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SEAC: EXECUTION


EXECUTION

1 March 1865 (Click for Table 5 showing weather conditions for March 1 through March 11)
Lieutenant General Hardee’s Corps reached Cheraw, South Carolina, 10 miles south of the North Carolina state line.

2 March 1865
The vanguard of General Sherman’s XX Corps entered Chesterfield, South Carolina, skirmishing with Major General Butler’s Cavalry.

Federal Cavalry Commander Brevet Major General Kilpatrick was ordered to keep well on the left flank of the XIV Army Corps. Much to his satisfaction, he was also given permission to occupy Fayetteville first.

3 March 1865
Evening
Brevet Major General Kilpatrick’s 1st Cavalry Brigade entered North Carolina on the Wadesborough Road, encamping four miles from the state line. Having crossed into Anson County, North Carolina, Brevet Major General Kilpatrick’s 3rd Brigade went into camp.

The Confederate Cavalry wasted little time in making their presence and displeasure known.

Colonel George E. Spencer, U.S.A., 1st Alabama (U.S.) Cavalry, Commanding, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Cavalry Division (OR 1885):

On the morning of the 3rd of March we resumed our line of march, on the left, through a clay country with horrible roads and traveled a distance of 10 miles, when we went into camp in Anson County, N.C., about three miles from the state line.

We had hardly placed our pickets out when they were driven in by General Hampton’s Cavalry. The command was quickly thrown into position and we awaited attack. A small force of the enemy attempted to charge the extreme right of our line, when a few shells from Lieutenant Stetson’s section quickly scattered them. We remained in position, expecting an attack, till next morning, when we again resumed our line of march.

The 4th Cavalry Brigade, consisting of dismounted men, had accompanied the 3rd Brigade on the march. The 4th Brigade (dismounted) took up position on the Hornsborough Road in the center of the 3rd Brigade and was immediately attacked.

Lieutenant Colonel William B. Way, U.S.A., Commanding, 4th Cavalry Brigade (dismounted), 3rd Cavalry Division (OR 1885):

We had but just got into position, with a strong picket, well barricaded, when the enemy charged my picket, but was handsomely repulsed, with loss upon our side of one man wounded.

2300
The 4th Brigade (dismounted) took charge of the Division trains and artillery, moving them some five miles to Brevet Major General Kilpatrick’s headquarters. Heavy rains were falling, and the roads were made almost impassable.

Lieutenant Colonel Way (OR 1885):

We were seven hours marching the five miles, and several times had to draw the artillery out of the mud by hand.

4 March 1865
0700
The troopers of the 1st Brigade, having encamped on the Wadesborough Road the previous evening, were awakened by gunfire. A small force of Confederate cavalrymen had crept in between the 1st Brigade and its picket line. The pickets were surprised from behind, and a sharp firefight ensued. The Confederate infiltrators apparently were probing for the 1st Brigade’s main line. On the sounds of contact, as if to dissuade the Federal troops from continuing their northeastward course, appeared a formidable Confederate skirmish line.

Lieutenant Colonel D.H.Kimmel, U.S.A., 9th Penn- sylvania Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Brigade (OR 1885):

On the morning of the 4th instant my pickets were attacked at 7 a.m. in rear; they offered strong resistance and repulsed the charge of the enemy, who immediately deployed a line of skirmishers which, from its extent, indicated a heavy force.

Having identified the Federal position, Lieutenant General Wheeler decided to press the Federal Cavalrymen.

Lieutenant General Wheeler (OR 1885):

Struck the enemy’s flank at Hornsborough; had a warm fight and captured 50 prisoners.

1200
Brevet Major General Hugh J. Kilpatrick, U.S.A. (Source: U.S. Army)With an aggressive force of unknown size in his front and his lead Brigade’s unfortified position being pressured, Brevet Major General Kilpatrick decided to develop a more tenable situation. By his order the 1st Brigade withdrew, passing through the 2nd Brigade and occupying a position two miles to the rear, which they quickly barricaded. The 2nd Brigade was then withdrawn, passing through the 1st Brigade, leaving the 1st Brigade’s hastily prepared defensive position as the front. Brevet Major General Kilpatrick, anticipating a general engagement, brought up the rest of his command and placed his artillery. The Confederates quickly closed on the new position, charging it several times without success. Unable to carry the Federals’ new position, and in order to fix Brevet Major General Kilpatrick in position until sufficient force could be brought up, the Confederates demonstrated in front.

