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John G. B. Adams, Reminiscences of the Nineteenth Massachusetts Regiment, Chapter 17: the exchange and return north. (search)
fully realize that we were free, and clung to all our prison outfit. We marched about a mile to the northeast bridge on the Cape Fear River, and on the other side saw an arch covered with the stars and stripes. In the centre of the arch, surrounded by a wreath of evergreen, were the words, Welcome, brothers! I have no idea what the joy will be when I pass through the pearly gates and march up the golden streets of the New Jerusalem, but if it is half as great as it was the morning of March 1, 1865, when for the first time for nearly nine months I saw the old flag, I shall be satisfied. One who did not understand the situation would have thought that an insane asylum had been turned loose. We hugged each other, laughed, cried, prayed, rolled over in the dirt, and expressed our joy, each in his own way. Those who had clung to their meal threw it high in air, and for once meal was plenty. The 6th Connecticut were encamped near, and their band played national airs as we marched