Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Military Reminiscences of the Civil War V2 by Jacob Dolson Cox

Part 8 out of 12

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

[Footnote: _Id_., p. 1320.] This was, of course, a personal grief to
the latter, who asked to be relieved; but in the critical condition
of affairs personal feelings had to give way, and Bragg's request
went unanswered. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 1328.] He did not insist upon
it and gave loyal support to Johnston. General D. H. Hill had been
sent from Virginia to report to Beauregard, and was commanding at
Augusta, Ga., when Sherman's march eastward from Columbia relieved
Augusta from danger, and Hill at his own request was ordered to join
Beauregard. S. D. Lee was absent from his corps by reason of a wound
he had received at Nashville, and Hill was assigned to its temporary
command. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 1002, 1003, 1272, 1317.] The growing
decay of discipline and organization was shown by the irregularity
of reports, and for the few weeks the war still went on, Johnston
had to content himself with abbreviated returns, which contained
only the numbers of effectives and aggregates present. [Footnote:
_Id_., p. 1382.] Even these were not regularly sent up, and could
not be made to agree with the lists of paroles when the surrender
finally occurred. [Footnote: See chap. li. _post_.]

Upon our occupation of Wilmington, Schofield turned his attention at
once to the opening, of the line from Beaufort and New Berne to
Kinston and Goldsborough. Terry's troops were sent to follow Bragg
northward. Couch's division of the Twenty-third Corps joined mine at
Wilmington. Meagher's provisional command of detachments of
Sherman's army had reached New Berne; but its commander had given
such dissatisfaction by his failure to remain with it and conduct
its shipment from Annapolis, that Grant directed that he should be
relieved and sent home. Such had been the result of a spicy
correspondence between Grant and Halleck which called up poor
Meagher's notorious failings. [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xlvii. pt. ii. pp. 305-306, 316-318, 501, 509, 561.] Schofield had
asked for the assignment of Terry to a corps to comprise the troops
in the department not belonging to the Twenty-third Corps, and of
myself to the permanent command of the latter corps;[Footnote:
_Id._, p. 559.] but, pending action on this, he determined to send
me to New Berne to take command of the so-called District of
Beaufort and the troops assembling there, which would constitute
three divisions. [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 579, 580.] General Palmer,
who had been there for a long time, coming in the small steamer
"Escort" to visit Schofield and consult concerning the advance from
that base, I went back with him, and was accompanied by General
Carter, whose coming from Tennessee has already been mentioned and
who was to supersede Meagher. [Footnote: _Id._, pt. i. pp. 930,
931.] As my assignment to this duty was intended to be temporary, I
took only part of my staff with me, and assigned General Reilly, who
had now joined us, to the temporary command of the division. General
Couch was assigned to command the two divisions of our corps which
were at Wilmington. [Footnote: _Id._, pt. ii. pp. 581, 607, 620.] A
storm delayed the departure of the "Escort" from Cape Fear Inlet,
but we reached New Berne in the evening of the last day of February.
Next day I formally assumed command and organized the forces,
distributing the garrison troops and Meagher's men between the two
divisions to be commanded by Palmer and Carter, but keeping Ruger's
division of the Twenty-third Corps intact. This last had been sent
direct to Beaufort and arrived there about the same time with
myself. It had not been with us on the Cape Fear River. An immediate
advance was ordered for the 2d of March, to cover the work of
railroad building. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii.
pp. 607, 620, 637, 638.]

Colonel Wright, chief of railway construction, had joined Sherman at
Savannah, and from thence had been sent to Schofield to rebuild the
New Berne-Goldsborough road under his directions. [Footnote: _Id_.,
pp. 157, 356, 384.] Palmer's forces occupied a position at
Batchelder's Creek, nine miles above New Berne on the road to
Kinston, and the railroad building began there. Had we been well
provided with wagon-trains, it would have been easy to march at once
to Kinston, on the left bank of the Neuse, a little over thirty
miles from Newberne, and hold that place whilst the railroad was
built, obstructions removed from the river, and easy communications
opened both by rail and by water. But we were almost destitute of
wagons, having only ten to a division. This tied us close to the end
of the rails, for after carrying our necessary baggage to the
camping-place, it was the utmost the few wagons could do to bring
rations and ammunition a very few miles from the nearest temporary
station on the railroad. Dover and Gum swamps were practically
continuous to within three miles of Kinston, and steady rains had
put most of the road under water. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 654, 683.]
This necessarily slow progress gave the enemy time to arrange for
concentrating upon us.

The importance of trying to check our columns advancing from the
sea-coast was seen by General Johnston as soon as he learned the
situation in North Carolina. On the 3d of March, when he supposed
Schofield to be continuing his movements up Cape Fear River, he had
inquired of Bragg whether it were not feasible to interpose between
Schofield and Hardee. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt.
ii. p. 1318, 1329.] As soon as it was known that Schofield was not
marching against Hardee, Bragg sent Hoke with his division to
Kinston, and on the 6th telegraphed to Johnston that my forces were
advancing and were within nine miles of the town. He believed that
the union with him of the troops near Goldsborough would "insure a
victory." [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 1334.] Johnston immediately ordered
all the forces he was moving towards Hardee to report to Bragg at
Goldsborough for use in a quick effort to defeat us, with the
purpose of uniting them with Hardee immediately afterward to strike
at Sherman's advancing columns. [Footnote: _Ibid._.] It was boldly
conceived, and was manifestly the best plan the circumstances
admitted. All the detachments of the Army of Tennessee were hurried
without change of cars toward Kinston. D. H. Hill had command of
them as ranking officer present. It was not pleasant for him to
report to Bragg, for a bitter quarrel begun in the Chickamauga
campaign had never been appeased, and in giving him the order,
Johnston added, "I beg you to forget the past for this emergency."
[Footnote: _Id._, p. 1338.] From Davis downward, personal griefs had
to be smothered in the crisis, and it is due to them all to remember
that they did work together earnestly for their dying cause.

On the 7th of March, Hill reached Kinston with Lee's corps. Hoke's
division had preceded him and advanced to Southwest Creek and
occupied the lines of intrenchments earlier made along its left
bank. This stream was a tributary of the Neuse River and was then
unfordable. It described roughly a curve with a radius of about
three miles around Kinston, and had for a long time been regarded as
the principal defensive line against National troops advancing from
New Berne. Several roads radiated from Kinston, crossing Southwest
Creek. The Neuse road kept near the bank of the river, going east.
Then came the railroad following a nearly straight line to New
Berne. The Dover road forked from the Neuse road not far from the
town, and took a devious way through the swamps in the same general
direction. The upper Trent road ran more nearly south toward
Trenton, and followed the course of the Trent River. The Wilmington
road went southwesterly toward the city of that name. The several
bridges over the creek were from a mile to two miles apart, but had
been destroyed or dismantled, and earthworks for artillery had been
prepared commanding them. The whole constituted a formidable line of
fieldworks when held by an adequate force. Whitford's brigade and a
detachment of cavalry had been the only Confederate force at Kinston
at the beginning of our campaign, but Bragg had now assembled there
Hagood's brigade, which had numbered 2000 in front of Wilmington,
and a similar force of North Carolina militia under General Baker,
besides Hill and Hoke. [Footnote: Hill's Report, Official Records,
vol. xlvii. pt. i. p. 1086.] Johnston had also informed Bragg that
Cheatham's corps and more than half of Stewart's were on the way by
rail, under the same orders as Hill's. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. ii. p.
1339.] These constituted in fact all of Johnston's army except
Hardee's column, which was still in South Carolina.

The necessity for haste was such, however, that upon Hill's arrival
in the night of the 7th, Bragg determined to attack me at once, in
the belief that he was strong enough to do so successfully. Hill's
corps was accordingly marched to Southwest Creek before day, and
relieved Hoke's division in the works extending from the Dover road
crossing to the railroad, whilst Hoke, with Clayton's division of
Lee's corps besides his own, marched to the upper Trent and
Wilmington bridges with orders to sweep down and attack my lines in
flank and rear. The plank had been relaid on the bridges which had
been held by outposts, and a new bridge had been built of felled
trees between the Dover road bridge and the railroad. At the sound
of Hoke's attack, Hill was to cross by the last-mentioned bridges,
and fall upon our front with all the rest of the Confederate forces.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. i. p. 1087.]

On our side, Colonel Wright had found that some miles of the
railroad had only been partially destroyed, and as iron for six
miles had been received when I reached New Berne, he was able to put
seven miles of track in passable condition by the evening of the
4th. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. ii. pp. 654, 683.] On that day I had
concentrated at Core Creek, twenty miles from New Berne by the wagon
roads, and the head of the rails was only one or two miles behind.
On the 6th Palmer's and Carter's divisions were advanced to Gum
Swamp, seven miles further, taking four days' rations, and Ruger's
was to follow on the 7th. On this march I found that for five miles
beyond Core Creek the railway had only been capsized, ties and rails
together, and was lying in the ditch by the roadside. [Footnote:
_Id_., pp. 706-708.] Relying on the more rapid construction this
would enable Colonel Wright to make, I ordered a still further
advance for the 7th, hoping to reach Southwest Creek. There we must
expect to halt for several days, for the total destruction of the
railroad for the last ten or twelve miles from Kinston made it
probable that a mile a day was the utmost the construction corps
could rebuild, to say nothing of the bridging which would also be

For our own sake, as well as to provide for getting forward large
quantities of supplies for Sherman's army when we should join him,
it would be necessary to organize a line of river transportation to
supplement the railroad. Heavy obstructions to navigation had been
placed in the Neuse River, a little above New Berne, as a defence
against an iron-clad ram the Confederates had built at Kinston. As,
however, she could only come down the river on a freshet, owing to
her great draft, I had, upon leaving New Berne, ordered that the
obstructions be removed, and light-draft steamboats and flats
procured to bring supplies to some point near our camp, or to ferry
troops across if I found it advisable to shift my line of operations
to the north bank of the river. [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xlvii. pt. ii. p. 707.]

On Tuesday, the 7th, the command was in motion, Palmer's division
following the railroad, except Claassen's brigade, which had been
sent the previous afternoon by the Dover road to Wise's Forks, where
it crosses the lower Trent road, which ran diagonally across our
front toward the Neuse River. In the skirmish at Wise's Forks, and
from a deserter, it was learned that Hoke had joined the Kinston
forces with his division, and there were rumors of other
reinforcements arriving. Advancing along the railroad, Palmer
reached the drier ground near Southwest Creek and came under
artillery fire from guns intrenched on the other side of the creek.
The country here was wooded, and was traversed by an old road,
called the British road, running parallel to the creek from half a
mile to a mile from it. The lower Trent road also crossed the
railroad not far from the British road crossing. Palmer halted his
line in front of the British road covering all the crossings, and
advanced outposts and pickets to the creek. Boughton's brigade was
on the left of the railroad, and Harland's on the right. The latter
detached a regiment to the Neuse road to guard against any attempt
by the enemy to cross the creek beyond our right. Major Dow of my
staff was also sent with a troop of cavalry to reconnoitre the banks
of the river, seeking for a place where steamboats might land
supplies and communicate with us. [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xlvii. pt. ii. pp. 723-725.] Ruger's division moved forward from
Core Creek to Gum Swamp.

On my left, the Twelfth New York Cavalry, Colonel Savage,
reconnoitred both Trent roads, under orders to reach out as far to
the south as they could, covering Claassen's position at Wise's
Forks and giving early notice of any hostile movement in the
vicinity. Carter's division delayed its march till it could load up
with rations and then followed the Dover road to Claassen's
position. On reaching Wise's Forks we found that Claassen had most
of his brigade at the crossing of the British road in front, with a
detachment of 300 men at Jackson's Mills, where the Dover road
crossed the creek. He had smaller detachments also upon the British
road on both flanks. [Footnote: _Id._, pt. i. pp. 976, 981, 989.] I
directed General Carter to relieve Claassen's brigade with one of
his, that Claassen might rejoin Palmer and make the latter strong
enough to spare a detachment to test the condition of the Neuse road
crossing of the creek and the presence of the enemy there. Carter
sent Upham's brigade to the British road crossing to relieve
Claassen, and put the other two in line across the Dover road in
front of Wise's Forks, Malloy's on the right of the road and
Splaine's on the left with a recurved flank. Upham seems to have
marched the whole of his brigade to Jackson's Mills and to have left
only a picket post at the British road. He established a skirmish
line in rifle-pits close to the creek, and placed a section of
artillery which was with him where it would command the bridge site
on the Dover road. His picket line connected with Palmer's division
on the right, and with the outpost at the British road on the left.
[Footnote: _Id._, pp. 993, 997.] Toward evening the cavalry reported
that they had found a picket post of the enemy at the bridge on the
upper Trent road, had driven it off, taken up the plank of the
bridge and piled them on the hither side of the creek, and had
established there a picket of their own. Their scouting parties
reported no enemy at the Wilmington road crossing. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. i. p. 976.] The division
commanders were directed to have Southwest Creek in front carefully
reconnoitred, to find narrow places where an infantry crossing might
be made by an improvised bridge of felled trees. [Footnote: _Ibid_.]