Lieutenant Colonel Way, Commanding, 4th Cavalry Brigade (dismounted) (OR 1885):

The enemy formed all along our front and seemed to be preparing for an attack, when the artillery of the 1st Brigade opened, which with a brisk fire from the line, caused him to withdraw his main force, though he kept a skirmish line in our front.

1430
Lieutenant General Wheeler, observing the strengthening Federal position, sent a message to Lieutenant General Hardee requesting reinforcement.

Lieutenant General Wheeler (OR 1885):

We find artillery here, and have but two small Regiments. Can you not send more forces up? The enemy have retired from four lines of works. Each line of works was for about 100 men.

1530
With the Federal Cavalry becoming more aggressive, Lieutenant General Wheeler sent a situation report to Lieutenant General Hardee.

Lieutenant General Wheeler (OR 1885):

Having run against some artillery, and not having sufficient force to drive the enemy from his position, I have taken up a position and will await your order. The enemy were driven from four lines of works by flanking him, but when we came upon artillery he showed himself rather bold. He advanced upon us, but only a short distance.

1900 — Dusk
As daylight and the chance to rout Brevet Major General Kilpatrick’s men slipped away, Lieutenant General Wheeler made one last attempt.

Lieutenant Charles Blanford, U.S.A., Howitzer Battery, 1st Brigade (OR 1885):

About dark the enemy came charging upon our front, mounted, when I was ordered by Colonel Jordan to open fire on them; after firing a few rounds the enemy drew off, and did not molest us again during the night.

2100
Darkness and fatigue compelled the Confederates to retire to their camp a few hundred yards in front of the Federal position.

During the day, Brevet Major General Kilpatrick had received orders from General Sherman instructing him to proceed to Fayetteville via New Gilead, then to Solemn Grove; his mission was to protect the left flank of the Army and not embroil himself in battle with the Confederate Cavalry. Men and horses were to be saved for expected battles along the Virginia border.

5 March 1865
0600
Fully expecting an early morning attack, the Federal cavalrymen were pleased to see the Confederates had decamped and moved on during the night.

Brevet Brigadier General Thomas J. Jordan’s, U.S.A., 1st Brigade marched by Morven’s Post Office to the Pee Dee River, crossing one mile south of the North Carolina line. Lieutenant General Wheeler, anxious to identify the route Lieutenant General Hardee was taking to Fayetteville, swam the Pee Dee River accompanied by Privates McKnight and Nance. The river was then in extraordinary flood. "The oldest river men had never seen higher water nor a more angry current" (Du Bose 1912b).

Reports of Federal troop movements indicated that General Sherman’s objective was Fayetteville. It was necessary for Lieutenant General Wheeler to communicate this to Lieutenant General Hardee, lest Hardee continue moving toward Charlotte.

6 March 1865
Confederate General Johnston is given command of the Department of North Carolina.

7 March 1865
0700
Brevet Brigadier General Jordan’s 1st Brigade, halted to feed, were joined by Brevet Major General Kilpatrick and his staff. Brevet Major General Kilpatrick accompanied the 1st Brigade on the march to Rockingham.

1000
The 1st Brigade reached Rockingham. As they entered the town, the Brigade’s advance guard, the 9th Pennsylvania and the 3rd Kentucky (U.S.), were attacked by Lieutenant General Wheeler’s and Major General Butler’s Cavalry. After heavy skirmishing, the 1st Brigade succeeded in driving the Confederates off.

Lieutenant General Wheeler (OR 1885):

With 20 men of Shannon’s Scouts I attacked and killed or captured 35 of the enemy near Rockingham, NC.

 

Execution (continued)

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