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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Part 1 of 3 for Chapter 9.
After what General Sherman did, and what he said about it, there was much keener appreciation generally throughout the civilized world, that war was organized cruelty. What he did was not materially different from what had always been done before, and what he said had always been known before. But the manner in which he wrought all kinds of destruction to the enemy, and to the people who gave encouragement and aid to the rebellion, and the reasons he assigned for it, and the terse manner in which he expressed himself about it, caused thoughtful men and women everywhere to realize the extreme cruelty of war more fully than they had ever done before. In this, he did the world a great service. The distruction and desolation wrought by his army was something terrible to contemplate. The power of the people of Northern Georgia to make further successful war against the Nation was completely destroyed. The destruction of the railroads by General Hood's army was the merest child's play as compared with that executed under General Sherman's orders. As ingenious instrument was made for the purpose.
It was a clasp, which locked under the rail, with a ring in the top of it, into which a long lever was inserted. With this, the rails were easily and quickly ripped from the ties. The ties were then collected in piles and set on fire, and the rails thrown across them. When the rails were sufficiently heated to bend by their own weight, they were taken off, with wrenches made to fit closely over the ends, and twisted in opposite directions until they looked like corkscrews. A rolling machine could not re-shape them. Sometimes, too, if it were convenient, the rails were wrapped two or three times around trees, and left to cool there. To recover them would be more expensive than new ones. Thirty miles of rails, which were found in Atlanta, and all those on the road from Dalton to Atlanta, and all on the road from Atlanta to Madison, and a large quantity on the Georgia Central, and other lines, east and southeast of Atlanta, and the ties on all the roads torn up, were destroyed in the manner indicated. To repair these roads simply meant to build new ones. Rome and Atlanta, except dwellings and churches, were panoramas of desolation. Arsenals, armories, mills, factories, machine shops, cotton gins, and everything else, out of which was materials or any kind of aid to the rebellion could be furnished, were laid in ruins. Major Nichols described the destruction of Atlanta as follows:
"A grand and awful spectacle is presented to the beholder in this beautiful city, now in flames. By order, the chief engineer has destroyed by powder and fire all the storehouses, depot buildings and machine shops. The heaven is one expanse of lurid fire; the air is filled with flying, burning cinders; buildings covering two hundred acres are in ruins or in flames; every instant there is the sharp detonation or the smothered booming sound of exploding shells and powder concealed in the buildings, and then the sparks and flames shoot away up into the black and red roof, scattering cinders far and wide. These are the machine shops where have been forged and cast the rebel cannon, shot and shell that have carried death to many a brave defender of our Nation's honor. These warehouses have been the receptacles of munitions of war, stored to be used for our destruction. The city which, next to Richmond, has furnished more materials for prosecuting the war than any other in the south, exists no more as a means of injury to be used by the enemies of the Union. A brigade of Massachusetts soldiers are the only troops now left in the town; they will be the last to leave it. To-night I heard the really fine band of the Thirty-Third Massachusetts playing 'John Brown's Soul Goes Marching On,' by the light of the burning buildings. I have never heard that noble anthem when it was so grand, so solemn, so inspiring."
And even that vivid description now seems tame to one who witnessed that and other scenes of destruction. Was it justifiable? Yes. No one has yet successfully shown the contrary, nor made more than a very feeble effort to do so. Indeed, what General Sherman said about it, at the time, quite conclusively settled that question. It came of the necessities of cruel war. It was a part of the necessary preparation for the great campaign then about to be inaugurated. A campaign that was to teach the people of the South, and through them the leaders of the rebellion, the enormity of their crime against the Nation; and that campaign was, that it prepared the minds of the Southern people and of the southern soldiers for surrender. Otherwise, the great danger was, that those large Confederate armies might break up into small marauding bands and continue a sort of guerrilla warfare indefinitely. That no such result was realized was, indeed, most fortunate for the South and the whole country. On the 8th and 9th days of November, 1864, General Sherman issued two orders, from Kingston, Georgia, each of which forms an essential part of history of that great march, and the two together show how carefully and thoroughly he had made all his plans for the undertaking. Referring to them, in his Memoirs, General Sherman said:
"The two general orders made of this march appear to me, even at this late day, so clear, emphatic and well-digested, that no account of that historic event is perfect without them, and I give them entire, even at the seeming appearance of repetition; and although they called for great sacrifice and labor on the part of officers and men, I insist that these orders were obeyed as well as any similar orders ever were by an army operating wholly in an enemy's country and dispersed, as we necessarily were, during the subsequent period of nearly six months."
