Part 7 out of 10
refugees who had followed the army all the way from Columbia, South
Carolina, under an escort of two hundred men, commanded by Major
John A. Winson (One Hundred and Sixteenth Illinois Infantry), so
that we were disencumbered, and prepared for instant battle on our
left and exposed flank.
In person I accompanied General Slocum, and during the night of
March 15th was thirteen miles out on the Raleigh road. This flank
followed substantially a road along Cape Fear River north,
encountered pretty stubborn resistance by Hardee's infantry,
artillery, and cavalry, and the ground favored our enemy; for the
deep river, Cape Fear, was on his right, and North River on his
left, forcing us to attack him square in front. I proposed to
drive Hardee well beyond Averysboro', and then to turn to the right
by Bentonville for Goldsboro'. During the day it rained very
hard, and I had taken refuge in an old cooper-shop, where a
prisoner of war was brought to me (sent back from the skirmish-line
by General Kilpatrick), who proved to be Colonel Albert Rhett,
former commander of Fort Sumter. He was a tall, slender, and
handsome young man, dressed in the most approved rebel uniform,
with high jackboots beautifully stitched, and was dreadfully
mortified to find himself a prisoner in our hands. General Frank
Blair happened to be with me at the moment, and we were much amused
at Rhett's outspoken disgust at having been captured without a
fight. He said he was a brigade commander, and that his brigade
that day was Hardee's rear-guard; that his command was composed
mostly of the recent garrisons of the batteries of Charleston
Harbor, and had little experience in woodcraft; that he was giving
ground to us as fast as Hardee's army to his rear moved back, and
during this operation he was with a single aide in the woods, and
was captured by two men of Kilpatrick's skirmish-line that was
following up his retrograde movement. These men called on him to
surrender, and ordered him, in language more forcible than polite,
to turn and ride back. He first supposed these men to be of
Hampton's cavalry, and threatened to report them to General Hampton
for disrespectful language; but he was soon undeceived, and was
conducted to Kilpatrick, who sent him back to General Slocum's
The rain was falling heavily, and, our wagons coming up, we went
into camp there, and had Rhett and General Blair to take supper
with us, and our conversation was full and quite interesting. In
due time, however, Rhett was passed over by General Slocum to his
provost-guard, with orders to be treated with due respect,--and was
furnished with a horse to ride.
The next day (the 16th) the opposition continued stubborn, and near
Averysboro' Hardee had taken up a strong position, before which
General Slocum deployed Jackson's division (of the Twentieth
Corps), with part of Ward's. Kilpatrick was on his right front.
Coming up, I advised that a brigade should make a wide circuit by
the left, and, if possible, catch this line in flank. The movement
was completely successful, the first line of the enemy was swept
away, and we captured the larger part of Rhett's brigade, two
hundred and seventeen men, including Captain Macbeth's battery of
three guns, and buried one hundred and eight dead.
The deployed lines (Ward's and Jackson's) pressed on, and found
Hardee again intrenched; but the next morning he was gone, in full
retreat toward Smithfield. In this action, called the battle of
Averysboro', we lost twelve officers and sixty-five men killed, and
four hundred and seventy-seven men wounded; a serious loss, because
every wounded man had to be carried in an ambulance. The rebel
wounded (sixty-eight) were carried to a house near by, all surgical
operations necessary were performed by our surgeons, and then these
wounded men were left in care of an officer and four men of the
rebel prisoners, with a scanty supply of food, which was the best
we could do for them. In person I visited this house while the
surgeons were at work, with arms and legs lying around loose, in
the yard and on the porch; and in a room on a bed lay a pale,
handsome young fellow, whose left arm had just been cut off near
the shoulder. Some one used my name, when he asked, in a feeble
voice, if I were General Sherman. He then announced himself as
Captain Macbeth, whose battery had just been captured; and said
that he remembered me when I used to visit his father's house, in
Charleston. I inquired about his family, and enabled him to write
a note to his mother, which was sent her afterward from Goldsboro'.
I have seen that same young gentleman since in St. Louis, where he
was a clerk in an insurance-office.
While the battle of Averysboro' was in progress, and I was sitting
on my horse, I was approached by a man on foot, without shoes or
coat, and his head bandaged by a handkerchief. He announced
himself as the Captain Duncan who had been captured by Wade Hampton
in Fayetteville, but had escaped; and, on my inquiring how he
happened to be in that plight, he explained that when he was a
prisoner Wade Hampton's men had made him "get out of his coat, hat,
and shoes," which they appropriated to themselves. He said Wade
Hampton had seen them do it, and he had appealed to him personally
for protection, as an officer, but Hampton answered him with a
curse. I sent Duncan to General Kilpatrick, and heard afterward
that Kilpatrick had applied to General Slocum for his prisoner,
Colonel Rhett, whom he made march on foot the rest of the way to
Goldsboro', in retaliation. There was a story afloat that
Kilpatrick made him get out of those fine boots, but restored them
because none of his own officers had feet delicate enough to wear
them. Of course, I know nothing of this personally, and have never
seen Rhett since that night by the cooper-shop; and suppose that he
is the editor who recently fought a duel in New Orleans.
From Averysboro' the left wing turned east, toward Goldsboro', the
Fourteenth Corps leading. I remained with this wing until the
night of the 18th, when we were within twenty-seven miles of
Goldsboro' and five from Bentonsville; and, supposing that all
danger was over, I crossed over to join Howard's column, to the
right, so as to be nearer to Generals Schofield and Terry, known to
be approaching Goldsboro'. I overtook General Howard at
Falling-Creek Church, and found his column well drawn out, by reason
of the bad roads. I had heard some cannonading over about Slocum's
head of column, and supposed it to indicate about the same measure of
opposition by Hardee's troops and Hampton's cavalry before
experienced; but during the day a messenger overtook me, and notified
me that near Bentonsville General Slocum had run up against
Johnston's whole army. I sent back orders for him to fight
defensively to save time, and that I would come up with
reenforcements from the direction of Cog's Bridge, by the road which
we had reached near Falling-Creek Church. The country was very
obscure, and the maps extremely defective.
By this movement I hoped General Slocum would hold Johnston's army
facing west, while I would come on his rear from the east. The
Fifteenth Corps, less one division (Hazen's), still well to the
rear, was turned at once toward Bentonsville; Hazen's division was
ordered to Slocum's flank, and orders were also sent for General
Blair, with the Seventeenth Corps, to come to the same destination.
Meantime the sound of cannon came from the direction of
The night of the 19th caught us near Falling-Creek Church; but
early the next morning the Fifteenth Corps, General C. R. Woods's
division leading, closed down on Bentonsville, near which it was
brought up by encountering a line of fresh parapet, crossing the
road and extending north, toward Mill Creek.
After deploying, I ordered General Howard to proceed with due
caution, using skirmishers alone, till he had made junction with
General Slocum, on his left. These deployments occupied all day,
during which two divisions of the Seventeenth Corps also got up.
At that time General Johnston's army occupied the form of a V, the
angle reaching the road leading from Averysboro' to Goldsboro', and
the flanks resting on Mill Creek, his lines embracing the village
General Slocum's wing faced one of these lines and General Howard's
the other; and, in the uncertainty of General Johnston's strength,
I did not feel disposed to invite a general battle, for we had been
out from Savannah since the latter part of January, and our
wagon-trains contained but little food. I had also received messages
during the day from General Schofield, at Kinston, and General
Terry, at Faison's Depot, approaching Goldsboro', both expecting to
reach it by March 21st. During the 20th we simply held our ground
and started our trains back to Kinston for provisions, which would
be needed in the event of being forced to fight a general battle at
Bentonsville. The next day (21st) it began to rain again, and we
remained quiet till about noon, when General Mower, ever rash,
broke through the rebel line on his extreme left flank, and was
pushing straight for Bentonsville and the bridge across Mill Creek.
I ordered him back to connect with his own corps; and, lest the
enemy should concentrate on him, ordered the whole rebel line to be
engaged with a strong skirmish-fire.
I think I made a mistake there, and should rapidly have followed
Mower's lead with the whole of the right wing, which would have
brought on a general battle, and it could not have resulted
otherwise than successfully to us, by reason of our vastly superior
numbers; but at the moment, for the reasons given, I preferred to
make junction with Generals Terry and Schofield, before engaging
Johnston's army, the strength of which was utterly unknown. The
next day he was gone, and had retreated on Smithfield; and, the
roads all being clear, our army moved to Goldsboro'. The heaviest
fighting at Bentonsville was on the first day, viz., the 19th, when
Johnston's army struck the head of Slocum's columns, knocking back
Carlin's division; but, as soon as General Slocum had brought up
the rest of the Fourteenth Corps into line, and afterward the
Twentieth on its left, he received and repulsed all attacks, and
held his ground as ordered, to await the coming back of the right
wing. His loss, as reported, was nine officers and one hundred and
forty-five men killed, eight hundred and sixteen wounded, and two
hundred and twenty-six missing. He reported having buried of the
rebel dead one hundred and sixty-seven, and captured three hundred
and thirty-eight prisoners.
The loss of the right wing was two officers and thirty-five men
killed, twelve officers and two hundred and eighty-nine men
wounded, and seventy missing. General Howard reported that he had
buried one hundred of the rebel dead, and had captured twelve
hundred and eighty-seven prisoners.
Our total loss, therefore, at Bentonsville was: 1,604
General Johnston, in his "Narrative" (p. 392), asserts that his
entire force at Bentonsville, omitting Wheeler's and Butler's
cavalry, only amounted to fourteen thousand one hundred infantry
and artillery; and (p. 393) states his losses as: 2,343
Wide discrepancies exist in these figures: for instance, General
Slocum accounts for three hundred and thirty-eight prisoners
captured, and General Howard for twelve hundred and eighty-seven,
making sixteen hundred and twenty-five in all, to Johnston's six
hundred and fifty three--a difference of eight hundred and
seventy-two. I have always accorded to General Johnston due credit
for boldness in his attack on our exposed flank at Bentonville,
but I think he understates his strength, and doubt whether at the
time he had accurate returns from his miscellaneous army, collected
from Hoke, Bragg, Hardee, Lee, etc. After the first attack on
Carlin's division, I doubt if the fighting was as desperate as
described by him, p. 385, et seq. I was close up with the
Fifteenth Corps, on the 20th and 21st, considered the fighting as
mere skirmishing, and know that my orders were to avoid a general
battle, till we could be sure of Goldsboro', and of opening up a
new base of supply. With the knowledge now possessed of his small
force, of course I committed an error in not overwhelming
Johnston's army on the 21st of March, 1865. But I was content then
to let him go, and on the 22d of March rode to Cog's Bridge, where
I met General Terry, with his two divisions of the Tenth Corps; and
the next day we rode into Goldsboro', where I found General
Schofield with the Twenty-third Corps, thus effecting a perfect
junction of all the army at that point, as originally contemplated.
During the 23d and 24th the whole army was assembled at Goldsboro';
General Terry's two divisions encamped at Faison's Depot to the
south, and General Kilpatrick's cavalry at Mount Olive Station,
near him, and there we all rested, while I directed my special
attention to replenishing the army for the next and last stage of
the campaign. Colonel W. W. Wright had been so indefatigable, that
the Newbern Railroad was done, and a locomotive arrived in
Goldsboro' on the 25th of March.
Thus was concluded one of the longest and most important marches
ever made by an organized army in a civilized country. The
distance from Savannah to Goldsboro' is four hundred and
twenty-five miles, and the route traversed embraced five large
navigable rivers, viz., the Edisto, Broad, Catawba, Pedee, and Cape
Fear, at either of which a comparatively small force, well-handled,
should have made the passage most difficult, if not impossible.
The country generally was in a state of nature, with innumerable
swamps, with simply mud roads, nearly every mile of which had to be
corduroyed. In our route we had captured Columbia, Cheraw, and
Fayetteville, important cities and depots of supplies, had
compelled the evacuation of Charleston City and Harbor, had utterly
broken up all the railroads of South Carolina, and had consumed a
vast amount of food and forage, essential to the enemy for the
support of his own armies. We had in mid-winter accomplished the
whole journey of four hundred and twenty-five miles in fifty days,
averaging ten miles per day, allowing ten lay-days, and had reached
Goldsboro' with the army in superb order, and the trains almost as
fresh as when we had started from Atlanta.
It was manifest to me that we could resume our march, and come
within the theatre of General Grant's field of operations in all
April, and that there was no force in existence that could delay
our progress, unless General Lee should succeed in eluding General
Grant at Petersburg, make junction with General Johnston, and thus
united meet me alone; and now that we had effected a junction with
Generals Terry and Schofield, I had no fear even of that event. On
reaching Goldsboro, I learned from General Schofield all the
details of his operations about Wilmington and Newbern; also of the
fight of the Twenty-third Corps about Kinston, with General Bragg.
I also found Lieutenant Dunn, of General Grant's staff, awaiting
me, with the general's letter of February 7th, covering
instructions to Generals Schofield and Thomas; and his letter of
March 16th, in answer to mine of the 12th, from Fayetteville.
These are all given here to explain the full reasons for the events
of the war then in progress, with two or three letters from myself,
to fill out the picture.
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES
CITY POINT, VIRGINIA, February 7, 1865
Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding Military Division of the
GENERAL: Without much expectation of it reaching you in time to be
of any service, I have mailed to you copies of instructions to
Schofield and Thomas. I had informed Schofield by telegraph of the
departure of Mahone's division, south from the Petersburg front.
These troops marched down the Weldon road, and, as they apparently
went without baggage, it is doubtful whether they have not
returned. I was absent from here when they left. Just returned
yesterday morning from Cape Fear River. I went there to determine
where Schofield's corps had better go to operate against Wilmington
and Goldsboro'. The instructions with this will inform you of the
conclusion arrived at.
Schofield was with me, and the plan of the movement against
Wilmington fully determined before we started back; hence the
absence of more detailed instructions to him. He will land one
division at Smithville, and move rapidly up the south side of the
river, and secure the Wilmington & Charlotte Railroad, and with his
pontoon train cross over to the island south of the city, if he
can. With the aid of the gunboats, there is no doubt but this move
will drive the enemy from their position eight miles east of the
city, either back to their line or away altogether. There will be
a large force on the north bank of Cape Fear River, ready to follow
up and invest the garrison, if they should go inside.
The railroads of North Carolina are four feet eight and one-half
inches. gauge. I have sent large parties of railroad-men there to
build them up, and have ordered stock to run them. We have
abundance of it idle from the non-use of the Virginia roads. I
have taken every precaution to have supplies ready for you wherever
you may turn up. I did this before when you left Atlanta, and
regret that they did not reach you promptly when you reached
Alexander Stephens, R. M. T. Hunter, and Judge Campbell, are now at
my headquarters, very desirous of going to Washington to see Mr.
Lincoln, informally, on the subject of peace. The peace feeling
within the rebel lines is gaining ground rapidly. This, however,
should not relax our energies in the least, but should stimulate us
to greater activity.
I have received your very kind letters, in which you say you would
decline, or are opposed to, promotion. No one world be more
pleased at your advancement than I, and if you should be placed in
my position, and I put subordinate, it would not change our
personal relations in the least. I would make the same exertions to
support you that you have ever done to support me, and would do all
in my power to make our cause win.
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES
CITY POINT, VIRGINIA, January 81, 1865.
Major-General G. H. THOMAS, commanding Army of the Cumberland.
GENERAL: With this I send you a letter from General Sherman. At
the time of writing it, General Sherman was not informed of the
depletion of your command by my orders. It will, be impossible at
present for you to move south as he contemplated, with the force of
infantry indicated. General Slocum is advised before this of the
changes made, and that for the winter you will be on the defensive.
I think, however, an expedition from East Tennessee, under General
Stoneman might penetrate South Carolina, well down toward Columbia,
destroying the railroad and military resources of the country, thus
visiting a portion of the State which will not be reached by
Sherman's forces. He might also be able to return to East
Tennessee by way of Salisbury, North Carolina, thus releasing home
our prisoners of war in rebel hands.
Of the practicability of doing this, General Stoneman will have to
be the judge, making up his mind from information obtained while
executing the first part of his instructions. Sherman's movements
will attract the attention of all the force the enemy can collect,
thus facilitating the execution of this.
Three thousand cavalry would be a sufficient force to take. This
probably can be raised in the old Department of the Ohio, without
taking any now under General Wilson. It would require, though, the
reorganization of the two regiments of Kentucky Cavalry, which
Stoneman had in his very successful raid into Southwestern
It will be necessary, probably, for you to send, in addition to the
force now in East Tennessee, a small division of infantry, to
enable General Gillem to hold the upper end of Holston Valley, and
the mountain-passes in rear of Stevenson.
You may order such an expedition. To save time, I will send a copy
of this to General Stoneman, so that he can begin his preparations
without loss of time, and can commence his correspondence with you
as to these preparations.
As this expedition goes to destroy and not to fight battles, but to
avoid them when practicable, particularly against any thing like
equal forces, or where a great object is to be gained, it should go
as light as possible. Stoneman's experience, in raiding will teach
him in this matter better than he can be directed.
Let there be no delay in the preparations for this expedition, and
keep me advised of its progress. Very respectfully, your obedient
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES
CITY POINT, VIRGINIA, January 81, 1865.
Major-General J. M. SCHOFIELD, commanding army of the Ohio.
GENERAL: I have requested by telegraph that, for present purposes,
North Carolina be erected into a department, and that you be placed
in command of it, subject to Major-General Sherman's orders. Of
course, you will receive orders from me direct until such time as
General Sherman gets within communicating distance of you. This
obviates the necessity of my publishing the order which I informed
you would meet you at Fortress Monroe. If the order referred to
should not be published from the Adjutant-General's office, you
will read these instructions as your authority to assume command of
all the troops in North Carolina, dating all official
communications, "Headquarters Army of the Ohio." Your headquarters
will be in the field, and with the portion of the army where you
feel yourself most needed. In the first move you will go to Cape
Your movements are intended as cooperative with Sherman's movement
through the States of South and North Carolina. The first point to
be obtained is to secure Wilmington. Goldsboro' will then be your
objective point, moving either from Wilmington or Newbern, or both,
as you may deem best. Should you not be able to reach Goldsboro',
you will advance on the line or lines of railway connecting that
place with the sea-coast, as near to it as you can, building the
road behind you. The enterprise under you has two objects: the
first is, to give General Sherman material aid, if needed, in his
march north; the second, to open a base of supplies for him on the
line of his march. As soon, therefore, as you can determine which
of the two points, Wilmington or Newbern, you can best use for
throwing supplies from to the interior, you will commence the
accumulation of twenty days rations and forage for sixty thousand
men and twenty thousand animals. You will get of these as many as
you can house and protect, to such point in the interior as you may
be able to occupy.
I believe General Innis N. Palmer has received some instructions
directly from General Sherman, on the subject of securing supplies
for his army. You can learn what steps he has taken, and be
governed in your requisitions accordingly. A supply of
ordnance-stores will also be necessary.
Make all your requisitions upon the chiefs of their respective
departments, in the field, with me at City Point. Communicate with
me by every opportunity, and, should you deem it necessary at any
time, send a special boat to Fortress Monroe, from which point you
can communicate by telegraph.
The supplies referred to in these instructions are exclusive of
those required by your own command.
The movements of the enemy may justify you, or even make it your
imperative duty, to cut loose from your base and strike for the
interior, to aid Sherman. In such case you will act on your own
judgment, without waiting for instructions. You will report,
however, what you propose doing. The details for carrying out
these instructions are necessarily left to you. I would urge,
however, if I did not know that you are already fully alive to the
importance of it, prompt action. Sherman may be looked for in the
neighborhood of Goldsboro' any time from the 22d to the 28th of
February. This limits your time very materially.
If rolling-stock is not secured in the capture of Wilmington, it
can be supplied from Washington: A large force of railroad-men has
already been sent to Beaufort, and other mechanics will go to Fort
Fisher in a day or two. On this point I have informed you by
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES
CITY POINT, VIRGINIA, March 16, 1865.
Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding military Division of the
GENERAL: Your interesting letter of the 12th inst. is just
received. I have never felt any uneasiness for your safety, but I
have felt great anxiety to know just how you were progressing. I
knew, or thought I did, that, with the magnificent army with you,
you would come out safely somewhere.
To secure certain success, I deemed the capture of Wilmington of
the greatest importance. Butler came near losing that prize to us.
But Terry and Schofield have since retrieved his blunders, and I do
not know but the first failure has been as valuable a success for
the country as the capture of Fort Fisher. Butler may not see it
in that light.
Ever since you started on the last campaign, and before, I have
been attempting to get something done in the West, both to
cooperate with you and to take advantage of the enemy's weakness
there--to accomplish results favorable to us. Knowing Thomas to be
slow beyond excuse, I depleted his army to reinforce Canby, so that
he might act from Mobile Bay on the interior. With all I have
said, he has not moved at last advices. Canby was sending a
cavalry force, of about seven thousand, from Vicksburg toward
Selma. I ordered Thomas to send Wilson from Eastport toward the
same point, and to get him off as soon after the 20th of February
as possible. He telegraphed me that he would be off by that date.
He has not yet started, or had not at last advices. I ordered him
to send Stoneman from East Tennessee into Northwest South Carolina,
to be there about the time you would reach Columbia. He would
either have drawn off the enemy's cavalry from you, or would have
succeeded in destroying railroads, supplies, and other material,
which you could not reach. At that time the Richmond papers were
full of the accounts of your movements, and gave daily accounts of
movements in West North Carolina. I supposed all the time it was
Stoneman. You may judge my surprise when I afterward learned that
Stoneman was still in Louisville, Kentucky, and that the troops in
North Carolina were Kirk's forces! In order that Stoneman might
get off without delay, I told Thomas that three thousand men would
be sufficient for him to take. In the mean time I had directed
Sheridan to get his cavalry ready, and, as soon as the snow in the
mountains melted sufficiently, to start for Staunton, and go on and
destroy the Virginia Central Railroad and canal. Time advanced,
until he set the 28th of February for starting. I informed Thomas,
and directed him to change the course of Stoneman toward Lynchburg,
to destroy the road in Virginia up as near to that place as
possible. Not hearing from Thomas, I telegraphed to him about the
12th, to know if Stoneman was yet off. He replied not, but that he
(Thomas) would start that day for Knoxville, to get him off as soon
Sheridan has made his raid, and with splendid success, so far as
heard. I am looking for him at "White House" to-day. Since about
the 20th of last month the Richmond papers have been prohibited
from publishing accounts of army movements. We are left to our own
resources, therefore, for information. You will see from the
papers what Sheridan has done; if you do not, the officer who bears
this will tell you all.
Lee has depleted his army but very little recently, and I learn of
none going south. Some regiments may have been detached, but I
think no division or brigade. The determination seems to be to
hold Richmond as long as possible. I have a force sufficient to
leave enough to hold our lines (all that is necessary of them), and
move out with plenty to whip his whole army. But the roads are
entirely impassable. Until they improve, I shall content myself
with watching Lee, and be prepared to pitch into him if he attempts
to evacuate the place. I may bring Sheridan over--think I will
--and break up the Danville and Southside Railroads. These are the
last avenues left to the enemy.
Recruits have come in so rapidly at the West that Thomas has now
about as much force as he had when he attacked Hood. I have
stopped all who, under previous orders, would go to him, except
those from Illinois.
Fearing the possibility of the enemy falling back to Lynchburg, and
afterward attempting to go into East Tennessee or Kentucky, I have
ordered Thomas to move the Fourth Corps to Bull's Gap, and to
fortify there, and to hold out to the Virginia line, if he can. He
has accumulated a large amount of supplies in Knoxville, and has
been ordered not to destroy any of the railroad west of the
Virginia Hue. I told him to get ready for a campaign toward
Lynchburg, if it became necessary. He never can make one there or
elsewhere; but the steps taken will prepare for any one else to
take his troops and come east or go toward Rome, whichever may be
necessary. I do not believe either will.
When I hear that you and Schofield are together, with your back
upon the coast, I shall feel that you are entirely safe against any
thing the enemy can do. Lee may evacuate Richmond, but he cannot
get there with force enough to touch you. His army is now
demoralized and deserting very fast, both to us and to their homes.
A retrograde movement would cost him thousands of men, even if we
did not follow.
Five thousand men, belonging to the corps with you, are now on
their way to join you. If more reenforcements are necessary, I
will send them. My notion is, that you should get Raleigh as soon
as possible, and hold the railroad from there back. This may take
more force than you now have.
From that point all North Carolina roads can be made useless to the
enemy, without keeping up communications with the rear.
Hoping to hear soon of your junction with the forces from
Wilmington and Newborn, I remain, very respectfully, your obedient
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI IN THE FIELD,
COX'S BRIGADE, NEUSE RIVER, NORTH CAROLINA, March 22, 1865
Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, Commander-in-Chief, City Point,
GENERAL: I wrote you from Fayetteville, North Carolina, on Tuesday,
the 14th instant, that I was all ready to start for Goldsboro', to
which point I had also ordered General Schofield, from Newborn, and
General Terry, from Wilmington. I knew that General Jos. Johnston
was supreme in command against me, and that he would have time to
concentrate a respectable army to oppose the last stage of this
march. Accordingly, General Slocum was ordered to send his main
supply-train, under escort of two divisions, straight for
Bentonsville, while he, with his other four divisions,
disencumbered of all unnecessary wagons, should march toward
Raleigh, by way of threat, as far as Averysboro'. General Howard,
in like manner, sent his trains with the Seventeenth Corps, well to
the right, and, with the four divisions of the Fifteenth Corps,
took roads which would enable him to come promptly to the exposed
left flank. We started on the 16th, but again the rains set in,
and the roads, already bad enough, became horrible.
On Tuesday, the 16th, General Slocum found Hardee's army, from
Charleston, which had retreated before us from Cheraw, in position
across the narrow, swampy neck between Cape Fear and North Rivers,
where the road branches off to Goldsboro'. There a pretty severe
fight occurred, in which General Slocum's troops carried handsomely
the advanced line, held by a South Carolina brigade, commanded by a
Colonel Butler. Its Commander, Colonel Rhett, of Fort Sumter
notoriety, with one of his staff, had the night before been
captured, by Kilpatrick's scouts, from his very skirmish-line. The
next morning Hardee was found gone, and was pursued through and
beyond Averysboro'. General Slocum buried one hundred and eight
dead rebels, and captured and destroyed three guns. Some eighty
wounded rebels were left in our hands, and, after dressing their
wounds, we left them in a house, attended by a Confederate officer
and four privates, detailed out of our prisoners and paroled for
We resumed the march toward Goldsboro'. I was with the left wing
until I supposed all danger had passed; but, when General Slocum's
head of column was within four miles of Bentonsville, after
skirmishing as usual with cavalry, he became aware that there was
infantry in his front. He deployed a couple of brigades, which, on
advancing, sustained a partial repulse, but soon rallied, when he
formed a line of the two leading divisions (Morgan's and Carlin's)
of Jeff. C. Davis's corps. The enemy attacked these with violence,
but was repulsed. This was in the forenoon of Sunday, the 19th.
General Slocum brought forward the two divisions of the Twentieth
Corps, hastily disposed of them for defense, and General Kilpatrick
massed his cavalry on the left.
General Jos. Johnston had, the night before, marched his whole army
(Bragg, Cheatham, S. D. Lee, Hardee, and all the troops he had
drawn from every quarter), determined, as he told his men, to crash
one of our corps, and then defeat us in detail. He attacked
General Slocum in position from 3 P. M. on the 19th till dark; but
was everywhere repulsed, and lost heavily. At the time, I was with
the Fifteenth Corps, marching on a road more to the right; but, on
hearing of General Slocum's danger, directed that corps toward
Cox's Bridge, in the night brought Blair's corps over, and on the
20th marched rapidly on Johnston's flank and rear. We struck him
about noon, forced him to assume the defensive, and to fortify.
Yesterday we pushed him hard, and came very near crushing him, the
right division of the Seventeenth Corps (Mower's) having broken in
to within a hundred yards of where Johnston himself was, at the
bridge across Mill Creek. Last night he retreated, leaving us in
possession of the field, dead, and wounded. We have over two
thousand prisoners from this affair and the one at Averysboro', and
I am satisfied that Johnston's army was so roughly handled
yesterday that we could march right on to Raleigh; but we have now
been out six weeks, living precariously upon the collections of our
foragers, our men dirty, ragged, and saucy, and we must rest and
fix up a little. Our entire losses thus far (killed, wounded, and
prisoners) will be covered by twenty-five hundred, a great part of
which are, as usual, slight wounds. The enemy has lost more than
double as many, and we have in prisoners alone full two thousand.
I limited the pursuit, this morning, to Mill Creek, and will
forthwith march the army to Goldsboro', there to rest, reclothe,
and get some rations.
Our combinations were such that General Schofield entered
Goldsboro' from Newborn; General Terry got Cox's Bridge, with
pontoons laid, and a brigade across Neuse River intrenched; and we
whipped Jos. Johnston--all on the same day.
After riding over the field of battle to-day, near Bentonsville,
and making the necessary orders, I have ridden down to this place
(Cox's Bridge) to see General Terry, and to-morrow shall ride into
I propose to collect there my army proper; shall post General Terry
about Faison's Depot, and General Schofield about Kinston, partly
to protect the road, but more to collect such food and forage as
the country affords, until the railroads are repaired leading into
I fear these have not been pushed with the vigor I had expected;
but I will soon have them both going. I shall proceed at once to
organize three armies of twenty-five thousand men each, and will
try and be all ready to march to Raleigh or Weldon, as we may
determine, by or before April 10th.
I inclose you a copy of my orders of to-day. I would like to be
more specific, but have not the data. We have lost no general
officers nor any organization. General Slocum took three guns at
Averysboro', and lost three others at the first dash on him at
Bentonsville. We have all our wagons and trains in good order.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI IN THE FIELD,
COX'S BRIGADE, GOLDSBORO', NORTH CAROLINA, March 23, 1865.
Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, commanding the Armies of the United
States, City Point, Virginia.
GENERAL: On reaching Goldsboro' this morning, I found Lieutenant
Dunn awaiting me with your letter of March 18th and dispatch of the
17th. I wrote you fully from Cox's Bridge yesterday, and since
reaching Goldsboro' have learned that my letter was sent punctually
to Newborn, whence it will be dispatched to you.
I am very glad to hear that General Sheridan did such good service
between Richmond and Lynchburg, and hope he will keep the ball
moving, I know that these raids and dashes disconcert our enemy and
discourage him much.
General Slocum's two corps (Fourteenth and Twentieth) are now
coming in. I will dispose of them north of Goldsboro', between the
Weldon road and Little River. General Howard to-day is marching
south of the Nenae, and to-morrow will come in and occupy ground
north of Goldsboro', extending from the Weldon Railroad to that
leading to Kinston.
I have ordered all the provisional divisions, made up of troops
belonging to the regular corps, to be broken up, and the men to
join their proper regiments and organizations; and have ordered
General Schofield to guard the railroads back to Newborn and
Wilmington, and to make up a movable column equal to twenty-five
thousand men, with which to take the field. His army will be the
centre, as on the Atlanta campaign. I do not think I want any more
troops (other than absentees and recruits) to fill up the present
regiments, and I can make up an army of eighty thousand men by
April 10th. I will post General Kilpatrick at Mount Olive Station
on the Wilmington road, and then allow the army some rest.
We have sent all our empty wagons, under escort, with the proper
staff-officers, to bring up from Kinston clothing and provisions.
As long as we move we can gather food and forage; but, the moment
we stop, trouble begins.
I feel sadly disappointed that our railroads are not done. I do
not like to say there has been any neglect until I make inquiries;
but it does seem to me the repairs should have been made ere this,
and the road properly stocked. I can only hear of one locomotive
(besides the four old ones) on the Newbern road, and two damaged
locomotives (found by General Terry) on the Wilmington road. I
left Generals Easton and Beckwith purposely to make arrangements in
anticipation of my arrival, and have heard from neither, though I
suppose them both to be at Morehead City.
At all events, we have now made a junction of all the armies, and
if we can maintain them, will, in a short time, be in a position to
march against Raleigh, Gaston, Weldon, or even Richmond, as you may
If I get the troops all well planed, and the supplies working well,
I may run up to see you for a day or two before diving again into
the bowels of the country.
I will make, in a very short time, accurate reports of our
operations for the past two months. Yours truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI IN THE FIELD,
COX'S BRIGADE, GOLDSBORO', NORTH CAROLINA, March 24, 1865.
Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, City Point, Virginia.
GENERAL: I have kept Lieutenant Dunn over to-day that I might
report farther. All the army is now in, save the cavalry (which I
have posted at Mount Olive Station, south of the Nenae) and General
Terry's command (which--to-morrow will move from Cog's Ferry to
Faison's Depot, also on the Wilmington road). I send you a copy of
my orders of this morning, the operation of which will, I think,
soon complete our roads. The telegraph is now done to Morehead
City, and by it I learn that stores have been sent to Kinston in
boats, and that our wagons are loading with rations and clothing.
By using the Neuse as high up as Kinston, hauling from there
twenty-six miles, and by equipping the two roads to Morehead City
and Wilmington, I feel certain we can not only feed and equip the
army, but in a short time fill our wagons for another start. I
feel certain, from the character of the fighting, that we have got
Johnston's army afraid of us. He himself acts with timidity and
caution. His cavalry alone manifests spirit, but limits its
operations to our stragglers and foraging-parties. My marching
columns of infantry do not pay the cavalry any attention, but walk
right through it.
I think I see pretty clearly how, in one more move, we can
checkmate Lee, forcing him to unite Johnston with him in the defense
of Richmond, or to abandon the cause. I feel certain, if he leaves
Richmond, Virginia leaves the Confederacy. I will study my maps a
little more before giving my positive views. I want all possible
information of the Roanoke as to navigability, how far up, and with
We find the country sandy, dry, with good roads, and more corn and
forage than I had expected. The families remain, but I will
gradually push them all out to Raleigh or Wilmington. We will need
every house in the town. Lieutenant Dunn can tell you of many
things of which I need not write. Yours truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI IN THE FIELD,
COX'S BRIGADE, GOLDSBORO', NORTH CAROLINA, April 5,1865
Major-General George H. Thomas, commanding Department of the
DEAR GENERAL: I can hardly help smiling when I contemplate my
command--it is decidedly mixed. I believe, but am not certain,
that you are in my jurisdiction, but I certainly cannot help you in
the way of orders or men; nor do I think you need either. General
Cruft has just arrived with his provisional division, which will at
once be broken up and the men sent to their proper regiments, as
that of Meagher was on my arrival here.
You may have some feeling about my asking that General Slocum
should have command of the two corps that properly belong to you,
viz., the Fourteenth and Twentieth, but you can recall that he was
but a corps commander, and could not legally make orders of
discharge, transfer, etc., which was imperatively necessary. I
therefore asked that General Slocum should be assigned to command
"an army in the field," called the Army of Georgia, composed of the
Fourteenth and Twentieth Corps. The order is not yet made by the
President, though I have recognized it because both, General Grant
and the President have sanctioned it, and promised to have the
My army is now here, pretty well clad and provided, divided into
three parts, of two corps each--much as our old Atlanta army was.
I expect to move on in a few days, and propose (if Lee remains in
Richmond) to pass the Roanoke, and open communication with the
Chowan and Norfolk. This will bring me in direct communication
with General Grant.
This is an admirable point--country open, and the two railroads in
good order back to Wilmington and Beaufort. We have already
brought up stores enough to fill our wagons, and only await some
few articles, and the arrival of some men who are marching up from
the coast, to be off.
General Grant explained to me his orders to you, which, of course,
are all right. You can make reports direct to Washington or to
General Grant, but keep me advised occasionally of the general
state of affairs, that I may know what is happening. I must give
my undivided attention to matters here. You will hear from a
thousand sources pretty fair accounts of our next march. Yours
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
[LETTER FROM ADMIRAL DAHLGREN]
SOUTH ATLANTIC SQUADRON
FLAG-SHIP PHILADELPHIA, CHARLESTON, April 20, 1865
Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding Armies of the Tennessee,
Georgia, and Mississippi.
Mr DEAR GENERAL: I was much gratified by a sight of your
handwriting, which has just reached me from Goldsboro'; it was very
suggestive of a past to me, when these regions were the scene of
As you progressed through South Carolina, there was no
manifestation of weakness or of an intention to abandon Charleston,
until within a few hours of the fact. On the 11th of February I
was at Stono, and a spirited demonstration was made by General
Schimmel-pfennig and the vessels. He drove the rebels from their
rifle-pits in front of the lines, extending from Fort Pringle, and
pushed them vigorously. The next day I was at Bull's Bay, with a
dozen steamers, among them the finest of the squadron. General
Potter had twelve to fifteen hundred men, the object being to carry
out your views. We made as much fuss as possible, and with better
success than I anticipated, for it seems that the rebs conceived
Stono to be a feint, and the real object at Bull's Bay, supposing,
from the number of steamers and boats, that we had several thousand
men. Now came an aide from General Gillmore, at Port Royal, with
your cipher-dispatch from Midway, so I steamed down to Port Royal
to see him. Next day was spent in vain efforts to decipher-finally
it was accomplished. You thought that the state of the roads might
force you to turn upon Charleston; so I went there on the 15th, but
there was no sign yet of flinching. Then I went to Bull's Bay next
day (16th), and found that the troops were not yet ashore, owing to
the difficulties of shoal water. One of the gunboats had contrived
to get up to within shelling range, and both soldiers and sailors
were working hard. On the evening of the 18th I steamed down to
Stono to see how matters were going there. Passing Charleston, I
noticed two large fires, well inside--probably preparing to leave.
On the 17th, in Stono, rumors were flying about loose of
evacuation. In course of the morning, General Schimmelpfennig
telegraphed me, from Morris Island, that there were symptoms of
leaving; that he would again make a push at Stono, and asked for
monitors. General Schimmelpfennig came down in the afternoon, and
we met in the Folly Branch, near Secessionville. He was sore that
the rebs would be off that night, so he was to assault them in
front, while a monitor and gunboats stung their flanks both sides.
I also sent an aide to order my battery of five eleven-inch guns,
at Cumming's Point, to fire steadily all night on Sullivan's
Island, and two monitors to close up to the island for the same
object. Next morning (18th) the rascals were found to be off, and
we broke in from all directions, by land and water. The main
bodies had left at eight or nine in the evening, leaving
detachments to keep up a fire from the batteries. I steamed round
quickly, and soon got into the city, threading the streets with a
large group of naval captains who had joined me. All was silent as
the grave. No one to be seen but a few firemen.
No one can question the excellence of your judgment in taking the
track you did, and I never had any misgivings, but it was natural
to desire to go into the place with a strong hand, for, if any one
spot in the land was foremost in the trouble, it was Charleston.
Your campaign was the final blow, grand in conception, complete in
execution; and now it is yours to secure the last army which
rebeldom possesses. I hear of your being in motion by the 9th, and
hope that the result may be all that you wish.
Tidings of the murder of the President have just come, and shocked
every mind. Can it be that such a resort finds root in any stratum
of American opinion? Evidently it has not been the act of one man,
nor of a madman. Who have prompted him?
I am grateful for your remembrance of my boy; the thought of him is
ever nearest to my heart. Generous, brave, and noble, as I ever
knew him to be, that he should close his young life so early, even
under the accepted conditions of a soldier's life, as a son of the
Union, would have been grief sufficient for me to bear; but that
his precious remains should have been so treated by the brutes into
whose hands they fell, adds even to the bitterness of death. I am
now awaiting the hour when I can pay my last duties to his memory.
With my best and sincere wishes, my dear general, for your success
and happiness, I am, most truly, your friend,
J. A. DAHLGREN.
[General Order No. 50.]
WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S OFFICE
WASHINGTON, March 27, 1865
Ordered--1. That at the hour of noon, on the 14th day of April,
1885, Brevet Major-General Anderson will raise and plant upon the
ruins of Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, the same United States
flag which floated over the battlements of that fort during the
rebel assault, and which was lowered and saluted by him and the
small force of his command when the works were evacuated on the
14th day of April, 1861.
2. That the flag, when raised, be saluted by one hundred guns from
Fort Sumter, and by a national salute from every fort and rebel
battery that fired upon Fort Sumter.
3. That suitable ceremonies be had upon the occasion, under the
direction of Major-General William T. Sherman, whose military
operations compelled the rebels to evacuate Charleston, or, in his
absence, under the charge of Major-General Q. A. Gilmore,
commanding the department. Among the ceremonies will be the
delivery of a public address by the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher.
4. That the naval forces at Charleston, and their commander on
that station, be invited to participate in the ceremonies of the
By order of the President of the United States,
EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.
[General Order No. 41.]
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH
HILTON HEAD, SOUTH CAROLINA, April 10, 1865
Friday next, the 14th inst., will be the fourth anniversary of the
capture of Fort Sumter by the rebels. A befitting celebration on
that day, in honor of its reoccupation by the national forces, has
been ordered by the President, in pursuance of which Brevet Major-
General Robert Anderson, United States Army, will restore to its
original place on the fort the identical flag which, after an
honorable and gallant defense, he was compelled to lower to the
insurgents in South Carolina, in April, 1861.
The ceremonies for the occasion will commence with prayer, at
thirty minutes past eleven o'clock a.m.
At noon precisely, the flag will be raised and saluted with one
hundred guns from Fort Sumter, and with a national salute from Fort
Moultrie and Battery Bee on Sullivan's Island, Fort Putnam on
Morris Island, and Fort Johnson on James's Island; it being
eminently appropriate that the places which were so conspicuous in
the inauguration of the rebellion should take a part not less
prominent in this national rejoicing over the restoration of the
After the salutes, the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher will deliver an
The ceremonies will close with prayer and a benediction.
Colonel Stewart L. Woodford, chief of staff, under such verbal
instructions as he may receive, is hereby charged with the details
of the celebration, comprising all the arrangements that it may be
necessary to make for the accommodation of the orator of the day,
and the comfort and safety of the invited guests from the army and
navy, and from civil life.
By command of Major-General Q. A. Gillmore,
W. L. M. BURGER, Assistant Adjutant-General.
Copy of Major ANDERSON's Dispatch, announcing the Surrender of Fort
Sumter, April 14, 1861.
STEAMSHIP BALTIC, OFF SANDY HOOK
April 10, 1861, 10.30 a.m. via New York
Honorable S. Cameron, Secretary of War, Washington
Having defended Fort Sumter for thirty-four hours, until the
quarters were entirely burned, the main gates destroyed by fire,
the gorge-walls seriously injured, the magazine surrounded by
flames, and its door closed from the effect of heat, four barrels
and three cartridges of powder only being available, and no
provisions remaining but pork, I accepted terms of evacuation
offered by General Beauregard, being the same offered by him on the
11th inst., prior to the commencement of hostilities, and marched
out of the fort, Sunday afternoon, the 14th inst., with colors
flying and drums beating, bringing away company and private
property, and saluting my flag with fifty guns.
ROBERT ANDERSON, Major First Artillery, commanding.
END OF THE WAR--FROM GOLDSBORO' TO RALEIGH AND WASHINGTON.
APRIL AND MAY, 1865.
As before described, the armies commanded respectively by Generals
J. M. Schofield, A. H. Terry, and myself, effected a junction in
and about Goldsboro', North Carolina, during the 22d and 23d of
March, 1865, but it required a few days for all the troops and
trains of wagons to reach their respective camps. In person I
reached Goldsboro' on the 23d, and met General Schofield, who
described fully his operations in North Carolina up to that date;
and I also found Lieutenant Dunn, aide-de-camp to General Grant,
with a letter from him of March 16th, giving a general description
of the state of facts about City Point. The next day I received
another letter, more full, dated the 22d, which I give herewith.
Nevertheless, I deemed it of great importance that I should have a
personal interview with the general, and determined to go in person
to City Point as soon as the repairs of the railroad, then in
progress under the personal direction of Colonel W. W. Wright,
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES
CITY POINT, VIRGINIA, March 22, 1865
Major-General SHERMAN, Commanding Military Division of the
GENERAL: Although the Richmond papers do not communicate the fact,
yet I saw enough in them to satisfy me that you occupied Goldsboro'
on the 19th inst. I congratulate you and the army on what may be
regarded as the successful termination of the third campaign since
leaving the Tennessee River, less than one year ago.
Since Sheridan's very successful raid north of the James, the enemy
are left dependent on the Southside and Danville roads for all
their supplies. These I hope to cut next week. Sheridan is at
White House, "shoeing up" and resting his cavalry. I expect him to
finish by Friday night and to start the following morning, raid
Long Bridge, Newmarket, Bermuda Hundred, and the extreme left of
the army around Petersburg. He will make no halt with the armies
operating here, but will be joined by a division of cavalry, five
thousand five hundred strong, from the Army of the Potomac, and
will proceed directly to the Southside and Danville roads. His
instructions will be to strike the Southside road as near
Petersburg as he can, and destroy it so that it cannot be repaired
for three or four days, and push on to the Danville road, as near
to the Appomattox as he can get. Then I want him to destroy the
road toward Burkesville as far as he can; then push on to the
Southside road, west of Burkesville, and destroy it effectually.
From that point I shall probably leave it to his discretion either
to return to this army, crossing the Danville road south of
Burkesville, or go and join you, passing between Danville and
Greensboro'. When this movement commences I shall move out by my
left, with all the force I can, holding present intrenched lines.
I shall start with no distinct view, further than holding Lee's
forces from following Sheridan. But I shall be along myself, and
will take advantage of any thing that turns up. If Lee detaches, I
will attack; or if he comes out of his lines I will endeavor to
repulse him, and follow it up to the best advantage.
It is most difficult to understand what the rebels intend to do; so
far but few troops have been detached from Lee's army. Much
machinery has been removed, and material has been sent to
Lynchburg, showing a disposition to go there. Points, too, have
been fortified on the Danville road.
Lee's army is much demoralized, and great numbers are deserting.
Probably, from returned prisoners, and such conscripts as can be
picked up, his numbers may be kept up. I estimate his force now at
about sixty-five thousand men.
Wilson started on Monday, with twelve thousand cavalry, from
Eastport. Stoneman started on the same day, from East Tennessee,
toward Lynchburg. Thomas is moving the Fourth Corps to Bull's Gap.
Canby is moving with a formidable force on Mobile and the interior
I ordered Gilmore, as soon as the fall of Charleston was known, to
hold all important posts on the sea-coast, and to send to
Wilmington all surplus forces. Thomas was also directed to forward
to Newbern all troops belonging to the corps with you. I
understand this will give you about five thousand men, besides
those brought east by Meagher.
I have been telegraphing General Meigs to hasten up locomotives and
cars for you. General McCallum, he informs me, is attending to it.
I fear they are not going forward as fast as I world like.
Let me know if you want more troops, or any thing else.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
The railroad was repaired to Goldsboro' by the evening of March
25th, when, leaving General Schofield in chief command, with a
couple of staff-officers I started for City Point, Virginia, in a
locomotive, in company with Colonel Wright, the constructing
engineer. We reached Newbern that evening, which was passed in the
company of General Palmer and his accomplished lady, and early the
next morning we continued on to Morehead City, where General Easton
had provided for us the small captured steamer Russia, Captain
Smith. We put to sea at once and steamed up the coast, reaching
Fortress Monroe on the morning of the 27th, where I landed and
telegraphed to my brother, Senator Sherman, at Washington, inviting
him to come down and return with me to Goldsboro. We proceeded on
up James River to City Point, which we reached the same afternoon.
I found General Grant, with his family and staff, occupying a
pretty group of huts on the bank of James River, overlooking the
harbor, which was full of vessels of all classes, both war and
merchant, with wharves and warehouses on an extensive scale. The
general received me most heartily, and we talked over matters very
fully. After I had been with him an hour or so, he remarked that
the President, Mr. Lincoln, was then on board the steamer River
Queen, lying at the wharf, and he proposed that we should call and
see him. We walked down to the wharf, went on board, and found Mr.
Lincoln alone, in the after-cabin. He remembered me perfectly, and
at once engaged in a most interesting conversation. He was full of
curiosity about the many incidents of our great march, which had
reached him officially and through the newspapers, and seemed to
enjoy very much the more ludicrous parts-about the "bummers," and
their devices to collect food and forage when the outside world
supposed us to be starving; but at the same time he expressed a
good deal of anxiety lest some accident might happen to the army in
North Carolina during my absence. I explained to him that that
army was snug and comfortable, in good camps, at Goldsboro'; that
it would require some days to collect forage and food for another
march; and that General Schofield was fully competent to command it
in my absence. Having made a good, long, social visit, we took our
leave and returned to General Grant's quarters, where Mrs, Grant
had provided tea. While at the table, Mrs. Grant inquired if we
had seen Mrs. Lincoln. "No," said the general, "I did not ask for
her;" and I added that I did not even know that she was on board.
Mrs. Grant then exclaimed, "Well, you are a pretty pair!" and added
that our neglect was unpardonable; when the general said we would
call again the next day, and make amends for the unintended slight.
Early the next day, March 28th, all the principal officers of the
army and navy called to see me, Generals Meade, Ord, Ingalls, etc.,
and Admiral Porter. At this time the River Queen was at anchor out
in the river, abreast of the wharf, and we again started to visit
Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln. Admiral Porter accompanied us. We took a
small, tug at the wharf, which conveyed us on board, where we were
again received most courteously by the President, who conducted us
to the after-cabin. After the general compliments, General Grant
inquired after Mrs. Lincoln, when the President went to her state-
room, returned, and begged us to excuse her, as she was not well.
We then again entered upon a general conversation, during which
General Grant explained to the President that at that very instant
of time General Sheridan was crossing James River from the north,
by a pontoon-bridge below City Point; that he had a large,
well-appointed force of cavalry, with which he proposed to strike
the Southside and Danville Railroads, by which alone General Lee,
in Richmond, supplied his army; and that, in his judgment, matters
were drawing to a crisis, his only apprehension being that General
Lee would not wait long enough. I also explained that my army at
Goldsboro' was strong enough to fight Lee's army and Johnston's
combined, provided that General Grant could come up within a day or
so; that if Lee would only remain in Richmond another fortnight, I
could march up to Burkesville, when Lee would have to starve inside
of his lines, or come out from his intrenchments and fight us on
Both General Grant and myself supposed that one or the other of us
would have to fight one more bloody battle, and that it would be
the last. Mr. Lincoln exclaimed, more than once, that there had
been blood enough shed, and asked us if another battle could not be
avoided. I remember well to have said that we could not control
that event; that this necessarily rested with our enemy; and I
inferred that both Jeff. Davis and General Lee would be forced to
fight one more desperate and bloody battle. I rather supposed it
would fall on me, somewhere near Raleigh; and General Grant added
that, if Lee would only wait a few more days, he would have his
army so disposed that if the enemy should abandon Richmond, and
attempt to make junction with General Jos. Johnston in North
Carolina, he (General Grant) would be on his heels. Mr. Lincoln
more than once expressed uneasiness that I was not with my army at
Goldsboro', when I again assured him that General Schofield was
fully competent to command in my absence; that I was going to start
back that very day, and that Admiral Porter had kindly provided for
me the steamer Bat, which he said was much swifter than my own
vessel, the Russia. During this interview I inquired of the
President if he was all ready for the end of the war. What was to
be done with the rebel armies when defeated? And what should be
done with the political leaders, such as Jeff. Davis, etc.? Should
we allow them to escape, etc.? He said he was all ready; all he
wanted of us was to defeat the opposing armies, and to get the men
composing the Confederate armies back to their homes, at work on
their farms and in their shops. As to Jeff. Davis, he was hardly
at liberty to speak his mind fully, but intimated that he ought to
clear out, "escape the country," only it would not do for him to
say so openly. As usual, he illustrated his meaning by a story:
A man once had taken the total-abstinence pledge. When visiting a
friend, he was invited to take a drink, but declined, on the score
of his pledge; when his friend suggested lemonade, which was
accepted. In preparing the lemonade, the friend pointed to the
brandy-bottle, and said the lemonade would be more palatable if he
were to pour in a little brandy; when his guest said, if he could
do so "unbeknown" to him, he would "not object." From which
illustration I inferred that Mr. Lincoln wanted Davis to escape,
"unbeknown" to him.
I made no notes of this conversation at the time, but Admiral
Porter, who was present, did, and in 1866 he furnished me an
account thereof, which I insert below, but the admiral describes
the first visit, of the 27th, whereas my memory puts Admiral
Porter's presence on the following day. Still he may be right, and
he may have been with us the day before, as I write this chiefly
from memory. There were two distinct interviews; the first was
late in the afternoon of March 27th, and the other about noon of
the 28th, both in the after-cabin of the steamer River Queen; on
both occasions Mr. Lincoln was full and frank in his conversation,
assuring me that in his mind he was all ready for the civil
reorganization of affairs at the South as soon as the war was over;
and he distinctly authorized me to assure Governor Vance and the
people of North Carolina that, as soon as the rebel armies laid
down their arms, and resumed their civil pursuits, they would at
once be guaranteed all their rights as citizens of a common
country; and that to avoid anarchy the State governments then in
existence, with their civil functionaries, would be recognized by
him as the government de facto till Congress could provide others.
I know, when I left him, that I was more than ever impressed by his
kindly nature, his deep and earnest sympathy with the afflictions
of the whole people, resulting from the war, and by the march of
hostile armies through the South; and that his earnest desire
seemed to be to end the war speedily, without more bloodshed or
devastation, and to restore all the men of both sections to their
homes. In the language of his second inaugural address, he seemed
to have "charity for all, malice toward none," and, above all, an
absolute faith in the courage, manliness, and integrity of the
armies in the field. When at rest or listening, his legs and arms
seemed to hang almost lifeless, and his face was care-worn and
haggard; but, the moment he began to talk, his face lightened up,
his tall form, as it were, unfolded, and he was the very
impersonation of good-humor and fellowship. The last words I
recall as addressed to me were that he would feel better when I was
back at Goldsboro'. We parted at the gangway of the River Queen,
about noon of March 28th, and I never saw him again. Of all the
men I ever met, he seemed to possess more of the elements of
greatness, combined with goodness, than any other.
ADMIRAL PORTER'S ACCOUNT OF THE INTERVIEW WITH
The day of General Sherman's arrival at City Point (I think the
27th of March, 1866), I accompanied him and General Grant on board
the President's flagship, the Queen, where the President received
us in the upper saloon, no one but ourselves being present.
The President was in an exceedingly pleasant mood, and delighted to
meet General Sherman, whom he cordially greeted.
It seems that this was the first time he had met Sherman, to
remember him, since the beginning of the war, and did not remember
when he had seen him before, until the general reminded him of the
circumstances of their first meeting.
This was rather singular on the part of Mr. Lincoln, who was, I
think, remarkable for remembering people, having that kingly
quality in an eminent degree. Indeed, such was the power of his
memory, that he seemed never to forget the most minute
The conversation soon turned on the events of Sherman's campaign
through the South, with every movement of which the President
He laughed over some of the stories Sherman told of his "bummers,"
and told others in return, which illustrated in a striking manner
the ideas he wanted to convey. For example, he would often express
his wishes by telling an apt story, which was quite a habit with
him, and one that I think he adopted to prevent his committing
The interview between the two generals and the President lasted
about an hour and a half, and, as it was a remarkable one, I jotted
down what I remembered of the conversation, as I have made a
practice of doing during the rebellion, when any thing interesting
I don't regret having done so, as circumstances afterward occurred
(Stanton's ill conduct toward Sherman) which tended to cast odium
on General Sherman for allowing such liberal terms to Jos.
Could the conversation that occurred on board the Queen, between
the President and General Sherman, have been known, Sherman would
not, and could not, have been censored. Mr. Lincoln, had he lived,
would have acquitted the general of any blame, for he was only
carrying out the President's wishes.
My opinion is, that Mr. Lincoln came down to City Point with the
most liberal views toward the rebels. He felt confident that we
would be successful, and was willing that the enemy should
capitulate on the most favorable terms.
I don't know what the President would have done had he been left to
himself, and had our army been unsuccessful, but he was than
wrought up to a high state of excitement. He wanted peace on
almost any terms, and there is no knowing what proposals he might
have been willing to listen to. His heart was tenderness
throughout, and, as long as the rebels laid down their arms, he did
not care how it was done. I do not know how far he was influenced
by General Grant, but I presume, from their long conferences, that
they must have understood each other perfectly, and that the terms
given to Lee after his surrender were authorized by Mr. Lincoln. I
know that the latter was delighted when he heard that they had been
given, and exclaimed, a dozen times, "Good!" "All right!"
"Exactly the thing!" and other similar expressions. Indeed, the
President more than once told me what he supposed the terms would
be: if Lee and Johnston surrendered, he considered the war ended,
and that all the other rebel forces world lay down their arms at
In this he proved to be right. Grant and Sherman were both of the
same opinion, and so was everyone else who knew anything about the
What signified the terms to them, so long as we obtained the actual
surrender of people who only wanted a good opportunity to give up
gracefully? The rebels had fought "to the last ditch," and all
that they had left them was the hope of being handed down in
history as having received honorable terms.
After hearing General Sherman's account of his own position, and
that of Johnston, at that time, the President expressed fears that
the rebel general would escape south again by the railroads, and
that General Sherman would have to chase him anew, over the same
ground; but the general pronounced this to be impracticable. He
remarked: "I have him where he cannot move without breaking up his
army, which, once disbanded, can never again be got together; and I
have destroyed the Southern railroads, so that they cannot be used
again for a long time." General Grant remarked, "What is to
prevent their laying the rails again?" "Why," said General
Sherman, "my bummers don't do things by halves. Every rail, after
having been placed over a hot fire, has been twisted as crooked as
a ram's-horn, and they never can be used again."
This was the only remark made by General Grant during the
interview, as he sat smoking a short distance from the President,
intent, no doubt, on his own plans, which were being brought to a
The conversation between the President and General Sherman, about
the terms of surrender to be allowed Jos. Johnston, continued.
Sherman energetically insisted that he could command his own terms,
and that Johnston would have to yield to his demands; but the
President was very decided about the matter, and insisted that the
surrender of Johnston's army most be obtained on any terms.
General Grant was evidently of the same way of thinking, for,
although he did not join in the conversation to any extent, yet he
made no objections, and I presume had made up his mind to allow the
best terms himself.
He was also anxious that Johnston should not be driven into
Richmond, to reenforce the rebels there, who, from behind their
strong intrenchments, would have given us incalculable trouble.
Sherman, as a subordinate officer, yielded his views to those of
the President, and the terms of capitulation between himself and
Johnston were exactly in accordance with Mr. Lincoln's wishes. He
could not have done any thing which would have pleased the
Mr. Lincoln did, in fact, arrange the (so considered) liberal terms
offered General Jos. Johnston, and, whatever may have been General
Sherman's private views, I feel sure that he yielded to the wishes
of the President in every respect. It was Mr. Lincoln's policy
that was carried out, and, had he lived long enough, he would have
been but too glad to have acknowledged it. Had Mr. Lincoln lived,
Secretary Stanton would have issued no false telegraphic
dispatches, in the hope of killing off another general in the
regular army, one who by his success had placed himself in the way
of his own succession.
The disbanding of Jos. Johnston's army was so complete, that the
pens and ink used in the discussion of the matter were all wasted.
It was asserted, by the rabid ones, that General Sherman had given
up all that we had been fighting for, had conceded every thing to
Jos. Johnston, and had, as the boys say, "knocked the fat into the
fire;" but sober reflection soon overruled these harsh expressions,
and, with those who knew General Sherman, and appreciated him, he
was still the great soldier, patriot, and gentleman. In future
times this matter will be looked at more calmly and
dispassionately. The bitter animosities that have been engendered
during the rebellion will have died out for want of food on which
to live, and the very course Grant, Sherman, and others pursued, in
granting liberal terms to the defeated rebels, will be applauded.
The fact is, they met an old beggar in the road, whose crutches had
broken from under him: they let him have only the broken crutches
to get home with!
I sent General Sherman back to Newbern, North Carolina, in the
While he was absent from his command he was losing no time, for be
was getting his army fully equipped with stores and clothing; and,
when he returned, he had a rested and regenerated army, ready to
swallow up Jos. Johnston and all his ragamuffins.
Johnston was cornered, could not move without leaving every thing
behind him, and could not go to Richmond without bringing on a
famine in that destitute city.
I was with Mr. Lincoln all the time he was at City Point, and until
be left for Washington. He was more than delighted with the
surrender of Lee, and with the terms Grant gave the rebel general;
and would have given Jos. Johnston twice as much, had the latter
asked for it, and could he have been certain that the rebel world
have surrendered without a fight. I again repeat that, had Mr.
Lincoln lived, he would have shouldered all the responsibility.
One thing is certain: had Jos. Johnston escaped and got into
Richmond, and caused a larger list of killed and wounded than we
had, General Sherman would have been blamed. Then why not give him
the full credit of capturing on the best terms the enemy's last
important army and its best general, and putting an end to the
It was a finale worthy of Sherman's great march through the swamps
and deserts of the South, a march not excelled by any thing we read
of in modern military history.
D. D. PORTER, Vice-Admiral.
(Written by the admiral in 1866, at the United States Naval Academy
at Annapolis, Md., and mailed to General Sherman at St. Louis, Mo.)
As soon as possible, I arranged with General Grant for certain
changes in the organization of my army; and the general also
undertook to send to North Carolina some tug-boat and barges to
carry stores from Newbern up as far as Kinston, whence they could
be hauled in wagons to our camps, thus relieving our railroads to
that extent. I undertook to be ready to march north by April 10th,
and then embarked on the steamer Bat, Captain Barnes, for North
Carolina. We steamed down James River, and at Old Point Comfort
took on board my brother, Senator Sherman, and Mr. Edwin Stanton,
son of the Secretary of War, and proceeded at once to our
destination. On our way down the river, Captain Barnes expressed
himself extremely obliged to me for taking his vessel, as it had
relieved him of a most painful dilemma. He explained that he had
been detailed by Admiral Porter to escort the President's unarmed
boat, the River Queen, in which capacity it became his special duty
to look after Mrs. Lincoln. The day before my arrival at City
Point, there had been a grand review of a part of the Army of the
James, then commanded by General Ord. The President rode out from
City Point with General Grant on horseback, accompanied by a
numerous staff, including Captain Barnes and Mrs. Ord; but Mrs.
Lincoln and Mrs. Grant had followed in a carriage.
The cavalcade reached the review-ground some five or six miles out
from City Point, found the troops all ready, drawn up in line, and
after the usual presentation of arms, the President and party,
followed by Mrs. Ord and Captain Barnes on horseback, rode the
lines, and returned to the reviewing stand, which meantime had been
reached by Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Grant in their carriage, which had
been delayed by the driver taking a wrong road. Mrs. Lincoln,
seeing Mrs. Ord and Captain Barnes riding with the retinue, and
supposing that Mrs. Ord had personated her, turned on Captain
Barnes and gave him a fearful scolding; and even indulged in some
pretty sharp upbraidings to Mrs. Ord.
This made Barne's position very unpleasant, so that he felt much
relieved when he was sent with me to North Carolina. The Bat was
very fast, and on the morning of the 29th we were near Cape
Hatteras; Captain Barnes, noticing a propeller coming out of
Hatteras Inlet, made her turn back and pilot us in. We entered
safely, steamed up Pamlico Sound into Neuse River, and the next
morning,--by reason of some derangement of machinery, we anchored
about seven miles below Newbern, whence we went up in Captain
Barnes's barge. As soon as we arrived at Newbern, I telegraphed up
to General Schofield at Goldsboro' the fact of my return, and that
I had arranged with General Grant for the changes made necessary in
the reorganization of the army, and for the boats necessary to
carry up the provisions and stores we needed, prior to the renewal
of our march northward.
These changes amounted to constituting the left wing a distinct
army, under the title of "the Army of Georgia," under command of
General Slocum, with his two corps commanded by General Jeff. C.
Davis and General Joseph A. Mower; the Tenth and Twenty-third Corps
already constituted another army, "of the Ohio," under the command
of Major-General Schofield, and his two corps were commanded by
Generals J. D. Cox and A. H. Terry. These changes were necessary,
because army commanders only could order courts-martial, grant
discharges, and perform many other matters of discipline and
administration which were indispensable; but my chief purpose was
to prepare the whole army for what seemed among the probabilities
of the time--to fight both Lee's and Johnston's armies combined, in
case their junction could be formed before General Grant could
possibly follow Lee to North Carolina.
General George H. Thomas, who still remained at Nashville, was not
pleased with these changes, for the two corps with General Slocum,
viz., the Fourteenth and Twentieth, up to that time, had remained
technically a part of his "Army of the Cumberland;" but he was so
far away, that I had to act to the best advantage with the troops
and general officers actually present. I had specially asked for
General Mower to command the Twentieth Corps, because I regarded
him as one of the boldest and best fighting generals in the whole
army. His predecessor, General A. S. Williams, the senior division
commander present, had commanded the corps well from Atlanta to
Goldsboro', and it may have seemed unjust to replace him at that
precise moment; but I was resolved to be prepared for a most
desperate and, as then expected, a final battle, should it fall on
I returned to Goldsboro' from Newbern by rail the evening of March
30th, and at once addressed myself to the task of reorganization
and replenishment of stores, so as to be ready to march by April
10th, the day agreed on with General Grant.
The army was divided into the usual three parts, right and left
wings, and centre. The tabular statements herewith will give the
exact composition of these separate armies, which by the 10th of
April gave the following effective strength:
Infantry ................... 80,968
Artillery .................. 2,448
Cavalry .................... 5,587
Aggregate ............ 88,948
Total number of guns, 91
The railroads to our rear had also been repaired, so that stores
were arriving very fast, both from Morehead City and Wilmington.
The country was so level that a single locomotive could haul
twenty-five and thirty cars to a train, instead of only ten, as was
the case in Tennessee and Upper Georgia.
By the 5th of April such progress had been made, that I issued the
following Special Field Orders, No. 48, prescribing the time and
manner of the next march
[Special Field Orders, No. 48.]
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI
IN THE FIELD, GOLDSBORO', NORTH CAROLINA, April 5, 1865.
Confidential to Army Commanders, Corps Commanders, and Chiefs of
The next grand objective is to place this army (with its full
equipment) north of Roanoke River, facing west, with a base for
supplies at Norfolk, and at Winton or Murfreesboro' on the Chowan,
and in full communication with the Army of the Potomac, about
Petersburg; and also to do the enemy as much harm as possible en
1. To accomplish this result the following general plan will be
followed, or modified only by written orders from these
headquarters, should events require a change:
(1.) On Monday, the 10th of April, all preparations are presumed to
be complete, and the outlying detachments will be called in, or
given directions to meet on the next march. All preparations will
also be complete to place the railroad-stock back of Kinston on the
one road, and below the Northeast Branch on the other.
(2.) On Tuesday, the 11th, the columns will draw out on their lines
of march, say, about seven miles, and close up.
(3.) On Wednesday the march will begin in earnest, and will be kept
up at the rate, say, of about twelve miles a day, or according to
the amount of resistance. All the columns will dress to the left
(which is the exposed flank), and commanders will study always to
find roads by which they can, if necessary, perform a general left
wheel, the wagons to be escorted to some place of security on the
direct route of march. Foraging and other details may continue as
heretofore, only more caution and prudence should be observed; and
foragers should not go in advance of the advance-guard, but look
more to our right rear for corn, bacon, and meal.
2. The left wing (Major-General Slocum commanding) will aim
straight for the railroad-bridge near Smithfield; thence along up
the Neuse River to the railroad-bridge over Neuse River, northeast
of Raleigh (Powell's); thence to Warrenton, the general point of
The centre (Major-General Schofield commanding) will move to
Whitley's Mill, ready to support the left until it is past
Smithfield, when it will follow up (substantially) Little River to
about Rolesville, ready at all times to move to the support of the
left; after passing Tar River, to move to Warrenton.
The right wing (Major-General Howard commanding), preceded by the
cavalry, will move rapidly on Pikeville and Nahunta, then swing
across to Bulah to Folk's Bridge, ready to make junction with the
other armies in case the enemy offers battle this side of Neuse
River, about Smithfield; thence, in case of no serious opposition
on the left, will work up toward Earpsboro', Andrews, B----, and
The cavalry (General Kilpatrick commanding), leaving its
encumbrances with the right wing, will push as though straight for
Weldon, until the enemy is across Tar River, and that bridge
burned; then it will deflect toward Nashville and Warrenton,
keeping up communication with general headquarters.
3. As soon as the army starts, the chief-quartermaster and
commissary will prepare a resupply of stores at some point on
Pamlico or Albemarle Sounds, ready to be conveyed to Kinston or
Winton and Murfreesboro', according to developments. As soon as
they have satisfactory information that the army is north of the
Roanoke, they will forthwith establish a depot at Winton, with a
sub-depot at Murfreesboro'. Major-General Schofield will hold, as
heretofore, Wilmington (with the bridge across Northern Branch as
an outpost), Newborn (and Kinston as its outpost), and will be
prepared to hold Winton and Murfreesboro' as soon as the time
arrives for that move. The navy has instructions from Admiral
Porter to cooperate, and any commanding officer is authorized to
call on the navy for assistance and cooperation, always in writing,
setting forth the reasons, of which necessarily the naval
commander must be the judge.
4. The general-in-chief will be with the centre habitually, but
may in person shift to either flank where his presence may be
needed, leaving a staff-officer to receive reports. He requires,
absolutely, a report of each army or grand detachment each night,
whether any thing material has occurred or not, for often the
absence of an enemy is a very important fact in military
By order of Major-General W. T. Sherman,
L. M. DAYTON, Assistant Adjutant-General.
But the whole problem became suddenly changed by the news of the
fall of Richmond and Petersburg, which reached as at Goldsboro', on
the 6th of April. The Confederate Government, with Lee's army, had
hastily abandoned Richmond, fled in great disorder toward Danville,
and General Grant's whole army was in close pursuit. Of course, I
inferred that General Lee would succeed in making junction with
General Johnston, with at least a fraction of his army, somewhere
to my front. I at once altered the foregoing orders, and prepared
on the day appointed, viz., April 10th, to move straight on
Raleigh, against the army of General Johnston, known to be at
Smithfield, and supposed to have about thirty-five thousand men.
Wade Hampton's cavalry was on his left front and Wheeler's on his
right front, simply watching us and awaiting our initiative.
Meantime the details of the great victories in Virginia came thick
and fast, and on the 8th I received from General Grant this
communication, in the form of a cipher-dispatch:
HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES
WILSON'S STATION, April 5, 1865
Major-General SHERMAN, Goldsboro', North Carolina:
All indications now are that Lee will attempt to reach Danville
with the remnant of his force. Sheridan, who was up with him last
night, reports all that is left with him--horse, foot, and
dragoons--at twenty thousand, much demoralized. We hope to reduce
this number one-half. I will push on to Burkesville, and, if a
stand is made at Danville, will, in a very few days, go there. If
you can possibly do so, push on from where you are, and let us see
if we cannot finish the job with Lee's and Johnston's armies.
Whether it will be better for you to strike for Greensboro' or
nearer to Danville, you will be better able to judge when you
receive this. Rebel armies now are the only strategic points to
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
I answered immediately that we would move on the 10th, prepared to
follow Johnston wherever he might go. Promptly on Monday morning,
April 10th, the army moved straight on Smithfield; the right wing
making a circuit by the right, and the left wing, supported by the
centre, moving on the two direct roads toward Raleigh, distant
fifty miles. General Terry's and General Kilpatrick's troops moved
from their positions on the south or west bank of the Neuse River
in the same general direction, by Cox's Bridge. On the 11th we
reached Smithfield, and found it abandoned by Johnston's army,
which had retreated hastily on Raleigh, burning the bridges. To
restore these consumed the remainder of the day, and during that
night I received a message from General Grant, at Appomattox, that
General Lee had surrendered to him his whole army, which I at once
announced to the troops in orders:
[Special Field Orders, No. 54]
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI
IN THE FIELD, SMITHFIELD, NORTH CAROLINA, April 12, 1865.
The general commanding announces to the army that he has official
notice from General Grant that General Lee surrendered to him his
entire army, on the 9th inst., at Appomattox Court-House, Virginia.
Glory to God and our country, and all honor to our comrades in
arms, toward whom we are marching!
A little more labor, a little more toil on our part, the great race
is won, and our Government stands regenerated, after four long
years of war.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.
Of course, this created a perfect furore, of rejoicing, and we all
regarded the war as over, for I knew well that General Johnston had
no army with which to oppose mine. So that the only questions that
remained were, would he surrender at Raleigh? or would he allow
his army to disperse into guerrilla bands, to "die in the last
ditch," and entail on his country an indefinite and prolonged
military occupation, and of consequent desolation? I knew well
that Johnston's army could not be caught; the country was too open;
and, without wagons, the men could escape us, disperse, and
assemble again at some place agreed on, and thus the war might be
I then remembered Mr. Lincoln's repeated expression that he wanted
the rebel soldiers not only defeated, but "back at their homes,
engaged in their civil pursuits." On the evening of the 12th I was
with the head of Slocum's column, at Gulley's, and General
Kilpatrick's cavalry was still ahead, fighting Wade Hampton's
rear-guard, with orders to push it through Raleigh, while I would
give a more southerly course to the infantry columns, so as, if
possible, to prevent a retreat southward. On the 13th, early, I
entered Raleigh, and ordered the several heads of column toward
Ashville in the direction of Salisbury or Charlotte. Before
reaching Raleigh, a locomotive came down the road to meet me,
passing through both Wade Hampton's and Kilpatrick's cavalry,
bringing four gentlemen, with a letter from Governor Vance to me,
asking protection for the citizens of Raleigh. These gentlemen
were, of course, dreadfully excited at the dangers through which
they had passed. Among them were ex-Senator Graham, Mr. Swain,
president of Chapel Hill University, and a Surgeon Warren, of the
Confederate army. They had come with a flag of truce, to which
they were not entitled; still, in the interest of peace, I
respected it, and permitted them to return to Raleigh with their
locomotive, to assure the Governor and the people that the war was
substantially over, and that I wanted the civil authorities to
remain in the execution of their office till the pleasure of the
President could be ascertained. On reaching Raleigh I found these
same gentlemen, with Messrs. Badger, Bragg, Holden, and others, but
Governor Vance had fled, and could not be prevailed on to return,
because he feared an arrest and imprisonment. From the Raleigh
newspapers of the 10th I learned that General Stoneman, with his
division of cavalry, had come across the mountains from East
Tennessee, had destroyed the railroad at Salisbury, and was then
supposed to be approaching Greensboro'. I also learned that
General Wilson's cavalry corps was "smashing things" down about
Selma and Montgomery, Alabama, and was pushing for Columbus and
Macon, Georgia; and I also had reason to expect that General
Sheridan would come down from Appomattox to join us at Raleigh with
his superb cavalry corps. I needed more cavalry to check
Johnston's retreat, so that I could come up to him with my
infantry, and therefore had good reason to delay. I ordered the
railroad to be finished up to Raleigh, so that I could operate from
it as a base, and then made:
[Special Field Orders, No. 55]
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI IN THE FIELD,
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA, April 14, 1865.
The next movement will be on Ashboro', to turn the position of the
enemy at the "Company's Shops" in rear of Haw River Bridge, and at
Greensboro', and to cut off his only available line of retreat by
Salisbury and Charlotte:
1. General Kilpatrick will keep up a show of pursuit in the
direction of Hillsboro' and Graham, but be ready to cross Haw River
on General Howard's bridge, near Pittsboro', and thence will
operate toward Greensboro', on the right front of the right wing.
2. The right wing, Major-General Howard commanding, will move out
on the Chapel Hill road, and send a light division up in the
direction of Chapel Hill University to act in connection with the
cavalry; but the main columns and trains will move via Hackney's
Cross-Roads, and Trader's Hill, Pittsboro', St. Lawrence, etc., to
be followed by the cavalry and light division, as soon as the
bridge is laid over Haw River.
8. The centre, Major-General Schofield commanding, will move via
Holly Springs, New Hill, Haywood, and Moffitt's Mills.
4. The left wing, Major-General Slocum commanding, will move
rapidly by the Aven's Ferry road, Carthage, Caledonia, and Cox's
5. All the troops will draw well out on the roads designated
during today and to-morrow, and on the following day will move with
all possible rapidity for Ashboro'. No further destruction of
railroads, mills, cotton, and produce, will be made without the
specific orders of an army commander, and the inhabitants will be
dealt with kindly, looking to an early reconciliation. The troops
will be permitted, however, to gather forage and provisions as
heretofore; only more care should be taken not to strip the poorer
classes too closely.
By order of General W. T. Sherman,
L. M. DAYTON, Assistant Adjutant-General.
Thus matters stood, when on the morning of the 14th General
Kilpatrick reported from Durham's Station, twenty-six miles up the
railroad toward Hillsboro', that a flag of truce had come in from
the enemy with a package from General Johnston addressed to me.
Taking it for granted that this was preliminary to a surrender, I
ordered the message to be sent me at Raleigh, and on the 14th
received from General Johnston a letter dated April 13, 1865, in
The results of the recent campaign in Virginia have changed the
relative military condition of the belligerents. I am, therefore,
induced to address you in this form the inquiry whether, to stop
the further effusion of blood and devastation of property, you are
willing to make a temporary suspension of active operations, and to
communicate to Lieutenant-General Grant, commanding the armies of
the United States, the request that he will take like action in
regard to other armies, the object being to permit the civil
authorities to enter into the needful arrangements to terminate the
To which I replied as follows:
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI
IN THE FIELD, RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA, April 14, 1865.
General J. E. JOHNSTON, commanding Confederate Army.
GENERAL: I have this moment received your communication of this
date. I am fully empowered to arrange with you any terms for the
suspension of farther hostilities between the armies commanded by
you and those commanded by myself, and will be willing to confer
with you to that end. I will limit the advance of my main column,
to-morrow, to Morrisville, and the cavalry to the university, and
expect that you will also maintain the present position of your
forces until each has notice of a failure to agree.
That a basis of action may be had, I undertake to abide by the same
terms and conditions as were made by Generals Grant and Lee at
Appomattox Court-House, on the 9th instant, relative to our two
armies; and, furthermore, to obtain from General Grant an order to
suspend the movements of any troops from the direction of Virginia.
General Stoneman is under my command, and my order will suspend any
devastation or destruction contemplated by him. I will add that I
really desire to save the people of North Carolina the damage they
would sustain by the march of this army through the central or
western parts of the State.
I am, with respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
I sent my aide-de-camp, Colonel McCoy, up to Durham's Station with
this letter, with instructions to receive the answer, to telegraph
its contents back to me at Raleigh, and to arrange for an
interview. On the 16th I received a reply from General Johnston,
agreeing to meet me the next day at a point midway between our
advance at Durham and his rear at Hillsboro'. I ordered a car and
locomotive to be prepared to convey me up to Durham's at eight
o'clock of the morning of April 17th. Just as we were entering the
car, the telegraph-operator, whose office was up-stairs in the
depot-building, ran down to me and said that he was at that instant
of time receiving a most important dispatch in cipher from Morehead
City, which I ought to see. I held the train for nearly half an
hour, when he returned with the message translated and written out.
It was from Mr. Stanton, announcing the assassination of Mr.
Lincoln, the attempt on the life of Mr. Seward and son, and a
suspicion that a like fate was designed for General Grant and all
the principal officers of the Government. Dreading the effect of
such a message at that critical instant of time, I asked the
operator if any one besides himself had seen it; he answered No!
I then bade him not to reveal the contents by word or look till I
came back, which I proposed to do the same afternoon. The train
then started, and, as we passed Morris's Station, General Logan,
commanding the Fifteenth Corps, came into my car, and I told him I
wanted to see him on my return, as I had something very important
to communicate. He knew I was going to meet General Johnston, and
volunteered to say that he hoped I would succeed in obtaining his
surrender, as the whole army dreaded the long march to Charlotte
(one hundred and seventy-five miles), already begun, but which had
been interrupted by the receipt of General Johnston's letter of the
13th. We reached Durham's, twenty-six miles, about 10 a.m., where
General Kilpatrick had a squadron of cavalry drawn up to receive
me. We passed into the house in which he had his headquarters, and
soon after mounted some led horses, which he had prepared for
myself and staff. General Kilpatrick sent a man ahead with a white
flag, followed by a small platoon, behind which we rode, and were
followed by the rest of the escort. We rode up the Hillsboro' road
for about five miles, when our flag bearer discovered another
coming to meet him: They met, and word was passed back to us that
General Johnston was near at hand, when we rode forward and met
General Johnston on horseback, riding side by side with General
Wade Hampton. We shook hands, and introduced our respective
attendants. I asked if there was a place convenient where we could
be private, and General Johnston said he had passed a small
farmhouse a short distance back, when we rode back to it together
side by side, our staff-officers and escorts following. We had
never met before, though we had been in the regular army together
for thirteen years; but it so happened that we had never before
together. He was some twelve or more years my senior; but we knew
enough of each other to be well acquainted at once. We soon
reached the house of a Mr. Bennett, dismounted, and left our horses
with orderlies in the road. Our officers, on foot, passed into the
yard, and General Johnston and I entered the small frame-house. We
asked the farmer if we could have the use of his house for a few
minutes, and he and his wife withdrew into a smaller log-house,
which stood close by.
As soon as we were alone together I showed him the dispatch
announcing Mr. Lincoln's assassination, and watched him closely.
The perspiration came out in large drops on his forehead, and he
did not attempt to conceal his distress. He denounced the act as a
disgrace to the age, and hoped I did not charge it to the
Confederate Government. I told him I could not believe that he or
General Lee, or the officers of the Confederate army, could
possibly be privy to acts of assassination; but I would not say as
much for Jeff. Davis, George Sanders, and men of that stripe. We
talked about the effect of this act on the country at large and on
the armies, and he realized that it made my situation extremely
delicate. I explained to him that I had not yet revealed the news
to my own personal staff or to the army, and that I dreaded the
effect when made known in Raleigh. Mr. Lincoln was peculiarly
endeared to the soldiers, and I feared that some foolish woman or
man in Raleigh might say something or do something that would
madden our men, and that a fate worse than that of Columbia would
befall the place.
I then told Johnston that he must be convinced that he could not
oppose my army, and that, since Lee had surrendered, he could do
the same with honor and propriety. He plainly and repeatedly
admitted this, and added that any further fighting would be