The Battle for the Salkehatchie

The Battle For the Salkehatchie Covers those events which occurred in the lower portion of South Carolina in January and February, 1865.

Robertsville, Lawtonville, Lopers Crossroads, Barkers Mill, Salkehatchie River, McPhersonville, Hayward Plantation, Hickory Hill, Whippy Swamp, Ferguson's Branch, McBride's Bridge, Tennant's Branch, DuBoise Landing, Tobys Bluff, Roberts Ford, Broxton's Bridge, River's Bridge, Buford's Bridge, Fiddle Pond, Morris Ford, Springtown, Blackville, Barnwell, and Orangeburg.

Gen. Sherman's march through South Carolina began in late December, 1864. By March 9, 1865, his troops had passed out of the state into North Carolina - leaving behind a path of total destruction 100 miles wide and extending the entire length of the state.

The campaign began in late November 1864 even before the surrender of Savannah, but due to the strong resistance by Gen. Wheeler's Cavalry, Sherman's first troops did not cross the river into South Carolina until January 15, 1865.

“The actual invasion of South Carolina has begun... The well-known sight of columns of black smoke meets our gaze again; this time houses are burning, and South Carolina has commenced to pay an installment, long overdue, on her debt to justice and humanity. With the help of God, we will have principal and interest before we leave her borders. There is a terrible gladness in the realization of so many hopes and wishes. This cowardly traitor state, secure from harm, as she thought, in her central position, with hellish haste dragged her Southern sisters into the caldron of secession. Little did she dream that the hated flag would again wave over her soil; but this bright morning a thousand Union banners are floating in the breeze, and the ground trembles beneath the tramp of thousands of brave Northmen, who know their mission, and will perform it to the end.”

Lt. Col. Oscar L. Jackson, 63rd Ohio Infantry
The winter of 1865 was especially cold - one of the coldest ever on record - and wet - It rained, sleeted, or snowed practically the entire months of January and February. Charleston even had 2 inches of snow which stayed on the ground for over a week. The rain and snow from above, coupled with the low country swamps made it a "very cold day in hell" for Sherman's troops. Men climbed trees to sleep or stood knee deep in freezing water all night. Many of the men were found dead from the cold in the mornings. Our first impressions in regard to the country we had invaded gave us no very exalted opinion of the State of South Carolina. vast swamps, or barrens, where nothing but pine will grow, houses few and far between, no fence rails to burn, no living things in the fields to kill and eat, it was pretty generally conceded that we had not struck a very fine lead. The soil is treacherous, like the people who own it. A thin crust of earth and fine canes cover four or five feet of quicksand; and woe to the unlucky horseman or muleteer who leaves the beaten path for a short cut through the fields or woods. Heavy bodies were only safe on the corduroy. More than one thousand wagons of the Twentieth corps alone were brought over these roads to Blackville by General Geary in four days.

"Again at the hospital I see the horrid results of every battle. Men mutilated in every shape conceivable, groaning, begging for assistance and gasping in death. Many of our wounded will have to lie all night in that horrid swamp, it being impossible to find them and carry them out on the narrow foot bridge that has been made. Many have had their heads propped up out of the water where they lay to keep them from drowning."

Lt. Col. Oscar L. Jackson, 63rd Ohio Infantry,
after the Battle of Rivers Bridge, February 2-3, 1865

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