John J. Hight.

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

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bridge. We captured a nice yawl, and might have gotten
several more. Several old steamers were burned. The
bummers captured an old steamer loaded with baled fodder.
The Army of the Tennessee pontoon is laid one-half mile
below us. Favetteville is finely fortified, especially beyond
the river. The rebel army was all here, and went ofl' on the
Raleigh road, and is now just over on the other side of the

We had a little prayer meeting at night. After this was
over, Morgan's Division came drumming down street, the


first troops to cross. The bridge was completed at three
p. m., and it was now eight p. m. Our people are slow to
commence crossing, but atterwhile get in a great hurry. As
I knew the rebels were on the other side, I went over with
Morgan's men, thinking that they would stir the rebels.
But the Johnnies know what they are about. They quietly
withdraw, and give the Yankees room.

There are some items of interest about Fayetteville, which
would bear repetition, if I had time to collect them. This
was formerly Cross Creek, and is an old Scotch settlement,
as the names on the tombstones indicate. It was here that
Flora McDonald lived. This is the head of navigation on
Cape Fear river ; there is slack-water navigation to the Deep
river country above here, and there is a railroad to Egypt,
on Deep river. Here are extensive coal fields, which sup-
plied the blockade runners from Wilmington. Many heavy
supplies were sent trom here to Egypt. There are man}'
cotton factories here ; they were burned this afternoon, after
giving their contents to the poor. The proprietors offered
to give all the proceeds to the poor, if they were spared ;
but Sherman wisel}^ determined to destroy them. They
burned beautifully in the evening shades.

I visited the U. S. Arsenal — an institution designed as a
Southern pet. Cannons are being dismantled, and injured
all that is possible, and thrown into cisterns and wells.
Walls are being leveled by the ist Michigan Engineers and
Mechanics. In the end, all that is combustible is to be
given to the flames.

Private property is being respected and guarded. Per-
haps the people of Fayetteville will not be so anxious for the
next war. I hope our Government will never rebuild this, or
any other public edifice, that has been seized by the people.
Colonel M. C. Hunter is Provost Marshal for the town.
There is some beautiful scenery here.

Tuesday, March 14. — The destruction of tlie arsenal and
cotton factories happened to-day, instead of yesterday.
Troops continue to cross all day.


Wednesday, March 15. — Kilpatrick has orders to use
the bridge when he chooses. lie "chooses" to use it now,
thus cutting oH' the 15th Corps train, and hindering the Pon-
toon train. But he is over by twelve m., and we follow.
We have had beautiful weather, during our stay at Fayette-
ville. No mail or supplies have reached us from Wilming-
ton, but our wagons are ordered to remain for some expected
supplies. When we came here, we did not know^ but the
campaign was ended. The general impression now is that
we will go on to Goldsboro.

We move on with all the spare material, leaving Captain
McDonald to bring up that in the river. Night came upon
us marching. We were on the Raleigh plank road, travel-
ing north of east. Midnight found us still attempting to
travel in the swamp, as w^e had turned off the plank road.
We found quicksands and mud holes, innumerable. Roads
almost impassable.

Still we pressed foolishly on. The woods were on fire in
some places, and many burning trees fell. I attempted to
get a nap of sleep, occasionally ; but as horse stealing was the
order of the night, I could not indulge much. Captain
Smith's saddle was taken, while he was holding the halter.
We worried along all night, making about three miles, when
we should have been in camp. Day, at length, dawned on
our weary command. We pulled two miles farther, to Gen-
eral Geary's camp, reaching there at eight a. m., March 16.
The troops were already off, and the trains were moving.
Our mules had not been fed, watered, nor unharnessed, since
yesterday morning ; they were now fed and watered, with
the harness on.

Most of the troops have moved on the Raleigh plank road,
spoken of above. The 20th and 14th trains are on this road,
guarded by Geary and Baird. In three miles, we come to
Black river, which we crossed on a trestle bridge, with a cor-
duroy floor. Moved three and a half miles farther to camp,
making a march of ten miles by nine p. m. There were
many rumors when we got to camp. The rebels were


reported 30,000 strong in our immediate front. Tliey had
attacked the 15th Corps, and been repulsed. A battle may
happen to-morrow. We have various rumors of fighting
to-day, and fighting to be.

