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[136] off wildly in a stampede. One officer and three enlisted men were killed outright, and at least a dozen or more of the soldiers were disabled. Thus disaster followed acts of inexcusable carelessness!

On March 5th, finding that Hardee had withdrawn from my front across the Great Pedee, which was about 500 feet broad, and as my bridge was already laid, the crossing of my command at Cheraw was soon completed. We now hastened on toward Fayetteville. Sherman, having news of accessions to Hardee's force from above and below and from the east, and also that his old contestant, Joseph E. Johnston, was in command, wrote me that he believed that the Confederates would make a stand for battle near Fayetteville west of the Cape Fear River. I answered that I thought not, unless we pushed them so hard that they could not get out of the way. The position might have been good against my column alone, but at this time Slocum was so near me that Johnston would have had to encounter Sherman's united force.

The events proved that my judgment was correct, for this astute Confederate commander, realizing his relative weakness, waited a little till the two wings had separated one from the other. As we shall shortly see, he struck Slocum first, because he was handiest, after Slocum had deviated northward and was passing through Averysboro.

Going on, March 8th, I made my headquarters for the night at Laurel Hill, Richmond County, N. C. It was this day that we crossed the line between South and North Carolina. The Fifteenth Corps was near me, and the Seventeenth a little in advance. Slocum's command, the left wing, was not many miles to the

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