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    Sherman's March to the Sea

    [Sherman's March to the Sea]. Union Soldier's Civil War Diaries for the Years 1862-1865 with Three Cased Images and an Imprint. Four diaries, varying sizes, written by Edwin L. Lybarger of the 43rd Ohio Infantry. Lybarger mustered in as a Private into Company K on January 13, 1862, and served until the end of the war. He kept a diary for each year of his service. Most notably, his daily entries during Savanna Campaign make for compelling reading. Included in the group is a self-published imprint titled "Leaves from My Diary," which begins with the background story of his Company's movements. Although Lybarger states that the imprint is copied verbatim, he editorializes a bit and presents General Sherman in a most favorable light at all times. There are three cased images, two of Lybarger, one in which (a tintype, 2" x 2.5") he is in uniform with a kepi and insignia.

    What follows are excerpts from Lybarger's 1864 diary (2.75" x 5.75"): [Nov 11] The last train from the North, and the last one for the North passed over the road today. Sherman going to leave his base at Atlanta and look for one farther South. [Nov 12] The 17th Army Corps engaged in tearing up [railroad] track and burning ties... [Nov 14] In camp near Atlanta, expecting on the morrow to start one of the most gigantic, and grandest campaigns or raids of the war. Details are sent out tonight to destroy and burn railroads. [Nov 15] Sherman leaves Atlanta in four columns, viz: the 14th, 15th , 17th, and 20th, corps on different roads, destination supposed to be Savannah. The railroads and government property totally destroyed. All hearts feel buoyant and sure of success... [Nov 22] Marched to Gordon, a small town on the railroad south of Macon. The citizens somewhat excited. Several houses burned, fighting heard in the direction of Macon... [Nov 25] Marched to the Oconee river; found the enemy intrenched on the opposite shore ready to dispute our passage. Artillery brought up and the enemy's position shelled. [Nov 26] Crossed the Oconee river, expecting a fight, but the enemy had lit out. Whereupon we marched about 3 miles and went into camp. [Nov 27] On the march; no enemy in sight. The 17th A.C. destroyed about 10 miles of railroad today. [Dec 1] On the march; the 1st and 4th division of the 17th A.C. tearing up railroad; camped on Jones plantation, said to be the finest in the state. [Dec 2] ... camped at Millen, where we had the slightest skirmish. The railroad and all government property destroyed. [Dec 9] Sprague's brigade in advance; heavy skirmishing all day. The rebels as well as ourselves use artillery. Our casualties about 15 killed. [Dec 10] The army advanced towards Savannah early in the morning. ran against the rebels works 4 miles north of the city. A heavy skirmish ensued. The 43rd lost 4 wounded, but none killed. The rebels hold their position. Our lines advanced in the night. [Dec 20] Marched 16 miles on the Coast road, and camped; found a god country. Savannah evacuated by the enemy."

    Lybarger uses a calf-skin notebook, 3.75 x 5.75", to keep his diary for 1865. His entries vary in length, sometimes writing a few brief lines, and on other occasions filling more than a page. In small part: "[January 12, 1865] The 3rd Div. crossed the Edisto and the enemy as usual upon such occasions fled. The whole corps crossed over to Orangeburg [South Carolina] during the day and night. The city was well built and had contained upwards of three thousand inhabitants before the war. The post office and commissary buildings were fired by the rebels before leaving from which the fire spread so that the principal part of the place was destroyed. [Jan. 13] The corps marched 14 miles and destroyed much of the S.C. railroad in a manner more devilish than can be dreamed of. All the best buildings in the on the road were deserted by the citizens and fired by our soldiers. [Jan 15] The army moves at an early hour in the direction of Columbia. The 14th, 15th, & 20th Corps all approximating the same point. The enemy retires before us without making but little resistance. [Jan 16] Army moves at an early hour. The whole army arrives before Columbia about 1 P.M. The Congaree River only separating us from the rebels and the capital of the meanest of all seceded states. Our soldiers gaze upon the devoted city with pleasure and only wait for the morrow to satisfy their long wished for desire to plant the stars and stripes where they were first defied by an assembly of men claiming to represent the people of a great state. [Jan 17] The 15th Corps cross the Saluda River and afterwards the Broad River whilst a few adventurous cross the Congaree opposite the city and plant the federal banner on the state house before the skirmishers get in. The enemy having evacuated during the night. The 15th & 17th move in the place with colors flying and band playing exhibiting a pageantry seldom witnessed by any, much however to the mortification and chagrin of the rebel South Carolinians who remained. The soldiers being made drunks by the citizens with the hope of gaining favors, fired the city in the night in several places, and the mind being very high all efforts to extinguish the flames proved fruitless, and the consequences were that three fourths of the city were consumed or reduced to a heap of ruins. The citizens were strewn out into the street, with nothing to shelter them but the heavens. Helpless women were to be seen flying in every direction. In all presenting a scene at which the hardest heart must sicken or feel sympathy."

    The rest of the diary continues in this fashion. Lybarger records news of Lee's surrender on April 12; and on April 15, he records that Johnston has surrendered. On the 16th, he makes note that Johnston's surrender is not yet complete as the terms of capitulation are not made. News of Lincoln's death arrives on the 17th, and he writes: "In camp near Raleigh; received the intelligence of the assassination of Pres. Lincoln. The army ablaze with rage and fury and want to be led against Johnston at once, that they may wreck their vengeance in total destruction of his army." Johnston's surrender is completed on the 26th, and the troops are told they would soon start for home. Lybarger's entries continue until July 17, 1865.

    Note must be made that Lybarger served through most of the war, and his regiment participated in many battles. Lybarger's develops in talent over the course of his diaries. The 1862 diary is sparsely filled, and though he notes his participation in the Second Battle of Corinth, at which he is wounded, the entries are lacking in detail. By 1864, his entries are more consistent and detailed. The entries for May 12-15, 1864 are expanded in the back, providing a great account of the Battle of Resaca.

    Condition: The 1862 diary has heavy wear to the cloth covered boards, and some soiling. 1863 diary is near fine and very clean. 1864 diary has heavy wear to the leather cover, dampstaining and soiling to the front and back pastedown. Interior pages are clean with occasional light soiling. The 1865 diary fills approximately 50 pages (a little less than half the notebook is used). There are pencil scribbles in the back pages, and Lybarger has copied some verses in the back. The imprint has its original wraps, with foxing throughout. There staining in the lower right, which affects the first few interior pages. Small separation at bottom of wrap. The images (two tintypes and a daguerreotype) all have good detail.

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    April, 2016
    5th Tuesday
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