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On November 12th 1861, the regiment was to be ready to move out. There orders were to report to Washington D.C. as soon as possible. On November 15th Col. Guss issued the first marching orders. When the regiment finally formed up, they marched through West Chester for the final time. From West Chester they marched to Philadelphia.
The regiment reached Philadelphia the same day. Marching 45 miles in one day is unheard of. Most armies could only march 20 miles a day. In Philadelphia they took a train to Baltimore. The 97th reached Baltimore on the 17th of November at 5:30am.
There, the regiment bordered another train at 8:30am bound for Washington. The regiment reached Washington around 3:00pm. The next few days the regiment received it's first taste of army life. On November 20th 1861, the regiment marched to the Washington Arsenal. There, the regiment traded in there old smoothbore muskets for the brand new 1861 Springfield Rifles. The Springfield Rifles at the time were top of the line. On that same day Col. Guss received orders to go to Fort Monroe. On November 20th the 97th marched out of Washington to board a steamship. By the time the 97th reached the wharf, two steamers had already left. So companies B, E, G, H, I, K, and the band boarded the Georgia. Companies A, C, D, and E had to march 2 miles down stream to board the Louisiana. Both of the steamers arrived at Fort Monroe on the 22nd of November.
Fort Monroe was a Federal fort at the time. It housed about 5,000 men at one time. When the boats arrived on the 22nd, they were told they were not allowed to land the boats. So the steamers went 1 miles down the stream. When they landed the 97th marched through the town of Hampton and made camp outside of the town. The town of Hampton was burned to the ground by the Confederates when the regiment marched through it. At camp, the 97th placed pickets* around them. In the morning the pickets reported that they saw Confederate Calvary ride very close to them.
But they did not approach them. On December the 8th 1861, Col. Guss was issued orders to report to the Department of the South Head Quarters and wait for further orders. On that day the men departed on steamers headed to Port Royal, South Carolina. When the regiment landed on the 15th of December they formed up and set up camp in an abandoned cotton field next to Fort Walker.
Fort Walker was abandoned. The Confederates abandoned it because they only had 2,000 men in it. The Union had 12,000 men. The field that they were camped in was behind the fort. For the next few days the regiment flattened the ground so they could drill. Brigadier General Thomas Sherman was now in charge of the division the regiment was in.
On December 31st 1861 the regiment was ordered to support the land and navel attack on January 1st 1862. The combined forces of the navy and infantry were to attack the enemy at Port Royal, South Carolina. The regiment was formed up at 12:00pm. On January 1st 1862. The attack went so well the regiment was not used at all. Later that month on the 21st , the regiment again boarded steamers to help the attack on Fort Pulaski.

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