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stream could not be crossed higher up, but at the same time knew
that General Slocum's route would bring him to Colombia behind this
stream, and that his approach would uncover it. Therefore, there
was no need of exposing much life. The brigade, however, found
means to cross the Little Congaree, and thus uncovered the passage
by the main road, so that General Woods's skirmishers at once
passed over, and a party was set to work to repair the bridge,
which occupied less than an hour, when I passed over with my whole
staff. I found the new fort unfinished and unoccupied, but from
its parapet could see over some old fields bounded to the north and
west by hills skirted with timber. There was a plantation to our
left, about half a mile, and on the edge of the timber was drawn up
a force of rebel cavalry of about a regiment, which advanced, and
charged upon some, of our foragers, who were plundering the
plantation; my aide, Colonel Audenried, who had ridden forward,
came back somewhat hurt and bruised, for, observing this charge of
cavalry, he had turned for us, and his horse fell with him in
attempting to leap a ditch. General Woods's skirmish-line met this
charge of cavalry, and drove it back into the woods and beyond. We
remained on that ground during the night of the 15th, and I camped
on the nearest dry ground behind the Little Congaree, where on the
next morning were made the written' orders for the government of
the troops while occupying Columbia. These are dated February 16,
1865, in these words:
General Howard will cross the Saluda and Broad Rivers as near their
mouths as possible, occupy Columbia, destroy the public buildings,
railroad property, manufacturing and machine shops; but will spare
libraries, asylums, and private dwellings. He will then move to
Winnsboro', destroying en route utterly that section of the
railroad. He will also cause all bridges, trestles, water-tanks,
and depots on the railroad back to the Wateree to be burned,
switches broken, and such other destruction as he can find time to
accomplish consistent with proper celerity.
These instructions were embraced in General Order No. 26, which
prescribed the routes of march for the several columns as far as
Fayetteville, North Carolina, and is conclusive that I then
regarded Columbia as simply one point on our general route of
march, and not as an important conquest.
During the 16th of February the Fifteenth Corps reached the point
opposite Columbia, and pushed on for the Saluda Factory three miles
above, crossed that stream, and the head of column reached Broad
River just in time to find its bridge in flames, Butler's cavalry
having just passed over into Columbia. The head of Slocum's column
also reached the point opposite Columbia the same morning, but the
bulk of his army was back at Lexington. I reached this place early
in the morning of the 16th, met General Slocum there; and explained
to him the purport of General Order No. 26, which contemplated the
passage of his army across Broad River at Alston, fifteen miles
above Columbia. Riding down to the river-bank, I saw the wreck of
the large bridge which had been burned by the enemy, with its many
stone piers still standing, but the superstructure gone. Across
the Congaree River lay the city of Columbia, in plain, easy view.
I could see the unfinished State-House, a handsome granite
structure, and the ruins of the railroad depot, which were still
smouldering. Occasionally a few citizens or cavalry could be seen
running across the streets, and quite a number of negroes were
seemingly busy in carrying off bags of grain or meal, which were
piled up near the burned depot.
Captain De Gres had a section of his twenty-pound Parrott guns
unlimbered, firing into the town. I asked him what he was firing
for; he said he could see some rebel cavalry occasionally at the
intersections of the streets, and he had an idea that there was a
large force of infantry concealed on the opposite bank, lying low,
in case we should attempt to cross over directly into the town. I
instructed him not to fire any more into the town, but consented to
his bursting a few shells near the depot, to scare away the negroes
who were appropriating the bags of corn and meal which we wanted,
also to fire three shots at the unoccupied State-House. I stood by
and saw these fired, and then all firing ceased. Although this
matter of firing into Columbia has been the subject of much abuse
and investigation, I have yet to hear of any single person having
been killed in Columbia by our cannon. On the other hand, the
night before, when Woods's division was in camp in the open fields
at Little Congaree, it was shelled all night by a rebel battery
from the other aide of the river. This provoked me much at the
time, for it was wanton mischief, as Generals Beauregard and
Hampton must have been convinced that they could not prevent our
entrance into Columbia. I have always contended that I would have
been justified in retaliating for this unnecessary act of war, but
did not, though I always characterized it as it deserved.
The night of the 16th I camped near an old prison bivouac opposite
Columbia, known to our prisoners of war as "Camp Sorghum," where
remained the mud-hovels and holes in the ground which our prisoners
had made to shelter themselves from the winter's cold and the
summer's heat. The Fifteenth Corps was then ahead, reaching to
Broad River, about four miles above Columbia; the Seventeenth Corps
was behind, on the river-bank opposite Columbia; and the left wing
and cavalry had turned north toward Alston.
The next morning, viz., February 17th, I rode to the head of
General Howard's column, and found that during the night he had
ferried Stone's brigade of Woods's division of the Fifteenth
Corps across by rafts made of the pontoons, and that brigade was
then deployed on the opposite bank to cover the construction of a
pontoon-bridge nearly finished.
I sat with General Howard on a log, watching the men lay this
bridge; and about 9 or 10 A.M. a messenger came from Colonel Stone
on the other aide, saying that the Mayor of Columbia had come out
of the city to surrender the place, and asking for orders. I
simply remarked to General Howard that he had his orders, to let
Colonel Stone go on into the city, and that we would follow as soon
as the bridge was ready. By this same messenger I received a note
in pencil from the Lady Superioress of a convent or school in
Columbia, in which she claimed to have been a teacher in a convent
in Brown County, Ohio, at the time my daughter Minnie was a pupil
there, and therefore asking special protection. My recollection
is, that I gave the note to my brother-in-law, Colonel Ewing, then
inspector-general on my staff, with instructions to see this lady,
and assure her that we contemplated no destruction of any private
property in Columbia at all.
