part of a volume entitled History of the Ninety - Third Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry: From Organization To Muster Out --Statistics Compiled by Aaron Dunbar Sergeant, Company " B", Revised and Edited by Harvey M. Trimble, Adjutant
Submitted by Jeffrey MacAdam, to whom every reader should be grateful.
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This web page is the third of four for Chapter X.
The killing of our foragers immediately ceased, although another incident of the kind transpired on the 25th, which was probably before, or about the time, General Hampton received General Sherman's communication. It seems appropriate, here, to say a few words relating to the foragers and foraging of General Sherman's army. And what is said, is, applicable to the Georgia campaign, as well as to this one; although the system of foragers and foraging was much better organized and regulated during this campaign than during that through Georgia. That was by reason of experience. Just now no one ever knew, unless it was the result of some waggish remark, but, in some way, the foragers of the army came to be generally designated as "Sherman's Bummers;" and ultimately, that designation was applied to the whole army. Although the army, generally, were rather delighted than offended with or by the appellation, (because the foragers constituted no particular or separate part of the army), nevertheless, it created a false impression outside of the army, by casting an imputation against the army of the character implied from the literal meaning of the word "Bummer." Nothing could have been farther from the truth. In the first place, the orders relating to foragers and foraging were very strict, for the prevention of all excesses and wrongs, and severe penalties were prescribed, and enforced, for violations of them. And second, all foraging was done by details, sent out under command of commissioned officers who were held responsible for the conduct of their men. And these details were not the same men, nor the same officers, every day; but they were continually changing from day to day, in the regular order of making details for all the different kinds of duty required; so that, any particular officer or man might only be on the foraging duty once or twice during a campaign, or might not happen to be on that duty at all. And third, the foragers, being so taken from the body of the army, were no worse than the whole army. And the army was not made up of bad men. It was gathered from the great body of the people, and those who composed it were as good as the average of the people of the Northern States, and that was good enough. Hence, it follows, that the foragers of the army were mostly right-minded men, educated and intelligent, and possessed of as many of the Christian virtues as were then prevalent in the county. While they were not all Christians, in the proper meaning of that term, and did not so claim or pretend, the most of them, no doubt, were much nearer to the "Golden Gate" than many of those who so freely criticized them, and accused them of sins they never committed. The business and duties in which they were engaged were fully recognized by the usage of civilized warfare, and they knew it; and they knew, too, where the proper limits were. They knew that such business and duties were being pursued and performed for the legitimate purpose of furnishing the army, in the enemy's country, with necessary provisions and forage, and other means for the prosecution of successful warfare; and they knew, too, that, while pursuing that business and performing those duties, within proper limits, they were entitled to, and would have, all the protection that the army and the usages of war could give them. In other words, they were, each day, and every detail sent out, a part of the army, entitled to, and sure to have, all the protection which the usages of war accord to every soldier. This made them efficient and courageous. They marched and rode long distances; they endured hardships without complaint; they worked hard and faithfully to find and procure food and forage and horses and mules and other necessaries for the army; they fought the enemy whenever and wherever found, and many times without regard to disparity of number; and they behaved themselves better than any other soldiers ever did, anywhere on earth, in the performance of like duties. They were efficient, untiring, faithful, honest and upright, brave and courageous soldiers, of credit to themselves, to the army, and to the Nation.
