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The Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman, Complete by William T. Sherman

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Middle Tennessee, avoiding all fortified points, and breaking up
the railroad at several places; but, as usual, he did his work so
hastily and carelessly that our engineers soon repaired the
damage--then, retreating before General Rousseau, he left the State
of Tennessee, crossing the river near Florence, Alabama, and got
off unharmed.

On the 10th of October the enemy appeared south of the Etowah River
at Rome, when I ordered all the armies to march to Kingston, rode
myself to Cartersville with the Twenty-third Corps (General Cox),
and telegraphed from there to General Thomas at Nashville:

It looks to me as though Hood was bound for Tuscumbia. He is now
crossing the Coosa River below Rome, looking west. Let me know if
you can hold him with your forces now in Tennessee and the expected
reenforeements, as, in that event, you know what I propose to do.

I will be at Kingston to-morrow. I think Rome is strong enough to
resist any attack, and the rivers are all high. If he turns up by
Summerville, I will get in behind him.

And on the same day to General Grant, at City Point:

Hood is now crossing the Coosa, twelve miles below Rome, bound
west. If he passes over to the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, had I not
better execute the plan of my letter sent you by Colonel Porter,
and leave General Thomas, with the troops now in Tennessee, to
defend the State? He will have an ample force when the
reenforcements ordered reach Nashville.

I found General John E. Smith at Cartersville, and on the 11th
rode on to Kingston, where I had telegraphic communications in all

From General Corse, at Rome, I learned that Hood's army had
disappeared, but in what direction he was still in doubt; and I was
so strongly convinced of the wisdom of my proposition to change the
whole tactics of the campaign, to leave Hood to General Thomas, and
to march across Georgia for Savannah or Charleston, that I again
telegraphed to General Grant:

We cannot now remain on the defensive. With twenty-five thousand
infantry and the bold cavalry he has, Hood can constantly break my
road. I would infinitely prefer to make a wreck of the road and of
the country from Chattanooga to Atlanta, including the latter city;
send back all my wounded and unserviceable men, and with my
effective army move through Georgia, smashing things to the sea.
Hood may turn into Tennessee and Kentucky, but I believe he will be
forced to follow me. Instead of being on the defensive, I will be
on the offensive. Instead of my guessing at what he means to do,
he will have to guess at my plans. The difference in war would be
fully twenty-five per pent. I can make Savannah, Charleston, or
the month of the Chattahoochee (Appalachicola). Answer quick, as I
know we will not have the telegraph long.

I received no answer to this at the time, and the next day went on
to Rome, where the news came that Hood had made his appearance at
Resaca, and had demanded the surrender of the place, which was
commanded by Colonel Weaver, reenforced by Brevet Brigadier-General
Raum. General Hood had evidently marched with rapidity up the
Chattooga Valley, by Summerville, Lafayette, Ship's Gap, and
Snake-Creek Gap, and had with him his whole army, except a small
force left behind to watch Rome. I ordered Resaca to be further
reenforced by rail from Kingston, and ordered General Cox to make a
bold reconnoissance down the Coosa Valley, which captured and
brought into Rome some cavalrymen and a couple of field-guns, with
their horses and men. At first I thought of interposing my whole
army in the Chattooga Valley, so as to prevent Hood's escape south;
but I saw at a glance that he did not mean to fight, and in that
event, after damaging the road all he could, he would be likely to
retreat eastward by Spring Place, which I did not want him to do;
and, hearing from General Raum that he still held Resaca safe, and
that General Edward McCook had also got there with some cavalry
reenforcements, I turned all the heads of columns for Resaca, viz.,
General Cox's, from Rome; General Stanley's, from McGuire's; and
General Howard's, from Kingston. We all reached Resaca during that
night, and the next morning (13th) learned that Hood's whole army
had passed up the valley toward Dalton, burning the railroad and
doing all the damage possible.

On the 12th he had demanded the surrender of Resaca in the
following letter

IN THE FIELD, October 12,1861.

To the officer commanding the United Stales Forces at Resaca,

SIR: I demand the immediate and unconditional surrender of the post
and garrison under your command, and, should this be acceded to,
all white officers and soldiers will be parolled in a few days. If
the place is carried by assault, no prisoners will be taken. Most
respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. B. HOOD, General.

To this Colonel Weaver, then in command, replied:

RESACA, GEORGIA, October 12, 1884.

To General J. B. HOOD

Your communication of this date just received. In reply, I have to
state that I am somewhat surprised at the concluding paragraph, to
the effect that, if the place is carried by assault, no prisoners
will be taken. In my opinion I can hold this post. If you want it,
come and take it.

I am, general, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

CLARK R. WEAVER, Commanding Officer.

This brigade was very small, and as Hood's investment extended
only from the Oostenaula, below the town, to the Connesauga above,
he left open the approach from the south, which enabled General
Raum and the cavalry of Generals McCook and Watkins to reenforce
from Kingston. In fact, Hood, admonished by his losses at
Allatoona, did not attempt an assault at all, but limited his
attack to the above threat, and to some skirmishing, giving his
attention chiefly to the destruction of the railroad, which he
accomplished all the way up to Tunnel Hill, nearly twenty miles,
capturing en route the regiment of black troops at Dalton
(Johnson's Forty-fourth United States colored). On the 14th, I
turned General Howard through Snake-Creek Gap, and sent General
Stanley around by Tilton, with orders to cross the mountain to the
west, so as to capture, if possible, the force left by the enemy in
Snake-Creek Gap. We found this gap very badly obstructed by fallen
timber, but got through that night, and the next day the main army
was at Villanow. On the morning of the 16th, the leading division
of General Howard's column, commanded by General Charles R. Woods,
carried Ship's Gap, taking prisoners part of the Twenty-fourth
South Carolina Regiment, which had been left there to hold us in

The best information there obtained located Hood's army at
Lafayette, near which place I hoped to catch him and force him to
battle; but, by the time we had got enough troops across the
mountain at Ship's Gap, Hood had escaped down the valley of the
Chattooga, and all we could do was to follow him as closely as
possible. From Ship's Gap I dispatched couriers to Chattanooga,
and received word back that General Schofield was there,
endeavoring to cooperate with me, but Hood had broken up the
telegraph, and thus had prevented quick communication. General
Schofield did not reach me till the army had got down to
Gaylesville, about the 21st of October.

It was at Ship's Gap that a courier brought me the cipher message
from General Halleck which intimated that the authorities in
Washington were willing I should undertake the march across Georgia
to the sea. The translated dispatch named "Horse-i-bar Sound" as
the point where the fleet would await my arrival. After much time
I construed it to mean, "Ossabaw Sound," below Savannah, which was

On the 16th I telegraphed to General Thomas, at Nashville:

Send me Morgan's and Newton's old divisions. Reestablish the road,
and I will follow Hood wherever he may go. I think he will move to
Blue Mountain. We can maintain our men and animals on the country.

General Thomas's reply was:

NASHVILLE, October 17, 1864--10.30 a.m.

Major-General SHERMAN:

Your dispatch from Ship's Gap, 5 p.m. of the 16th, just received.
Schofield, whom I placed in command of the two divisions (Wagner's
and Morgan's), was to move up Lookout Valley this A.M., to
intercept Hood, should he be marching for Bridgeport. I will order
him to join you with the two divisions, and will reconstruct the
road as soon as possible. Will also reorganize the guards for
posts and block-houses .... Mower and Wilson have arrived, and are
on their way to join you. I hope you will adopt Grant's idea of
turning Wilson loose, rather than undertake the plan of a march
with the whole force through Georgia to the sea, inasmuch as
General Grant cannot cooperate with you as at first arranged.

GEORGE H. THOMAS, Major-General.

So it is clear that at that date neither General Grant nor General
Thomas heartily favored my proposed plan of campaign. On the same
day, I wrote to General Schofield at Chattanooga:

Hood is not at Dear Head Cove. We occupy Ship's Gap and Lafayette.
Hood is moving south via Summerville, Alpine, and Gadsden. If he
enters Tennessee, it will be to the west of Huntsville, but I think
he has given up all such idea. I want the road repaired to
Atlanta; the sick and wounded men sent north of the Tennessee; my
army recomposed; and I will then make the interior of Georgia feel
the weight of war. It is folly for us to be moving our armies on
the reports of scouts and citizens. We must maintain the
offensive. Your first move on Trenton and Valley Head was right
--the move to defend Caperton's Ferry is wrong. Notify General
Thomas of these my views. We must follow Hood till he is beyond
the reach of mischief, and then resume the offensive.

The correspondence between me and the authorities at Washington, as
well as with the several army commanders, given at length in the
report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, is full on all
these points.

After striking our road at Dalton, Hood was compelled to go on to
Chattanooga and Bridgeport, or to pass around by Decatur and
abandon altogether his attempt to make us let go our hold of
Atlanta by attacking our communications. It was clear to me that
he had no intention to meet us in open battle, and the lightness
and celerity of his army convinced me that I could not possibly
catch him on a stern-chase. We therefore quietly followed him down
the Chattooga Valley to the neighborhood of Gadsden, but halted the
main armies near the Coosa River, at the mouth of the Chattooga,
drawing our supplies of corn and meat from the farms of that
comparatively rich valley and of the neighborhood.

General Slocum, in Atlanta, had likewise sent out, under strong
escort, large trains of wagons to the east, and brought back corn,
bacon, and all kinds of provisions, so that Hood's efforts to cut
off our supplies only reacted on his own people. So long as the
railroads were in good order, our supplies came full and regular
from the North; but when the enemy broke our railroads we were
perfectly justified in stripping the inhabitants of all they had.
I remember well the appeal of a very respectable farmer against our
men driving away his fine flock of sheep. I explained to him that
General Hood had broken our railroad; that we were a strong, hungry
crowd, and needed plenty of food; that Uncle Sam was deeply
interested in our continued health and would soon repair these
roads, but meantime we must eat; we preferred Illinois beef, but
mutton would have to answer. Poor fellow! I don't believe he was
convinced of the wisdom or wit of my explanation. Very soon after
reaching Lafayette we organized a line of supply from Chattanooga
to Ringgold by rail, and thence by wagons to our camps about
Gaylesville. Meantime, also, Hood had reached the neighborhood of
Gadsden, and drew his supplies from the railroad at Blue Mountain.

On the 19th of October I telegraphed to General Halleck, at

Hood has retreated rapidly by all the roads leading south. Our
advance columns are now at Alpine and Melville Post-Office. I
shall pursue him as far as Gaylesville. The enemy will not venture
toward Tennessee except around by Decatur. I propose to send the
Fourth Corps back to General Thomas, and leave him, with that
corps, the garrisons, and new troops, to defend the line of the
Tennessee River; and with the rest I will push into the heart of
Georgia and come out at Savannah, destroying all the railroads of
the State. The break in our railroad at Big Shanty is almost
repaired, and that about Dalton should be done in ten days. We
find abundance of forage in the country.

