the
20th Corps. There are some things which a blind man can

Fleshley's mill is torn down, to furnish balk and chess for
the bridge. Generals Davis and Morgan came down, to
help matters on. They fume around no little; they hurry
men and officers ; they hurry in boat after boat, and urge up
the work. They never seem to consider that after all the
boats are in there will be still two hundred feet unbridged.
They hurry away building a piece of a bridge, and never
seem to ask themselves what good all their hurry will accom-
plish. Nothing is done towards making the last two hun-
dred feet. If thev had exerted themselves to prepare some
kind of material for the last two hundred feet, they might
have at least made a little exhibition of sense. Our people
could not do anything more than they were doing. We had
only one Company of Pontoniers — F — and they, and all our
men present, had been up two nights. To tear down houses,
and cut and haul poles from the woods, and make a bridge
over a swift-running stream, is no small task, to men who
have been up two nights in succession. The men were fall-
ing asleep continually, the moment they had any relief from
duty ; and they necessarily felt dull and stupid all the time.
Yet the Generals were hurrying, iun'rying, all the time.
Many were tiie reflections they cast at the officers and men.


The Pontoniers are in great disrepute to-dav. Generals
Davis and Morgan are well convinced of their inefficiency.*

This has been a day of vexation. All the army is waiting
on the pontoon, and the pontoon, having not been made of
India rubber, cannot be stretched two hundred feet longer
than it is. We must await the coming of Captain Smith or
Colonel Moore, or make a trestle bridge. Generals Davis
and Morgan busied themselves about what could have been
better done in their absence ; and at nightfall went to their
quarters. Davis ordered Major Downey to put his men to
work immediately, and complete the bridge, by making
two hundred feet of trestle, by morning. Why did he not
do this, by some other party, dviring the day? Is the man
crazy? Our men had been up for two nights in succession,
and had worked hard for many days. Now the}^ are ordered
to work the third night ; and, more than this, the work can-
not be done in a night. It cannot be completed before Col-
onel Moore will get here, and then tlie trestles will be in the
way. Major Downey, like a sensible man, went to bed, and
paid no attention to the foolish and unreasonable order of
General Davis, I feared, at the time, that we might suffer
for this.

Sunday, February 19. — I forgot to say, under the date
of yesterda}^, that it was then generally known that Cheat-
ham's Confederate Corps was fording Broad river, above us.
We cut them oft' from Columbia, and crowded them from the
railroad bridge above here. They are endeavoring to con-
centrate, with the rebels from various parts, in our front.

Colonel Moore came last night. Ten more boats were
put in, and the bridge is done ^y daylight this morning.
The 14th Corps crossed by day, and Kilpatrick's cavahy is
crossing to-night.

* How difl'erent the opinion entertained by ^^ajor-Ge^c^al George II.
Thomas, commanding the Department of the Cumberhmd. In his report of
operations of the army under his command, tVom September 7, 1S64, to Jan-
uary 20, 1865. he says: "I would here remariv that the splendid pontoon train
properly belonging to my command, with its trained corps of Pontoniers, was
absent, with General Sherman."


We had no meeting to-day, although we lay in camp.
The men were tired and sleepy, and there was constant con-
fusion, made by passing troops.

An order, of which I had nev^er heard, had been issued,
some time since, from Sherman's headquarters, confining
the use of wall tents to one for the headquarters of a Brigade
or Division, and none to a Regiment. A circular is sent
around, calling attention to the disobedience of this, and
requiring compliance. It is also ordered that the trains be
lightened as much as possible. In consequence of this, there
was a great destruction of baggage in our train. Many old
pieces of canvas, etc., were burned, but the tents ordered to
be destroyed were usually hid in the wagons. This was the
case in our camp. The allowance of tents is very limited,
and they are very light. It is a very poor plan to burn tents
— it takes but little from the loads, and much from the con-
venience and comfort of camp. At the very time orders are
issued to destroy tents, there are hundreds of pounds of old
and useless articles hauled by teamsters, guards, and others.
Men in this train are hauling tobacco by the box, for pur-
poses of speculation.

Monday, February 20. — The 14th Corps crossed yester-
day, Kilpatrick's cavalry last night, and the 20th Corps
to-day. Fleshley's mill is a large, frame building, and near
it is a cotton press. When we came here, there was a sup-
ply of corn, wheat, and cotton. Broad river resembles the
French Broad, save there is no mountain scenery here. The
stream spreads out to a great widtli, flows gently and
smoothly along, and has many islands. Our pontoon is
six hundred and fort}'- feet long.

Cheatham commenced fording the riv^er above here, on
Saturday, and now has the start of us. Some of our men
have been in his camp — I mean column.

All ideas of going to Cliarleston have now vanished. We
have prevailing rumors of going to Bull's Bay, Newburn,
and Wilmington. None of us know certainly as to our des-


At six p. m., the last of the army had crossed, the small-
pox train being in the rear. It took two and a half hours to
take up the bridge. We were supported by five Regiments
of infantry and four guns — pretty good backing.

At nine p. m. we marched to Little river, where there was
a long delay, on account of the steep hill. While awaiting
the coming of the train, we sat shivering about little lires.
We passed a negro who had the small-pox, lying in a fence
corner. We always have this disease along.

We now came to solid roads, of reddish brown soil. The
country appeared to be open and cultivated, and the soil
seemed good. The timber was of a better quality than
usual. Many fences were burning, as we went marching
along. Midnight found us still upon the move.

Tuesday, February 21. — We reached the camp of the
20th Corps, after a march often miles, just as reveille was
sounding, at four a. m. It was broad day light when we
camped, after marching all night. I lay down, but slept
none. I was fearful that we would lose our place in the
column, after marching all night to gain it. Only those who
have know the difference between marching near the
front and in the rear. We stopped for breakfast, near the
twenty-third mile post from Columbia, and the eleventh from

At eight a. m. we moved otT, with the 20th Corps, on the
Winsboro road. We passed through a hilly countr}^ The
soil is thin, resting on red clay. The land is very solid, and
better than common for South Carolina.

Chaplain John McCrae, of the 33d Indiana, used to live
in the5e parts. He visited his old neighbors and neighbor-
hood, and Ibund the people in a very sad plight. He had
not the heart to go to see all his acquaintances. Soldiers
were everywhere, pillaging. Our men are robbing all the
houses as we pass along. Not so many houses are
burned as formerly, for all are tiring of the work.
Orders are against house burning, or robbing, save for


We came into a region where there were many magnifi-
cent granite boulders, which can be easily split into slabs,
convenient for building purposes. The people make free use
of these, except that I saw none used in house building.
We passed Black Jack Baptist Church, a dingy old frame
building, enlarged, at some time past, by adding a side shed.
It is as it was thirty 3'ears ago, when Chaplain McCrae used
to preach in it. Near this is the Furman University, a brick
building of three or four stories, and a most unsightly pile.
It is without fence, or ornaments of an}^ kind, and the glass
of the windows is broken. The building is now used for a
receptacle of "tax in kind." It contained onl}^ cotton and
fodder, to-day. The men took the fodder for the teams, but
left the cotton. The Furmans are great men, among the
South Carolina Baptists.

The 14th and 20th Corps moved on Winsboro, by roads
which came together just at the edge of the village. The
foratfers and bummers of each command preceded the col-
umns, and entered upon indiscriminate plunder of the vil-
lage. General Gearv, commandinij the advance Division of
the 20th Corps, arrested them, and took their forage from
them, which gave great offense to the 14th Corps.

The 20th Corps entered Winsboro in great pomp — ban-

Online LibraryJohn J. HightHistory of the Fifty-eighth regiment of Indiana volunteer infantry. Its organization, campaigns and battles from 1861 to 1865 → online text (page 39 of 47)