Showing posts with label Pontoon Bridges. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pontoon Bridges. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Captain Charles Wright Wills: November 26, 1864 – 12 p.m.

Eight miles east of Oconee River, three miles south of M. & S. R. R.
November 26, 1864, 12 p.m. 

Howard wrote Osterhaus a letter congratulating him on the success in the Griswoldville fight, and had it published to us to-day.


GoRDON, GA., November 23d, 1864.


Mayor General Osterhaus, Com'dg 15th Corps:


I take sincere pleasure in congratulating the Brigade of General Walcutt, of General Wood's Division of the 15th Corps, on its complete sucess in the action of yesterday.


Officers from other commands who were looking on say that there never was a better brigade of soldiers.


I am exceedingly sorry that any of our brave men should fall, and for the suffering of the wounded, the thanks of the army are doubly due to them.


I tender my sympathy through you to the brave and excellent commander of the brigade, Brigadier General Walcutt.


It is hoped that his wound will not disable him.


Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,


Major General.


P. S. The loss of the enemy is estimated from 1,500 to 2,000 killed, wounded, and prisoners. O. O. H., M. G.

We lay in camp until 4 p.m., when we started, and after three miles of miserable pine swamp we crossed the Oconee on pontoons. It was dark, but I noticed that the current was rapid and the water looked deep. 

I counted 80 steps on the bridge and ten boats under it. I am sure that I to-day saw palm-leaf fan material growing. It is a most singular looking plant. The country this side of the river to our camp is quite level and four-fifths cultivated. All the woods pine, and soil all sand. 

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 326-7

Friday, April 17, 2020

Captain Charles Wright Wills: October 5, 1864

Six miles south of Marietta, October 5, 1864.

Had an awful day's march yesterday, full 20 miles and the road very muddy and slippery. County peculiarly Georgian, the like of which, I hope, is to be found nowhere else in Uncle Sam's domain. When we started the “spring or grapevine” dispatch said that Hardee's headquarters were in Marietta, and that he was living very high on sanitary stores, of which there is enough to feed an army for a time. We crossed the river on pontoons near the railroad bridge, a very fine work, considering it was built inside of a week.

We then heard that Marietta was not in Hardee's possession, but that lively skirmishing was going on along the lines, and that Hardee's army was before the place. About three miles from the river we met a wagon train just from Marietta; part of the guards had not heard that any Rebels were near the town. Others said that Hood's army was just the other side of Kenesaw, about two miles north of Marietta. Finally a cavalry man said part of our (guard's) cavalry occupied Kenesaw, from the top of which he had seen the Rebel army occupying an old line of works of ours just this side of Big Shanty. I just thought I would give you a sample of the “grape cuttings” that accompany a march. A body of Rebels is evidently above Marietta, on the railroad; how strong I don't know, and it is none of my business. “Pap” knows all about it. He never tells us anything. He has not issued a “battle order” during the whole campaign and hardly a congratulatory. If the Rebels are there in force, there will be a battle. It can have but one result, and cannot fail to be a disastrous one for them. We have at least 50 days’ full rations and I think 90, so the breaking of the railroad cannot affect us. Six p. m.—We took all kinds of roundabout roads to-day, and marched eight miles to make not over four. I have been really sick all day, but hope it will be over by morning. The Johnnies have left Big Shanty, moving north on the railroad, tearing it up as they travel. Go it, Rebels!

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 305-6

Friday, April 3, 2020

Major-General William T. Sherman to Major-General Henry W. Halleck, January 12, 1865

In the Field, Savannah, January 12, 1865.
Major-General HALLECK:

MY DEAR FRIEND: I received yours of January 1* about the “negro.” Since Mr. Stanton got here we have talked over all matters freely, and I deeply regret that I am threatened with that curse to all peace and comfort—popularity; but I trust to bad luck enough in the future to cure that, for I know enough of “the people” to feel that a single mistake made by some of my subordinates will tumble down my fame into infamy.

But the nigger? Why, in God's name, can't sensible men let him alone? When the people of the South tried to rule us through the negro, and became insolent, we cast them down, and on that question we are strong and unanimous. Neither cotton, the negro, nor any single interest or class should govern us.

But I fear, if you be right that that power behind the throne is growing, somebody must meet it or we are again involved in war with another class of fanatics. Mr. Lincoln has boldly and well met the one attack, now let him meet the other.

If it be insisted that I shall so conduct my operations that the negro alone is consulted, of course I will be defeated, and then where will be Sambo?

