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him the orders under which he then undertook to advance against Hood’s left-rear. Wilson also associated with it the capture of a dispatch from Hood to Chalmers, urging the latter to drive the Yankee cavalry from his left and rear, as otherwise he could not hold the position. This dispatch, Wilson said, he promptly sent to Thomas. As the conference between Schofield and Wilson was for the purpose of assisting me in getting undisputed facts for the history of the campaign, I was permitted to know the result and to have the contents of a letter from Wilson to Schofield of date of June 28, 1882, restating his recollection. In pursuance of my rule to avoid as far as possible the debate of subsidiary controverted points in my connected history, I omitted any reference to them in this instance. General Schofield’s memory is, however, so strongly supported by the field dispatches, that it does not seem difficult now to reach a sound historical judgment.

It is plain that during the earlier part of the day General Wilson was reporting through General Schofield, who forwarded to General Thomas the information received. At some time before noon the latter had completed his examination of the position of the Fourth Corps on the left of the army, so that General Wood was at liberty to ride to General Steedman’s headquarters on the Nolensville turnpike. [Footnote: Official Records, vol xlv. pt. i. p. 131.] Thomas passed westward to General Smith’s headquarters at the centre, where he seems still to have been at three o’clock, [Footnote: _Id_., p. 435.] or at the time of the arrangement between McArthur and Couch, which the latter places at half-past two. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. ii. p. 217.] Thomas then visited General Schofield’s position, where he was when the final assault was made and the enemy routed. General Wilson’s reports make no mention of a visit from General Thomas on the 16th, and the contents of his dispatches show that there had been none up to eleven o’clock, when Thomas was with Wood on the other flank of the whole army. It can hardly be necessary to mention the extreme improbability of the commander’s omission to visit Schofield’s quarters near the Hillsborough turnpike, if he were going by that road to Wilson, who was also on it. We must conclude that General Wilson is mistaken in his recollection. That he saw General Thomas at Schofield’s position late in the day, is conceded by all. [Footnote: The account in “Franklin and Nashville,” etc., p. 119, must be modified in accord with the facts above stated.]

We find no mention in the records of any capture of an important dispatch from Hood to Chalmers, except that found on the person of Colonel Rucker, when he was wounded and captured at 6.30 P.M., trying to hold the pass of the Brentwood hills on the Granny White turnpike, in the darkness, two hours after the collapse of Hood’s line. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 218.] This dispatch seems to have strongly resembled the language used by Wilson in his letter to Schofield in 1882. It is said to have stated that Chalmers’ cavalry must take care of this flank. In sending the information to General Johnson, Wilson added, “Go for him with all possible celerity, as Hood says the safety of their army depends upon Chalmers.” [Footnote: Wilson to Johnson, Id., p. 222.] As we have already noted, Rucker’s brigade, just routed, was all there was of Chalmers’ division on that flank except a regiment covering trains making for Franklin.

The Confederate records support this view. Chalmers’ report relates the skirmishing during the morning in which Rucker was holding the Hillsborough turnpike against Wilson, and the attempt on our side to move to the Granny White turnpike, from which Hammond’s detachment was driven back. He says that with one regiment and his own escort he “held the enemy in check for more than three hours.” [Footnote: _Id._, pt. i. p. 765.] This agrees very well with the situation as indicated in General Schofield’s dispatch of 1.30 P.M., when a serious effort was making on our side to reach that road. Chalmers reported the fact that the regiment was hotly beset, and Hood’s adjutant-general, in acknowledging it at 3.15 P.M., said, “Your dispatch, saying you were fighting the enemy with one regiment on the Granny White pike, received. General Hood says you must hold that pike; put in your escort and every available man you can find.” [Footnote: _Id._, pt. ii. p. 697.] Chalmers reports that he received this about 4.30, when the regiment had been driven back; that he then moved up Rucker’s brigade, which had reached the same turnpike nearer Brentwood, and after a sharp struggle it was routed. “By this time,” he adds, “it was so dark that it was impossible to re-form the men, or, indeed, to distinguish friend from foe, so closely were they mingled together.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. p. 766.] It was in this _mêlée_ that Rucker was wounded and captured.

In preparation for the attack in concert with A. J. Smith’s command, my flank brigade (Stiles’s), which had been in echelon on our right, was ordered to swing forward in touch with our cavalry advance. [Footnote: My Report, _Id_., p. 407.] My own main attack was to be upon the bastion which made the flank of the enemy’s works before us. I ordered Doolittle’s brigade to charge straight at it. Casement’s brigade, on Doolittle’s left, was to march by the right flank at double-quick in rear of Doolittle, so as to become a second line to him and support the advance as might be necessary. The skirmishers of Stiles’s brigade had accompanied the cavalry advance since half-past one, and in the final effort his troops in line were to take part as already stated. [Footnote: See Schofield to Thomas, 1.30 P. M., _Id_., pt. ii. p. 215; Stiles’s Report, _Id_., pt. i. p. 431; my own Report, _Id_., p. 407, and sketch map accompanying the latter, _Id_., p. 408; also “Franklin and Nashville,” etc., pp. 119-122.] After personal conference with my brigade commanders to insure complete mutual understanding, I rode to the hill in rear of my lines where Thomas and Schofield were together, [Footnote: Marked 2 in map, p. 359.] watching for the concerted attack upon Shy’s hill in the salient angle of Hood’s lines.