As soon as the bridge was done, I led my horse over it, followed by
my whole staff. General Howard accompanied me with his, and
General Logan was next in order, followed by General C. R. Woods,
and the whole of the Fifteenth Corps. Ascending the hill, we soon
emerged into a broad road leading into Columbia, between old fields
of corn and cotton, and, entering the city, we found seemingly all
its population, white and black, in the streets. A high and
boisterous wind was prevailing from the north, and flakes of cotton
were flying about in the air and lodging in the limbs of the trees,
reminding us of a Northern snow-storm. Near the market-square we
found Stone's brigade halted, with arms stacked, and a large detail
of his men, along with some citizens, engaged with an old fire-
engine, trying to put out the fire in a long pile of burning
cotton-bales, which I was told had been fired by the rebel cavalry
on withdrawing from the city that morning. I know that, to avoid
this row of burning cotton-bales, I had to ride my horse on the
sidewalk. In the market-square had collected a large crowd of
whites and blacks, among whom was the mayor of the city, Dr.
Goodwin, quite a respectable old gentleman, who was extremely
anxious to protect the interests of the citizens. He was on foot,
and I on horseback, and it is probable I told him then not to be
uneasy, that we did not intend to stay long, and had no purpose to
injure the private citizens or private property. About this time I
noticed several men trying to get through the crowd to speak with
me, and called to some black people to make room for them; when
they reached me, they explained that they were officers of our
army, who had been prisoners, had escaped from the rebel prison and
guard, and were of course overjoyed to find themselves safe with
us. I told them that, as soon as things settled down, they should
report to General Howard, who would provide for their safety, and
enable them to travel with us. One of them handed me a paper,
asking me to read it at my leisure; I put it in my breast-pocket
and rode on. General Howard was still with me, and, riding down
the street which led by the right to the Charleston depot, we found
it and a large storehouse burned to the ground, but there were, on
the platform and ground near by, piles of cotton bags filled with
corn and corn-meal, partially burned.
A detachment of Stone's brigade was guarding this, and separating
the good from the bad. We rode along the railroad-track, some
three or four hundred yards, to a large foundery, when some man
rode up and said the rebel cavalry were close by, and he warned us
that we might get shot. We accordingly turned back to the market-
square, and en route noticed that, several of the men were
evidently in liquor, when I called General Howard's attention to
it. He left me and rode toward General Woods's head of column,
which was defiling through the town. On reaching the
market-square, I again met Dr. Goodwin, and inquired where he
proposed to quarter me, and he said that he had selected the house
of Blanton Duncan, Esq., a citizen of Louisville, Kentucky, then a
resident there, who had the contract for manufacturing the
Confederate money, and had fled with Hampton's cavalry. We all
rode some six or eight squares back from the new State-House, and
found a very good modern house, completely furnished, with stabling
and a large yard, took it as our headquarters, and occupied it
during our stay. I considered General Howard as in command of the
place, and referred the many applicants for guards and protection
to him. Before our headquarters-wagons had got up, I strolled
through the streets of Columbia, found sentinels posted at the
principal intersections, and generally good order prevailing, but
did not again return to the main street, because it was filled with
a crowd of citizens watching the soldiers marching by.
During the afternoon of that day, February 17th, the whole of the
Fifteenth Corps passed through the town and out on the Camden and
Winnsboro' roads. The Seventeenth Corps did not enter the city at
all, but crossed directly over to the Winnsboro' road from the
pontoon bridge at Broad River, which was about four miles above the
After we had got, as it were, settled in Blanton Duncan's house,
say about 2 p.m., I overhauled my pocket according to custom, to
read more carefully the various notes and memoranda received during
the day, and found the paper which had been given me, as described,
by one of our escaped prisoners. It proved to be the song of
"Sherman's March to the Sea," which had been composed by Adjutant
S. H. M. Byers, of the Fifth Iowa Infantry, when a prisoner in the
asylum at Columbia, which had been beautifully written off by a
fellow-prisoner, and handed to me in person. This appeared to me
so good that I at once sent for Byers, attached him to my staff,
provided him with horse and equipment, and took him as far as
Fayetteville, North Carolina, whence he was sent to Washington as
bearer of dispatches. He is now United States consul at Zurich,
Switzerland, where I have since been his guest. I insert the song
here for convenient reference and preservation. Byers said that
there was an excellent glee-club among the prisoners in Columbia,
who used to sing it well, with an audience often of rebel ladies:
SHERMAN'S MARCH TO THE SEA.
Composed by Adjutant Byers, Fifth Iowa Infantry. Arranged and sung
by the Prisoners in Columbia Prison.
Our camp-fires shone bright on the mountain
That frowned on the river below,
As we stood by our guns in the morning,
And eagerly watched for the foe;
When a rider came out of the darkness
That hung over mountain and tree,
And shouted, "Boys, up and be ready!
For Sherman will march to the sea!"
Then sang we a song of our chieftain,
That echoed over river and lea;
And the stars of our banner shone brighter
When Sherman marched down to the sea!
Then cheer upon cheer for bold Sherman
Went up from each valley and glen,
And the bugles reechoed the music
That came from the lips of the men;
For we knew that the stars in our banner
More bright in their splendor would be,
And that blessings from Northland would greet us,
When Sherman marched down to the sea!