Friday, March 17. — The 15th Corps, which joined us
on the right, moved out a short distance and camped. Gen-
eral Geary's Division, and all the trains of the 20th Corps,
including the Pontoon train, remained in camp all day,
which aiibrded us a good rest. Fighting, to-day, on Ral-
eigh plank road ; four Divisions of the 14th and 20th Corps
are there. The 17th Corps is on the right. Just before
night, the remainder of our Pontoon train came up. Fifteen
hundred boxes of hard bread, which arrived at Fayetteville,
after we left, was brought up for the army.

Saturday, March 18. — Ready to march at six. Geary
rides by the train, and swears because the mules are not har-
nessed. He assigns us a place farther in the rear. Moved
northeast, across the headwaters of the Little Cohera.
Camped at eight p. m, after an eight miles march, at Raner's
Mills. Forage and rations are found in greater quantities.

Sunday, March 19. — We are preceded this morning by
the 15th Corps. All troops in light marching order. Fod-
der, corn, bacon and sweet potatoes are plentiful. Cannon-
ading in front. Rumor sa3^s Goldsboro is ours. Camped
at eight p. m., after a march often miles, at Pleasant Union
Church, Sampson county, North Carolina. Rumors of war
thicken. None of us expect to reach the new base without
a battle. Many of us are anticipating a concentration of the
rebel armies in our front, but none anticipate any danger.
When the worst comes, we can retreat in safety to Wilming-
ton. But the rebels cannot cause this, unless they evacuate
Richmond; and, when they do this, we have gained our
point, and can afford to fall back to Wilmington.

Monday, March 20. — A staff" officer came to our tent at
one a. m., and said there had been a battle, yesterday, on
the left, the ist and 2d Divisions of the 14th Corps, and the
1st and 3d Divisions of the 20th Corps being engaged. We


lost three guns, and the rebels held their own. The 15th
Corps is in our advance, and Generals Geary and Baird had
gone, with two Brigades, each, of their Divisions. "To-mor-
row," said the officer, "may usher in the day of dreadful
things." He came for men to relieve the pickets withdrawn.
Our people made several blunders. The pickets did not get
to their proper posts until daylight. I lay awake several
hours, thinking about the probable contest. Our men are
not well prepared — the supply of rations is too small, and wc
haven't enough ammunition for more than one or two days'
big lighting. Soon after day, we moved all the trains into a
large, open tarm, to the right of Pleasant Union Church, and
began entrenching. We hear rumors of the near approach
of the enemy, but no tidings from the great battle which was
to be. We hear various rumors of yesterday's fight. There
is but little cannonading to-day. The work of entrenching
went bravely on, until one p. m., when orders came to move
on to Goldsboro. We moved slowly, through a three-mile
swamp, and, after going about five miles, we camped, in a
field of deep sand, near Dick Raynard's Mill, in Wayne
county, North Carolina. Rumor says our people hold
Goldsboro and Cox's Bridge.

Tuesday, March 21. — Marched at six, and were pre-
ceded by a small baggage train and the ist Michigan Engin-
eers. Our march was delayed by a miserable man trap, at
Falling creek, where we remained an hour or more. The
great military problem now begins to unravel, to the delight
of every sokHer. We come on to General Terry's column
from Wilmington. We are coming out of the wilderness,
thank (jod. It is principal! v tlie 25th Corps (colored troops)
passing. They are splendidly equipped, and march in good
order, in marked contrast to Sherman's troops. Some of
our people were a little disposed to twit the negroes, but, get-
ting as good as they sent, they soon hush. You can say
anything you please to an unarmed negro ; but when you
commence on a colored soldier, he will "answer a fool
according to his folly" — and the fool cannot help himself.


Our men almost universally commend the soldierly appear-
ance of the colored troops.