Don't military success imply the safety of Sambo and vice versa? Of course that cock-and-bull story of my turning back negroes that Wheeler might kill them is all humbug. I turned nobody back. Jeff. C. Davis did at Ebenezer Creek forbid certain plantation slaves—old men, women, and children—to follow his column; but they would come along and he took up his pontoon bridge, not because he wanted to leave them, but because he wanted his bridge.

He and Slocum both tell me that they don't believe Wheeler killed one of them. Slocum's column (30,000) reports 17,000 negroes. Now, with 1,200 wagons and the necessary impedimenta of an army, overloaded with two-thirds negroes, five-sixths of whom are helpless, and a large proportion of them babies and small children, had I encountered an enemy of respectable strength defeat would have been certain.

Tell the President that in such an event defeat would have cost him ten thousand times the effort to overcome that it now will to meet this new and growing pressure.

I know the fact that all natural emotions swing as the pendulum. These southrons pulled Sambo's pendulum so far over that the danger is it will on its return jump off its pivot. There are certain people who will find fault, and they can always get the pretext; but, thank God, I am not running for an office, and am not concerned because the rising generation will believe that I burned 500 niggers at one pop in Atlanta, or any such nonsense. I profess to be the best kind of a friend to Sambo, and think that on such a question Sambo should be consulted.

They gather round me in crowds, and I can't find out whether I am Moses or Aaron, or which of the prophets; but surely I am rated as one of the congregation, and it is hard to tell in what sense I am most appreciated by Sambo—in saving him from his master, or the new master that threatens him with a new species of slavery. I mean State recruiting agents. Poor negro—Lo, the poor Indian! Of course, sensible men understand such humbug, but some power must be invested in our Government to check these wild oscillations of public opinion.

The South deserves all she has got for her injustice to the negro, but that is no reason why we should go to the other extreme.

I do and will do the best I can for negroes, and feel sure that the problem is solving itself slowly and naturally. It needs nothing more than our fostering care. I thank you for the kind hint and will heed it so far as mere appearances go, but, not being dependent on votes, I can afford to act, as far as my influence goes, as a fly wheel instead of a mainspring.

With respect, &c., yours,

* General Halleck’s copy is dated December 30, 1864; see Vol. XLIV, p. 836

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 47, Part 2 (Serial No. 99), p. 36-7

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Official Reports of the Campaign in North Alabama and Middle Tennessee, November 14, 1864 — January 23, 1865: No. 121. Reports of Lieut. Col. Hamilton S. Gillespie, Fiftieth Ohio Infantry, of operations November 26-December 8 and December 15-16, 1864.

No. 121.

Reports of Lieut. Col. Hamilton S. Gillespie, Fiftieth Ohio Infantry,
of operations November 26-December 8 and December 15-16, 1864.

Nashville, Tenn., December 8, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to report the following as the operations of this regiment since crossing Duck River, at Columbia, Tenn., including the casualties at Franklin:

November 26, crossed the river at 2 a.m. on railroad bridge, and camped at Duck River Station; built rail barricade, and took position behind it. November 27, in camp all day till 5 p.m.; ordered to cross river at dark; crossed after dark and occupied works prepared for us until 3 a.m. next day, when we returned to north side of river, and went into position till the railroad and pontoon bridges were destroyed. At 11 a.m. November 29 fell into column and moved in the direction of Spring Hill and Franklin. While advancing toward Spring Hill the same night we were attacked by a body of rebels in the dark; repulsed and drove them back, and moved on toward Franklin, where we arrived at 6.30 a.m. of November 30. Went into position and built works on south side of Franklin, and were attacked by the enemy in force at 3.20 p.m., and fought them till 12 p.m., losing: Commissioned officers — wounded, 3; missing, 2. Enlisted men — killed, 7; wounded, 33; captured, 10; missing, 57. Total loss, 112.

