Burns, Robert – May 18, 1865

Michigan Civil War Collection


Click here for this soldier’s biography: http://micivilwar.com/authors/burns-robert/
Regiment: 4th Michigan Calvary Battles Mentioned: Selma, Alabama Historical Figures: Benjamin D. Pritchard, Emory Upton, Jefferson Davis, Joseph E. Johnston, Robert H. Minty, William T. Sherman Head-Quarters Second Brigade, Second Division Cavalry,

Macon Ga, May 18 1865

My dear Davidson I broke off abruptly in my last on the 9th inst to start after the redoubtable Jeff Davis. I was not one of the fortunate 150 who caught the above named gentleman, but I have the plesant knowledge that if he hadn’t fallen into Pritchards hands, we should have taken him in out of the cold.          We had gone down on the road in front of him to cut him off. However the 4th Michigan caught him, and, at that we shouted most lustily, and threw up our apologies for hats. I will now post you as to our doings after the taking of Selma.          In the report by Col Minty of the engagement there, is the following extract “Maj Burns 4th Mich Cav’y formed and brought forward the 7th Pena Cav’y to the assualt, was among the first to enter the ene- my’s works and afterwards took part in the charge made by the 4th U.S. Cav’y under the di- rection of the Maj Genl Commanding.”  “both of there officers (Maj Greene of 7th Pa & myself) have been under my immediate command for nearly three years and have invariably performed their duty with energy & zeal, and have distinguished themselves in battle on many occasions” +     + +          +          + “There officers have well earned a Brevet and I sincerely trust the Major General Commanding will use his influences to secure for them this mark of distinction.          Where all did their duty so well, the man who distinguished himself alone his comrades in arms, was brave amongst the brave” Rather laudatory and pleasant. We poor [  ?  ] you know are pleased with any straw that will tickle our vanity We remained at Selma until the 8th April when crossed the Alabama River on a pontoon bridge.     At midnight of the 5th a party of 900 of us started into the country some 20 miles for the purpose of “gobbling” a regiment of rebs. [   ?   ] had gone. We captured a few horses & mules, and returned at midnight of next night on our way out we had to wade through a swamp two miles long, water above our horses knees we found it so deep that we could go no farther & were obliged to turn back & take another road. Several times while in it. I fell asleep and when the horse would plunge through the mud, over his head I nearly went.     On our way back the next evening it rained in torrents, and the streams we had forded the night before were now twelve feet deep.     Lieut Culhertrow & I in attempt- ing to cross one of them. were blazed away into by our pickets on the opposite bank. They did not know that there were any Yankees on the opposite I outside of them. We were forced to evacuate the premises in the speediest possible manner, and from behind trees to shout ourselves known.          If we had not been shot (at) we should probably have been drowned as the water was fifteen feet deep and it was pitch dark. On the 10th we fairly started from our camp on the south side of the Alabama. Marched through mud & swamp until mid- night. We were now in the rear guarding the train, and the roads you may imagine were horrible, after the passage of thou- sands of horses and memberless wagons One the 11th off again early moved very slowly all day, through some of the most beautiful and horrible country I ever saw. For miles the road would be lived on both sides with hedges of roses, and then we would plunge into impassable swamps. We were in the saddle all night, and reveillie had been sounded on the 12th before we dismounted. At 8 A.M. again on the move. Marched to within six miles of Montgomery. Our advance entered it the day before and took possession without opposition.           The country here was beau- tiful. Roses & flowers in the greatest profusion. Wheat was heading out. Smoke could be seen on all sides from the burning cotton. We were doing a destructive business. One of the greatest sights was to see the manner in which the darkies greeted us. They would rush to the road sides with shining ivories and open countenances. Men women & bare legged children. They would dance and perform all sorts of antics. No- body could question their joy at seeing us. or could doubt as to their being our friends.       Yankees had never been in this country before. On the 13th we passed through Montgomery without stopping. It is not as beautiful a city as I expected to see but we had not much of an opportunity of viewing its beauties. We destroyed nothing there. One the 15th we marched through Tuskegee the prettiest village I have seen in the South or any where else. It is a perfect boquet of a place.        Wealthy planters reside there. No business is carried on. All people do there is live. The yards in front of the houses were swarming with beautiful girls and flowers. We had struck into the centre of refugeedom.           It was the first place we had passed through where the people turned out to see us, which made us sit a little more erect in our saddles, and possibly admire the village more. April 16th Genl Upton’s Division captured columbus and on the 17th we passed through being still in the rear. Co- lumbus was nearly destroyed, factories and mills [  ?  ] Upton had had a sharp fight the night before, the effects of which were visible in the streets. Unburied rebels were lying where they fell.           Now our Division takes the advance and at 6 P.M. on the 17th we started and marched all night. Did not stop until we had reached the Double Bridges over the Flint River, 42 miles, there driving the rebels from, and securing possession of them.              After giving our horses a rest we pushed on, and on the afternoon of the 20th our advance Miller (1st) Brigade, entered Macon. Just before entering the city a flag of truce made its appearance, and its bearer stated that an armistice had taken place between Genl. Sherman and Johnson and requesting that we should halt the column. Col Minty suspecting some ruse “couldn’t see it” and ordered the truce men out of the way and entered the city. Our men had been skirmishing and driving the rebs all day, up to the moment of the appearance of the flag and it did look suspicious.             On the 21st we went into camp a couple of miles east of the city and have remained here since, except during the few days we were out after Mr J. D.         There ended one of the most sucessfuly and plea- santest raid of this war. We undoubtedly destroyed more property and munitions of war then any other party. The work’s arsenals and foundries at Selma and Columbus were immense we captured some 8000 prisoners and several hundred pieces of artillery. I presume the figures will ap- pear in reports.            I wish you could have been along. It would have been just long enough to rub a little of the civilization out of you without totally ruining you.     You will never have such another opportunity nor I either, I presume. We are now luxuriating in green peas & plums. Have had strawberries for three weeks.          I am rapidly growing gray in the region behind the ears. Can account for it in no other way except that my bump of combativeness has been overworked.          I do not know when we shall get home.            Contradic- tory rumors float about every day. One moment we are to be ordered west of the Mississippi and the next are to be mustered out immediately.       You may look for me very shortly after you hear of our arrival in Detroit. You wish undoubtedly to hear what I had to do with the capture of Jeff Davis. Very little in- deed.   On the evening of the 7th the 4th Mich under Pritchard left here to go to Abbyville and threre picket the Ocumlgee River, and capture or kill Jeff Davis if possible. He was reported to be moving that way.           On the morning of the 9th we started off on same errand.     The 3rd Ohio & 7th Pa were with us. At Hawkinsville that the evening of the 10th we received word from Pritchard that Davis had crossed the Ocumlgee at Abbeville on the eve- ning of the 8th that he had got on his trail at 4 P.M. of the 9th and was rapidly pursuing him with 150 men. At 2 A.M. of the 11th 250 men of the 3rd Ohio, I being with the latter party, started for Albany, Dougherty Co. for the purpose of cutting off Mr. Davis if he should be too fart for Pritchard [On Envelope:] June 3, 1865 J. Davidson Burns Esq Kalamazoo Michigan