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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After the battle of Bentonville, General Johnston's army was increased until it contained between forty and fifty thousand men; and with this army he at once took up defensive positions covering Raleigh, North Carolina, the capital. And General Sherman immediately began the work of reorganizing his army and accumulating sufficient supplies, clothing and provisions, for his next campaign. This would require at least two weeks' time, or a little more, and, therefore, he fixed the 19th day of April for his next movement. General Howard's army, the army of the Tennessee, remained, as before, under that title. General Slocum's army was continued as before, but it was now called the Army of Georgia. The Tenth and Twenty-Third Corps were united into one army, and called the Army of the Ohio, under command of general Schofield. The cavalry was somewhat increased, but remained under command of General Kilpatrick. General Sherman's plan, (which had been agreed upon between him and General Grant), was, to make a feint on Raleigh and a strong demonstration against General Johnston's army, and then, passing both by, move his army straight to Burkesville, in Nottoway County, Virginia, nearly due west from Petersburg, and about forty-five miles distant therefrom. This would place General Sherman's army on the left of that of General Grant, and between the two armies of General Lee and Johnston, and about twenty-five miles west of a direct line between Richmond and Raleigh. His base was to be Norfolk, Virginia, with which he would communicate by way of the Chowan River and Albemarle Sound. From that position General Sherman's army might cooperate with that of General Grant, against Richmond, or, it could strike in any direction that probable exigencies might require. The army was fully prepared to move on the 10th of April, as intended. But, in the meantime, events were moving very rapidly, and plans were necessarily changed with equal rapidity. In fact, it might be said that new plans were made and changed, or wholly abandoned, almost daily. Prior to the 10th of April, Mobile, Alabama, had fallen; General Wilson, with his cavalry, had taken Selma, Alabama, and was well on his way to Montgomery; General Stoneman, with his cavalry, had destroyed the railroads west and southwest of Lynchburg, Virginia, and all along through and between Greensboro and Salisbury, North Carolina, and had reached the Catawba River: Petersburg and Richmond had been abandoned, and general Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia had been beaten and captured. On the 5th, General Grant warned General Sherman, that general Lee would attempt to reach Danville, Virginia, with his army, and urged him to move on General Johnston at once. "Rebel armies now," he said, "are the only strategic points to strike at." Hence, instead of making a feint on Raleigh, General Sherman, on the 10th of April, moved directly upon the place, with the purpose of fighting a battle with general Johnston's army, if he should conclude to stand in defense of the capital of the State.
General Johnston, of course, had heard of the surrender of General Lee's army, and at once recognized the fact that that event carried with it the termination of the war; and, at the same time, he fully realized that his army, was wholly unable to cope with the immense army of General Sherman in open battle. Therefore, as soon as General Sherman moved against him, he withdrew his army from the defense of Raleigh, and retreated toward the northwest. How far he could go, in that direction, before his progress would be blocked, was extremely problematical with him, and he knew that General Sherman had already taken steps to cut off his retreat toward the south; and he also knew that General Sherman had nothing whatever to do, now, but to take care of him, and get him; and he was extremely suspicious that he would do both very soon. And here we leave the general situation, for a time, to trace the history of our regiment down to the same point. The army moved on the 10th of April. From the 25th to the 31st of March, 1865, both days inclusive, the Ninety- Third Illinois was in camp at Goldsboro. The regiment had a splendid camp, as good as any during its service. On the 28th, Adjutant H. M. Trimble was detached from the regiment, by orders, to serve as Acting Assistant Adjutant General of the First Brigade, Third Division, Fifteenth Army Corps. April 1 to 9th, both days inclusive, the command still remained in camp. On the 8th, Sergt. Maj. A. M. Timble started home on sick furlough. During the period the regiment was at Goldsboro, strong fortifications were constructed, miles of them, all around the place, this regiment assisted.
On the 10th of April, 1865, the Ninety-Third Illinois, starting at 11 o'clock a.m., marched fifteen miles, and went into camp, at midnight, near Pikeville, in Wayne County, North Carolina, the same county in which Goldsboro is situated. Rain fell nearly all day, and the roads were bad. On the 11th, starting at 10 o'clock a.m., the regiment marched twelve miles and again camped at midnight, near Lowell Factory. The roads were still bad. The brigade built four miles of corduroy. On the 12th, starting at 6:15 o'clock a.m., the regiment marched thirteen miles, and camped, at 3 o'clock p.m., near Princeville. The Third Division had the advance. The day was warm. During the day, official information was received, that General Lee had surrendered his army to general Grant, on the 9th instant, near Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. It caused great enthusiasm throughout the army. From that time, during the remainder of the day, there was continual shouting and cheering until the command went into camp, and, in fact, until night. On the 13th, starting at 5:15 o'clock a.m., the regiment marched sixteen miles, and went into camp, at 3:30 o'clock p.m., near Hilton's Bridge, or Neuse Mills. The day was fine, and the roads were good. The country was undulating, and as fine as any we had seen in the South. Our brigade was the rear of the division in the line of march.