I deem this a favorable opportunity to mention the brave and heroic manner in which both officers and men of the regiment met and fought the enemy in a hand-to-hand conflict. Never before did I witness such a bloody contest, and yet there were none who faltered. Capt. J. G. Theaker, of Company F, fell, wounded in the leg, while bravely encouraging his men in their noble work. Lieut. Michael Walsh, of Company D, and Lieut. J.T. Lucas, of Company B, were also wounded while in the devoted line of their duty. Lieut. J. H. Haney, of Company B, and Lieut. Edwin G. Edgley, of Company H, were both captured while in the discharge of their duty. I cannot omit to mention in this connection the valuable assistance I received from Capt. John S. Conahan, of Company D, acting major. My staff — consisting of Adjt. Jerome F. Crowley, Dr. N. B. Cole, and Sergt. Maj. P. F. Pechiney — deserve great credit for the prompt manner in which they performed all their duties during the whole engagement. All the officers and men of the regiment have my sincere thanks for their promptness in obeying orders, and the brave and efficient manner in which they did their bloody work upon the enemy. Coleman Quinn, private of Company K, bravely left the works in pursuit of a rebel ensign, whom he shot, and captured his colors. The boy, not knowing the value of this trophy, gave the colors to some Federal officer in the night.

The regiment retired at 12 p.m. by orders, falling back with the army (marching all night) to Nashville. December 1, arrived at this place at 12 m., and went into position on the left of Fort Negley (facing northwest). December 2-8, all quiet and we occupy the same position.

Accompanying this will be found a list of casualties, giving name and company and the nature of casualty.

Respectfully submitted.
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Regiment.            


In the Field, near Columbia, Tenn., December 22, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of operations of this regiment on the 15th and 16th days of this month:

December 15, broke up camp at 6 a.m. and moved with Third Brigade, Second Division, to extreme right and rear of the Sixteenth Army Corps, where we laid upon our arms till 3 p.m., when we were ordered to take position on the extreme right of our army. About 4 p.m. charged the enemy, in which we had a warmly contested fight for twenty minutes, driving them back to their intrenchments. First Lieut. E. L. Pyne was mortally wounded while gallantly leading his men forward to the fight. Threw up barricades at dark, and heavy skirmishing ensued. At 7 p.m. same night were relieved by Second Brigade, Third Division, and moved one brigade distance to the left and connected with the First Brigade, Second Division, Twenty-third Army Corps. Built strong breast-works. December 16, heavy skirmishing in our front. Laid quiet in our works till 3 p.m. Sixteenth Army Corps charged and carried the rebel works in our front, our brigade supporting, then moved forward in line of battle one mile and camped for the night.

Casualties: First Lieut. E. L. Pyne, Company K, wounded through breast and arm (mortal); Private Philip Hamen, Company G, in head (slight).

I am sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Regiment.            


SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 45, Part 1 (Serial No. 93), p. 395-7

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant Luman Harris Tenney: June 17, 1864

Moved soon after daylight across the James River on pontoon bridges. River full of boats, splendid river. Camped till 3 P. M. Drew rations and forage. Moved to 4 miles of Petersburg, other brigade too. Camped at 10 P. M. till morning.

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 120

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant John S. Morgan: Tuesday, April 11, 1865

No marching orders yet this morning & as our teams had all been called for during the night & sent back to the landing for supplies did not think we would move today. took out the co Books & spent all the forenoon posting the books & making out returns. Some of the men who go to the forts today say the white flag is waving over Mobile. Mr Sperry says he saw it & as near as he could discover from this distance it was a white flag, but the firing in the Bay still continues At 1. P. M. rumors in camp are that Genl Lee has proposed to Genl Grant to surrender the whole so called Southern confederacy with but one condition which is a free pardon to all. Also rumor says Genl Canby has recd orders to make no forward movement until further orders, but the firing in the Bay still continues. A brigade of Steeles men move out at 2. P. M. going I dont know where or how far. The 1st Brig 3d Div 13th A. C. move to Spanish fort. Hear this evening that the Gunboats have advanced to mouth of Spanish river just opposite Spanish fort & are engaging the batteries in the Bay. All the teams are employed today hauling supplies from the landing, a report was arond that Thomas was in Mobile but contradicted as the best glasses show nothing waving above Mobile but the confed flag. Just before dusk without a moments warning the Genl call was blown. Could hear the call all over the corps, & before 15 minutes the 13th A. C. was in the road ready to move not having heard where we were to go I made inquiry & learned it was to Starks Landing below Spanish fort & by the new road across the pontoons 11 miles. At 7. P. M. the column moved & it soon became evident we were on a forced march, when we cross the pontoons at 9. P. M. could see a fire in Mobile which lighted the whole sky. Our Brigade took the wrong road & detained us besides giving us a march of 2 miles extra. men give out almost by companies, we were marched to the landing & there stocked arms at 2. o clock, there were not more than 15 men in my co when we halted remained here about an hour, during which time some of the boys come up. we were moved down on the beech to await transportation, could see the fire yet at Mobile. Regts going on board transports all the while, not certain yet where we are to land.

