Reading Matters

Sherman destroys Fayetteville Arsenal

In March, 1865, General W. T. Sherman and his troops marched into Fayetteville.

He had four goals: First, destroy the Arsenal. Second, lay pontoon bridges across the Cape Fear River. Third, refit his army with new uniforms and shoes. Fourth, evacuate his wounded.

On March 12, destruction of the Arsenal began. Two days later, it lay in rubble.

Samuel Merrill of the 70th Indiana remembered that while in Fayetteville, several soldiers from his unit entered a private residence where the lady of the house had prepared a fine meal of roast turkey, sweet potatoes and biscuits, supposedly for Confederate Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler and his staff.

The reluctant hostess cried out that she would scald the Union soldiers if they didn’t get out of her house.

One soldier used the tip of a bayonet to dissuade her.

The soldiers quickly “scooped up the meal into a dishpan, wrapped it in a tablecloth to keep it warm and disappeared.”

-- From a new book, “No Such Army Since the Days of Julius Caesar: Sherman’s Carolinas Campapign from Fayetteville to Averasboro, March, 1865,” by Mark A. Smith and Wade Sokolosky.

Dannye: dpowell@charlotteobserver.com

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