This Week in Civil War History: Onondaga County Soldier Hears News of Confederates Losing Ground

A few weeks before the Civil War came to an end, Southern surrender began to seem inevitable for Confederate General Robert E. Lee, as he found himself and his army backed into a corner, one that included the Union’s top two army commanders,

“I fear now it will be impossible to prevent a junction between Grant and Sherman, nor do I deem it prudent that this army should maintain its position until the latter shall approach too near.”

This was part of a letter send to the Confederate President Jefferson Davis on March 26th, 1865 explaining the position his army was in and how, one way or another, he would need to face both Sherman’s and Grant’s armies. A few days earlier, news had broken within the ranks of the Union Army of good news brewing as the Confederate forces began to become worn down. David W. Nelson of the 117th NY State Volunteers explains in his journal…

63rd entry 21 March: Start this morning at ½ past six.  We now close upon Sherman’s army and pass large members of his Foragers also some work…..up by him.  We halt at one o’clock and go into camp.. Have fresh pork for supper.  It is said that Sherman has force of Rebels in a tight place. There is heavy firing all the afternoon.  Rain is falling tonight and has been for several hours.

64th entry 22 March: The weather is fair this morning with high winds.  We are encamped about ½ mile from the Neuse River. Sherman’s pontoons are being put over today. The Rebels are reported falling back. The colored men go over the river to put up works.