Time for a little update. Last night, I finished up with the 58th NCT just getting to Branchville, South Carolina, trying to slow down, or stop, Sherman’s march through South Carolina. It took the regiment from January 22 until February 4 to travel from Tupelo to Branchville. That is two weeks.
Here is a little sneak preview from the book (this is still in draft form.) Tupelo was home for the Fifty-eighth for about a week. Orders had come down on January 15 for daily drills to begin again, when the weather permitted. On January 18, more orders came: Lee’s corps was ordered to make preparations to move east. The regiment was to prepare three days' rations, and to have at least twenty rounds of ammunition in the cartridge boxes. At Montgomery and Macon, an additional three days' rations would be available, and at Milledgeville, four days' rations were to await the troops. On the twentieth, the Fifty-eighth drew new clothing in Tupelo, and on the twenty-first, the men were waiting for the train. Finally, about dark on the twenty-second, with rain intermingled with sleet, the Fifty-eighth boarded the heatless freight cars, bound for Meridian, Mississippi. They reached Meridian at 9:00a.m. on Tuesday, January 24. They continued on to Selma, Alabama, arriving at 11:00 p.m., on the twenty-fifth. At Selma, they boarded a boat, which took them to Montgomery. At Montgomery, they once again boarded trains, arriving in Columbus, Georgia, on Sunday, January 29. They made good time the following day, and were in Macon by 4:00 p.m., and then near Milledgeville, where the railroad had been destroyed by Sherman, at 11:00 p.m. “Sandy country” full of “Long leaf pine” greeted the men on January 31. The regiment marched about sixteen miles, passing through Milledgeville during the day. Captain Harper paid someone twenty-five dollars to ride in a carriage on the first of February. At 9:00 a.m. on February 2, the Fifty-eighth was in Mayfield, where they boarded a train for Augusta, arriving at 4:00 p.m. Another two miles was covered that evening before going into camp. Several men were furloughed home on February 3, including Lieutenant Colonel Silver. This would have left Captain Harper in command of the regiment. That evening he moved the Fifty-eighth back to August, where they boarded another train. The next morning, they were in Branchville,South Carolina. (Harper, diary, 2:68-70; ORs, Vol. 45, 2:793)
As of today, the manuscript has 72,500 words, which includes text and notes, but does not include appendices. I have a lot of reading to do over the next few days, including Campbell’s When Sherman Marched North From the Sea and Barrett’s Sherman’s March Through the Carolinas.