On the 25th, the Ninety-Third Illinois remained in camp. Between 8 and 9 o'clock in the afternoon, a small force of Confederate cavalry made a dash upon the foraging party of our division, while they were getting corn about a mile and a half from camp. Joseph Hamilton, of Company I, of the Ninety-Third Illinois, was severely wounded, and two men were killed and one mortally wounded, of the Sixty-Third Illinois, and one man of the Eighteenth Wisconsin was wounded, and several men, of different regiments of the division, were captured, and four or five wagons, with their teams, were also captured. The Confederates were dressed in Federal uniforms. The lieutenant in command of the foraging party, rallied his men, after they were somewhat scattered by the sudden attack of the enemy, as the result of being completely surprised, by reason of the blue uniforms worn by the Confederates, and made a counter attack and charged with so much vigor that all the men, and everything else captured, were retaken, except the two men of the Sixty-Third Illinois who were killed. These two men had been captured, and were fairly in the hands of the enemy as prisoners. When the Confederates were being so closely pressed that they were about to lose them, they deliberately shot and killed them. Two Confederates were captured by the foraging party. The division general, John E, Smith, on hearing the firing, went immediately to the scene of action, with two regiments. On the above state of facts being communicated to him, he instantly ordered, that the two captured Confederates be shot, without any delay, in retaliation. His order was immediately executed. His action was reported to General Logan, the corps commander, and was approved by him, and afterward by General Howard, commander of the Army of the Tennessee, and by General Sherman. On the 26th, starting at 10:30 a.m., the regiment marched thirteen miles, and camped a little before sunset, near Keily's Bridge, on the Lynch Creek. The day was fine, and the roads good. On the 27th and 28th, the command remained in camp. Lynch Creek was all over the country, on account of heavy rains. A bridge across it, a half mile long, was being built by General Hazen's division. We were awaiting its completion. On March 1st, the command still remained in camp, waiting for completion of the bridge. On the 2nd the bridge was completed, and the regiment marched at 2 o'clock p.m., crossed Lynch Creek, and after proceeding eight miles, camped, at 11 o'clock p.m., at Kellysville. It was a hard march, in fact, an awful time, in the mud and through the swamp. On the 3rd, starting at 6 o'clock a.m., the regiment marched twenty-four miles, and went into camp, at dark, ten miles southwest of Cheraw, in Chesterfield County. At 9:30 o'clock a.m., while the column was halted, Lieut. Col. James Isaminger, of the Sixty-Third Illinois, and a number of men of the Pioneer corps, were captured by a squad of Confederates, dressed in Federal uniforms, within three hundred yards of our advance, while they were engaged in cleaning away some trees from the road, which the Confederates had felled therein. This was near Black Creek. The Confederates came out of and went back into a very deep ravine near the road. The trap was set, and the Pioneer corps fell into it. On the 4th, starting at 8:45 a.m., the regiment marched eleven miles, and went into camp, at 10 o'clock p.m., one mile north of Cheraw. The roads were very bad. We passed some very good Confederate fortifications at Thompson's Creek. We were short of rations that night, and received two boxes of hardtack for the regiment. On the 5th, starting at 6 o'clock a.m., the regiment marched five miles, crossed the Great Pedee River, on a pontoon bridge, and camped four miles from the river. On the 6th, the command remained in camp. On the 4th, First Lieut. Rufus H. Ford, of Company H, and fifteen mounted foragers of his company, were sent on an expedition to Florence, in Darlington County. The whole expedition contained a little more than four hundred men. The purpose of it was, to surprise the place and release some federal prisoners then confined there. They reached Florence, forty miles away, the next day, skirmished with the enemy for an hour and a half, and finding the Confederate force too strong for them, withdrew from the undertaking and started back for the main body of he army. They reached camp on the 6th, at 4 o'clock p.m., having traveled the distance of eighty miles. It was a wonder that they were not captured.
