31st Illinois Regiment: March to Richmond

Federal Grand Review. Library of Congress.  http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpb.02821/

Federal Grand Review. Library of Congress.
http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpb.02821/

Leaving Savannah, the 31st Illinois regiment continued its march under Gen. Sherman. The next target were the Carolinas were the goal was to destroy railroads, and cut off shipping supplies. On the march the 31st Illinois destroyed railroads and communications between Augusta and Charleston. Members of the regiment noted that the surrounding Confederate garrisons were in trouble after losing the railroads, “From the moment this was done these cities, and the garrisons defending them, were doomed.” (Morris p.147) Finally on the 21st of March, 1865, the 31st Illinois Regiment engaged in their last battle of the Civil War. In Goldsboro, North Carolina, the Union army came against Johnston’s force guarding the road to Richmond, Virginia. The 31st Illinois was placed in the mud trenches on the right flank, where they skirmished with Confederate forces who later retreated back. The main force of the army had pushed through the rear of Johnston’s force. Overall the Union lost 1,604 men, while the Confederate forces lost 2,343. (Morris p.154)  The second great march had ended. The boys of the 31st had marched 450 miles in just 50 days, and many were “barefooted” and “ragged.”  The 31st Illinois was present at the surrender of Johnston’s army to Sherman on April 26th, 1865. They would go on to participate in the grand review before the President, marching behind John A. Logan down Pennsylvania Ave., Washington D.C., on the 24th of May.

Click to zoom. March to the sea map.

Click to zoom. March to the sea map.