|"HEADQUARTERS SECOND BRIGADE, THIRD DIVISION,|
SEVENTEENTH ARMY CORPS, April 5, 1865.
I met the officers of the regiment last evening, and I remember you were not present. I wish to say good-by to you, and to express to you my gratitude for your friendship and excellent support.
May God bless you, and have you in his keeping, and give you health to perform your duties as Chaplain, and may he make your labors acceptable and fruitful, is the earnest prayer of your friend.
|G. F. WILES, Colonel".|
On the 10th of April the regiment bid farewell to Goldsboro, and set out in pursuit of Johnston and his fleeing army. We arrived at Raleigh on the 13th, meeting no opposition. Johnston had gone farther west. Here we heard the sad news of the assassination of President Lincoln. The news of General Lee's surrender a few days previous had made the army wild with joy. We were then rejoicing over the news of Johnston's surrender to General Sherman, which was a source of additional joy. Closely follows this the sad news of the murder of the President, which caused a deep feeling of pain and sorrow. So intense was this feeling that scarcely a word was spoken. The camps were hushed to the utmost stillness, each fearing to speak or impart the news to his fellow. In a short time the silent murmur of revenge was whispered from right to left of the whole army, and soon reached the ears of commanding officers. Quietly a strong line of guards was thrown around every encampment, which was all that saved the city of Raleigh from annihilation or a sudden transition to ashes.
After maneuvering about Raleigh in proximity to Johnston's army during the conditions of surrender, the regiment left for Richmond, Virginia, April 29th, but how different the march from any during the last four years. It is no longer through a hostile country; no cavalry are needed to clear the way; no scouts are needed to spy out the position of the enemy and to watch the secret movements of guerrillas; no plundering the inhabitants, and making a desolation of the country through which we pass; all is good feeling, that the war has ended, and ended in triumph to our arms; the country is saved; liberty and humanity vindicated, and the right victorious.
The whole army of General Sherman marched across the Neuse river and encamped until Monday morning, when all broke camp and started on a race for Richmond. The contest between the different Corps daily grew exciting and more determined, and the men entered into it with resolution and energy.
The second day's march the Tar river was crossed, and the army encamped upon its banks. Here the Seventy-Eighth regiment had a most estimable and worthy man drowned, private Levi Harnley, of Company K, while bathing in the river. This providence cast a heavy gloom over the regiment. His companions labored nearly all the night and the next morning to recover his remains, but without success.
So close was the contest between the Fifteenth and Seventeenth Corps, that General Blair and General Logan, with their staffs and pioneers arrived at the Roanoke river within one or two minutes of