Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman, Vol. II., Part 4 by William T. Sherman

Part 2 out of 7

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

make a complete whole, and this fact was perfectly comprehended by
Mr. Lincoln, who recognized it fully in his personal letter of
December 26th, hereinbefore quoted at length, and which is also
claimed at the time, in my Special Field Order No. 6, of January 8,
1865, here given:

(Special Field Order No. 6.)


The general commanding announces to the troops composing the
Military Division of the Mississippi that he has received from the
President of the United States, and from Lieutenant-General Grant,
letters conveying their high sense and appreciation of the campaign
just closed, resulting in the capture of Savannah and the defeat of
Hood's army in Tennessee.

In order that all may understand the importance of events, it is
proper to revert to the situation of affairs in September last. We
held Atlanta, a city of little value to us, but so important to the
enemy that Mr. Davis, the head of the rebellious faction in the
South, visited his army near Palmetto, and commanded it to regain
the place and also to ruin and destroy us, by a series of measures
which he thought would be effectual. That army, by a rapid march,
gained our railroad near Big Shanty, and afterward about Dalton.
We pursued it, but it moved so rapidly that we could not overtake
it, and General Hood led his army successfully far over toward
Mississippi, in hope to decoy us out of Georgia. But we were not
thus to be led away by him, and preferred to lead and control
events ourselves. Generals Thomas and Schofield, commanding the
departments to our rear, returned to their posts and prepared to
decoy General Hood into their meshes, while we came on to complete
the original journey. We quietly and deliberately destroyed
Atlanta, and all the railroads which the enemy had used to carry on
war against us, occupied his State capital, and then captured his
commercial capital, which had been so strongly fortified from the
sea as to defy approach from that quarter. Almost at the moment of
our victorious entry into Savannah came the welcome and expected
news that our comrades in Tennessee had also fulfilled nobly and
well their part, had decoyed General Hood to Nashville and then
turned on him, defeating his army thoroughly, capturing all his
artillery, great numbers of prisoners, and were still pursuing the
fragments down in Alabama. So complete success in military
operations, extending over half a continent, is an achievement that
entitles it to a place in the military history of the world. The
armies serving in Georgia and Tennessee, as well as the local
garrisons of Decatur, Bridgeport, Chattanooga, and Murfreesboro',
are alike entitled to the common honors, and each regiment may
inscribe on its colors, at pleasure, the word "Savannah" or
"Nashville." The general commanding embraces, in the same general
success, the operations of the cavalry under Generals Stoneman,
Burbridge, and Gillem, that penetrated into Southwest Virginia, and
paralyzed the efforts of the enemy to disturb the peace and safety
of East Tennessee. Instead of being put on the defensive, we have
at all points assumed the bold offensive, and have completely
thwarted the designs of the enemies of our country.

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

Here terminated the "March to the Sea," and I only add a few
letters, selected out of many, to illustrate the general feeling of
rejoicing throughout the country at the time. I only regarded the
march from Atlanta to Savannah as a "shift of base," as the
transfer of a strong army, which had no opponent, and had finished
its then work, from the interior to a point on the sea-coast, from
which it could achieve other important results. I considered this
march as a means to an end, and not as an essential act of war.
Still, then, as now, the march to the sea was generally regarded as
something extraordinary, something anomalous, something out of the
usual order of events; whereas, in fact, I simply moved from
Atlanta to Savannah, as one step in the direction of Richmond, a
movement that had to be met and defeated, or the war was
necessarily at an end.

Were I to express my measure of the relative importance of the
march to the sea, and of that from Savannah northward, I would
place the former at one, and the latter at ten, or the maximum.

I now close this long chapter by giving a tabular statement of the
losses during the march, and the number of prisoners captured. The
property captured consisted of horses and mules by the thousand,
and of quantities of subsistence stores that aggregate very large,
but may be measured with sufficient accuracy by assuming that
sixty-five thousand men obtained abundant food for about forty
days, and thirty-five thousand animals were fed for a like period,
so as to reach Savannah in splendid flesh and condition. I also
add a few of the more important letters that passed between
Generals Grant, Halleck, and myself, which illustrate our opinions
at that stage of the war:


Killed Wounded Missing Captured
Officers/Men Officers/Men Officers/Men Officers/Men
10 93 24 404 1 277 77 1,261

WASHINGTON, December 16, 1864

Major-General SHERMAN (via Hilton Head).

GENERAL: Lieutenant-General Grant informs me that, in his last
dispatch sent to you, he suggested the transfer of your infantry to
Richmond. He now wishes me to say that you will retain your entire
force, at least for the present, and, with such assistance as may
be given you by General Foster and Admiral Dahlgren, operate from
such base as you may establish on the coast. General Foster will
obey such instructions as may be given by you.

Should you have captured Savannah, it is thought that by
transferring the water-batteries to the land side that place may be
made a good depot and base of operations on Augusta, Branchville,
or Charleston. If Savannah should not be captured, or if captured
and not deemed suitable for this purpose, perhaps Beaufort would
serve as a depot. As the rebels have probably removed their most
valuable property from Augusta, perhaps Branchville would be the
most important point at which to strike in order to sever all
connection between Virginia and the Southwestern Railroad.

General Grant's wishes, however, are, that this whole matter of
your future actions should be entirely left to your discretion.

We can send you from here a number of complete batteries of
field-artillery, with or without horses, as you may desire; also, as
soon as General Thomas can spare them, all the fragments,
convalescents, and furloughed men of your army. It is reported that
Thomas defeated Hood yesterday, near Nashville, but we have no
particulars nor official reports, telegraphic communication being
interrupted by a heavy storm.

Our last advises from you was General Howard's note, announcing his
approach to Savannah. Yours truly,

H. W. HALLECK, Major-General, Chief-of-Staff.

WASHINGTON, December 18, 1864.

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, Savannah (via Hilton Head).

My DEAR GENERAL: Yours of the 13th, by Major Anderson, is just
received. I congratulate you on your splendid success, and shall
very soon expect to hear of the crowning work of your campaign--the
capture of Savannah. Your march will stand out prominently as the
great one of this great war. When Savannah falls, then for another
wide swath through the centre of the Confederacy. But I will not
anticipate. General Grant is expected here this morning, and will
probably write you his own views.

I do not learn from your letter, or from Major Anderson, that you
are in want of any thing which we have not provided at Hilton Head.
Thinking it probable that you might want more field-artillery, I
had prepared several batteries, but the great difficulty of
foraging horses on the sea-coast will prevent our sending any
unless you actually need them. The hay-crop this year is short,
and the Quartermaster's Department has great difficulty in
procuring a supply for our animals.

General Thomas has defeated Hood, near Nashville, and it is hoped
that he will completely, crush his army. Breckenridge, at last
accounts, was trying to form a junction near Murfreesboro', but, as
Thomas is between them, Breckenridge must either retreat or be

General Rosecrans made very bad work of it in Missouri, allowing
Price with a small force to overrun the State and destroy millions
of property.

Orders have been issued for all officers and detachments having
three months or more to serve, to rejoin your army via Savannah.
Those having less than three months to serve, will be retained by
General Thomas.

Should you capture Charleston, I hope that by some accident the
place may be destroyed, and, if a little salt should be sown upon
its site, it may prevent the growth of future crops of
nullification and secession.
Yours truly,

H. W. HALLECK, Major-General, Chief-of-Staff.

WASHINGTON, December 18, 1864.

To Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding Military Division of the

My DEAR GENERAL: I have just received and read, I need not tell you
with how mush gratification, your letter to General Halleck. I
congratulate you and the brave officers and men under your command
on the successful termination of your most brilliant campaign. I
never had a doubt of the result. When apprehensions for your
safety were expressed by the President, I assured him with the army
you had, and you in command of it, there was no danger but you
would strike bottom on salt-water some place; that I would not feel
the same security--in fact, would not have intrusted the expedition
to any other living commander.

It has been very hard work to get Thomas to attack Hood. I gave
him the most peremptory order, and had started to go there myself,
before he got off. He has done magnificently, however, since he
started. Up to last night, five thousand prisoners and forty-nine
pieces of captured artillery, besides many wagons and innumerable
small-arms, had been received in Nashville. This is exclusive of
the enemy's loss at Franklin, which amounted to thirteen general
officers killed, wounded, and captured. The enemy probably lost
five thousand men at Franklin, and ten thousand in the last three
days' operations. Breckenridge is said to be making for

I think he is in a most excellent place. Stoneman has nearly wiped
out John Morgan's old command, and five days ago entered Bristol.
I did think the best thing to do was to bring the greater part of
your army here, and wipe out Lee. The turn affairs now seem to be
taking has shaken me in that opinion. I doubt whether you may not
accomplish more toward that result where you are than if brought
here, especially as I am informed, since my arrival in the city,
that it would take about two months to get you here with all the
other calls there are for ocean transportation.

I want to get your views about what ought to be done, and what can
be done. If you capture the garrison of Savannah, it certainly
will compel Lee to detach from Richmond, or give us nearly the
whole South. My own opinion is that Lee is averse to going out of
Virginia, and if the cause of the South is lost he wants Richmond
to be the last place surrendered. If he has such views, it may be
well to indulge him until we get every thing else in our hands.

Congratulating you and the army again upon the splendid results of
your campaign, the like of which is not read of in past history, I
subscribe myself, more than ever, if possible, your friend,

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.

CITY POINT, VIRGINIA, December 26, 1864.

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, Savannah, Georgia.

GENERAL: Your very interesting letter of the 22d inst., brought by
Major Grey of General Foster's staff; is fast at hand. As the
major starts back at once, I can do no more at present than simply
acknowledge its receipt. The capture of Savannah, with all its
immense stores, must tell upon the people of the South. All well
Yours truly,

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA, December 24, 1864.

Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, City Point, Virginia.

GENERAL: Your letter of December 18th is just received. I feel
very much gratified at receiving the handsome commendation you pay
my army. I will, in general orders, convey to the officers and men
the substance of your note.

I am also pleased that you have modified your former orders, for I
feared that the transportation by sea would very much disturb the
unity and morale of my army, now so perfect.

