Lt. David W. Poak of the 30th Illinois Volunteer Infantry was at Forts Henry and Donaldson, Corinth, Vicksburg, Atlanta Campaign , March to the Sea, and the Carolina Campaign . He was awarded a 17th Corps Medal of Honor for the Battle of Atlanta when he was conspicuous in Rallying his men, advancing to the front, encouraging his men,firing muskets rapidly at the enemy, and by his service and gallant example materially assisting in bringing his regiment again into action.
HeadQuarters 1st Brig. 3rd Div. 17th A.C.
Mar 25th 1865
Presuming that you are quite anxious to hear from me , I will write a letter now and have it ready to send by first mail.As you will perceive , by the heading of my letter we are now at Goldsboro where we expect to take a rest after our long and very severe campaign. How long a respite we will get here is hard to tell . They will be compelled to remain long enough to refit our army as it is now in a very destitute condition. A great many of the men are barefooted and without pants. Many of them have been forced to pick up and wear citizen or rebel clothes to cover up their nakedness. Our Campaign has been , in many respects one of the most severe we have ever made. The marches were long and most of the time through almost impassable swamps. Scarcely a day passed but what the men would have to wade from one to half a dozen swamps frequently waist deep. The roads through these swamps would cut up before but a small portion of our train would pass over and part of the troops would have to remain out all night helping the wagons through. Our Brigade was out four nights all night and very often till two and three oclock in the morning . Whenever the enemy would make a stand it was certain to be at one of these swamps and then our men would have to wade out in the water and stand and fight them. Any one that was so unfortunate as to get wounded would fall in the water and perhaps nearly drown before they could get assistance. Sherman’s Army has I think seen as much campaigning as any other still we learned a few things this trip that we had not thought of before. The men were in excellent spirits all the time. You would never hear them grumble a bit no difference how hard a time they were having. I often wondered how they could stand it at all. We passed through some rich country where we would find an abundance of forage and through some of the most barren regions I ever saw. The principal places we passed through were Orangeburg,’Columbia, Winnsboro, Cherara, S.C. and Fayetteville, N.C. At Orangeburg our Division had quite a sharp little fight. No one in my Regiment was hurt. Columbia was nearly all burned. Lieut. Col. Rhoads Commanding the 30th Ills. was kicked by a horse a few days since.His leg is badly smashed and it is feared he will not recover .A train of cars came up from Wilmington this morning . The Rail Road from New Berne will be completed in a few days. We are expecting a large mail this evening. This is the fifty fifth day since we left Pocolatigo . During that time we have marched nearly five hundred miles. Feby 25th 10 P.M. Have just learned that I can send a letter off in the morning. Will send this . Give my love to all friends.