Then sang we a song, etc.
Then forward, boys! forward to battle!
We marched on our wearisome way,
We stormed the wild hills of Resacar
God bless those who fell on that day!
Then Kenesaw frowned in its glory,
Frowned down on the flag of the free;
But the East and the West bore our standard,
And Sherman marched on to the sea!
Then sang we a song, etc.
Still onward we pressed, till our banners
Swept out from Atlanta's grim walls,
And the blood of the patriot dampened
The soil where the traitor-flag falls;
But we paused not to weep for the fallen,
Who slept by each river and tree,
Yet we twined them a wreath of the laurel,
As Sherman marched down to the sea!
Then sang we a song, etc.
Oh, proud was our army that morning,
That stood where the pine darkly towers,
When Sherman said, "Boys, you are weary,
But to-day fair Savannah is ours!"
Then sang we the song of our chieftain,
That echoed over river and lea,
And the stars in our banner shone brighter
When Sherman camped down by the sea!
Toward evening of February 17th, the mayor, Dr. Goodwin, came to my
quarters at Duncan's house, and remarked that there was a lady in
Columbia who professed to be a special friend of mine. On his
giving her name, I could not recall it, but inquired as to her
maiden or family name. He answered Poyas. It so happened that,
when I was a lieutenant at Fort Moultrie, in 1842-'46, I used very
often to visit a family of that name on the east branch of Cooper
River, about forty miles from Fort Moultrie, and to hunt with the
son, Mr. James Poyas, an elegant young fellow and a fine sportsman.
His father, mother, and several sisters, composed the family, and
were extremely hospitable. One of the ladies was very fond of
painting in water-colors, which was one of my weaknesses, and on
one occasion I had presented her with a volume treating of water-
colors. Of course, I was glad to renew the acquaintance, and
proposed to Dr. Goodwin that we should walk to her house and visit
this lady, which we did. The house stood beyond the Charlotte
depot, in a large lot, was of frame, with a high porch, which was
reached by a set of steps outside. Entering this yard, I noticed
ducks and chickens, and a general air of peace and comfort that was
really pleasant to behold at that time of universal desolation; the
lady in question met us at the head of the steps and invited us
into a parlor which was perfectly neat and well furnished. After
inquiring about her father, mother, sisters, and especially her
brother James, my special friend, I could not help saying that I
was pleased to notice that our men had not handled her house and
premises as roughly as was their wont. "I owe it to you, general,"
she answered. "Not at all. I did not know you were here till a
few minutes ago." She reiterated that she was indebted to me for
the perfect safety of her house and property, and added, "You
remember, when you were at our house on Cooper River in 1845, you
gave me a book;" and she handed me the book in question, on the fly
leaf of which was written: "To Miss Poyas, with the compliments of
W. T. Sherman, First-lieutenant Third Artillery." She then
explained that, as our army approached Columbia, there was a doubt
in her mind whether the terrible Sherman who was devastating the
land were W. T. Sherman or T. W. Sherman, both known to be generals
in the Northern army; but, on the supposition that he was her old
acquaintance, when Wade Hampton's cavalry drew out of the city,
calling out that the Yankees were coming, she armed herself with
this book, and awaited the crisis. Soon the shouts about the
markethouse announced that the Yankees had come; very soon men were
seen running up and down the streets; a parcel of them poured over
the fence, began to chase the chickens and ducks, and to enter her
house. She observed one large man, with full beard, who exercised
some authority, and to him she appealed in the name of "his
general." "What do you know of Uncle Billy?" "Why," she said,
"when he was a young man he used to be our friend in Charleston,
and here is a book he gave me." The officer or soldier took the
book, looked at the inscription, and, turning to his fellows, said:
"Boys, that's so; that's Uncle Billy's writing, for I have seen it
often before." He at once commanded the party to stop pillaging,
and left a man in charge of the house, to protect her until the
regular provost-guard should be established. I then asked her if
the regular guard or sentinel had been as good to her. She assured
me that he was a very nice young man; that he had been telling her
all about his family in Iowa; and that at that very instant of time
he was in another room minding her baby. Now, this lady had good
sense and tact, and had thus turned aside a party who, in five
minutes more, would have rifled her premises of all that was good
to eat or wear. I made her a long social visit, and, before
leaving Columbia, gave her a half-tierce of rice and about one
hundred pounds of ham from our own mess-stores.
In like manner, that same evening I found in Mrs. Simons another
acquaintance--the wife of the brother of Hon. James Simons, of
Charleston, who had been Miss Wragg. When Columbia was on fire
that night, and her house in danger, I had her family and effects
carried to my own headquarters, gave them my own room and bed, and,
on leaving Columbia the next day, supplied her with a half-barrel
of hams and a half-tierce of rice. I mention these specific facts
to show that, personally, I had no malice or desire to destroy that
city or its inhabitants, as is generally believed at the South.
Having walked over much of the suburbs of Columbia in the
afternoon, and being tired, I lay down on a bed in Blanton Duncan's
house to rest. Soon after dark I became conscious that a bright
light was shining on the walls; and, calling some one of my staff
(Major Nichols, I think) to inquire the cause, he said there seemed
to be a house on fire down about the market-house. The same high
wind still prevailed, and, fearing the consequences, I bade him go
in person to see if the provost-guard were doing its duty. He soon
returned, and reported that the block of buildings directly
opposite the burning cotton of that morning was on fire, and that
it was spreading; but he had found General Woods on the ground,
with plenty of men trying to put the fire out, or, at least, to
prevent its extension. The fire continued to increase, and the
whole heavens became lurid. I dispatched messenger after messenger
to Generals Howard, Logan, and Woods, and received from them
repeated assurances that all was being done that could be done, but
that the high wind was spreading the flames beyond all control.
These general officers were on the ground all night, and Hazen's
division had been brought into the city to assist Woods's division,
already there. About eleven o'clock at night I went down-town
myself, Colonel Dayton with me; we walked to Mr. Simons's house,
from which I could see the flames rising high in the air, and could
hear the roaring of the fire. I advised the ladies to move to my
headquarters, had our own headquarter-wagons hitched up, and their
effects carried there, as a place of greater safety. The whole air
was full of sparks and of flying masses of cotton, shingles, etc.,
some of which were carried four or five blocks, and started new
fires. The men seemed generally under good control, and certainly
labored hard to girdle the fire, to prevent its spreading; but, so
long as the high wind prevailed, it was simply beyond human
possibility. Fortunately, about 3 or 4 a.m., the wind moderated,
and gradually the fire was got under control; but it had burned out
the very heart of the city, embracing several churches, the old
State-House, and the school or asylum of that very Sister of
Charity who had appealed for my personal protection. Nickerson's
Hotel, in which several of my staff were quartered, was burned
down, but the houses occupied by myself, Generals Howard and Logan,
were not burned at all. Many of the people thought that this fire
was deliberately planned and executed. This is not true. It was
accidental, and in my judgment began with the cotton which General
Hampton's men had set fire to on leaving the city (whether by his
orders or not is not material), which fire was partially subdued
early in the day by our men; but, when night came, the high wind
fanned it again into full blaze, carried it against the
framehouses, which caught like tinder, and soon spread beyond our
This whole subject has since been thoroughly and judicially
investigated, in some cotton cases, by the mixed commission on
American and British claims, under the Treaty of Washington, which
commission failed to award a verdict in favor of the English
claimants, and thereby settled the fact that the destruction of
property in Columbia, during that night, did not result from the
acts of the General Government of the United States--that is to
say, from my army. In my official report of this conflagration, I
distinctly charged it to General Wade Hampton, and confess I did so
pointedly, to shake the faith of his people in him, for he was in
my opinion boastful, and professed to be the special champion of
The morning sun of February 18th rose bright and clear over a
ruined city. About half of it was in ashes and in smouldering
heaps. Many of the people were houseless, and gathered in groups
in the suburbs, or in the open parks and spaces, around their
scanty piles of furniture. General Howard, in concert with the
mayor, did all that was possible to provide other houses for them;
and by my authority he turned over to the Sisters of Charity the
Methodist College, and to the mayor five hundred beef-cattle; to
help feed the people; I also gave the mayor (Dr. Goodwin) one
hundred muskets, with which to arm a guard to maintain order after
we should leave the neighborhood. During the 18th and 19th we
remained in Columbia, General Howard's troops engaged in tearing up
and destroying the railroad, back toward the Wateree, while a
strong detail, under the immediate supervision of Colonel O. M.
Poe, United States Engineers, destroyed the State Arsenal, which
was found to be well supplied with shot, shell, and ammunition.
These were hauled in wagons to the Saluda River, under the
supervision of Colonel Baylor, chief of ordnance, and emptied into
deep water, causing a very serious accident by the bursting of a
percussion-shell, as it struck another on the margin of the water.
The flame followed back a train of powder which had sifted out,
reached the wagons, still partially loaded, and exploded them,
killing sixteen men. and destroying several wagons and teams of
mules. We also destroyed several valuable founderies and the
factory of Confederate money. The dies had been carried away, but
about sixty handpresses remained. There was also found an immense
quantity of money, in various stages of manufacture, which our men
spent and gambled with in the most lavish manner.
Having utterly ruined Columbia, the right wing began its march
northward, toward Winnsboro', on the 20th, which we reached on the
21st, and found General Slocum, with the left wing, who had come by
the way of Alston. Thence the right wing was turned eastward,
toward Cheraw, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, to cross the
Catawba River at Peay's Ferry. The cavalry was ordered to follow
the railroad north as far as Chester, and then to turn east to
Rocky Mount, the point indicated for the passage of the left wing.
In person I reached Rocky Mount on the 22d, with the Twentieth
Corps, which laid its pontoon-bridge and crossed over during the
23d. Kilpatrick arrived the next day, in the midst of heavy rain,
and was instructed to cross the Catawba at once, by night, and to
move up to Lancaster, to make believe we were bound for Charlotte,
to which point I heard that Beauregard had directed all his
detachments, including a corps of Hood's old army, which had been
marching parallel with us, but had failed to make junction with,
the forces immediately opposing us. Of course, I had no purpose of
going to Charlotte, for the right wing was already moving rapidly
toward Fayetteville, North Carolina. The rain was so heavy and
persistent that the Catawba, River rose fast, and soon after I had
crossed the pontoon bridge at Rocky Mount it was carried away,
leaving General Davis, with the Fourteenth Corps, on the west bank.
The roads were infamous, so I halted the Twentieth Corps at Hanging
Rock for some days, to allow time for the Fourteenth to get over.
General Davis had infinite difficulty in reconstructing his bridge,
and was compelled to use the fifth chains of his wagons for anchor-
chains, so that we were delayed nearly a week in that neighborhood.
While in camp at Hanging Rock two prisoners were brought to me--one
a chaplain, the other a boy, son of Richard Bacot, of Charleston,
whom I had known as a cadet at West Point. They were just from
Charleston, and had been sent away by General Hardee in advance,
because he was, they said, evacuating Charleston. Rumors to the
same effect had reached me through the negroes, and it was,
moreover, reported that Wilmington, North Carolina, was in
possession of the Yankee troops; so that I had every reason to be
satisfied that our march was fully reaping all the fruits we could
possibly ask for. Charleston was, in fact, evacuated by General
Hardee on the 18th of February, and was taken possession of by a
brigade of General Fosters troops, commanded by General
Schimmelpfennig, the same day. Hardee had availed himself of his
only remaining railroad, by Florence to Cheraw; had sent there much
of his ammunition and stores, and reached it with the effective
part of the garrison in time to escape across the Pedee River
before our arrival. Wilmington was captured by General Terry on
the 22d of February; but of this important event we only knew by
the vague rumors which reached us through rebel sources.
General Jeff. C. Davis got across the Catawba during the 27th, and
the general march was resumed on Cheraw. Kilpatrick remained near
Lancaster, skirmishing with Wheeler's and Hampton's cavalry,
keeping up the delusion that we proposed to move on Charlotte and
Salisbury, but with orders to watch the progress of the Fourteenth
Corps, and to act in concert with it, on its left rear. On the 1st
of March I was at Finlay's Bridge across Lynch's Creek, the roads
so bad that we had to corduroy nearly every foot of the way; but I
was in communication with all parts of the army, which had met no
serious opposition from the enemy. On the 2d of March we entered
the village of Chesterfield, skirmishing with Butler's cavalry,
which gave ground rapidly. There I received a message from General
Howard, who, reported that he was already in Cheraw with the
Seventeenth Corps, and that the Fifteenth was near at hand.
General Hardee had retreated eastward across the Pedee, burning the
bridge. I therefore directed the left wing to march for
Sneedsboro', about ten miles above Cheraw, to cross the Pedee
there, while I in person proposed to cross over and join the right
wing in Cheraw. Early in the morning of the 3d of March I rode out
of Chesterfield along with the Twentieth Corps, which filled the
road, forded Thompson's Creek, and, at the top of the hill beyond,
found a road branching off to the right, which corresponded with
the one, on my map leading to Cheraw. Seeing a negro standing by
the roadside, looking at the troops passing, I inquired of him what
road that was. "Him lead to Cheraw, master!" "Is it a good road,
and how far?" "A very good road, and eight or ten miles." "Any
"Oh! no, master, dey is gone two days ago; you could have played
cards on der coat-tails, dey was in sich a hurry!" I was on my
Lexington horse, who was very handsome and restive, so I made
signal to my staff to follow, as I proposed to go without escort.
I turned my horse down the road, and the rest of the staff
followed. General Barry took up the questions about the road, and
asked the same negro what he was doing there. He answered, "Dey
say Massa Sherman will be along soon!" "Why," said General Barry,
"that was General Sherman you were talking to." The poor negro,
almost in the attitude of prayer, exclaimed: "De great God! just
look at his horse!" He ran up and trotted by my side for a mile or
so, and gave me all the information he possessed, but he seemed to
admire the horse more than the rider.
We reached Cheraw in a couple of hours in a drizzling rain, and,
while waiting for our wagons to come up, I staid with General Blair
in a large house, the property of a blockade-runner, whose family
remained. General Howard occupied another house farther down-town.
He had already ordered his pontoon-bridge to be laid across the
Pedee, there a large, deep, navigable stream, and Mower's division
was already across, skirmishing with the enemy about two miles out.
Cheraw was found to be full of stores which had been sent up from
Charleston prior to its evacuation, and which could not be removed.
I was satisfied, from inquiries, that General Hardee had with him
only the Charleston garrison, that the enemy had not divined our
movements, and that consequently they were still scattered from
Charlotte around to Florence, then behind us. Having thus secured
the passage of the Pedee, I felt no uneasiness about the future,
because there remained no further great impediment between us and
Cape Fear River, which I felt assured was by that time in
possession of our friends. The day was so wet that we all kept
in-doors; and about noon General Blair invited us to take lunch
with him. We passed down into the basement dining-room, where the
regular family table was spread with an excellent meal; and during
its progress I was asked to take some wine, which stood upon the
table in venerable bottles. It was so very good that I inquired
where it came from. General Blair simply asked, "Do you like it?"
but I insisted upon knowing where he had got it; he only replied by
asking if I liked it, and wanted some. He afterward sent to my
bivouac a case containing a dozen bottles of the finest madeira I
ever tasted; and I learned that he had captured, in Cheraw, the
wine of some of the old aristocratic families of Charleston, who
had sent it up to Cheraw for safety, and heard afterward that Blair
had found about eight wagon-loads of this wine, which he
distributed to the army generally, in very fair proportions.
After finishing our lunch, as we passed out of the dining room,
General Blair asked me, if I did not want some saddle-blankets, or
a rug for my tent, and, leading me into the hall to a space under
the stairway, he pointed out a pile of carpets which had also been
sent up from Charleston for safety. After our headquarter-wagons
got up, and our bivouac was established in a field near by, I sent
my orderly (Walter) over to General Blair, and he came back
staggering under a load of carpets, out of which the officers and
escort made excellent tent-rugs, saddle-cloths, and blankets.
There was an immense amount of stores in Cheraw, which were used or
destroyed; among them twenty-four guns, two thousand muskets, and
thirty-six hundred barrels of gunpowder. By the carelessness of a
soldier, an immense pile of this powder was exploded, which shook
the town badly; and killed and maimed several of our men.
We remained in or near Cheraw till the 6th of March, by which time
the army was mostly across the Pedee River, and was prepared to
resume the march on Fayetteville. In a house where General Hardee
had been, I found a late New York Tribune, of fully a month later
date than any I had seen. It contained a mass of news of great
interest to us, and one short paragraph which I thought extremely
mischievous. I think it was an editorial, to the effect that at
last the editor had the satisfaction to inform his readers that
General Sherman would next be heard from about Goldsboro', because
his supply-vessels from Savannah were known to be rendezvousing at
Morehead City:--Now, I knew that General Hardee had read that same
paper, and that he would be perfectly able to draw his own
inferences. Up to, that moment I had endeavored so to feign to our
left that we had completely, misled our antagonists; but this was
no longer possible, and I concluded that we must be ready, for the
concentration in our front of all the force subject to General Jos.
Johnston's orders, for I was there also informed that he had been
restored to the full command of the Confederate forces in South and
On the 6th of March I crossed the Pedee, and all the army marched
for Fayetteville: the Seventeenth Corps kept well to the right, to
make room; the Fifteenth Corps marched by a direct road; the
Fourteenth Corps also followed a direct road from Sneedsboro',
where it had crossed the Pedee; and the Twentieth Corps, which had
come into. Cheraw for the convenience of the pontoon-bridge,
diverged to the left, so as to enter Fayetteville next after the
Fourteenth Corps, which was appointed to lead into Fayetteville.
Kilpatrick held his cavalry still farther to the left rear on the
roads from Lancaster, by way of Wadesboro' and New Gilead, so as to
cover our trains from Hampton's and Wheeler's cavalry, who had
first retreated toward the north. I traveled with the Fifteenth
Corps, and on the 8th of March reached Laurel Hill, North Carolina.
Satisfied that our troops must be at Wilmington, I determined to
send a message there; I called for my man, Corporal Pike, whom I
had rescued as before described, at Columbia, who was then
traveling with our escort, and instructed him in disguise to work
his way to the Cape Fear River, secure a boat, and float down to
Wilmington to convey a letter, and to report our approach. I also
called on General Howard for another volunteer, and he brought me a
very clever young sergeant, who is now a commissioned officer in
the regular army. Each of these got off during the night by
separate routes, bearing the following message, reduced to the same
cipher we used in telegraphic messages:
HEADQURTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI
IN THE FIELD, LAUREL HILL, Wednesday, March 8, 1865.
Commanding Officer, Wilmington, North Carolina:
We are marching for Fayetteville, will be there Saturday, Sunday,
and Monday, and will then march for Goldsboro'.
If possible, send a boat up Cape Fear River, and have word conveyed
to General Schofield that I expect to meet him about Goldsboro'.
We are all well and have done finely. The rains make our roads
difficult, and may delay us about Fayetteville, in which case I
would like to have some bread, sugar, and coffee. We have
abundance of all else. I expect to reach Goldsboro' by the 20th
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
On the 9th I was with the Fifteenth Corps, and toward evening
reached a little church called Bethel, in the woods, in which we
took refuge in a terrible storm of rain, which poured all night,
making the roads awful. All the men were at work corduroying the
roads, using fence-rails and split saplings, and every foot of the
way had thus to be corduroyed to enable the artillery and wagons to
pass. On the 10th we made some little progress; on the 11th I
reached Fayetteville, and found that General Hardee, followed by
Wade Hampton's cavalry, had barely escaped across Cape Fear River,
burning the bridge which I had hoped to save. On reaching
Fayetteville I found General Slocum already in possession with the
Fourteenth Corps, and all the rest of the army was near at hand. A
day or two before, General Kilpatrick, to our left rear, had
divided his force into two parts, occupying roads behind the
Twentieth Corps, interposing between our infantry columns and Wade
Hampton's cavalry. The latter, doubtless to make junction with
General Hardee, in Fayetteville, broke across this line, captured
the house in which General Kilpatrick and the brigade-commander,
General Spencer, were, and for a time held possession of the camp
and artillery of the brigade. However, General Kilpatrick and most
of his men escaped into a swamp with their arms, reorganized and
returned, catching Hampton's men--in turn, scattered and drove them
away, recovering most of his camp and artillery; but Hampton got
off with Kilpatrick's private horses and a couple hundred
prisoners, of which he boasted much in passing through
It was also reported that, in the morning after Hardee's army was
all across the bridge at Cape Fear River, Hampton, with a small
bodyguard, had remained in town, ready to retreat and burn the
bridge as soon as our forces made their appearance. He was getting
breakfast at the hotel when the alarm was given, when he and his
escort took saddle, but soon realized that the alarm came from a
set of our foragers, who, as usual, were extremely bold and rash.
On these he turned, scattered them, killing some and making others
prisoners; among them General Howard's favorite scout, Captain
Duncan. Hampton then crossed the bridge and burned it.
I took up my quarters at the old United States Arsenal, which was
in fine order, and had been much enlarged by the Confederate
authorities, who never dreamed that an invading army would reach it
from the west; and I also found in Fayetteville the widow and
daughter of my first captain (General Childs), of the Third
Artillery, learned that her son Fred had been the ordnance-officer
in charge of the arsenal, and had of course fled with Hardee's
During the 11th. the whole army closed down upon Fayetteville, and
immediate preparations were made to lay two pontoon bridges, one
near the burned bridge, and another about four miles lower down.
