Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Monday, 30th—We marched about three miles this morning and then went into bivouac to await further orders. The report is that we are now ready to make the grand raid through South Carolina. The Seventeenth and Fifteenth Corps are to form the right wing, as in the campaign through Georgia, with General O. O. Howard in command. General Slocum is in command of the left wing, composed of the other two corps, the Fourteenth and Twentieth, while Kilpatrick’s cavalry will take the flanks as rear guard. General Sherman is in chief command. General Foster, it is said, is either to remain here or move to Charleston.


January 30,1865.

As the moon has changed, Julia [the cook] has gone to making soap again. She is a strong believer in the moon, and never undertakes to boil her soap on the wane of the moon. “It won’t thicken, mist’ess—see if it does!” She says, too, we must commence gardening this moon. I have felt a strong desire today that my captured boys [slaves] might come back. Oh, how thankful I should feel to see them once more safe at home!


January 30th. Seven companies remain at regimental headquarters. The change makes extra duty for the companies at headquarters. Five prisoners were brought to camp, having been captured by our pickets. They were sent under guard to Harper’s Ferry.


McPhersonsville, S. C,

January 30, 1865.

We returned from Combahee river last night and at 10 p.m. received orders to move at 6 a.m. Came through Pocataligo and have made 14 miles to-day. Quite a place, but there is not even a clearing. Say 50 ordinary dwellings dropped down in the pine woods, and you have it. Not a citizen, white or black, here.


30th. Monday. Spent the day in camp. Fixed up sheds.


January 30th.—Bright and beautiful, but quite cold; skating in the basin, etc.

The departure of the commissioners has produced much speculation.

The enemy’s fleet has gone, it is supposed to Sherman at Charleston.

No doubt the Government of the United States imagines the “rebellion” in articulo mortis, and supposes the reconstruction of the Union a very practicable thing, and the men selected as our commissioners may confirm the belief. They can do nothing, of course, if independence is the ultimatum given them.

Among the rumors now current, it is stated that the French Minister at Washington has demanded his passports. Mr. Lincoln’s message, in December, certainly gave Napoleon grounds for a quarrel by ignoring his empire erected in Mexico.

Mr. Seddon still awaits his successor. He has removed Col. and Lieut -Col. Ruffin from office.

Mr. Bruce, M. C. from Kentucky, and brother-in-law to Mr. Seddon, is named as Commissary-General.

The President has vetoed another bill, granting the privilege to soldiers to receive papers free of postage, and the Senate has passed it again by a two-thirds vote. Thus the breach widens.

Some of our sensible men have strong hopes of peace immediately, on terms of alliance against European powers, and commercial advantages to the United States. I hope for even this for the sake of repose and independence, if we come off with honor. We owe nothing to any of the European governments. What has Blair been running backward and forward so often for between the two Presidents? Has it not been clearly stated that independence alone will content us? Blair must have understood this, and made it known to his President. Then what else but independence, on some terms, could be the basis for further conference? I believe our people would, for the sake of independence, agree to an alliance offensive and defensive with the United States, and agree to furnish an army of volunteers in the event of a war with France or England. The President has stigmatized the affected neutrality of those powers in one of his annual messages. Still, such a treaty would be unpopular after a term of peace with the United States. If the United States be upon the eve of war with France and England, or either of them, our commissioners abroad will soon have proposals from those governments, which would be accepted, if the United States did not act speedily.


29th, Sunday. — As usual, we attended Mr. Peterkin’s church, and enjoyed his sermon. Every thing looks so dark without that our only comfort is in looking to God for His blessing. The Union Prayer-Meetings are great comforts to us. They are attended by crowds; ministers of all denominations officiate at them. Prayers for the country, hymns of praise, and exhortations, fill up the time. Some of the addresses are very stirring, urging the laity to work and to give, and to every branch of the Christian Church to do its duty to the country. Our brave old Bishop Meade, on his dying bed, admonished one of his presbyters to speak boldly to the people in behalf of the country; and I am glad to hear the ministers do it. They speak cheerfully, too, on the subject; they are sanguine of our success, depending upon the Lord and on the bravery of our troops —on the “sword of the Lord and of Gideon.”


Sunday, 29th—Our company left camp in the old fort at 10 o’clock and reached the brigade headquarters at Garden Corners about noon. Our entire division then moved forward about ten miles and went into bivouac for the night. The roads were fine for marching, having had no rain for four days.


Combahee River, Charleston and Beaufort road,

January 29, 1865.

We have had some rich sport to-day. Our regiment and the 40th are out here on a little reconnoisance, and making a demonstration pretending to be building a bridge on the river, etc. A party of Rebels saluted our skirmishers when they got to the river bank with a volley, but the boys soon drove them off, with no loss to us (or the Rebels either). We lay around a couple of hours shooting at marks, etc., when a party of the Rebels attempted to reoccupy their pits. We saw them coming for a full mile and they had hardly got within the very longest range before the 40th sent them back flying. Later in the p.m. half a dozen Johnnies arose from the mud and weeds and though they were across the river, surrendered to us. They are really deserters, though they say not. Had a great time getting them over the river. Four board and log rafts were made, launched, and put off after them. Two of them were wrecked against the bridge benches, and the other two succeeded in bringing over three Johnnies; we left the other three there. I certainly would not have risked myself on one of those rafts for 500 prisoners or 5,000 deserters. General Hazen of our corps has been made a full major general. The other division commanders only by brevet, and they feel a little sore over it. To-day one of General Wood’s aids saw a turkey buzzard, and pointed it out to the general, saying, “there is a turkey.” Old Woods looked at it and answered, “I think that is a turkey by brevet.”


29th. Sunday. Weather moderated. Scout came in at midnight. Wrote home. Captured 16 or 20 rebs on picket.