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REPORT OF BRIGADIER-GENERAL A. S. WILLIAMS.
Lieutenant-Colonel H. C. Rodgers, Assistant
COLONEL I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations and movements of the Twentieth corps, from date of the occupation of Atlanta (September second) to the entrance into this city on twenty-first December ultimo.
The several divisions of the corps were encamped in Atlanta mainly within the circuit of the enemy's original line of defences; one brigade of the Third division was on duty at Montgomery Ferry, on the Chattahoochee River. The command of the post was committed to Colonel Wm. Cogswell, Second Massachusetts infantry, who discharged the perplexing duties well and faithfully. His report, forwarded herewith, will furnish interesting details of the multifarious labors and services of himself and his subordinate officers.
The supplies for man and beast were sufficient until the railroad was cut about the first of October by Hood's army moving northward. The several army corps, following in pursuit, left behind large detachments of convalescents and unarmed men, and a good part of their trains. these detachments and trains, great and small, there were reported to the post commander, twelve thousand seven hundred (12,700) officers and men, and to the Chief Quartermaster, four hundred and five (405) horses and three thousand five hundred and sixty-four (3564) mules. A force of men and animals almost equal in numbers to the Twentieth corps, left in guard of Atlanta and its vicinity. From the fifth of October, for quite a month, large details were made from the corps for work on the inner line of fortifications, constructed under the directions of Captain O. M. Poe, Chief Engineer. The works were never fully completed. The detachments in the city furnished but small details.
On the morning of ninth November, the enemy's cavalry (reported to be two brigades of Wheeler's command) approached the city, and opened with artillery from positions a little south of Decatur road, and from elevations down the McDonough road. Along the latter road, they undertook, with dismounted men, an assault on the lines of Geary's division, probably under the idea that we were evacuating Atlanta. The affair was feeble. The enemy left a few dead and wounded in front of our lines, without inflicting a single casualty on us. Carman's brigade of First division was sent out in the hope of intercepting his movement; but the enemy, learning his mistake, had fled in great haste toward Jonesboro.
The artillery was reduced to four batteries of four guns each; two of three-inch Rodmans, and two of twelve-pounder Napoleons, under charge of Major J. A. Reynolds, Chief of Artillery. The horses were increased to eight to a carriage.
The Ninth Illinois infantry, (mounted,) Lieutenant-Colonel Hughes commanding, joined the command on the second day, and remained with it through to Savannah, and performed excellent service throughout. One battalion of the Fiftyeighth Indiana volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Moore commanding, with pontoon train, was also attached to the corps, and was very useful during the march.
Measures were early taken to graze the animals, as the forage supply was very limited; and soon, under direction of Major-General Slocum commanding, large foraging parties were organized and sent out under strong guards to the neighborhood of Yellow and South Rivers. They were eminently successful. The four expeditions brought back on an average, each, of over six hundred and fifty wagon-loads of corn and fodder, besides considerable subsistence supplies of cattle, sheep, poultry, sweet potatoes, honey, syrup, and the like.
On the morning of the fifteenth November, the corps marched from Atlanta, taking the road east through Decatur.
The Chief Quartermaster of the corps reports as turned over to him from these expeditions: Corn, 1,932,468 pounds; fodder, 138,200 pounds. Some little show of opposition was made to We encamped on the fifteenth near the Georthese parties by the enemy's cavalry; but not a gia Railroad, south of Stone Mountain; on the wagon of the long trains was lost. Credit is due evening of the sixteenth, near Rock Bridge Postto the commanders of the several escorts; Bri- Office; on the seventeenth, near Cornish Creek; on gadier-General Geary, Colonels Robinson, Dustin, the eighteenth, three miles west of Madison. The and Carman, and to Colonel Garrard, command- country for the first three days' march was very ing cavalry brigade, who went out with each ex-hilly, and the crossing at Yellow River, Little pedition. Haynes River, and other streams, very bad.