[Illustration: Map]

My habit was to keep my own headquarters well at the front, and I
had purposed moving them from Gum Swamp to Wise's Forks on the 7th,
but during the day I received word that General Schofield had
arrived at Beaufort from Wilmington, coming by sea. We arranged that
he should come up for a consultation with me next morning, and to
facilitate this, I left my headquarters with Ruger's division, and
after a personal visit to Palmer and Carter, I rode back to Gum
Swamp in the evening. General Schofield was to come up to the end of
the track on the railroad in the morning, and I sent led horses to
meet him. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. pp.
722-724.] The telegraph was made to keep pace with the progress of
the railway, and from its upper station we had the aid of flag
signals along the railroad bed to Palmer's headquarters. [Footnote:
_Id_., pt i. p. 918.] The information we had received of Hoke's
presence made it all the more important that we should get out of
the swamps, where we could only operate by head of column, to the
drier region along Southwest Creek, where the lower Trent road and
the British road would give us communication between our flanks and
some chance to manoeuvre. These reasons had made me push forward on
the 7th, though the movement put us ten miles above the head of the
rails and made it sure that we should be short of supplies. As soon
as the troops were in position the few wagons with them were
unloaded and hurried back, first for ammunition and then for
rations. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. ii. p. 734.] We then had no knowledge
of the arrival of any part of Hood's army in North Carolina, and
although my provisional corps was far short of being solidly
organized, and the troops were either new or unused to field
service, I felt no concern lest Hoke should take the offensive

General Schofield had joined me at Gum Swamp about nine o'clock on
the morning of the 8th, and after our conference we had mounted to
ride to General Palmer's headquarters to see what prospect there
might be for securing a crossing near the railroad which would
permit preparation for rebuilding the railroad bridge. A note now
came from General Carter at Wise's Forks telling of information
received from a negro that a large body of the enemy had crossed
Southwest Creek at the Wilmington road early in the morning. As the
cavalry had a picket at the upper Trent bridge and were supposed to
be patrolling beyond the Wilmington road, the information did not
seem threatening, but I sent back directions to have the cavalry
ordered to do their work thoroughly by instantly testing the truth
of the information. Carter was also ordered to support the cavalry
with a regiment of infantry. [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xlvii. pt. ii. p. 734.] The message from the front was followed
almost instantly by another, saying that a heavy force of the enemy
had penetrated between Upham's brigade and the rest of the division,
almost simultaneously with a report from the cavalry that their
picket had been driven from the bridge at the Trent road. As that
picket was two miles in front of Upham's left on the British road,
it was too evident that the duty of the horsemen had not been well
done. Ruger was ordered to march his division at speed to the front,
and we galloped to Wise's Forks. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. i. pp. 977,

The account I have before given of the enemy's dispositions for the
day's work [Footnote: _Ante_, pp. 429, 430.] makes it easy to
understand the situation as we found it. Hoke, with his own and
Clayton's divisions, had turned northward on the British road after
getting over Southwest Creek, and as he approached the Dover road,
had deployed and advanced upon Upham's flank. The latter, upon the
first intimation of an enemy's approach, had hurried the
Twenty-seventh Massachusetts to the British road and placed it in
line about a quarter of a mile south of the Dover road, which was,
of course, his connection with the rest of the division. He also
ordered to the same point the section of artillery, and directed the
left battalion of his other regiment (Fifteenth Connecticut) to
change front also to the south. These orders were judicious, but the
odds were too great to make them successful. Far outflanked on
either hand, the Massachusetts regiment was put to rout, all the
horses of one of the guns were killed, and though the men cut the
traces and tried to save the gun by hand, they had to abandon it,
while the other retreated on the run toward the main position.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. i. pp. 997-999.]
General Hill had crossed the creek at the improvised bridge on
hearing the sound of Hoke's engagement, but finding a swamp between
him and Upham's right, had to make a circuit of it, driving back our
pickets in the interval between Carter's and Palmer's divisions.
Turning toward the noise of Hoke's firing, he intercepted the right
battalion of Upham's Connecticut regiment, and took many of them
prisoners. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 1087.] Most of the rest of the
regiment finding Hoke's division partly surrounding them, and all
other retreat cut off by Hill, surrendered to Hoke. Colonel Upham
and most of the Massachusetts regiment succeeded in reaching our
main lines, though in confusion. All this was not done, however,
without fighting, which took time, and as the whole engagement was
in forest or swamp, the enemy was a good deal delayed in his
movements and in rectification of lines.

When we reached the field Carter had gone in person toward Upham's
position, having first sent a regiment forward on the Dover road to
try to reopen communication with him. Palmer was ordered to send his
reserve brigade rapidly to extend his left and assist Carter. But as
there was still an interval between them, the regiment of cavalry
which had come in on the left was transferred to the centre and
ordered to make a strong skirmishing fight till Ruger's division
could arrive on the ground. Palmer at the same time was ordered to
demonstrate strongly toward the creek. Riding forward on the Dover
road, I found Carter with the regiment from his division, still
energetically striving to reach Upham. As the sound of the battle
showed that the enemy was also in front of our centre, it was
evident that we must make a concentration of our forces till the
divisions were in touch with each other. I therefore directed Carter
to make his main line in front of Wise's Forks as solid as possible,
concentrating his artillery near the Dover road, and to limit the
activity of the advanced regiment to bold skirmishing, drawing it
back to the main line as the enemy advanced in force.

Hoke had evidently supposed that Upham's detachment on the British
road was the flank of our principal position, and was surprised at
finding strong demonstrations from the direction of Wise's Forks,
now partly in his own rear. This checked his progress and made him
turn upon Carter. The advanced regiment retired as ordered, and when
it was within the lines the enemy was saluted with such a fire of
artillery and musketry as instantly checked him. Although he
repeated his efforts to force the position at the Forks several
times, they all were futile, and Carter had at no time the least
difficulty in holding his main line firmly.

In Palmer's division, when Hill's advance across the creek drove
back the pickets and threatened to pass the left flank of Boughton's
brigade, this officer drew back his left to the British road and
threw up a hasty barricade there. [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xlvii. pt. i. p. 992.] Claassen's brigade was sent to prolong
Boughton's line to the left, and Ruger's division having come up,
the connection between Palmer and Carter was secured, the latter
advancing his brigades so as to make a better continuous line. The
attacks of Hoke and Hill extended across Ruger's front, but nothing
heavier than brisk skirmishing occurred on Boughton's line.
Claassen's brigade was sent forward toward Jackson's Mill,
accompanied by my aide, Captain Tracy, in order to locate the left
of the enemy's line, and determine the extent of his forces in front
of our left and centre. No strong opposition was met till the Dover
road came in sight, where the enemy were seen moving toward Hoke's
position in front of Carter. Claassen was followed back in his
orderly retirement to his position on Ruger's right, and was
attacked there, but easily repulsed his assailants. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. i. pp. 982, 990.]

Palmer had reported sharp skirmishing across his front all the way
to the Neuse road on his right, and had drawn his lines back a
little, so as to keep them in front of the British road, contracting
his right and extending his left, as the sound of the fighting
showed that the heaviest attacks were falling upon Carter. By the
middle of the afternoon a continuous line of breastworks had been
made along the whole of Palmer's division in front of the British
road. Ruger had extended it diagonally till it joined Carter's
right, the latter continuing it across the Dover road in front of
Wise's Forks to a difficult swamp on the extreme left. For our left,
the lower Trent road served for our communication along the front,
and for our right the British road was used in like manner.

Late in the day there were indications of an attempt to turn
Palmer's right on the Neuse road, and this, which added to the
complexity of the situation, seems to have grown out of an excentric
movement of the Confederate left under Hill. In crossing Southwest
Creek to make his attack, he tells us the plan had been that when
Hoke should strike our flank on the Dover road, he should cut off
any retreat on the British and Neuse roads. This would be best
accomplished by pushing straight from his bridges for the British
road. But having made a circuit about a swamp to the rear of Upham's
right, he received a note from Bragg's headquarters saying that Hoke
wished he would enter the British road from the Neuse road, which
implied a long circuit to their left. As Hoke had himself made the
bridge by which Hill had crossed, and knew the field better than the
rest by his skirmishes of the previous day, it is evident that there
was an error in interpreting his wish. But as Hill was on ground
unknown to him, and Bragg's dispatch directed Hoke's suggestion to
be carried out, Hill obeyed, and turned his troops down the right
bank of Southwest Creek, feeling the way to the Neuse road through
swamps and woods. Reaching the outlet of the British road at
half-past four without seeing signs of our retreat that way, and the
distant firing showing that Hoke was not advancing, Hill thought it
too late to venture further, and marched back by the way he had come
five miles to his bridge. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii.
pt. i. p. 1087.] His presence had been observed by our pickets and
skirmishers, and was naturally interpreted by Palmer as the advance
of a new column which had crossed the creek by the Neuse road. It,
of course, gave an exaggerated impression of the enemy's strength,
and as prisoners had been taken belonging to Lee's corps, who
reported part of Hood's old army present with Bragg in command of
the whole, we had to take into account the contingency of our having
on our hands the formidable force thus indicated. Hill was met at
his bridge by orders to cross to the left bank and join Hoke by
recrossing at Jackson's Mills and following the Dover road. He
effected the junction about midnight. [Footnote: _Ibid_.] Hoke had
been keeping up a skirmishing fight in the latter part of the day,
and at night intrenched himself across the Dover road just in front
of the British road. Hill, after joining him, continued the line
northward, parallel to ours, and therefore crossing the British road
again, recurving toward the creek. Our breastworks were made
stronger, and we kept our teams hard at work bringing up ammunition
and supplies. General Schofield went back to New Berne to get into
communication with the rest of his department, and try to hurry
forward the two old divisions of the Twenty-third Corps, who were
marching to join us. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt.
ii. pp. 743-751.] My own orders were to remain on the watchful
defensive whilst the construction of the railroad toward us went on
energetically. On Thursday, the 9th, we husbanded our resources, for
our ammunition was running short and the roads through the swamp
were nearly impassable. We extended our works on Carter's left,
recurving them so as to cross the lower Trent road, and, though we
had no troops at the moment except one regiment of Ruger's to put
into these intrenchments, they were ready for prompt occupation by
any we might send there if another effort were made to turn that
flank. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. i. pp. 978, 995.] With this in view,
General Ruger was directed to put one of his brigades in reserve,
extending the rest of his troops to fill the vacancy so made, and
covering the front with abatis and slashed timber. Pickets were
advanced and every effort made to obtain information and keep close
watch of the enemy's movements. About ten o'clock General Palmer
reported a force moving toward the Neuse road which, after
demonstrating there for some time, marched back again. [Footnote:
_Id_., pt. ii. pp. 747, 749-750.] This seems to have been an effort
to repeat the movement of Hill on the previous afternoon, but this
time by Hoke's division. Finding Palmer's line in good earthworks,
Hoke made no attack, and returned to his position, though Bragg's
order declared that "success must be achieved." [Footnote: _Id_., p.
1359.] While this was going on, Hill advanced his line and drove in
Carter's skirmishers; but these being reinforced, quickly retook
their rifle-pits, and Hill retired to his own works. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. i. p. 1087.] Bragg's delay in
testing conclusions with us was due, in part no doubt, to the fact
that Stewart's corps of the Army of Tennessee was _en route_ to him,
and the railway was being worked energetically to bring up these
reinforcements. They arrived during the day, and the final attack
upon us was arranged for Friday, the 10th. Stewart's men were under
the command of General Walthall, the senior division commander
present. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 1088.]

