Today in History:

20 Series I Volume XLVII-I Serial 98 - Columbia Part I

Page 20 OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA. Chapter LIX.

of the Twentieth Corps, marched to the South Carolina Railroad at Graham's Station on the 8th, and General Slocum reached Blackville on the 10th. The destruction of the railroad was continued by the Left Wing from Blackville up to Windsor. By the 11th of February all the army was on the railroad from Midway to Johnson's Station, thereby dividing the enemy's forces, which still remained at Branchville and Charleston on the one hand Aiken and Augusta on the other.

We then began the movement on Orangeburg. The Seventeenth Corps crossed the South Fork of Edisto River at Binnaker's Bridge, and moved straight for Orangeburg, while the Fifteenth Corps crossed at Holman's Bridge and moved to Poplar Springs in support. The Left Wing and cavalry were still at work on the railroad, with orders to cross the South Edisto at New and Guignard's Bridges, move to the Orangeburg and Edgefield road, and there await the result of the attack on Orangeburg. On the 12th the Seventeenth Corps found the enemy intrenched in front of the Orangeburg bridge, but swamped him away by a dash, and followed him, forcing him across the bridge, which was partially burned. Behind the bridge was a battery in position, covered by a cotton and earth parapet, with wings as far as could be seen. General Blair held one division (Giles A. Smith's) close up to the Edisto, and moved the other two to a point about two miles below, where he crossed Force's division by a pontoon bridge, holding Mower'ssoon as Force emerged from the swamp the enemy gave ground, and Giles Smith's division gained the bridge, crossed over, and occupied the enemy's parapet. He soon repaired the bridge, and by 4 p.m. the whole corps was in Orangeburg and had begun the work of destruction on the railroad. Blair was ordered to destroy this railroad effectually up to Lewisville, and to push the enemy across the Congaree and force him to burn the bridges, which he did on the 14th; and without wasting time or labor on Branchville or Charleston, which I knew the enemy could no longer hold, I turned all the columns straight on Columbia.

The Seventeenth Corps followed the State road, and the Fifteenth crossed the North Edisto from Poplar Springs at Shilling's Bridge, above the mouth of "Caw Swamp" creek, and took a country road which came into the State road at Zeigler's. On the 15th the Fifteenth Corps found the enemy in a strong position at Little Congaree bridge (across Congaree Creek) with a tete-de-pont on the south side, and a well-constructed fort on the north side, commanding the bridge with artillery. The ground in front was very bad, level, and clear, with a fresh deposit of mud from a recent overflow. General Charles R. Woods, who commanded the leading division, succeeded, however, in turning the flank of the tete-de-pont by sending Stone's brigade through a cypress swamp to the left, and following up the retreating enemy promptly he got possession of the bridge and the fort beyond. The bridge had been partially damaged by fire, and had to be repaired for the passage of artillery, so that night closed in the before the head of the column could reach the bridge across Congaree River in front of Columbia. That night the enemy shelled our camps from a battery on the east side of the Congaree, above Granby. Early next morning (February 16) the head of column reached the bank of the Congaree, opposite Columbia, but too late to save the fine bridge which spanned the river at that point. It was burned by the enemy. While waiting for the pontoons to come to the front we could see people running about the streets of Columbia, and occasionally small bodies of cavalry, but no masses. A single gun of Captain De Gress' battery was firing at

Page 20 OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA. Chapter LIX.