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[124] but the most ordinary intelligence on his part to perceive. Surely he must have possessed an intensely Falstaffian imagination to have conjured up many ‘men in buckram’ in the deserted fields, the silent swamps and lonely pine woods through which his march would lie. And there is good ground for believing that even the idea of cutting loose from his base and making a huge raid through the country, which his admirers claim to have been a very ‘bold’ conception, was not originated by him at all. Hereafter, when the effervescence of ‘patriotic’ gush has evaporated, this campaign will, I think, be considered chiefly remarkable for the systematic and cruel destruction of the homes and the means of subsistence of noncombatants.

The principal agent to whom this devastation was entrusted, General Kilpatrick, commanded Sherman's cavalry. A brief interview with him is the raison d'etre of the present article.

Butler's cavalry division had been detached from the Army of Northern Virginia in the latter part of December, 1864, and had been sent to South Carolina to operate against Sherman, a duty which it performed until the end of the war. Although a division in name, and consisting of two brigades, it numbered only some eight hundred men, and could, therefore, of course, oppose no effectual resistance to Sherman's overwhelming force, but its task was to confine to the smallest possible limits the area of his devastation. To hover by turns around his front, his flanks and his rear; to pounce upon his foraging parties, who were burning and harrying; to dash between his marching columns and cut off marauders; to save the lives and property, as far as practicable, of women and children; such were the chief occupations of our General during this campaign, and with indefatigable energy did he attend to them. The service was full of personal adventure and excitement for his followers; there were frequent little brushes with raiding parties, and now and then a lively time in eluding larger bodies, and this would be enlivened by almost hourly chases of ‘bummers,’ whose pockets were seldom found unsupplied with stolen jewelry and one or two baptismal cups, and the recapturing of farm animals laden with household spoils.

Occasionally an opportunity would occur of striking more important blows, and of these our leader was vigilant to avail himself.

Early one morning in March, 1865, I was sent to carry a dispatch to a distant command, and did not succeed in rejoining our division until about the middle of the night, having had rather a rough time of it all day dodging the enemy. I at last found it on the edge of

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South Carolina (South Carolina, United States) (1)
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