part of a volume entitled History of the Ninety - Third Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry: From Organization To Muster Out --Statistics Compiled by Aaron Dunbar Sergeant, Company " B", Revised and Edited by Harvey M. Trimble, Adjutant
Submitted by Jeffrey MacAdam, to whom every reader should be grateful.
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On the 29th day of April, A. D. 1865, the Ninety-Third Illinois, at the end of two years, five months, and three days from the date when it started on its first campaign in Northern Mississippi, broke camp at 6 o'clock in the morning and started on its homeward march. Marching on the direct road from Raleigh to Louisburg, N. C., the regiment proceeded ten miles, then crossed the Neuse River, on pontoon bridges, and went into camp, at 2 o'clock p.m., one mile from the river. On the 30th, the command remained in camp, waiting for the artillery and trains to get straightened out and under way on the road. On May 1st, starting at 5 o'clock a.m., the regiment marched twenty-three miles, and camped, at 6:30 o'clock p.m., at Davis' Cross Roads, near Cypress Creek, and also near Louisburg, the county seat of Franklin County. During the day we crossed Little River and Tar River. On the 2nd, starting at 5 o'clock a.m., the command marched twenty-five miles, crossed Cedar Creek and Schoeco Creek, and camped, at 5:45 o'clock p.m., on Little Fishing Creek, three miles from Shady Grove, and near Warrenton, the county seat of Warren County. The weather was fine and the roads good, but it was a hard day's march. On the 3rd, starting at 4:30 o'clock a.m., the regiment marched twenty-three miles, and went into camp, at 3:15 o'clock p.m., at Robinson's Ferry, on the Roanoke River, near the State line. On the 4th, starting at 5:45 o'clock a.m., the regiment crossed Roanoke River, on a pontoon bridge, at Robinson's Ferry, where the river was two hundred and sixty yards wide, and, after marching ten miles, went into camp, at 10 o'clock p.m., at Tabernacle Church, near White Plains, in Brunswick County, Virginia. On the 5th, starting at 5 o'clock a.m., the regiment marched twenty-seven miles, crossing the Meherrin River, at Westward Bridge, and passing through Lawrenceville, the county seat of Brunswick County, and camped, at 6:30 o'clock p.m., near Cutbank, (or Double Bridge), on the Nottoway River. It was a hard march. There was a light fall of rain in the morning, and the weather was very hot. On the 6th, starting at 5:30 o'clock a.m., the regiment crossed the Nottoway River, marched twenty-two miles, and went into camp, at 6:30 o'clock p.m., on Stony Creek. The day was hot. Another hard march. On the 7th, starting at 6:30 o'clock a.m., the regiment marched eighteen miles, and camped, at 6:30 p.m., inside the old Confederate works, near Fort Robinson, a half mile south of Petersburg, Va. The command reached the Weldon Railroad at a point three miles south of Ream's station, and passed through that place, finding it practically destroyed. Also passed General Grant's line of works on the Weldon Railroad. They were very formidable; much stronger than the Confederate works. Also passed the place at which General Meade's headquarters were when he was in that vicinity, during the time the army was operating to get possession of the railroad there. On the 8th, the regiment remained in camp. Many visited Petersburg and were disappointed. The place was much smaller than was supposed, and very much damaged by the long continued military operations there. On the 9th, starting at 7 o'clock a.m., the regiment marched fifteen miles, and went into camp, at 3 o'clock p.m., on Proctor's Creek. While passing through Petersburg, early this morning, the command was reviewed by General Howard, Generals Hartranft and Ferrero being present with him, upon his invitation. Shortly after passing in review, the regiment crossed the Appomattox River, on an old bridge that had been partly destroyed by fire, and continued the march toward Richmond, moving on the main road, which was a very beautiful one. The camp that night was on the ground where General Butler fought a battle just one year ago to-day. Human skulls and broken bones were still lying around in every direction; whole skeletons, just as they fell, and others partly covered. They were mostly Confederates. It was a gruesome, sickening sight. A heavy rain fell during the afternoon. Rain also fell last night, which made fine marching for the day. On the 10th, starting at 5:30 o'clock a.m., the regiment marched nine miles, and went into camp, at 9 o'clock a.m., near Manchester, Va., and remained in camp there during the remainder of the day. First Lieut. William M. Morris, who was captured at the battle of Mission Ridge, Tennessee, on the 25th day of November A. D. 1863, and had been in Confederate prisons ever since then, returned to the regiment and assumed the command of his Company, A. He was, during that day, mustered into service as Captain of that Company, the commission, promoting him, having been received some time before during his absence in prison. The Confederate works at this place, extending up the river, and west from Fort Darling, were very formidable, three lines where we passed them. Since leaving Raleigh, we have passed through the best country we have seen in the South, unless, perhaps, Northern Alabama and eastern Tennessee might be excepted. On the 11th and 12th, the regiment remained in camp. On the 11th, the Fourteenth and Twentieth corps crossed the James River, and proceeded north, and on the 12th, the Seventeenth Corps followed. We will move to-morrow. On the night of the 11th, rain fell, for an hour, in a manner that caused us to think that all the sluice-gates of the "upper deep" had been thrown wide open. On the 13th, starting at 9 o'clock a.m., the regiment passed through Manchester, crossed the James River, on a pontoon bridge, and marched into Richmond, Va., the capital of the Confederate States of America, that was, but then defunct. Passing down River Street, by Castle Thunder and Libby Prison, the command then marched through the principal part of the city. The most of the public buildings on River Street had been destroyed, but the principal parts of the city were not much damaged. Leaving Richmond about 1 o'clock p.m., the command went into camp, at 6 o'clock p.m., after having marched twelve miles during the day, on Stony Run, near the Chickahominy River. A hot day. On the 14th, starting at 7:30 o'clock a.m., the regiment marched seven miles, and camped, at 10:30 o'clock a.m., near Hanover Courthouse, on the Pamunky River, and remained there the remainder of that day. The roads were bad. On the 15th, starting at 5:30 a.m., the regiment passed the Hanover Courthouse, which was erected in the year A. D. 1736, crossed the Pamunky River, and also the Mattapony River, and having marched eighteen miles during the day, went into camp, at 6 o'clock p.m., about eight miles from Bowling Green. The roads were good. The weather was clear and hot. That evening, orders were received, that no whole rails should be burned. Everybody said, that "whole rails" were too long to burn, anyhow; and they were immediately broken in pieces. It was not long until it was impossible to find any "whole rails" in that neighborhood. And then everybody began to inquire why it was that the people there always made their rails in pieces; adding, that they had never seen the likes in any other part of the Confederacy. On the 16th, starting at 5 o'clock a.m., the regiment marched twenty-five miles, passing through Bowling Green, crossed Massaponox Creek, waded it, and camped, at 3 o'clock p.m., a half mile beyond the creek. The day was very hot and the roads were dusty. It was a hard day's march. On the 17th, the regiment started at 7:30 o'clock a.m., marched eighteen miles, passed through Stafford Courthouse, and camped near that place, on Austin Creek, at 6 o'clock p.m. During the day the command passed through Fredericksburg. The city had been badly used up by the war. There were but few houses in the place that had not been pierced by cannon shot. The regiment crossed the Rappahannock River, one hundred and sixty yards wide, at Fredericksburg, on a pontoon bridge. The scenery, in the valley, and on each side of the river, was very fine. The day was hot and the march a hard one. On the 18th, the command marched at 4:30 o'clock a.m., and camped at 3:30 o'clock p.m., near Ocoquan, on the Ocoquan River, having made twenty miles of distance. We crossed Aquia Creek early in the day, and afterward passed through Dumfries, one of the oldest towns in the United States, all the buildings being after old styles. A heavy rain fell just at dark. On the 19th, starting at 4:30 o'clock a.m., the regiment crossed the Ocoquan River, on a pontoon bridge, at Ocoquan, where the stream was one hundred yards wide, and marched, from thence, to Mount Vernon. There the command marched through the grounds and to the tomb of Washington, with drooping colors, the bands played patriotic music. After resting a short time the march was continued until twenty miles had been covered during the day, when the regiment went into camp, at 5 o'clock p.m., about five miles from Alexandria, Va. The roads were muddy and the march was a very hard one. During the day, Marion Hite and George Menelaus, of Company B, both of whom were captured by the enemy on the 3rd day of September A. D. 1864, near Allatoona, Ga., returned to the regiment, having been released from prison some time before. On the 20th, the command remained in camp. On the 21st, starting at daylight, the regiment marched five miles, and went into camp, at 9 o'clock a.m., on Arlington Heights, near Alexandria. The camp was on a high and bare hill, where a crow couldn't have found sticks enough to build a nest. Rain fell nearly all day and continued to fall during the evening. The weather was very disagreeable and the roads were muddy. On the 22nd, the regiment remained in camp. On the 23rd, starting at 8 o'clock a.m., the regiment marched eight miles, and bivouacked, on Fourth Street, in the city of Washington, the capital of the Nation. The regiment crossed the Potomac River on the Long Bridge, one and a half miles long, and was the first of Sherman's army to enter the city of Washington. That day the Army of the Potomac was on grand review. General Sherman's army will pass in review to-morrow. On the 24th, the day of the grand review, the regiment marched twelve miles, between 8 o'clock in the morning and 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and went into camp, at the latter hour, near Crystal Springs, on Piney Branch, and also near the Piney Branch Hotel, three miles north of Washington City, D. C. After leaving Raleigh the regiment had marched three hundred and twenty-eight miles.
The day, May 24th, 1865, was beautiful, almost perfect. Roll-call in the Ninety-Third Illinois, was at 5 o'clock in the morning. At 7 o'clock a.m., the command was in line, in marching order, and the companies were equalized. At 8 o'clock a.m., the regiment marched around, on West Capital Street, to the head of Pennsylvania Avenue, west of the National Capitol, stacked arms, and remained there an hour, waiting for the signal gun. At precisely 9 o'clock in the morning, the signal gun was fired, and the head of the column at once moved down Pennsylvania Avenue. The Seventy-Sixth Ohio, of the First Brigade , First Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, had the advance, and led general Sherman's army in the grand review. The Ninety-Third Illinois was the second regiment in the column. The Second Division followed the First, and the Fourth Division followed the Second. (The Third Division had been dissolved.) The Second Brigade, of the Fourth Division, was the rear brigade of the infantry of the Fifteenth Corps. The artillery of the corps followed. Then came the Seventeenth, Twentieth and Fourteenth Army Corps, in the order named, the artillery of each followed the corps. Then came General Kilpatrick's cavalry and light artillery. The command moved, In Order of Review, at Company Front, Closed in Mass, Guide Left. The Reviewing Stand was in front of the White House. From the moment the start was made, every regiment in that great column at once assumed that strong step, long stride, and stately bearing, perfectly typifying the well known strength, and speed, and confidence of that immense army, acquired by its long marches, rapid movements, and many victories in battle. Arms were carried with that ease and precision that told of familiarity with their use. Colors were waving and fluttering, and bands were playing the national airs and the music of victory. The demonstration was imposing and inspiring, magnificent and grand. It represented at once the military strength and endurance and discipline of the nation, and the "pomp and pageantry" and the enthusiasm and exultation of successful war. The city of Washington, everywhere, was no less than an ocean of humanity. Both sides of the broad and beautiful Pennsylvania Avenue, from one end to the other of it, were literally packed with men and women, from the building lines to the two sides of the moving column. All the porches and balconies, and all the doors and windows, were filled to their utmost capacity with radiant faces. The tops of houses and business buildings, and all other places that command even the slightest view of any part of the grand parade, were covered with multitudes of people. And, for blocks upon blocks, away from the line of march, there were still additional multitudes upon multitudes. And all these people had flags and banners, of all sizes, and wreaths and bouquets and flowers, of all colors, and in all imaginable forms, and parasols and handkerchiefs, in red, white and blue, and all manner of devices, in bright colors, and all of them were happy and enthusiastic and exultant. They cheered in groups, and cheered all together. To the music of the bands they joined their voices, singing the national airs and the Battle Hymn of the Republic. They showered the troops with flowers until the broad avenue was covered. They covered the bands with wreaths and until they were moving flower gardens. General Sherman, Howard, Slocum, Logan, Blair, Davis and Williams, and many others, were wreathed and garlanded over and over again, until they were almost hidden from view, with a very harvest of flowers, as rich and beautiful and fragrant as ever grew beneath the sun. Never was any army more cordially received. The welcome home was free, hearty, earnest and enthusiastic. The enthusiasm was unbound. It was gladness and joy gone wild. The whole scene, together, the moving army and the people, the music and the flowers, the brave men and beautiful women, the waving colors and the fluttering plumes, the cheers and hearty greeting, the shouts of praise and the shouts of victory, the shouts for the army and shouts for the navy, and shouts for the "Union Forever," and the earnestness of all of it and the enthusiastic and zealous patriotism that impelled it and gave it meaning, was not only beautiful and brilliant, magnificent and grand, but it was characteristically American. Nothing like it, in its character and impulses, had ever before been witnessed on earth. No event, of man's accomplishments, ever before celebrated, contained within itself so much of human hopes and inspirations, or so much of hopeful promises for humanity's future. The mighty ship that bore the best and brightest hopes of all the world, was safely moored in the harbor of enduring peace. The bright and shining star, toward which all eyes had turned for light upon paths of human progress, was anchored in the sky. Liberty was triumphant there! And that grand army, that had borne its victorious banners round the circuit of the rebellious States, moved through it all, an unbroken column, with conscious pride in its great strength and great achievements, with patriotic zeal, but without vanity, bearing no spoils of war, but lifting high above all else the emblem of the Nation's great victory, the flag of the Union, the flag of freedom! Moved through that gorgeous throng, down the broad avenue from the capital to and beyond the White House, with all its illustrious leaders and its much loved and peerless commander. Passed before that "Silent Soldier," the great command-in-chief, whose matchless genius had pointed out the ways to victory, and filled the world with the fame of his armies. And, at the end of its victorious march, that great army quietly dispersed to its hundred camps around the capital of the Nation, and, from thence, returned to thousands of homes all over the land, and quickly melted away and merged into the great body of the commonwealth, out of which it came. Altogether, it was a scene that can neither be adequately described, nor ever forgotten; a consummation that set a new page in the world's history, and filled it with a new light that will continue to shine, for the generations of men yet to come, through all the cycles of time.
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