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1865 March 12: Homer Levings — “I call this the easiest campaign so far that we have ever been in”

March 12, 2015

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 NC, March 12th, 1865

Dear Parents,

                          I know that you are anxiously wating [sic] from day to day to get some news from us, and it is with the greatest of pleasure that I have now an oportunity [sicthat to send you a few limes.  We have been out forty three days from communications, have had fine times, with very little hard fighting.

I call this the easiest campaign so far that we have ever been in.  There was the least resistance made to our advance through South Carolina than in any State we have even been in, & the part through which our army passed has been badly punished, worse than in any other state.  We have destroyed most of their rail roads in that state, and also their Capitol, which was nearly all burnt.

Brigadeer [sic] Gen. Bellnapp [sic],¹ with a Major and fifteen men, corossed [sic] the river in a boat and planted the flag on the Capitol.  We did not get in to the city until after dark.  I thought it was one of the niceest [sic] citties [sic] that I had seen in the south, if it was not it was certainly the largest fire that I ever see [sic].  We captured the arsenal which contained a good many guns.  At Cheraw, a town on the Great Pedee [sic: Pee Dee] river, we captured 28 guns.  It is the richest country in the Peedee [sic] Valley that I have ever seen in the south.  The Gov. of S C, isued [sic] a procklamation [sic] to shoot all foragers, and when we find one of our foragers killed, we take a prisoner out of the correll [sic] and shoot him by order of Gen. Sherman [William T. Sherman].  There was a detail from the 30th Ill. shot a man in retaliation for one of their men that was killed.  There was a man from Co I. of our regt. shot in town yesterday² after he had surrendered, and two or three others in the briggade [sic].  I expect there will be an other shooting match for this outrage.  The rebel Gen Hampton [Wade Hampton] has isued [sic] an order that for every man we kill he will take two of our men to retaliate on.  If that is his game he will find that he has waked up a lion, for Sherman is enough for any of them.  We have three hundred and fifty prisoners in our Corpse [sic], and the others have each of them as many if not more.  [paragraph break added]

As it is doubtfull [sic] about there being any chance to send mail, I will stop.  With love for all, I remain your Affectionate son,


PS.  All the boys are weel [sic].

1.  William Worth Belknap (1829-1890) was a lawyer in Iowa before the Civil War. He joined the Union Army in 1861, was commissioned major of the 15th Iowa Infantry. Belknap fought at the Battle of Shiloh, the Battle of Corinth—where he was acting commander of the 15th Iowa and was noted for his gallantry. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1862 and colonel in June 1863 and participated in the Siege of Vicksburg. The 15th Iowa joined in the Battle of Atlanta, where Belknap served with distinction and captured a Confederate colonel, dragging him across the breastworks over to the Union line. Shortly after he was promoted to brigadier general and participated in the March to the Sea. In March 1865 Belknap was brevetted major general for his bravery in Atlanta, and mustered out of U.S. service in August. After the War, President Andrew Johnson appointed Belknap to the post of Iowa Collector of Internal Revenue where he was responsible for collecting millions of dollars in federal taxes. Four years later, on the advice of General William T. Sherman, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Belknap the 30th U.S. Secretary of War and he served in that position from 1869 to 1876. As Secretary, he inaugurated the preparation of historical reports by post commanders, and proposed actions to preserve Yellowstone National Park, but on the whole his tenure as President Grant’s Secretary of War was controversial. In 1876 he was impeached by the U.S. House for having indirectly sold weapons to France and for accepting illicit kickbacks in exchange for making a tradership appointment, but was acquitted by the Senate. In 1887, Belknap coauthored the book History of the Fifteenth Regiment, Iowa Veteran Volunteer Infantry.
2.  James Sibaugh, from Christiana, who enlisted January 5, 1864. The official roster states only that he was “killed in action, Mar. 11, ’65, Fayetteville, N. C.”

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