On this day, the advance of the army entered and took possession of the city of Raleigh, with but little opposition, General Johnston's army having retreated toward the northwest, as heretofore stated. On the 14th, the Ninety-Third Illinois, starting at 7:30 o'clock a.m., marched six miles, to and through Raleigh, and went into camp, at 1 o'clock p.m., one mile from the city. The Fifteenth Army Corps was reviewed by General Sherman, in front of the State Capital, as it passed through the city. Our brigade, and, in fact, the whole corps, marched well, and made a very fine display, as the entire army were felling well and very jubilant.
On this day, General Johnston sent a flag of truce to General Sherman, asking for an armistice, and for a statement of the best terms on which he could surrender his army. General Sherman replied, offering him the same terms upon which General Lee's army surrendered to General Grant, on the 9th instant, near Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Arrangements were then made for a conference, to be held on the 17th. On the 15th, the Ninety-Third Illinois, starting at 6:30 o'clock a.m., marched about two miles, in a northwesterly course, being train guard on one of the flanks of the division train, and was then halted. It was soon reported, and generally believed, that General Johnston was about to surrender his army. It was now evident that he must surrender or fight very soon. At 10:30 o'clock a.m., this regiment returned to and occupied the same camp from which it had marched in the early morning. On the 16th, the regiment remained in camp. The whole brigade attended church at General Howard's headquarters. Negotiations were in progress between Generals Sherman and Johnston for the surrender of the Confederate army. It was no longer doubted by any one that the end of the war was very near at hand. On the 17th, the regiment still remained in camp. The day was most beautiful and pleasant. On this day, Generals Sherman and Johnston met and held a conference, relating to the surrender of the Confederate army, about five miles from Durham, a station on the Raleigh & Greensboro Railroad, located about twenty-three miles northwest of Raleigh. General Sherman, and his staff, went out under a flag of truce, according to an arrangement previously made. These two great generals (General Johnston was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, on the Confederate side) had never met before, although they had confronted each other, for two years, on many battlefields. General Johnston freely admitted that the war was practically ended, and also that the terms of surrender granted to General Lee's army were magnanimous. But, still, he begged for something more than mere military terms. General Sherman plainly informed him, that he could not, for want of authority, enter the domain of political terms, and General Johnston conceded that he was correct in that; but he still insisted upon something more than was granted to General Lee's army. Under these conditions, no agreement was reached that day, but arrangements were made for further conference the next day. During the day, it was reported that General Forrest and Rhoddy had surrendered fifteen thousand Confederate cavalry to General Wilson, in Alabama.
On that day, the 17th, news of the terrible crimes at Washington: that President Lincoln had been assassinated, Secretary Seward stabbed and left as dead, and that Frederick Seward had been seriously wounded also. Profound silence and deep gloom at once fell upon and enveloped the army. No one could find words bitter enough or curses deep enough for the perpetrators of those crimes, and hence, all were silent. The silence was painful. In whispers, on every hand, it was asked: "Are murder and assassination, now , to follow the war? Is the history of the barbarous past to be repeated? And, "May God forbid!" was in every heart, and on many tongues. But, it cannot be doubted, had that army been led to battle against the enemy that day, it would have bathed the field in blood, without any compunctions of conscience then, nor stopped the slaughter until the "last armed foe expired." When sober judgment returned, there came with it an abiding faith, that the broad sunlight of peace, which the angle of hope so lately promised, was still very at hand. And, so it was proven. But all the Nation, and the civilized world, were in tears at the tomb of the great and good President, the martyred Lincoln. His blood had been added to the immense sacrifices already before then made for the unity of these states; his pure soul, that bespoke "charity for all, and malice toward none," had joined the great host that had gone before, through the flames and crash of battle; and his peerless crown of glory, with theirs, was blazing in humanity's sky, with fadeless and enduring light, to teach the world, in all tome to come, true patriotism, pure and unselfish love of country. Malice should have ended there. And may be, in the ways of Providence, it did then begin to die. If, sometimes, it has still prevailed, yet, nevertheless, since then, charity has risen to grander heights than ever before, and may yet, let us hope, be triumphant over all.