In the night of Thursday and the early morning of Friday, the active
skirmishing of the enemy was so continuous as to remind us of the
days in the Georgia campaign when the intrenched lines of the
opposing armies faced each other in the narrow valley near New Hope
Church. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. ii. p. 769.] Bragg ordered Hoke's
troops to be relieved by Walthall's, and to make a considerable
circuit to their right, seeking to reach the lower Trent road in our
rear, and, advancing upon it, attack Carter's division in reverse.
The sharp skirmishing had covered these changes of position. Upon
hearing the sounds of Hoke's attack, Walthall and Hill were to
assist him by strong demonstrations, but, as the latter says, in
deference to his report that the men were very unwilling to attack
earthworks, "their experience in the late campaign [in the west] not
being favorable to such an undertaking," no actual assault was
ordered, but doubled skirmish lines were to advance as far as
possible. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. i. p. 1088.]

On our side we were watchful and expectant, my orders to the
divisions being that whenever one part of the line should be
engaged, the rest should push forward strong skirmish lines to test
the extent of the enemy's deployment, and gain the information on
which I could act in reinforcing either wing from the other. General
Greene, who was on his way to rejoin Sherman, volunteered for duty
as a staff officer, [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. i.
p. 979.] as did General Stiles of my own division of the
Twenty-third Corps, who was likewise returning to his proper
command. [Footnote: General George S. Greene, division commander in
the Twentieth Corps, had commanded a division in the Twelfth Corps,
before its consolidation into the other. He was the same who was
distinguished at Antietam (_ante_, vol. i. pp. 321-331). He
graduated at West Point in 1823, and was a descendant of General
Greene of the Revolutionary War, a military stock well continued in
F. V. Greene of the Engineers, a general officer in the late Spanish
War.] The absence of most of my own staff made their help most

General Schofield was on his way up from New Berne, and horses were
awaiting him at the end of the railway when, about half-past eleven,
Hoke's attack came with much more energy and resolution than the
Confederates had shown before. Ruger's reserve brigade (McQuiston's)
was ordered over to the left at once, a brigade he had loaned to
Palmer (Thomas's) was ordered back, and Palmer was ordered to send
another brigade if the enemy was quiet in his front. Hoke's attack
lapped so far over the lower Trent road as to threaten the Dover
road also, and lest General Schofield should be in danger of
capture, I directed Palmer to signal down the railroad track for him
to await further news from us before leaving the train. [Footnote:
_Id._, pt. ii. p. 772.]

The artillery of both Carter's and Ruger's divisions were
concentrated upon Hoke, who was surprised to find our line so well
prepared to meet him. For nearly an hour, however, the fighting was
fierce; but it then began to flag a little, and I at once ordered
McQuiston's brigade to charge, throwing the left forward upon Hoke's
flank. This was decisive, and the enemy broke and fled. Walthall and
Hill were now advancing against Carter's right and against Ruger,
and as the line of the latter was very thin, I had to recall
McQuiston in the full tide of pursuit and send him back to the
centre double quick. He brought in nearly 300 prisoners, and our
left was relieved of all danger. For a while my headquarters group
was in a hot place. General Greene had his horse shot under him, one
orderly had an arm taken off by a shell, two others were wounded,
and several had horses killed.

The men of Stewart's and Lee's corps were to have co-operated with
Hoke, but the difficulty of movement over such blind and wooded
country caused delay which gave time for me to reinforce the centre.
The artillery was hurried to the same position, and the Confederates
were defeated easily, their unwillingness to assault breastworks
being increased by the sight of Hoke's men in disordered flight. At
half-past twelve I was able to send word to General Schofield that
the road was no longer threatened by the enemy, and he joined us
before the fighting at the centre was over. [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. xlvii. pt. i. p. 978; pt. ii. p. 772.] Bragg withdrew
to the intrenchments he had occupied on the 9th. The certainty that
two corps of the Army of Tennessee were represented in the attack
besides the troops of Bragg's own department, added to the lack of
supplies and munitions, made us quite willing to remain on the
defensive and await the arrival of Couch, who was within a day's
march of us with the two veteran divisions of the Twenty-third
Corps. The construction of the railroad and the hurrying forward of
ammunition were ordered with strenuous urgency, and messages to
Couch made him force the marching to join us. [Footnote: The officer
who was sent by Schofield to hasten Couch's march found my old
division at the head of the column slowly filing over a rickety
foot-bridge in the darkness, grumbling at the continued plodding in
the mud. He shouted to them the news of our fighting and my possible
need of help. The cry went up from the men, "If General Cox wants
us, he can have us," and they dashed into the stream in solid
column, forcing the pace till they reached the field.] Bragg
retreated in the night of the 10th and was speeding back to
Goldsborough by rail, for Johnston was now hastening to join Hardee,
who was retreating before Sherman out of South Carolina.

The numbers which Hill and Walthall brought to Bragg were smaller
than we inferred from our knowledge of the organizations present. We
took prisoners belonging to four divisions of Hood's old army.
Hoke's division and the brigades of Whitford, Hagood, and Baker had
all been stronger in numbers than similar organizations of our own.
We were necessarily wholly ignorant of the causes which had reduced
the divisions coming from the West, and indeed learned of their
presence in North Carolina only through the prisoners we took in the
engagement and the deserters who came into our lines. As we have
seen, [Footnote: _Ante_, p. 424.] the number of Hood's men in the
State at the beginning of the month was over 9000, with other
detachments on the way. Bragg's other forces were an equal number.
After all the casualties of the campaign, the Army of Tennessee
reported 11,442 present on April 7th, of which 8953 were
"effectives." When they were paroled at Greenesborough on April
26th, 17,934 appeared and signed the papers. [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. xlvii. pt. i. pp. 1059, 1066. In the table of the
paroled, Cheatham's two divisions (his own and Brown's) are listed
in Hardee's corps, and with those of Stewart's and Lee's corps, less
Anderson's (late Talliaferro's) division, make the total given.] It
is impossible to tell exactly what part of these were at Kinston.
Hill's claim that he had but little over 1300 effectives in five
brigades of Lee's corps is not credible. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 1088.
For my criticism of his amusingly erroneous statements in regard to
Antietam, see "The Nation," No. 1538, p. 462, and No. 1543, p. 71.]
It is certain that Bragg knew I had three divisions and that he
believed his force was the stronger. Our losses had been 1337, of
which 900 were the "missing" in Upton's brigade and the cavalry.
Bragg made no formal report of the campaign or of his losses in this
part of it.



Occupation of Kinston--Opening of Neuse River--Rebel ram
destroyed--Listening to the distant battle at Bentonville--Entering
Goldsborough--Meeting Sherman--Grant's congratulations--His own
plans--Sketch of Sherman's march--Lee and Johnston's
correspondence--Their gloomy outlook--Am made commandant of
Twenty-third Corps--Terry assigned to Tenth--Schofield promoted in
the Regular Army--Stanton's proviso--Ill effects of living on the
country--Stopping it in North Carolina--Camp jubilee over the fall
of Richmond--Changes in Sherman's plans--Our march on
Smithfield--House-burning--News of Lee's surrender--Overtures from
Governor Vance--Entering Raleigh--A mocking-bird's greeting--Further
negotiations as to North Carolina--Johnston proposes an
armistice--Broader scope of negotiations--The Southern people desire
peace--Terrors of non-combatants assuaged--News of Lincoln's
assassination--Precautions to preserve order--The dawn of peace.

Reconnoitring parties sent toward Kinston on the 11th showed that
only a rear-guard occupied that town and that we could occupy it
when we pleased. General Couch joined us on the 12th, and Hoke
having sent in a flag of truce offering to exchange prisoners, of
whom we had nearly 400, I sent Major Dow of my staff with General
Schofield's answer declining to do so. The major found no enemy on
our side of the Neuse. The railroad bridge was burned and the middle
part of the wagon bridge destroyed. The roads were so nearly
impassable that we could hardly feed the troops where we were, and
whilst the railroad building went on, we hastened also the opening
of a supply line by water. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii.
pt. i. pp. 933, 934; pt. ii. pp. 801, 802, 814.] Commander Rhind of
the navy efficiently co-operated in this, and we marched to Kinston
bridge on the 14th, laid pontoon bridges on the next day, and
occupied the town. The Confederate ram had been burnt and her wreck
lay a little below the bridge. The transports and their convoying
war vessel did not get up till the 18th, but as they then brought a
hundred thousand rations, we were able to begin accumulating stores
at Kinston as an advanced depot. [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xlvii. pt. ii. pp. 836-839, 880, 883.] Small additions to our
wagon-trains also arrived, and orders were issued to march toward
Goldsborough on the 20th. Meanwhile 2000 men had been set at work
getting out railroad ties and timber for bridges. [Footnote: _Id._,
pp. 836, 851.]

During the halt at Kinston we partly reorganized the troops in view
of the approaching union with Sherman. The officers and men who
belonged to the divisions in Sherman's army were separately
organized into a division under General Greene, so that they could
easily be transferred to their proper commands. The rest of Palmer's
and Carter's divisions were united in one under Carter, and Palmer
was assigned to the District of Beaufort, from which I was relieved.
Ruger's division remained in my provisional corps with the other
two. General Stiles was assigned to a brigade in Ruger's division.
[Footnote: _Id._, pp. 839, 895.]

On Monday, the 20th, we were in march for Goldsborough, leaving a
brigade to garrison the post at Kinston and protect the growing
depot there. On Sunday we had heard all day the very distant
artillery firing, which we knew indicated a battle between Sherman
and Johnston. It was a scarcely distinguishable sound, like a dull
thumping, becoming somewhat more distinct when one applied his ear
to the ground. We judged that this final battle in the Carolinas was
near Smithfield, and we were not far out of the way, for Bentonville
was only a little south, and either place about fifty miles from us.
Two days' march took us into Goldsborough with no opposition but
skirmishing with the enemy's cavalry. We found the railroad
uninjured, except that the bridges were burned; but they were small
and would not delay Colonel Wright long when the large one at
Kinston should be completed. Captain Twining, General Schofield's
engineer and aide, had carried dispatches to Sherman on the 20th,
and the latter was now in full possession of the story of our
movements since the fall of Fort Fisher. [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 942.] On the 22d Sherman was able to
announce in field orders the retreat of Johnston toward Raleigh and
our occupation of Goldsborough, whilst Terry had laid his pontoons
across the Neuse completing the connection with Wilmington also. His
declaration for the whole army that the "campaign has resulted in a
glorious success" was more than justified. [Footnote: _Id._, pt. i.
p. 44.]

On Thursday, the 23d, Sherman joined us in person, and we paraded
the Twenty-third Corps to honor the march-past of Slocum's Army of
Georgia, the Fourteenth and Twentieth Corps, as they came in from
Bentonville. Sherman took his place with us by the roadside, and the
formal reunion with the comrades who had fought with us in the
Atlanta campaign was an event to stir deep emotions in our hearts.
The general did not hesitate to speak out his readiness, now that
his army was reunited, to meet the forces of Lee and Johnston
combined, if they also should effect a junction and try to open a
way southward. The men who had traversed the Carolinas were ragged
and dirty, their faces were begrimed by the soot of their camp-fires
of pine-knots in the forests, but their arms were in order, and they
stepped out with the sturdy swing that marked all our Western
troops. Our men were in new uniforms we had lately drawn from the
quartermaster, and the tatterdemalions who had made the march to the
sea were disposed to chaff us as if we were new recruits or pampered
garrison troops. "Well, sonnies!" a regimental wag cried out, "do
they issue butter to you regularly now?" "Oh, yes! to be sure!" was
the instant retort; "but _we_ trade it off for soap!" The ironical
emphasis on the "we" was well understood and greeted with roars of
laughter, and learning that our men were really those who had been
with them in Georgia and had fought at Franklin and Nashville before
making the tour of the North to come by sea and rejoin them in North
Carolina, they made the welkin ring again with their greeting

Keeping close watch of Sherman's movements, as hinted at in the
Southern newspapers, [Footnote: Till the capture of Columbia, the
Southern newspapers gave Sherman's movements with satisfactory
accuracy, and Grant's information on the subject was chiefly drawn
from them. Afterward a more rigid censorship was enforced. Official
Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. pp. 385, 405, 428, 441, 455, 472, 499,
etc.] Grant concluded on the 22d that he must have reached
Goldsborough, and wrote him congratulations on the same day that
Sherman announced to his army the good result. "I congratulate you
and the army," said Grant, "in what may be regarded as the
successful termination of the third campaign since leaving the
Tennessee River less than one year ago." [Footnote: _Id._, p. 948.]
He briefly but clearly outlined his own plans. Sheridan was to start
with his cavalry on the 25th, and, passing beyond the left of the
lines before Petersburg, to strike the Southside railroad as near
the town as might be, and destroy enough of it to interrupt its use
by the enemy for three or four days. This done, he was to push for
the Danville Railroad, do the like, and again cut the Southside road
near Burkesville. After that Grant would leave Sheridan at liberty
to join Sherman or to return to his own army. At the same time he
would himself diminish the forces in his investing lines to the
smallest that could hold them, and with all the rest crowd to the
westward to prevent Lee from following Sheridan. He would attack if
Lee should detach part of his army to follow Sheridan or to join
Johnston, or would fight a decisive battle if the Confederates came
out in force. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p.
948. See also p. 859.] The general principles which resulted in Five
Forks and the abandonment of Richmond are here clearly evident, and
Sherman could plan his own work accordingly.