On the 7th, starting at 9:30 o'clock a.m., the regiment marched ten miles, and camped on Crooked Creek, at 3:15 o'clock p.m. The day and roads were both very good. On the 8th, starting at 9 o'clock a.m., the command marched twelve miles, and camped at 8 o'clock p.m., at Laurel Hill, North Carolina, having crossed the state line early in the morning, about a mile from the camp of last night. This was a hard march, as the roads were very bad. Rain fell nearly all day; and the regiment made corduroy road from 3 o'clock p.m., until after dark. On the 9th, the regiment marched at 11 o'clock a.m. A little after noon, the trains all stopped in a quicksand swamp. And then--well, such a time! It was the worst day and night the command ever saw in the service. The swamp was about sixty rods wide. The horses and mules could do but little better than to get through it without their loads and wagons. The army wagons, instantly that they entered the swamp, dropped into the quicksand down to and over the axles; and it was all alike for a long distance above and below the line of the road. The mules laid down in the sand, in utter despair. Think of that! Mules in despair! But they were! Any situation was always considered discouraging long before that condition was reached. But when the army mule quit, "laid down," absolutely gave it up, the situation was immediately considered desperate. And there we were, the extreme point of desperation reached, within fifteen minutes after we found the edge of the swamp! Recent rains had fully prepared it. The all-absorbing question was, what was to be done? It was soon solved. That army was equal to the task. The horses and mules were removed from the ambulances and army wagons, and lead across to the other side of the swamp. All the ropes that could be found were gathered together and brought there. Ropes were fastened, on each side, to the forward axles of the ambulances, first, and they were dragged through the swamp, to the opposite side, by the men. Thirty or forty men on each rope were sufficient to take an ambulance through. After a few of them were taken through in that manner, the track was reduced to the consistency of thick mush, and as the process was continued the mush became thinner and thinner, and deeper and deeper, until the road was literally a canal filled with mud and slush. Then came "the tug of war" to get the heavy army wagons through. Two hundred feet of rope on each side, and a hundred men, or more, on the ropes, were required to take one of them through the canal. Each one of them sank lower and lower into the mire than the preceding one had done, until they really floated on the mud and slush. But one after another, during all that afternoon and until half past two o'clock that night, were dragged through and through and through that canal, until the last one was landed on the solid ground (not very solid either) beyond. Rain fell, in torrents, during the latter part of the afternoon. General Logan was there nearly all night, tugging at the ropes like a Trojan, covered with mud from head to feet, and shouting: "Hee, o'hee!" Everybody else was there, too, doing the same thing, in the condition, and shouting the same shout, all together. Through the rain, and in the mud and slush knee-deep, and deeper, it was a "long pull, and a strong pull, and a pull all together," during the whole of the afternoon and nearly all the night, without cessation, and with a will that was simply marvelous. You may talk of pluck, and endurance, and "sand!" There was never anything, anywhere, that exceeded that, particularly the "sand." There was "sand" everywhere. That is, "sand" and water--and, maybe, occasionally a little whiskey around the edges. But the train was taken through that swamp all right! And to finish the tribulations of that day, the command, two or three miles farther on, crossed Lumber Creek, waded it, waist-deep in water, swollen as it was by the rain of the afternoon. At the end of seven miles, marched during the day and night, camp was pitched, at half past three o'clock in the morning, at McCloud's plantation. On the 10th, starting at 7:30 a.m., somewhat tired and sleepy, the regiment marched twelve miles, and camped, a little before dark, just north of Big Raft Swamp. On the 11th, starting at 9 o'clock a.m., the command marched seven miles, and went into camp, a little before dark, after a most tedious march, at Nelson's Postoffice. On the 12th, starting at 9 o'clock a.m., the regiment marched thirteen miles, and went into camp, at dark, two miles west of Fayetteville, the county seat of Cumberland County.
On the 3rd and 4th days of March, the whole army reached Cheraw. In the meantime, Charleston had been evacuated by the enemy, and many of the Confederate cannon had been taken from there to Cheraw. From this point the weather and roads were bad. There was much rain. The army, crossed the Great Pedee River, and marched to Fayetteville, North Carolina, reaching there on the 11 and 12th of the month. On the night of the 9th, General Kilpatrick's three brigades of cavalry were separated, guarding three different roads east of the Great Pedee River. General Hampton discovered this, made a rapid movement, with a portion of his cavalry force, and, at daylight the next morning, completely surprised Colonel Spencer's brigade, captured their artillery and camp, and also the house where General Kilpatrick and Colonel Spencer took quarters for the night. General Kilpatrick and Colonel Spencer escaped, en deshabille, through a rear door, rallied the brigade, and made a counter- attack upon the Confederate force, like a tigers suddenly roused from sleep. They re-captured their artillery and camp, and everything else they had lost, except General Kilpatrick's hat and some of his cloths, and drove the enemy from the field.
At Fayetteville, the arsenal was destroyed. Every building connected with it was knocked down and burned, and every piece of machinery was broken up utterly ruined.
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