On the same day I telegraphed to General L. C. Easton,
chief-quartermaster, who had been absent on a visit to Missouri,
but had got back to Chattanooga:

Go in person to superintend the repairs of the railroad, and make
all orders in my name that will expedite its completion. I want it
finished, to bring back from Atlanta to Chattanooga the sick and
wounded men and surplus stores. On the 1st of November I want
nothing in front of Chattanooga except what we can use as food and
clothing and haul in our wagons. There is plenty of corn in the
country, and we only want forage for the posts. I allow ten days
for all this to be done, by which time I expect to be at or near

I telegraphed also to General Amos Beckwith, chief-commissary in
Atlanta, who was acting as chief-quartermaster during the absence
of General Easton:

Hood will escape me. I want to prepare for my big raid. On the
1st of November I want nothing in Atlanta but what is necessary for
war. Send all trash to the rear at once, and have on hand thirty
days' food and but little forage. I propose to abandon Atlanta,
and the railroad back to Chattanooga, to sally forth to ruin
Georgia and bring up on the seashore. Make all dispositions
accordingly. I will go down the Coosa until I am sure that Hood
has gone to Blue Mountain.

On the 21st of October I reached Gaylesville, had my bivouac in an
open field back of the village, and remained there till the 28th.
During that time General Schofield arrived, with the two divisions
of Generals Wagner (formerly Newton's) and Morgan, which were
returned to their respective corps (the Fourth and Fourteenth), and
General Schofield resumed his own command of the Army of the Ohio,
then on the Coosa River, near Cedar Bluff. General Joseph A. Mower
also arrived, and was assigned to command a division in the
Seventeenth Corps; and General J. H. Wilson came, having been sent
from Virginia by General Grant, for the purpose of commanding all
my cavalry. I first intended to organize this cavalry into a corps
of three small divisions, to be commanded by General Wilson; but
the horses were well run down, and, at Wilson's instance, I
concluded to retain only one division of four thousand five hundred
men, with selected horses, under General Kilpatrick, and to send
General Wilson back with all the rest to Nashville, to be
reorganized and to act under General Thomas in the defense of
Tennessee. Orders to this effect were made on the 24th of October.

General Grant, in designating General Wilson to command my cavalry,
predicted that he would, by his personal activity, increase the
effect of that arm "fifty per cent.," and he advised that he should
be sent south, to accomplish all that I had proposed to do with the
main army; but I had not so much faith in cavalry as he had, and
preferred to adhere to my original intention of going myself with a
competent force.

About this time I learned that General Beauregard had reached
Hood's army at Gadsden; that, without assuming direct command of
that army, he had authority from the Confederate Government to
direct all its movements, and to call to his assistance the whole
strength of the South. His orders, on assuming command, were full
of alarm and desperation, dated:

October 17, 1864

In assuming command, at this critical juncture, of the Military
Division of the West, I appeal to my countrymen, of all classes and
sections, for their generous support. In assigning me to this
responsible position, the President of the Confederate States has
extended to me the assurance of his earnest support. The
Executives of your States meet me with similar expressions of their
devotion to our cause. The noble army in the field, composed of
brave men and gallant officers, are strangers to me, but I know
they will do all that patriots can achieve.....

The army of Sherman still defiantly holds Atlanta. He can and must
be driven from it. It is only for the good people of Georgia and
surrounding states to speak the word, and the work is done, we have
abundant provisions. There are men enough in the country, liable
to and able for service, to accomplish the result.....

My countrymen, respond to this call as you have done in days that
are past, and, with the blessing of a kind and overruling
Providence, the enemy shall be driven from your soil. The security
of your wives and daughters from the insults and outrages of a
brutal foe shall be established soon, and be followed by a
permanent and honorable peace. The claims of home and country,
wife and children, uniting with the demands of honor and
patriotism, summon us to the field. We cannot, dare not, will not
fail to respond. Full of hope and confidence, I come to join you
in your struggles, sharing your privations, and, with your brave
and true men, to strike the blow that shall bring success to our,
arms, triumph to our cause, and peace to our country!......

G. T. BEAUREGARD, General.

Notwithstanding this somewhat boastful order or appeal, General
Beauregard did not actually accompany General Hood on his
disastrous march to Nashville, but took post at Corinth,
Mississippi, to control the movement of his supplies and to watch

At Gaylesville the pursuit of Hood by the army under my immediate
command may be said to have ceased. During this pursuit, the
Fifteenth Corps was commanded by its senior major-general present,
P. J. Osterhaus, in the absence of General John A. Logan; and the
Seventeenth Corps was commanded by Brigadier-General T. E. G.
Ransom, the senior officer present, in the absence of General Frank
P. Blair.

General Ransom was a young, most gallant, and promising officer,
son of the Colonel Ransom who was killed at Chapultepec, in the
Mexican War. He had served with the Army of the Tennessee in 1862
and 1863, at Vicksburg, where he was severely wounded. He was not
well at the time we started from Atlanta, but he insisted on going
along with his command. His symptoms became more aggravated on the
march, and when we were encamped near Gaylesville, I visited him in
company with Surgeon John Moors, United States Army, who said that
the case was one of typhoid fever, which would likely prove fatal.
A few days after, viz., the 28th, he was being carried on a litter
toward Rome; and as I rode from Gaylesville to Rome, I passed him
by the way, stopped, and spoke with him, but did not then suppose
he was so near his end. The next day, however, his escort reached
Rome, bearing his dead body. The officer in charge reported that,
shortly after I had passed, his symptoms became so much worse that
they stopped at a farmhouse by the road-side, where he died that
evening. His body was at once sent to Chicago for burial, and a
monument has been ordered by the Society of the Army of the
Tennessee to be erected in his memory.

On the 26th of October I learned that Hood's whole army had made
its appearance about Decatur, Alabama, and at once caused a strong
reconnoissance to be made down the Coosa to near Gadsden, which
revealed the truth that the enemy was gone except a small force of
cavalry, commanded by General Wheeler, which had been left to watch
us. I then finally resolved on my future course, which was to
leave Hood to be encountered by General Thomas, while I should
carry into full effect the long-contemplated project of marching
for the sea-coast, and thence to operate toward Richmond. But it
was all-important to me and to our cause that General Thomas should
have an ample force, equal to any and every emergency.

He then had at Nashville about eight or ten thousand new troops,
and as many more civil employs of the Quartermaster's Department,
which were not suited for the field, but would be most useful in
manning the excellent forts that already covered Nashville. At
Chattanooga, he had General Steedman's division, about five
thousand men, besides garrisons for Chattanooga, Bridgeport, and
Stevenson; at Murfreesboro' he also had General Rousseau's
division, which was full five thousand strong, independent of the
necessary garrisons for the railroad. At Decatur and Huntsville,
Alabama, was the infantry division of General R. S. Granger,
estimated at four thousand; and near Florence, Alabama, watching
the crossings of the Tennessee, were General Edward Hatch's
division of cavalry, four thousand; General Croxton's brigade,
twenty-five hundred; and Colonel Capron's brigade, twelve hundred;
besides which, General J. H. Wilson had collected in Nashville
about ten thousand dismounted cavalry, for which he was rapidly
collecting the necessary horses for a remount. All these
aggregated about forty-five thousand men. General A. J. Smith at
that time was in Missouri, with the two divisions of the Sixteenth
Corps which had been diverted to that quarter to assist General
Rosecrans in driving the rebel General Price out of Missouri. This
object had been accomplished, and these troops, numbering from
eight to ten thousand, had been ordered to Nashville. To these I
proposed at first to add only the Fourth Corps (General Stanley),
fifteen thousand; and that corps was ordered from Gaylesville to
march to Chattanooga, and thence report for orders to General
Thomas; but subsequently, on the 30th of October, at Rome, Georgia,
learning from General Thomas that the new troops promised by
General Grant were coming forward very slowly, I concluded to
further reenforce him by General Schofield's corps (Twenty-third),
twelve thousand, which corps accordingly marched for Resaca, and
there took the cars for Chattanooga. I then knew that General
Thomas would have an ample force with which to encounter General
Hood anywhere in the open field, besides garrisons to secure the
railroad to his rear and as far forward as Chattanooga. And,
moreover, I was more than convinced that he would have ample time
for preparation; for, on that very day, General R. S. Granger had
telegraphed me from Decatur, Alabama:

I omitted to mention another reason why Hood will go to Tusomnbia
before crossing the Tennessee River. He was evidently out of
supplies. His men were all grumbling; the first thing the
prisoners asked for was something to eat. Hood could not get any
thing if he should cross this side of Rogersville.

I knew that the country about Decatur and Tuscumbia, Alabama, was
bare of provisions, and inferred that General Hood would have to
draw his supplies, not only of food, but of stores, clothing, and
ammunition, from Mobile, Montgomery, and Selma, Alabama, by the
railroad around by Meridian and Corinth, Mississippi, which we had
most effectually disabled the previous winter.

General Hood did not make a serious attack on Decatur, but hung
around it from October 26th to the 30th, when he drew off and
marched for a point on the south side of the Tennessee River,
opposite Florence, where he was compelled to remain nearly a month,
to collect the necessary supplies for his contemplated invasion of
Tennessee and Kentucky.

The Fourth Corps (Stanley) had already reached Chattanooga, and had
been transported by rail to Pulaski, Tennessee; and General Thomas
ordered General Schofield, with the Twenty-third Corps, to
Columbia, Tennessee, a place intermediate between Hood (then on the
Tennessee River, opposite Florence) and Forrest, opposite

On the 31st of October General Croxton, of the cavalry, reported
that the enemy had crossed the Tennessee River four miles above
Florence, and that he had endeavored to stop him, but without
success. Still, I was convinced that Hood's army was in no
condition to march for Nashville, and that a good deal of further
delay might reasonably be counted on. I also rested with much
confidence on the fact that the Tennessee River below Muscle Shoals
was strongly patrolled by gunboats, and that the reach of the river
above Muscle Shoals, from Decatur as high up as our railroad at
Bridgeport, was also guarded by gunboats, so that Hood, to cross
over, would be compelled to select a point inaccessible to these
gunboats. He actually did choose such a place, at the old
railroad-piers, four miles above Florence, Alabama, which is below
Muscle Shoals and above Colbert Shoals.

On the 31st of October Forrest made his appearance on the Tennessee
River opposite Johnsonville (whence a new railroad led to
Nashville), and with his cavalry and field pieces actually crippled
and captured two gunboats with five of our transports, a feat of
arms which, I confess, excited my admiration.

There is no doubt that the month of October closed to us looking
decidedly squally; but, somehow, I was sustained in the belief that
in a very few days the tide would turn.

On the 1st of November I telegraphed very fully to General Grant,
at City Point, who must have been disturbed by the wild rumors that
filled the country, and on the 2d of November received (at Rome)
this dispatch:

CITY POINT, November 1, 1864--6 P.M.

Major-General SHERMAN:

Do you not think it advisable, now that Hood has gone so far north,
to entirely ruin him before starting on your proposed campaign?
With Hood's army destroyed, you can go where you please with
impunity. I believed and still believe, if you had started south
while Hood was in the neighborhood of you, he would have been
forced to go after you. Now that he is far away he might look upon
the chase as useless, and he will go in one direction while you are
pushing in the other. If you can see a chance of destroying Hood's
army, attend to that first, and make your other move secondary.

