John J. Hight.

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

. (page 42 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 42 of 47)
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bv the addition of the loth and 23d Corps, but new Regi-
ments and detachments have been added to the old organi-
zations. Captain Remington, Qiiartermaster of the 14th
Corps, told me that the 14th must be three thousand
stronger than when leaving Savannah. The Army of
tlio Tennessee is marching on our right. About the
Army of North Carolina, I am not intormed. The 23d
Corps is at Goldsboro, and has marching orders for noon.
The loth Corps is not there, and has not been, so far as
I know.

There has been quite a moral reformation in the army
during our stay at Goldsboro. Many soldiers have been
converted. Could we have remained a wliile longer, I
believe God would have given us a glorious revival in Sher-
man's army.


Camped, before dark, near Boon Hill, after marching
twelve miles. We killed a hog in camp and had fresh pork
for supper. The army train was coming in nearly all night.

Tuesday, April ii. — Marched past Walcott's Division,
in camp, at davlight, this morning. There was skirmishing
at that time. Came up with rear of Baird's Division, mov-
ing out of camp. He is moving past Morgan and is to take
the advance. As we are to reach the Neuse at Smithfield,
to-dav, the Pontoon train should have followed the advance
Division. But there is no such wisdom in the 14th Corps.
Morgan closed in after Baird, and then we follow. While
we lav here Major-General Blair, commanding the 17th
Corps, rode up, followed b}' a dashing staff. An officer
inquired what troops were passing on this road. When
informed that it was the 14th Corps, the General dispatches
an orderlv to turn his own column in on a left hand road.

We reached Smithlield at 4 130. We found the town and
vicinity occupied by Baird's Division, and the advance of
the 20th Corps, General Sherman's quarters were being
put up at the court house, and General Slocum's were
already up at the Methodist Church.

The village is surrounded for a little distance by a tract
of fertile land. The streets are wide. The walks are nicely
shaded bv elms and hackberry. The latter are the most
beautiful specimens of this tree I have ever seen. There is
an indescribable beauty about the young green leaves, just
coming out. All the houses in the town are wooden except
two — the jail and court house. The population once, must
have amounted to sev-en or eight hundred. Most of the
houses are now deserted. Many of them have long been.
The doors are open and the window glass broken. There
are several churches and school houses. But the glory of
Smithfield has departed, and that, too, before the war.

I notice with pleasure, yesterday and to-day, that bum-
ming has decreased. I have seen no houses burning. The
rebels destroyed the bridge at this place, to-day. They
began leaving these parts yesterday.


The river is from fifty to sixty yards wide. Our people
began laying a bridge and completed it within an hour.
This one is above the old bridge, and just at the end of the
street above the Methodist Church. Another was laid below
the old bridge. A Brigade or two passed over about dark.

Wednesday, April 12. — This has been a morning of
most wonderful excitement and enthusiasm. I was awak-
ened by loud cheers, and man}^ bands, playing in all direc-
tions. A dispatch is being read to each Regiment, from
General Sherman, announcing the capture of Lee's entire
army by General Grant.* The dispatch is official, and there
can be no doubt. The soldiers are intensely pleased, and
have stronger hopes of an early peace than ever. During
the entire forenoon this dispatch was being read to the Reg-
iments as they caine up. Such a serenade of bands Smith-
field never had before, and never will have again. In all the
streets and from all directions comes the swelling strains.
The troops move rapidly over the Neuse — the 14th Corps at
the lower bridge. The design is to push on towards Raleigh
and bring Johnson to an engagement, if possible. Sherman
is confident, this morning, of being able to capture him and
his entire army.

We spend the day in camp, at Smithfield, awaiting further
orders. The trains stick in the swamps and come in slowly.
None but the Arni}^ of Georgia is crossing here.

We yesterday passed a house where there had been skirm-
ishing. The woman declared that the shooting almost
scared her to death. "Was it infantry or cavalry?"

*[ Special Field Order, No. 54.]
Headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi, )
IN THE Field, Smithfield, North Carolina, April 12, 1S65.)'
The General commanding announces to the army that he has official notice
from General Cjrant that General Lee surrendered to him his entire army,
on the 9th inst., at Appomattox Court- House, \'irginia.

Glor\' to-God and our countr\-, and all honor to our comrades in arms,
toward whom we are marching.

A little more labor, a little more toil on our part, the great race is won,
and our Government stands regenerated, after foin- long vears of war.

Major-General commanding.


inquired some one. "Oh no, nothing- but 'peekits,' " said
the old lady.

I took a walk about the town. The Masonic and Odd
Fellows' Halls have been rifled. In the latter there is a
skeleton, in a coffin. Saw an old dismounted gun lying
near the river bank. It must date back to as early as the
Revolution. I found none who could tell its history, except
tliat it was brought l>om Newbern, to tire on gala days. At
the court house I noticed the shelves, in the offices, are
emptied of their contents on the floor. The archives of
Johnson county lie in confusion amongst the dirt. Many of
the documents date back to the old colonial times, when
legal proceedings were done in the
^Bfck. King's name. The churches are open,

Mgati ^\ and the books scattered about the pews.

