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[180] in line and we were counted through. As soon as we passed the rebel lines we ran down the road, cheering and singing. About a quarter of a mile further on the guard stopped us and formed us in some kind of order. Although we were with the boys in blue we did not fully realize that we were free, and clung to all our prison outfit. We marched about a mile to the northeast bridge on the Cape Fear River, and on the other side saw an arch covered with the stars and stripes. In the centre of the arch, surrounded by a wreath of evergreen, were the words, “Welcome, brothers!” I have no idea what the joy will be when I pass through the pearly gates and march up the golden streets of the New Jerusalem, but if it is half as great as it was the morning of March 1, 1865, when for the first time for nearly nine months I saw the old flag, I shall be satisfied.

One who did not understand the situation would have thought that an insane asylum had been turned loose. We hugged each other, laughed, cried, prayed, rolled over in the dirt, and expressed our joy, each in his own way. Those who had clung to their meal threw it high in air, and for once meal was plenty.

The 6th Connecticut were encamped near, and their band played national airs as we marched over the bridge. We also found our true friend, the colored man, not as a slave, but as a man and a comrade, clothed in loyal blue and fighting for a flag that never, until President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, had protected him. As soon as we were over the bridge they began to provide for our wants. Hard-tack boxes were burst open, coffee and meat were furnished in abundance; but we had been starving so long that we did not think it would last, and I remember

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Cape Fear (North Carolina, United States) (1)

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March 1st, 1865 AD (1)
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