The occupation of Savannah, which I have heretofore reported,
completes the first part of our game, and fulfills a great part of
your instructions; and we are now engaged in dismantling the rebel
forts which bear upon the sea-channels, and transferring the heavy
ordnance and ammunition to Fort Pulaski and Hilton Head, where they
can be more easily guarded than if left in the city.

The rebel inner lines are well adapted to our purpose, and with
slight modifications can be held by a comparatively small force;
and in about ten days I expect to be ready to sally forth again. I
feel no doubt whatever as to our future plans. I have thought them
over so long and well that they appear as clear as daylight. I
left Augusta untouched on purpose, because the enemy will be in
doubt as to my objective point, after we cross the Savannah River,
whether it be Augusta or Charleston, and will naturally divide his
forces. I will then move either on Branchville or Colombia, by any
curved line that gives us the best supplies, breaking up in our
course as much railroad as possible; then, ignoring Charleston and
Augusta both, I would occupy Columbia and Camden, pausing there
long enough to observe the effect. I would then strike for the
Charleston & Wilmington Railroad, somewhere between the Santee and
Cape Fear Rivers, and, if possible, communicate with the fleet
under Admiral Dahlgren (whom I find a most agreeable gentleman,
accommodating himself to our wishes and plans). Then I would favor
an attack on Wilmington, in the belief that Porter and Butler will
fail in their present undertaking. Charleston is now a mere
desolated wreck, and is hardly worth the time it would take to
starve it out. Still, I am aware that, historically and
politically, much importance is attached to the place, and it may
be that, apart from its military importance, both you and the
Administration may prefer I should give it more attention; and it
would be well for you to give me some general idea on that subject,
for otherwise I would treat it as I have expressed, as a point of
little importance, after all its railroads leading into the
interior have been destroyed or occupied by us. But, on the
hypothesis of ignoring Charleston and taking Wilmington, I would
then favor a movement direct on Raleigh. The game is then up with
Lee, unless he comes out of Richmond, avoids you and fights me; in
which case I should reckon on your being on his heels. Now that
Hood is used up by Thomas, I feel disposed to bring the matter to
an issue as quick as possible. I feel confident that I can break
up the whole railroad system of South Carolina and North Carolina,
and be on the Roanoke, either at Raleigh or Weldon, by the time
spring fairly opens; and, if you feel confident that you can whip
Lee outside of his intrenchments, I feel equally confident that I
can handle him in the open country.

One reason why I would ignore Charleston is this: that I believe
Hardee will reduce the garrison to a small force, with plenty of
provisions; I know that the neck back of Charleston can be made
impregnable to assault, and we will hardly have time for siege

I will have to leave in Savannah a garrison, and, if Thomas can
spare them, I would like to have all detachments, convalescents,
etc., belonging to these four corps, sent forward at once. I do
not want to cripple Thomas, because I regard his operations as
all-important, and I have ordered him to pursue Hood down into
Alabama, trusting to the country for supplies.

I reviewed one of my corps to-day, and shall continue to review the
whole army. I do not like to boast, but believe this army has a
confidence in itself that makes it almost invincible. I wish you
could run down and see us; it would have a good effect, and show to
both armies that they are acting on a common plan. The weather is
now cool and pleasant, and the general health very good. Your true

W. T. SHERMAN Major-General.


Major-General H. W. HALLECK, Chief-of-Staff; Washington, D. C.

GENERAL: I had the pleasure of receiving your two letters of the
16th and 18th instant to-day, and feel more than usually flattered
by the high encomiums you have passed on our recent campaign, which
is now complete by the occupation of Savannah.

I am also very glad that General Grant has changed his mind about
embarking my troops for James River, leaving me free to make the
broad swath you describe through South and North Carolina; and
still more gratified at the news from Thomas, in Tennessee, because
it fulfills my plans, which contemplated his being able to dispose
of Hood, in case he ventured north of the Tennessee River. So, I
think, on the whole, I can chuckle over Jeff. Davis's
disappointment in not turning my Atlanta campaign into a "Moscow

I have just finished a long letter to General Grant, and have
explained to him that we are engaged in shifting our base from the
Ogeeohee to the Savannah River, dismantling all the forts made by
the enemy to bear upon the salt-water channels, transferring the
heavy ordnance, etc., to Fort Pulaski and Hilton Head, and in
remodeling the enemy's interior lines to suit our future plans and
purposes. I have also laid down the programme for a campaign which
I can make this winter, and which will put me in the spring on the
Roanoke, in direct communication with General Grant on James River.
In general terms, my plan is to turn over to General Foster the
city of Savannah, to sally forth with my army resupplied, cross the
Savannah, feign on Charleston and Augusta, but strike between,
breaking en route the Charleston & Augusta Railroad, also a large
part of that from Branchville and Camden toward North Carolina, and
then rapidly to move for some point of the railroad from Charleston
to Wilmington, between the Santee and Cape Fear Rivers; then,
communicating with the fleet in the neighborhood of Georgetown, I
would turn upon Wilmington or Charleston, according to the
importance of either. I rather prefer Wilmington, as a live place,
over Charleston, which is dead and unimportant when its railroad
communications are broken. I take it for granted that the present
movement on Wilmington will fail. If I should determine to take
Charleston, I would turn across the country (which I have hunted
over many a time) from Santee to Mount Pleasant, throwing one wing
on the peninsula between the Ashley and Cooper. After
accomplishing one or other of these ends, I would make a bee-line
for Raleigh or Weldon, when Lee world be forced to come out of
Richmond, or acknowledge himself beaten. He would, I think, by the
use of the Danville Railroad, throw himself rapidly between me and
Grant, leaving Richmond in the hands of the latter. This would not
alarm me, for I have an army which I think can maneuver, and I
world force him to attack me at a disadvantage, always under the
supposition that Grant would be on his heels; and, if the worst
come to the worst, I can fight my way down to Albermarle Sound, or

I think the time has come now when we should attempt the boldest
moves, and my experience is, that they are easier of execution than
more timid ones, because the enemy is disconcerted by them--as, for
instance, my recent campaign.

I also doubt the wisdom of concentration beyond a certain extent,
for the roads of this country limit the amount of men that can be
brought to bear in any one battle, and I do not believe that any
one general can handle more than sixty thousand men in battle.

I think our campaign of the last month, as well as every step I
take from this point northward, is as much a direct attack upon
Lee's army as though we were operating within the sound of his

I am very anxious that Thomas should follow up his success to the
very utmost point. My orders to him before I left Kingston were,
after beating Hood, to follow him as far as Columbus, Mississippi,
or Selma, Alabama, both of which lie in districts of country which
are rich in corn and meat.

I attach more importance to these deep incisions into the enemy's
country, because this war differs from European wars in this
particular: we are not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile
people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard
hand of war, as well as their organized armies. I know that this
recent movement of mine through Georgia has had a wonderful effect
in this respect. Thousands who had been deceived by their lying
newspapers to believe that we were being whipped all the time now
realize the truth, and have no appetite for a repetition of the
same experience. To be sure, Jeff. Davis has his people under
pretty good discipline, but I think faith in him is much shaken in
Georgia, and before we have done with her South Carolina will not
be quite so tempestuous.

I will bear in mind your hint as to Charleston, and do not think
"salt" will be necessary. When I move, the Fifteenth Corps will be
on the right of the right wing, and their position will naturally
bring them into Charleston first; and, if you have watched the
history of that corps, you will have remarked that they generally
do their work pretty well. The truth is, the whole army is burning
with an insatiable desire to wreak vengeance upon South Carolina.
I almost tremble at her fate, but feel that she deserves all that
seems in store for her.

Many and many a person in Georgia asked me why we did not go to
South Carolina; and, when I answered that we were enroute for that
State, the invariable reply was, "Well, if you will make those
people feel the utmost severities of war, we will pardon you for
your desolation of Georgia."

I look upon Colombia as quite as bad as Charleston, and I doubt if
we shall spare the public buildings there as we did at

I have been so busy lately that I have not yet made my official
report, and I think I had better wait until I get my subordinate
reports before attempting it, as I am anxious to explain clearly
not only the reasons for every step, but the amount of execution
done, and this I cannot do until I get the subordinate reports; for
we marched the whole distance in four or more columns, and, of
course, I could only be present with one, and generally that one
engaged in destroying railroads. This work of destruction was
performed better than usual, because I had an engineer-regiment,
provided with claws to twist the bars after being heated. Such
bars can never be used again, and the only way in which a railroad
line can be reconstructed across Georgia is, to make a new road
from Fairburn Station (twenty-four miles southwest of Atlanta) to
Madison, a distance of one hundred miles; and, before that can be
done, I propose to be on the road from Augusta to Charleston, which
is a continuation of the same. I felt somewhat disappointed at
Hardee's escape, but really am not to blame. I moved as quickly as
possible to close up the "Union Causeway," but intervening
obstacles were such that, before I could get troops on the road,
Hardee had slipped out. Still, I know that the men that were in
Savannah will be lost in a measure to Jeff. Davis, for the Georgia
troops, under G. W. Smith, declared they would not fight in South
Carolina, and they have gone north, en route for Augusta, and I
have reason to believe the North Carolina troops have gone to
Wilmington; in other words, they are scattered. I have reason to
believe that Beauregard was present in Savannah at the time of its
evacuation, and think that he and Hardee are now in Charleston,
making preparations for what they suppose will be my next step.

Please say to the President that I have received his kind message
(through Colonel Markland), and feel thankful for his high favor.
If I disappoint him in the future, it shall not be from want of
zeal or love to the cause.

From you I expect a full and frank criticism of my plans for the
future, which may enable me to correct errors before it is too
late. I do not wish to be rash, but want to give my rebel friends
no chance to accuse us of want of enterprise or courage.

Assuring you of my high personal respect, I remain, as ever, your

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

[General Order No. 3.]

WASHINGTON, January 14, 1865.

The following resolution of the Senate and House of Representatives
is published to the army:


Joint resolution tendering the thanks of the people and of Congress
to Major-General William T. Sherman, and the officers and soldiers
of his command, for their gallant conduct in their late brilliant
movement through Georgia.

Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, That the thanks of
the people and of the Congress of the United States are due and are
hereby tendered to Major-General William T. Sherman, and through
him to the officers and men under his command, for their gallantry
and good conduct in their late campaign from Chattanooga to
Atlanta, and the triumphal march thence through Georgia to
Savannah, terminating in the capture and occupation of that city;
and that the President cause a copy of this joint resolution to be
engrossed and forwarded to Major-General Sherman.

Approved, January 10, 1865.

By order of the Secretary of War,
W. A. NICHOLS, Assistant Adjutant-General.




The city of Savannah was an old place, and usually accounted a
handsome one. Its houses were of brick or frame, with large yards,
ornamented with shrubbery and flowers; its streets perfectly
regular, crossing each other at right angles; and at many of the
intersections were small inclosures in the nature of parks. These
streets and parks were lined with the handsomest shade-trees of
which I have knowledge, viz., the Willow-leaf live-oak, evergreens
of exquisite beauty; and these certainly entitled Savannah to its
reputation as a handsome town more than the houses, which, though
comfortable, would hardly make a display on Fifth Avenue or the
Boulevard Haussmann of Paris. The city was built on a plateau of
sand about forty feet above the level of the sea, abutting against
the river, leaving room along its margin for a street of stores and
warehouses. The customhouse, court-house, post-office, etc., were
on the plateau above. In rear of Savannah was a large park, with a
fountain, and between it and the court-house was a handsome
monument, erected to the memory of Count Pulaski, who fell in 1779
in the assault made on the city at the time it was held by the
English during the Revolutionary War. Outside of Savannah there
was very little to interest a stranger, except the cemetery of
Bonaventura, and the ride along the Wilmington Channel by way of
Thunderbolt, where might be seen some groves of the majestic
live-oak trees, covered with gray and funereal moss, which were
truly sublime in grandeur, but gloomy after a few days' camping
under them:

Within an hour of taking up my quarters in Mr. Green's house, Mr.
A. G. Browne, of Salem, Massachusetts, United States Treasury agent
for the Department of the South, made his appearance to claim
possession, in the name of the Treasury Department, of all captured
cotton, rice, buildings, etc. Having use for these articles
ourselves, and having fairly earned them, I did not feel inclined
to surrender possession, and explained to him that the
quartermaster and commissary could manage them more to my liking
than he; but I agreed, after the proper inventories had been
prepared, if there remained any thing for which we had no special
use, I would turn it over to him. It was then known that in the
warehouses were stored at least twenty-five thousand bales of
cotton, and in the forts one hundred and fifty large, heavy
sea-coast guns: although afterward, on a more careful count, there
proved to be more than two hundred and fifty sea-coast or siege
guns, and thirty-one thousand bales of cotton. At that interview
Mr. Browne, who was a shrewd, clever Yankee, told me that a vessel
was on the point of starting for Old Point Comfort, and, if she had
good weather off Cape Hatteras, would reach Fortress Monroe by
Christmas-day, and he suggested that I might make it the occasion
of sending a welcome Christmas gift to the President, Mr. Lincoln,
who peculiarly enjoyed such pleasantry. I accordingly sat down and
wrote on a slip of paper, to be left at the telegraph-office at
Fortress Monroe for transmission, the following:

SAVANNAH GEORGIA, December 22, 1884.
To His Excellency President Lincoln, Washington, D. C.:

I beg to present you as a Christmas-gift the city of Savannah, with
one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, also
about twenty five thousand bales of cotton.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

This message actually reached him on Christmas-eve, was extensively
published in the newspapers, and made many a household unusually
happy on that festive day; and it was in the answer to this
dispatch that Mr. Lincoln wrote me the letter of December 28th,
already given, beginning with the words, "many, many thanks," etc.,
which he sent at the hands of General John A. Logan, who happened
to be in Washington, and was coming to Savannah, to rejoin his

On the 23d of December were made the following general orders for
the disposition of the troops in and about Savannah:

[Special Field Order No. 139.]


Savannah, being now in our possession, the river partially cleared
out, and measures having been taken to remove all obstructions,
will at once be made a grand depot for future operations:

1. The chief-quartermaster, General Euston, will, after giving the
necessary orders touching the transports in Ogeechee River and
Oasabaw Sound, come in person to Savannah, and take possession of
all public buildings, vacant storerooms, warehouses, etc., that may
be now or hereafter needed for any department of the army. No
rents will be paid by the Government of the United States during
the war, and all buildings must be distributed according to the
accustomed rates of the Quartermaster's Department, as though they
were public property.

2. The chief commissary of subsistence, Colonel A. Beckwith, will
transfer the grand depot of the army to the city of Savannah,
secure possession of the needful buildings and offices, and give
the necessary orders, to the end that the army may be supplied
abundantly and well.

S. The chief-engineer, Captain Poe, will at once direct which of
the enemy's forts are to be retained for our use, and which
dismantled and destroyed. The chief ordnance-officer, Captain
Baylor, will in like manner take possession of all property
pertaining to his department captured from the enemy, and cause the
same to be collected and conveyed to points of security; all the
heavy coast-guns will be dismounted and carried to Fort Pulaski.

4. The troops, for the present, will be grouped about the city of
Savannah, looking to convenience of camps; General Slocum taking
from the Savannah River around to the seven-mile post on the Canal,
and General Howard thence to the sea; General Kilpatrick will hold
King's Bridge until Fort McAllister is dismantled, and the troops
withdrawn from the south side of the Ogeechee, when he will take
post about Anderson's plantation, on the plank-road, and picket all
the roads leading from the north and west.

5. General Howard will keep a small guard at Forts Rosedale,
Beaulieu, Wimberley, Thunderbolt, and Bonaventura, and he will
cause that shore and Skidaway Island to be examined very closely,
with a view to finding many and convenient points for the
embarkation of troops and wagons on seagoing vessels.

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

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

[Special Field Order No. 143.]


The city of Savannah and surrounding country will be held as a
military post, and adapted to future military uses, but, as it
contains a population of some twenty thousand people, who must be
provided for, and as other citizens may come, it is proper to lay
down certain general principles, that all within its military
jurisdiction may understand their relative duties and obligations.

1. During war, the military is superior to civil authority, and,
where interests clash, the civil must give way; yet, where there is
no conflict, every encouragement should be given to well-disposed
and peaceful inhabitants to resume their usual pursuits. Families
should be disturbed as little as possible in their residences, and
tradesmen allowed the free use of their shops, tools, etc.;
churches, schools, and all places of amusement and recreation,
should be encouraged, and streets and roads made perfectly safe to
persons in their pursuits. Passes should not be exacted within the
line of outer pickets, but if any person shall abuse these
privileges by communicating with the enemy, or doing any act of
hostility to the Government of the United States, he or she will be
punished with the utmost rigor of the law. Commerce with the outer
world will be resumed to an extent commensurate with the wants of
the citizens, governed by the restrictions and rules of the
Treasury Department.

2. The chief quartermaster and commissary of the army may give
suitable employment to the people, white and black, or transport
them to such points as they may choose where employment can be had;
and may extend temporary relief in the way of provisions and vacant
houses to the worthy and needy, until such time as they can help
themselves. They will select first the buildings for the necessary
uses of the army; next, a sufficient number of stores, to be turned
over to the Treasury agent for trade-stores. All vacant
store-houses or dwellings, and all buildings belonging to absent
rebels, will be construed and used as belonging to the United States,
until such time as their titles can be settled by the courts of the
United States.

8. The Mayor and City Council of Savannah will continue to
exercise their functions, and will, in concert with the commanding
officer of the post and the chief-quartermaster, see that the
fire-companies are kept in organization, the streets cleaned and
lighted, and keep up a good understanding between the citizens and
soldiers. They will ascertain and report to the chief commissary
of subsistence, as soon as possible, the names and number of worthy
families that need assistance and support. The mayor will forth
with give public notice that the time has come when all must choose
their course, viz., remain within our lines, and conduct themselves
as good citizens, or depart in peace. He will ascertain the names
of all who choose to leave Savannah, and report their names and
residence to the chief-quartermaster, that measures may be taken to
transport them beyond our lines.

4. Not more than two newspapers will be published in Savannah;
their editors and proprietors will be held to the strictest
accountability, and will be punished severely, in person and
property, for any libelous publication, mischievous matter,
premature news, exaggerated statements, or any comments whatever
upon the acts of the constituted authorities; they will be held
accountable for such articles, even though copied from other

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

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

It was estimated that there were about twenty thousand inhabitants
in Savannah, all of whom had participated more or less in the war,
and had no special claims to our favor, but I regarded the war as
rapidly drawing to a close, and it was becoming a political
question as to what was to be done with the people of the South,
both white and black, when the war was actually over. I concluded
to give them the option to remain or to join their friends in
Charleston or Augusta, and so announced in general orders. The
mayor, Dr. Arnold, was completely "subjugated," and, after
consulting with him, I authorized him to assemble his City Council
to take charge generally of the interests of the people; but warned
all who remained that they must be strictly subordinate to the
military law, and to the interests of the General Government.
About two hundred persona, mostly the families of men in the
Confederate army, prepared to follow the fortunes of their husbands
and fathers, and these were sent in a steamboat under a flag of
truce, in charge of my aide Captain Audenried, to Charleston
harbor, and there delivered to an officer of the Confederate army.
But the great bulk of the inhabitants chose to remain in Savannah,
generally behaved with propriety, and good social relations at once
arose between them and the army. Shortly after our occupation of
Savannah, a lady was announced at my headquarters by the orderly or
sentinel at the front-door, who was ushered into the parlor, and
proved to be the wife of General G. W. Smith, whom I had known
about 1850, when Smith was on duty at West Point. She was a native
of New London, Connecticut, and very handsome. She began her
interview by presenting me a letter from her husband, who then
commanded a division of the Georgia militia in the rebel army,
which had just quitted Savannah, which letter began, "DEAR SHERMAN:
The fortunes of war, etc-., compel me to leave my wife in Savannah,
and I beg for her your courteous protection," etc., etc. I
inquired where she lived, and if anybody was troubling her. She
said she was boarding with a lady whose husband had, in like manner
with her own, gone off with Hardee's army; that a part of the house
had been taken for the use of Major-General Ward, of Kentucky; that
her landlady was approaching her confinement, and was nervous at
the noise which the younger staff-officers made at night; etc. I
explained to her that I could give but little personal attention to
such matters, and referred her to General Slocum, whose troops
occupied the city. I afterward visited her house, and saw,
personally, that she had no reason to complain. Shortly afterward
Mr. Hardee, a merchant of Savannah, came to me and presented a
letter from his brother, the general, to the same effect, alleging
that his brother was a civilian, had never taken up arms, and asked
of me protection for his family, his cotton, etc. To him I gave
the general assurance that no harm was designed to any of the
people of Savannah who would remain quiet and peaceable, but that I
could give him no guarantee as to his cotton, for over it I had no
absolute control; and yet still later I received a note from the
wife of General A. P. Stewart (who commanded a corps in Hood's
army), asking me to come to see her. This I did, and found her to
be a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, wanting protection, and who was
naturally anxious about the fate of her husband, known to be with
General Hood, in Tennessee, retreating before General Thomas. I
remember that I was able to assure her that he had not been killed
or captured, up to that date, and think that I advised her, instead
of attempting to go in pursuit of her husband, to go to Cincinnati,
to her uncle, Judge Storer, there await the issue of events.