SOURCE: “Diary of John S. Morgan, Company G, 33rd Iowa Infantry,” Annals of Iowa, 3rd Series, Vol. 13, No. 8, April 1923, p. 588-9

Monday, February 6, 2017

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant John S. Morgan: Monday, April 10, 1865

All the Regts rec orders to be supplied with 5 days rations in their haver sacks. Capt Lacy was in our camp looking well & hearty. Mail is to go out at 10. a. m. until which time spend the time in writing. After dinner Templeton & I go out to see the fortifications, see many pools of blood. Can see Mobile from the forts & see some rebel batteries out in the Bay firing at our gunboats & shelling a pontoon bridge we have across Spanish river See a squad of rebs under guard taking up the torpedos which are thickly strewn, the roads are full, they uncover them & build a fire on them to explode them. the pieces fly about with a wicked noise. Saw one place where in the charge 4 men were Killed by the explosion of one torpdo. The Jonnies had extensive works laid off here which would have taken a year to complete but the works completed are ugly to get to over fallen timber & brush thick abbattis & dead loads of torpedos. About 150 of the men who had been at Spanish fort were captured this morning they not knowing this place had been taken were making their way up here. I was to see them & pronounce them the best looking confeds I ever saw, when the forts here were charged yesterday there were two Genls there, but one was taken & it is supposed the other escaped with some of his men who swam the river, but this evening he was captured. he had secreted himself in an commissary boat & undertook to get out & run for it but there were too many guards with muskets close by to allow that. It is rumored here this evening that about two hundred prisoners were taken, found in their holes close by Spanish fort think this not reliable. A supply train started to Thomas early this morning, saw a small detachment of cavalry from his army who say they saw no rebels between him & no report his men wanting grub. Genl Steeles command is ordered to be ready for a forward movement where to not known, the way to Mobile by land is 130 miles & there is a camp rumor that Steeles corps & Smiths corps are to go to the rear of Mobile & Grangers corps to Thomas Who will opperate somewhere above, heavy firing has been kept up all day in the bay but do not learn with what effect

SOURCE: “Diary of John S. Morgan, Company G, 33rd Iowa Infantry,” Annals of Iowa, 3rd Series, Vol. 13, No. 8, April 1923, p. 588

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant John S. Morgan: Thursday, March 23, 1865

Revelie late, the Genl had blown in the 50th Ind & 7th Vermont before our revelie. Our Brigade gets up before our breakfast is over this was unexpected. Genl blows before the men have breakfast We are on the move at 7 hear the troops at Fish river are in line of battle expecting an attack move very slowly first 2 miles cording nearly all the road. latter part of the road pretty good & move right along. At 1. P. M. cross the river on the pontoons to the tune. “Out of the wilderness” or “Johny stole a ham.” Was until 4. A. M. getting camped were on 3 different grounds before we got settled, one time tents were being pitched & supper preparing, several boats & gunboats lie in the river. This morning the pickets were driven in by a force variously estimated from 600 to 1000. 3 rebs killed 3 of ours wounded, the 4th Iowa & 32d Iowa are here with Smith 25000 men here now

SOURCE: “Diary of John S. Morgan, Company G, 33rd Iowa Infantry,” Annals of Iowa, 3rd Series, Vol. 13, No. 8, April 1923, p. 579

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant John S. Morgan: Friday, March 24, 1865

Fatigue party goes out at 5. a. m. to unload boats, spend A. M. going to the Commissary for grub. and writing. P. M. go with Lt Loughridge to camp of 8th Iowa, while there this Regt rec's orders to be ready to march at daylight tomorrow morning with 4 days rations in their haver sacks. Genl Smiths whole corps rec's the same orders. We see post of the line of breastworks about this camp, which are good & strong & 9 miles in extent, seems as though these things come by magic, they rise so quick. Genl Veachs Div gets in this P. M.; After dark the train comes in, there is a big shout when the train crosses the pontoons. They lost by bushrangers 14 men drivers. & as many mules Lt Loughridge & I were out after Tattoo to learn the cause of the cheering when the train was coming in, & hear some sweet music in another Regt. Word in camp that in a skirmish 3 miles from camp this P. M. several men were wounded. 2 ambulance loads said to have come in.

