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[376] threatening Branchville, forced the enemy to burn the railroad bridge, and Walker's bridge below, across the Edisto. All hands were at once set to work to destroy railroad track. From the seventh to the tenth of February this work was thoroughly prosecuted by the Seventeenth corps from the Edisto up to Bamberg, and by the Fifteenth corps from Bamberg up to Blackville. In the meantime General Kilpatrick had brought his cavalry rapidly by Barnwell to Blackville, and had turned toward Aiken, with orders to threaten Augusta, but not to be drawn needlessly into a serious battle. This he skilfully accomplished, skirmishing heavily with Wheeler's cavalry, first at Blackville and afterward at Williston and Aiken. General Williams, with two divisions of the Twentieth corps, marched to the South Carolina railroad at Graham Station on the eighth, and General Slocum reached Blackville on the tenth. The destruction of the railroad was continued by the left wing from Blackville up to Windsor. By the eleventh of February all the army was on the railroad from Midway to Johnson's station, thereby dividing the enemy's forces, which still remained at Branchville and Charlestonon the one hand, Aiken and Augusta on the other.

We then began the movement on Orangeburg. The Seventeenth corps crossed the south fork of Edisto river at Binnaker's bridge and moved straight for Orangeburg, while the Fifteenth corps crossed at Holman's bridge and moved to Poplar Springs in support. The left wing and cavalry were still at work on the railroad, with orders to cross the South Edisto at New and Guignard's bridges, move to the Orangeburg and Edgefield road, and there await the result of the attack on Orangeburg. On the twelfth the Seventeenth corps found the enemy intrenched in front of the Orangeburg bridge, but swept him away by a dash, and followed him, forcing him across the bridge, which was partially burned. Behind the bridge was a battery in position, covered by a cotton and earth parapet, with wings as far as could be seen. General Blair held one division (Giles A. Smith's) close up to Edisto, and moved the other two to a point about two miles below, where he crossed Force's division by a pontoon bridge, holding Mower's in support. As soon as Force emerged from the swamp the enemy gave ground, and Giles Smith's division gained the bridge, crossed over, and occupied the enemy's parapet. He soon repaired the bridge, and by four P. M. the whole corps was in Orangeburg and had begun the work of destruction on the railroad. Blair was ordered to destroy this railroad effectually up to Lewisville, and to push the enemy across the Congaree and force him to burn the bridges, which he did on the fourteenth; and without wasting time or labor on Branchville or Charleston, which I knew the enemy could no longer hold, I turned all the column's strength on Columbia.

The Seventeenth corps followed the State road, and the Fifteenth crossed the North Edisto from Poplar Springs at Schilling's bridge, above the mouth of “Cawcaw Swamp” creek, and took a country road which came into the State road at Zeigler's. On the fifteenth, the Fifteenth corps found the enemy in a strong position at Little Congaree bridge (across Congaree creek), with a tete-de-pont on the south side, and a well-constructed fort on the north side, commanding the bridge with artillery. The ground in front was very bad, level and clear, with a fresh deposit of mud from a recent overflow. General Charles R. Woods, who commanded the leading division, succeeded, however in turning the flank of the tete-de-pont by sending Stone's brigade through a cypress swamp to the left; and following up the retreating enemy promptly, he got possession of the bridge and the fort beyond. The bridge had been partially damaged by fire, and had to be repaired for the passage of artillery, so that night closed in before the head of the column could reach the bridge across Congaree river in front of Columbia. That night the enemy shelled our camps from a battery on the east side of the Congaree above Granby. Early next morning (February sixteen) the head of column reached the bank of the Congaree, opposite Columbia, but too late to save the fine bridge which spanned the river at that point. It was burned by the enemy. While waiting for the pontoons to come to the front we could see people running about the streets of Columbia, and occasionally small bodies of cavalry, but no masses. A single gun of Captain De Grass' battery was firing at their cavalry squads, but I checked his firing, limiting him to a few shots at the unfinished State House walls, and a few shells at the railway depot, to scatter the people who were seen carrying away sacks of corn and meal that we needed. There was no white flag or manifestation of surrender. I directed General Howard not to cross directly in front of Columbia, but to cross the Saluda at the Factory, three miles above, and afterward Broad river, so as to approach Columbia from the north. Within an hour of the arrival of General Howard's head of column at the river opposite Columbia, the head of column of the left wing also appeared, and I directed General Slocum to cross the Saluda at Zion church, and thence to take roads direct for Winnsboro, breaking up en route the railroads and bridges about Alston.

General Howard effected a crossing of the Saluda, near the Factory, on the sixteenth, skirmishing with cavalry, and the same night made a flying bridge across Broad river, about three miles above Columbia, by which he crossed over Stone's brigade, of Wood's division, Fifteenth corps. Under cover of this brigade, a pontoon bridge was laid on the morning of the seventeenth. I was in person at this bridge, and at eleven A. M. learned that the Mayor of Columbia had come out in a carriage, and made a formal surrender of the city to Colonel Stone,


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