The condition of the teams was not good, and twenty-ninth, the Central Railroad and all wagdelays to the rear of our long column were con-on-bridges over Williamson's Swamp Creek were sequently vexatious and protracted. destroyed from Tennille Station to the Ogeechee River, including the long railroad bridge over that stream, by the First and Second divisions and Michigan Engineers. The Third division marched with the trains, via Davisboro, across the Ogeechee and Rocky Comfort Rivers, and encamped near Louisville.
Geary's division was detached, unencumbered, on the morning of the nineteenth, with orders to destroy the Georgia Railroad Bridge over the Oconee River, and such wagon-bridges as he might find on that river toward Milledgeville. The purpose was fully accomplished, and several miles of railroad as well as the long railroad bridge over the Oconee were destroyed. A wagonbridge over that river and several mills and factories were also burned. The division rejoined the column on the twenty-first, before reaching Little River.
On the thirtieth, the First and Second divisions moved up the Ogeechee to Coward's Bridge, which was found partly destroyed, but easily repaired. The whole corps encamped about three miles south of Louisville.
Between the Oconee and Ogeechee, the roads, excepting at the river and swamp crossings, were good, the country very level, and the weather, during the march, superb. Supplies of all kinds were very abundant.
On the twenty-first, marched through Eatonton, encamping near Little River. Two or three miles of the Eatonton Branch Railroad were destroyed on the march.
From the first to the eighth of December, our line of march was down the Peninsula between the Ogeechee and Savannah Rivers, following the Louisville and Savannah Road, encamping on the first on Baker's Creek; on the second, at Buckhead Church; on the third, at Horse Creek; on the fourth, at Little Ogeechee; on the fifth, at Sylvania Cross-Roads; on the sixth, near Cowpens Creek; on the seventh, on Jack's Branch, near Springfield; and on the eighth, near Eden Cross-Roads.
On the twenty-second, having laid the pontoon-bridge over Little River, the corps crossed and moved forward to the suburbs of Milledge- As we approached the coast, the surface of the ville. Two regiments under Colonel Hawley, country became flat and swampy. Large ponds Third Wisconsin volunteers, (appointed com- or pools were met every mile or so, and the mandant of the post,) were sent to occupy the creeks spread out into several miry branches. town. The First and Second divisions were en- The roads between the creeks and ponds, though camped on the east side of the Oconee, and the apparently of sand, and substantial character, Third division on the west side, near the bridge. proved to be upon a thin crust, which was soon Large quantities of arms, ammunition, and ac- cut through by our long trains into the deep coutrements were found and destroyed, as well quicksand, requiring miles of corduroy. At sevas salt and other public property. The report eral of the swamps, the enemy had attempted of Colonel Hawley, commander of post, forward- to obstruct our march by falling timber. The ed herewith, will give the details of this prop- supplies continued good and the weather excelerty. The railroad dépôt, two arsenals, a pow-lent. der magazine, and other public buildings and shops were burned. The railroad track for five miles toward Gordon was destroyed.
The other two divisions, with the trains of the corps, moved through Madison, and encamped four miles beyond. About six miles of railroad were destroyed by Ward's division. Supplies for man and beast became abundant on the third day after leaving Atlanta.
On the twentieth, moved forward and encamped near Eatonton. The afternoon was rainy and the roads heavy.
On the twenty-fourth, the march was resumed, and the divisions encamped near Gum Creek; and on the twenty-fifth, after some delay, to rebuild the bridges over Buffalo Creek and Swamp, the head of the column encamped about seven miles from Sandersville. Some skirmishing was had, and the enemy's cavalry was driven away by Colonel Robinson's brigade just as we were going into camp.
On the following morning, (twenty-sixth,) two regiments of Carman's brigade, Jackson's division, drove away the rebel cavalry, and the corps moved rapidly into Sandersville, entering simultaneously with the Fourteenth corps, upon a road on our left. In the afternoon, the First and Second divisions were moved down to Tennille Station, (No 13,) the Third division being left to cover the trains. The First Michigan engineers reported for duty with the corps.
On the twenty-seventh, twenty-eighth, and
On the ninth, our direction of march was changed to the east, taking the road from Eden to Monteith Post-Office, on the Charleston Railroad. At the large Monteith Swamp, we found that the enemy, besides obstructing the road for nearly a mile by falling trees, had built two small earthworks, and with a single gun and about four hundred infantry was making a show of stopping our march. Jackson's division being in advance, he was ordered to throw out several regiments on each flank, while a brigade in the centre should make a feint, to engage attention and enable the pioneers to clear the obstructions. Our hope of capturing the whole party did not succeed; but their pretentious defences were speedily abandoned as soon as a portion of Robinson's brigade, under Colonel West, Thirty-first Wisconsin volunteers, could cross the swamp. The fugitives left behind a considerable quantity of new clothing and accoutrements. Our loss was one man killed and four wounded. Much praise was awarded to Colonel West for his conduct on this occasion.
On the following morning, (tenth December,) the corps moved down to Monteith Station, on the Charleston Railroad, and after destroying some miles of the road, marched to near the fivemile post, on the Augusta and Savannah Railroad. At this point, meeting with the enemy's strong line of defences behind swamps and artificial ponds, the corps was ordered to encamp for the night. During the afternoon a party of foragers, with some cavalry, succeeded in bringing to and capturing near the foot of Argyle Island, a rebel despatch-boat called the Ida, having on board Colonel Clynch of General Hardee's staff, with despatches for gunboats above. The in carrying these works was, however, perfect boat was unfortunately set on fire and burned. and earnest.
Strong field-works were constructed for the heavy guns and for the field-guns, some of them masked on the road within one hundred and fifty yards of the enemy's line. These preparations were completed on the twentieth. The assailable points in our front were very few. Almost every fort was covered deep by artificial ponds from the irrigating canals, behind which, and upon the approaches, were strong earthworks for artillery, connected throughout by rifle-pits well constructed. The confidence of the troops
On the eleventh, Geary's division was moved to the left, encountering some opposition from rebel pickets. They were, however, driven back into the main works, and our line was established from the Savannah River, near Williamson's plantation, in advance of Pipe Maker's Creek, across the Charleston Railroad to the Central Railroad, a few hundred yards from the junction of the two roads, connecting with the Fourteenth corps, Third division, on the right, First division in the centre, and Second division on the left.
baulks of the pontoon-train and fascines of straw and cane for bridging canals.
In the mean time our main line was pushed toward the enemy's works, and preparations for assault made by close reconnoissances, construction of light bridges, and experiments with
During the day of the twentieth, the fire from the enemy's works and gunboats was unusually heavy and continuous. Reports from Carman's brigade indicated that large columns were crossing to the Carolina shore, either to cover their only line of communication, or preparatory to a final evacuation of the city. In the night, General Geary reported to me, that the movements across the river were apparently still going on. Division commanders were instructed to keep on the alert and press their pickets closer to the rebel works; but the enemy, intending to abandon his heavy guns, kept up a fire until the moment of quitting their defences.
On the twelfth, Winnegar's battery, (four three-inch guns,) which had been placed in position at Tweedside, to command the channel between Argyle Island and the Georgia shore, drove back two gunboats attempting to descend the river, and so crippled the tender Resolute, as to drive her aground, in which position she was taken possession of by Colonel Hawley, Third Wisconsin volunteers, whose regiment was on duty on Argyle Island. Five naval officers and nineteen men were captured, besides a quantity of ordnance and subsistence stores. The boat, which was without armament, was subsequently turned over to the Quartermaster's partment, and is now in our service.
At half-past three o'clock on the morning of the twenty-first, Geary reported that Barnum's brigade was in the rebel main line. Orders were sent him and General Ward to advance the picketlines and follow with their divisions into the city.
By six o'clock A.M., Geary's division, without opposition, had entered the city. Patrols were sent out to preserve order. Two regiments were ordered to occupy Fort Jackson and other works below the city. General Geary was temporarily de-assigned to command of the post, and his division placed within the city. The retreating rebels had From the thirteenth to the twentieth, several disconnected the pontoon-bridge to Hutchinson's changes were made in the positions of the troops. Island, and set fire to that connecting with the Robinson's brigade of the First division was sent Carolina shore. The ram Savannah still lay off back to Cherokee Hill, to cover the roads in our Scriven's Ferry, two miles or so away, and occarear. Two regiments from Geary's division oc- sionally fired a shot toward the town. She was cupied the upper end of Hutchinson's Island. evidently covering the removal of supplies up the Carman's brigade, First division, was sent to Ar- causeway road. There were no means of reachgyle Island, and subsequently across to the ing her; and our guns, though well served, plainCarolina shore, with a section of battery I, First ly did her no damage. At night she was deNew-York artillery. He took up a strong posi-stroyed as had been all the other rebel public tion on the nineteenth, in advance of Izzard's vessels the day previous. House, and made several demonstrations and The troops of the corps, while in front of the reconnoissances toward Clydesdale Creek and the rebel works, suffered a number of casualties. Union causeway road from Savannah to Hardees- Amongst those killed, was Lieutenant C. A. ville. The enemy opposed these movements in Ahruts, One Hundred and Thirty-fourth Newstrong force. The nature of the country for York volunteers, assistant to Lieutenant-Colonel miles back (being rice plantations crossed by Asmussen, Inspector-General of the corps - an dykes and canals) effectually prevented any thing excellent and faithful young officer. Amongst the beyond a menace. These threatening move- severely wounded was Colonel John H. Ketcham, ments, however, undoubtedly hastened the evac- One Hundred and Fiftieth New-York volunteers, uation of Savannah. an officer of superior intelligence and worth. Major Wright, Twenty-ninth Ohio volunteers, an excellent officer, also received a painful wound. I append hereto a series of campaign maps, prepared by Captain McDowell, Chief Topograph
Corn taken en route,..
ical Engineer for the corps, showing the positions
In the case of Captain Reid, One Hundred and Seventh New-York volunteers, missing with a detail of forty-three men, foraging, I have ordered a special report of the statements made by a rebel cavalry officer who was of the capturing party. If these statements are true, Captain Reid behaved in a most shameful and cowardly manner, and should be dismissed in disgrace. As both officer and men are still prisoners of war, no proper investigation can now be made.
We captured on the march and before Savannah, thirty officers, (thirteen of whom were naval,) one hundred and thirty-five privates, and fourteen seamen. One hundred and twenty-two deserters came into our ranks. A tabular statement and list of officers captured, prepared by Major Parks, Provost-Marshal, is attached hereto, marked B. A very considerable number of prisoners were taken on entering the city; all of whom are in the hands of the post commandant, and will be the subject of report by him.
I make the following estimates of public property destroyed and supplies taken from the country, upon information from commanders and staff-officers, approved by my own observation and judgment:
Miles marched by the troops,..
"trains moved, as per odometer,.. 281,35 "of railroad destroyed,.. Beside railroad destroyed, more than a million feet of timber for the largest sized bridges, and
thousands of cords of wood were burned.
NUMBER OF ANIMALS TAKEN FROM COUNTRY.
Horses reported by Captain Whittelsey,
reported by Major Reynolds,
Mules reported by Captain Whittelsey, 1,020 reported by Major Reynolds,... 100
put into trains in exchange for
poor animals and never re-
VOL. IX.-Doc. 3
By Captain Whittelsey's Report:
.lbs. 1,227,984 66 1,932,468 66 130,000
By Captain Whittelsey's Report,...lbs. 550,694
Pounds rice fodder,..... 570,694 There was with the corps an average of over seven thousand (7000) animals.
At the regulation allowance, these animals would have consumed in twenty-five days, 2,100,000 pounds of corn, and 2,450,000 pounds of hay or fodder.
I estimate that at least this quantity was taken from the country on the march, and exclusive of that taken before marching from Atlanta. Upon this basis, estimates made on actual returns to Captain Whittelsey and Major Reynolds, will be increased over seven hundred thousand (700,000) pounds of corn and eight hundred thousand pounds of fodder. The waste of this, as other articles, was enormous.
I estimate the quantity of cotton burned by the corps at five thousand (5000) bales, or two and a half million pounds. The estimate is probably low, as our line of march was through some of the best cotton-growing portions of Georgia, and we swept, with our foragers and flankers, a belt of six to eight miles in width of all the cot600 ton and most of the gins and presses. No large -1,720 accumulations were found except at Milledgeville, reported one thousand eight hundred bales bond2,320ed by order of General Sherman; near Sanders
ville, where about one hundred bales were destroyed; at Lee Gordon's plantation, two hundred and eighty bales destroyed by General Geary; and at Tennille Station, on Central Railroad, where between three and four hundred bales were burned. Other lots, ranging from ten to thirty bales were frequently found.
Negroes of all ages, of every variety of physical condition, from the infant in its mother's arms to the decrepid old man, joined the column, from plantations and from cross-roads, singly and in large groups, on foot, on horseback, and in every description of vehicles. The vehicles were discarded as obstructing the progress of our very long column. Beyond this, no effort was made to drive away the fugitives. The decrepid, the aged, and the feeble were told of the long journey before them, and advised to remain behind.
I estimate that from six to eight thousand slaves, at different points in the campaign, joined the march of this corps, of whom something over two thousand five hundred reached our camp be
About one thousand seven hundred, of whom one third were able-bodied, were, on account of scarcity of subsistence, placed in colony at the Colerain plantation, on the Savannah River, and plentifully supplied with rice, and occasionally with beef. The able-bodied men were employed in transporting rice from the islands and in working rice-mills. When communication was opened by way of the Ogeechee, the whole colony was turned over to the Chief Quartermaster and Chief Commissary. Four to five hundred (not of the colony) found employment as officers' ants and teamsters for the Government.
ORDNANCE AND ORDNANCE STORES
large quantity of ordnance stores and material of war, details of which will be found in his report to these headquarters. They are not recapitulated, as the Chief Ordnance officer has doubtless already received schedules of them.
Notwithstanding repeated instances of wanton pillage occurred on the march, the general conduct of the men was orderly, contented, and faithful to duty. The nature of the march was calculated to relax discipline; and yet, after all, it was comparatively but the few (ever found in large bodies of men) who were disorderly and vicious. The labor, especially of those in guard of the trains, was very arduous, often extending through the night.
I calculate our average daily marches for each marching day, exceeded thirteen miles. Two of the divisions rested but one entire day without marching.
acknowledgments for zealous, cheerful, and inThe division commanders deserve my cordial telligent cooperation at all times. I desire, also, to acknowledge the valuable services of Major Yates, and the officers and men of the First Michigan engineers and mechanics, who, while temporarily attached to the corps, were indefatigable as well as skilful, in assisting in the destruction of railroads, in constructing bridges, and repairing roads.
to fifteen miles, the duties which fell upon several From the length of the column, often from twelve officers of the staff were often very laborious and fatiguing, but were always executed with cheerfulness and zeal. I desire in an especial report, hereafter, to bring to the notice of the Major-General Commanding, and, through him, to the Govserv-ernment, the names of such of these officers whose meritorious services on this and previous campaigns entitle them, I think, to promotion.
destroyed in Milledgeville, per report of Colonel Hawley, commanding post:
I forward, herewith, the reports of division commanders, and such subordinate reports as 2,300 have been received; also, reports and statements of staff-officers, covering estimates of property de5,000 stroyed and supplies taken from the country. 1,500 I am, Colonel, very respectfully, your obedient A. S. WILLIAMS, .10,000 servant, Brigadier-General Commanding.
Destroyed in Milledgeville, by Lieutenant Shep-
Report of Casualties in the Twentieth Corps from October 28th to December 27th, 1864, inclusive.
Major Reynolds reports the number of guns, of all calibres, found in and around Savannah in works first taken possession of by the Twentieth corps, at eighty-nine. Of these, twentythree, of calibre from six-pounder smooth bore to forty-two pounder carronades, were found in position in front of the line occupied by the corps before Savannah. Major Reynolds's report, forwarded herewith, will furnish details. On entering the city, General Geary took possession of a