184 HISTORY OF THE SEVENTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT .V.V.I.
Our new line officers promoted from Sergeants, are proving themselves fully competent for their new position.
The day of retribution has now come to South Carolina. She is now and will in a few days receive a raking, and a sweeping scourge will pass over her that is frightful to contemplate.
The Seventeenth Corps left Pocotaligo on January 30th, and met with no opposition until reaching Saltkihatchie river, where the enemy had an impregnable position and defended by heavy works. Nearly all rivers here are inaccessible, and can only be approached by a series of bridges and corduroy roads, probably a mile before we can reach the main stream; at the above river the men waded into these swamps and back water, and skirmished with the enemy. One Division crossed between the works and flanked them, while another Division charged in front. Here quite a number of prisoners were taken. In this fight the Second Brigade, under Colonel Wiles, engaged the enemy upon its right flank, and that night encamped at the fires the rebels had built near Barker's mill. Next day the Brigade moved to the enemy's left flank, while the First Division engaged the front, the Fourth crossed the river.
The next place of any consequence was the Edisto river. The Second Brigade of the Third Division being in front, engaged the enemy's works across the river. Here one of Company K, Seventh-Eighth Ohio, was severely wounded. Next morning the Third Division moved down the river one mile and a half from Orangeburg, crossed the river, the main stream, on pontoons, and waded a swamp three hundred yards wide, and from three to five deep. The enemy ascertaining that we were crossing, fled. Captain Roberts, with his foragers, was the first to cross, and skirmished with one whole cavalry regiment, driving them rapidly before him. Orangeburg was a beautiful town of about two thousand five hundred inhabitants, but the effect of war here marred its beauty and laid its fine mansions in ashes. Here is located the Charleston Orphan Asylum, removed from that city at the commencement of the bombardment. Early in the morning I with several paid a visit to the institutions; we entered the dining room where were about two hundred and ninety children seated around tables eating breakfast, which was chiefly mush and molasses. All were dressed clean and neat. We remained until school opened, which was under the care of Miss A. K. Irwin, a most estimable and Christian lady from New York, who was the first to establish a union school system in the State. She has eight assistants.
The opening exercises were impressive and very interesting. I have never seen a finer exhibition of discipline, nor better music and singing. I noticed the tears start in the eyes of some soldiers present. What a contrast this sweet and beautiful scene with the terrible realities of war and its sad results, an exhibition of which could be seen from every window of the Asylum. At that moment fine houses were wrapped in flames; on the streets were to be seen little children gathered around a few coals of fire left by some soldiers; also women and fine looking young ladies sitting weeping and guarding a few things saved from their burning houses, and where to direct their steps for a temporary
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