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.

My answer is dated

ROME, GEORGIA, November 2, 1864.
Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, City Point, Virginia:

Your dispatch is received. If I could hope to overhaul Hood, I
would turn against him with my whole force; then he would retreat
to the south west, drawing me as a decoy away from Georgia, which
is his chief object. If he ventures north of the Tennessee River, I
may turn in that direction, and endeavor to get below him on his
line of retreat; but thus far he has not gone above the Tennessee
River. General Thomas will have a force strong enough to prevent
his reaching any country in which we have an interest; and he has
orders, if Hood turns to follow me, to push for Selma, Alabama. No
single army can catch Hood, and I am convinced the best results
will follow from our defeating Jeff. Davis's cherished plea of
making me leave Georgia by manoeuvring. Thus far I have confined
my efforts to thwart this plan, and have reduced baggage so that I
can pick up and start in any direction; but I regard the pursuit of
Hood as useless. Still, if he attempts to invade Middle Tennessee,
I will hold Decatur, and be prepared to move in that direction;
but, unless I let go of Atlanta, my force will not be equal to his.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

By this date, under the intelligent and energetic action of Colonel
W. W. Wright, and with the labor of fifteen hundred men, the
railroad break of fifteen miles about Dalton was repaired so far as
to admit of the passage of cars, and I transferred my headquarters
to Kingston as more central; and from that place, on the same day
(November 2d), again telegraphed to General Grant:

KINGSTON, GEORGIA, November 2, 1884.
Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, City Point, Virginia:
If I turn back, the whole effect of my campaign will be lost. By my
movements I have thrown Beauregard (Hood) well to the west, and
Thomas will have ample time and sufficient troops to hold him until
the reenforcements from Missouri reach him. We have now ample
supplies at Chattannooga and Atlanta, and can stand a month's
interruption to our communications. I do not believe the
Confederate army can reach our railroad-lines except by
cavalry-raids, and Wilson will have cavalry enough to checkmate
them. I am clearly of opinion that the best results will follow my
contemplated movement through Georgia.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

That same day I received, in answer to the Rome dispatch, the

CITY POINT, VIRGINIA, November 2,1864--11.30 a.m.

Major-General SHERMAN:

Your dispatch of 9 A.M. yesterday is just received. I dispatched
you the same date, advising that Hood's army, now that it had
worked so far north, ought to be looked upon now as the "object."
With the force, however, that you have left with General Thomas, he
must be able to take care of Hood and destroy him.

I do not see that you can withdraw from where you are to follow
Hood, without giving up all we have gained in territory. I say,
then, go on as you propose.

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General,

This was the first time that General Grant ordered the "march to
the sea," and, although many of his warm friends and admirers
insist that he was the author and projector of that march, and that
I simply executed his plans, General Grant has never, in my
opinion, thought so or said so. The truth is fully given in an
original letter of President Lincoln, which I received at Savannah,
Georgia, and have at this instant before me, every word of which is
in his own familiar handwriting. It is dated-

WASHINGTON, December 26, 1864.

When you were about leaving Atlanta for the Atlantic coast, I was
anxious, if not fearful; but, feeling that you were the better
judge, and remembering "nothing risked, nothing gained," I did not
interfere. Now, the undertaking being a success, the honor is all
yours; for I believe none of us went further than to acquiesce;
and, taking the work of General Thomas into account, as it should
be taken, it is indeed a great success. Not only does it afford
the obvious and immediate military advantages, but, in showing to
the world that your army could be divided, putting the stronger
part to an important new service, and yet leaving enough to
vanquish the old opposing force of the whole, Hood's army, it
brings those who sat in darkness to see a great light. But what
next? I suppose it will be safer if I leave General Grant and
yourself to decide.


Of course, this judgment; made after the event, was extremely
flattering and was all I ever expected, a recognition of the truth
and of its importance. I have often been asked, by well-meaning
friends, when the thought of that march first entered my mind. I
knew that an army which had penetrated Georgia as far as Atlanta
could not turn back. It must go ahead, but when, how, and where,
depended on many considerations. As soon as Hood had shifted
across from Lovejoy's to Palmetto, I saw the move in my "mind's
eye;" and, after Jeff. Davis's speech at Palmetto, of September
26th, I was more positive in my conviction, but was in doubt as to
the time and manner. When General Hood first struck our railroad
above Marietta, we were not ready, and I was forced to watch his
movements further, till he had "carromed" off to the west of
Decatur. Then I was perfectly convinced, and had no longer a
shadow of doubt. The only possible question was as to Thomas's
strength and ability to meet Hood in the open field. I did not
suppose that General Hood, though rash, would venture to attack
fortified places like Allatoona, Resaca, Decatur, and Nashville;
but he did so, and in so doing he played into our hands perfectly.

On the 2d of November I was at Kingston, Georgia, and my four
corps--the Fifteenth, Seventeenth, Fourteenth, and Twentieth--with
one division of cavalry, were strung from Rome to Atlanta. Our
railroads and telegraph had been repaired, and I deliberately
prepared for the march to Savannah, distant three hundred miles
from Atlanta. All the sick and wounded men had been sent back by
rail to Chattanooga; all our wagon-trains had been carefully
overhauled and loaded, so as to be ready to start on an hour's
notice, and there was no serious enemy in our front.

General Hood remained still at Florence, Alabama, occupying both
banks of the Tennessee River, busy in collecting shoes and clothing
for his men, and the necessary ammunition and stores with which to
invade Tennessee, most of which had to come from Mobile, Selma, and
Montgomery, Alabama, over railroads that were still broken.
Beauregard was at Corinth, hastening forward these necessary

General Thomas was at Nashville, with Wilson's dismounted cavalry
and a mass of new troops and quartermaster's employs amply
sufficient to defend the place. The Fourth and Twenty-third Corps,
under Generals Stanley and Schofield were posted at Pulaski,
Tennessee, and the cavalry of Hatch, Croxton, and Capron, were
about Florence, watching Hood. Smith's (A. J.) two divisions of
the Sixteenth Corps were still in Missouri, but were reported as
ready to embark at Lexington for the Cumberland River and
Nashville. Of course, General Thomas saw that on him would likely
fall the real blow, and was naturally anxious. He still kept
Granger's division at Decatur, Rousseau's at Murfreesboro', and
Steedman's at Chattanooga, with strong railroad guards at all the
essential points intermediate, confident that by means of this very
railroad he could make his concentration sooner than Hood could
possibly march up from Florence.

Meantime, General F. P. Blair had rejoined his corps (Seventeenth),
and we were receiving at Kingston recruits and returned furlough-
men, distributing them to their proper companies. Paymasters had
come down to pay off our men before their departure to a new sphere
of action, and commissioners were also on hand from the several
States to take the vote of our men in the presidential election
then agitating the country.

On the 6th of November, at Kingston, I wrote and telegraphed to
General Grant, reviewing the whole situation, gave him my full plan
of action, stated that I was ready to march as soon as the election
was over, and appointed November 10th as the day for starting. On
the 8th I received this dispatch:

CITY POINT, VIRGINIA, November 7, 1864-10.30 P.M.

Major-General SHERMAN:

Your dispatch of this evening received. I see no present reason
for changing your plan. Should any arise, you will see it, or if I
do I will inform you. I think everything here is favorable now.
Great good fortune attend you! I believe you will be eminently
successful, and, at worst, can only make a march less fruitful of
results than hoped for.

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.

Meantime trains of cars were whirling by, carrying to the rear an
immense amount of stores which had accumulated at Atlanta, and at
the other stations along the railroad; and General Steedman had
come down to Kingston, to take charge of the final evacuation and
withdrawal of the several garrisons below Chattanooga.

On the 10th of November the movement may be said to have fairly
begun. All the troops designed for the campaign were ordered to
march for Atlanta, and General Corse, before evacuating his post at
Rome, was ordered to burn all the mills, factories, etc., etc.,
that could be useful to the enemy, should he undertake to pursue
us, or resume military possession of the country. This was done on
the night of the 10th, and next day Corse reached Kingston. On the
11th General Thomas and I interchanged full dispatches. He had
heard of the arrival of General A. J. Smith's two divisions at
Paducah, which would surely reach Nashville much sooner than
General Hood could possibly do from Florence, so that he was
perfectly satisfied with his share of the army.

On the 12th, with a full staff, I started from Kingston for
Atlanta; and about noon of that day we reached Cartersville, and
sat on the edge of a porch to rest, when the telegraph operator,
Mr. Van Valkenburg, or Eddy, got the wire down from the poles to
his lap, in which he held a small pocket instrument. Calling
"Chattanooga," he received this message from General Thomas, dated-

NASHVILLE, November 12, 1884--8.80 A.M.

Major-General SHERMAN:

Your dispatch of twelve o'clock last night is received. I have no
fears that Beauregard can do us any harm now, and, if he attempts
to follow you, I will follow him as far as possible. If he does
not follow you, I will then thoroughly organize my troops, and
believe I shall have men enough to ruin him unless he gets out of
the way very rapidly.

The country of Middle Alabama, I learn, is teeming with supplies
this year, which will be greatly to our advantage. I have no
additional news to report from the direction of Florence.
I am now convinced that the greater part of Beauregard's army is
near Florence and Tuscumbia, and that you will have at least a
clear road before you for several days, and that your success will
fully equal your expectations.

George H. THOMAS, Major-General.

I answered simply: "Dispatch received--all right." About that
instant of time, some of our men burnt a bridge, which severed the
telegraph-wire, and all communication with the rear ceased

As we rode on toward Atlanta that night, I remember the railroad-
trains going to the rear with a furious speed; the engineers and
the few men about the trains waving us an affectionate adieu. It
surely was a strange event--two hostile armies marching in opposite
directions, each in the full belief that it was achieving a final
and conclusive result in a great war; and I was strongly inspired
with the feeling that the movement on our part was a direct attack
upon the rebel army and the rebel capital at Richmond, though a
full thousand miles of hostile country intervened, and that, for
better or worse, it would end the war.




On the 12th of November the railroad and telegraph communications
with the rear were broken, and the army stood detached from all
friends, dependent on its own resources and supplies. No time was
to be lost; all the detachments were ordered to march rapidly for
Atlanta, breaking up the railroad en route, and generally to so
damage the country as to make it untenable to the enemy. By the
14th all the troops had arrived at or near Atlanta, and were,
according to orders, grouped into two wings, the right and left,
commanded respectively by Major-Generals O. O. Howard and H. W.
Slocum, both comparatively young men, but educated and experienced
officers, fully competent to their command.

The right wing was composed of the Fifteenth Corps, Major-General
P. J. Osterhaus commanding, and the Seventeenth Corps, Major-
General Frank P. Blair commanding.

The left wing was composed of the Fourteenth Corps, Major-General
Jefferson C. Davis commanding, and the Twentieth Corps, Brigadier-
General A. S. Williams commanding.

The Fifteenth Corps had four divisions, commanded by Brigadier-
Generals Charles R. Woods, W. B. Hazen, John E. Smith, and John M.