Before I had reached Savannah, and during our stay there, the rebel
officers and newspapers represented the conduct of the men of our
army as simply infamous; that we respected neither age nor sex;
that we burned every thing we came across--barns, stables,
cotton-gins, and even dwelling-houses; that we ravished the women
and killed the men, and perpetrated all manner of outrages on the
inhabitants. Therefore it struck me as strange that Generals
Hardee and Smith should commit their, families to our custody, and
even bespeak our personal care and attention. These officers knew
well that these reports were exaggerated in the extreme, and yet
tacitly assented to these publications, to arouse the drooping
energies of the people of the South.

As the division of Major-General John W. Geary, of the Twentieth
Corps, was the first to enter Savannah, that officer was appointed
to command the place, or to act as a sort of governor. He very
soon established a good police, maintained admirable order, and I
doubt if Savannah, either before or since, has had a better
government than during our stay. The guard-mountings and parades,
as well as the greater reviews, became the daily resorts of the
ladies, to hear the music of our excellent bands; schools were
opened, and the churches every Sunday were well filled with most
devout and respectful congregations; stores were reopened, and
markets for provisions, meat, wood, etc., were established, so that
each family, regardless of race, color, or opinion, could procure
all the necessaries and even luxuries of life, provided they had
money. Of course, many families were actually destitute of this,
and to these were issued stores from our own stock of supplies. I
remember to have given to Dr. Arnold, the mayor, an order for the
contents of a large warehouse of rice, which he confided to a
committee of gentlemen, who went North (to Boston), and soon
returned with one or more cargoes of flour, hams, sugar, coffee,
etc., for gratuitous distribution, which relieved the most pressing
wants until the revival of trade and business enabled the people to
provide for themselves.

A lady, whom I had known in former years as Miss Josephine Goodwin,
told me that, with a barrel of flour and some sugar which she had
received gratuitously from the commissary, she had baked cakes and
pies, in the sale of which she realized a profit of fifty-six

Meantime Colonel Poe had reconnoitred and laid off new lines of
parapet, which would enable a comparatively small garrison to hold
the place, and a heavy detail of soldiers was put to work thereon;
Generals Easton and Beckwith had organized a complete depot of
supplies; and, though vessels arrived almost daily with mails and
provisions, we were hardly ready to initiate a new and hazardous
campaign. I had not yet received from General Grant or General
Halleck any modification of the orders of December 6,1864, to
embark my command for Virginia by sea; but on the 2d of January,
1865, General J. G. Barnard, United States Engineers, arrived
direct from General Grant's headquarters, bearing the following
letter, in the general's own handwriting, which, with my answer, is
here given:

CITY POINT, VIRGINIA, December 27, 1864.

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding Military Division of the

GENERAL: Before writing you definite instructions for the next
campaign, I wanted to receive your answer to my letter written from
Washington. Your confidence in being able to march up and join
this army pleases me, and I believe it can be done. The effect of
such a campaign will be to disorganize the South, and prevent the
organization of new armies from their broken fragments. Hood is
now retreating, with his army broken and demoralized. His loss in
men has probably not been far from twenty thousand, besides
deserters. If time is given, the fragments may be collected
together and many of the deserters reassembled. If we can, we
should act to prevent this. Your spare army, as it were, moving as
proposed, will do it.

In addition to holding Savannah, it looks to me that an intrenched
camp ought to be held on the railroad between Savannah and
Charleston. Your movement toward Branchville will probably enable
Foster to reach this with his own force. This will give us a
position in the South from which we can threaten the interior
without marching over long, narrow causeways, easily defended, as
we have heretofore been compelled to do. Could not such a camp be
established about Pocotaligo or Coosawhatchie?

I have thought that, Hood being so completely wiped out for present
harm, I might bring A. J. Smith here, with fourteen to fifteen
thousand men. With this increase I could hold my lines, and move
out with a greater force than Lee has. It would compel Lee to
retain all his present force in the defenses of Richmond or abandon
them entirely. This latter contingency is probably the only danger
to the easy success of your expedition. In the event you should
meet Lee's army, you would be compelled to beat it or find the
sea-coast. Of course, I shall not let Lee's army escape if I can
help it, and will not let it go without following to the best of my

Without waiting further directions, than, you may make your
preparations to start on your northern expedition without delay.
Break up the railroads in South and North Carolina, and join the
armies operating against Richmond as soon as you can. I will leave
out all suggestions about the route you should take, knowing that
your information, gained daily in the course of events, will be
better than any that can be obtained now.

It may not be possible for you to march to the rear of Petersburg;
but, failing in this, you could strike either of the sea-coast
ports in North Carolina held by us. From there you could take
shipping. It would be decidedly preferable, however, if you could
march the whole distance.

From the best information I have, you will find no difficulty in
supplying your army until you cross the Roanoke. From there here
is but a few days' march, and supplies could be collected south of
the river to bring you through. I shall establish communication
with you there, by steamboat and gunboat. By this means your wants
can be partially supplied. I shall hope to hear from you soon, and
to hear your plan, and about the time of starting.

Please instruct Foster to hold on to all the property in Savannah,
and especially the cotton. Do not turn it over to citizens or
Treasury agents, without orders of the War Department.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.


Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, City Point.

GENERAL: I have received, by the hands of General Barnard, your
note of 26th and letter of 27th December.

I herewith inclose to you a copy of a projet which I have this
morning, in strict confidence, discussed with my immediate

I shall need, however, larger supplies of stores, especially grain.
I will inclose to you, with this, letters from General Easton,
quartermaster, and Colonel Beckwith, commissary of subsistence,
setting forth what will be required, and trust you will forward
them to Washington with your sanction, so that the necessary steps
may be taken at once to enable me to carry out this plan on time.

I wrote you very fully on the 24th, and have nothing to add. Every
thing here is quiet, and if I can get the necessary supplies in our
wagons, shall be ready to start at the time indicated in my projet
(January 15th). But, until those supplies are in hand, I can do
nothing; after they are, I shall be ready to move with great

I have heard of the affair at Cape Fear. It has turned out as you
will remember I expected.

I have furnished General Easton a copy of the dispatch from the
Secretary of War. He will retain possession of all cotton here,
and ship it as fast as vessels can be had to New York.

I shall immediately send the Seventeenth Corps over to Port Royal,
by boats, to be furnished by Admiral Dahlgren and General Foster
(without interfering with General Easton's vessels), to make a
lodgment on the railroad at Pocotaligo.

General Barnard will remain with me a few days, and I send this by
a staff-officer, who can return on one of the vessels of the
supply-fleet. I suppose that, now that General Butler has got
through with them, you can spare them to us.

My report of recent operations is nearly ready, and will be sent
you in a day or two, as soon as some farther subordinate reports
come in.

I am, with great respect, very truly, your friend,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

[Entirely confidential]


1. Right wing to move men and artillery by transports to head of
Broad River and Beaufort; reestablish Port Royal Ferry, and mass
the wing at or in the neighborhood of Pocotaligo.

Left wing and cavalry to work slowly across the causeway toward
Hardeeville, to open a road by which wagons can reach their corps
about Broad River; also, by a rapid movement of the left, to secure
Sister's Ferry, and Augusta road out to Robertsville.

In the mean time, all guns, shot, shell, cotton, etc., to be moved
to a safe place, easy to guard, and provisions and wagons got ready
for another swath, aiming to have our army in hand about the head
of Broad River, say Pocotaligo, Robertsville, and Coosawhatchie, by
the 15th January.

2. The whole army to move with loaded wagons by the roads leading
in the direction of Columbia, which afford the best chance of
forage and provisions. Howard to be at Pocotaligo by the 15th
January, and Slocum to be at Robertsville, and Kilpatrick at or
near Coosawhatchie about the same date. General Fosters troops to
occupy Savannah, and gunboats to protect the rivers as soon as
Howard gets Pocotaligo.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

Therefore, on the 2d of January, I was authorized to march with my
entire army north by land, and concluded at once to secure a
foothold or starting-point on the South Carolina side, selecting
Pocotaligo and Hardeeville as the points of rendezvous for the two
wings; but I still remained in doubt as to the wishes of the
Administration, whether I should take Charleston en route, or
confine my whole attention to the incidental advantages of breaking
up the railways of South and North Carolina, and the greater object
of uniting my army with that of General Grant before Richmond.

General Barnard remained with me several days, and was regarded
then, as now, one of the first engineers of the age, perfectly
competent to advise me on the strategy and objects of the new
campaign. He expressed himself delighted with the high spirit of
the army, the steps already taken, by which we had captured
Savannah, and he personally inspected some of the forts, such as
Thunderbolt and Causten's Bluff, by which the enemy had so long
held at bay the whole of our navy, and had defeated the previous
attempts made in April, 1862, by the army of General Gillmore,
which had bombarded and captured Fort Pulaski, but had failed to
reach the city of Savannah. I think General Barnard expected me to
invite him to accompany us northward in his official capacity; but
Colonel Poe, of my staff, had done so well, and was so perfectly
competent, that I thought it unjust to supersede him by a senior in
his own corps. I therefore said nothing of this to General
Barnard, and soon after he returned to his post with General Grant,
at City Point, bearing letters and full personal messages of our
situation and wants.