The 20th Corps trains stop, and go to making hospitals.
We are ordered to go on, and report to General Terry, at
Cox's Bridge. Cannonading, and continuous roar of mus-
ketry, towards Bentonville. We receive the impression that
an extensive engagement is going on ; but I have no fears of
the result. After considerable delay, caused by General
Terrv's train, which does not understand the art of getting
over bad roads, we report to General Terry, who is repre-
sented as a model man. We reached Cox's Bridge just at
dark, and find that the bridge has been destroyed. A Brig-
ade of colored troops is encamped on this side of the river.
We camp in the midst of the rain and darkness. The Pon-
toniers are called out, and soon have a bridge of twelve boats
— two hundred and fifty feet — across the river. There was
no hindrance or difiiculty encountered, though the enemy
was on the other side. The colored troops, not understand-
ing matters, did not send over a force of men to protect our
men during the construction of the bridge. Colonel Moore
did not name the matter, as he thought some one would sup-
pose that he was afraid to lay the bridge. After the bridge
was completed, the colored Brigade crossed. Heavy
cannonading continued until late at night — I believe, all

Wednesday, March 22. — Cannonading continued until
daylight, and then ceased entirely. We found the timber
inuch cut by shot and shell. The negro troops are fortify-
ing, using paddles, for want of entrenching tools.

We have rumors that the rebels have gone from the front,
where the fighting has been. It is also said that our people
captured five hundred feet of pontoons.

Our lines beyond the river are extended and strengthened
by additional entrenchments. The rebels have a mounted
force near; and, by wearing our uniform, they have suc-
ceeded in capturing several of our men, when they came
upon them. Among these is Baker, a German, who says,


"If all der men in dis Regiment would hang togeder as I
do, the officers would have h — 1 ! "

Thursday, March 23. — General Order, No. 35, from
General Sherman, announcing the defeat of the enemy,
was read to the command. It also stated that the campaign
was ended. So the 14th and 20th Corps cross the bridges
and move on towards Goldsboro. We are to remain here
until General Terry re-crosses his troops, when we are to go
to Goldsboro. We had more foragers captured to-day.

Friday, March 24. — The early part of the day was dull
and drew its weary length heavily along. The 14th and
20th Corps are all over. Nothing seems to be going on.
The negro troops are quietly camped within their entrench-
ments on the other side. Our boys are growing impatient
to take up the bridge and be oft'. During the forenoon
there was an occasional musket shot in advance of our lines.
About noon there were several distant cannon shots. I
went out into the woods, shortly after, to meditate on a ser-
mon that I designed preaching in the evening. There were,
by this time, occasional volleys of musketry, and an increase
in the cannonading. As the four Corps of Sherman were
all gone to Goldsboro, and Schotield's troops had come no
nearer, Terry's command of a Division or two was exposed
to the onsets of the whole rebel army. General Order No.
35 will not prevent the rebels from making an attack. We
are nine miles from Goldsboro. What the rebels are able
to do at all, they are able to do before an}^ reinforcements
can come up. I would not be surprised at an attack made
on us here at any time.

Tlie musketr}^ continued to increase, with an occasional
lull. About four o'clock it broke out in great fury, nearer
than ever. The rebels opened with their guns from a nearer
point. The rebels were operating against our lines, in front
of our works. Thus far our guns were silent. The uproar
of battle increased, and several shells fell within the works
beyond the river. One shot plunged through our works
there. Another fell just upon the other bank. Now they


are coming over to our side. Whiz, goes one over the
camp. Crash, goes another, amongst the timber, over our
heads. Another and another, fly here and there. The
shrill assembly calls the 58th Indiana once more into line of

The uproar of battle increases. Some cheers are heard,
indicating the earnestness of the combatants. In our camp,
there was the usual rattle of ramrods and snapping of caps.
The tattered banners were unfurled and men stood ready for
action. Louder, nearer came the tide of battle. Couriers
and staff' officers were hurrying to and fro. Still our cannon
were silent. I expected ever}^ moment to hear the rebels
charge on our entrenchments. Then showers of musket
balls would fall about our camp. There is now nobody
between us and the rebels, except the colored troops, and six
guns, manned by white men. On came the rebels. The
auspicious moment had come. Our hne, brass Napoleons
are rolled out, and bang ! bang ! bang ! went their reports.
This ijun makes a most infernal noise. Immediatelv, the
rebels began to draw off. Soon all was silent. All waited
for the renewal, and for an assault on the works. But it was
not renewed. Perhaps they were making a reconnoisance
preparatory to a thorough attack in the morning. Mean-
time, the busy ax and spades pile up the breastworks, trom
behind which death is to be meted out to the rebels.

When dark came, the troops were crossed to this side, and
we moved about one mile and camped. The bridges were
taken up. It was a late hour when all reached camp.


