On March 5, 1865, near the point where the Ebenezer Road crossed the Cheraw and Darlington Railroad, the 29th Missouri Mounted Infantry of Co!. Reuben Williams´s command deployed on either side of the tracks to capture a Confederate train approaching from Florence. The attempt failed when the engineer, discovering the trap, reversed his engine and escaped.
Backstory and Context
The action that took place near the site where Ebenezer Road crossed the Cheraw & Darlington Railroad in the closing days of the War Between the States, was a Confederate victory achieved not by force of arms, but by a brilliant outwitting maneuver of one Rebel whose name may be forever unknown.
As the main body of Gen. Sherman’s army was entering Cheraw on March 4, 1865, a detachment of men under Col. Reuben Williams was ordered to follow the C&D railroad tracks from Cheraw to Florence, destroying all depots and trestles in route. As they headed this way, foraging parties roamed the nearby countryside; not only the official report of this expedition has been preserved, but several interesting reminiscences of persons residing along the way as well.
After spending the first night in Dovesville, on the morning of March 5, 1865, Col. Williams continued down the tracks in Darlington, not only burning bridges as ordered, but also burning the shop and equipment of the Darlington newspaper, THE DARLINGTON SOUTHERNER.
Just as Col. Williams reached this point after leaving Darlington for Florence, he sighted a train headed for Darlington. His men quickly deployed on either side of the track with the intention of capturing the train and its cargo as a prize of war.
Just how this alert Rebel engineer discovered that Yankees were lying in wait to capture his train may never be learned; however, he detected their presence just in the nick of time, braked his engine to a sudden halt, threw it into reverse and backed at full speed back to Florence, escaping the trap.
Col. Williams and his men plodded on to the outskirts of Florence where they encountered a superior Confederate force. He retreated to Cheraw, arriving there just as the main body of Sherman’s army was crossing the Pee Dee River at that place.
Before the war, Col Reuben Williams was editor and publisher of a newspaper in his home town of Warsaw, Indiana — this may account for his person vengeance against the plant of the SOUTHERNER when passing through Darlington. After the war, he returned home, continuing in the newspaper business until his death in 1905 at the age of seventy-four.
Interesting Facts about this Marker
- This marker has been moved four time, only to be returned to its original location.
- Due to a fault in the original paint job, the marker has to be sent back to the studio to be refinished.
- The dedication of this marker coincided with the 110th celebration of Confederate Memorial Day, May 10, 1975.
- The dedication was sponsored by the John K. McIver chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
- In the mid 80’s the marker had to be replaced due to a accident where a farmer broke the top of the plaque off while harvesting his crop.