We were very much in want of light-draught steamers for navigating
the shallow waters of the coast, so that it took the Seventeenth
Corps more than a week to transfer from Thunderbolt to Beaufort,
South Carolina. Admiral Dahlgren had supplied the Harvest Moon and
the Pontiac, and General Foster gave us a couple of hired steamers;
I was really amused at the effect this short sea-voyage had on our
men, most of whom had never before looked upon the ocean. Of
course, they were fit subjects for sea-sickness, and afterward they
begged me never again to send them to sea, saying they would rather
march a thousand miles on the worst roads of the South than to
spend a single night on the ocean. By the 10th General Howard had
collected the bulk of the Seventeenth Corps (General Blair) on
Beaufort Island, and began his march for Pocotaligo, twenty-five
miles inland. They crossed the channel between the island and
main-land during Saturday, the 14th of January, by a pontoon-
bridge, and marched out to Garden's Corners, where there was some
light skirmishing; the next day, Sunday, they continued on to
Pocotaligo, finding the strong fort there abandoned, and
accordingly made a lodgment on the railroad, having lost only two
officers and eight men.

About the same time General Slocum crossed two divisions of the
Twentieth Corps over the Savannah River, above the city, occupied
Hardeeville by one division and Purysburg by another. Thus, by the
middle of January, we had effected a lodgment in South Carolina,
and were ready to resume the march northward; but we had not yet
accumulated enough provisions and forage to fill the wagons, and
other causes of delay occurred, of which I will make mention in due

On the last day of December, 1864, Captain Breese, United States
Navy, flag-officer to Admiral Porter, reached Savannah, bringing
the first news of General Butler's failure at Fort Fisher, and that
the general had returned to James River with his land-forces,
leaving Admiral Porter's fleet anchored off Cape Fear, in that
tempestuous season. Captain Breese brought me a letter from the
admiral, dated December 29th, asking me to send him from Savannah
one of my old divisions, with which he said he would make short
work of Fort Fisher; that he had already bombarded and silenced its
guns, and that General Butler had failed because he was afraid to
attack, or even give the order to attack, after (as Porter
insisted) the guns of Fort Fisher had been actually silenced by the

I answered him promptly on the 31st of December, that I proposed to
march north inland, and that I would prefer to leave the rebel
garrisons on the coast, instead of dislodging and piling them up in
my front as we progressed. From the chances, as I then understood
them, I supposed that Fort Fisher was garrisoned by a comparatively
small force, while the whole division of General Hoke remained
about the city of Wilmington; and that, if Fort Fisher were
captured, it would leave General Hoke free to join the larger force
that would naturally be collected to oppose my progress northward.
I accordingly answered Admiral Porter to this effect, declining to
loan him the use of one of my divisions. It subsequently
transpired, however, that, as soon as General Butler reached City
Point, General Grant was unwilling to rest under a sense of
failure, and accordingly dispatched back the same troops,
reenforced and commanded by General A. H. Terry, who, on the 15th
day of January, successfully assaulted and captured Fort Fisher,
with its entire garrison. After the war was over, about the 20th
of May, when I was giving my testimony before the Congressional
Committee on the Conduct of the War, the chairman of the committee,
Senator B. F. Wade, of Ohio, told me that General Butler had been
summoned before that committee during the previous January, and had
just finished his demonstration to their entire satisfaction that
Fort Fisher could not be carried by assault, when they heard the
newsboy in the hall crying out an "extra" Calling him in, they
inquired the news, and he answered, "Fort Fisher done took!" Of
course, they all laughed, and none more heartily than General
Butler himself.

On the 11th of January there arrived at Savannah a revenue-cutter,
having on board Simeon Draper, Esq., of New York City, the Hon. E.
M. Stanton, Secretary of War, Quartermaster-General Meigs,
Adjutant-General Townsend, and a retinue of civilians, who had come
down from the North to regulate the civil affairs of Savannah....

I was instructed by Mr. Stanton to transfer to Mr. Draper the
custom house, post-office, and such other public buildings as these
civilians needed in the execution of their office, and to cause to
be delivered into their custody the captured cotton. This was
accomplished by--

[Special Field Orders, No. 10.]


1. Brevet Brigadier-General Euston, chief-quartermaster, will turn
over to Simeon Draper, Esq., agent of the United States Treasury
Department, all cotton now in the city of Savannah, prize of war,
taking his receipt for the same in gross, and returning for it to
the quartermaster-general. He will also afford Mr. Draper all the
facilities in his power in the way of transportation, labor, etc.,
to enable him to handle the cotton with expedition.

2. General Euston will also turn over to Mr. Draper the
custom-house, and such other buildings in the city of Savannah as
he may need in the execution of his office.

By order of General W. T. Sherman,

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

Up to this time all the cotton had been carefully guarded, with
orders to General Euston to ship it by the return-vessels to New
York, for the adjudication of the nearest prize-court, accompanied
with invoices and all evidence of title to ownership. Marks,
numbers, and other figures, were carefully preserved on the bales,
so that the court might know the history of each bale. But Mr.
Stanton, who surely was an able lawyer, changed all this, and
ordered the obliteration of all the marks; so that no man, friend
or foe, could trace his identical cotton. I thought it strange at
the time, and think it more so now; for I am assured that claims,
real and fictitious, have been proved up against this identical
cotton of three times the quantity actually captured, and that
reclamations on the Treasury have been allowed for more than the
actual quantity captured, viz., thirty-one thousand bales.

Mr. Stanton staid in Savannah several days, and seemed very curious
about matters and things in general. I walked with him through the
city, especially the bivouacs of the several regiments that
occupied the vacant squares, and he seemed particularly pleased at
the ingenuity of the men in constructing their temporary huts.
Four of the "dog-tents," or tentes d'abri, buttoned together,
served for a roof, and the sides were made of clapboards, or rough
boards brought from demolished houses or fences. I remember his
marked admiration for the hut of a soldier who had made his door
out of a handsome parlor mirror, the glass gone and its gilt frame
serving for his door.

He talked to me a great deal about the negroes, the former slaves,
and I told him of many interesting incidents, illustrating their
simple character and faith in our arms and progress. He inquired
particularly about General Jeff. C. Davis, who, he said, was a
Democrat, and hostile to the negro. I assured him that General
Davis was an excellent soldier, and I did not believe he had any
hostility to the negro; that in our army we had no negro soldiers,
and, as a rule, we preferred white soldiers, but that we employed a
large force of them as servants, teamsters, and pioneers, who had
rendered admirable service. He then showed me a newspaper account
of General Davis taking up his pontoon-bridge across Ebenezer
Creek, leaving sleeping negro men, women, and children, on the
other side, to be slaughtered by Wheeler's cavalry. I had heard
such a rumor, and advised Mr. Stanton, before becoming prejudiced,
to allow me to send for General Davis, which he did, and General
Davis explained the matter to his entire satisfaction. The truth
was, that, as we approached the seaboard, the freedmen in droves,
old and young, followed the several columns to reach a place of
safety. It so happened that General Davis's route into Savannah
followed what was known as the "River-road," and he had to make
constant use of his pontoon-train--the head of his column reaching
some deep, impassable creek before the rear was fairly over
another. He had occasionally to use the pontoons both day and
night. On the occasion referred to, the bridge was taken up from
Ebenezer Creek while some of the camp-followers remained asleep on
the farther side, and these were picked up by Wheeler's cavalry.
Some of them, in their fright, were drowned in trying to swim over,
and others may have been cruelly killed by Wheeler's men, but this
was a mere supposition. At all events, the same thing might have
resulted to General Howard, or to any other of the many most humane
commanders who filled the army. General Jeff. C. Davis was
strictly a soldier, and doubtless hated to have his wagons and
columns encumbered by these poor negroes, for whom we all felt
sympathy, but a sympathy of a different sort from that of Mr.
Stanton, which was not of pure humanity, but of politics. The
negro question was beginning to loom up among the political
eventualities of the day, and many foresaw that not only would the
slaves secure their freedom, but that they would also have votes.
I did not dream of such a result then, but knew that slavery, as
such, was dead forever, and did not suppose that the former slaves
would be suddenly, without preparation, manufactured into voters,
equal to all others, politically and socially. Mr. Stanton seemed
desirous of coming into contact with the negroes to confer with
them, and he asked me to arrange an interview for him. I
accordingly sent out and invited the most intelligent of the
negroes, mostly Baptist and Methodist preachers, to come to my
rooms to meet the Secretary of War. Twenty responded, and were
received in my room up-stairs in Mr. Green's house, where Mr.
Stanton and Adjutant-General Townsend took down the conversation in
the form of questions and answers. Each of the twenty gave his
name and partial history, and then selected Garrison Frazier as
their spokesman:

First Question. State what your understanding is in regard to the
acts of Congress and President Lincoln's proclamation touching the
colored people in the rebel States?

Answer. So far as I understand President Lincoln's proclamation to
the rebel States, it is, that if they will lay down their arms and
submit to the laws of the United States, before the 1st of January,
1863, all should be well; but if they did not, then all the slaves
in the Southern States should be free, henceforth and forever.
That is what I understood.

Second Question. State what you understand by slavery, and the
freedom that was to be given by the President's proclamation?

Answer. Slavery is receiving by irresistible power the work of
another man, and not by his consent. The freedom, as I understand
it, promised by the proclamation, is taking us from under the yoke
of bondage and placing us where we can reap the fruit of our own
labor, and take care of ourselves and assist the Government in
maintaining our freedom.

Fourth Question. State in what manner you would rather live
--whether scattered among the whites, or in colonies by yourselves?

Answer. I would prefer to live by ourselves, for there is a
prejudice against us in the South that will take years to get over;
but I do not know that I can answer for my brethren.

(All but Mr. Lynch, a missionary from the North, agreed with
Frazier, but he thought they ought to live together, along with the

Eighth Question. If the rebel leaders were to arm the slaves, what
would be its effect?

Answer. I think they would fight as long as they were before the
"bayonet," and just as soon as they could get away they would
desert, in my opinion.