V tl At the graveyard I noticed the graves

of a number of rebels, bearing ominous
dates — about the time of the Benton-
ville fight. In the same yard there is
blood, seemingly where one of our sol-
diers was killed yesterda}'.
JOHN w. EMMERsoN * ^ crowd of uieu, women and children

Lieutenant Co. F.

came in to make application for guards,
and most of the applicants were accommodated. The 58th
Indiana is the only Regiment remaining here.

Thursday, April 13. — The remainder of the trains of the
Army of Georgia crosses this morning. We still remain,
expecting some part of the Army of North Carolina. But
it does not come ; rumor says it is crossing above, and
crossing below, etc.

In the evening we had meeting at the Methodist Church.
It was not announced until just at the hour for meeting, j^et

* Was mustered in with his Company and remained ^\ith it until tlie
muster out. Was promoted to Second Lieutenant ot" tlie Company in 1865.
A false report of his death, at Shiloh, reached his friends and a nice coffin
was sent to bring the body home. [See page 7^.] But he got home in better
shape after the hostilities were ended, and still lives to enjoy the fruits of the
victory, on his farm near ()wens\ille, Ind.


the soldiers came flocking in, until the house was full. Two
or three ladies were present. I ascended the high pulpit,
and, sweating, preached earnestly to the people. The sol-
diers sang with a will. We had a good meeting, and hope
for a revival.

Friday, April 14. — While returning from a walk, I
noticed that the men were rolling up their tents and blankets,
and soon learned that marching orders had been received.
General Slocum writes, from Raleigh, to Lieutenant-Colonel
Moore, to leave one bridge and a sufficient guard, and come
on to Raleigh, with the surplus material, then follow the 20th
Corps to Cape Fear river, by way of Jones' cross-roads. It
was 9:30 when we marched. Companies B and G remain
behind, with Captain McDonald commanding them. I
hardly expect to see them any more during the war. If the
army moves on, and they remain here, we will be in differ-
ent departments.

We marched out on the right-hand road. The way was
much improved by the sun, since the rear of the train passed,
yesterday. We came to the railroad, about one mile from
Clayton, where we met Captain Smith, of General Davis'
staff, with a mounted escort. He had been sent by General
Sherman to conduct the train, by a. direct road, to Jones'
cross-roads. This point is west of Raleigh, and a little north
of west from Clayton, and it is, therefore, out of the way to
go by Raleigh. We moved by a road, over which no arm}-
had ever passed, in a southwest direction, for about seven
miles. The country was rolling, and the people had corn,
fodder and bacon. The men "helped themselves," to use
an army expression. Captain Smith made diligent inquir}'
for Jones' cross-roads ; but nobody had ever heard of it, and
he pronounced them all fools. It seemed strange to me that
we were moving southwest in search of a place that is north
of west. But I was not much exercised for a time. We
crossed Little and Swift creeks, at the latter of which we
found a most beautiful camping place. It was near night,
but as Colonel Moore hoped to camp witli General Davis, at


Jones' cross-roads, he moved on. We now came into a
plainer road, but still going in the same direction, and came
out on a Raleigh road, running east and west. Here the
command stopped. Captain Smith had been making inquiry
about Jones' cross-roads, but no one could give him anv
information. He came back, swearing and blustering, and
began to look at the map, as wisely as the learned hog at liie
spelling book. The question was, which end of the road
shall we take? He evidently had no idea of the points of
the compass. Just think of moving southwest for north of
west, and then debating whether to turn east or west I
When he arose to mount his horse, all mystery vanished,
for he flourished a bottle of whisky, calling, with language
most profane, on those about him to drink. The rear of the
loth Corps had just gone west on this road, and we follow,
our whisky bottle dashing here and there. Being a little
interested, I rode ahead about a mile and a half, and found
a northwest road that led to Holly Springs, and I thought
must lead to Jones' cross-roads. This is the right direction.
No attention is paid to the discoveries of a sober man. Our
whisky bottle, dashing about in the woods, turned the train
out into a blind path, about three-fourths of a mile before
coming to the Holly Springs road. This foad turned south
of southwest, and led through a swamp. It was now dark,
and the men had to go to corduroying. After traveling
about a mile, we came to another east and west road, on
which we traveled west. Here we found marks of troops
having passed to-day. A short distance brought us to the
main Wilmington and Raleigh road, running north and
south. We were near Mr. Moore's, on Middle creek. It
was about eight o'clock, and we went into camp. We are
entirely out of the lines of our arm}^ The rebels captured
a train near here this afternoon. The men have the remains
of torty rounds each, but we are not very well prepared to
defend ourselves. After a journey of twenty miles, we are
only ten miles from Smithfield. After traveling twenty
miles, we are only live miles nearer Raleigh. We are



twenty miles southwest of the capital. Such is the result of
following a bottle of whisky in search of Jones' cross-roads.
And yet they tell us that whisky is a very good thing. The
"vulgah" soldiers might abuse its use, but "refined" staff
officers need their spirits exhilarated, by its electrifying
effects. We are at least twenty-five miles from Jones' cross-
roads to-night. We are in Johnson county, while our guide
imagines that we are in Wake county. Whisky drinking is
a great curse in the arm}^ as it is everywhere else.

