At Savannah he was detailed for staff duty on application The next day we went to Davisborough, the Second Division being on the track. The morning of the 28th (November) saw us at work on the railroad. We began at the one hundred and twenty-first mile-post from Savannah, our division alone (about five thousand strong) working, and destroyed seven and a half miles; then, leaving the road, we marched to Spier's Station. The next day was a repetition of this, only, becoming more expert, we destroyed ten miles. There are several ways of destroying track, more or less effectual. The track was the best I have ever seen in the South, the rail being laid on a long sleeper, which rests on ties, and is fastened to them by tree-nails. The quickest way is to form a regiment in single file on one side, all taking hold of the rail; then all lifting together, the whole thing, sleeper, ties, and all, is raised from the road-bed and tipped right over, bottom side upwards. As soon as the left of the regiment have raised their part to a perpendicular position, they rush down and form on the right, and lift, and so on ad libitum. It is very curious to see a track raised and thrown over in this way like a pile of bricks, one part following another rapidly. Then to make the destruction complete, after the track is thrown over thus, you can separate the ties, pile them up and set them on fire, piling the stringer and rail on top, either in one long piece extending from pile to pile, or chopped into lengths. All this we did without any tools but our hatchets, three or four to a company. The engineers followed, and twisted the rails while red-hot. Another way is to simply light fires all along the stringers, which bends and warps the rails considerably. But the neatest of all is to cut levers, and pry one stringer and rail up from the ties, and roll it over alongside of the other, then fire both effectually; the rails, expanding with the heat, have got to bend out of line, as their ends are laid close together. It's hard work, though, to tear up track, and do your ten or twelve miles a day beside. Our regiment, two hundred strong, tore up on the second day about one thousand yards of track, and made twelve miles. The worst part was marching along the burning track. The road ran through an impassable swamp, so that we were brought into unpleasantly close contact with the flame and smoke. At a steam saw-mill on the road was an immense quantity of stringers and bridge timber, all sawed and fitted for use, in readiness, doubtless, to repair any damage done by raiding parties; and this went the way of all things railroady.
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Ode recited at the Harvard commemoration, July 21 , 1865 .
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