Tenth Question. Do you understand the mode of enlistment of
colored persons in the rebel States by State agents, under the act
of Congress; if yea, what is your understanding?

Answer. My understanding is, that colored persons enlisted by
State agents are enlisted as substitutes, and give credit to the
State and do not swell the army, because every black man enlisted
by a State agent leaves a white man at home; and also that larger
bounties are given, or promised, by the State agents than are given
by the United States. The great object should be to push through
this rebellion the shortest way; and there seems to be something
wanting in the enlistment by State agents, for it don't strengthen
the army, but takes one away for every colored man enlisted.

Eleventh Question. State what, in your opinion, is the best way to
enlist colored men as soldiers?

Answer. I think, sir, that all compulsory operations should be put
a stop to. The ministers would talk to them, and the young men
would enlist. It is my opinion that it world be far better for the
State agents to stay at home and the enlistments be made for the
United States under the direction of General Sherman.

Up to this time I was present, and, on Mr. Stanton's intimating
that he wanted to ask some questions affecting me, I withdrew, and
then he put the twelfth and last question

Twelfth Question. State what is the feeling of the colored people
toward General Sherman, and how far do they regard his sentiments
and actions as friendly to their rights and interests, or

Answer. We looked upon General Sherman, prior to his arrival, as a
man, in the providence of God, specially set apart to accomplish
this work, and we unanimously felt inexpressible gratitude to him,
looking upon him as a man who should be honored for the faithful
performance of his duty. Some of us called upon him immediately
upon his arrival, and it is probable he did not meet the secretary
with more courtesy than he did us. His conduct and deportment
toward us characterized him as a friend and gentleman. We have
confidence in General Sherman, and think what concerns us could not
be in better hands. This is our opinion now, from the short
acquaintance and intercourse we have had.

It certainly was a strange fact that the great War Secretary should
have catechized negroes concerning the character of a general who
had commanded a hundred thousand men in battle, had captured cities
conducted sixty-five thousand men successfully across four hundred
miles of hostile territory, and had just brought tens of thousands
of freedmen to a place of security; but because I had not loaded
down my army by other hundreds of thousands of poor negroes, I was
construed by others as hostile to the black race. I had received
from General Halleck, at Washington, a letter warning me that there
were certain influential parties near the President who were
torturing him with suspicions of my fidelity to him and his negro
policy; but I shall always believe that Mr. Lincoln, though a
civilian, knew better, and appreciated my motives and character.
Though this letter of General Halleck has always been treated by me
as confidential, I now insert it here at length:

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 30, 1864.

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, Savannah.

MY DEAR GENERAL: I take the liberty of calling your attention, in
this private and friendly way, to a matter which may possibly
hereafter be of more importance to you than either of us may now

While almost every one is praising your great march through
Georgia, and the capture of Savannah, there is a certain class
having now great influence with the President, and very probably
anticipating still more on a change of cabinet, who are decidedly
disposed to make a point against you. I mean in regard to
"inevitable Sambo." They say that you have manifested an almost
criminal dislike to the negro, and that you are not willing to
carry out the wishes of the Government in regard to him, but
repulse him with contempt! They say you might have brought with you
to Savannah more than fifty thousand, thus stripping Georgia of
that number of laborers, and opening a road by which as many more
could have escaped from their masters; but that, instead of this,
you drove them from your ranks, prevented their following you by
cutting the bridges in your rear, and thus caused the massacre of
large numbers by Wheeler's cavalry.

To those who know you as I do, such accusation will pass as the
idle winds, for we presume that you discouraged the negroes from
following you because you had not the means of supporting them, and
feared they might seriously embarrass your march. But there are
others, and among them some in high authority, who think or pretend
to think otherwise, and they are decidedly disposed to make a point
against you.

I do not write this to induce you to conciliate this class of men
by doing any thing which you do not deem right and proper, and for
the interest of the Government and the country; but simply to call
your attention to certain things which are viewed here somewhat
differently than from your stand-point. I will explain as briefly
as possible:

Some here think that, in view of the scarcity of labor in the
South, and the probability that a part, at least, of the
able-bodied slaves will be called into the military service of the
rebels, it is of the greatest importance to open outlets by which
these slaves can escape into our lines, and they say that the route
you have passed over should be made the route of escape, and
Savannah the great place of refuge. These, I know, are the views
of some of the leading men in the Administration, and they now
express dissatisfaction that you did not carry them out in your
great raid.

Now that you are in possession of Savannah, and there can be no
further fears about supplies, would it not be possible for you to
reopen these avenues of escape for the negroes, without interfering
with your military operations? Could not such escaped slaves find
at least a partial supply of food in the rice-fields about
Savannah, and cotton plantations on the coast?

I merely throw out these suggestions. I know that such a course
would be approved by the Government, and I believe that a
manifestation on your part of a desire to bring the slaves within
our lines will do much to silence your opponents. You will
appreciate my motives in writing this private letter.
Yours truly,


There is no doubt that Mr. Stanton, when he reached Savannah,
shared these thoughts, but luckily the negroes themselves convinced
him that he was in error, and that they understood their own
interests far better than did the men in Washington, who tried to
make political capital out of this negro question. The idea that
such men should have been permitted to hang around Mr. Lincoln, to
torture his life by suspicions of the officers who were toiling
with the single purpose to bring the war to a successful end, and
thereby to liberate all slaves, is a fair illustration of the
influences that poison a political capital.

My aim then was, to whip the rebels, to humble their pride, to
follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread
us. "Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." I did not want
them to cast in our teeth what General Hood had once done in
Atlanta, that we had to call on their slaves to help us to subdue
them. But, as regards kindness to the race, encouraging them to
patience and forbearance, procuring them food and clothing, and
providing them with land whereon to labor, I assert that no army
ever did more for that race than the one I commanded in Savannah.
When we reached Savannah, we were beset by ravenous State agents
from Hilton Head, who enticed and carried away our servants, and
the corps of pioneers which we had organized, and which had done
such excellent service. On one occasion, my own aide-de-camp,
Colonel Audenried, found at least a hundred poor negroes shut up in
a house and pen, waiting for the night, to be conveyed stealthily
to Hilton Head. They appealed to him for protection, alleging that
they had been told that they must be soldiers, that "Massa Lincoln"
wanted them, etc. I never denied the slaves a full opportunity for
voluntary enlistment, but I did prohibit force to be used, for I
knew that the State agents were more influenced by the profit they
derived from the large bounties then being paid than by any love of
country or of the colored race. In the language of Mr. Frazier,
the enlistment of every black man "did not strengthen the army, but
took away one white man from the ranks."

During Mr. Stanton's stay in Savannah we discussed this negro
question very fully; he asked me to draft an order on the subject,
in accordance with my own views, that would meet the pressing
necessities of the case, and I did so. We went over this order,
No. 15, of January 16, 1865, very carefully. The secretary made
some verbal modifications, when it was approved by him in all its
details, I published it, and it went into operation at once. It
provided fully for the enlistment of colored troops, and gave the
freedmen certain possessory rights to land, which afterward became
matters of judicial inquiry and decision. Of course, the military
authorities at that day, when war prevailed, had a perfect right to
grant the possession of any vacant land to which they could extend
military protection, but we did not undertake to give a fee-simple
title; and all that was designed by these special field orders was
to make temporary provisions for the freedmen and their families
during the rest of the war, or until Congress should take action in
the premises. All that I now propose to assert is, that Mr.
Stanton, Secretary of War, saw these orders in the rough, and
approved every paragraph thereof, before they were made public:

[Special Field Orders, No. 15.]


1. The islands from Charleston south, the abandoned rice-fields
along the rivers for thirty miles back from the sea, and the
country bordering the St. John's River, Florida, are reserved and
set apart for the settlement of the negroes now made free by the
acts of war and the proclamation of the President of the United

2. At Beaufort, Hilton Head, Savannah, Fernandina, St. Augustine,
and Jacksonville, the blacks may remain in their chosen or
accustomed vocations; but on the islands, and in the settlements
hereafter to be established, no white person whatever, unless
military officers and soldiers detailed for duty, will be permitted
to reside; and the sole and exclusive management of affairs will be
left to the freed people themselves, subject only to the United
States military authority, and the acts of Congress. By the laws
of war, and orders of the President of the United States, the negro
is free, and must be dealt with as such. He cannot be subjected to
conscription, or forced military service, save by the written
orders of the highest military authority of the department, under
such regulations as the President or Congress may prescribe.
Domestic servants, blacksmiths, carpenters, and other mechanics,
will be free to select their own work and residence, but the young
and able-bodied negroes must be encouraged to enlist as soldiery in
the service of the United States, to contribute their share toward
maintaining their own freedom, and securing their rights as
citizens of the United States.

Negroes so enlisted will be organized into companies, battalions,
and regiments, under the orders of the United States military
authorities, and will be paid, fed, and clothed; according to law.
The bounties paid on enlistment may, with the consent of the
recruit, go to assist his family and settlement in procuring
agricultural implements, seed, tools, boots, clothing, and other
articles necessary for their livelihood.

8. Whenever three respectable negroes, heads of families, shall
desire to settle on land, and shall have selected for that purpose
an island or a locality clearly defined within the limits above
designated, the Inspector of Settlements and Plantations will
himself, or, by such subordinate officer as he may appoint, give
them a license to settle such island or district, and afford them
such assistance as he can to enable them to establish a peaceable
agricultural settlement. The three parties named will subdivide
the land, under the supervision of the inspector, among themselves,
and such others as may choose to settle near them, so that each
family shall have a plot of not more than forty acres of tillable
ground, and, when it borders on some water-channel, with not more
than eight hundred feet water-front, in the possession of which
land the military authorities will afford them protection until
such time as they can protect themselves, or until Congress shall
regulate their title. The quartermaster may, on the requisition of
the Inspector of Settlements and Plantations, place at the disposal
of the inspector one or more of the captured steamers to ply
between the settlements and one or more of the commercial points
heretofore named, in order to afford the settlers the opportunity
to supply their necessary wants, and to sell the products of their
land and labor.