SOURCE: “Diary of John S. Morgan, Company G, 33rd Iowa Infantry,” Annals of Iowa, 3rd Series, Vol. 13, No. 8, April 1923, p. 579-80

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant George G. Smith: May 3, 1864

On guard at pontoon bridge. An old lady and gentleman came up with a pass signed by Colonel Molineaux I examined it and passed it back to her. At the same time General Banks came up and said, “Lieutenant why are you passing so many people across here, they are letting the enemy know all we are doing and giving us a great deal of trouble.” I saluted him and said, “General, my instructions were to pass everybody with passes signed by yourself and Colonel Molineaux,” at the same time handing him the pass. “Well,” he said, “I will tell Col. Molineaux not to pass so many people across this bridge.” At that the old lady pointed to a nice looking young man standing: there dressed in a new United States uniform and said. “This is our son, he has just enlisted in the Union army and we are all on our way to New Orleans and want to cross the river to take a steamboat. We are afraid they will persecute us when you are gone, if we stay here.” “O! Ah, yes, I see” he said, “that is all right,” and passed on. It was not for me to reply, poor man, he had enough to make him petulant. I was at a loss to know, however, what I had to do with Colonel Molineaux's business. Worked on dam all night.

SOURCE: Abstracted from George G. Smith, Leaves from a Soldier's Diary, p. 109-10

Friday, December 30, 2016

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant George G. Smith: May 2, 1864

Crossed the river on a pontoon bridge. Dam above progressing finely. Commissaries would not issue rations to parties unless they were accompanied with a commissioned officer and while the dam was building we took turns in drawing rations and that was about all the duties we had to do except to go on guard once a week; the cavalry scouts doing all the fighting. I called it a pretty soft snap. Bailey would have nobody but Michiganders on the dam.

SOURCE: Abstracted from George G. Smith, Leaves from a Soldier's Diary, p. 108-9

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Diary of 1st Sergeant John S. Morgan: Friday, January 27, 1865

Not so cold. prospect of rain, road muddy, marching hard. Mount Ebby at 2. P. M. camp at river at 3.30, after marching 18 miles, from Cav in camp, had killed one and captured 15, of Webs band. 1st Mo lost 1. Killed Pontoon laid cav with 2 days rations cross at 4. to ride all night to scare at Camden some of prisoners Haskells Employees

SOURCE: “Diary of John S. Morgan, Company G, 33rd Iowa Infantry,” Annals of Iowa, 3rd Series, Vol. 13, No. 8, April 1923, p. 572

Friday, December 2, 2016

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant Lemuel A. Abbott: Tuesday, June 14, 1864

Very cool and comfortable for this season; marched about six miles this morning and went into camp; have remained here all day and possibly shall tonight; hope to at any rate for I am very tired and need rest; was ordered back to take command of Company D this morning; am not much sorry for the change for it's my Company. We are only a short distance from the James river; can hear the steamboats whistle plainly. It does seem so good not to hear musketry and picket firing, but from force of habit I hear both in my sleep nights. Our army excepting the First and Third Divisions of our Corps crossed the river here to-day on a pontoon bridge. It took one hundred pontoons to construct the bridge which is held in place by large vessels at anchor above and below the bridge, especially during the ebb and flow of the tide which is about four feet. For the last ten miles before reaching here we passed through a fine country and community with fine old plantations and houses surrounded with lovely flowers and beautifully embowered.

SOURCE: Lemuel Abijah Abbott, Personal Recollections and Civil War Diary, 1864, p. 82

Friday, November 11, 2016

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: December 12, 1862

The enemy have possession of Fredericksburg, and succeeded in crossing a large portion of their force three miles below, on their pontoon bridge. Up to 3 P.M. to-day, we have no other intelligence but that “they are fighting.” We shall know more, probably, before night.

The President has passed through East Tennessee on his way to Mississippi.

Lieut.-Col. Nat Tyler, publisher of the Enquirer, the organ of the government, was in my office this morning, denouncing Mr. Memminger, Secretary of the Treasury. He says Mr. M.'s head is as worthless as a pin's-head. He also denounced the rules of admission to our Secretary, adopted by Mr. R. G. H. Kean, Chief of the Bureau, and asked for a copy of them, that he might denounce them in his paper. It appears that Mr. Jacques is to say who can see the Secretary; and to do this, he must catechize each applicant as to the nature of his business. This is deemed insulting by some of the hot bloods, and will make friend Mr. J.'s position rather a disagreeable and derogatory one.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 211

Friday, November 4, 2016

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: December 11, 1862

Gen. Lee dispatched this morning early that the enemy were constructing three pontoon bridges, and that firing had commenced on both sides. At nine o'clock A.M. the firing increased, and Gen Lee dispatched for ammunition, looking to the contingency of a prolonged battle.