The Seventeenth Corps had three divisions, commanded by Major-
General J. A. Mower, and Brigadier-Generals M. D. Leggett ad Giles
A. Smith.

The Fourteenth Corps had three divisions, commanded by Brigadier-
Generals W. P. Carlin, James D. Morgan, and A. Baird.

The Twentieth Corps had also three divisions, commanded by
Brigadier-Generals N. J. Jackson, John W. Geary, and W. T. Ward.

The cavalry division was held separate, subject to my own orders.
It was commanded by Brigadier-General Judson Kilpatrick, and was
composed of two brigades, commanded by Colonels Eli H. Murray, of
Kentucky, and Smith D. Atkins, of Illinois.

The strength of the army, as officially reported, is given in the
following tables, and shows an aggregate of fifty-five thousand
three hundred and twenty-nine infantry, five thousand and
sixty-three cavalry, and eighteen hundred and twelve artillery in
all, sixty-two thousand two hundred and four officers and men.

The most extraordinary efforts had been made to purge this army of
non-combatants and of sick men, for we knew well that there was to
be no place of safety save with the army itself; our wagons were
loaded with ammunition, provisions, and forage, and we could ill
afford to haul even sick men in the ambulances, so that all on this
exhibit may be assumed to have been able-bodied, experienced
soldiers, well armed, well equipped and provided, as far as human
foresight could, with all the essentials of life, strength, and
vigorous action.

The two general orders made for this march appear to me, even at
this late day, so clear, emphatic, and well-digested, that no
account of that historic event is perfect without them, and I give
them entire, even at the seeming appearance of repetition; and,
though they called for great sacrifice and labor on the part of the
officers and men, I insist that these orders were obeyed as well as
any similar orders ever were, by an army operating wholly in an
enemy's country, and dispersed, as we necessarily were, during the
subsequent period of nearly six months.

[Special Field Orders, No. 119.]


The general commanding deems it proper at this time to inform the
officers and men of the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Seventeenth, and
Twentieth Corps, that he has organized them into an army for a
special purpose, well known to the War Department and to General
Grant. It is sufficient for you to know that it involves a
departure from our present base, and a long and difficult march to
a new one. All the chances of war have been considered and
provided for, as far as human sagacity can. All he asks of you is
to maintain that discipline, patience, and courage, which have
characterized you in the past; and he hopes, through you, to strike
a blow at our enemy that will have a material effect in producing
what we all so much desire, his complete overthrow. Of all things,
the most important is, that the men, during marches and in camp,
keep their places and do not scatter about as stragglers or
foragers, to be picked up by a hostile people in detail. It is
also of the utmost importance that our wagons should not be loaded
with any thing but provisions and ammunition. All surplus
servants, noncombatants, and refugees, should now go to the rear,
and none should be encouraged to encumber us on the march. At some
future time we will be able to provide for the poor whites and
blacks who seek to escape the bondage under which they are now
suffering. With these few simple cautions, he hopes to lead you to
achievements equal in importance to those of the past.

By order of Major-General W. T. Sherman,
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp.

[Special Field Orders, No. 120.]


1. For the purpose of military operations, this army is divided
into two wings viz.:

The right wing, Major-General O. O. Howard commanding, composed of
the Fifteenth and Seventeenth Corps; the left wing, Major-General
H. W. Slocum commanding, composed of the Fourteenth and Twentieth

2. The habitual order of march will be, wherever practicable, by
four roads, as nearly parallel as possible, and converging at
points hereafter to be indicated in orders. The cavalry,
Brigadier-General Kilpatrick commanding, will receive special
orders from the commander-in-chief.

3. There will be no general train of supplies, but each corps will
have its ammunition-train and provision-train, distributed
habitually as follows: Behind each regiment should follow one wagon
and one ambulance; behind each brigade should follow a due
proportion of ammunition-wagons, provision-wagons, and ambulances.
In case of danger, each corps commander should change this order of
march, by having his advance and rear brigades unencumbered by
wheels. The separate columns will start habitually at 7 a.m., and
make about fifteen miles per day, unless otherwise fixed in orders.

4. The army will forage liberally on the country during the march.
To this end, each brigade commander will organize a good and
sufficient foraging party, under the command of one or more
discreet officers, who will gather, near the route traveled, corn
or forage of any kind, meat of any kind, vegetables, corn-meal, or
whatever is needed by the command, aiming at all times to keep in
the wagons at least ten days' provisions for his command, and three
days' forage. Soldiers must not enter the dwellings of the
inhabitants, or commit any trespass; but, during a halt or camp,
they may be permitted to gather turnips, potatoes, and other
vegetables, and to drive in stock in sight of their camp. To
regular foraging-parties must be intrusted the gathering of
provisions and forage, at any distance from the road traveled.

6. To corps commanders alone is intrusted the power to destroy
mills, houses, cotton-gins, etc.; and for them this general
principle is laid down:

In districts and neighborhoods where the army is unmolested, no
destruction of each property should be permitted; but should
guerrillas or bushwhackers molest our march, or should the
inhabitants burn bridges, obstruct roads, or otherwise manifest
local hostility, then army commanders should order and enforce a
devastation more or less relentless, according to the measure of
such hostility.

6. As for horses, mules, wagons, etc., belonging to the
inhabitants, the cavalry and artillery may appropriate freely and
without limit; discriminating, however, between the rich, who are
usually hostile, and the poor and industrious, usually neutral or
friendly. Foraging-parties may also take mules or horses, to
replace the jaded animals of their trains, or to serve as
pack-mules for the regiments or brigades. In all foraging, of
whatever kind, the parties engaged will refrain from abusive or
threatening language, and may, where the officer in command thinks
proper, give written certificates of the facts, but no receipts;
and they will endeavor to leave with each family a reasonable
portion for their maintenance,

7. Negroes who are able-bodied and can be of service to the
several columns may be taken along; but each army commander will
bear in mind that the question of supplies is a very important one,
and that his first duty is to see to those who bear arms.

8. The organization, at once, of a good pioneer battalion for each
army corps, composed if possible of negroes, should be attended to.
This battalion should follow the advance-guard, repair roads and
double them if possible, so that the columns will not be delayed
after reaching bad places. Also, army commanders should practise
the habit of giving the artillery and wagons the road, marching
their troops on one side, and instruct their troops to assist
wagons at steep hills or bad crossings of streams.

9. Captain O. M. Poe, chief-engineer, will assign to each wing of
the army a pontoon-train, fully equipped and organized; and the
commanders thereof will see to their being properly protected at
all times.

By order of Major-General W. T. Sherman,

L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp.

The greatest possible attention had been given to the artillery and
wagon trains. The number of guns had been reduced to sixty-five,
or about one gun to each thousand men, and these were generally in
batteries of four guns each.

Each gun, caisson, and forges was drawn by four teams of horses.
We had in all about twenty-five hundred wagons, with teams of six
mules to each, and six hundred ambulances, with two horses to each.
The loads were made comparatively light, about twenty-five hundred
pounds net; each wagon carrying in addition the forage needed by
its own team: Each soldier carried on his person forty rounds of
ammunition, and in the wagons were enough cartridges to make up
about two hundred rounds per man, and in like manner two hundred
rounds of assorted ammunition were carried for each gun.

The wagon-trains were divided equally between the four corps, so
that each had about eight hundred wagons, and these usually on the
march occupied five miles or more of road. Each corps commander
managed his own train; and habitually the artillery and wagons had
the road, while the men, with the exception of the advance and rear
guards, pursued paths improvised by the aide of the wagons, unless
they were forced to use a bridge or causeway in common.

I reached Atlanta during the afternoon of the 14th, and found that
all preparations had been made-Colonel Beckwith, chief commissary,
reporting one million two hundred thousand rations in possession of
the troops, which was about twenty days' supply, and he had on hand
a good supply of beef-cattle to be driven along on the hoof. Of
forage, the supply was limited, being of oats and corn enough for
five days, but I knew that within that time we would reach a
country well stocked with corn, which had been gathered and stored
in cribs, seemingly for our use, by Governor Brown's militia.

Colonel Poe, United States Engineers, of my staff, had been busy in
his special task of destruction. He had a large force at work, had
leveled the great depot, round house, and the machine-shops of the
Georgia Railroad, and had applied fire to the wreck. One of these
machine-shops had been used by the rebels as an arsenal, and in it
were stored piles of shot and shell, some of which proved to be
loaded, and that night was made hideous by the bursting of shells,
whose fragments came uncomfortably, near Judge Lyon's house, in
which I was quartered. The fire also reached the block of stores
near the depot, and the heart of the city was in flames all night,
but the fire did not reach the parts of Atlanta where the court-
house was, or the great mass of dwelling houses.

The march from Atlanta began on the morning of November 15th, the
right wing and cavalry following the railroad southeast toward
Jonesboro', and General Slocum with the Twentieth Corps leading off
to the east by Decatur and Stone Mountain, toward Madison. These
were divergent lines, designed to threaten both Mason and Augusta
at the same time, so as to prevent a concentration at our intended
destination, or "objective," Milledgeville, the capital of Georgia,
distant southeast about one hundred miles. The time allowed each
column for reaching Milledgeville was seven days. I remained in
Atlanta during the 15th with the Fourteenth Corps, and the rear-
guard of the right wing, to complete the loading of the trains, and
the destruction of the buildings of Atlanta which could be
converted to hostile uses, and on the morning of the 16th started
with my personal staff, a company of Alabama cavalry, commanded by
Lieutenant Snelling, and an infantry company, commanded by
Lieutenant McCrory, which guarded our small train of wagons.

My staff was then composed of Major L. M. Dayton, aide-de-camp and
acting adjutant-general, Major J. C. McCoy, and Major J. C.
Audenried, aides. Major Ward Nichols had joined some weeks before
at Gaylesville, Alabama, and was attached as an acting
aide-de-camp. Also Major Henry Hitchcock had joined at the same
time as judge-advocate. Colonel Charles Ewing was
inspector-general, and Surgeon John Moore medical director. These
constituted our mess. We had no tents, only the flies, with which
we nightly made bivouacs with the assistance of the abundant
pine-boughs, which made excellent shelter, as well as beds.

Colonel L. C. Easton was chief-quartermaster; Colonel Amos
Beckwith, chief-commissary; Colonel O. M. Poe, chief-engineer; and
Colonel T. G. Baylor, chief of ordnance. These invariably rode
with us during the day, but they had a separate camp and mess at

General William F. Barry had been chief of artillery in the
previous campaign, but at Kingston his face was so swollen with
erysipelas that he was reluctantly compelled to leave us for the
rear; and he could not, on recovering, rejoin us till we had
reached Savannah.