4. Whenever a negro has enlisted in the military service of the
United States, be may locate his family in any one of the
settlements at pleasure, and acquire a homestead, and all other
rights and privileges of a settler, as though present in person.
In like manner, negroes may settle their families and engage on
board the gunboats, or in fishing, or in the navigation of the
inland waters, without losing any claim to land or other advantages
derived from this system. But no one, unless an actual settler as
above defined, or unless absent on Government service, will be
entitled to claim any right to land or property in any settlement
by virtue of these orders.

5. In order to carry out this system of settlement, a general
officer will be detailed as Inspector of Settlements and
Plantations, whose duty it shall be to visit the settlements, to
regulate their police and general arrangement, and who will furnish
personally to each head of a family, subject to the approval of the
President of the United States, a possessory title in writing,
giving as near as possible the description of boundaries; and who
shall adjust all claims or conflicts that may arise under the same,
subject to the like approval, treating such titles altogether as
possessory. The same general officer will also be charged with the
enlistment and organization of the negro recruits, and protecting
their interests while absent from their settlements; and will be
governed by the rules and regulations prescribed by the War
Department for such purposes.

6. Brigadier-General R. Saxton is hereby appointed Inspector of
Settlements and Plantations, and will at once enter on the
performance of his duties. No change is intended or desired in the
settlement now on Beaufort Island, nor will any rights to property
heretofore acquired be affected thereby.

By order of Major-General W. T. Sherman,
L. M. DAYTON, Assistant Adjutant-General.

I saw a good deal of the secretary socially, during the time of his
visit to Savannah. He kept his quarters on the revenue-cutter with
Simeon Draper, Esq., which cutter lay at a wharf in the river, but
he came very often to my quarters at Mr. Green's house. Though
appearing robust and strong, he complained a good deal of internal
pains, which he said threatened his life, and would compel him soon
to quit public office. He professed to have come from Washington
purposely for rest and recreation, and he spoke unreservedly of the
bickerings and jealousies at the national capital; of the
interminable quarrels of the State Governors about their quotas,
and more particularly of the financial troubles that threatened the
very existence of the Government itself. He said that the price of
every thing had so risen in comparison with the depreciated money,
that there was danger of national bankruptcy, and he appealed to
me, as a soldier and patriot, to hurry up matters so as to bring
the war to a close.

He left for Port Royal about the 15th of January, and promised to
go North without delay, so as to hurry back to me the supplies I
had called for, as indispensable for the prosecution of the next
stage of the campaign. I was quite impatient to get off myself,
for a city-life had become dull and tame, and we were all anxious
to get into the pine-woods again, free from the importunities of
rebel women asking for protection, and of the civilians from the
North who were coming to Savannah for cotton and all sorts of

On the 18th of January General Slocum was ordered to turn over the
city of Savannah to General J. G. Foster, commanding the Department
of the South, who proposed to retain his own headquarters at Hilton
Head, and to occupy Savannah by General Grovers division of the
Nineteenth Corps, just arrived from James River; and on the next
day, viz., January 19th, I made the first general orders for the

These were substantially to group the right wing of the army at
Pocotaligo, already held by the Seventeenth Corps, and the left
wing and cavalry at or near Robertsville, in South Carolina. The
army remained substantially the same as during the march from
Atlanta, with the exception of a few changes in the commanders of
brigades and divisions, the addition of some men who had joined
from furlough, and the loss of others from the expiration of their
term of service. My own personal staff remained the same, with the
exception that General W. F. Barry had rejoined us at Savannah,
perfectly recovered from his attack of erysipelas, and continued
with us to the end of the war. Generals Easton and Beckwith
remained at Savannah, in charge of their respective depots, with
orders to follow and meet us by sea with supplies when we should
reach the coast at Wilmington or Newbern, North Carolina.

Of course, I gave out with some ostentation, especially among the
rebels, that we were going to Charleston or Augusta; but I had long
before made up my mind to waste no time on either, further than to
play off on their fears, thus to retain for their protection a
force of the enemy which would otherwise concentrate in our front,
and make the passage of some of the great rivers that crossed our
route more difficult and bloody.

Having accomplished all that seemed necessary, on the 21st of
January, with my entire headquarters, officers, clerks, orderlies,
etc., with wagons and horses, I embarked in a steamer for Beaufort,
South Carolina, touching at Hilton Head, to see General Foster.
The weather was rainy and bad, but we reached Beaufort safely on
the 23d, and found some of General Blair's troops there. The pink
of his corps (Seventeenth) was, however, up on the railroad about
Pocotaligo, near the head of Broad River, to which their supplies
were carried from Hilton Head by steamboats. General Hatch's
division (of General Foster's command) was still at Coosawhatchie
or Tullafinny, where the Charleston & Savannah Railroad crosses the
river of that name. All the country between Beaufort and
Pocotaligo was low alluvial land, cut up by an infinite number of
salt-water sloughs and freshwater creeks, easily susceptible of
defense by a small force; and why the enemy had allowed us to make
a lodgment at Pocotaligo so easily I did not understand, unless it
resulted from fear or ignorance. It seemed to me then that the
terrible energy they had displayed in the earlier stages of the war
was beginning to yield to the slower but more certain industry and
discipline of our Northern men. It was to me manifest that the
soldiers and people of the South entertained an undue fear of our
Western men, and, like children, they had invented such ghostlike
stories of our prowess in Georgia, that they were scared by their
own inventions. Still, this was a power, and I intended to utilize
it. Somehow, our men had got the idea that South Carolina was the
cause of all our troubles; her people were the first to fire on
Fort Sumter, had been in a great hurry to precipitate the country
into civil war; and therefore on them should fall the scourge of
war in its worst form. Taunting messages had also come to us, when
in Georgia, to the effect that, when we should reach South
Carolina, we would find a people less passive, who would fight us
to the bitter end, daring us to come over, etc.; so that I saw and
felt that we would not be able longer to restrain our men as we had
done in Georgia.

Personally I had many friends in Charleston, to whom I would gladly
have extended protection and mercy, but they were beyond my
personal reach, and I would not restrain the army lest its vigor
and energy should be impaired; and I had every reason to expect
bold and strong resistance at the many broad and deep rivers that
lay across our path.

General Foster's Department of the South had been enlarged to
embrace the coast of North Carolina, so that the few troops serving
there, under the command of General Innis N. Palmer, at Newbern,
became subject to my command. General A. H. Terry held Fort
Fisher, and a rumor came that he had taken the city of Wilmington;
but this was premature. He had about eight thousand men. General
Schofield was also known to be en route from Nashville for North
Carolina, with the entire Twenty-third Corps, so that I had every
reason to be satisfied that I would receive additional strength as
we progressed northward, and before I should need it.

General W. J. Hardee commanded the Confederate forces in
Charleston, with the Salkiehatchie River as his line of defense.
It was also known that General Beauregard had come from the
direction of Tennessee, and had assumed the general command of all
the troops designed to resist our progress.

The heavy winter rains had begun early in January, rendered the
roads execrable, and the Savannah River became so swollen that it
filled its many channels, overflowing the vast extent of
rice-fields that lay on the east bank. This flood delayed our
departure two weeks; for it swept away our pontoon-bridge at
Savannah, and came near drowning John E. Smith's division of the
Fifteenth Corps, with several heavy trains of wagons that were en
route from Savannah to Pocotaligo by the old causeway.

General Slocum had already ferried two of his divisions across the
river, when Sister's Ferry, about forty miles above Savannah, was
selected for the passage of the rest of his wing and of
Kilpatrick's cavalry. The troops were in motion for that point
before I quitted Savannah, and Captain S. B. Luce, United States
Navy, had reported to me with a gunboat (the Pontiac) and a couple
of transports, which I requested him to use in protecting Sister's
Ferry during the passage of Slocum's wing, and to facilitate the
passage of the troops all he could. The utmost activity prevailed
at all points, but it was manifest we could not get off much before
the 1st day of February; so I determined to go in person to
Pocotaligo, and there act as though we were bound for Charleston.
On the 24th of January I started from Beaufort with a part of my
staff, leaving the rest to follow at leisure, rode across the
island to a pontoon-bridge that spanned the channel between it and
the main-land, and thence rode by Garden's Corners to a plantation
not far from Pocotaligo, occupied by General Blair. There we found
a house, with a majestic avenue of live-oaks, whose limbs had been
cut away by the troops for firewood, and desolation marked one of
those splendid South Carolina estates where the proprietors
formerly had dispensed a hospitality that distinguished the old
regime of that proud State. I slept on the floor of the house, but
the night was so bitter cold that I got up by the fire several
times, and when it burned low I rekindled it with an old
mantel-clock and the wreck of a bedstead which stood in a corner of
the room--the only act of vandalism that I recall done by myself
personally during the war.

The next morning I rode to Pocotaligo, and thence reconnoitred our
entire line down to Coosawhatchie. Pocotaligo Fort was on low,
alluvial ground, and near it began the sandy pine-land which
connected with the firm ground extending inland, constituting the
chief reason for its capture at the very first stage of the
campaign. Hatch's division was ordered to that point from
Coosawhatchie, and the whole of Howard's right wing was brought
near by, ready to start by the 1st of February. I also
reconnoitred the point of the Salkiehatchie River, where the
Charleston Railroad crossed it, found the bridge protected by a
rebel battery on the farther side, and could see a few men about
it; but the stream itself was absolutely impassable, for the whole
bottom was overflowed by its swollen waters to the breadth of a
full mile. Nevertheless, Force's and Mower's divisions of the
Seventeenth Corps were kept active, seemingly with the intention to
cross over in the direction of Charleston, and thus to keep up the
delusion that that city was our immediate "objective." Meantime, I
had reports from General Slocum of the terrible difficulties he had
encountered about Sister's Ferry, where the Savannah River was
reported nearly three miles wide, and it seemed for a time almost
impossible for him to span it at all with his frail pontoons.
About this time (January 25th), the weather cleared away bright and
cold, and I inferred that the river would soon run down, and enable
Slocum to pass the river before February 1st. One of the divisions
of the Fifteenth Corps (Corse's) had also been cut off by the loss
of the pontoon-bridge at Savannah, so that General Slocum had with
him, not only his own two corps, but Corse's division and
Kilpatrick's cavalry, without which it was not prudent for me to
inaugurate the campaign. We therefore rested quietly about
Pocotaligo, collecting stores and making final preparations, until
the 1st of February, when I learned that the cavalry and two
divisions of the Twentieth Corps were fairly across the river, and
then gave the necessary orders for the march northward.