The last of the two was not only the plan, but, after the march was executed, it became, in great measure, a history of it. Because they will be of great benefit to the reader of the following sketch of the campaign, both orders are inserted here in full, as follows:
Headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi.
In the Field, Kingston, Georgia, November 8, 1864.
Special Field Orders, No. 119:
The General commanding deems it proper at this time to inform the officers and men of the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Seventeenth and Twentieth Corps that he has organized them into an army for a special purpose, well known to the War Department and to General Grant. It is sufficient for you to know that it involves a departure from our present base and a long and difficult march to a new one. All the chances of war have been considered and provided for, as far as human sagacity can. All he asks of you is to maintain that discipline, patience and courage which have characterized you in the past; and he hopes through you to strike a blow at our enemy that will have a material effect in producing, what we all so much desire, his complete overthrow. Of all things, the most important is that the men during the marches and in camp keep their places and do not scatter about as stragglers and foragers, to be picked up by a hostile people in detail. It is also of the utmost importance that our wagons should no be loaded with anything but provisions and ammunition. All surplus servants, non-combatants and refugees should now go to the rear, and none should be encouraged to encumber us on the march. At some future time we will be able to provide for the poor whites and blacks who seek to escape the bondage under which they are now suffering. With these few simple cautions, he hopes to lead you to achievements equal in importance to ;those of the past.
By order of Maj. Gen. W. T. Sherman.
L. M. Dayton, Aid-de-Camp.
Headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi.
In the Field, Kingston, Georgia, November 9, 1864.
Special Field Orders, No. 120:
I. For the purpose of military operations, this army is divided into two wings, viz: The right wing, Maj. Gen. O. O. Howard commanding, composed of the Fifteenth and Seventeenth Corps; the left wing, Maj. Gen. H. W. Slocum commanding, composed of the Fourteenth and Twentieth Corps.
II. The habitual order of march will be, whenever practicable, by four roads, as nearly parallel as possible, and converging at points hereafter to be indicated in orders. The cavalry, Brigadier General Kilpatrick commanding, will receive special orders from the commander-in-chief.
III. There will be no general training of supplies, but each corps will have its ammunition and provision trains, distributed habitually as follows: Behind each regiment should follow one wagon and one ambulance; behind each brigade should follow a due proportion of ammunition wagons, provision wagons and ambulances. In case of danger, each corps commander should change his order of march, by having his advance and rear brigades unencumbered by wheels. The separate columns will start habitually at seven o'clock a.m., and make about fifteen miles per day, unless otherwise fixed in orders.
IV. The army will forage liberally on the country during the march. To this end, each brigade commander will organize a good and sufficient foraging party, under the command of one or more discreet officers, who will gather near the route traveled corn or whatever is needed by the command; aiming at all times to keep in wagon trains at least ten days' provisions for the command and three days' forage. Soldiers must not enter the dwellings of the inhabitants or commit any trespass; but during a halt or camp they may be permitted to gather turnips, potatoes and other vegetables, and drive in stock in front of their camps. To regular foraging parties must be instructed the gathering of provisions and forage at any distance from the road traveled.
V. To corps commanders alone is intrusted the power to destroy mills, houses, cotton gins, etc., and for them this general principle is laid down: In districts and neighborhoods where the army is unmolested, no destruction of such property should be permitted; but should guerrillas or bushwhackers molest our march, or should the inhabitants burn bridges, or obstruct roads, or otherwise manifest local hostility; then army corps commanders should order and enforce a devastation more or less relentless, according to the measure of such hostility.
VI. As for horses, mules, wagons, etc., belonging to the inhabitants, the cavalry and artillery may appropriate freely and with out limit; discriminating, however, between the rich, who are usually hostile, and the poor or industrious, who are usually neutral or friendly. Foraging parties may also take mules or horses to replace the jaded animals of their trains, or to serve as pack-mules for the regiments or brigades. In all foraging, of whatever kind, the parties engaged will refrain from abusive or threatening language, and may, when the officer in command thinks proper, give written certification of the facts, but no receipts; and they will endeavor to leave with each family a reasonable portion for their maintenance.
