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[531] adequately defended. It might have been better if we had then abandoned the attempt to hold cities of no strategic importance, and concentrated their garrisons at this point, where the chances of successful resistance were greater that at any subsequent period of the campaign. For, even if our expectation had been disappointed, and had the superior numerical force of the enemy compelled us to withdraw from this line, the choice of several good positions was open to us, any one of which, by moving upon converging lines, we could reach sooner than was possible to Sherman, whose passage of the river must have been much encumbered and delayed by his trains. Of these defensive positions, Branchville and Orangeburg may be regarded as eligible; had Sherman headed his columns toward Charleston, our forces would then have been in position to attack him in front and on the flank. Had his objective point been Augusta, he would have had our army in his rear; had, as proved to be the case, Columbia been the place at which he aimed, our army would have been able to reach there sooner than he could.

General Sherman left Savannah January 22, 1865, and reached Pocotaligo on the 24th. On February 3d he crossed the Salkehatchie with slight resistance at River's and Beaufort bridges, and thence pushed forward to the South Carolina Railroad at Midway, Bamberg, and Graham's. After thoroughly destroying the railroad between these places, which occupied three or four days, he advanced slowly along the line of the railroad, threatening Branchville, the junction of the railroads from Augusta to Columbia and Charleston. For a short time it was doubtful whether he proposed to attack Augusta, Georgia, where it was well known we had our principal powder mill, many important factories and shops, and large stores of army supplies; on the 11th, however, it was found that he was moving north to Orangeburg, on the road from Branchville to Columbia, the latter city being the objective point of his march. Early on the morning of the 16th the head of his columns reached the Congaree opposite Columbia. The bridge over that stream had been burned by our retreating troops, but a pontoon bridge, built by the enemy under cover of strong detachments who had crossed higher up at Saluda Factory, enabled the main body to pass the river and enter the city on the morning of the 17th, the Confederate troops having previously evacuated it. On the same day the mayor formally surrendered the city to Colonel Stone, commanding a brigade of the Fifteenth Corps, and claimed for its citizens the protection which the laws of civilized war always accord to noncombatants. In infamous disregard not only of the established rules of war, but also of the common dictates of

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