At three P.M., Gen. Lee says, the enemy had been repulsed in two of their attempts to throw bridges over the river; but the third attempt would probably succeed, as it was under cover of batteries which commanded the river, and where his sharpshooters could not reach the workmen. But, he says, his batteries command the plain where the enemy must debouch. We may speedily hear of a most sanguinary conflict.

Burnside must have greatly superior numbers, or else he is a great fool to precipitate his men into a plain, where every Southern soldier is prepared to die, in the event of failure to conquer! There is no trepidation here; on the contrary, a settled calm on the faces of the people, which might be mistaken for indifference. They are confident of the success of Lee, and really seem apprehensive that Burnside will not come over and fight him in a decisive battle. We shall soon see, now, of what stuff Burnside and his army are made. I feel some anxiety; because the destruction of our little army on the Rappahannock might be the fall of Richmond.

It is rumored that the President started two days ago for the West — Tennessee and Mississippi. No papers have been sent in by him since Tuesday, and it may be true. If so, he means to return speedily. I think we shall soon have news from the lower James River.

A letter from the Governor of Alabama calls urgently for heavy guns, and a reserve force, for the defense of Mobile.

Major Hause, the government's agent in Europe, has purchased, up to this time, 157,000 stand of arms, besides many cannon, much ammunition, quartermaster's stores, etc. A portion was lost in transitu, however, but not a large amount. Besides the large sums he has expended, he has obtained credit to the extent of $6,000,000!

They are calling for a guard at Petersburg against incendiaries. A factory was burned the other night. This is bad.

Scully and Lewis, condemned to die as spies, have been pardoned by the President, and are to be sent North.

Another dispatch from Gen. Lee, dated 3½ P.M., says the enemy has nearly completed his bridge, and will probably commence crossing this evening or in the morning. The bulletin boards in the city purport to give intelligence of the passage having been effected in part; but I do not see how the editors could have obtained their information.

At 6 P.M., passengers by the Fredericksburg train (which left, at 1 P.M.) report the shelling of the town, and a great battle in progress on this side of the river. I doubt both; and I saw but one excited man (a Jew) who said he was in Fredericksburg when the shelling began. I do not believe it. The cars were not within four miles of the town, and perhaps merely conjectured the cannonading they heard to be directed at the town. There were no ladies or children in the cars. But doubtless the enemy will cross the river, and there will be a battle, which must result in a great mortality.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 209-11

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant Lemuel A. Abbott: Saturday, May 28, 1864

I wrote hastily yesterday, as we were ordered to move about the time I commenced; rested well last night; marched at 7 o'clock a. m.; arrived at the Pawmunky river about noon and crossed at Nelson's Ferry on a pontoon bridge without difficulty as our cavalry held the place; did not advance far south of the river before we ran into the enemy and captured two pieces of artillery; have been building breastworks this evening; are camped on Dr. Pollard's plantation, a lovely place, but much neglected owing to the war. Slight shower just at dark.

SOURCE: Lemuel Abijah Abbott, Personal Recollections and Civil War Diary, 1864, p. 66-7

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

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Lieutenant Colonel Charles Fessenden Morse: January 2, 1865

Near Savannah, January 2, 1865.

Without going much into detail, I will give you a general idea of our last campaign as we saw it. The minor experiences I shall leave till I come home some time, to amuse you with.

The 15th of November, the whole corps left Atlanta at seven A. M.; previous to that time all heavy buildings had been battered down with rails, tracks torn up, etc., so that everything was ready for the torch. The Fourteenth Corps and our post command was not to move until the 16th. As soon as the city was pretty clear of trains the fires were set. It is impossible for you to imagine, or for me to describe, the magnificent spectacle which this city in flames presented, especially after dark. We sat up on top of our house for hours watching it. For miles around, the country was as light as day. The business portion of Atlanta, embracing perhaps twenty acres, covered with large storehouses and public buildings, situated in the highest part of the city, was all on fire at one time, the flames shooting up for hundreds of feet into the air. In one of the depots was a quantity of old rebel shells and other ammunition; the constant explosion of these heightened the effect. Coming from the sublime to the ridiculous, in the midst of this grand display the Thirty-third Massachusetts band went up and serenaded General Sherman; it was like fiddling over the burning of Rome! While the conflagration was going on, we kept large patrols out to protect the dwellings and other private property of the few citizens remaining in the city; this was effectually done.

On the morning of the 16th, nothing was left of Atlanta except its churches, the City Hall and private dwellings. You could hardly find a vestige of the splendid railroad depots, warehouses, etc. It was melancholy, but it was war prosecuted in deadly earnest. The last of the Fourteenth Corps did not get off till about half-past four P. M. We followed after, being the last United States troops to leave Atlanta. That night we marched eleven miles, going into camp four miles beyond Decatur.

From this time until the 22d, we marched as rear guard of the Fourteenth Corps, crossing the Yellow, Alcofauhachee and Little Rivers, passing through Conyers, Covington and Shadyvale, and arriving at Eatonton Factory on the 21st. Here we left the Fourteenth Corps and followed the track of the Twentieth, which was on the road leading from Madison through Eatonton to Milledgeville.

On the 22d, we passed through Eatonton, and came up with the rear of the Twentieth Corps at Little River, which we crossed on pontoons.

On the 23d, we marched into Milledgeville, joining our division across the Oconee River. The capital of Georgia is a very one-horse place, with a few good public buildings including the Capitol, which is quite handsome. Here, for the first time since leaving Atlanta, we got into camp before dark, and therefore had a little rest, which was much needed. We had averaged getting up at half-past four A. M., and into camp at eight P. M., which, with an intermediate march of fifteen miles, made a pretty good day's work. Two hours are none too many to allow for getting supper and pitching shelters.

At six A. M., on the 24th, we were off again; it being Thanksgiving day, our excellent cook had provided us with a cold roast turkey for lunch at our noon halt, and at night, after getting into camp near Hebron, he served us with turkeys and chickens, sweet potatoes and honey, in a style which did honor to his New England bringing up.

The 25th, we crossed Buffalo Creek, after some delay, the bridge having been destroyed by Wheeler's cavalry, which skirmished with our advance.

On the 26th, Wheeler had the impudence to try and stop our corps. Our brigade, being in advance, was deployed against him. We drove them on almost a double-quick march for six miles into the town of Sandersville; the Fourteenth Corps' advance, coming in from the north, struck their flank and they scattered, leaving their killed and wounded in the streets. Our whole loss was not more than six. That night we struck the railroad at Tennill; we destroyed several miles of it before going into camp.

The 27th, we marched to Davisboro, a pretty little place, rich in sweet potatoes and forage for our animals.

The 28th and 29th, our division destroyed the railroad from Davisboro to Ogeechee River. The army way of “repairing” railroads is this: the regiments of a brigade are scattered along for a mile, arms are stacked, and the men “fall in” on one side of the track. At a given signal, they take hold of the rail, tie, or whatever is in front of them; the order, “Heave,” is then given, which means lift, and lift together; at this, the whole length of railroad begins to move, and the movement is kept up until the whole thing goes over with a smash. The ties are then collected and piled up; across each pile three or four rails are laid; the whole is then set on fire; the heat makes the rails red hot in the middle, and their own weight then bends them almost double. In many cases each rail was twisted besides being bent.

November 30th, we crossed the Ogeechee.

December 1st and 2d, we were rear guard; the roads were bad, and we didn't get into camp before eleven or twelve P. M.

December 3rd, we halted within a quarter of a mile of the pen where our prisoners were kept, near Millen. I rode over and looked at it. No description I have ever seen was bad enough for the reality. Situated in the centre of a moist, dismal swamp, without a tree inside the stockade for shelter: you can imagine what the place must have been in this climate in August. There wasn't a sign of a tent in the whole enclosure; nothing but holes dug in the ground and built up with sod, for our men to live in. Eight bodies, unburied, were found in these huts; they were of men probably too sick to be moved, who were left to die alone and uncared for. Every one who visited this place came away with a feeling of hardness toward the Southern Confederacy he had never felt before.

The marches of the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th brought us to Springfield, twenty-seven miles from Savannah. The country is generally poor and swampy, the roads bad. On the 8th, the corps trains were left in the rear, guarded by the Third Division, the First and Second going along unencumbered. We had to cut our way through the trees which were felled across the road by the rebels.