About 7 a.m. of November 16th we rode out of Atlanta by the Decatur
road, filled by the marching troops and wagons of the Fourteenth
Corps; and reaching the hill, just outside of the old rebel works,
we naturally paused to look back upon the scenes of our past
battles. We stood upon the very ground whereon was fought the
bloody battle of July 22d, and could see the copse of wood where
McPherson fell. Behind us lay Atlanta, smouldering and in ruins,
the black smoke rising high in air, and hanging like a pall over
the ruined city. Away off in the distance, on the McDonough road,
was the rear of Howard's column, the gun-barrels glistening in the
sun, the white-topped wagons stretching away to the south; and
right before us the Fourteenth Corps, marching steadily and
rapidly, with a cheery look and swinging pace, that made light of
the thousand miles that lay between us and Richmond. Some band, by
accident, struck up the anthem of "John Brown's soul goes marching
on;" the men caught up the strain, and never before or since have I
heard the chorus of "Glory, glory, hallelujah!" done with more
spirit, or in better harmony of time and place.

Then we turned our horses' heads to the east; Atlanta was soon lost
behind the screen of trees, and became a thing of the past. Around
it clings many a thought of desperate battle, of hope and fear,
that now seem like the memory of a dream; and I have never seen the
place since. The day was extremely beautiful, clear sunlight, with
bracing air, and an unusual feeling of exhilaration seemed to
pervade all minds--a feeling of something to come, vague and
undefined, still full of venture and intense interest. Even the
common soldiers caught the inspiration, and many a group called out
to me as I worked my way past them, "Uncle Billy, I guess Grant is
waiting for us at Richmond!" Indeed, the general sentiment was
that we were marching for Richmond, and that there we should end
the war, but how and when they seemed to care not; nor did they
measure the distance, or count the cost in life, or bother their
brains about the great rivers to be crossed, and the food required
for man and beast, that had to be gathered by the way. There was a
"devil-may-care" feeling pervading officers and men, that made me
feel the full load of responsibility, for success would be accepted
as a matter of course, whereas, should we fail, this "march" would
be adjudged the wild adventure of a crazy fool. I had no purpose
to march direct for Richmond by way of Augusta and Charlotte, but
always designed to reach the sea-coast first at Savannah or Port
Royal, South Carolina, and even kept in mind the alternative of

The first night out we camped by the road-side near Lithonia.
Stone Mountain, a mass of granite, was in plain view, cut out in
clear outline against the blue sky; the whole horizon was lurid
with the bonfires of rail-ties, and groups of men all night were
carrying the heated rails to the nearest trees, and bending them
around the trunks. Colonel Poe had provided tools for ripping up
the rails and twisting them when hot; but the best and easiest way
is the one I have described, of heating the middle of the
iron-rails on bonfires made of the cross-ties, and then winding
them around a telegraph-pole or the trunk of some convenient
sapling. I attached much importance to this destruction of the
railroad, gave it my own personal attention, and made reiterated
orders to others on the subject.

The next day we passed through the handsome town of Covington, the
soldiers closing up their ranks, the color-bearers unfurling their
flags, and the bands striking up patriotic airs. The white people
came out of their houses to behold the sight, spite of their deep
hatred of the invaders, and the negroes were simply frantic with
joy. Whenever they heard my name, they clustered about my horse,
shouted and prayed in their peculiar style, which had a natural
eloquence that would have moved a stone. I have witnessed
hundreds, if not thousands, of such scenes; and can now see a poor
girl, in the very ecstasy of the Methodist "shout," hugging the
banner of one of the regiments, and jumping up to the "feet of

I remember, when riding around by a by-street in Covington, to
avoid the crowd that followed the marching column, that some one
brought me an invitation to dine with a sister of Sam. Anderson,
who was a cadet at West Point with me; but the messenger reached me
after we had passed the main part of the town. I asked to be
excused, and rode on to a place designated for camp, at the
crossing of the Ulcofauhachee River, about four miles to the east
of the town. Here we made our bivouac, and I walked up to a
plantation-house close by, where were assembled many negroes, among
them an old, gray-haired man, of as fine a head as I ever saw. I
asked him if he understood about the war and its progress. He said
he did; that he had been looking for the "angel of the Lord" ever
since he was knee-high, and, though we professed to be fighting for
the Union, he supposed that slavery was the cause, and that our
success was to be his freedom. I asked him if all the negro slaves
comprehended this fact, and he said they surely did. I then
explained to him that we wanted the slaves to remain where they
were, and not to load us down with useless mouths, which would eat
up the food needed for our fighting men; that our success was their
assured freedom; that we could receive a few of their young, hearty
men as pioneers; but that, if they followed us in swarms of old and
young, feeble and helpless, it would simply load us down and
cripple us in our great task. I think Major Henry Hitchcock was
with me on that occasion, and made a note of the conversation, and
I believe that old man spread this message to the slaves, which was
carried from mouth to mouth, to the very end of our journey, and
that it in part saved us from the great danger we incurred of
swelling our numbers so that famine would have attended our
progress. It was at this very plantation that a soldier passed me
with a ham on his musket, a jug of sorghum-molasses under his arm,
and a big piece of honey in his hand, from which he was eating,
and, catching my eye, he remarked sotto voce and carelessly to a
comrade, "Forage liberally on the country," quoting from my general
orders. On this occasion, as on many others that fell under my
personal observation, I reproved the man, explained that foraging
must be limited to the regular parties properly detailed, and that
all provisions thus obtained must be delivered to the regular
commissaries, to be fairly distributed to the men who kept their

From Covington the Fourteenth Corps (Davis's), with which I was
traveling, turned to the right for Milledgeville, via Shady Dale.
General Slocum was ahead at Madison, with the Twentieth Corps,
having torn up the railroad as far as that place, and thence had
sent Geary's division on to the Oconee, to burn the bridges across
that stream, when this corps turned south by Eatonton, for
Milledgeville, the common "objective" for the first stage of the
"march." We found abundance of corn, molasses, meal, bacon, and
sweet-potatoes. We also took a good many cows and oxen, and a
large number of mules. In all these the country was quite rich,
never before having been visited by a hostile army; the recent crop
had been excellent, had been just gathered and laid by for the
winter. As a rule, we destroyed none, but kept our wagons full,
and fed our teams bountifully.

The skill and success of the men in collecting forage was one of
the features of this march. Each brigade commander had authority
to detail a company of foragers, usually about fifty men, with one
or two commissioned officers selected for their boldness and
enterprise. This party would be dispatched before daylight with a
knowledge of the intended day's march and camp; would proceed on
foot five or six miles from the route traveled by their brigade,
and then visit every plantation and farm within range. They would
usually procure a wagon or family carriage, load it with bacon,
corn-meal, turkeys, chickens, ducks, and every thing that could be
used as food or forage, and would then regain the main road,
usually in advance of their train. When this came up, they would
deliver to the brigade commissary the supplies thus gathered by the
way. Often would I pass these foraging-parties at the roadside,
waiting for their wagons to come up, and was amused at their
strange collections--mules, horses, even cattle, packed with old
saddles and loaded with hams, bacon, bags of cornmeal, and poultry
of every character and description. Although this foraging was
attended with great danger and hard work, there seemed to be a
charm about it that attracted the soldiers, and it was a privilege
to be detailed on such a party. Daily they returned mounted on all
sorts of beasts, which were at once taken from them and
appropriated to the general use; but the next day they would start
out again on foot, only to repeat the experience of the day before.
No doubt, many acts of pillage, robbery, and violence, were
committed by these parties of foragers, usually called "bummers;"
for I have since heard of jewelry taken from women, and the plunder
of articles that never reached the commissary; but these acts were
exceptional and incidental. I never heard of any cases of murder
or rape; and no army could have carried along sufficient food and
forage for a march of three hundred miles; so that foraging in some
shape was necessary. The country was sparsely settled, with no
magistrates or civil authorities who could respond to requisitions,
as is done in all the wars of Europe; so that this system of
foraging was simply indispensable to our success. By it our men
were well supplied with all the essentials of life and health,
while the wagons retained enough in case of unexpected delay, and
our animals were well fed. Indeed, when we reached Savannah, the
trains were pronounced by experts to be the finest in flesh and
appearance ever seen with any army.

Habitually each corps followed some main road, and the foragers,-
being kept out on the exposed flank, served all the military uses
of flankers. The main columns gathered, by the roads traveled,
much forage and food, chiefly meat, corn, and sweet-potatoes, and
it was the duty of each division and brigade quartermaster to fill
his wagons as fast as the contents were issued to the troops. The
wagon-trains had the right to the road always, but each wagon was
required to keep closed up, so as to leave no gaps in the column.
If for any purpose any wagon or group of wagons dropped out of
place, they had to wait for the rear. And this was always dreaded,
for each brigade commander wanted his train up at camp as soon
after reaching it with his men as possible.

I have seen much skill and industry displayed by these quarter-
masters on the march, in trying to load their wagons with corn and
fodder by the way without losing their place in column. They
would, while marching, shift the loads of wagons, so as to have six
or ten of them empty. Then, riding well ahead, they would secure
possession of certain stacks of fodder near the road, or cribs of
corn, leave some men in charge, then open fences and a road back
for a couple of miles, return to their trains, divert the empty
wagons out of column, and conduct them rapidly to their forage,
load up and regain their place in column without losing distance.
On one occasion I remember to have seen ten or a dozen wagons thus
loaded with corn from two or three full cribs, almost without
halting. These cribs were built of logs, and roofed. The
train-guard, by a lever, had raised the whole side of the crib a
foot or two; the wagons drove close alongside, and the men in the
cribs, lying on their backs, kicked out a wagon-load of corn in the
time I have taken to describe it.

In a well-ordered and well-disciplined army, these things might be
deemed irregular, but I am convinced that the ingenuity of these
younger officers accomplished many things far better than I could
have ordered, and the marches were thus made, and the distances
were accomplished, in the most admirable way. Habitually we
started from camp at the earliest break of dawn, and usually
reached camp soon after noon. The marches varied from ten to
fifteen miles a day, though sometimes on extreme flanks it was
necessary to make as much as twenty, but the rate of travel was
regulated by the wagons; and, considering the nature of the roads,
fifteen miles per day was deemed the limit.

The pontoon-trains were in like manner distributed in about equal
proportions to the four corps, giving each a section of about nine
hundred feet. The pontoons were of the skeleton pattern, with
cotton-canvas covers, each boat, with its proportion of balks and
cheeses, constituting a load for one wagon. By uniting two such
sections together, we could make a bridge of eighteen hundred feet,
enough for any river we had to traverse; but habitually the leading
brigade would, out of the abundant timber, improvise a bridge
before the pontoon-train could come up, unless in the cases of
rivers of considerable magnitude, such as the Ocmulgee, Oconee,
Ogeechee, Savannah, etc.

On the 20th of November I was still with the Fourteenth Corps, near
Eatonton Factory, waiting to hear of the Twentieth Corps; and on
the 21st we camped near the house of a man named Mann; the next
day, about 4 p.m., General Davis had halted his head of column on a
wooded ridge, overlooking an extensive slope of cultivated country,
about ten miles short of Milledgeville, and was deploying his
troops for camp when I got up. There was a high, raw wind blowing,
and I asked him why he had chosen so cold and bleak a position. He
explained that he had accomplished his full distance for the day,
and had there an abundance of wood and water. He explained further
that his advance-guard was a mile or so ahead; so I rode on, asking
him to let his rear division, as it came up, move some distance
ahead into the depression or valley beyond. Riding on some
distance to the border of a plantation, I turned out of the main
road into a cluster of wild-plum bushes, that broke the force of
the cold November wind, dismounted, and instructed the staff to
pick out the place for our camp.

