Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Lieutenant Colonel Charles Fessenden Morse: January 25, 1865

Headquarters Second Mass. Inf'y,
Purysburg, S. C, January 25, 1865.

On the 17th, we broke camp, and after some delay crossed the Savannah River (i. e., our division), and marched about eight miles into South Carolina, camping at night in the old camps of the Third Division. The next day we marched at twelve, noon, and accomplished seven miles more. The 19th, we started at nine A. M., marched through Hardeeville, and camped at Purysburg, on the river. The march was over a very bad road, overflowing in some places to a depth of two feet. About noon, the rain began to fall in torrents, and it became evident, even then, that forward movements would be suspended for a time. Late in the afternoon the gunboat Pontiac came up the river, convoying the transport R. E. Lee (late rebel), loaded with rations.

The 20th, 21st, 22d and 23d, it rained almost incessantly, flooding the whole country about us, so that it was possible almost to row a boat over the road we had marched, back to Savannah. The corduroying was washed away, and the pontoon bridge broken; part of our train was cut off and had to return to Savannah. Of course all movement was stopped, and we set to work to make ourselves as comfortable as possible. By a system of very extensive ditchings, I managed to get the camp on comparatively dry ground. We had quite easy communication with our base by the river, so that supplies were received without difficulty.

Yesterday I rode back to Hardeeville and called on General Coggswell. I found him very pleasantly situated. He has a good staff. I believe that, if he has time and opportunity, he will have the best brigade in this army; his faculty for commanding is very great, and he is interested in his work.

I am very much in hopes that my application for conscripts will do some good. I put it pretty strong, and I think got a good endorsement from General Slocum, and I hope from Sherman. The fact that we have never yet received a single drafted man under any call, ought to go a great ways; the oldness of the organization, its small numbers, and its being the only veteran Massachusetts regiment in Sherman's army, ought to do the rest. I am glad to see that the Provost Marshal General has ordered that no recruits be received for any but infantry commands. With all these things in my favor I shall expect to receive, at the end of this campaign, at least eight hundred good men, all of the best moral character and warranted not to desert for at least three days after assignment.

What a delightful proof of Butler's unfitness for command was General Terry's gallant and successful assault of Fort Fisher. Grant's letter transmitting the official reports was one of the best snubs I ever read.

SOURCE: Charles Fessenden Morse, Letters Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865, p. 207-9

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