On the 9th, we encountered a redoubt on the road, fifteen miles from Savannah; this was soon carried with a small loss, our brigade flanking the position.

On the 10th, the army formed line of battle for the first time since leaving Atlanta, six miles from Savannah, fronting the rebel works. The rest of the story you know. Altogether, the campaign was brilliant and successful; in many respects it was a fatiguing one, but to make up for the hard work the men generally had an abundant supply of sweet potatoes, fresh beef and pork. Since the 10th, and up to the present time, rations for men and officers have been very short, but they are now improving.

We are threatened with another campaign immediately; I imagine it will be a move towards Columbia, threatening Augusta and Charleston.

There was no mistake made in the amount of force left with Thomas, as the result has shown. The rebellion has one front only now, — that is in Virginia, and we are going to break that in before next summer.

Savannah is a very pretty, old-fashioned city, regularly laid out, with handsome houses, etc. The officers on duty here are having fine times, even better than ours at Atlanta. Sherman reviewed the whole army, a corps at a time, last week. Considering the ragged and barefooted state of the men, they looked well.

SOURCE: Charles Fessenden Morse, Letters Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865, p. 201-5

Diary of 4th Sergeant John S. Morgan: Saturday, August 15, 1863

I go ahead with Supply train in at 2 P. M. regt. in at 7. P. M. hear of 2 boats taken yesterday and pontoon bridge burned by our boys 7. wounded. 1 dead. Up

SOURCE: “Diary of John S. Morgan, Company G, 33rd Iowa Infantry,” Annals of Iowa, 3rd Series, Vol. 13, No. 7, January 1923, p. 494

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Diary of Colonel William F. Bartlett: Saturday, March 14, 1863

Got the order at midnight to start at three A. M. It made a wild picture in the dark morning, the camp fires blazing high, surrounded by dark forms. A little piece of the old moon just rising in the east. We bade good-by to the camp, marched through the town, and about daylight struck the Bayou Sara road towards Port Hudson. We knew then for the first time in which direction we were going.

It was very pleasant marching in the cool of the morning through the heavy woods. The road was perfectly straight, and we could see it narrowing until the trees on each side seemed to meet, miles ahead. About nine A. M. we reached the river, Bayou Montesino. Two bridges crossed it, a pontoon and a plank. At this time, General Banks passed through the lines to the front. All was silence. I could not help thinking of the time, nearly a year ago, when we were marching in the same way, on a road very similar, towards Yorktown, when McClellan passed along through the army, and for miles and miles the cheers were deafening. We halted at the bridge some time for the wagons to get over. At noon we halted near a farm-house, fourteen miles from Port Hudson. The men made sad work with the poultry and stock. This army will be demoralized, if this pillaging is allowed to go on. My regiment think it hard that I won't let them go in and plunder when every body else is doing it. These marauders not only steal poultry and other live meat, but in some cases even go into the houses, and take the food off the table, steal jewelry, and other valuables. I believe in “living on the enemy's country,” but the beef and other food should be taken by the proper officers and issued to the troops as it is required, not slaughtered recklessly and left untouched to waste. Besides, it is the moral effect on troops, if they are allowed to steal and kill, each one for himself. They soon become lawless and ungovernable, — an armed mob.

My regiment shall not pillage in this way, if every other regiment in this army does.

These people will be likely to favor the advance of a federal army, if their houses are to be ransacked, furniture broken, etc., by a mob of soldiers, every time a brigade passes their door. Banks must publish some severe order to stop this thing, or I wouldn't give much for his army in a month's time.

(Since writing the above a week ago, an order has been issued to remedy this evil. It is not severe enough yet.)

We marched a few miles farther and went into bivouac, in a large open field, and pitched the shelter tents.

I had been in the saddle since three in the morning, twelve hours, but it made me laugh to myself, at hearing other mounted officers complain of “being all tired out,” etc. I found a good place for the horses in a barn near by, and then lay down on the grass and fell asleep, waiting for the wagon with my tent and food to come up. Got the tent pitched about sundown. Some hay made a luxurious bed, into which I crawled as soon as I had attended to everything, which was near nine P. M. Grover's advance is within four or five miles of the enemy's works; Emory's between us and Grover. I went to sleep the moment I touched the ground. Was awakened at eleven by heavy cannonading at the front, towards the river. It was the gunboats. We slept after this with one eye open, hearing the terrific roar of artillery.

SOURCE: Francis Winthrop Palfrey, Memoir of William Francis Bartlett, p. 73-5