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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
Dec. 8th. Having removed obstructions and rebuilt bridge we left camp at 12 P.M. Ebenezer Creek is truly a dismal stream about 100 yards across, the water deep, black and murky. Upon each side of the road is an impenetrable swamp filled with water, a fit habitation for alligators. It empties into the Savannah River about Vz mile from where we crossed. While eating dinner the rebels came down the river and shelled our camp from gunboats but did us no harm. Of course it created a little excitement.… At 2 P.M. we again took up our line of march and proceeded 8 miles when we were ordered to countermarch, which of course was sweet information. We returned arriving at camp at 10 P.M. The cause of our returning proved to be that [Gen. Braxton] Bragg with about 6000 cavalry were threatening our rear.
Dec. 9th. Marched at 7 A.M. Advanced about 4 miles, found bridge burned, this detained us 3 hours. Having rebuilt bridge again, started, having proceeded 6 miles, we found a Rebel battery directly in the road. Here we halted and sent forward skirmishers, found the roads blockaded. Two pieces of artillery were sent forward. A lively artillery engagement immediately ensued. The first shot from the Rebel battery killed one of our horses, the second took ofï a wheel from one of our guns, the third killed Lieut. Coe, commanding Battery. Their guns being well protected and ours standing entirely exposed, it was deemed prudent to withdraw our guns and try some other plan to remove them. Consequently we encamped near there for the night. As soon as it became dark a force was sent around to the right, making a large circle and coming in their rear. But Johnny got alarmed and before our forces were in condition to make a clean sweep they commenced to evacuate. They succeeded to get away with one gun, our forces capturing 71 stand of small arms, 1 piece of artillery, 3 caissons, together with ammunition and 34 prisoners.
Dec. 10th. Marched at 7 A.M. We passed through the fort which proved to be quite a strong one, having embrasures for six guns. After marching one mile the 113th was deployed as skirmishers upon the left side of the road, our object being to reach the river and discover the whereabouts of a gunboat said to be patrolling the river and if possible to burn the R.R. bridge of the Sav.fannah] & Augusta R.R. which crosses the river at that point. We, upon entering the swamp, found it impossible to advance in line of battle on account of the density of the brush and nature of the ground. We returned to main road and proceeded one mile and again entered the swamp with the same success, but before we came out we captured 10 Johnnies who had endeavored to hide until we had passed. Also we came up [on] a splendid plantation well stocked with forage and if we did not clean it out on short notice it was our own fault. There was no one at home but the niggers. I secured for my mess 16 chickens, 2 bushels sweet potaoes and about 150 lbs. flour. We returned to main road and joined column. Here we formed junction with the 20 Corps who had marched upon a different road. Here we went into camp, the gun boats shelling the same. We are now within 11 miles of Savannah.
Sunday, 11th. The siege of Savannah is now fairly commenced. We moved into position 3 miles from Sav. in a dense swamp and relieved a part of the 17th Army Corps which passed on to the right.