1865 March 12: Edwin Levings Describes Marching Through South Carolina
The original letter is in the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO), in the University Archives and Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
Fayetteville, S. C. March 12th, 1865.
My Dear Parents;
I can not tell you the pleasure it gives me to once more write to you. How uneasy, and perhaps impatient, you must be to hear from us! We had a long time without a letter, I think I hear you say! The mail goes out at 1 P. M. and it is now 11, so I can only write to assure you of our continued safety & perfect health & fine spirits. I would like to see you breath after reading this, for I imagine you have not breathed more than once or twice for a week.
A brief sketch of our march to this point is the most I shall be able to write to-day ~ particulars “ad infinitum”. I was about to say, in future letters.
We arrived at this point, Fayetteville N.C., on the Cape Fear River, yesterday. The March via Orangeburg, Columbia, Winnsboro, and Cheraw all in S.C. Were forty three days on the road, traveling over three hundred and fifty miles. It was the greatest movement of the war without doubt, compiling via evacuation of Charleston and Georgetown, the destruction of Columbia and the entire R. R. system of Palmetto State. A more glorious campaign never was in this war. How perfect, clock-like the execution of the whole thing, & how glorious in its results! How like chaff before the wind the
the foeman fled. Columbia, fair Columbia, was mostly destroyed by fire. That was the night of the 17th Feb, ever memorable by the 15th & 17th Corps, which entered the city. Some day I will describe the scene that Columbia presented that night, for fire and soldiery had full swing, or sweep if you like that better, and vied with each other in mischief. Never in modern times did soldiers have such fun. I almost fancied I was some old Roman city whose wealth & splendor was in my power, to speak plain, it was a high old time for the “boys in blue”. Orangeburg, too, captured by our regiment alone, was committed to the flames & stripped of all eatables. But I must not multiply words here. We have waded swamps & streams without number. Crossed on pontoons the North & South branches of the Edisto River, the Saluda & Broad Rivers, the Wateree & great Peedee [sic] River, lived off the country which was rich in all that an army could desires in provisions. [paragraph break added]
I am going down town in an hour or two to see how it looks. I think communications will be established here shortly, but do not know.
I must not write more to-day. We want to hear from you very much. We received a letter from you the 11th Feb three miles north of the South branch of the Edisto River, in which you state R. Falls quota at 40. Write and tell us what is going on at home & all the news. Address via N. Y.
. .Edwin D. Levings