From the 18th to the 19th, both days inclusive, the Ninety-Third Illinois remained in camp at Raleigh. The army was waiting patiently, more patiently than might have been expected, for the end. On the 18th, General Sherman and Johnston held another conference. Mr. Breckenridge, who was the Secretary of State of the Confederacy, was thrust into this conference, by the persistency of General Johnston, as a Major General. He was a Major General, but really such only in name. General Johnston desired his presence for the purpose of securing the insertion of some political terms in the articles of capitulation, for the army, and even beyond that, although General Sherman had previously told him that he had no authority to go beyond military terms, and general Johnston had admitted that fact. But Mr. Breckenridge was there. A memorandum agreement was then and there made and entered into, between Generals Sherman and Johnston, whereby the contending armies were to maintain the status quo then existing until one of the commanding Generals should give the other forty-eight hours' notice of the breaking of the armistice, and embodying terms of capitulation, which were to be submitted to the Federal Government, at Washington, and to the proper authorities of the Confederacy, for ratification or rejection. That was the much talked of memorandum, that caused General Sherman to be so severely criticized at the time and immediately afterward. It is not deemed necessary to repeat its terms here. The Government, at Washington, was in no mood to approve it. No one there, excepting General Grant, was even calm about it. And although he did not approve of it, he neither denounced nor criticized General Sherman on account of it. The result was, that the memorandum was not approved by the Government. General Grant, having offered his services for the purpose, was authorized to proceed to Raleigh, immediately, to communicate the action of the Government to General Sherman. Having reached Morehead City, on the evening of the 23rd, he communicated, from there, with General Sherman, informing him of the result. General Sherman immediately gave General Johnston notice of the termination of the truce, informed him that their memorandum agreement had been disapproved and demanded the surrender of his army on the same terms that had been granted to General Lee's army. Without the slightest ill-feeling, on account of the rejection of the memorandum, General Sherman at once returned to those terms, which were the same he had offered General Johnston in the first instance. And General Grant was so confident of General Sherman's attitude, and also of his ability to manage the affair, that he kept himself entirely in the background, so that General Johnston did not know of his presence in Raleigh until after he had surrendered his army. That was not only characteristic of General Grant, but it was in harmony with the very cordial relations that had always existed between these two great Generals developed by the war. General Sherman wrote to Mr. Stanton, Secretary of War, on the 25th, frankly admitting his "folly in embracing in a military convention any civil matters," but he added: "I had flattered myself that, by four years of patient, unremitting, and successful labor, I deserved no reminder such as is contained in the last paragraph of your letter to general Grant." But it was quite sufficient compensation to General Sherman, that General Grant did not comply with the last paragraph of that letter.
On the 26th day of April A. D. 1865, the army of General Johnston was surrendered to General Sherman, in pursuance of his last demand therefor, and on the terms offered therein. The surrender included all of the Confederate troops east of the Chattahoochie River, estimated at about fifty thousand men. But the lists, when made out, only showed about thirty thousand men, many having abandoned their commands, there and elsewhere, during the time negotiations were in progress. And only about ten thousand small arms were surrendered by the Confederates. The final articles of capitulation were concluded and executed at Bennett's house, near Durham Station. Thus, the greatest civil war in the world's history was practically ended. All the plans executed by General Sherman, and his great army, from the date when they left Atlanta, Georgia, in fact, from the beginning of the Atlanta campaign, on the first day of May, A. D. 1864, were not fully justified by complete success, the ripe fruit of final triumphant victory for the Union. And, although, on the 4th day of May, Gen. Dick Taylor surrendered to General Canby all other Confederate troops east of the Mississippi River, and on the 26th day of May, Gen. Kirby Smith surrendered his Confederate army, yet, nevertheless, the war was practically ended when General Johnston surrendered his army to General Sherman on the 26th day of April, A. D. 1865.
In his letter to General Grant, dated on the 18th of April, in which he transmitted the celebrated memorandum agreement, General Sherman said: "The question of finance is now the chief one, and every soldier and officer not needed ought to go home at once. I would like to be able to begin the march north by May 1st." He did begin it on the morning of April 29th, in less than three days after the surrender of General Johnston's army and two full days prior to the date fixed in his letter to General Grant. On the 26th day of April, orders were issued, from the headquarters of the Fifteenth Corps, dissolving the Third Division of that corp. The Ninety-Third Illinois was transferred to the First Brigade, of the First Division, of that corps, and the other regiments of the old First Brigade, of the Third Division, were consolidated with the Second Brigade, of the Fourth Division, of that corps. The First Brigade, as then constituted, was composed of the Ninety-Third Illinois, the Seventy-Sixth Ohio, the Twenty-Sixth Iowa, the Twenty-Seventh and Thirty-First and Thirty- Second Missouri, and the Twelfth Indiana, and Col. William B. Woods, of the Seventy-sixth Ohio, was commanding. Adjutant H. M. Trimble remained, as A. A. A. General of the last mentioned brigade. Gen. John E. Smith was given the command of a division in the Southwest, which was to be a part of the force being then organized there, in anticipation of a movement into old Mexico, for the purpose of assisting the Mexicans in ousting Maximilian and his forces from that country, and ending pretensions of Louis Napoleon there. Happily , the Mexicans defeated Maximilian's forces, and captured him, before the invading column of the Unites States troops was ready to move, and that complication with the French Government and people was avoided.
From the date of leaving Goldsboro, the Ninety-Third Illinois had marched sixty-two miles, the shortest campaign in its history. The whole command was now ready to start on the homeward march, the sooner the better. It was, indeed, the happiest time the regiment had since it was mustered into the service. But a happier one, still, the muster out, was only a short way off in the future.
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