183 HISTORY OF THE SEVENTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT O.V.V.I.
We remained upon the Island from the 7th to the 13th, when we broke up camp, bid farewell to the pleasant land and marched to the Coosa river, which bounds the Island on the north, and is navigable for the largest boats. The rebels made their appearance on the opposite shore, and opposed our crossing as they had successfully done to Foster and others. The opposite shore was strongly fortified, and had been the object of frequent attacks by our gunboats and iron-clads. About 10 P. M. in the darkness of the night, the Sixty-Eighth and Seventy-Eighth Ohio embarked on skiffs and crossed without opposition. The rebels, learning they were of Sherman's army, fled without firing a gun. By dawn of day the pontoons were stretched across the river, and the remainder of the Division and trains crossed and were again in rebeldom.
Before day-dawn, while standing on the river bank holding my horse, a stranger came forward from the crowd and addressed me. I did not at first recognize him, but he proved to be Captain C. M. Roberts, who had just returned from an absence of over two years, to his regiment, who, after crossing and exchanging a few salutations with officers and men, entered upon his official duties by taking command of a company; he, with his grave but pleasant face, soldierly bearing and respectful manner, is more than welcomed back to his regiment.
The Third Division, under command of General Leggett, with his two best Brigade commanders, General Force, First, and Colonel G. F. Wiles, Second Brigade, moved forward. Skirmishing soon commenced, the rebels rapidly falling back to fortifications on the opposite side of an extensive rice swamp. Colonel Wiles quickly deployed the Twentieth Ohio as skirmishers, in front of the enemy's works, which opened a brisk fire. Artillery was also placed in position, which opened with good effect upon their works. The First Brigade, under General Force, accompanied by General Leggett, moved upon another road, which flanked two strong lines of works. These the rebels left and fell back to a third line, near Sundown; the Division moved upon the third line. The Forty-Fifth Illinois being deployed as skirmishers here, lost several killed and wounded; among the killed was General Force's picket officer. The approach of night prevented farther operations, and the Division encamped. Next morning our Division moved forward – having now the advance for three days, they found the strongest works we have ever seen in the Confederacy, built two years ago, and evacuated by the rebels. The Division advanced to the Savannah and Charleston railroad, and encamped at the station, to await the arrival and concentration of the army, when a rapid movement will be made upon ——. In this movement General Leggett handled his Division with great efficiency. Thus one Division of two Brigades, advanced from Port Royal and took possession of this railroad, which other Generals with probably five times the force, made seven attempts and as often failed, General Foster included.
The Seventy-Eighth Regiment is in good health, and never stood higher in efficiency and military reputation. Surgeon's call is thinly attended. There has been four deaths since leaving Atlanta, added to which list is the name of David Willis.
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