February 16, Colonel Hallowell
was directed to move forward again by way of Combahee Ferry; and at 9 A. M. the Fifty-fourth proceeded, with the usual rests, over a rough country.
Much standing water was found in places, and at times the wading was knee-deep.
In the afternoon we came to a higher point, where a view of the region bordering the river was obtained.
Spread below us was the finest tract we saw in the South
,—a cultivated country, thickly spotted with plantations.
It was the famous and fertile valley of the Combahee, devoted to rice culture.
The negro quarters and mills had been burned by our advance.
After crossing a bridge over the river, we moved on a mile and rested after a march of twelve miles.
With fine weather again, on the 17th the Fifty-fourth marched at 9 A. M. toward Ashepoo
, which being only eight miles distant and the road excellent, we reached at 1 P. M. There we camped near the railroad bridge on the plantation of Col. Charles Warley
The mansion of this gentleman of wealth and prominence had been plundered by the first comers; and fine books, furniture, and household effects were strewn about, making a sad scene of wastage and pitiless destruction.
Reveille was sounded by the Fifty-fourth bugles at sunrise on the 18th.
Foraging parties brought in immense quantities of corn, poultry, sweet potatoes, and honey.
Many of the field-hands were found on the plantations, and our coming was welcomed with joyful demonstrations.
A Dr. Dehon
and his son were brought in and entertained by the brigade staff that night.
Refugees and contrabands were coming into our camps in considerable numbers.
Having repaired the bridge over the Ashepoo
, the First