At Goldshoro — Close of a Campaign full of Exciting
E\"ENTs — Some Severe Fighting — In Communica-
tion WITH Home and Friends Once More — Pre-
paring for the Final Campaign — News of the
Fall of Richmond — Lee's Surrender — Great
Rejoicing — Moving on Toward Johnson's Army —
Now for a Completion of the Work of Crushing
the Rebellion.

AFTER a dav of anxietv and excitement, and a night of
wearv watchinor, the soldiers were not in the best con-
dition tor t'urther dutv. on the morning of March 25th. But
the orders came to move to Goldsboro, thirteen miles dis-
tant, and we were soon on the road. We arrived at our
destination about twelve o'clock, and camped to the right of
the artillerv of the 14th Corps. Here, we met the 23d
Corps, who had come around by the way of Wilmington ;
we had not seen them since leaving Atlanta, and it was a
jovous reunion of old triends. Here, also, we received the
largest mail that ever came to the Regiment. It is a great
satisfaction to be in communication with home and tViends
once more.

General Sherman issued an order for a general re-organi-
za'.ion of the armv, preparatory to another campaign, and,
as it appears now. the tinal campaign of the war.

While at Goldsboro our Pontoon train was repaired and
recruited. We made new balk and chess, repaired the can-


vas, and received an addition of twenty wagons with twenty
sections of bridging. The work of preparation for another
campaign was vigorously pushed all along the line. Our
orders are, to be ready to march by April loth.

GoLDSBORO, April 6. — This has been a dav of wonder-
ful excitement in camp.

General Sherman, this morning, received several telegrams
from Major-General Carl Schurz, and others, at Xewbern,
stating that Petersburg and Richmond were captured, with
five hundred guns and 25,000 prisoners. During almost the
entire forenoon this news was being read to the several Reg-
iments. All believe, and each Regiment gives three cheers.
Great hilarity and excitement was produced by this news.
The noise continued all day. In the evening the bands
phu'ed the National airs, and at night there was great freedom
in the explosion of gun powder. The great question every-
where asked, is, "How long do you think the war will last
now?" There are different opinions on this question. I
indulge a hope that by the time the leaves fall, next autumn,
the slaveholders' rebellion will be over.

Friday, April 7. — We have received no confirmation of
the capture of Richmond, to-da}-, but we still believe it to
be true. Our Pontoon train was strengthened by the addi-
tion often boats, of the Tennessee pattern, with twenty feet
of material, for each boat. We also got ten pontoon wagons.
In addition to this we received twenty new arm}^ wagons,
with six mules, and everything complete. This, with the
six hundred feet of balk and chess — six hundred feet of
bridge — which our people have cut, and now have in the
kiln drying, and the various repairs going on, will
add much to our train when next we "go forth to glorious

Saturday, April 8. — Received orders to march next
Monday. News of the capture of Richmond is confirmed
to-day, by the appearance of an "extra" of a Goldsboro
paper. It creates the wildest excitement in camp. The
following is a reproduction of the paper :



By Telegraph









500 GUNS.


Newbern, April 6, 1865.
Major-General SHERMAN:

Richmond was occupied by Gen.
Wietzel, at 9 o'clock, on Monday

Gen. Grant took Petersburg the
night previous.

I have just arrived from Washing-

CARL SHURTZ, Major General.

Newbern, April 6, 1865.
Major-General Sherman:

I have just arrived from Roanoke
Island. Norfolk papers state that
Richmond and Petersburg are ours.
We took 25,000 prisoners and 500
guns. That Lee is marching toward

Gen. Schurtz corroborates this en-
tire statement, having left Fortress
Monr..e after it was accomplished.

Gen. Schurtz goes to Goldsboro on
the first train.

Our forces marched into Richmond
on Monday.

Gen. Hill was killed.

Gen. is in our hands a prisoner.

Gens. Grant and Sheridan are fol-
lowing Lee.

Capt. and A. Q. M.

Newbern, April 6, 1865.
Major-General Sherman:

The boat is just in from Roanoke
Island, and brings information that
both Richmond and Petersburg have
fallen, and that Gen. Grant has taken
25,000 prisoners and 500 guns.
W. W. WRIGHT, Col.,
Chief Eng. and Gen. Supt. M. R. R.