VII. Negroes who are able bodied and can be of service to the several columns, may be taken along; but each army commander will bear in mind that the question of supplies is a very important one, and that his first duty is to see to those who bear arms.
VIII. The organization at once of a good pioneer battalion for each army corps, composed, if possible, of negroes, should be attended to. The battalion should follow the advance-guard, should repair roads, and double them if possible, so that the columns will not be delayed after reaching bad places. Also, army commanders should practice the habit of giving the artillery and wagons the road, marching their troops on the side; and also instruct their troops to assist wagons at steep hills or bad crossings of streams.
IX. Capt. O. M. Poe, chief engineer, will assign to each wing of the army a pontoon train, fully equipped and organized, and the commanders thereof will see to its being properly protected at all times.
By order of Maj. Gen. W. T. Sherman.
L. M. Dayton, Aide-de-Camp.
The roster of the army was as follows, to wit:
(Table reformated by webmaster)
And Brig. Gen. Judson C. Kilpatrick's cavalry division consisted of two brigades, commanded by Col. Eli H. Murray and Smith D. Atkins. And the artillary consisted of sixty cannon, organized into batteries. The Ninety-Third Illinois was in the First Brigade, Third Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, Right Wing. The brigade was composed of the Sixty-third and Ninety-Third Illinois, the Forty-eighth and Fifty-ninth Indiana, and the Fourth Minnesota, and was commanded by Col. Joseph B. McCown, of the Sixty-third Illinois. The Eighteenth Wisconsin started home, on veteran furlough, on the 8th day of November. The division was commanded by Brig. Gen. John E. Smith.
Some histories say the campaign began on the 16th day of November, A. D. 1864; doubtless, because General Sherman, before hand, fixed that as the day when he would start. But, certain it is, the march began one day earlier. Every corps and the artillery and cavalry left Atlanta on the 15th. Of this, there is not the least doubt. The Fifteenth Corps was on the extreme right, and moved in the direction of McDonough and Jonesboro. The Seventeenth Corps was on the right center. The Fourteenth Corps was on the left center, and General Sherman was with that corps. And the Twentieth Corps was on the extreme left, and moved on the Atlanta and Decatur road. The artillery and trains were distributed among the several corps, and always moved with them. The cavalry was on the right flank until the army passed Macon, Georgia, and then shifted over to the left flank.
On the 15th day of November, A. D. 1864, the Ninety-Third Illinois marched from Atlanta at 1 o'clock p.m. Progress was very slow during the afternoon, while the trains were straightening out, and not more than four miles had been covered before dark. But the march was continued until 1 o'clock that night, when the command went into camp about six miles below Rough and Ready, having made fifteen miles during the day and night. During the day there was some light skirmishing heard in front. On the 16th, between half past 6 o'clock in the morning and half past 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the regiment marched eighteen miles, and went into camp a mile west of McDonough, the county seat of Henry County. A large Confederate mail was captured there, but there was nothing on consequence in it, mostly love-letters. On the 17th, the command, from 6 o'clock a.m. until 5 o'clock p.m., covered twenty-three miles, and camped three miles east of Jackson, the county seat of Butts County. Our division was in the advance. The Ninety-Third Illinois was a part of the division train guard. Some skirmishing was heard at the front and on the right flank. A company of state militia, drilling at Jackson, scattered in every direction when our cavalry approached. They were completely surprised. The country was fine, for Georgia, and everybody went into camp with full haversacks. On the 18th, the regiment marched at 5 o'clock a.m., at the head of the division and army, and reached the Ocmulgee River at half past 8 o'clock in the morning. Crossing the river on a ferry-boat, the command moved about two miles beyond it and went into camp at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, having covered eight miles of distance. The river was crossed just above Ocmulgee Mills, large flouring-mills, and near "Planters Factory," a large cotton factory containing about seventy looms. At the point of crossing, the river is about fifty yards wide. It narrows at that point and makes very fine water- power. On the 19th, the regiment marched fifteen miles, between 9 o'clock in the morning and quarter past 8 o'clock in the evening, and camped one mile south of Hillsboro. Was rear guard for the division train. A heavy rain fell last night, which made the roads muddy and bad.
On the 20th, the command marched fourteen miles, between 6:30 o'clock a.m. and 3 o'clock p.m., and camped one mile south of Clinton, the county seat of Jones County. More rain fell last night, and a little this evening. During the day, we passed the place, about seven miles north of Clinton, where General Stoneman and the most of his force were captured, by the Confederates, in August last. It was the result of bad discipline. After going into camp, there was some brisk fighting, quite heavy cannoning, heard in front. On the 21st, the regiment marched at 8 o'clock a.m., and camped at 5 o'clock p.m., having covered ten miles. Was rear guard for the division train again. The course to-day was nearly southwest. Passed four miles north of Griswoldville at noon, and then moved nearly parallel with the Georgia Central Railroad. Rain fell nearly all day, making the roads very muddy. The First and Fourth Divisions made a strong feint on Macon. A force of the enemy, consisting mainly of General Cobb's state militia, advanced from Macon to Griswoldville, and attacked General Kilpatrick's cavalry. They were severely punished for their temerity. The federal loss was ten killed, and fifty-two wounded. The Confederate loss was fifty killed, two hundred wounded, and four hundred captured. General Walcott was wounded. News came, in the evening, that General Slocum's forces had cut the railroad north of Milledgeville, Georgia, the capital of the state, at that time. On the 22nd, the command marched at half past 7 o'clock a.m. and went into camp at 3 o'clock p.m., at Gordon, Georgia, on the Georgia Central Railroad, the distance being eight miles. It was a cold day. Some snow fell in the early morning. This regiment led the division, the line of march being though the woods and plantations, moving abreast with the Seventeenth Army Corps. At half past 6 o'clock p.m., the regiment was ordered out and directed to destroy a half mile of railroad. The task was most effectively executed, and at the end of three hours the command was back in camp.
Other regiments performed like tasks. Miles of road were destroyed, beyond repair, that evening. Between 5 and 6 o'clock, for about an hour, fighting was heard in the direction of Macon, which is about twenty miles west of Gordon. The feint on Macon was being continued, to hold the enemy there. On the 23rd and 24th, the regiment remained in camp; but on the last of the two days the camp was changed to the opposite side of the town, about a mile from the first one.
During the period covered above, the Twentieth Corps, being a part of the left wing of the army, General Slocum commanding, and being on the extreme left, moved from Atlanta, via Decatur, Rockbridge, Sheffield, Social Circle, Rutledge, Madison Eatonton, to Milledgeville, a distance of one hundred and five miles, reaching the latter place on the 23rd of November. General Slocum's forces prevented the destruction of the bridge across the Oconee River, at Milledgeville, and obtained possession of it. A few days before, the state legislature, then in session there, hurriedly dispersed; and there was also a great exodus of citizens from the city. All the magazines, arsenals, armories, factories, depots and storehouses, containing property of the Confederate government, and seventeen hundred bales of cotton, were burned. General Sherman occupied the executive mansion of Governor Brown. Brown did not stay for the "friendly interview" mentioned by General Sherman in his dispatch to Tyler. He removed himself, and everything else, even his cabbages, it was said. On the 22nd, General Kilpatrick was ordered to move rapidly eastward with his cavalry, to cut the railroad between Augusta and Millen, and, if possible, release the Federal prisoners at the latter place. General Wheeler's cavalry was rapidly forced back to Waynesborough, near which place the railroad bridge across Brier Creek was destroyed. On reaching Millen, General Kilpatrick learned that all the prisoners had been removed to points out of the reach of our army. A few dead prisoners, yet unburied, were found there, and about seven hundred graves. The graves were designated by head-boards, by fifties only. Crossing the Oconee River, and continuing his march eastward, General Slocum found General Wheeler's cavalry in his front, covering the roads to Sandersville. Moving on, however, the Fourteenth and Twentieth corps occupied that place on the 26th day of November, driving the confederate cavalry before them. In the meantime, the right wing of the army crossed the Oconee River lower down, in the face of General Wayne's Confederate cavalry, and reached Tennille Station, on the railroad, a little east of south from Sandersville, five miles distant.
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