The latter was also writing on that day to the Lieutenant-General,
taking up the thread of his own story from the time he reached
Fayetteville and learned that Johnston had been put in command of
all the forces opposing him. He sketched the sharp combat between
Slocum and Hardee at Averasborough on March 16th, where the latter
had taken a strong position across the narrow swampy neck between
Cape Fear River and North River at the forks of the Raleigh and
Goldsborough roads. Hardee was working for time, as Johnston was
collecting his forces at Smithfield after Bragg's unsuccessful blow
at us near Kinston. A day's delay was gained at heavy cost for the
Confederates. At Bentonville, on the 19th, Johnston had concentrated
his army and struck fiercely at Slocum again, for the almost
impassable mud had made it necessary for Howard's wing to seek roads
some miles to the right. Slocum had to give some ground and draw
back his advanced division to a better position, on which he formed
the rest of his troops, Kilpatrick's cavalry covering his left. Here
he repulsed all further efforts of Johnston and held his ground till
Sherman could bring forward the right wing, when the enemy was
forced to intrench and was put on the defensive. On the 21st
Howard's extreme right broke through or turned the line, and nearly
reached Johnston's headquarters. The blindly tangled swampy ground
prevented full advantage being reaped from this success, and
Johnston managed to hold on till night, when he abandoned his lines
and retreated on Raleigh. Sherman's casualties of all sorts in the
two engagements of Averasborough and Bentonville were 2209. He had
buried on the abandoned fields 375 of the Confederate dead, and held
2000 prisoners. Johnston's wounded were 1694 at Bentonville, besides
several hundred at Averasborough. [Footnote: Sherman to Grant,
Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 949; his report, Id., pt.
i. pp. 27, 66, 76; Johnston's do., Id., pp. 1057, 1060.] The last
battle in the Carolinas had been fought, Johnston had added to his
reputation as a soldier by quick and strong blows skilfully
delivered, first at Schofield, then at Sherman; but his numbers were
not enough to make either blow successful, and the junction of our
armies at Goldsborough made further fighting a mere waste of life,
unless he and Lee could unite for a final effort. This Grant would
not permit, and Johnston's message to Lee on the 23d was in
substance the old one from Pavia, "All is lost but honor."
"Sherman's course cannot be hindered by the small force I have. I
can do no more than annoy him. I respectfully suggest that it is no
longer a question whether you leave your present position; you have
only to decide where to meet Sherman. I will be near him."
[Footnote: _Id._, p. 1055.]

General Lee, from his own point of view, saw with equal clearness
the net that was closing round him. He had telegraphed to Johnston
on the 11th, "I fear I cannot hold my position if road to Raleigh is
interrupted. Should you be forced back in this direction both armies
would certainly starve." [Footnote: _Id._, pt. ii. p. 1372.] On the
15th he repeated, "If you are forced back from Raleigh and we
deprived of the supplies from east North Carolina, I do not know how
this army can be supported." [Footnote: _Id._, p. 1395.] But while
he pointed out the vital importance of repulsing Sherman, he did not
urge rashness in giving battle without prospect of success. Supplies
in Virginia, he said, were exhausted. The western communication by
Danville was now his only reliance. Since sending Hoke, Conner, and
Hampton south, his forces were too weak to extend his lines, and he
apprehended the very break in the Danville road which Grant was
planning to make by Sheridan. "You will therefore perceive," he
added, "that if I contract my lines as you propose, with the view of
holding Richmond, our only resource for obtaining subsistence will
be cut off and the city must be abandoned; whereas, if I take a
position to maintain the road, Richmond will be lost." If Sherman
could not be checked, "I cannot remain here, but must start out and
seek a favorable opportunity for battle. I shall maintain my
position as long as it appears advisable, both from the moral and
material advantages of holding Richmond and Virginia." [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 1395.] Danville, he saw,
was his necessary aim if he broke away, and he pointed out the
advantages they would have for manoeuvre if Sherman could be kept
well to the east, giving them more room and a wider region to live
upon after uniting. But Grant saw all this too, and the inexorable
tenacity and vigor with which, a few days later, he pushed Lee north
of the Danville line and cornered him at Appomattox, showed that his
measure of the situation was as accurate as Lee's, and that he knew
the quick ending of the war depended on his preventing at all
hazards the junction of the Confederate armies. Nothing in military
history is more interesting than the comparison of the letters and
dispatches of the leaders on both sides in this crisis. Grant was
not content with being upon Lee's heels when he abandoned Richmond,
as he had promised Sherman he would be. He would do better. Well
served by Sheridan's fiery energy, he would out-foot his adversary
in the race for Danville, and even block his path on the road to
Lynchburg when the junction with Johnston had to be given up.

For us at Goldsborough a day or two was delightfully spent in free
conferences with Sherman and in getting from his own lips the story
of his wonderful campaigns since we parted from him in Georgia. All
the empty wagons of his enormous trains were now sent back to
Kinston under escort to bring up clothing and supplies, and he
thought a delay of a fortnight might be necessary to get ready for
further active movements. He fixed April both as the date for
opening a new campaign, and suggested to General Grant that when he
had his troops properly placed and the supplies working well, he
might "run up and see you for a day or two before diving again into
the bowels of the country." [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii.
pt. ii. p. 969.] On the 25th the railroad was running to
Goldsborough, and Colonel Wright was anxious to have the general go
over the road with him and see for himself its condition and what
had been acomplished as well as what was still needed to make its
equipment ready for the heavy work of another campaign. Accordingly
Sherman put Schofield temporarily in chief command, and after an
inspection trip on a locomotive with Colonel Wright, he continued
his journey to City Point in a steamer belonging to the
quartermaster's department. [Footnote: _Id._, pt. iii. pp. 19, 20.]
His memorable visit to Grant and Lincoln, there, will be considered
in connection with the negotiations with Johnston a little later.
Having spent the 27th and 28th of March there, he was sent back by
Admiral Porter in a fast vessel of the navy, reached New Berne on
the 30th, and rejoined us at Goldsborough the same evening.

His return was a matter of some personal interest to me, for it
brought my permanent assignment to the command of the Twenty-third
Corps by Presidential order. The other troops under Schofield were
organized into a new corps with Terry for commandant, and as changes
had vacated the original Tenth Corps organization, that number was
given to Terry's. Schofield had asked for these appointments
immediately after our occupation of Wilmington, but the letters had
not reached General Grant, and action had not been taken. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 559.] At Goldsborough he
had renewed the request which Sherman cordially indorsed, and the
latter carried the papers with him to City Point, where the matter
was acted upon at once by the President and General Grant.
[Footnote: _Id._, pp. 960, 961; pt. iii. pp. 18, 34. See also
Appendix C.]

Schofield's promotion to the rank of brigadier-general in the
regular army had been recommended by Grant as a reward for the
capture of Wilmington, with the remark that he ought to have had it
from the battle of Franklin. [Footnote: _Id._, pt. ii. pp. 545,
558.] Mr. Stanton replied that the nomination would be made as
requested, "subject, however, to his obedience to orders. I am not
satisfied with his conduct in seizing the hospital boat 'Spaulding'
to make it his own quarters," he said; adding, "I have directed him
to give it up. If he obeys the order promptly, I will send in his
nomination; otherwise I will not." [Footnote: _Id._, p. 562.] By an
odd coincidence, the order to Schofield with the Secretary's
reprimand was written on the same day Grant was making his
recommendation for promotion, [Footnote: _Id._, p. 545.] and it well
illustrates Stanton's characteristic impulsiveness and hasty temper
which made him act on first reports, when a quiet investigation of
facts would have changed his view and saved the feelings of his
subordinates. An order forbidding the use of hospital boats for
other military purposes, diverting them from hospital use, had been
issued on February 8th, the day we reached Cape Fear Inlet after our
sea voyage, [Footnote: _Id._, p. 342.] and by another coincidence
Schofield had made the "Spaulding" his temporary headquarters on the
same day. [Footnote: _Id._, pt. i. p. 927.] Not being a clairvoyant,
Schofield knew nothing of the order which was then being written in
the adjutant-general's office at Washington, and which did not reach
him till his temporary use of the vessel had ended. Moreover, as he
was as yet without his tents or horses, and as he intended his
troops to operate on both sides of Cape Fear River, his prompt
progress with the campaign depended on his ready communication with
both banks, [Footnote: _Ante_, p. 405.] and the boat had been named
as available for the purpose by the quartermaster responsible for
the army transports and vessels. As it was a question of successful
handling of his forces, the discretion would have belonged to the
general commanding the department to make an exception to a rule, if
the order had been in his hands instead of being wholly unknown to
him. Still again, the use he made of the boat helped instead of
hindering its availability as a hospital, for he kept it close to
the advancing lines on the river banks so that the wounded were
brought to it with greatest ease, and it had in fact no sick or
disabled men on board till they were brought there under these
circumstances. Lastly, the superior medical officer of the
department was a member of Schofield's staff, wholly in accord with
his views, and the complaint had been sent by the subordinate
surgeon on the boat directly to the surgeon-general at Washington
without the knowledge of the department medical director. To have
referred it back to the general for his comments, calling his
attention to the order, would have been regular and would have
resulted in commendation of his action instead of disapproval. When
Grant received the Secretary's dispatch, Colonel Comstock had
returned from Wilmington, and from him the general got the
information which enabled him to remove Stanton's misapprehension,
so that the appointment was made before Schofield knew of the
complaint. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. pp. 562,
582.] Nearly a month later he made a full statement of the
circumstances to put himself personally right with the Secretary.
[Footnote: _Id._, p. 832.] The latter had borne no ill-will to
Schofield, but even at the closing period of the war had not learned
to temper his zeal with considerate patience.

The work which occupied us the ten days of April which we spent at
Goldsborough was chiefly that of organizing our trains and
collecting supplies in our depots, so that the foraging on the
country which had been necessary in Georgia and South Carolina might
cease, now that we had railway communication with a safe base on the
Atlantic. Sherman had informed his principal subordinates that when
he reached North Carolina he would resume the regular issue of
supplies as far as possible, and put an end to the indiscriminate
seizing of whatever the army needed. It had answered its purpose in
the long marches from Atlanta to Savannah and from Savannah to
Goldsborough, where the condition of success was cutting loose from
the base; but the tendency to demoralization and loss of discipline
in troops which practise it too long, made a return to regular
methods very desirable.

As the army had approached the North Carolina line, General Blair,
commanding the Seventeenth Corps, had written to Howard, his
immediate superior: "Every house that we pass is pillaged, and as we
are about to enter the State of North Carolina, I think the people
should be treated more considerately. The only way to prevent this
state of affairs is to put a stop to foraging. I have enough in my
wagons to last to Goldsborough, and I suppose that the rest of the
army has also. . . . The system is vicious and its results utterly
deplorable. As there is no longer a necessity for it, I beg that an
order may be issued to prohibit it. General Sherman said that when
we reached North Carolina he would pay for everything brought to us
and forbid foraging. I believe it would have an excellent effect
upon the country to change our policy in this respect." [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 717; pt. iii. pp. 46, 47.]
Stringent orders were at once issued to modify the system and
prevent the abuses of it, but it was not practicable to stop
foraging entirely till the junction of the forces was made at
Goldsborough. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. pp.
718, 728, 760, 783.] The regular issue of rations furnished by the
government was then resumed, except that long forage for horses and
mules could not be obtained in this way and was collected from the
country;[Footnote: _Id._, pt. iii. pp. 7-9.] but even then the
correction of bad habits in the soldiery was only gradually

The evacuation of Richmond and Petersburg on the morning of the 3d
of April was not known to Sherman till the 6th, when Grant's letter
reached him containing the joyful news. On Saturday, the 8th, it was
confirmed, with particulars of Lee's disastrous retreat. [Footnote:
_Id._, pp. 89, 99, 100, 109.] That night there was a noisy jubilee
in our camps. Regular artillery salutes were fired, but the soldiers
also extemporized all sorts of demonstrations of their joyfulness.
The air resounded with cheers, with patriotic songs, with the
beating of drums, with the music of the brass bands, with musket
firing; whilst beautiful signal rockets rushed high into the air,
dropping their brilliant stars of red, white, and blue from the very
clouds. [Footnote: _Id._, pt. i. p. 936.]

So long as Lee held fast at Petersburg, Sherman's plan had been to
feint on Raleigh, but make his real movement northward, crossing the
Roanoke above Gaston and marching between Johnston and Lee.
[Footnote: _Id._, pt. iii. p. 102.] Now, however, as he wrote
Halleck, he would move in force upon Raleigh, repairing the railroad
behind him and following the Confederate army close in whatever
direction it should move. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 118.] Grant's letter
of the 5th, giving his opinion that Lee was making for Danville with
an army reduced to about 20,000 men, [Footnote: _Id._, P. 99.]
reached Sherman on the 8th, and he immediately answered it, saying:
"On Monday [10th] all my army will move straight on Joe Johnston,
supposed to be between me and Raleigh, and I will follow him
wherever he may go. If he retreats on Danville to make junction with
Lee, I will do the same, though I may take a course round him,
bending toward Greensborough for the purpose of turning him
north.... I wish you could have waited a few days or that I could
have been here a week sooner; but it is not too late yet, and you
may rely with absolute certainty that I will be after Johnston with
about 80,000 men, provided for twenty full days which will last me
forty. I will have a small force here at Goldsborough and will
repair the road to Raleigh." [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xlvii. pt. iii. p. 129.]

On Monday we marched,--Slocum with the Army of Georgia straight for
Smithfield, Howard with the Army of the Tennessee going north to
Pikeville and then turning toward Raleigh, keeping to the right of
Slocum and abreast of him on parallel roads. Schofield with our Army
of the Ohio moved a little to the left of Slocum in echelon, my
corps taking the river road on the left (north) bank of the Neuse to
Turner's Bridge, a little below Smithfield, and Terry's going
through Bentonville somewhat further to left and rear. Kilpatrick
with the cavalry covered the march of this flank. [Footnote: _Id_.,
p. 123.] It will be seen that this order of movement assumed that
Johnston was at or near Smithfield, where our latest information put
him. My corps had been somewhat scattered to cover our
communications with Kinston and Newberne, and I was ordered to
concentrate at Goldsborough on the 10th, advancing-from there on the
11th. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 134.] My old division, which had been
commanded by General Reilly since he joined us at Wilmington, was
for the rest of the campaign led by General Carter, Reilly's
uncertain health making him anticipate the quickly approaching end
of the war by resigning. Ruger and Couch continued in command of the
first and second divisions respectively. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. i. p.

My own march was impeded by the slow progress of the pontoon-train
which had been sent ahead of my column, where a part of Slocum's
supply-train also moved. For this reason we found numbers of
stragglers on our way and evidences of pillaging by which I was
exasperated. We halted at noon of the 11th near a large house
belonging to a Mr. Atkinson, a man of prominence in the region. The
mansion had a Grecian portico with large columns the whole height of
the building. Part of the furniture and the carpets had been
removed, but evidences of refinement and intelligence were seen in
the piano and the library with its books. With my staff I rested and
ate my lunch in the spacious portico, and moving on when the halt
was over, I had hardly ridden half a mile when a pillar of white
smoke showed that the house was on fire. I sent back a staff officer
in haste to order an instant investigation and the arrest of any
authors of this vandalism. The most that could be learned was that
some stragglers of another corps had been seen lurking in the house
when we moved on, and soon after fire broke out in the second story,
having been set, apparently, in a closet connected with one of the
chambers. Efforts were made to extinguish it, but it had found its
way into the garret and had such headway that the house was doomed.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. i. p. 936.] This was
the first instance in my experience where a dwelling had been burned
when my troops were passing, and I was greatly disturbed by their
apparent responsibility for it. My anger was increased by
repetitions of similar outrages during the afternoon. From our camp
at Turner's Bridge I issued an order directing summary trial by
drum-head court-martial and execution of marauders guilty of such
outrages, whether belonging to my own corps or stragglers hanging on
at its skirts. [Footnote: _Id._, pt. iii. p. 189.] The evidence
seemed conclusive that the crimes were committed by "bummers" who
had separated themselves from the army when marching up from
Savannah, and were following it for purposes of pillage. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. iii. p. 281.] It was reported that
Atkinson was a "conscription agent" of the Confederate government,
and this perhaps was the incentive in his case for the outrage. As a
precaution, I ordered sentinels to be left at dwellings on our
march, to be relieved from the divisions in succession, the last to
remain till our trains had passed and then join the rear-guard.
[Footnote: _Id_., p. 189.]

In the march of the 12th Howard remained on the east side of the
Neuse with a pretty widely extended front, aiming for the crossing
of the river due east of Raleigh, at the Neuse Mills and Hinton's
Bridge. Slocum crossed at Smithfield and took the roads up the right
bank of the Neuse. Schofield crossed at Turner's Bridge, and sought
roads further west, intending to reach the main road leading from
Elevation to Raleigh. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 163, 164, 187-189.] At
Smithfield we learned that Johnston was at Raleigh, but we did not
know that he had heard of Lee's surrender and had no longer a motive
to hold tenaciously to the central part of the State. [Footnote:
_Id_., p. 777.] It was on our march of Tuesday, the 12th, that the
news of the surrender reached us, and was greeted with extravagant
demonstrations of joy by both officers and men. [Footnote: For a
vivid description of the scene, see "Ohio Loyal Legion Papers," vol.
ii. p. 234, by A. J. Ricks, then a lieutenant on my staff, since
Judge of U. S. District Court, N. Ohio.] Sherman had got the news in
a dispatch sent by Grant on the 9th, as soon as the capitulation was
complete, and which contained the terms he had offered Lee, with
their acceptance. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. iii.
p. 140.] Replying at once, Sherman said, "I hardly know how to
express my feelings, but you can imagine them. The terms you have
given Lee are magnanimous and liberal. Should Johnston follow Lee's
example, I shall of course grant the same. He is retreating before
me on Raleigh, but I shall be there to-morrow." [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. xlvii. pt. iii. p. 177.] He indicated his hope that
Johnston would surrender at Raleigh, but should he not do so, his
own plan would be to push to the south and west to prevent the
enemy's retreat into the Gulf States. "With a little more cavalry,"
he said, "I would be sure to capture the whole army." He issued also
a Special Field Order, announcing to the army the momentous news.
"Glory to God and to our country, and all honor to our comrades in
arms toward whom we are marching. A little more labor, a little more
toil on our part, the great race is won, and our government stands
regenerated after four years of bloody war." [Footnote: _Id._, p.
180.] Such were the words which created a tumult of emotion in the
heart of every soldier, when they were read that day, a beautiful
spring day, at the head of each command. The order reached me near
mid-day at a resting halt of the corps, and with bared heads my
staff listened to the reading. We then greeted it with three cheers,
I myself acting as fugleman, and the tidings sped down the column on
the wings of the wind.

Late in the same day a delegation met Slocum's advance-guard coming
from Raleigh in a car upon the railroad with a letter from Governor
Vance making overtures to end the war, so far as North Carolina was
concerned. The little party was headed by ex-Governor Graham and Mr.
Swain, men who had led the opposition to secession till swept away
by the popular whirlwind of war feeling, and who now came to
acknowledge the victory of the National Government. Mr. Graham had
been the candidate for Vice-President in 1852, nominated by the Whig
party on the ticket with General Scott. Sherman received them
kindly, and gave a safeguard for Governor Vance and any members of
the State government who might await him in Raleigh, though, after a
conference with Graham and his party in regard to their present
relations to the Confederate government, he wrote to Vance, "I doubt
if hostilities can be suspended as between the Army of the
Confederate Government and the one I command, but I will aid you all
in my power to contribute to the end you aim to reach, the
termination of the existing war." [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xlvii. pt. iii. p. 178.]

The Twenty-third Corps marched eighteen miles on the 12th, and, as
General Schofield reported, found that "Slocum's bummers had been
all over the country," foraging it bare. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 187.]
On the 13th we marched within two miles of Raleigh, making nineteen
miles, the Army of Georgia entering the city just ahead of us.
Sherman was with the head of Slocum's column, expecting to meet
Governor Vance, but such delays had occurred to the train taking his
messengers that Vance lost confidence, and had left the city ahead
of Hampton's cavalry, the rear-guard of Johnston's army. Hampton was
bitterly opposed to all negotiation by Vance, holding it to be
treasonable, and had put such obstacles in the way of Graham's party
as to make Vance think that they had been arrested and that the
mission had failed. [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 178, 196.] Graham and
Swain, however, were still there, and at once waited upon Sherman,
who established his headquarters in the governor's mansion. The
news, as it came to us in the marching column, was that Vance had
met Sherman in person and surrendered the capital of the State; but
the facts turned out to be as I have stated them. [Footnote: _Id._,
pt. i. p. 937.]

A trifling incident gave us pleasure as we were approaching our camp
near Raleigh, and, with the soldiers' disposition to interpret
fortuitous things in earth and air, was greeted as a good omen. A
great tree stood at the roadside, and, perched upon a dead limb high
above the foliage and overhanging the way, a mocking-bird poured
forth the most wonderful melodies ever heard even from that prince
of songsters. Excited but not frightened away by the moving host
beneath, the bird outdid its kind in its imitations of other birds,
and in its calls and notes of endless variety, whistling and singing
with a full resonant power that rose above all other sounds. The
marching soldiers ceased their talk, listening intently and craning
their necks to get a sight of the peerless musician. It was a
celebration of the coming peace, unique in beauty and full of sweet

On the 14th the greater part of the army moved westward a few miles
in front of Raleigh, the Twenty-third Corps closing up to the
eastern suburbs of the town. Sherman issued his marching orders for
the 15th, beginning, "The next movement will be on Ashborough, to
turn the position of the enemy at Company's shops in rear of Haw
River Bridge and at Greensborough, and to cut off his only available
line of retreat by Salisbury and Charlotte." [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. xlvii. pt. iii. pp. 208, 217.] This march had hardly
begun, however, when it was temporarily suspended and was never
resumed. Our last hostile march against the Confederate armies had
been made. Mr. Badger, the last senator from the State in the
National Congress, and other leading men, including Mr. Holden, the
leader of the Union element in the State, had joined Mr. Graham's
party, and Sherman had been busy with them, negotiating informally
to obtain the withdrawal of North Carolina from the Confederacy. The
general was willing that the executive and legislature of the State
should come to Raleigh for this purpose, but refused to suspend
hostilities against Johnston's army except upon direct overtures for
surrender on the part of the latter. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 221.]
Whilst these conferences were in progress, others had been going on
at Greensborough, and as a result General Johnston had sent a letter
requesting an armistice. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 206.] Sherman
immediately replied in terms which brought about the halt and
temporary truce between the two armies and a personal conference
three days later. Thus opened the famous negotiations, the story of
which will be told in the next chapter.

Whilst the Southern people had shown wonderful fortitude and
patience as long as a hope of success remained, they were most
anxious to be spared the horrors of war when there was no
compensating advantage to be looked for. The dread of our armies had
been increased by the exaggerations which the Confederate
authorities had used to excite the people to desperate resistance,
and the terror now reacted in a general popular demand for
surrender. The story of the burning of Columbia had been given to
them as a wanton and deliberate barbarity on Sherman's part, and the
delegation which met him could hardly believe their own senses when
they heard his earnest expressions of desire to end the war at once
and save the people from suffering and the country from devastation.

An experience of my own as we entered Raleigh gave me a startling
view of the abject terror which had seized upon helpless families
when they found themselves defenceless in our hands. In the night of
Wednesday, the 12th, Hampton had made it known that the rear-guard
which he commanded must retire before daylight, and the frightened
people had at once begun to close their windows and sit in gloomy
expectation of what the morning would bring. Early on Thursday
Kilpatrick's cavalry clattered through the town, and on the further
side some skirmishing occurred and an occasional cannon shot was
thought to be the opening of battle. Slocum's infantry marched
through after the cavalry advance-guard, and the heavy rattling of
cannon and caissons with the shouting of the drivers of the trains
seemed a pandemonium to unaccustomed ears. Sherman had issued
stringent orders that no mischief should be done and no looting
permitted in the city, and all the superior officers were earnest in
enforcing the orders, so that I believe no town was ever more
quietly occupied by an army in actual war. On Friday morning I was
placing my own troops in the suburb and arranging to assume the
guard of the city, left to us by the camping of the main body of the
army beyond its western limits. An officer of the general staff came
to me, saying he had been appealed to in a most piteous way for
protection by a lady who with her household of women and children
could endure the terror and suspense no longer. Knowing that I was
to be in immediate charge of the place, he had given assurances that
I would remove all cause for fear, but had still been begged to ask
me to come in person and relieve their great distress. I went with
him to one of the most comfortable homes of the town. The family had
been collected in the parlors since midnight of Wednesday. They had
not dared to retire to sleep, but clung about the mother and
mistress. The windows were close shut, the rooms lit by candles, and
pale, jaded with the long nervous strain, momentarily fearing the
breaking in of those they had been taught to look upon as little
better than fiends, their hollow eyes showed they were perilously
near the limit of human endurance. I earnestly vouched for the good
intentions of our generals, and promised the most ample protection.
I assured them of sympathy and a purpose to give them the same
safety as I should wish for my own wife and children if they were in
a like situation. A guard was ordered for the house and the
neighborhood. They were urged to open the windows to the cheerful
light and to resume their ordinary way of life. The passing of the
panic and the revival of confidence was a sort of return from the
shadow of death and was most touching to behold. It added a new
element of thankfulness that such terrors for the helpless were not
to be renewed, since peace was really coming to heal the terrible
wounds of war.

There was a moment when we once more feared we might not be able to
save the city from vengeance. It was when, on the 17th of April, the
news of Lincoln's assassination reached us. [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. xlvii. pt. iii. p. 221.] Sherman had received the
dispatch in cipher just as he was starting for his conference with
Johnston at Durham Station, and had enjoined absolute secrecy upon
the telegraph operator till his return in the evening. General
Stiles, one of my most trusted subordinates, had been made
commandant of the post of Raleigh with a garrison of three
battalions of infantry, a brigade of reserve artillery, and the
convalescents of the Army of the Ohio. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 217.] As
soon as Sherman returned from his visit to Johnston, he sent for me
and told me the terrible news of Lincoln's murder. He expressed the
great fear he had lest, on its becoming known, it should be the
occasion of outbreaks among the soldiers. He charged me to
strengthen Stiles's garrison to any extent I might think necessary,
to put strong guards at the edge of the city on the roads leading to
the several camps, to send all soldiers off duty to their proper
commands, and in short, till the first excitement should be over, to
allow no one to visit the city or wander about it, and to keep all
under strict military surveillance. Schofield and the other army
commanders were with him, and all were seriously impressed with the
danger of mischief resulting and with the need of thorough
precautions. Sherman's general order announcing the assassination
was then read, but its distribution and publication to the army was
delayed till I should have time to prepare for safeguarding the
city. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 238.] Fortunately the announcement of the
first convention for the disbanding of all the remaining armies of
the Confederacy accompanied the exciting news, and as it was
regarded as the return of general peace, the effect on our army was
that of deep mourning for the loss of a great leader in the hour of
victory rather than an excitement to vengeance in a continuing
strife. There was no noteworthy difficulty in preserving order, and,
though the inhabitants of Raleigh had a day or two of great
uneasiness, the beautiful town did not suffer in the least. Its
broad streets, lined with forest trees, and the ample dooryards in
the lush beauty of lawns and flowers were no more trespassed upon
than the avenues and gardens of Washington, and nobody suffered from



Sherman's earlier views of the slavery question--Opinions in
1864--War rights vs. statesmanship--Correspondence with
Halleck--Conference with Stanton at Savannah--Letter to General
Robert Anderson--Conference with Lincoln at City Point--First effect
of the assassination of the President--Situation on the Confederate
side--Davis at Danville--Cut off from Lee--Goes to
Greensborough--Calls Johnston to conference--Lee's surrender--The
Greensborough meeting--Approach of Stoneman's cavalry raid--Vance's
deputation to Sherman--Davis orders their arrest--Vance asserts his
loyalty--Attempts to concentrate Confederate forces on the
Greensborough-Charlotte line--Cabinet meeting--Overthrow of the
Confederacy acknowledged--Davis still hopeful--Yields to the
cabinet--Dictates Johnston's letter to Sherman--Sherman's
reply--Meeting arranged--Sherman sends preliminary correspondence to
Washington--The Durham meeting--The negotiations--Two points of
difficulty--Second day's session--Johnston's power to promise the
disbanding of the civil government--The terms agreed
upon--Transmittal letters--Assembling the Virginia
legislature--Sherman's wish to make explicit declaration of the end
of slavery--The assassination affecting public sentiment--Sherman's
personal faith in Johnston--He sees the need of modifying the
terms--Grant's arrival.

To understand Sherman's negotiations with Johnston, we must recall
the general's attitude toward the rebellious States and his views on
the subject of slavery. Originally a conservative Whig in politics,
deprecating the anti-slavery agitation, as early as 1856 he had
written to his brother, "Unless people both North and South learn
more moderation, we'll 'see sights' in the way of civil war. Of
course the North have the strength and must prevail, though the
people of the South could and would be desperate enough." [Footnote:
Sherman Letters, p. 63.] In 1859 he was still urging concessions
instead of insisting on the absolute right, saying, "Each State has
a perfect right to have its own local policy, and a majority in
Congress has an absolute right to govern the whole country; but the
North, being so strong in every sense of the term, can well afford
to be generous, even to making reasonable concessions to the
weakness and prejudices of the South." [Footnote: Sherman Letters,
p. 77.] He returned to the same thought in 1860, saying, "So certain
and inevitable is it that the physical and political power of this
nation must pass into the hands of the free States, that I think you
all can well afford to take things easy, bear the buffets of a
sinking dynasty, and even smile at their impotent threats."
[Footnote: _Id._, p. 83.]

The world is familiar with the ringing words with which he threw
away his livelihood and turned from every attractive outlook in
life, when, Secession having actually come, he said to the governor
of Louisiana, "On no earthly account will I do any act or think any
thought hostile to or in defiance of the United States." [Footnote:
_Id._, p. 106.] But he was also one of the clearest-sighted in
seeing that when slavery had appealed to the sword it would perish
by the sword. In January, 1864, he expressed it tersely: "The South
has made the interests of slavery the issue of the war. If they lose
the war, they lose slavery." [Footnote: _Id._, p. 222.] At the end
of the same month he said, "Three years ago, by a little reflection
and patience, they could have had a hundred years of peace and
prosperity; but they preferred war. Last year they could have saved
their slaves, but now it is too late,--all the powers of earth
cannot restore to them their slaves any more than their dead
grandfathers." [Footnote: Official Records, vol, xxxii. pt. ii. p.
280.] And in the same letter, written to a subordinate with express
authority to make it known to the Southern people within our lines,
he said of certain administrative regulations: "These are
well-established principles of war, and the people of the South,
having appealed to war, are barred from appealing for protection to
our Constitution, which they have practically and publicly defied.
They have appealed to war, and must abide _its_ rules and laws."
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxii. pt ii. p. 279.]

Two years later Thaddeus Stevens, as radical leader in Congress,
enounced the same doctrine in no more trenchant terms. Sherman was
explicit in regard to its scope, but he differed from Stevens in the
extent to which he would go, as a matter of sound policy and
statesmanship, in applying the possible penalties of war when
submission was made. It is clear that he insisted there could be no
resurrection for slavery, and that the freedmen must be protected in
life, liberty, and property, with a true equality before the law in
this protection; but he held that they were as yet unfit for
political participation in the government, much less for the
assumption of political rule in the Southern States.

In a friendly letter which General Halleck wrote to Sherman
immediately after the capture of Savannah, he said with a freedom
that long intimacy permitted: "Whilst almost every one is praising
your great march through Georgia and the capture of Savannah, there
is a certain class, having now great influence with the President
and very probably anticipating still more on a change of cabinet,
who are decidedly disposed to make a point against you--I mean in
regard to 'Inevitable Sambo.' They say that you have manifested an
almost _criminal_ dislike to the negro, and that you are not willing
to carry out the wishes of the government in regard to him, but
repulse him with contempt." [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xliv. p. 836.] In
short, it was said that his march through Georgia might have been
made the means of a general exodus of the slaves, and ought to have

Sherman made a humorous reply, saying he allowed thousands of
negroes to accompany his march, and set no limit but the necessities
of his military operations. "If it be insisted," he said, "that I
shall so conduct my operations that the negro alone is consulted, of
course I will be defeated, and then where will be Sambo? Don't
military success imply the safety of Sambo, and _vice versa_?...
They gather round me in crowds, and I can't find out whether I am
Moses or Aaron or which of the prophets. . . . The South deserves
all she has got for her injustice to the negro, but that is no
reason why we should go to the other extreme. I do and will do the
best I can for negroes, and feel sure that the problem is solving
itself slowly and naturally. It needs nothing more than our
fostering care." [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p.

The Secretary of War was broadly hinted at in Halleck's letter, but
when Mr. Stanton visited Sherman at Savannah, the latter understood
that his mind was disabused of any unfavorable impressions he may
have had. Mr. Stanton had assembled a score of the leading colored
preachers as the most intelligent representatives of their race, and
examined them by written questions respecting their hopes and
desires, their attitude in regard to military service, and in regard
to living among the whites or separately. He learned that they
generally preferred to try life in a separate community of their
own, and that they were strongly opposed to the methods by which
State agents were trying to enlist them as substitutes for men
drafted in the Northern States. He even went so far as to ask these
men whether they found Sherman friendly to the colored people's
rights and interests or otherwise! The answer was that they had
confidence in the general, and thought their concerns could not be
in better hands. Some of them had called upon him on his arrival,
and now said that they did not think he could have received Mr.
Stanton with more courtesy than he showed to them. [Footnote: _Id._,
p. 41.] Sherman's order relating to the allotment of sea-island
lands to the freedmen for cultivation, and to the methods of
procuring their enlistment as soldiers [Footnote: Official Records,
vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 60.] was drafted while Mr. Stanton was with
him, and he affirms that every paragraph had the Secretary's
approval. [Footnote: Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 250.]

In his feelings toward the men chiefly responsible for secession and
the war, Sherman had never measured his words when expressing his
condemnation and wrath. In a letter to General Robert Anderson,
written only a few days before meeting Johnston in negotiation, he
had spoken with deepest feeling of his satisfaction that Anderson
was to raise again the flag at Fort Sumter on April 14th (the fatal
day on which also Lincoln died), saying he was "glad that it falls
to the lot of one so pure and noble to represent our country in a
drama so solemn, so majestic, and so just." To him it looked like "a
retribution decreed by Heaven itself." Reminded by this thought of
those who had caused this horrid war, he exclaimed: "But the end is
not yet. The brain that first conceived the thought must burst in
anguish, the heart that pulsated with hellish joy must cease to
beat, the hand that pulled the first laniard must be palsied, before
the wicked act begun in Charleston on the 13th of April, 1861, is
avenged. But 'mine, not thine, is vengeance,' saith the Lord, and we
poor sinners must let him work out the drama to its close."
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. iii. p. 107.] Such was
the man who went to meet General Johnston on the 17th of April; and
in considering what he then did, we must take into the account the
principles, the convictions, and the feelings which were part of his
very nature.

Still further, we must remember that he had, less than three weeks
before, a personal conference with the President at City Point, and
had obtained from him personally the views he held with regard to
the terms he was prepared to grant to the several rebel States as
well as to the armies which might surrender, and the method by which
he expected to obtain an acknowledgment of submission from some
legally constituted authority, without dealing in any way with the
Confederate civil government. General Sherman is conclusive
authority as to what occurred at a conference which was in the
nature of instructions to him from the Commander-in-Chief; and the
more carefully we examine contemporaneous records, the stronger
becomes the conviction that he has accurately reported what occurred
at that meeting.

"Mr. Lincoln was full and frank in his conversation," says Sherman,
"assuring me that in his mind he was all ready for the civil
reorganization of affairs at the South as soon as the war was over;
and he distinctly authorized me to assure Governor Vance and the
people of North Carolina that as soon as the rebel armies laid down
their arms and resumed their civil pursuits, they would at once be
guaranteed all their rights as citizens of a common country; and
that to avoid anarchy, the State governments then in existence, with
their civil functionaries, would be recognized by him as the
government _de facto_ till Congress could provide others."
[Footnote: Sherman's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 327.]

When the general met Mr. Graham and others, he was aware that
General Weitzel at Richmond had authorized the Virginia State
government to assemble, Mr. Lincoln being on the ground. The views
expressed in the famous interview at City Point had taken practical
shape. In correspondence with Johnston while they were awaiting
action on the first convention, Sherman referred to Weitzel's action
as a reason for confidence that there would be "no trouble on the
score of recognizing existing State governments." [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. iii. p. 266.]

With the burden of the terrible news of Lincoln's assassination,
Sherman went up to Durham Station to meet the Confederate general on
the 17th of April. His grief was mingled with gloomy thoughts of the
future, for it was natural that he as well as the authorities at
Washington should at first think of the great crime as part of a
system of desperate men to destroy both the civil and the military
leaders of the country, and to disperse the armies into bands of
merciless guerillas who would try the effect of anarchy now that
civilized military operations had failed. We did injustice to the
South in thinking so, but it was inevitable that such should be the
first impression. As soon as we mingled a little with the leading
soldiers and statesmen of the South we learned better, and the
period of such apprehensions was a brief one, though terrible while
it lasted.

But we must here consider what were the motives and purposes which,
on his part, Johnston represented, when he came from Greensborough
to meet his great opponent. To understand these we must trace
rapidly the course of events within his military lines. When
Petersburg was taken and Richmond evacuated, Mr. Davis with the
members of his cabinet went to Danville, where he remained for a few
days, protected by a small force under General H. H. Walker.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. iii. pp. 741, 750.]
Beauregard was at Greensborough, collecting detachments to resist an
expedition which General Stoneman was leading through the mountains
from Tennessee. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 751.] Johnston was at
Smithfield with the main body of his forces, watching our army at
Goldsborough and preparing to retreat toward Lee as soon as the
latter might escape from Grant and give a rendezvous at Danville or
Greensborough. The retreat from Petersburg made a union east of
Danville probably impracticable. [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 682, 737.]

Grant's persistent and vigorous pursuit soon turned Lee away from
the Danville road at Burkesville, pushed him toward Lynchburg, and
destroyed all hope of union with Johnston. Davis had no direct
communication with Lee after reaching Danville, and his position
there being unsafe, after Grant had occupied Burkesville, he went to
Greensborough. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. iii. pp.
750, 787.] From Danville, on the 10th, he telegraphed Johnston that
he had a report of the surrender of Lee, which there was little room
to doubt. He also asked Johnston to meet him at Greensborough to
confer as to future action. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 777.] The dispatch
was, by some accident, prevented from reaching Johnston on the 10th,
and Davis repeated it on the 11th, so that the news reached the
Confederate headquarters only a day before we got it, on our march
from Smithfield. On the same day (11th) Davis informed Governor
Vance of the disaster, and suggested a meeting with him also.
[Footnote: _Id_., p. 787.] He also forwarded to Johnston the
suggestion of Beauregard (which he approved), that all the
Confederate forces north of Augusta should concentrate at Salisbury.

The best evidence that Vance regarded the cause of the Confederacy
as lost is found in his resolve to send a deputation to meet Sherman
without waiting to confer with Davis. Johnston issued on the 11th
his orders for the continued march of his army westward from Raleigh
along the railroad, [Footnote: _Id_., p. 789.] and himself proceeded
to Greensborough by train, to have the appointed conference. Whilst
Davis and he were together on the 12th, Stoneman's cavalry, which
had been in the vicinity the day before and had made a break in the
Danville road, was heard of at Shallow Ford, on the Yadkin, about
thirty miles west. Part of the troops at Greensborough were at once
sent to Salisbury, which was about the same distance from the Yadkin
ford. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 791.] At the same time came a cipher
dispatch from Colonel Anderson of Johnston's staff, whom the latter
had left at Raleigh, saying that Governor Vance was sending Messrs.
Graham and Swain to meet Sherman, presumably by permission of
Hardee, who was senior officer in Johnston's absence. Colonel
Anderson had taken the responsibility of asking Hampton not to let
them pass his cavalry outposts. [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xlvii. pt. iii. p. 791.] By Davis's direction, Johnston at once
telegraphed Hardee to arrest the delegation and to permit no
intercourse with us except under proper military flag of truce.
[Footnote: _Ibid._] Vance was of course informed by Hardee, and
replied that he intended nothing subversive of Davis's prerogative
or without consulting him. He also said that Johnston was aware of
his purpose. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 792.] In saying further, however,
that the initiative had been on Sherman's part, he was dissembling.
[Footnote: See the letters, _Id._, p. 178.] The difficulty put in
the way of his representatives in getting beyond the Confederate
lines is thus accounted for, as well as his failure to remain in
Raleigh on our arrival. Davis found it politic to accept the
explanation, [Footnote: _Id._, p. 792.] but we may safely assume
that the matter was discussed between him and Johnston, and that it
led to its discussion with his cabinet also; for Johnston remained
with him till the 14th, leaving to Hardee the direction of the army
on the march, which was ordered to be pressed towards Greensborough.
[Footnote: _Id._, pp. 796, 797.] The troops at Danville were called
to the same rendezvous, and General Echols, with those in West
Virginia, was ordered to make his way through the mountains to the
northwestern part of South Carolina. [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 795,

In a formal conference with his advisers on the 13th (Thursday), all
of the cabinet officers except Benjamin declared themselves of
Johnston's and Beauregard's opinion, that a further prosecution of
the war was hopeless; that the Southern Confederacy was in fact
overthrown, and that the wise thing to do was to make at once the
best terms possible. [Footnote: Johnston's Narrative, pp. 397-400.]
Davis argued that the crisis might rouse the Southern people to new
and desperate efforts, and that overtures for peace on the basis of
submission were premature. The general opinion, however, was so
strong against him that he reluctantly yielded, and, to make sure
that he should not be committed further than he meant, he himself
dictated, and Mr. Mallory, the Secretary of the Navy, wrote, the
letter to Sherman, signed by Johnston, asking for an armistice
between all the armies, if General Grant would consent, "the object
being to permit the civil authorities to enter into the needful
arrangements to terminate the existing war." [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. xlvii. pt. iii. p. 206.] The form of each sentence of
the letter is significant, in view of its authorship, but most so is
the plain meaning of that just quoted, to make a complete surrender
upon such terms as the National government should dictate. In like
manner the opening sentence, "The results of the recent campaign in
Virginia have changed the relative military condition of the
belligerents," was a confession in diplomatic form of final defeat.
Before sending the letter to Sherman, Johnston copied it with his
own hand, in order, no doubt, to have a duplicate for his own
protection, as well as to preserve secrecy. [Footnote: The only
difference is that in his copy he put the date of the 13th at its
head (the true date), whilst the original which he says he sent to
Sherman (Narr., p. 400) was dated the 14th, when it would be sent
from his outposts; a bit of forethought on Mr. Davis's part, which
guarded against Sherman's suspicion that it had been prepared at a
distance and had travelled more than a day's journey. Both of the
duplicates are in the war archives, that written by Mr. Mallory
having the indorsement in Sherman's own hand of its receipt on the
14th. (Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. iii. p. 206, note.) In the
Records Sherman's indorsement of the receipt of Johnston's dispatch
is "12 night." This seems to be a clerical error, and should be
"noon." (See _Id_., pp. 209, 215, 216, and Sherman's Memoirs, vol.
ii. p. 346.) Mr. Davis's account is not inconsistent with
Johnston's, which he had seen. (Rise and Fall, vol. ii. pp. 681,

Sherman lost not a moment in answering, 1st, that he had power and
was willing to arrange a suspension of hostilities between the
armies under their respective commands, indicating a halt on both
sides on the 15th; 2d, that he offered as a basis the terms given
Lee at Appomattox: 3d, interpreting Johnston's reference to "other
armies" which he desired the truce to include as referring to
Stoneman (whom we had heard of in Raleigh as burning railway bridges
on both sides of Greensborough [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xlvii. pt. iii. p. 197.]), he said that Stoneman was under his
command, and that he would obtain from Grant a suspension of other
movements from Virginia. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 207.] All this was
strictly within the limits of Sherman's military authority and

The 15th of April (Saturday) was a day of pouring rain, making the
roads almost impassable for wagons, as they were already cut up by
the retreating army and by our advance. Sherman expected a reply
from Johnston early, for he had directed Kilpatrick on Friday
afternoon to send his answer at once to the Confederate lines.
[Footnote: _Id._, p. 215.] He was annoyed at the delay, and sent up
Major McCoy of his staff to Morrisville on the railway, where
Kilpatrick's headquarters were, taking with him a telegraph operator
to open an office there. But Kilpatrick had gone to his own outposts
toward Hillsborough, and his staff seem to have been in no hurry to
forward Sherman's letter, so that it was delivered to Hampton at
sundown of the 15th instead of the 14th. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 222,
233, 234.] A locomotive engine was sent to McCoy on Sunday (16th),
and with it he went on to Durham, taking his telegrapher along. Some
torpedoes had been found on the road below, and McCoy diminished the
risk from any others, by putting some empty cars ahead of the
locomotive to explode them if there should be any. He got through
safely, however, found Kilpatrick at Durham, opened telegraphic
communication with headquarters at Raleigh, was authorized to read
and transmit by the wire Johnston's reply, and so was able before
night to give his impatiently waiting chief the Confederate
general's proposal to meet in conference between the lines next
morning, and to return Sherman's consent. [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. xlvii. pt. iii. pp. 229-231.]

Meanwhile Kilpatrick had been sending dispatches saying he did not
believe Johnston could be trusted, that his whole army was marching
on, that the delay was a ruse to gain time, and that no confidence
could be placed "in the word of a rebel, no matter what may be his
position. He is but a traitor at best." [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 224,
233.] Sherman answered: "I have faith in General Johnston's personal
sincerity, and do not believe he would use a subterfuge to cover his
movements. He could not stop the movement of his troops till he got
my letter, which I hear was delayed all day yesterday by your
adjutants' not sending it forward." His faith in Johnston's
honorable dealing was justified, but the delay had brought the
Confederate infantry to the neighborhood of Greensborough.
[Footnote: _Id_., p. 234. Also Johnston's Narrative, p. 401.]

On the 15th Sherman had sent both to Grant and to the Secretary of
War copies of Johnston's overture and his own answer. He added that
he should "be careful not to complicate any points of civil policy;"
that he had invited Governor Vance to return to Raleigh with the
civil officers of the State, and that ex-Governor Graham, Messrs.
Badger, Moore, Holden, and others all agreed "that the war is over
and that the States of the South must resume their allegiance,
subject to the Constitution and laws of Congress, and that the
military power of the South must submit to the National arms. This
great fact once admitted," he said, "all the details are easy of
arrangement." [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. iii. p.
221.] He directed this to be sent by a swift steamer to Fort Monroe
and from there by telegraph to Washington. As this dispatch was sent
part of the way by telegraph, it should have reached Washington more
than three days ahead of the convention signed on the 18th and
carried to the capital by Major Hitchcock, who left Raleigh in the
night of that day:[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. iii.
p. 246.] but no answer seems to have been made to it, unless it be
in a dispatch of Grant on the 20th in which he directed the movement
of Howard's and Slocum's armies to City Point in case Johnston
surrendered. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 257.]

On Monday (April 17th), with the burden of the knowledge of
Lincoln's assassination on his mind, Sherman went up to Durham by
rail, accompanied by a few officers. There he met General
Kilpatrick, who furnished a cavalry company as an escort, and
led-horses to mount the party. [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 234, 235.] The
bearer of the flag of truce and a trumpeter were in advance,
followed by part of the escort, the general and his officers came
next, the little cavalcade closing with the rest of the escort in
due order. They rode about five miles on the Hillsborough road, when
they met General Wade Hampton advancing with a flag from the other
side. The house of a Mr. Bennett, near by, was made the place of
conference. When Sherman and Johnston were alone, the dispatch
announcing Mr. Lincoln's murder was shown the Confederate, and as he
read it, Sherman tells us, beads of perspiration stood out on his
forehead, his face showed the horror and distress he felt, and he
denounced the act as a disgrace to the age. [Footnote: Memoirs, vol.
ii. p. 349,] Both realized the danger that terrible results would
follow if hostilities should be resumed, and both were impelled to
yield whatever seemed possible to bring the war to an immediate end.
In this praiseworthy spirit their discussion was carried on,
Johnston saying that "the greatest possible calamity to the South
had happened." [Footnote: Johnston's Narrative, p. 402.]

Johnston's first point was that his proposal of the 14th had been
that the civil authorities should negotiate as to the terms of
peace, while the armistice should continue. Sherman could not deal
with the Confederate civil government or recognize it. It could only
dissolve and vanish when the separate states should make their
submission, and these were the only governments _de facto_ with whom
dealings could be had. Postponing this matter, they proceeded to the
practical one,--the terms that could be assured to the armies of the
South and to the States.

Here they found themselves not far apart. As to the troops, nothing
more liberal could be asked than the terms already given to Lee.
Sherman knew of Mr. Lincoln's willingness that the State governments
should continue to act, if they began by declaring the Confederacy
dissolved by defeat, and the authority of the United States
recognized and acknowledged. He had no knowledge of any change in
the policy of the government in this respect, and what he had said
to Governor Vance's delegation was satisfactory to both negotiators.

But how as to amnesty? Here Sherman was also able to give Lincoln's
own words, declaring his desire that the people in general should be
assured of all their rights of life, liberty, and property, and the
political rights of citizens of a common country on their complete
submission. Lincoln wanted no more lives sacrificed, and would use
his power to make amnesty complete. He could not control the
legislative or the judicial department of the government, but he
spoke for himself as executive. An agreement was easy here also.

What, then, as to slavery? Sherman regarded it utterly dead in the
regions occupied by the Confederates at the time of the Emancipation
Proclamation (Jan. 1, 1863), and Johnston frankly admitted that
surrender in view of the whole situation acknowledged the end of the
system which had been the great stake in the war. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. iii. p. 243.] The Thirteenth
Amendment of the Constitution, abolishing slavery, had then been
accepted by twenty States, Arkansas did so three days later, and the
six Northern States which had been delayed in action upon it were as
certain to ratify as that a little time should roll round.
[Footnote: Rickey's Constitution, p. 43.] It was therefore no figure
of speech to say that slavery was dead: Sherman, Johnston, and
Breckinridge knew it to be true. But Johnston urged that to secure
the prompt and peaceful acquiescence of the whole South, it was
undesirable to force upon them irritating acknowledgments even of
what they tacitly admitted to themselves was true; further, that the
subject was not included in the scope of a military convention. If
slavery was in fact abolished by Mr. Lincoln's proclamation, it was
for Congress and the courts so to declare it, and two soldiers
arranging the surrender had no call to assert all the legal
consequences which would flow from the act. Sherman yielded to this
argument, not from any doubt as to the fact of freedom, but from a
certainty of it so complete that he would not prolong dispute to
obtain a formal assent to it. He was the more ready to do so as he
insisted that he acted simply as the representative of the Executive
as Commander-in-Chief, and neither could nor would promise immunity
from prosecutions under indictments or confiscation-laws. He said
also that whilst he agreed with Mr. Lincoln in hoping no executions
or long imprisonments would occur, he advised the leading men in the
Confederate Government to get out of the country.

As to the disposal of the arms in the hands of the Confederate
soldiers from North Carolina to Texas, both knew that little of
practical moment depended on the form of the agreement. So many arms
were thrown away, so many were concealed by soldiers who loved the
weapons they had carried, that even in our own ranks no satisfactory
collection of them could be made. But a real and present
apprehension with both officers was the scattering of armed men in
guerilla bands. If the law-abiding were disarmed and those who
scattered and refused to give up their weapons were at large, how
could the States preserve the peace? To this point Sherman said he
attached most importance. This was not an afterthought when
defending his action; he wrote it to Grant in the letter
transmitting the terms when they were made. [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. xlvii. pt. iii. p. 243.] The same thought was forced
home on the Confederates by their experience at the time. Before the
negotiations were finally concluded, bands of paroled men from Lee's
army, and stragglers were able to stop trains on the railroad on
which Johnston's army was dependent for supplies, and it would have
been intolerable to leave the country at the mercy of that class.
[Footnote: _Id_., pp. 818, 819.] To keep the troops of each State
under discipline till they deposited the arms at State capitals,
where United States garrisons would be, and where the final disposal
of them would be "subject to the future action of Congress," seemed
prudent and safe; and this was agreed to. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 243,

In the first day's conference it seemed clear that the generals
could easily agree upon all they thought essential, except the
exclusion of Mr. Davis and his chief civil officers from any part in
the negotiations and making the terms of amnesty general. An
adjournment to Tuesday was had to give Johnston time to consult with
General Breckinridge, the Secretary of War, and for Sherman to
reflect further on the amnesty question. [Footnote: Sherman's
Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 350; Johnston's Narrative, p. 404.] As soon as
the latter reached Raleigh, he dispatched to Grant, through a staff
officer at New Berne, a brief report of the "full and frank
interchange of opinions" with Johnston. "He evidently seeks to make
terms for Jeff. Davis and his cabinet," he said. The adjournment was
mentioned with its reason; and to negative any thought that he might
neglect military advantages by the delay, he said, "We lose nothing
in time, as by agreement both armies stand still, and the roads are
drying up, so that if I am forced to pursue, we will be able to make
better speed. There is great danger that the Confederate armies will
dissolve and fill the whole land with robbers and assassins, and I
think this is one of the difficulties that Johnston labors under.
The assassination of Mr. Lincoln shows one of the elements in the
rebel army which will be almost as difficult to deal with as the
main armies." [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. iii. p.

When the two generals met again on Tuesday, General Breckinridge was
with Johnston's party, and the latter requested that he might take
part in the conference; but Sherman adhered to his position that he
would deal only with the military officers and objected to
Breckinridge as Secretary of War. Johnston suggested that he might
be present simply as a general officer, but adding that his personal
relations to Mr. Davis would greatly aid in securing final approval
of anything to which he assented. With this understanding he was
allowed to be present. Mr. Reagan, Postmaster-General, had also come
with Breckinridge to General Hampton's headquarters, but did not
proceed further. He was busy there, Johnston tells us, in throwing
into form the terms which the general thought were fairly included
in the conversational comparison of views on the previous day, with
the exception of the amnesty, which was made general without
exceptions. [Footnote: Johnston's Narrative, p. 404.] This must, of
course, have been from notes written at Johnston's dictation.

Sherman was now informed that the Confederate general had authority
to negotiate a military convention for the surrender of all the
Confederate armies, and that if the terms could be agreed upon, the
Davis government would disband, like the armies, and use the
influence of its members to secure the submission of all the several
States. Johnston, on his part, would be content with the conclusions
informally reached on Monday, except that he wanted the principle
inserted of amnesty without exceptions. Mr. Reagan's draft was
produced and read. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. iii.
p. 806.] It contained a preamble stating motives for the action
proposed, and professed to be no more than a basis for further
negotiation. A note appended to it referred to several things
necessary to a conclusion of the business which might be
subsequently added. The preamble, as well as this note, was no
proper part of the terms, and Sherman entirely objected to any
preamble of the kind, wishing to include only the things necessary
to an agreement. He therefore took his pen, and then and there wrote
off rapidly his own expression of the points he had intended to
agree to, but explicitly as a "memorandum or basis" for submission
to their principals.

They were, _First_, the continuance of the armistice, terminable on
short notice; _Second_, the disbanding of all the Confederate armies
under parol and deposit of their arms subject to the control of the
National government; _Third_, recognition by the Executive of
existing State governments; _Fourth_, re-establishment of Federal
Courts; _Fifth_, guaranty for the future of general rights of
person, property, and political rights "so far as the Executive
can;" _Sixth_, freedom for the people from disturbance on account of
the past, by "the Executive authority of the government;" the
_seventh_ item was a general rsum of results aimed at. [Footnote:
_Id_., p 243.] The most striking difference between this statement
and that which Mr. Reagan had drawn, besides the omission of the
preamble, was the express limitation of the proposed action by the
powers of the National executive, with neither promise nor
suggestion as to what the courts or Congress might or might not do.

In transmitting the memorandum through General Grant, Sherman wrote
that the point to which he attached most importance was "that the
dispersion and disbandment of those armies is done in such a manner
as to prevent their breaking up into guerilla bands," whilst there
was no restriction on our right to military occupation. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. iii. p. 243.] As to slavery, he
said, "Both generals Johnston and Breckinridge admitted that slavery
was dead, and I could not insist on embracing it in such a paper,
because it can be made with the States in detail." [Footnote:
_Ibid._] He also referred to the financial question, and the
necessity of stopping war expenditures and getting the officers and
men of the army home to work. Writing to Halleck as chief of staff
at the same time, he referred to the same topics, expressed his
belief, from all he saw and heard, that "even Mr. Davis was not
privy to the diabolical plot" of assassination, but that it was "the
emanation of a set of young men of the South who are very devils."
[Footnote: _Id._, p. 245.] He told Halleck that Johnston informed
him that Stoneman's cavalry had been at Salisbury, but was then near
Statesville, which was on the road back to Tennessee, about forty
miles west of Salisbury and double that distance west of

A week now intervened, in which the important papers were journeying
to Washington and the orders of the government coming back. On the
20th Sherman had occasion to inform Johnston of steps he had taken
to enforce the details of the truce, and as evidence that he had not
mistaken Mr. Lincoln's views in regard to the State governments, he
enclosed a late paper showing that "in Virginia the State
authorities are acknowledged and invited to resume their lawful
functions." [Footnote: _Id._, p. 257.] The convention seemed
therefore in harmony with the course actually pursued by the
administration at Washington, and the negotiators were justified in
feeling reassured.

Another day passed, and as other incidents in the relations of the
armies needed to be communicated to Johnston, Sherman recurred again
to the encouraging feature of the leave to assemble the Virginia
legislature, but added some reflections on points which he thought
might require more explicit treatment than they had given, and he
suggested Johnston's conference with the best Southern men, so that
he might be ready to act without delay if modifications should be
required in the final convention. "It may be," he said, "that the
lawyers will want us to define more minutely what is meant by the
guaranty of rights of person and property. It may be construed into
a compact for us to undo the past as to the rights of slaves, and
'leases of plantations' on the Mississippi, of 'vacant and
abandoned' plantations. I wish you would talk to the best men you
have on these points, and if possible, let us, in the final
convention, make these points so clear as to leave no room for angry
controversy. I believe if the South would simply and publicly
declare what we all feel, that slavery is dead, that you would
inaugurate an era of peace and prosperity that would soon efface the
ravages of the past four years of war. Negroes would remain in the
South and afford you abundance of cheap labor, which otherwise will
be driven away, and it will save the country the senseless
discussions which have kept us all in hot water for fifty years.
Although, strictly speaking, this is no subject of a military
convention, yet I am honestly convinced that our simple declaration
of a result will be accepted as good law everywhere. Of course I
have not a single word from Washington on this or any other point of
our agreement, but I know the effect of such a step by us will be
universally accepted." [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt.
iii. p. 266.]

On the same day (21st), he was replying to a letter from an
acquaintance of former days residing at Wilmington. In this reply he
spoke out more vigorously his own sentiments: "The idea of war to
perpetuate slavery in the year 1861 was an insult to the
intelligence of the age." War being begun by the South, "it was
absurd to suppose we were bound to respect that kind of property or
any kind of property. . . . The result is nearly accomplished, and
is what you might have foreseen." [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
xlvii. pt. iii. p. 271.]

On the 23d he sent a bundle of newspapers to Johnston and Hardee,
giving the developments of the assassination plot and the hopes that
the Sewards would recover. In the unofficial note accompanying them,
he said: "The feeling North on this subject is more intense than
anything that ever occurred before. General Ord at Richmond has
recalled the permission given for the Virginia legislature, and I
fear much the assassination of the President will give a bias to the
popular mind which, in connection with the desire of our
politicians, may thwart our purpose of recognizing 'existing local
governments.' But it does seem to me there must be good sense enough
left on this continent to give order and shape to the now disjointed
elements of government. I believe this assassination of Mr. Lincoln
will do the cause of the South more harm than any event of the war,
both at home and abroad, and I doubt if the Confederate military
authorities had any more complicity with it than I had. I am thus
frank with you, and have asserted as much to the War Department. But
I dare not say as much for Mr. Davis or some of the civil
functionaries, for it seems the plot was fixed for March 4, but
delayed awaiting some instructions from Richmond." [Footnote: _Id._,
p. 287.]

The whole tenor of this letter speaks most clearly the faith which
personal intercourse with Johnston had given Sherman in his honor
and his sincerity of desire that the war should end. The same had
been expressed in an official note of the same date in which Sherman
had said in regard to his directions to General Wilson in Georgia:
"I have almost exceeded the bounds of prudence in checking him
without the means of direct communication, and only did so on my
absolute faith in your personal character." [Footnote: _Id._, p.
286.] The faith was not misplaced and was not disappointed.

The correspondence thus quoted reveals to us Sherman's thoughts from
day to day, the real opinions and sentiments which he intended to

Book of the day: