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From Atlanta To The Sea
A newly discovered Union diary shows that Sherman’s march was about as Ruthless as Southerners have always said it was
December 1978 | Volume 30, Issue 1
Nov. 30th. We still occupy the same camp. At 9 A.M. a detail of 5 companies from our Regt, was made to go to the plantation where I was as a train guard, Capt. Watson Acting Maj. in charge. They proceeded to within a short distance from the house, when the rebel cavalry appeared upon them from every side. The Capt. had but little time to form his men for defense, but did the best he could. On dashed the Johnnies and the fight commenced in earnest. He attempted to fall back but found them in his rear also, in fact, he was completely surrounded. Surrender or fight was the only alternative. He chose the latter and commenced. He fought for nearly one hour when the pickets were advanced to his assistance and the rebels driven off. They left 7 dead upon the ground besides several wounded and the niggers report that they carried several away. The Brigade was immediately called out. Upon arrival we were informed that they were still lurking around. The 113th together with one company from the 121st and 1 company from the 78th Ohio were then deployed as skirmishers. We advanced through a piece of woods and saw them standing in line of battle. They were cavalry numbering I should judge about 200. As soon as we found them we halted until the balance of the Brig, came up. We were then ordered by Gen. Morgan to push forward and give them battle in case they would remain long enough. We advanced our line over a clear and open field. Johnny still remained. When we were within about ¼ of a mile they commenced performing some of their evolutions and again formed line, in single rank. I think that it was the handsomest line of battle I ever saw. We were still advancing, a fight or a foot race was in prospect. At this juncture of the proceedings they struck up Dixie upon a brass band and as they came to the close “Away, away,” they did go away, turned and ran, moving to the left. We received orders from Col. Pierce, Brig. Comd. to move the same way, keeping them in our front and he would keep the support close at hand. We did so and in order to accomplish it had to pass through a large cypress swamp which was almost impenetrable. We were so long getting through this that the balance of the Brigade was ordered to go to camp. When we came to the opposite side here again we saw Johnnies in line of battle but I hardly think they saw us, but appeared to be watching the main column which we supposed was directly in our rear. We lay here unobserved until nearly dark, the Rebs. in the mean time having discovered us and attempted to get in our rear, and cut us off.
In this they succeeded but our left was open and we passed out that way. Upon arrival at camp we found the whole Brig, ready to march to our relief. Our loss for the day amounted to 3 wounded, 2 killed and 7 captured, total 12, all members of the 113th.
Dec. 2nd. Marched at 12 M. Acted as rear guard to train. This was decidedly a sweet trip, our route lay through a swampy country and the roads in some places were almost impassable. We got into camp at 1:30 A.M. tired and cross, having burned in retaliation anything we came to and foraged ditto. Distance 10 miles.…
Dec. 4th. Marched at 11 A.M. in rear of Div. Gen. [Judson] Kilpatrick, successful, capturing several prisoners and 3 pieces of artillery. At this point we were near Milan where our prisoners have been confined for some time and died by the hundreds. We were anxious to go there but had no opportunity. We foraged extensively through the day. Marched 18 miles.…
Dec. 6th. Regt. acting as train guard. I was in advance for purpose of foraging. Saw a nigger coming out of a swamp. Rode up to him and he informed me that there was 26 horses and mules hid about three miles from there. Having a guard of but 4 men, I went back to the column, got a guard of 6 men and together with Mr. Contraband [the slave] proceeded to the swamp and captured 22 head and 1 of the guard, the balance escaped. During the day found plenty of forage and had the pleasure of seeing several beautiful fires. Distance marched 20 miles.
Dec. 7th. Marched at 7 A.M. I left camp with foraging party at 5 A.M. Found the road badly blockaded which detained the trains about 3 hours. I had splendid success, foraging, raising a large wooden bucket full of honey, chickens, 1 large turkey, sweet potatoes, and over 50 lbs. of good sugar which by the way is a cash article in this country. During my rambles I went into a house (which had been badly handled by the boys) in which resided an old man and his daughter whose name I have forgotten. One thing I have not forgotten and that is she was the best looking girl I have seen in Georgia, being a well educated sociable lady. She commenced to relate to me her grievances, 1st she had taken her trunks and clothing and hid them in the woods. The boys had found them and taken several articles and the army niggers were wearing her father’s clothing. She had lost all her jewelry and a package of letters (the contents of course she did not tell). Her grievances were numerous. She said she had always been for the Union and she thought it was too bad. I agreed with her as far as she was being for the Union, replying that it was generally the case that all young ladies’ sympathies ran in that direction. She saw the point and replied she was not inclined that way. I could do her no good towards restoring her property but of course sympathized with her deeply and left.…