The afternoon was unusually raw and cold. My orderly was at hand
with his invariable saddle-bags, which contained a change of
under-clothing, my maps, a flask of whiskey, and bunch of cigars.
Taking a drink and lighting a cigar, I walked to a row of
negro-huts close by, entered one and found a soldier or two warming
themselves by a wood-fire. I took their place by the fire,
intending to wait there till our wagons had got up, and a camp made
for the night. I was talking to the old negro woman, when some one
came and explained to me that, if I would come farther down the
road, I could find a better place. So I started on foot, and found
on the main road a good double-hewed-log house, in one room of
which Colonel Poe, Dr. Moore, and others, had started a fire. I
sent back orders to the "plum-bushes" to bring our horses and
saddles up to this house, and an orderly to conduct our headquarter
wagons to the same place. In looking around the room, I saw a
small box, like a candle-box, marked "Howell Cobb," and, on
inquiring of a negro, found that we were at the plantation of
General Howell Cobb, of Georgia, one of the leading rebels of the
South, then a general in the Southern army, and who had been
Secretary of the United States Treasury in Mr. Buchanan's time. Of
course, we confiscated his property, and found it rich in corn,
beans, pea-nuts, and sorghum-molasses. Extensive fields were all
round the house; I sent word back to General David to explain whose
plantation it was, and instructed him to spare nothing. That night
huge bonfires consumed the fence-rails, kept our soldiers warm, and
the teamsters and men, as well as the slaves, carried off an
immense quantity of corn and provisions of all sorts.

In due season the headquarter wagons came up, and we got supper.
After supper I sat on a chair astride, with my back to a good fire,
musing, and became conscious that an old negro, with a tallow-
candle in his hand, was scanning my face closely. I inquired,
"What do you want, old man!" He answered, "Dey say you is Massa
Sherman." I answered that such was the case, and inquired what he
wanted. He only wanted to look at me, and kept muttering, "Dis
nigger can't sleep dis night." I asked him why he trembled so, and
he said that he wanted to be sure that we were in fact "Yankees,"
for on a former occasion some rebel cavalry had put on light-blue
overcoats, personating Yankee troops, and many of the negroes were
deceived thereby, himself among the number had shown them sympathy,
and had in consequence been unmercifully beaten therefor. This
time he wanted to be certain before committing himself; so I told
him to go out on the porch, from which he could see the whole
horizon lit up with camp-fires, and he could then judge whether he
had ever seen any thing like it before. The old man became
convinced that the "Yankees" had come at last, about whom he had
been dreaming all his life; and some of the staff officers gave him
a strong drink of whiskey, which set his tongue going. Lieutenant
Spelling, who commanded my escort, was a Georgian, and recognized
in this old negro a favorite slave of his uncle, who resided about
six miles off; but the old slave did not at first recognize his
young master in our uniform. One of my staff-officers asked him
what had become of his young master, George. He did not know, only
that he had gone off to the war, and he supposed him killed, as a
matter of course. His attention was then drawn to Spelling's face,
when he fell on his knees and thanked God that he had found his
young master alive and along with the Yankees. Spelling inquired
all about his uncle and the family, asked my permission to go and
pay his uncle a visit, which I granted, of course, and the next
morning he described to me his visit. The uncle was not cordial,
by any means, to find his nephew in the ranks of the host that was
desolating the land, and Spelling came back, having exchanged his
tired horse for a fresher one out of his uncle's stables,
explaining that surely some of the "bummers" would have got the
horse had he not.

The next morning, November 23d, we rode into Milledgeville, the
capital of the State, whither the Twentieth Corps had preceded us;
and during that day the left wing was all united, in and around
Milledgeville. From the inhabitants we learned that some of
Kilpatrick's cavalry had preceded us by a couple of days, and that
all of the right wing was at and near Gordon, twelve miles off,
viz., the place where the branch railroad came to Milledgeville
from the Mason & Savannah road. The first stage of the journey
was, therefore, complete, and absolutely successful.

General Howard soon reported by letter the operations of his right
wing, which, on leaving Atlanta, had substantially followed the two
roads toward Mason, by Jonesboro' and McDonough, and reached the
Ocmulgee at Planters' Factory, which they crossed, by the aid of
the pontoon-train, during the 18th and 19th of November. Thence,
with the Seventeenth Corps (General Blair's) he (General Howard)
had marched via Monticello toward Gordon, having dispatched
Kilpatrick's cavalry, supported by the Fifteenth Corps
(Osterhaus's), to feign on Mason. Kilpatrick met the enemy's
cavalry about four miles out of Mason, and drove them rapidly back
into the bridge-defenses held by infantry. Kilpatrick charged
these, got inside the parapet, but could not hold it, and retired
to his infantry supports, near Griswold Station. The Fifteenth
Corps tore up the railroad-track eastward from Griswold, leaving
Charles R. Wood's division behind as a rear-guard-one brigade of
which was intrenched across the road, with some of Kilpatrick's
cavalry on the flanks. On the 22d of November General G. W. Smith,
with a division of troops, came out of Mason, attacked this brigade
(Walcutt's) in position, and was handsomely repulsed and driven
back into Mason. This brigade was in part armed with Spencer
repeating-rifles, and its fire was so rapid that General Smith
insists to this day that he encountered a whole division; but he is
mistaken; he was beaten by one brigade (Walcutt's), and made no
further effort to molest our operations from that direction.
General Walcutt was wounded in the leg, and had to ride the rest of
the distance to Savannah in a carriage.

Therefore, by the 23d, I was in Milledgeville with the left wing,
and was in full communication with the right wing at Gordon. The
people of Milledgeville remained at home, except the Governor
(Brown), the State officers, and Legislature, who had ignominiously
fled, in the utmost disorder and confusion; standing not on the
order of their going, but going at once--some by rail, some by
carriages, and many on foot. Some of the citizens who remained
behind described this flight of the "brave and patriotic" Governor
Brown. He had occupied a public building known as the "Governor's
Mansion," and had hastily stripped it of carpets, curtains, and
furniture of all sorts, which were removed to a train of freight-
cars, which carried away these things--even the cabbages and
vegetables from his kitchen and cellar--leaving behind muskets,
ammunition, and the public archives. On arrival at Milledgeville I
occupied the same public mansion, and was soon overwhelmed with
appeals for protection. General Slocum had previously arrived with
the Twentieth Corps, had taken up his quarters at the Milledgeville
Hotel, established a good provost-guard, and excellent order was
maintained. The most frantic appeals had been made by the Governor
and Legislature for help from every quarter, and the people of the
State had been called out en masse to resist and destroy the
invaders of their homes and firesides. Even the prisoners and
convicts of the penitentiary were released on condition of serving
as soldiers, and the cadets were taken from their military college
for the same purpose. These constituted a small battalion, under
General Harry Wayne, a former officer of the United States Army,
and son of the then Justice Wayne of the Supreme Court. But these
hastily retreated east across the Oconee River, leaving us a good
bridge, which we promptly secured.

At Milledgeville we found newspapers from all the South, and
learned the consternation which had filled the Southern mind at our
temerity; many charging that we were actually fleeing for our lives
and seeking safety at the hands of our fleet on the sea-coast. All
demanded that we should be assailed, "front, flank, and rear;" that
provisions should be destroyed in advance, so that we would starve;
that bridges should be burned, roads obstructed, and no mercy shown
us. Judging from the tone of the Southern press of that day, the
outside world must have supposed us ruined and lost. I give a few
of these appeals as samples, which to-day must sound strange to the
parties who made them:

Corinth, Mississippi, November 18, 1884.

To the People of Georgia:

Arise for the defense of your native soil! Rally around your
patriotic Governor and gallant soldiers! Obstruct and destroy all
the roads in Sherman's front, flank, and rear, and his army will
soon starve in your midst. Be confident. Be resolute. Trust in an
overruling Providence, and success will soon crown your efforts. I
hasten to join you in the defense of your homes and firesides.


RICHMOND, November 18, 1884.

To the People of Georgia:

You have now the best opportunity ever yet presented to destroy the
enemy. Put every thing at the disposal of our generals; remove all
provisions from the path of the, invader, and put all obstructions
in his path.

Every citizen with his gun, and every negro with his spade and axe,
can do the work of a soldier. You can destroy the enemy by
retarding his march.

Georgians, be firm! Act promptly, and fear not!

B. H. Hill, Senator.

I most cordially approve the above.
James A. SEDDON, Secretary of War.

Richmond, November 19,1864.

To the People of Georgia:

We have had a special conference with President Davis and the
Secretary of War, and are able to assure you that they have done
and are still doing all that can be done to meet the emergency that
presses upon you. Let every man fly to arms! Remove your negroes,
horses, cattle, and provisions from Sherman's army, and burn what
you cannot carry. Burn all bridges, and block up the roads in his
route. Assail the invader in front, flank, and rear, by night and
by day. Let him have no rest.


Members of Congress.

Of course, we were rather amused than alarmed at these threats, and
made light of the feeble opposition offered to our progress. Some
of the officers (in the spirit of mischief) gathered together in
the vacant hall of Representatives, elected a Speaker, and
constituted themselves the Legislature of the State of Georgia! A
proposition was made to repeal the ordinance of secession, which
was well debated, and resulted in its repeal by a fair vote! I was
not present at these frolics, but heard of them at the time, and
enjoyed the joke.

Meantime orders were made for the total destruction of the arsenal
and its contents, and of such public buildings as could be easily
converted to hostile uses. But little or no damage was done to
private property, and General Slocum, with my approval, spared
several mills, and many thousands of bales of cotton, taking what
he knew to be worthless bonds, that the cotton should not be used
for the Confederacy. Meantime the right wing continued its
movement along the railroad toward Savannah, tearing up the track
and destroying its iron. At the Oconee was met a feeble resistance
from Harry Wayne's troops, but soon the pontoon-bridge was laid,
and that wing crossed over. Gilpatrick's cavalry was brought into
Milledgeville, and crossed the Oconee by the bridge near the town;
and on the 23d I made the general orders for the next stage of the
march as far as Millen. These were, substantially, for the right
wing to follow the Savannah Railroad, by roads on its south; the
left wing was to move to Sandersville, by Davisboro' and
Louisville, while the cavalry was ordered by a circuit to the
north, and to march rapidly for Millen, to rescue our prisoners of
war confined there. The distance was about a hundred miles.

General Wheeler, with his division of rebel cavalry, had succeeded
in getting ahead of us between Milledgeville and Augusta, and
General P. J. Hardee had been dispatched by General Beauregard from
Hood's army to oppose our progress directly in front. He had,
however, brought with him no troops, but relied on his influence
with the Georgians (of whose State he was a native) to arouse the
people, and with them to annihilate Sherman's army!

