1865 April 29: The Marching Twelfth from Alabama to North Carolina
The following letter from “W” in the 12th Wisconsin Infantry—including Prescott’s Lyon Light Guards (Company A)—appeared in the April 29, 1865, issue of The Prescott Journal.
March of the Twelfth from Alabama to North Carolina.
Correspondence of the State Journal.
GOLDSBORO, N. C., April 5th, 1865.
Messrs. Editors :—If not too late I will lay before your readers a brief resume of the movements of this regiment since I left it in October last, until it arrived safely in this town, a few days ago, in order that the records may be complete as set forth in the columns of the Journal.
On the 29th of October the regiment left its camp on the Little River, Alabama, crossing the Coosa and camped near the Pasoo river for the night, camping next night near Cave Springs. On the 1st of November it reached Cedar Springs, pressing though Van Wert on the next day, and on the 4th the command bivouacked near Lost Mountain, going into camp near Marietta, Ga., next day. On the 8th the boys delivered their votes and on the 10th received pay.
They broke camp on the 18th of November, and moved to Atlanta, and on the 15th started out on the campaign, which ended at Savannah so gloriously ; passing through McDonald on the 17th, Jackson—near where the command crossed the Comulgee river—on the 18th, Monticello on the 19th, and reached Gordon on the Georgia Central R. R. on the 22d, and Toombsboro on the 24th, having destroyed 10 miles of the road and burned stations No. 18 and 14. They crossed the Oconee river on the 26th, its passage being slightly disrupted by rebels, who seemed unable to procure force enough to do anything more than injure roads and bridges in our front.—On the 30th the regiment crossed the Ohoopee river, and on the 2d December camped at Millen, after having torn up several miles more of railroad, destroyed Herndon Station, and done a general foraging business all over the intervening country. On the 4th December the regiment reached Beaver Dam, having destroyed more railroad track ; crossing the Little Ogeechee river next day, marching, skirmishing, and fighting among the swamps and rice fields, sometimes nearly to their waists in cold, dirty, muddy water, until the 12th day of December, when they made their camp near the city of Savannah. Here Major—late captain—Price [John M. Price] of Co. D, was shot by one of our own soldiers, who evidently mistook him for a fleeing rebel, as he was on the lines and between our pickets, and unfortunately didn’t stop when halted by the soldier. On the night of the 20th the rebels left the city, and next day our boys occupied it, much to their satisfaction. The regiment was reviewed with others on the 29th by Gen. Sherman, and on the 31st had its general muster for the month.
On the 4th of January the regiment moved to Thunderbolt Landing, six miles from Savannah, embarked on the steamer J. R. Spaulding, sailing next day to Beaufort, S. C., landing there at nine P. M., and going into camp one mile beyond the town.
The regiment left camp for another campaign January 18th, marching out some six or seven miles, and next day engaged the enemy. The skirmish line drove the rebels some five miles, back to their works near the Pocotaligo river, pressing close up the forts, whose guns opened with grape and cannister [sic], at which place Lieut. Chandler [Almon N. Chandler], of Co. K, was killed by a rebel sharpshooter’s bullet, and several men wounded. During the night the rebels evacuated and our troops took possession of the forts with the station and railroad, where the regiment went into camp until the 20th, when it was sent out to reconnoitre, driving the enemy’s skirmishers to and across the Salkehatchee river, engaging them there for several hours in a heavy rain storm, before retiring to camp.
On the 30th inst. the Corps again began to move, following it up day after day, with but slight interruption from the enemy until the 3d of February, when the 1st and 4th Divisions of the 17th Corps found it entrenched, charged, drove the force across the river, taking its works.
On the 7th the command camped on the site of the former battle of the Cowpens, fought during the first part of the Revolution, or war for Independence. We crossed the Charleston & Augusta Railroad at Midway Station on the 9th inst., and the South Edisto river the next day, reaching North Edisto on the 11th, near Orangeburg, where the rebels had heavy works, and were engaging our 1st Division very hotly.
Next morning the old 12th was ferried across the river in pontoon boats, about a mile below the town, formed a line of battle in a swamp on the other side, marched through it, where in many places it was up to the men’s arm-pits, for a quarter of a mile, then, having turned the enemy’s works by this flank movement, the boys charged the rebels, sending them out of their works and the town in a terrible hurry, so that but few were captured. In fact, a train of cars was at the depot, which started off as our boys came in sight ; those who were unable to pile on to it fleeing to the woods as fast as legs could carry them. A large rebel garrison flag, 9 by 13 feet, was captured by Warren, of Co. H of “ours,” in the Court House, and which is now in possession of Col. Proudfit [James K. Proudfit]. Our regimental colors took its place, proudly floating in triumph over the captured city, to welcome the troops advancing from other directions to possess the prize.
As a compliment to the regiment, it was detailed to act as provost guard of the town it had captured, while the army remained here. Most of the town was burned, having been fired as the rebels were leaving, and the wind was too high to allow of success to any effort made to subdue the flames. We left town next day, pushing on to Columbia, tearing up the railroad on the way, crossing the Saluda and Broad rivers, and reaching the city on the 17th day. We found it on fire, burning with a fierceness that defied all opposition. We spent two days tearing up the railroad near the city, and then marched to Winnsboro on the 20th, bivouacking on the banks of the Watoree river in a heavy storm of rain. We passed through Liberty Hill next day, almost stalling in the terrible mud of the region. Gradually pushing forward, the army reached Cheraw, on the Great Pedee river, on the 3d of March, capturing many cannon and large quantities of all kinds of supplies. The rebels had just moved it from Charleston, intending to keep it from Gilmore’s [sic: Quincy A. Gillmore] army ; but, our cavalry having cut the railroad between Cheraw and Chesterfield, the supplies were stored at the farmer place, and so fell into our hands.
