Reveille sounded at 5 P. M. on the eventful Feb. 20, 1864, and at seven o'clock the troops began to move,— the Light Brigade in advance, followed by Hawley
's, then Barton
's, the Artillery, and Montgomery
's in rear guarding the train.
Just before the Fifty-fourth started, Major Appleton
was ordered to remain in command at Barber
's, with Company E on picket, covering the railroad trestle, and Company A at Barber's house. Lieut. Lewis Reed
, with thirty men, was to protect the telegraph line as the column advanced.
In fine spirits, the Fifty-fourth, followed by the First North Carolina, began the march, while the men sang, ‘We're bound for Tallahassee
in the morning.’
The country was more open than that below.
The road ran for long distances beside the railroad.
Occasionally the forest widened out into savannas yellow with grasses and dotted with hemlock patches.
From a clear sky the warm sun glistened and gleamed through the tall pines bordering the pathway.
About every hour the brigade halted for a short rest.
, some nine miles from Barber
's, was reached by our advance before noon. People there stated that the enemy were in force beyond, and truly predicted our defeat; but their words were little heeded.
Near an old mill beyond Sanderson
's men came upon a few cavalry of the enemy, who fled when fired upon.
halted there until Hawley
's infantry and Hamilton
's battery came up, when the advance was resumed, the Seventh Connecticut, as skirmishers, leading.
Meanwhile, General Finegan
, receiving word that we were approaching in small numbers, sent out his cavalry under Col. Carraway Smith
, with orders to skirmish