On the 24th we renewed the march, and I accompanied the Twentieth
Corps, which took the direct road to Sandersville, which we reached
simultaneously with the Fourteenth Corps, on the 26th. A brigade
of rebel cavalry was deployed before the town, and was driven in
and through it by our skirmishline. I myself saw the rebel cavalry
apply fire to stacks of fodder standing in the fields at
Sandersville, and gave orders to burn some unoccupied dwellings
close by. On entering the town, I told certain citizens (who would
be sure to spread the report) that, if the enemy attempted to carry
out their threat to burn their food, corn, and fodder, in our
route, I would most undoubtedly execute to the letter the general
orders of devastation made at the outset of the campaign. With
this exception, and one or two minor cases near Savannah, the
people did not destroy food, for they saw clearly that it would be
ruin to themselves.

At Sandersville I halted the left wing until I heard that the right
wing was abreast of us on the railroad. During the evening a negro
was brought to me, who had that day been to the station (Tenille),
about six miles south of the town. I inquired of him if there were
any Yankees there, and he answered, "Yes." He described in his own
way what he had seen.

"First, there come along some cavalry-men, and they burned the
depot; then come along some infantry-men, and they tore up the
track, and burned it;" and just before he left they had "sot fire
to the well."

The next morning, viz., the 27th, I rode down to the station, and
found General Corse's division (of the Fifteenth Corps) engaged in
destroying the railroad, and saw the well which my negro informant
had seen "burnt." It was a square pit about twenty-five feet deep,
boarded up, with wooden steps leading to the bottom, wherein was a
fine copper pump, to lift the water to a tank above. The soldiers
had broken up the pump, heaved in the steps and lining, and set
fire to the mass of lumber in the bottom of the well, which
corroborated the negro's description.

From this point Blair's corps, the Seventeenth, took up the work of
destroying the railroad, the Fifteenth Corps following another road
leading eastward, farther to the south of the railroad. While the
left wing was marching toward Louisville, north of the railroad,
General Kilpatrick had, with his cavalry division, moved rapidly
toward Waynesboro', on the branch railroad leading from Millen to
Augusta. He found Wheeler's division of rebel cavalry there, and
had considerable skirmishing with it; but, learning that our
prisoners had been removed two days before from Millen, he returned
to Louisville on the 29th, where he found the left wing. Here he
remained a couple of days to rest his horses, and, receiving orders
from me to engage Wheeler and give him all the fighting he wanted,
he procured from General Slocum the assistance of the infantry
division of General Baird, and moved back for Waynesboro' on the 2d
of December, the remainder of the left wing continuing its march on
toward Millers. Near Waynesboro' Wheeler was again encountered,
and driven through the town and beyond Brier Creek, toward Augusta,
thus keeping up the delusion that the main army was moving toward
Augusta. General Kilpatrick's fighting and movements about
Waynesboro' and Brier Creek were spirited, and produced a good
effect by relieving the infantry column and the wagon-trains of all
molestation during their march on Millen. Having thus covered that
flank, he turned south and followed the movement of the Fourteenth
Corps to Buckhead Church, north of Millen and near it.

On the 3d of December I entered Millen with the Seventeenth Corps
(General Frank P. Blair), and there paused one day, to communicate
with all parts of the army. General Howard was south of the
Ogeechee River, with the Fifteenth Corps, opposite Scarboro'.
General Slocum was at Buckhead Church, four miles north of Millen,
with the Twentieth Corps. The Fourteenth (General Davis) was at
Lumpkin's Station, on the Augusta road, about ten miles north of
Millen, and the cavalry division was within easy support of this
wing. Thus the whole army was in good position and in good
condition. We had largely subsisted on the country; our wagons
were full of forage and provisions; but, as we approached the
sea-coast, the country became more sandy and barren, and food
became more scarce; still, with little or no loss, we had traveled
two-thirds of our distance, and I concluded to push on for
Savannah. At Millen I learned that General Bragg was in Augusta,
and that General Wade Hampton had been ordered there from Richmond,
to organize a large cavalry force with which to resist our

General Hardee was ahead, between us and Savannah, with McLaw's
division, and other irregular troops, that could not, I felt
assured, exceed ten thousand men. I caused the fine depot at
Millen to be destroyed, and other damage done, and then resumed the
march directly on Savannah, by the four main roads. The Seventeenth
Corps (General Blair) followed substantially the railroad, and,
along with it, on the 5th of December, I reached Ogeechee
Church, about fifty miles from Savannah, and found there fresh
earthworks, which had been thrown up by McLaw's division; but he
must have seen that both his flanks were being turned, and
prudently retreated to Savannah without a fight. All the columns
then pursued leisurely their march toward Savannah, corn and forage
becoming more and more scarce, but rice-fields beginning to occur
along the Savannah and Ogeechee Rivers, which proved a good
substitute, both as food and forage. The weather was fine, the
roads good, and every thing seemed to favor us. Never do I recall
a more agreeable sensation than the sight of our camps by night,
lit up by the fires of fragrant pine-knots. The trains were all in
good order, and the men seemed to march their fifteen miles a day
as though it were nothing. No enemy opposed us, and we could only
occasionally hear the faint reverberation of a gun to our left
rear, where we knew that General Kilpatrick was skirmishing with
Wheeler's cavalry, which persistently followed him. But the
infantry columns had met with no opposition whatsoever. McLaw's
division was falling back before us, and we occasionally picked up
a few of his men as prisoners, who insisted that we would meet with
strong opposition at Savannah.

On the 8th, as I rode along, I found the column turned out of the
main road, marching through the fields. Close by, in the corner of
a fence, was a group of men standing around a handsome young
officer, whose foot had been blown to pieces by a torpedo planted
in the road. He was waiting for a surgeon to amputate his leg, and
told me that he was riding along with the rest of his brigade-staff
of the Seventeenth Corps, when a torpedo trodden on by his horse
had exploded, killing the horse and literally blowing off all the
flesh from one of his legs. I saw the terrible wound, and made
full inquiry into the facts. There had been no resistance at that
point, nothing to give warning of danger, and the rebels had
planted eight-inch shells in the road, with friction-matches to
explode them by being trodden on. This was not war, but murder,
and it made me very angry. I immediately ordered a lot of rebel
prisoners to be brought from the provost-guard, armed with picks
and spades, and made them march in close order along the road, so
as to explode their own torpedoes, or to discover and dig them up.
They begged hard, but I reiterated the order, and could hardly help
laughing at their stepping so gingerly along the road, where it was
supposed sunken torpedoes might explode at each step, but they
found no other torpedoes till near Fort McAllister. That night we
reached Pooler's Station, eight miles from Savannah, and during the
next two days, December 9th and 10th, the several corps reached the
defenses of Savannah--the Fourteenth Corps on the left, touching
the river; the Twentieth Corps next; then the Seventeenth; and the
Fifteenth on the extreme right; thus completely investing the city.
Wishing to reconnoitre the place in person, I rode forward by the
Louisville road, into a dense wood of oak, pine, and cypress, left
the horses, and walked down to the railroad-track, at a place where
there was a side-track, and a cut about four feet deep. From that
point the railroad was straight, leading into Savannah, and about
eight hundred yards off were a rebel parapet and battery. I could
see the cannoneers preparing to fire, and cautioned the officers
near me to scatter, as we would likely attract a shot. Very soon I
saw the white puff of smoke, and, watching close, caught sight of
the ball as it rose in its flight, and, finding it coming pretty
straight, I stepped a short distance to one side, but noticed a
negro very near me in the act of crossing the track at right
angles. Some one called to him to look out; but, before the poor
fellow understood his danger, the ball (a thirty-two-pound round
shot) struck the ground, and rose in its first ricochet, caught the
negro under the right jaw, and literally carried away his head,
scattering blood and brains about. A soldier close by spread an
overcoat over the body, and we all concluded to get out of that
railroad-cut. Meantime, General Mower's division of the Seventeenth
Corps had crossed the canal to the right of the Louisville
road, and had found the line of parapet continuous; so at Savannah
we had again run up against the old familiar parapet, with its deep
ditches, canals, and bayous, full of water; and it looked as though
another siege was inevitable. I accordingly made a camp or bivouac
near the Louisville road, about five miles from Savannah, and
proceeded to invest the place closely, pushing forward
reconnoissances at every available point.

As soon as it was demonstrated that Savannah was well fortified,
with a good garrison, commanded by General William J. Hardee, a
competent soldier, I saw that the first step was to open
communication with our fleet, supposed to be waiting for us with
supplies and clothing in Ossabaw Sound.

General Howard had, some nights previously, sent one of his best
scouts, Captain Duncan, with two men, in a canoe, to drift past
Fort McAllister, and to convey to the fleet a knowledge of our
approach. General Kilpatrick's cavalry had also been transferred
to the south bank of the Ogeechee, with orders to open
communication with the fleet. Leaving orders with General Slocum
to press the siege, I instructed General Howard to send a division
with all his engineers to Grog's Bridge, fourteen and a half miles
southwest from Savannah, to rebuild it. On the evening of the 12th
I rode over myself, and spent the night at Mr. King's house, where
I found General Howard, with General Hazen's division of the
Fifteenth Corps. His engineers were hard at work on the bridge,
which they finished that night, and at sunrise Hazen's division
passed over. I gave General Hazen, in person, his orders to march
rapidly down the right bank of the Ogeechee, and without hesitation
to assault and carry Fort McAllister by storm. I knew it to be
strong in heavy artillery, as against an approach from the sea, but
believed it open and weak to the rear. I explained to General
Hazen, fully, that on his action depended the safety of the whole
army, and the success of the campaign. Kilpatrick had already felt
the fort, and had gone farther down the coast to Kilkenny Bluff, or
St. Catharine's Sound, where, on the same day, he had communication
with a vessel belonging to the blockading fleet; but, at the time,
I was not aware of this fact, and trusted entirely to General Hazen
and his division of infantry, the Second of the Fifteenth Corps,
the same old division which I had commanded at Shiloh and
Vicksburg, in which I felt a special pride and confidence.

Having seen General Hazen fairly off, accompanied by General
Howard, I rode with my staff down the left bank of the Ogeechee,
ten miles to the rice-plantation of a Mr. Cheevea, where General
Howard had established a signal-station to overlook the lower
river, and to watch for any vessel of the blockading squadron,
which the negroes reported to be expecting us, because they nightly
sent up rockets, and daily dispatched a steamboat up the Ogeechee
as near to Fort McAllister as it was safe.

On reaching the rice-mill at Cheevea's, I found a guard and a
couple of twenty-pound Parrott gone, of De Gres's battery, which
fired an occasional shot toward Fort McAllister, plainly seen over
the salt-marsh, about three miles distant. Fort McAllister had the
rebel flag flying, and occasionally sent a heavy shot back across
the marsh to where we were, but otherwise every thing about the
place looked as peaceable and quiet as on the Sabbath.

The signal-officer had built a platform on the ridge-pole of
the rice-mill. Leaving our horses behind the stacks of rice-straw,
we all got on the roof of a shed attached to the mill, wherefrom I
could communicate with the signal-officer above, and at the same
time look out toward Ossabaw Sound, and across the Ogeechee River
at Fort McAllister. About 2 p.m. we observed signs of commotion
in the fort, and noticed one or two guns fired inland, and some
musket-skirmishing in the woods close by.