Saturday, April 15. — This morning I was speaking
of the folly of following a bottle of whisky about through
the counties of Johnson and Wake, when, turning m\'
head. Captain Smith came riding up. I hope he heard
me. I meant him. We soon came to
where the rebs had burned the wagons
captured yesterday. They were loaded
with supplies. We saw the remains of
eight. The rebels had turned them

We pass by the end of the Holly
Springs road, referred to yesterday.
We ;an his services with the Re


here at some period recently. We camp in a wheat field,
just upon the river bank. Our Generals are clearly at a
stand. The arm\^ must wait until "something turns up."

Tuesday, April i8. — I spent this morning in writing,
bathing and resting. After dinner I lav down for a short
sleep. Lieutenant McMahan came into the tent and told
me that President Lincoln had been assassinated at a theater
in Washington. He said that there could be but little doubt
of the truth of the statement, for it came directly from Gen-
eral Morgan's headquarters. I was shocked — thunderstruck.

Have we come to this?

^^^^^jt^ Then there is no addi-

^^^^^^^j^^ tional step in degredation

fl[ ^Ha '^"*^ shame for our nation

^j^ -^^ wmMA to take. We are undone,

^i^m r" and eternallv disgraced.

What better are we than
Mexico? But it cannot
be. Too many earnest
pra3'ers are offered up for
the life of Abraham Lin-
coln ; his life is precious
at this lime, and he is the
purest and ablest Presi-
dent we have ever had.
I do not believe the re-
port, simply because I do
not think God would let
him die at this lime. Late in the day it became certain that
a dispatch was being read to the troops, that the President
was dead. I was compelled to yield a reluctant belief.
The story of Johnson's surrender, lacking all shape or con-
tirmation, is now generally rejected.



Company A.

* Born March 7, 1837; died Ajiril 17, 18S0. Scrxc-d three years with liis
Company, foilowinti; the Regiment in all its campaigns from '62 to "65.
After leaving the army, he relurned to his occupation as a farmer, which he
tbllowed until Ills drath. lie was a faithful soldier, and an lionorahle,
upright citi/en.


The assassination of President Lincoln makes a deep
impression upon the soldiers, who speak of him with pro-
found reverence, and swear vengeance on all rebels. Reg-
iments are already speaking of inscribing "Lincoln
Revengers" on their banners.

Wednesday, April 19. — All doubts in reference to the
death of tlie President were put to rest b}' the reading of the
following to the Regiment :


In the P'ield. Raleigh, N. C, April 17, 1S65. )
Special Field Order, }
No. 51. ii"

The General commanding announces, with pain and sorrow, that on the
evening of the 14th inst., at the theatre, in Washington Citv. His Excel-
lency, the President of the United States, Mr. Lincoln, was assassinated, hy
one who uttered the State motto of Virginia.

At the same time, the Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, whilst suffering
from a hroken arm, was also stabbed bv another murderer, in his own house,
but still survives; and his son was wounded, supposed fatall\'. It is believed
by persons capable of judging that other high officers were designed the
same fate. Thus it seems that our enem\-, despairing of meeting us in open,
manly warfare, begins to the assassin's tools.

^'our (jeneral does not wish you to infer that this is imi\ersal, for he
knows that the great mass of the Confederate armv would scorn to sanction
such acts, but he believes it the legitimate consequence of rebellion against
rightful authority. We have met ever\- phase winich this war has assumed,
and must now be prepared for it in its last and worst shape — that of assas-
sins and guerrillas. But woe unto the people who seek to expend their w ild
passions in such a manner, for there is but one dread result.

By order of Major-General W. T. Sherman.

Signed: L. M. DAYTON,
Assistant Adjutant- General.


Assistant Adjutant- General.

Thursday, April 20. — During the forenoon an order was
read from General Sherman, stating that an armistice had
been agreed upon between himself and Johnson, and that
something of the nature of a peace had been concluded,
which if ratified, we might go home in a few da3^s. In the
meantime, a line is announced between the two armies, and
the armies go into permanent camp. T will gi't a copy of
this order, if I can,


A great deal of harm could now be done, b}- giving terms
to the rebels. I do not care how much mercy is extended
to them, but any other concessions would only smother the
tires of civil war. It is now within our power to end this
war by a ver}^ short campaign. I liope, therefore, that no
favors will be granted. If we reinstate these rebels, in all
their propertv and former civil rights, and leave the negroes
out in the cold, there can be no peace. God will not permit
it. The oppressed must go free ; they must not be sent
empty away ; they must have schools and churches, houses
and lands ; they must, in proper time, be admitted to all the
privileges accorded to white men. Then we may hope for
Heaven's blessings, but until then, never. Hostilities may,
and will stop short of this, but the land will not, and should
not have any quiet until all these things are accomplished.
I tear this cry of peace. I fear concessions to rebels in
arms. The Nation now has peace within its grasp. I am
afraid it is about to drop it for the shadow.

We had drill, forenoon and afternoon. In the evening, I

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 42 of 47)