Sunday, March 12th, was a day of Sabbath stillness in Fayetteville.
The people generally attended their churches, for they were a very
pious people, descended in a large measure from the old Scotch
Covenanters, and our men too were resting from the toils and labors
of six weeks of as hard marching as ever fell to the lot of
soldiers. Shortly after noon was heard in the distance the shrill
whistle of a steamboat, which came nearer and nearer, and soon a
shout, long and continuous, was raised down by the river, which
spread farther and farther, and we all felt that it meant a
messenger from home. The effect was electric, and no one can
realize the feeling unless, like us, he has been for months cut off
from all communication with friends, and compelled to listen to the
croakings and prognostications of open enemies. But in a very few
minutes came up through the town to the arsenal on the plateau
behind a group of officers, among whom was a large, florid
seafaring man, named Ainsworth, bearing a small mail-bag from
General Terry, at Wilmington, having left at 2 p.m. the day
before. Our couriers had got through safe from Laurel Hill, and
this was the prompt reply.
As in the case of our former march from Atlanta, intense anxiety
had been felt for our safety, and General Terry had been prompt to
open communication. After a few minutes' conference with Captain
Ainsworth about the capacity of his boat, and the state of facts
along the river, I instructed him to be ready to start back at 6
p.m., and ordered Captain Byers to get ready to carry dispatches to
Washington. I also authorized General Howard to send back by this
opportunity some of the fugitives who had traveled with his army
all the way from Columbia, among whom were Mrs. Feaster and her two
I immediately prepared letters for Secretary Stanton, Generals
Halleck and Grant, and Generals Schofield, Foster, Easton, and
Beckwith, all of which have been published, but I include here only
those to the Secretary of War, and Generals Grant and Terry, as
samples of the whole:
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, IN THE FIELD,
FAYETTVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA, Sunday, March. 12, 1885.
Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.
DEAR SIR: I know you will be pleased to hear that my army has
reached this point, and has opened communication with Wilmington.
A tug-boat came up this morning, and will start back at 6 P. M.
I have written a letter to General Grant, the substance of which he
will doubtless communicate, and it must suffice for me to tell you
what I know will give you pleasure--that I have done all that I
proposed, and the fruits seem to me ample for the time employed.
Charleston, Georgetown, and Wilmington, are incidents, while the
utter demolition of the railroad system of South Carolina, and the
utter destruction of the enemy's arsenals of Columbia, Cheraw, and
Fayetteville, are the principals of the movement. These points
were regarded as inaccessible to us, and now no place in the
Confederacy is safe against the army of the West. Let Lee hold on
to Richmond, and we will destroy his country; and then of what use
is Richmond. He must come out and fight us on open ground, and for
that we must ever be ready. Let him stick behind his parapets, and
he will perish.
I remember well what you asked me, and think I am on the right
road, though a long one. My army is as united and cheerful as
ever, and as full of confidence in itself and its leaders. It is
utterly impossible for me to enumerate what we have done, but I
inclose a slip just handed me, which is but partial. At Columbia
and Cheraw we destroyed nearly all the gunpowder and cartridges
which the Confederacy had in this part of the country. This
arsenal is in fine order, and has been much enlarged. I cannot
leave a detachment to hold it, therefore shall burn it, blow it up
with gunpowder, and then with rams knock down its walls. I take it
for granted the United States will never again trust North Corolina
with an arsenal to appropriate at her pleasure.
Hoping that good fortune may still attend my army. I remain your
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, IN THE FIELD,
FAYETTVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA, Sunday, March. 12, 1885.
Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, commanding United States Army,
City Point, Virginia.
DEAR GENERAL: We reached this place yesterday at noon; Hardee, as
usual, retreating across the Cape Fear, burning his bridges; but
our pontoons will be up to-day, and, with as little delay as
possible, I will be after him toward Goldsboro'.
A tug has just come up from Wilmington, and before I get off from
here, I hope to get from Wilmington some shoes and stockings,
sugar, coffee, and flour. We are abundantly supplied with all
else, having in a measure lived off the country.
The army is in splendid health, condition, and spirits, though we
have had foul weather, and roads that would have stopped travel to
almost any other body of men I ever heard of.
Our march, was substantially what I designed--straight on Columbia,
feigning on Branchville and Augusta. We destroyed, in passing, the
railroad from the Edisto nearly up to Aiken; again, from Orangeburg
to the Congaree; again, from Colombia down to Kingsville on the
Wateree, and up toward Charlotte as far as the Chester line; thence
we turned east on Cheraw and Fayetteville. At Colombia we
destroyed immense arsenals and railroad establishments, among which
wore forty-three cannon. At Cheraw we found also machinery and
material of war sent from Charleston, among which were twenty-five
guns and thirty-six hundred barrels of powder; and here we find
about twenty guns and a magnificent United States' arsenal.
We cannot afford to leave detachments, and I shall therefore
destroy this valuable arsenal, so the enemy shall not have its use;
and the United States should never again confide such valuable
property to a people who have betrayed a trust.
I could leave here to-morrow, but want to clear my columns of the
vast crowd of refugees and negroes that encumber us. Some I will
send down the river in boats, and the rest to Wilmington by land,
under small escort, as soon as we are across Cape Fear River.
I hope you have not been uneasy about us, and that the fruits of
this march will be appreciated. It had to be made not only to
destroy the valuable depots by the way, but for its incidents in
the necessary fall of Charleston, Georgetown, and Wilmington. If I
can now add Goldsboro' without too much cost, I will be in a
position to aid you materially in the spring campaign.
Jos. Johnston may try to interpose between me here and Schofield
about Newbern; but I think he will not try that, but concentrate
his scattered armies at Raleigh, and I will go straight at him as
soon as I get our men reclothed and our wagons reloaded.
Keep everybody busy, and let Stoneman push toward Greensboro' or
Charlotte from Knoxville; even a feint in that quarter will be most
The railroad from Charlotte to Danville is all that is left to the
enemy, and it will not do for me to go there, on account of the
red-clay hills which are impassable to wheels in wet weather.
I expect to make a junction with General Schofield in ten days.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, IN THE FIELD,
FAYETTVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA, Sunday, March. 12, 1885.
Major-General TERRY, commanding United States Forces,
Wilmington, North Carolina.
GENERAL: I have just received your message by the tug which left
Wilmington at 2 p.m. yesterday, which arrived here without
trouble. The scout who brought me your cipher-message started back
last night with my answers, which are superseded by the fact of
your opening the river.
General Howard just reports that he has secured one of the enemy's
steamboats below the city, General Slocum will try to secure two
others known to be above, and we will load them with refugees
(white and black) who have clung to our skirts, impeded our
movements, and consumed our food.
We have swept the, country well from Savannah to here, and the men
and animals are in fine condition. Had it not been for the foul
weather, I would have caught Hardee at Cheraw or here; but at
Columbia, Cheraw, and here, we have captured immense stores, and
destroyed machinery, guns, ammunition, and property, of inestimable
value to our enemy. At all points he has fled from us, "standing
not on the order of his going."
The people of South Carolina, instead of feeding Lee's army, will
now call on Lee to feed them.
I want you to send me all the shoes, stockings, drawers, suger,
coffee, and flour, you can spare; finish the loads with oats or
corn: Have the boats escorted, and let them run at night at any
risk. We must not give time for Jos. Johnston to concentrate at
Goldsboro'. We cannot prevent his concentrating at Raleigh, but he
shall have no rest. I want General Schofield to go on with his
railroad from Newbern as far as he can, and you should do the same
from Wilmington. If we can get the roads to and secure Goldsboro'
by April 10th, it will be soon enough; but every day now is worth a
million of dollars. I can whip Jos. Johnston provided he does not
catch one of my corps in flank, and I will see that the army
marches hence to Goldsboro' in compact form.
I must rid our army of from twenty to thirty thousand useless
mouths; as many to go down Cape Fear as possible, and the rest to
go in vehicles or on captured horses via Clinton to Wilmington.
I thank you for the energetic action that has marked your course,
and shall be most happy to meet you. I am, truly your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
In quick succession I received other messages from General Terry,
of older date, and therefore superseded by that brought by the tug
Davidson, viz., by two naval officers, who had come up partly by
canoes and partly by land; General Terry had also sent the
Thirteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry to search for us, under Colonel
Kerwin, who had dispatched Major Berks with fifty men, who reached
us at Fayetteville; so that, by March 12th, I was in full
communication with General Terry and the outside world. Still, I
was anxious to reach Goldsboro', there to make junction with
General Schofield, so as to be ready for the next and last stage of
the war. I then knew that my special antagonist, General Jos. E.
Johnston, was back, with part of his old army; that he would not be
misled by feints and false reports, and would somehow compel me to
exercise more caution than I had hitherto done. I then
over-estimated his force at thirty-seven thousand infantry,
supposed to be made up of S. D. Lee's corps, four thousand;
Cheatham's, five thousand; Hoke's, eight thousand; Hardee's, ten
thousand; and other detachments, ten thousand; with Hampton's,
Wheeler's, and Butler's cavalry, about eight thousand. Of these,
only Hardee and the cavalry were immediately in our front, while
the bulk of Johnston's army was supposed to be collecting at or
near Raleigh. I was determined, however, to give him as little
time for organization as possible, and accordingly crossed Cape
Fear River, with all the army, during the 13th and 14th, leaving
one division as a rearguard, until the arsenal could be completely
destroyed. This was deliberately and completely leveled on the
14th, when fire was applied to the wreck. Little other damage was
done at Fayetteville.
On the 14th the tug Davidson again arrived from Wilmington, with
General Dodge, quartermaster, on board, reporting that there was no
clothing to be had at Wilmington; but he brought up some sugar and
coffee, which were most welcome, and some oats. He was followed by
a couple of gunboats, under command of Captain Young, United States
Navy, who reached Fayetteville after I had left, and undertook to
patrol the river as long as the stage of water would permit; and
General Dodge also promised to use the captured steamboats for a
like purpose. Meantime, also, I had sent orders to General
Schofield, at Newbern, and to General Terry, at Wilmington, to move
with their effective forces straight for Goldsboro', where I
expected to meet them by the 20th of March.
On the 15th of March the whole army was across Cape Fear River, and
at once began its march for Goldsboro'; the Seventeenth Corps still
on the right, the Fifteenth next in order, then the Fourteenth and
Twentieth on the extreme left; the cavalry, acting in close concert
with the left flank. With almost a certainty of being attacked on
this flank, I had instructed General Slocum to send his corps-
trains under strong escort by an interior road, holding four
divisions ready for immediate battle. General Howard was in like
manner ordered to keep his trains well to his right, and to have
four divisions unencumbered, about six miles ahead of General
Slocum, within easy support.
In the mean time, I had dispatched by land to Wilmington a train of
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 Benton sville, 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 would 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 reenforoements 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 check-
mate 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.