This betokened the approach of Hazen's division, which had been
anxiously expected, and soon thereafter the signal-officer
discovered about three miles above the fort a signal-flag, with
which he conversed, and found it to belong to General Hazen, who
was preparing to assault the fort, and wanted to know if I were
there. On being assured of this fact, and that I expected the fort
to be carried before night, I received by signal the assurance of
General Hazen that he was making his preparations, and would soon
attempt the assault. The sun was rapidly declining, and I was
dreadfully impatient. At that very moment some one discovered a
faint cloud of smoke, and an object gliding, as it were, along the
horizon above the tops of the sedge toward the sea, which little by
little grew till it was pronounced to be the smoke-stack of a
steamer coming up the river. "It must be one of our squadron!"
Soon the flag of the United States was plainly visible, and our
attention was divided between this approaching steamer and the
expected assault. When the sun was about an hour high, another
signal-message came from General Hazen that he was all ready, and I
replied to go ahead, as a friendly steamer was approaching from
below. Soon we made out a group of officers on the deck of this
vessel, signaling with a flag, "Who are you!" The answer went back
promptly, "General Sherman." Then followed the question, "Is Fort
McAllister taken?" "Not yet, but it will be in a minute!" Almost
at that instant of time, we saw Hazen's troops come out of the dark
fringe of woods that encompassed the fort, the lines dressed as on
parade, with colors flying, and moving forward with a quick, steady
pace. Fort McAllister was then all alive, its big guns belching
forth dense clouds of smoke, which soon enveloped our assaulting
lines. One color went down, but was up in a moment. On the lines
advanced, faintly seen in the white, sulphurous smoke; there was a
pause, a cessation of fire; the smoke cleared away, and the
parapets were blue with our men, who fired their muskets in the
air, and shouted so that we actually heard them, or felt that we
did. Fort McAllister was taken, and the good news was instantly
sent by the signal-officer to our navy friends on the approaching
gunboat, for a point of timber had shut out Fort McAllister from
their view, and they had not seen the action at all, but must have
heard the cannonading.

During the progress of the assault, our little group on Cheeves's
mill hardly breathed; but no sooner did we see our flags on the
parapet than I exclaimed, in the language of the poor negro at
Cobb's plantation, "This nigger will have no sleep this night!"

I was resolved to communicate with our fleet that night, which
happened to be a beautiful moonlight one. At the wharf belonging
to Cheeves's mill was a small skiff, that had been used by our men
in fishing or in gathering oysters. I was there in a minute,
called for a volunteer crew, when several young officers, Nichols
and Merritt among the number; said they were good oarsmen, and
volunteered to pull the boat down to Fort McAllister. General
Howard asked to accompany me; so we took seats in the stern of the
boat, and our crew of officers pulled out with a will. The tide
was setting in strong, and they had a hard pull, for, though the
distance was but three miles in an air-line, the river was so
crooked that the actual distance was fully six miles. On the way
down we passed the wreck of a steamer which had been sunk some
years before, during a naval attack on Fort McAllister.

Night had fairly set in when we discovered a soldier on the beach.
I hailed him, and inquired if he knew where General Hazen was. He
answered that the general was at the house of the overseer of the
plantation (McAllister's), and that he could guide me to it. We
accordingly landed, tied our boat to a driftlog, and followed our
guide through bushes to a frame-house, standing in a grove of
live-oaks, near a row of negro quarters.

General Hazen was there with his staff, in the act of getting
supper; he invited us to join them, which we accepted promptly, for
we were really very hungry. Of course, I congratulated Hazen most
heartily on his brilliant success, and praised its execution very
highly, as it deserved, and he explained to me more in detail the
exact results. The fort was an inclosed work, and its land-front
was in the nature of a bastion and curtains, with good parapet,
ditch, fraise, and chevaux-de-frise, made out of the large branches
of live-oaks. Luckily, the rebels had left the larger and unwieldy
trunks on the ground, which served as a good cover for the
skirmish-line, which crept behind these logs, and from them kept
the artillerists from loading and firing their guns accurately.

The assault had been made by three parties in line, one from below,
one from above the fort, and the third directly in rear, along the
capital. All were simultaneous, and had to pass a good abatis and
line of torpedoes, which actually killed more of the assailants
than the heavy guns of the fort, which generally overshot the mark.
Hazen's entire loss was reported, killed and wounded, ninety-two.
Each party reached the parapet about the same time, and the
garrison inside, of about two hundred and fifty men (about fifty of
them killed or wounded), were in his power. The commanding
officer, Major Anderson, was at that moment a prisoner, and
General Hazen invited him in to take supper with us, which he did.

Up to this time General Hazen did not know that a gunboat was in
the river below the fort; for it was shut off from sight by a point
of timber, and I was determined to board her that night, at
whatever risk or cost, as I wanted some news of what was going on
in the outer world. Accordingly, after supper, we all walked down
to the fort, nearly a mile from the house where we had been,
entered Fort McAllister, held by a regiment of Hazen's troops, and
the sentinel cautioned us to be very careful, as the ground outside
the fort was full of torpedoes. Indeed, while we were there, a
torpedo exploded, tearing to pieces a poor fellow who was hunting
for a dead comrade. Inside the fort lay the dead as they had
fallen, and they could hardly be distinguished from their living
comrades, sleeping soundly side by side in the pale moonlight. In
the river, close by the fort, was a good yawl tied to a stake, but
the tide was high, and it required some time to get it in to the
bank; the commanding officer, whose name I cannot recall, manned
the boat with a good crew of his men, and, with General Howard, I
entered, and pulled down-stream, regardless of the warnings all
about the torpedoes.

The night was unusually bright, and we expected to find the gunboat
within a mile or so; but, after pulling down the river fully three
miles, and not seeing the gunboat, I began to think she had turned
and gone back to the sound; but we kept on, following the bends of
the river, and about six miles below McAllister we saw her light,
and soon were hailed by the vessel at anchor. Pulling alongside,
we announced ourselves, and were received with great warmth and
enthusiasm on deck by half a dozen naval officers, among them
Captain Williamson, United States Navy. She proved to be the
Dandelion, a tender of the regular gunboat Flag, posted at the
mouth of the Ogeechee. All sorts of questions were made and
answered, and we learned that Captain Duncan had safely reached the
squadron, had communicated the good news of our approach, and they
had been expecting us for some days. They explained that Admiral
Dahlgren commanded the South-Atlantic Squadron, which was then
engaged in blockading the coast from Charleston south, and was on
his flag-ship, the Harvest Moon, lying in Wassaw Sound; that
General J. G. Foster was in command of the Department of the South,
with his headquarters at Hilton Head; and that several ships loaded
with stores for the army were lying in Tybee Roads and in Port
Royal Sound. From these officers I also learned that General Grant
was still besieging Petersburg and Richmond, and that matters and
things generally remained pretty much the same as when we had left
Atlanta. All thoughts seemed to have been turned to us in Georgia,
cut off from all communication with our friends; and the rebel
papers had reported us to be harassed, defeated, starving, and
fleeing for safety to the coast. I then asked for pen and paper,
and wrote several hasty notes to General Foster, Admiral Dahlgren,
General Grant, and the Secretary of War, giving in general terms
the actual state of affairs, the fact of the capture of Fort
McAllister, and of my desire that means should be taken to
establish a line of supply from the vessels in port up the Ogeechee
to the rear of the army. As a sample, I give one of these notes,
addressed to the Secretary of War, intended for publication to
relieve the anxiety of our friends at the North generally:

ON BOARD DANDELION, OSSABAW SOUND, December 13, 1864--11.50 p.m.

To Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.:

To-day, at 6 p. m., General Hazen's division of the Fifteenth Corps
carried Fort McAllister by assault, capturing its entire garrison
and stores. This opened to us Ossabaw Sound, and I pushed down to
this gunboat to communicate with the fleet. Before opening
communication we had completely destroyed all the railroads leading
into Savannah, and invested the city. The left of the army is on
the Savannah River three miles above the city, and the right on the
Ogeechee, at King's Bridge. The army is in splendid order, and
equal to any thing. The weather has been fine, and supplies were
abundant. Our march was most agreeable, and we were not at all
molested by guerrillas.

We reached Savannah three days ago, but, owing to Fort McAllister,
could not communicate; but, now that we have McAllister, we can go

We have already captured two boats on the Savannah river and
prevented their gunboats from coming down.

I estimate the population of Savannah at twenty-five thousand, and
the garrison at fifteen thousand. General Hardee commands.

We have not lost a wagon on the trip; but have gathered a large
supply of negroes, mules, horses, etc., and our teams are in far
better condition than when we started.

My first duty will be to clear the army of surplus negroes, mules,
and horses. We have utterly destroyed over two hundred miles of
rails, and consumed stores and provisions that were essential to
Lee's and Hood's armies.

The quick work made with McAllister, the opening of communication
with our fleet, and our consequent independence as to supplies,
dissipate all their boasted threats to head us off and starve the

I regard Savannah as already gained.
Yours truly,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

By this time the night was well advanced, and the tide was running
ebb-strong; so I asked. Captain Williamson to tow us up as near
Fort McAllister as he would venture for the torpedoes, of which the
navy-officers had a wholesome dread. The Dandelion steamed up some
three or four miles, till the lights of Fort McAllister could be
seen, when she anchored, and we pulled to the fort in our own boat.
General Howard and I then walked up to the McAllister House, where
we found General Hazen and his officers asleep on the floor of one
of the rooms. Lying down on the floor, I was soon fast asleep, but
shortly became conscious that some one in the room was inquiring
for me among the sleepers. Calling out, I was told that an officer
of General Fosters staff had just arrived from a steamboat anchored
below McAllister; that the general was extremely anxious to see me
on important business, but that he was lame from an old Mexican-War
wound, and could not possibly come to me. I was extremely weary
from the incessant labor of the day and night before, but got up,
and again walked down the sandy road to McAllister, where I found a
boat awaiting us, which carried us some three miles down the river,
to the steamer W. W. Coit (I think), on board of which we found
General Foster. He had just come from Port Royal, expecting to
find Admiral Dahlgren in Ossabaw Sound, and, hearing of the capture
of Fort McAllister, he had come up to see me. He described fully
the condition of affairs with his own command in South Carolina.
He had made several serious efforts to effect a lodgment on the
railroad which connects Savannah with Charleston near Pocotaligo,
but had not succeeded in reaching the railroad itself, though he
had a full division of troops, strongly intrenched, near Broad
River, within cannon-range of the railroad. He explained,
moreover, that there were at Port Royal abundant supplies of bread
and provisions, as well as of clothing, designed for our use. We
still had in our wagons and in camp abundance of meat, but we
needed bread, sugar, and coffee, and it was all-important that a
route of supply should at once be opened, for which purpose the
assistance of the navy were indispensable. We accordingly
steamed down the Ogeechee River to Ossabaw Sound, in hopes to meet
Admiral Dahlgren, but he was not there, and we continued on by the
inland channel to Warsaw Sound, where we found the Harvest Moon,

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