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one's mouth, "Where next will this extraordinary man go?” Some thought that he would first strike Augusta, others, Charleston. But he had a grander object in view than the immediate capture of either of these places. Standing in Savannah, he cast: his eyes north five hundred miles to Goldsboro', and determined to carry his gallant army thither, right through the heart of two hostile States. One standing by his side and looking forward on the route the brave Chieftain had marked out for his columns, must have been amazed at the mighty enterprise on which he was about to enter.
One rebel army lay at Charleston, on his right, another at Augustà, on his left-North Carolina swarmed with troops, while every step he advanced took him nearer to Lee's gathered forces at Richmond. Large rivers were to be crossed, swamps traversed, and battles fought, before he could reach the goal of his wishes.
In organizing this campaign, Sherman resolved to make Columbia his first objective point. To do this, without being compelled to fight heavy battles, it was necessary to keep the rebel armies at Charleston and Augusta divided United they could make the rivers successive lines of defense, which could not be carried without severe loss. He, therefore, determined to threaten both places at the same time, and thus keep the enemy at each in a state of suspense and anxiety, and afraid to move in any direction. In carrying out this plan, he directed Slocum, with the left wing and Kilpatrick's cavalry, to move up the Savannah River and threaten Augusta, while Howard advancing from the sea-coast, was to threaten Charleston.
By this adroit management he prevented the enemy from doing the only thing that promised success—viz., the concentration of his forces on the line of the swampy Salkehatchie. Had this been done, and both Charleston and Au
gusta abandoned, Sherman would have had great trouble in carrying out his plans—for supposing that he could, with his superior strength, have forced this line, still the rebels, by the central position they would occupy, could have fallen back toward Columbia and made another stand on the Edisto. If, on the other hand, he had attempted to outflank, as he did, on the way from Chattanooga to Atlanta, his flanks and trains would have been greatly exposed while crossing the rivers. By trying to save too much, the rebel Commanders lost every thir
and that too without even the honor of fighting for it.
The supplies for the right wing were completed at Poca taligo, and those for the left at Sister's Ferry. At the latter place, Slocum and Kilpatrick were detained a long time by a heavy flood in the river, which, overflowing its banks, covered all the surrounding country with water, so that the inundated lowlands made the stream, at this point, three miles wide.
It was an extraordinary flood, and as Slocum looked at the spreading sea, and thought of his urgent orders to advance without delay, he was filled with great anxiety, and impatiently waited for the waters to subside. As soon, however, as the crossing could be commenced with any degree of safety, he put his army in motion, and the columns, halfwaist deep in the water, moved rapidly over the inundated fields.
When he reached solid ground, in order to make up for lost time, he marched eighteen miles a day, though he was constantly compelled to halt and re-bridge streams, and remove trees that the enemy had felled across the road, while the wintry rains made the march heavy, and the night encampment cold and gloomy.
Kilpatrick in the meantime pushed on toward Augusta, and by his daring advance causcd all the rebel troops in the
THE SAL KEHATCHIE FORCED.
vicinity to be concentrated there for its defense, leaving no enemy for Slocum to encounter.
Howard moved from Pocataligo on the last day of the month, leaving Hatch's division behind, in order to keep up the appearance of marching on Charleston by the railroad bridge over the Salkehatchie at that point. He found in his march the roads obstructed by trees felled across it, and the bridges over the swollen streams burned, but the pioneer battalion removed the one, and rebuilt the other so quickly, that the columns were scarcely compelled to halt.
A railroad runs across the state from Charleston to Abhis gusta, and half way between the two stands Midway Station, lying due south from Columbia. Toward this point Howard directed his columns. But he had first to cross the Salkehatchie, which the rebels held in force, “having infantry and artillery intrenched at River and Beaufort bridges.” The Seventeenth Corps was ordered to carry River bridge, and the Fifteenth Corps Beaufort bridg«
Mower and Giles A. Smith, with their divisions promptly carried the former on the 3d of February “by crossing the swamp, nearly three miles wide, with water varying from knee to shoulder deep.” Although the weather was bitter cold, those two gallant Commanders led their divisions ou foot, wading the deep, chilly water side by side with the soldiers, and making a lodgment below the bridge, drove the rebel brigade that guarded it in terror toward Branchville. Our loss in this bold and brilliant movement was little less than ninety.
The line of the Salkehatchie being thus broken, the rebels could make no stand until they reached the Edisto at Brancăville, a place lying some sixty miles out from Charleston. The army then pushed rapidly for the railroad at Midway, which it reached on the 7th, and at once began to tear it up. The left wing under Slocum struck it farther up to
CROSSING THE EDISTO.
ward Augusta, and also commenced the work of destruction. The rebel forces at Aiken and Augusta, on the one hand, and those at Branchville and Charleston on the other, were now hopelessly divided, and unable to act in concert.
Leaving the left wing still at work destroying the railroad, Sherman with the right moved north on Orangeburg. The Seventeenth Corps crossed the South Fork of the Edisto, at Binnaker's bridge, and marched straight on the place, while the Fifteenth Corps crossed at Holman's bridge and moved to Poplar Springs in support.
The rebel Commander had so long thought of nothing, and labored for nothing, but to save Charleston, that he could not bé persuaded that it was not the chief object of Sherman's desires, and continued to lie behind his fortifications at Branchville, to protect it. Still, he had caused the bridge over the Edisto to be burned, and stationed a force at the spot to oppose the passage of our army: Ford, with the advance division, as he approached the burned bridge, was saluted with a heavy fire of artillery, which arrested his progress. Lower down, however, by wading to the armpits, and often swimming, the men succeeded in launching four pontoon boats into the water, and just as the moon' was rising, the division was got across, which, pouncing upon the astonished rebels in flank, scattered them in confusion through the moonlit woods. For fifteeen miles along this river the spread-out army made demonstrations at different points, so that the scattered enemy could do very little in opposing the passage, except by skirmishing.
The rebel force in Orangeburg now fled north to Columbia, and this place, with a population of three thousand, fell into our hands. A conflagration, however, was raging at the time, which the soldiers, under the orders of Howard and Sherman, labored hard to extinguish. The place was set on fire by a Jew, in revenge for fifty bales of cotton
belonging to him, and destroyed by the rebels. pioneers here ran riot among the ornamented grounds of the wealthy citizens. Sherman says: “Blair was ordered to de- . stroy the railroad effectually up to Lewisville, and to push the enemy across the Congaree, and force him to burn the bridges, which he did on the 14th, and, without wasting time or labor on Branchville or Charleston, which I knew the enemy could no longer hold, I turned all the columns straight on Columbia.” The left wing swept on in the same direction, farther to the west, over the Edisto, and across swamps and streams; straight through the heart of the proud, rebellious State, the mighty columns moved with resistless power, till on the 16th, Howard drew up on the banks of the Saluda, in front of Columbia. An hour later the head of the advance column of the left wing appeared on the shore of the same stream, farther to the west, and the Capital of South Carolina lay under our guns. The Mayor surrendered the city, and Sherman, in anticipation of it, says: “I had made written orders to General Howard, touching the conduct of the troops. These were to destroy absolutely all arsenals and public property not needed for our own use, as well as all railroads, depots, and machinery useful in war to an enemy, but to spare all dwellings, colleges, schools, asylums, and harmless private property. I was the first to cross the pontoot tridge, and in company with General Howard, rode into the city. The day was clear, but a perfect tempest of wind was raging. The brigade of Colonel Stone was already in the city, and properly posted. Citizens and soldiers were on the streets and general good order prevailed. General Wade Hampton, who commanded the Confederate rear-guard of cavalry, had in anticipation of our capture of Columbia, ordered that all cotton, public and private, should be moved into the streets and fired, to prevent our making use of it. Bales were piled every where, the rope