We attempted to hold religious services in the evening,
but the shooting and shouting over the tail of Richmond was
such that we could hardly hear our own songs. There was
reason in this rejoicing, and it was music in our ears. After
our meeting the noise increased in every direction. Rockets
were sent up, cheers were given, anvils were tired, canteens
were bursted, muskets were discharged, and everybody
shouted himself hoarse. It was a beautit'ul night. It was a
great and glorious time, and it did not cease until the jubi-
lant soldiers had utterly exhausted themselves.

Monday, April io. — Marched out of camp at seven.
There is always an unusual amount of labor to march after

remaininjT for a time in
camp. We accumulate
many new things, from
most of which we must
part. There is alvva3's no
small amount of fussing
and fumincr. Morsfan had
the adv'ance, Oaird tol-
lovved, and our train came
next. The 20th Corps
moves on tiie river road
toward Smithtiekl. The
14111 Corps, followed by
all the baggage, moves
on the next right hand

Several otlicers of our Regiment, whose time has expired,
were mustered out March 28th. Among these, were Cap-
tain Smith, of Company B ; Captain P^vans, of Company G ;


Company A.

* Started in witli liis Conipan\- at Camp (jihson aiul romainod his t'uU
three years with the Regiment, ser\ inij as (^lartermaster-Sergeant during
the latter part of his term. After iea\iiig tiie arm \- he retiuMied to Indiana,
and was, for se\eral \'ears, engaged in teaching, wliile completing his studies
for the ministry. Moving to Nehraska, he continued his work in tiie same
line. He served a term as State Senator, of Nehraska, and made an honor-
able record. Later, he moved to Oregon, where he has iieen preaching and
lecturing for scxcral vears, His home is now in Falls Citv, Oregon,


Lieutenants Wood and Harper, of Company I, and Captain
Tousey, of Company D. These all started for their homes
April 2d, accompanied by Lieutenant Jacob Davis, of Com-
pany B, who goes on a thirty days' leave.

My first term of three years' service expired March 5th,
and on March 29th I was remustered into the service for the
unexpired term of m}^ Regiment ; so now I may properly
style myself a veteran.

By mistake, we began moving before Baird. After getting
a part of our train over the little run in front of our camp,
it was cut in two by Baird going ahead. We had nearly
a half day's delay before we were assigned to a place in the
column. Headquarter train for the Army of Georgia came
by us with splendid teams, newly equippad, and wagons
lettered on the covers, "Headquarters Army of Georgia."
It is only since coming to Goldsboro that the left wing has
come to the full dignity of an army, with all the departments
represented. A number of hospital trains came by, glitter-
ing in new "rig." The ist Division, of the 14th Corps,
whom we found with guns stacked by the roadside, moved
off also in our advance, except a rear guard. They have a
new commander. General Carlin having resigned. His suc-
cessor is General Walcott, whom I saw for the first time,
to-day. He is neatly dressed and makes an excellent
appearance on first sight. This Division is better supplied
than I ever saw it before. The men seem to have been
supplied with everything they needed or desired. When
they marched off, the ground was covered with their old gar-
ments, and some new ones. I saw General Green, an old
man. He has taken command of a Brigade in the 14th

At eleven a. m.. we found a place — far in the rear of the
one assigned us, yet, still in front of man}' trains. It is a
matter of great importance to get near the head of the
column ; then we pass over the roads before they are cut up,
and get into camp in good season. The rear trains have
reveille just as earh', and often travel until a late hour of the


night, sometimes all niglit. If the pontoon is tar in the
rear, and a bridge is to be made, it is cursed for not
being up.

We began the march by crossing Little River on a trestle
bridge, made by our people some time since. It is about
iifty feet wide and its banks are set with a growtli of such
trees as marks a fertile soil. Amongst them is the beach,
an old friend and favorite of my boyhood da^'S.

Heard cannonading in front before leaving Goldsboro.
Heavy musketry skirmishing heard several times during the
dav. We had several men killed. With some, there is an
impression that Johnson will give battle at Smithtield. If
he does, Sherman will accept it immediateh^ The rebels
knew that our army was going to advance to-day. Wade
Hampton so informed a citizen, a few days since, and the
citizen told Dr. Holtzman, to-day.

I should say in general terms that our entire army is bet-
ter equipped than ever betore. Supplies have been poured
upon us with Potomac profusion. We are better off' than
when we began the Atlanta, Savannah or Goldsboro cam-
paigns. The men are in better health and spirits than ever
before. The army has been largely augmented, not onh'

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 41 of 47)