Leaving Cheraw on the evening of the 4th, the command moved to Bennettville on the 7th, camped at Rock Fish creek on the night of the 10th, and reached Fayetteville, on Cape Fear river, on the 11th ; the foragers and “bummers” or corps de bum, as I hear them styled, of the army having driven the rebels out of the town before the troops got near it.
On the road the boys had been reduced to rations of corn, and to only two cars per day at that, at one time. Judge of their feelings when, in response to Sherman’s order for supplies for his troops, two steamers came up from Wilmington loaded with oats ! These were sent back to the stupid fellow who dispatched them, and the welcome “hard-tack and sow-belly” soon made its appearance, to gladden the hearts and fill the stomachs of our brave heroes.
Our corps left Fayetteville on the 18th, moving toward Goldsboro where it arrived on the 24th inst., having engaged the enemy on the 21st about twenty miles above near the Black River. The boys were ragged, dirty and footsore when they came in, but are now well clothed, fed and rested, anxious to begin another campaign, believing that it will be the last they will be called on to make before the rebellion will be squelched and its defenders subjugated.
I have endeavored to procure a list of the casualties in the regiment, which has occurred since I left it last October, as correct as possible:
John Ducey [Ducy], died March 21st, from wounds in neck and shoulder, received March 5th, near Cheraw.
Tortien Halverson [Torbion Hulverson, from Martell], serious wound in thigh, received Jan. 14th near Pocotaligo.
Christopher McCann, missing since Nov. 20th, supposed to be captured.
Mark B. Long, died at Chattanooga, Nov. 23d, from wounds and amputation received in July.
James F. Allen, died at field hospital, Dec. 15th, from chronic diarrhea.
James Palmer, died at Chattanooga, Feb. 10th, from remittent fever.
Clifford Carns [Carnes], captured Jan. 24th, near Pocataligo, S. C.;
David G. Spier [Spicer], captured Jan. 19th, near Columbia, S. C.
Elba Cowles, recruit assigned but never reported.
Matt Cusly [Curly], recruit assigned but never reported.
Dwane Dune [Dunn], recruit assigned but never reported.
Eustis Felior recruit assigned but never reported.
Peter Timby [Temby], died in the ambulance, Nov. 26th, near Oconee river.
Morgan D. Kinney, captured at Fayetteville, March 11th, 1865.
Corp. Gilbert Baker, wounded and captured, July 21st, died July 31st, at Atlanta.
Christian Seh [Ceh], died at Toomsboro, Ga, Nov. 26th, chronic diarrhea.
Nicholas Blackley [Marcus Barchlay], died at Burdon Station, Ga., Dec. 1st, chronic diarrhea.
Nicholas Weaver [Weber], died at 1st Division Hospital, Goldsboro, N. C., March 31st, chronic diarrhea.
D. C. Bowen, wounded slightly in foot, at Savannah, Dec. 17.
Major (late Captain) J. W. Price, shot through the body, at Savannah, Dec. 19th ; died Dec. 20th.
Selon [Lelon] Campbell, died at Nashville, Feb. 8th; had never joined the regiment.
Matthias Feldhausen, shot in both thighs, March 21st, near Bentonsville, N. C.
John Aspenwall, shot in right arm (which was amputated), March 21st, near Bentonsville, N. C.
Henry Miller, discharged Jan. 21st, by reason of wounds received June 27th.
[*these men were all actually in Company H]
Alvin S. Colson, missing since Feb. 26th; supposed to be captured.
Anthony Koch, chopped and had a toe amputated Jan 30th.
Thomas Sullivan, died at Savannah, Ga., Jan. 27th, from fever.
Ambrose Porter, captured near Gordon, Ga., Dec. 7th, 1864.
Hans Anderson, bruised on leg, by spent ball, March 19th.
Joseph Moses, recruit, assigned, but never reported.
William Little, recruit, assigned, but never reported.
Charles Oleson, recruit, assigned, but never reported.
Helge Oleson, recruit, assigned, but never reported.
John Sawyer, straggled off Oct. 28th; supposed to be captured. [prisoner Jan. 28, 1865]
Richard Roe, straggle off Oct. 28th; supposed to be captured. [deserted]
Richard Beaton, captured January 30th, near Pocotaligo, S. C.
John B. Belieau [Beaulieu], captured January 31st, near Pocotaligo, S. C.
James Silbaugh, killed March 11th, at Fayetteville, N. C.
William E. [C.] Cook, died December 16th from diarrhea.
Eliphaz DeWitt, died January 3d, from diarrhea.
Lieut A[lmon] N. Chandler, killed January 14th, at Pocotaligo, S. C.
Gustavus A. Stevens, died at Vicksburg, Miss., August 10, 1864, diarrhea.
Alonzo Vaughn, died at Jefferson Barracks, January 26th.
George Shafer [Shaver], missing since March 20th, supposed captured.
John Kilson [Killson], died in hospital, Nashville, February 17th, from diarrhea.
We hear that Richmond has fallen at last into our hands, hope it is true, and that the last foot of Southern soil shall soon be covered by the genius of Peace, with happiness and liberty in place of war, misery and death, is the prayer of “W.”