When we crossed the PeeDee River into North Carolina we knew the war would soon be over. We marked the crossing with a bit of ceremony. The officers raised a toast and I played a little tune on the fiddle for them.

There was not much of a Confederate army left to oppose us as we marched across North Carolina. We were harassed by a few renegades who would kill the men we sent out to forage for food, but one soldier remarked it had been 27 days since he had heard enemy fire. General Robert E. Lee feared we would unite with Grant and destroy the Confederate Army so he sent Joe Johnston out to attack us. We met him at Bentonville for one last bloody battle. Johnston caught our lingering flank and did some damage to Slocum’s division before we could send the reinforcements he need to repulse Johnston. We lost 1,500 men but claimed more than 2600 rebel casualties in their defeat.

As we prepared for a final push into Raleigh, NC, having marched nearly 400 miles since January, we received a rumor that Grant had chased Lee out of Richmond and the Confederate capitol was ours. We then got an official report on April 12th that Lee and Grant had met at Appomattox and the war was over! Sherman began to negotiate with Johnston for a truce. 

And then… while in a jovial mood… a messenger came into my tent with a notice… I read in shocked disbelief that Lincoln had been shot. That our president was dead. I wept. This man I had known since I had been a small boy. This man I had opposed in politics but grown to respect and admire, this man who had saved the Union… was now dead… killed by an assassin’s bullet. Our hope… turned to grief… and more than a few of my boys wanted revenge! 

They wanted to burn Raleigh, NC to avenge his death. I jumped on my horse and rode out to the front of their line to insist that they stop and decease. They pushed past me. I once again rode to the front of their line and ordered them to stop, if they burned this town it would be the women and children who suffered most. They would burn Raleigh over my dead body. They then saw that I had ordered the artillery turned around and aimed at them, making it clear that their continued march would be into a hail of grape shot. They deceased. Raleigh was saved. We marched towards Richmond and on to Washington. The war was over.


17. Grand Review