Before closing this chapter, I will add a few original letters that
bear directly on the subject, and tend to illustrate it:

WASHINGTON, D. C. January 21, 1866.

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding Military Division of the

GENERAL: Your letters brought by General Barnard were received at
City Point, and read with interest. Not having them with me,
however, I cannot say that in this I will be able to satisfy you on
all points of recommendation. As I arrived here at 1 p.m., and
must leave at 6 p.m., having in the mean time spent over three
hours with the secretary and General Halleck, I must be brief.
Before your last request to have Thomas make a campaign into the
heart of Alabama, I had ordered Schofield to Annapolis, Maryland,
with his corps. The advance (six thousand) will reach the seaboard
by the 23d, the remainder following as rapidly as railroad
transportation can be procured from Cincinnati. The corps numbers
over twenty-one thousand men.

Thomas is still left with a sufficient force, surplus to go to
Selma under an energetic leader. He has been telegraphed to, to
know whether he could go, and, if so, by which of several routes he
would select. No reply is yet received. Canby has been ordered to
set offensively from the seacoast to the interior, toward
Montgomery and Selma. Thomas's forces will move from the north at
an early day, or some of his troops will be sent to Canby. Without
further reenforcement Canby will have a moving column of twenty
thousand men.

Fort Fisher, you are aware, has been captured. We have a force
there of eight thousand effective. At Newbern about half the
number. It is rumored, through deserters, that Wilmington also has
fallen. I am inclined to believe the rumor, because on the 17th we
knew the enemy were blowing up their works about Fort Caswell, and
that on the 18th Terry moved on Wilmington.

If Wilmington is captured, Schofield will go there. If not, he
will be sent to Newbern. In either event, all the surplus forces
at the two points will move to the interior, toward Goldsboro', in
cooperation with your movements. From either point, railroad
communications can be run out, there being here abundance of
rolling-stock suited to the gauge of those roads.

There have been about sixteen thousand men sent from Lee's army
south. Of these, you will have fourteen thousand against you, if
Wilmington is not held by the enemy, casualties at Fort Fisher
having overtaken about two thousand.

All other troops are subject to your orders as you come in
communication with them. They will be so instructed. From about
Richmond I will watch Lee closely, and if he detaches many men, or
attempts to evacuate, will pitch in. In the meantime, should you
be brought to a halt anywhere, I can send two corps of thirty
thousand effective men to your support, from the troops about

To resume: Canby is ordered to operate to the interior from the
Gulf. A. J. Smith may go from the north, but I think it doubtful.
A force of twenty-eight or thirty thousand will cooperate with you
from Newbern or Wilmington, or both. You can call for

This will be handed you by Captain Hudson, of my staff, who will
return with any message you may have for me. If there is any thing
I can do for you in the way of having supplies on shipboard, at any
point on the seacoast, ready for you, let me know it.

Yours truly,

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.


Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, City Point, Virginia.

DEAR GENERAL: Captain Hudson has this moment arrived with your
letter of January 21st, which I have read with interest.

The capture of Fort Fisher has a most important bearing on my
campaign, and I rejoice in it for many reasons, because of its
intrinsic importance, and because it gives me another point of
security on the seaboard. I hope General Terry will follow it up
by the capture of Wilmington, although I do not look for it, from
Admiral Porter's dispatch to me. I rejoice that Terry was not a
West-Pointer, that he belonged to your army, and that he had the
same troops with which Butler feared to make the attempt.

Admiral Dahlgren, whose fleet is reenforced by some more ironclads,
wants to make an assault a la Fisher on Fort Moultrie, but I
withhold my consent, for the reason that the capture of all
Sullivan's Island is not conclusive as to Charleston; the capture
of James Island would be, but all pronounce that impossible at this
time. Therefore, I am moving (as hitherto designed) for the
railroad west of Branchville, then will swing across to Orangeburg,
which will interpose my army between Charleston and the interior.
Contemporaneous with this, Foster will demonstrate up the Edisto,
and afterward make a lodgment at Bull's Bay, and occupy the common
road which leads from Mount Pleasant toward Georgetown. When I get
to Columbia, I think I shall move straight for Goldsboro', via
Fayetteville. By this circuit I cut all roads, and devastate the
land; and the forces along the coast, commanded by Foster, will
follow my movement, taking any thing the enemy lets go, or so
occupy his attention that he cannot detach all his forces against
me. I feel sure of getting Wilmington, and may be Charleston, and
being at Goldsboro', with its railroads finished back to Morehead
City and Wilmington, I can easily take Raleigh, when it seems that
Lee must come out. If Schofield comes to Beaufort, he should be
pushed out to Kinston, on the Neuse, and may be Goldsboro' (or,
rather, a point on the Wilmington road, south of Goldsboro'). It
is not necessary to storm Goldsboro', because it is in a distant
region, of no importance in itself, and, if its garrison is forced
to draw supplies from its north, it, will be eating up the same
stores on which Lee depends for his command.

I have no doubt Hood will bring his army to Augusta. Canby and
Thomas should penetrate Alabama as far as possible, to keep
employed at least a part of Hood's army; or, what would accomplish
the same thing, Thomas might reoccupy the railroad from Chattanooga
forward to the Etowah, viz., Rome, Kingston, and Allatoona, thereby
threatening Georgia. I know that the Georgia troops are
disaffected. At Savannah I met delegates from several counties of
the southwest, who manifested a decidedly hostile spirit to the
Confederate cause. I nursed the feeling as far as possible, and
instructed Grower to keep it up.

My left wing must now be at Sister's Ferry, crossing the Savannah
River to the east bank. Slocum has orders to be at Robertsville
to-morrow, prepared to move on Barnwell. Howard is here, all ready
to start for the Augusta Railroad at Midway.

We find the enemy on the east aide of the Salkiehatchie, and
cavalry in our front; but all give ground on our approach, and seem
to be merely watching us. If we start on Tuesday, in one week we
shall be near Orangeburg, having broken up the Augusta road from
the Edisto westward twenty or twenty-five miles. I will be sure
that every rail is twisted. Should we encounter too much
opposition near Orangeburg, then I will for a time neglect that
branch, and rapidly move on Columbia, and fill up the triangle
formed by the Congaree and Wateree (tributaries of the Santee),
breaking up that great centre of the Carolina roads. Up to that
point I feel full confidence, but from there may have to manoeuvre
some, and will be guided by the questions of weather and supplies.

You remember we had fine weather last February for our Meridian
trip, and my memory of the weather at Charleston is, that February
is usually a fine month. Before the March storms come we should be
within striking distance of the coast. The months of April and May
will be the best for operations from Goldsboro' to Raleigh and the
Roanoke. You may rest assured that I will keep my troops well in
hand, and, if I get worsted, will aim to make the enemy pay so
dearly that you will have less to do. I know that this trip is
necessary; it must be made sooner or later; I am on time, and in
the right position for it. My army is large enough for the
purpose, and I ask no reinforcement, but simply wish the utmost
activity to be kept up at all other points, so that concentration
against me may not be universal.

I suspect that Jeff. Davis will move heaven and earth to catch me,
for success to this column is fatal to his dream of empire.
Richmond is not more vital to his cause than Columbia and the heart
of South Carolina.

If Thomas will not move on Selma, order him to occupy Rome,
Kingston, and Allatoona, and again threaten Georgia in the
direction of Athena.

I think the "poor white trash" of the South are falling out of
their ranks by sickness, desertion, and every available means; but
there is a large class of vindictive Southerners who will fight to
the last. The squabbles in Richmond, the howls in Charleston, and
the disintegration elsewhere, are all good omens for us; we must
not relax one iota, but, on the contrary, pile up our efforts: I
world, ere this, have been off, but we had terrific rains, which
caught us in motion, and nearly drowned some of the troops in the
rice-fields of the Savannah, swept away our causeway (which had
been carefully corduroyed), and made the swamps hereabout mere
lakes of slimy mud. The weather is now good, and I have the army
on terra firma. Supplies, too, came for a long time by daily
driblets instead of in bulk; this is now all remedied, and I hope
to start on Tuesday.

I will issue instructions to General Foster, based on the
reenforcements of North Carolina; but if Schofield comes, you had
better relieve Foster, who cannot take the field, and needs an
operation on his leg. Let Schofield take command, with his
headquarters at Beaufort, North Carolina, and with orders to secure
Goldsboro' (with its railroad communication back to Beaufort and
Wilmington). If Lee lets us get that position, he is gone up.

I will start with my Atlanta army (sixty thousand), supplied as
before, depending on the country for all food in excess of thirty
days. I will have less cattle on the hoof, but I hear of hogs,
cows, and calves, in Barnwell and the Colombia districts. Even
here we have found some forage. Of course, the enemy will carry
off and destroy some forage, but I will burn the houses where the
people burn their forage, and they will get tired of it.

I must risk Hood, and trust to you to hold Lee or be on his heels
if he comes south. I observe that the enemy has some respect for
my name, for they gave up Pocotaligo without a fight when they
heard that the attacking force belonged to my army. I will try and
keep up that feeling, which is a real power. With respect, your

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-general commanding.

P. S.--I leave my chief-quartermaster and commissary behind to
follow coastwise.
W. T. S.

[Dispatch No. 6.]

SAVANNAH RIVER, January 4, 1865.

HON. GIDEON WELLS, Secretary of the Navy.

SIR: I have already apprised the Department that the army of
General Sherman occupied the city of Savannah on the 21st of

The rebel army, hardly respectable in numbers or condition, escaped
by crossing the river and taking the Union Causeway toward the

I have walked about the city several times, and can affirm that its
tranquillity is undisturbed. The Union soldiers who are stationed
within its limits are as orderly as if they were in New York or
Boston.... One effect of the march of General Sherman through
Georgia has been to satisfy the people that their credulity has
been imposed upon by the lying assertions of the rebel Government,
affirming the inability of the United States Government to
withstand the armies of rebeldom. They have seen the old flag of
the United States carried by its victorious legions through their
State, almost unopposed, and placed in their principal city without
a blow.

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest