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more on Buford's Bridge, and Gen. Kilpatrick by Barnwell Court House to Blackville, on the South Carolina railroad (from Charleston to Augusta.) Gen. Howard crossed the Salkehatchie, and moved directly toward Midway, on the same railroad. The enemy held the line of that river in force, having intrenched at Buford's and Rivers' bridges. The Seventeenth Corps crossed over by the latter, on the 3d of February, the divisions of Mower and G. A. Smith carrying the position, by wading through the swamp, nearly three miles wide, the division commander taking the lead on foot. The water was sometimes up to the breasts of the stalwart soldiers as they cheerily moved on, despite the bitter cold-many a man in the ranks, no doubt, recalling his readings of watery marches in the Netherlands, in the days of William of Orange. Effecting a lodgment below the bridge, they advanced upon the Rebel brigade which defended it, and drove the enemy in confusion toward Branchville. The Union loss was less than one hundred. The Rebels at once fell back behind the Edisto, guarding Branchville. The Seventeenth Corps pursued, menacing that place, so that the enemy burned the railroad bridge there, and also Walker's bridge below.
Sherman's whole force was now pushed along the South Carolina railroad, and proceeded to its thorough destruction, the Seventeenth Corps working from the Edisto up to Bam, berg, and the Fifteenth Corps from Bamberg to Blackville. Kilpatrick moved beyond the latter point toward Aiken, demonstrating against Augusta, but avoiding any serious engagement. He had heavy skirmishing, however, both at Blackville and Aiken, with Wheeler's cavalry. These operations occupied until the 10th of February, at which date Slocum was fully up with the left wing, which continued the destruction from Blackville as far as Windsor. The whole army was now concentrated on the railroad, from Midway to Johnson's Station, being intercepted between the two portions of the enemy's forces, respectively at Augusta and Aiken westward, and at Branchville and Charleston on the east.
Blair's corps crossed the south fork of the Edisto at Binnaker's Bridge, on the 11th of February, and marched directly
on Orangeburg, the Fifteenth Corps crossing at Holman's Bridge and moving to Poplar Springs, in support. On the 12th, Blair carried the Orangeburg Bridge, in the face of stout resistance, and his whole corps entered the town at four o'clock in the afternoon. He at once proceeded to destroy the railroad, continuing the work as far as Lewisville, and on the 14th drove the enemy across the Congaree, compelling him to burn the bridges. She left wing and the cavalry crossed the South Edisto at New and Guignard's Bridges, and proceeded to the Orangeburg and Edgefield road, awaiting the result of the movement on the former place.
After the occupation of Orangeburg, all the columns were put in motion toward Columbia. The Seventeenth Corps moved by the State road, and the Fifteenth crossed the North Edisto. On the 15th of February, the Fifteenth Corps encountered the enemy, in a strong position, at Little Congaree, with a tete de pont on the south side, and a fort on the north side, commanding the bridge. In spite of the difficult nature of the ground, which was low and wet, the position, being skillfully turned by the division of Gen. Woods, was carried without any protracted fighting. After nightfall, the columo approached the bridge across the Congaree, in front of Columbia, and cncamped in the vicinity. During the night the enemy shelled the Union camps, from a battery above Granby, on the east side of the river. In the morning (on the 16th), the bridge was found to have been burned. The pontoons came up, and Gen. Howard crossed the Saluda near the factory, three miles above the city, and afterward the Broad river, approaching the city from the north, in the evening of the same day. The left wing, under Gen. Slocum, crossed the Saluda at Zion Church, and moved directly toward Winnsboro, destroying, on his way, the railroads and bridges near Alston. The city was formally surrendered by the Mayor, on the morning of the 17th. Wade Hampton, commanding the Rebel rear-guard of cavalry, bad, in the mean time, ordered that all the cotton in the city, public and private, should be moved into the streets and burned. The wind was blowing with fury, and the bales of cotton opened and fired, were piled in every direction, and the city in general conflagration, as Sherman's forces entered. Much of the town was burned in spite of the exertions of the Union soldiers.
During the day, the Fifteenth Corps passed through the place. The entire left wing and the cavalry passed some distance to the left, not coming within two miles of the city. The Seventeenth Corps, also, passed outside of the limits of the town, moving north-eastward toward Cheraw. In regard to the burning of Columbia, Gen. Sherman makes the following official statement:
Before one single public building had been fired by order, the smoldering fires, set by Hampton's order, were re-kindled by the wind, and communicated to the buildings around. About dark they began to spread, and got beyond the control of the brigade on duty within the city. The whole of Wood's division was brought in, but it was found impossible to check the flames, which, by midnight, had become unmanageable, and raged until about four A. M., when, the wind subsiding, they were got under control. I was up nearly all night, and saw Generals Howard, Logan, Wood, and others, laboring to save houses and protect families thus suddenly deprived of shelter, and of bedding and wearing apparel. I disclaim, on the part of my army, any agency in this fire; but, on the contrary, claim that we saved what of Columbia remains unconsumed. And, without hesitation, I charge Gen. Wade Hampton with having burned his own city of Columbia, not with a malicious intent, or as the manifestation of a silly “ Roman stoicism," but from folly and want of sense, in filling it with lint, cotton, and tinder. Our officers and men on duty worked well to extinguish the flames; but others not on duty, including the officers who had long been imprisoned there, rescued by us, may have assisted in spreading the fire after it had once begun, and may have indulged in unconcealed joy to see the ruin of the capital of South Carolina. During the 18th and 19th the arsenal, railroad depots, machine shops, founderies, and other buildings were properly destroyed by detailed working parties, and the railroad track torn up and destroyed down to Kingsville and the Wateree Bridge, and up in the direction of Winnsboro.
Gen. Slocum reached Winnsboro on the 21st of February. The Twentieth Corps reached the Catawba, at Rocky Mount, on the 22d, and crossed over on a pontoon bridge the next day.
Kilpatrick's cavalry passed the same bridge during the night of the 23d, in the midst of a heavy storm of rain, and moved up to Lancaster, keeping up the appearance of a general advance toward Charlotte, N. C., on which place Beauregard and all the Rebel cavalry had retreated. Cheatham's corps, of Hood's army, returned from his disastrous campaign in Tennessee, was also known to be endeavoring to join Beauregard at the same place, having been cut off by Sherman's rapid march upon Columbia and Winnsboro.
Heavy rains and swollen streams rendered further movements nearly impracticable, until the 26th, on which day the Twentieth Corps reached Hanging Rock, there waiting for the Fourteenth to come up. On its arrival, the entire left wing was put in motion on the road to Cheraw, toward which point the right wing was already considerably advanced. The Seventeenth Corps had crossed by Young's Bridge, and the Fifteenth by Tiller's and Kelly's Bridges-detachments from the latter corps having entered Camden--ground already historic-and burned the railroad bridge over the Wateree, destroying stores and other public property. Detentions of the right wing at Lynch's Creek enabled the left to make up nearly all the time it had relatively lost in getting across the Catawba, and on the 21 of March, the advance division of the Twentieth Corps entered Chesterfield, encountering some slight resistance from Rebel cavalry. On the 3d, the Seventeenth Corps entered Cheraw, the Rebel force there retiring across the Pedee river and burning the bridge.
Meanwhile, these movements in the interior, in connection with the previous operations on the coast, and especially the capture of Fort Fisher, had rendered comparatively easy the work of successively occupying Charleston and Wilmington. Columbia was taken on the 17th of February, as already seen, and on the 18th Charleston was evacuated by the Rebel garrison, and taken possession of by Gen. Gillmore. This result was hastened by an advance of Union forces on the Edisto and from Bull's Bay. Among the captures of Rebel property were about two hundred pieces of artillery and a good supply of ammunition. The cotton Farehouses, arsenals army stores,
and railroad bridges wero burnt by the enemy, as well as two iron-clad boats, and a number of vessels in the ship-yard. Universal joy, throughout the loyal States, was manifested at the final subjugation of a city, in which was hatched the deadliest treason the world ever saw. The fearful retribution had come at last, and possession of the place revealed a picture of desolation beyond what the fancy, musing on "poetic justice," had as yet fully conceived.
On evacuating the city, a considerable quantity of ammunition and many cannon had been removed by the Rebels to Cheraw-not then apparently threatened—where they fell into the hands of Gen. Sherman.
On the coast of North Carolina, Gen. Schofield assumed command of the forces of the Department, on arriving with his corps from Tennessee, Gen. Terry taking command of a corps under him. Possession had already been gained of the remaining works near the mouth of Cape Fear river, but no serious advance was made upon Wilmington until the 11th of February. Meanwhile, in pursuance of a plan formed before the fall of Fort Fisher, to occupy and restore the railroad from Newbern toward Waynesboro and Raleigh, and to move a column by this route inland from the coast, co-operating with Sherman's army, a construction party, with a supporting force, was landed at the former place, under the direction of Gen. Schofield. On the morning of February 11th, the divisions of Gen. Ames and Gen. Paine, near Fort Fisher, attacked the Rebel lines across the peninsula, between Cape Fear river and the sea, and drove back the enemy. On the 17th, Gen. Schofield, with 8,000 men, advanced from Smithville, on the west side of the Cape Fear river, supported by a portion of Admiral Porter's fleet, and on the following day captured Fort Anderson and adjacent works, the last defenses of Wilmington. While the guns played upon the fort in front, Major-Gen. Cox led a force, by a circuit of sixteen miles, around the right flank of the enemy, completely turning his position, causing his immediate evacuation of the works assailed, and his retreat to Wi
On the 21st, our forces bad a successful engage. ment, four miles from town, which resulted in its speedy occu: