Today in History:

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

Page 24 OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA. Chapter LIX.

and through her I continued to have communication with Wilmington until the day of our actual departure. While the work of destruction was going on at Fayetteville, two pontoon bridges were laid across Cape Fear River, one opposite the town, the other three miles below.

General Kilpatrick was ordered to move up the plank road to and beyond Averasborough. He was to be followed by four divisions of the Left WING, with as few wagons as possible; the rest of the train, under escort of the two remaining divisions of that wing, to take a shorter and more direct road to Goldsborough. In like manner General Howard was ordered to send his trains, under good escort, well to the right, toward Faison's Depot and Goldsborough, and to hold four divisions, light, ready to go to the aid of the Left Wing if attacked while in motion. The weather continued very bd, and the roads had become mere quagmire. Almost every foot of it had to be corduroyed to admit the passage of wheels. Still, time was so important that punctually, according to order, the columns moved out from Cape Fear River on Wednesday, the 15th of March. I accompanied General Slocum, who, preceded by Kilpatrick's cavalry, moved up the river or plank road that day to Kyle's Landing, Kilpatrick skirmishing heavily with the enemy's rear guard about three miles beyond, near Taylor's Hole Creek. At General Kilpatrick's request General Slocum sent forward a brigade of infantry to hold a line of barricades. Next morning the column advanced in the same order, and developed the enemy, with artillery, infantry, and cavalry, in an intrenched position in front of the point where the road branches off toward Goldsborough through Bentonville. On an inspection of the map it was manifest that Hardee, in retreating from Fayetteville, had halted in the narrow, swampy neck between Cape Fear and South Rivers, in hopes to hold me to save time for the concentration of Johnston's armies at some p, namely, Raleigh, Smithfield, or Goldsborough. Hardee's force was estimated at 20,000 men. It was necessary to dislodge him that we might have the use of the Goldsborough road, as also to keep up the feint on Raleigh as long as possible. General Slocum was, therefore, ordered to press and carry the position, only difficult by reason of the nature of the ground, which was so soft that horses would sink everywhere, and even men could hardly make their way over the common pine barren.

The Twentieth Corps, General Williams, had the lead, and Ward's division the advance. This was deployed, and the skirmish line developed the position of a brigade of Charleston heavy artillery armed as infantry (Rhett's) posted across the road behind a light parapet, with a battery of guns enfilading the approach across a cleared field. General Williams sent a brigade (Case's) by a circuit to his left that turned this line, and by a quick charge broke the brigade, which rapidly retreated back to a second line better built and more strongly held. A battery of artillery (Winegar's) well posted, under the immediate direction of Major Reynolds, chief of artillery of Twentieth Corps, did good execution on the retreating brigade, and on advancing Ward's division over this ground General Williams captured 3 guns and 217 prisoners, of which 68 were wounded and left in a house near by with a rebel officer, four men, and five days' rations. One hundred and eight rebel dead were buried by us. As Ward's division advanced he developed a second and stronger line, when Jackson's division was deployed forward on the right of Ward, and the two divisions of Jeff. C. Davis' (Fourteenth) corps on the left, well toward the Cape Fear. At the same time Kilpatrick, who was acting in concert with General Williams,

Page 24 OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA. Chapter LIX.