When Smith’s men were seen to reach the summit of Shy’s Hill, I received the signal from Schofield, and galloped down the hill toward Doolittle; but he also had caught sight of the movement, and his brigade was already charging on the run when I reached him. The excited firing of the enemy was too high, and Doolittle’s men entered the works with very little loss. The collapse was general. As soon as we were over the works, I was ordered to stand fast with my command and give General Smith’s command the right of way down the Granny White turnpike. Doolittle’s brigade had carried the bastion in front of our right and the curtain adjoining it, and his line halted immediately in rear of these, partly facing the turnpike. He had captured a four-gun battery of light twelves in the bastion and another of the same number in the curtain, with the artillerists and part of the supports. [Footnote: See the official reports cited above, and special reports as to the guns, Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. pp. 234, 235; also regimental reports, Twelfth Kentucky, _Id_., pt. i. p. 417, One Hundredth Ohio, _Id_., p. 420, and Eighth Tennessee, _Id_., p. 423.] Stiles, advancing with the cavalry, was halted a short distance in front of Doolittle, facing southward on the right of the turnpike. Casement was halted in the trenches from which Doolittle had started. [Footnote: Casement’s Report, _Id_., pt. i. p. 425. All the reports on the National side except that of the cavalry refer to the concerted attack on Shy’s hill as the signal for the general advance. The Confederate reports also speak of the carrying of that salient as the cause of the rout. In his second report, dated Feb. 1, 1865, and in his letter to General Schofield in 1882, cited above, General Wilson says that it was on his personal report of what his men were doing on the enemy’s left rear that Thomas ordered the final assault.]



Night after the battle–Unusual exposure–Hardships of company officers–Bad roads–Halt at Franklin–Visiting the battlefield–Continued pursuit–Decatur reoccupied–Hood at Tupelo, Miss.–Summary of captures–Thomas suggests winter-quarters–Grant orders continued activity–Schofield’s proposal to move the corps to the East–Grant’s correspondence with Sherman–Schofield’s suggestion adopted–Illness–I ask for “sick-leave”–Do not use it–Promotion–Reinforcements–March from Columbia to Clifton–Columns on different roads–Western part of the barrens–Fording Buffalo River–An illumined camp–Dismay of the farmer–Clifton on the Tennessee–Admiral Lee–Methods of transport–Weary waiting–Private grumbling–Ordered East–Revulsion of spirits–On the transport fleet–Thomas’s frame of mind at close of the campaign.

The night after the battle of Nashville was one we were not likely to forget. Twilight was falling when we halted, after the crushing of the Confederate lines, and as we were likely to join in the pursuit before morning, I had announced that I would be found with Doolittle’s brigade. Owing to the darkness and a gathering storm, the troops having the advance did not get far, but the risks of missing dispatches that might be sent in haste made me adhere to my rule of staying where I had said I might be found. This kept the staff and headquarters in the space a little in rear of the captured line of works, a spot unclean and malodorous. We built a camp-fire, and tried to clean off spots on which we could sit on the ground; but a heavy rain soon came on, and as we were in the woods, the light soil soon made a mire, and we were forced to stand upright and take the weather as it came. The extreme weariness of standing about, with nothing to vary the monotony, physically tired and sleepy, in the reaction from the excitement of the afternoon, was something which cannot be understood unless one has had a similar experience. We had hoped our servants might find us during the evening and bring us something to eat; but the advance over hills and intrenchments had made it hard to follow our course even in daylight; but in the darkness and storm they entirely failed to find us. We felt a good deal like “belly-pinched wolves,” but we had no den in which we could “keep the fur dry.” Indeed, the suffering of a dog that was with us was a thing we often referred to as illustrating our utter discomfort. A fine pointer, astray in northern Georgia, had attached himself to me in October, and had been constantly with us, leaping and barking with joy whenever I mounted my horse. He was with us now, and when the rain came on he stood in the mud like the rest of us, finding no spot to lie down in. He grew tired and sleepy, and looked wistfully about for a place he could consent to lie in, but gave it up, and spreading all four legs well apart he tried to stand it out. Occasionally his eyes would close and his head droop, his body would slowly sway back and forth till he made a greater nod, his nose would go into the mud, and gathering himself up he would lift his head with a most piteous whine, protesting against such headquarters.

The longest night must have an end, and early in the morning one of our black boys found us, bringing with him on horseback a haversack full of hard-tack, and in his hand a kettle of coffee which we soon made piping hot at the camp-fire, and found the world looking much more cheerful. The storm continued, however, and made the pursuit slower and more difficult than it would have been in better weather. The cavalry had the advance, supported by A. J. Smith’s troops on the Granny White turnpike, and by Wood’s Fourth Corps on the Franklin turnpike. We were ordered to follow Smith. Our camp on the evening of the 17th was not far from Brentwood between the two roads which come together a little further on after crossing the Little Harpeth, some seven miles from Franklin and the larger stream of the same name.

Our headquarters the second night after the battle were an improvement on those of the night before. We found a knoll which was fairly drained, we borrowed a tarpaulin from a battery, and with fence-rails made of it a lean-to with back to the storm. A pile of evergreen boughs made a couch on which we lay, and a camp-fire blazing high in front made a heat which mitigated even the driving December storm. Our faithful black boys had coffee-pots and haversacks, so that we did not go supperless. I wrote home that my overcoat with large cape weighed about fifty pounds with the water in it, but it kept my body dry, and I found it better to wear it than to put on a rubber waterproof, for perspiration did not evaporate under the latter.

Our private soldiers wore the rubber poncho-blankets above their overcoats in wet weather, and two “pardners” would make a shelter tent of the pair of waterproofs which had metal eyelets to adapt them to this use. Veterans carefully selected the place for the tent, pitched it in good form, trenched it so that the water would flow off and not run into the tent; then with their bed of cedar boughs, their haversacks and coffee-kettles, they were not worse off than the officers,–better off indeed than their company officers who trudged afoot like themselves.

Transportation was so difficult to get that, in pressing forward, baggage was reduced to smallest possible allowance. In bad roads such wagons as we had were far behind the troops, and the company officers were exposed to severe hardships by the delay. I laid their condition before General Schofield, in a letter which better tells the tale than I could now give it from memory alone. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 312.] “From the time we left Nashville,” I wrote, “until last night [21st December], these gentlemen had no shelter, and only such food as they could obtain from the private soldiers, being far worse off than the men, since the latter had their shelter-tents and their rations in haversacks. The officers’ rations and their cooking utensils are in the regimental wagons, which are necessarily left behind in movements such as we have lately made, and they must either furnish themselves with knapsacks and haversacks, and carry their cooking utensils upon their own persons or those of their servants, or be utterly destitute. Even if they do this, the wagons of the commissary of subsistence are also at the rear, except upon ordinary days of issue, and it would be necessary to issue to them precisely as is done to the soldiers in the ranks, and so break down the last vestige in distinction in mode of life between them and their commands. As it is, I state what I know from personal observation when I say that no individuals in any way connected with the army are enduring so much personal suffering and privation upon the present campaign as the officers of the line. As I know the commanding general will be most desirous to make any arrangement which is feasible to reduce the amount of discomfort, I take the liberty of suggesting that during the winter campaign the transportation for each regiment be one wagon for regimental headquarters and for company books and papers, desks, etc., as now, and in addition one pack-mule for each company. The pack-mules make little or no obstruction in the road, are easily moved to flank or rear in case of manoeuvre of troops, and will be up with the command when the regiment goes into camp. Unless some such arrangement is made, I fear many of our officers will break down in health, and many more, becoming disgusted with the hardships of the service, and especially with the difference between themselves and their more fortunate brethren of the staff and staff-corps, will seek to leave the army. In many commands some similar arrangements to the one I have suggested have been surreptitiously made; but as I have rigidly enforced the rule turning over to the quartermaster all unauthorized animals, I am the more desirous of obtaining for the gentlemen of the line whom I have the honor to command such authority to regulate their transportation as will save them from the apparently unnecessary hardships they have of late endured, without detracting from the mobility of the division.” The plan suggested was one we had used in exigencies in the Atlanta campaign, and General Schofield immediately authorized it for winter use.

The cold rainstorm, in which the battle of Nashville had ended, lasted for a week, turning to sleet and snow on the 20th and clearing off with sharp cold on the 24th. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. pp. 360, 361.] Worse weather for field operations it would be hard to imagine. The ordinary country roads were impassable, and even the turnpikes became nearly so. They had never been very solidly made, and had not been repaired for three years. In places the metalling broke through, making holes similar to holes in thick ice, with well-defined margin. These were filled to the brim with water, and churned into deep pits by the wheels of loaded wagons. It required watchfulness to see them, as the whole surface of the road was flowing with slush and mud. When a wheel went into one, the wagon dropped to the axle, and even where there was no upset it was a most difficult task to pry the wagon out and start it on the way again. The wagon-master was lucky if it did not stop his whole train, and it was no uncommon thing for a mule to be drowned by getting down in one of these pits. Hood’s rear-guard under Forrest and Walthall destroyed bridges behind them, of course, and that our cavalry with the head of our infantry column were able to keep close on the enemy’s rear till they passed Pulaski is good proof of the energy with which the pursuit was conducted. Yet it was necessarily slow, for it was confined to one road, the rest being impassable, and flanking operations could only be made on a small scale when in contact with the enemy.

When we reached Franklin on our southward march, we were halted for a day, so that we might not crowd too much upon the rest of the column, and I took advantage of the opportunity to study the condition of the battlefield there. My division camped between the Columbia and the Lewisburg turnpikes, on the ground over which the Confederates had advanced to attack it in the battle. Portions of the second line of works close to the Carter house and the retrenchment across the Columbia road had been levelled, but the principal defences were as we had left them. The osage orange-trees which we had used for abatis had been evenly cut away by the bullets, and the tough fibres hung in a fringe of white strings, the upper line quite even, and just a little lower than the top of the parapet. The effect was a curiously impressive one as we looked down the line we had held and thought what a level storm of lead was indicated by this long white fringe, and what desperate charges of Hood’s divisions they were that came through it, close up to the line of this abatis. Every twig was weeping with the cold pouring rain of the dark midwinter storm, and this did not lessen the gloomy effect of the scene. At the Carter house we learned from the family many incidents of their own experience during the battle and of the scenes of the next day. [Footnote: See “Franklin,” chap. xv.]

Our position in the rear of the marching columns put upon us the duty of building bridges, repairing roads, and improving the means of supplying the troops in front. We consequently made halts, one of two or three days at Spring Hill, and another in our old camps north of Duck River, where we had held the line of the river on the 28th and 29th of November. The day after Christmas we moved over the river and encamped in front of Columbia, on the Pulaski turnpike. We remained here for several days, whilst the Fourth Corps and the cavalry, making Pulaski their depot for supplies, followed Hood until he crossed the Tennessee on the 28th and 29th of December. The line of the Confederate retreat was stripped bare of supplies and forage, and every energy was devoted to rebuilding railroad bridges and getting the road opened to Pulaski so that wagon transportation might be limited to the region beyond the head of the rails. Thomas had ordered Steedman’s and R. S. Granger’s divisions to Decatur by rail, going by way of Stevenson. Once there, they were to operate in the direction of Tuscumbia and Florence, seeking to destroy Hood’s pontoon bridges crossing the Tennessee. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 260.] The light steamboats in the upper river were reckoned on to take supplies from Chattanooga, where an abundance was in depot. Steedman reached Decatur on the 27th of December, and Granger joined him from Huntsville, but Hood had reached Bainbridge, at the foot of Muscle Shoals on the 25th; [Footnote: _Id_., p. 731.] and next day had a bridge there, built in part of our pontoons which had been floated down from Decatur. [Footnote: _Ante_, p. 343.] He assembled the remnants of his army at Tupelo, Miss., fifty miles south of Corinth. The inspection report of January 20th showed 18,708, infantry and artillery, present for duty; Forrest’s cavalry not reported. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. p. 664.] Thomas’s prizes in the two days’ fighting at Nashville were reported by him as amounting to 4462 prisoners and fifty-three pieces of artillery. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 40.] The pursuit after the battle doubled the number of the prisoners, gathered large numbers of deserters, and considerably increased the number of guns captured. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 46, 48, 51.]

On the 29th of December Thomas indicated to General Halleck his opinion that all had been done which was now practicable, and his purpose to put his forces into winter quarters,–A. J. Smith’s corps with most of the cavalry at Eastport, where the Mississippi and Alabama line reaches the Tennessee River; the Fourth Corps at Huntsville, Ala., and the Twenty-third at Dalton, Ga. Steedman’s and Granger’s divisions were already at Decatur, and would hold that important position, with which direct railway communication from Nashville would be opened as quickly as the road could be repaired from Pulaski southward. Thomas also outlined for the spring a concerted advance of the columns into southern Alabama. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 402.] The same day he issued his order to Schofield to prepare at once for the march of a hundred and fifty miles to northern Georgia. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 409.] A march of the same distance southward along the Mobile and Ohio Railway would have carried us to Hood’s camps at Tupelo, with a prospect of immediate results, and we were not exhilarated by the order, which, however, was countermanded on the 30th in consequence of dispatches received by Thomas from Halleck.

General Grant had, on the 16th, authorized Sherman to make his own plan for a new campaign, and the latter had indicated the march from Savannah to Columbia and thence to Raleigh as that which he would make if left to himself. [Footnote: _Id._, vol. xliv. pp. 727-729.] The necessity of reducing the war expenses as soon as possible, as well as more purely military reasons, seemed to the General-in-Chief to make a continuous winter campaign imperative, and by his orders Halleck had directed Thomas not to go into winter quarters, but to assemble his army at Eastport and prepare for further active work. [Footnote: _Id._, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 441.] Grant rightly concluded that Hood’s army would be sent to the Carolinas as soon as Sherman marched northward. He was therefore considering combinations of Thomas’s with Canby’s forces for the capture of Mobile and a movement on Selma, Ala., which was the only great armory and manufacturing centre now remaining to the Confederates in the Gulf States. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. pp. 419, 420.] Our army was a good deal worn with the hardships of the campaign, our wagon trains had not been brought up to the requirements for full field service, and we were receiving new troops which were not yet fully assimilated to the old; but the advantages of following up our successes by unflagging efforts in the West as well as in the East, and of making the “long pull and a pull all together” which would end the war, were so plain that all responded cheerily to the call.

But in the Twenty-third Corps a new element entered into the debate, which resulted, a fortnight later, in orders for us to move in a widely different direction. On the 27th, the day that we received at Columbia the news that Sherman had taken Savannah, Schofield wrote an unofficial letter to Grant, suggesting that the corps would no longer be needed for the spring campaign which Thomas was then planning, and that with its increase of strength it might be of more use in Grant’s own operations in Virginia if it was not practicable for us to rejoin Sherman. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 377.] Circumstances were making Schofield’s situation in Tennessee uncomfortable, for, as he said in the same letter, he was in an anomalous position, nominally commanding a department and an army, but practically doing neither. Such considerations reinforced the military reasons, but the latter were strong enough to establish the wisdom of his suggestion to Grant. He wrote at the same time to General Sherman, indicating that his strongest wish would be to join the army at Savannah if it should be feasible, for he recognized the great military importance of now concentrating against Lee. [Footnote: “Forty-six Years,” p. 254.] It happened that on the same day that Schofield was writing these letters, Grant was writing to Sherman, expressing his pleasure in the latter’s confidence of his ability to march through the Carolinas, and his own belief that it could be done. “The effect of such a campaign,” he said, “will be to disorganize the South, and prevent the organization of new armies from their broken fragments.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xliv. p. 820.] Giving a sketch of the situation in the West, he thought Sherman’s advance would force the Confederacy to use Hood’s broken army without allowing it time to collect its deserters and reorganize. As it would thus be “wiped out for present harm,” he was considering the plan of ordering A. J. Smith away from his temporary connection with Thomas’s main army, and bringing him with ten or fifteen thousand men to Virginia to make his own army strong enough to deal effectually with Lee, whether the Confederate general continued to defend Richmond or should abandon that city. [Footnote: _Ibid_.] Schofield’s suggestion fitted so well the plan Grant was revolving in his mind, that he decided to bring the Twenty-third Corps East, instead of Smith’s. On the 7th of January he directed Thomas to send Schofield and the corps to him with as little delay as possible, if he were sure that Hood had gone further south than Corinth. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 529.] When Thomas received the order on the 11th, he was at Paducah on the Ohio River, and about to start up the Tennessee by steamboat. We were at Clifton on the Tennessee, after a hard march of some seventy miles southwest from Columbia, and were awaiting steamboats to take us up to Eastport, wholly ignorant of the surprise that was in store for us. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. i. p. 363.] Even Schofield had received no word from Grant as to his action.

In making this outline of the changing plans of our superiors, I have outrun the current of my personal experience in which some things may be worth noting. On the day after the battle of Nashville, I was conscious of malarial poisoning from the specially unwholesome conditions of our bivouac on the night of the 16th, but was so confident in the vigor of my constitution in throwing off such ailments that I paid no attention to my health, and kept about my duties with my ordinary activity. I found, however, that my strength was not equal to the demands upon it, and by the time we reached the Duck River on the 23d of December, I was glad to find quarters at the house of Mrs. Porter, in the bend of the river, where we had been during the two days before the battle of Franklin, and where we were again received with a kindness and hospitality which was wonderful when one considers how the passing and repassing of armies had ruined the country and overstrained the sympathies of the people.

Fortunately for me, our movements were suspended for a week and we made but one change of camp, crossing to the south side of the river, and taking the position in front of Columbia which I have already mentioned. [Footnote: _Ante_, p. 373.] My medical director, Surgeon Frink, gave me heroic treatment, and by the time we marched again on the 2d of January, I was able to do my ordinary duties, though I did not become quite well again till I reached the sea-coast and got a complete change of climate. At this time we were expecting to go into winter quarters, and when, on 29th December, I learned that orders were issued for the corps to winter at Dalton, I requested and received a leave of absence for thirty days, to go home and recover my health. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. p. 361.] My order had been issued, turning over the command to Colonel Doolittle, the senior brigade commander present, [Footnote: _Id._, pt. ii. p. 476.] when I learned from General Schofield that the active campaign was to be resumed and that he had abandoned the purpose he had formed of going north himself as far as Louisville. I immediately rescinded my own order, and marched with the command. [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 426, 474, 475, 486.]

During the pursuit of Hood from Nashville, Thomas had followed in person the Fourth Corps, which was in advance of ours, and Schofield had no opportunity of personal conference with him, so that our only knowledge of his purposes was got from the formal correspondence with his headquarters. When Colonel Doolittle sent forward his communication reasserting the capture of the battery in the curtain of the Confederate works on the 16th of December, [Footnote: _Ante_, p. 366.] it was accompanied by my own and indorsed by General Schofield. It reached Thomas at Duck River, and he made it the occasion of indorsing upon it a recommendation for my promotion to the grade of Major-General. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. pp. 234, 235.] On the 19th, from Franklin, General Schofield made his own recommendation in terms which I may be pardoned for feeling more pride in than in the promotion itself. [Footnote: See Appendix C.] This was earnestly supported by General Thomas and forwarded on the 20th. The only vacancy in the grade was one made by the resignation of General McClernand, and to this I was assigned, as of the 7th of December, the date of General Schofield’s report of the battle of Franklin, though the official notice of the promotion did not reach me till the 15th of January, at Clifton, as we were about to take steamboats for our movement to the East. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. pp. 273, 274; _Id_., pt. i. p. 364. Army Register for 1865, pp. 54, 95. Another vacancy occurred on the 13th December, by the resignation of General Crittenden, and to this General W. B. Hazen was appointed for his assault of Fort McAllister near Savannah. (_Ibid_.) On December 22d Mr. Stanton asked Thomas to make a list of promotions he desired to recommend, but informed him that there was then no vacancy in the grade of Major-General, and only two in that of Brigadier. (Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 307.) General Schofield thinks that Stanton, in the dispatch last mentioned, referred only to vacancies in the regular army. (Forty-six Years, p. 279.) The circumstances and the whole correspondence seem to me inconsistent with this view. Thomas made out his list on the 25th, and it was for promotions in the volunteer service only. (Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 343.) Thomas’s own promotion as Major-General in the regular army was made on the 24th. (_Id_., pp. 318, 329.)]

Before leaving Columbia, General Schofield had, on the 28th of December, a consultation with his three division commanders in regard to the assignment of the new regiments, to the number of twelve or thirteen, which had been added to the corps. [Footnote: These included two or three which had been temporarily attached at Franklin, but were now made permanent parts of the organization.] It was agreed that it was best to preserve the older organizations of divisions and brigades, and to strengthen these by some new regiments, while the rest of the new regiments were organized into a division under General Ruger. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 409.] Schofield had the promise of several other regiments whenever they should come forward; and by correspondence with Halleck and with the Governor of Illinois, as well as with Thomas, he was actively striving to bring the corps to the proper strength of three full divisions. At the end of the month we had 15,000 men, with at least two other regiments ordered to join us, one of them convalescing from the measles, which was very apt to run through a new organization taking the field. [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 426, 436, 445, 461, 473, 475.] The new troops were nearly all officered by men of experience, and contained many veterans who had re-enlisted. We thus welcomed back valuable men who had served in the corps, and came to us with increased rank and a renewed zeal which made our reinforcements at once nearly equal to seasoned troops.

Our orders to march from Columbia on the 1st of January were in pursuance of the orders Thomas had received to concentrate his army at Eastport and Tuscumbia for the continuance of the campaign. The Fourth Corps was _en route_ to Huntsville, and Thomas did not change its destination, as he thought it could take part in new movements as well from that position as from Tuscumbia. A. J. Smith’s corps had already been ordered to Eastport for winter quarters, and had marched from Pulaski by way of Lawrenceburg and Waynesborough, reaching Clifton on the 2d of January, where it awaited steamboat transportation. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. pp. 396, 410, 420, 427, 486. Clifton is called Carrollville in official Atlas, pl. cxlix. The former name is that used in the dispatches and which we found in use by everybody. The roads and topography in the map are very incorrect.] Thomas himself was at Pulaski, and went back by rail to his headquarters at Nashville, whence he took a steamer to convey his field headquarters and staff by way of the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers to Eastport. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. pp. 470, 530, 567.]

We marched from Columbia on the morning of the 2d of January, 1865, following the turnpike to Mt. Pleasant, ten miles, through some of the finest farms in the State. The afternoon was spent in organizing the corps to move in separate columns by division, each with its own supply train; for the information we got as to the condition of the roads made it wise to try any country roads which had not been used by the armies. It was arranged that Couch’s division should march by the turnpike to Waynesborough, wind by a ridge road through the “barrens” north of the turnpike, and Ruger should follow me some distance, and then take an intermediate road through Laurel-Hill Factory, leaving an interval of a day’s march between our columns. Couch’s division was preceded by the engineer battalion of the corps, as pioneers to repair the turnpike. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 475, 486.] Promptly at six o’clock on the 3d, my division marched from Mt. Pleasant, continuing for five miles on the Waynesborough turnpike, then turning to the right upon the Gordon road, we climbed by a steep and long hill to the barren ridge which is the watershed between the Duck River and Buffalo River. Five miles from the turnpike our way ran into the Beaverdam road, which we kept for five miles further to the fork of the Ashland road, turning to the left. Here we camped and waited for our trains, which had slow work in climbing the ridge, for it had rained all the morning, and the roads were slippery. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. i. p. 362; pt. ii. p. 498.]

It was noon of the 4th before the trains overtook us, and I then ordered an issue of rations to lighten them, and we started again, with a citizen for a guide. We followed the Perryville road seven miles to the headwaters of Grinder’s Creek, a tributary of Buffalo River, and down the creek three miles, the road being a mere track in its bed. We now turned to the right over a ridge and came down into Rockhouse Creek, the course of which we followed to the river. I had learned that we must ford the Buffalo, and from the wet weather it would be whole leg deep. It was getting late in the day, and Rockhouse Creek had to be crossed many times; so I passed the order along the line not to try to bridge, but to march straight through the creek and make the more important crossing of the river before going into camp. This seemed hard, in the month of January, when, as it had cleared and was cold, ice was forming in the still places of the stream; but I heard that open farm lands bordered the river on the other side, and if our wading was done all at once, we could make the men dry their clothes and shoes with less danger to health than if we began another day with a soaking. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. p. 362.]

It grew dark several hours before we reached Buffalo River, the column plodding along in the wooded ravine. I had turned out from the road to wait for the brigades to pass, and have a word with the commanders in turn, and was picking my way to the head of column again, when I overheard one of those little colloquies between soldiers which give real pleasure to an officer. A fresh recruit was grumbling at marching in the darkness and in the water, and wondering what generals could mean by putting such hardships upon the soldiers, when a veteran by his side answered cheerily, “When you’ve been in this division as long as I have, you’ll know there’s some good reason for pushing us this way; so take it easy, and don’t growl. The General knows what he’s about.” I turned further out into the darkness, with a feeling that it would cheapen the brave man’s words to let him learn who had heard him, but the evidence of the trust which is the foundation of soldierly devotion gave a deep satisfaction. When the column reached the river, which was about seventy-five yards wide, fires were lit on both sides as guides to the ford, and though it was near nine o’clock, the men were not permitted to rest till they had thoroughly dried themselves around the great fires of fence-rails. They did not need orders to boil their coffee and cook a hot supper in their bivouac. The broad fields between the hills and the river were illuminated far and wide, and the stillness of the dark valley was transformed into the noisy activity of the armed host. All in the camp were “merry as grigs,” and did not need to be told why the march had been prolonged into the night. But the fun of the soldier was the grief and dismay of the farmer.

The place belonged to an elderly man named Churchill. We had to make use of his house for headquarters, and while our boys were cooking our supper, a busy group of officers was seated about the crackling fire in an open fireplace, writing dispatches and orders, receiving reports, and sending messages, while in the shadows of the background the farmer and his wife were moving uneasily about, looking out of door or window, and wringing their hands at the vision of destruction which had suddenly descended upon them. The old man protested at the burning of his fences, naturally enough, and all we could say was that, in the end, if he could prove his loyalty, he would be indemnified for his loss; but this was small consolation, and we pitied him whilst we applied the pitiless code of military necessity to save the troops from worse mischiefs.

The ridge road we had followed had been so completely a wilderness that we saw but one inhabited house for fifteen miles. The hillsides were covered with a young forest, the original woods having been cut off and made into charcoal for the iron furnaces of the region. In good weather it would have been easy marching through the region, for the top of the ridge was fairly level, winding along in a general westerly direction; but as the road had never been “worked,” and was a mere wagon track, it soon became muddy, and our wagons cut it so deeply as to spoil it for the use of any who were to follow us, and to make about fifteen miles a day the most we could ourselves accomplish.

Starting again on the 5th, we marched through Ashland, [Footnote: In the Atlas, pl. cxlix., Ashland is erroneously placed north of Buffalo river.] up the valley of Forty-eight-mile Creek and thence along a ridge to Waynesborough, encamping just beyond the town. Our road ran into the turnpike two miles east of the village, and we met Couch’s division at the junction of the roads. We took the advance, which we kept during the next day’s march to the Tennessee, reaching Clifton toward evening of the 6th, after a very hard day’s work, the weather beginning with rain in the morning and turning to sleet and snow after noon. We pitched our tents in the snowstorm, locating the camp more than a mile from the landing-place, as the eligible ground nearer was occupied by Smith’s corps, which was waiting for transports to take them up the river.

It was a desolate outlook. A few chimneys and two or three houses marked the site of what had once been a flourishing village, but which had been burned in the guerilla warfare of the last year. The landscape was bare, the trees having disappeared in the demand for camp-fires, as different bodies of troops had camped there from time to time. The bluff above the river was level and monotonous, and the great turbid stream rolling northward reflected only the heavy stormy skies. The only consolation we could gather was that Eastport, for which we supposed we were bound, was more desolate, more muddy, and a worse camping-ground.

The other divisions of the corps halted at Waynesborough for two or three days, till transports should take Smith’s corps away and give us our turn at the landing. General Schofield joined me on the afternoon of the 7th, and on Sunday, the 8th, a fleet of transports came down the river, convoyed by three gunboats under Rear-Admiral Lee. They had taken part of Smith’s troops to Eastport and had returned for the rest. A pleasant recollection of the time is the acquaintance then begun with the Admiral, which was afterwards renewed at Washington when I met him in the attractive circle of the Blair families, both the elder Francis P. Blair, and Montgomery, with whom Admiral Lee was connected by marriage. When the fleet was gone again, the rest of our corps gathered at Clifton, but we seemed shut off from all communication with the outer world. We had broken our connection with the country we had left, in the expectation of having our base on the lower Tennessee, and our supplies were getting short. An occasional steamboat would go by us, steaming up the river without stopping. Feeling the necessity of getting news from General Thomas below, General Schofield ordered me, on the 9th, to send a piece of artillery to the river bank and force up-bound boats to stop and report. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 557.] On the same day Schofield issued his order for the movement by transports up the river, giving the method of shipping the troops by divisions, each with its own artillery, baggage, and ordnance trains. Open barges were provided for the artillery and ordnance, and these were to be lashed alongside the steamboats on which the troops and the regimental baggage would be loaded. The method was arranged in consultation with Admiral Lee, to whom the division commander was ordered to report during the transit. [Footnote: _Ibid._] The intent was to keep each division together as a military unit, with its baggage, guns, and trains, so that it could take care of itself when landed. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 557.]

Nearly a week passed, the only variation in the monotony being the changes of the weather, which went through the cycle of raining, snowing, clearing, thawing, and freezing which had been regularly marked during the season. The delays in reaching the up-river rendezvous, the complete absence of all news, the wearying effect of waiting, all told upon the troops in a depressing way. General Schofield evidently had little faith that much would be done before spring, and the fact that he had heard nothing from his letters to Grant and Sherman left him without the means of relieving the general tendency to apathy and discontent under which we were suffering. In my own case I had the further discomfort of physical ailing, for though the worst symptoms of my illness had been mitigated, I was far from my usual vigor. The undeniable result of this appeared in my home letters, and it would not be altogether honest to suppress the hearty bit of private grumbling which I indulged in.

Writing on the 13th, after noting the utter lack of stability in the weather and its effect on our operations, I broke out on the personal results of the winter campaigning. “I am getting ragged and barefoot,” I said. “My boots are worn out, my coat is worn out, my waistcoats are worn out, my hat is worn out, and I am only whole and respectable when I am in my shirt and drawers. If I ever get near civilization again, I shall be obliged to lie abed somewhere till I can get some clothes made. I don’t wonder the Washington people want to have the campaign go on, and if they would apply a little of the ‘go ahead’ to the army on the James, would appreciate it still better. Here we know to an absolute certainty that the army is stuck in the mud; but the administration would not believe General Thomas when he told them so, and force him to pretend to move, with the fear of being superseded hanging over him, whilst he knows that any effective movement is impossible. We can ruin our horses and mules, and put half our men in hospitals without getting twenty-five miles from the Tennessee unless the weather changes, and this is all we can do. Hood can laugh at us unless the Mobile and Ohio Railroad can be repaired as we go and be made to furnish us supplies. If this could be done, or if the season would permit us to chase the rebels right into the gulf, I would be perfectly content to stay, and in fact couldn’t be coaxed to go home; but knowing what I know, I feel perfectly sure that I might as well be making a biennial visit to my family as not.”

On the day after this letter was written General Thomas came up the river with a fleet of transports which we were ordered to take for a movement down instead of up the river. The word spread that we were going to join Sherman, and though this meant journeys by boat, by rail, and by ocean ships, two thousand miles or more, our camps leaped from apathy to enthusiasm, such creatures of circumstance we are! Looking back at the situation, I have to admit that Grant’s plan of keeping everything moving was the right one, and that if hopeful energy and enterprise could have combined Canby’s movements with ours, and we had all been told that this active co-operation was afoot and would soon take us southward where we would meet the coming spring while Tennessee was still shivering in the winter storms, we should all have caught the spirit of the opportunity and cheered our leaders on. But this impulse in an army must come from the head downward. The trudging columns perfectly know the fatigue, the cold, the mud. They very imperfectly catch the larger view which stimulates to great effort by the hope of great results. In a council of war the division commanders would probably advise delay in sympathy with the hardships of the troops, when the same officers would have sprung with ardor to the work under a brief and strong appeal from a confident leader, presenting the broader reasons for energetic persistent activity. It was this quality of leadership in Sherman which made Grant say to Stanton in December, “It is refreshing to see a commander, after a campaign of more than seven months’ duration, ready for still further operations without wanting any outfit or rest.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 264.]

Thomas did not stop at Clifton except to send us his orders, and went on to Eastport, arriving there on the morning of the 15th. From that place he reported that Hood’s infantry, much disorganized, was at Tupelo, West Point, and Columbus, Miss. Forrest’s cavalry, in similar condition, was about Okolona. Roads were almost impracticable, but the high water in the river made it easy to get supplies to Eastport by the largest steamers. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 586, 593. General Schofield does not remember seeing General Thomas in Tennessee after December 25th (“Forty-six Years,” p. 276), and this accords with my impression that Thomas did not stop at Clifton long enough for us to visit him.] As to our new movement, Mr. Charles A. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War, had been intrusted with the supervision of the transfer, and sent west Colonel L. B. Parsons of the Quartermaster’s Department to collect a fleet of steam-boats at Louisville for the purpose. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 560, 568, 586.] But meanwhile, under Thomas’s orders, the fleet of transports had been collected and had come for us, and the troops were joined by Colonel Parsons when they reached the Ohio. He then took charge of the transportation by boat and by rail. [Footnote: Dana’s Recollections, pp. 253, 254.] As the transfer would take ten days or more, Schofield arranged to go on in advance to close up business at Louisville and for consultations with Grant and Halleck by telegraph. I went with him to Cairo, where we took railway trains, and I was authorized to go to my home in Ohio to recuperate until he should telegraph me from Washington. The command of the corps _en route_ was given to General Couch. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 588.] As we were leaving the Military Division of the Mississippi, Colonel Doolittle was obliged to give up the command of Reilly’s brigade and return to his own regiment. Reilly rejoined the corps after we reached North Carolina. The convalescents of Sherman’s army and his recruits were collected in a provisional division under General Thomas Francis Meagher, took steamboats at Nashville, and made part of the same general transfer to the East. There was an amusing coincidence when the brilliant Irish “patriot” telegraphed that his fleet had started, “the Saint Patrick leading the way.” [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 564, 600, 613.] Colonel Wright, Sherman’s efficient chief of railway construction, had been ordered, a little earlier, to proceed eastward with one division of the construction corps with the object of joining Sherman at Savannah. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 393.] Changing circumstances, however, brought him as well as Meagher’s division into our column a little later, as will soon appear. In a similar way General S. P. Carter joined us by transfer from duties at Knoxville, [Footnote: _Id._, p. 620.] and General George S. Greene, of the Twentieth Corps, who had been serving on a court-martial at Washington, was also temporarily attached to our command till he was able to join his own organization, which was with Sherman. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 623.]

The reduction of Thomas’s forces could not have been altogether agreeable to him, though he no doubt preferred it to the continuance of a winter campaign under imperative orders from Washington. He had not ceased to believe that it was better to rest and refit his army till spring;[Footnote: _Id._, p. 621.] but Grant insisted that he “must make a campaign or spare his surplus troops,” and though Thomas was a model of obedience to orders, his continued opposition of opinion, frankly expressed, naturally led to the detachment of our corps. The discussion of the subject between Grant and Halleck clearly stated the reasons which were conclusive. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. pp. 609, 610, 614; also vol. xlvii. pt. ii. pp. 101, 859.] Thomas suffered mentally under the pressure and the criticisms of the whole campaign, and we may personally share his pain in sympathy with the noble man, whilst we admit that Grant’s views were such as the situation demanded. Those who knew Thomas intimately knew that he was a man of quick feeling if of slow action; and his nature was truthfully described by his quartermaster, Colonel Donaldson (who was an old and intimate friend), in a letter to General Meigs, after a parting interview on the steamboat as Thomas left Nashville for Eastport. “He opened his heart to me,” says Donaldson. “He feels very sore at the rumored intentions to relieve him, and the major-generalcy does not cicatrize the wound. You know Thomas is morbidly sensitive, and it cut him to the heart to think that it was contemplated to remove him. He does not blame the Secretary, for he said Mr. Stanton was a fair and just man.” [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 561.]



Rendezvous at Washington–Capture of Fort Fisher–Schofield ordered to North Carolina–Grant and Schofield visit Terry–Department of North Carolina–Army of the Ohio in the field–Correspondence of Grant and Sherman–Sherman conscious of his risks but hopeful of great results–His plan of march from Savannah–Relation of Wilmington to New Berne–Our arrival at Washington–The Potomac frozen–Peace conference at Fort Monroe–Interview with Mr. Stanton–The thirteenth amendment of the Constitution–Political excitement at the capital–A little dinner-party–Garfield, H. W. Davis, and Schenck–Davis on Lincoln–Destination of our army–Embarkation–Steamship “Atlantic”–Visit to Fort Monroe–The sea-voyage–Cape Fear Inlet–General Terry’s lines–Bragg the Confederate commander–Reconnoitring his lines–The colored troops–“Monitor” engaged with Fort Anderson–Alternate plans–Marching on Wilmington by the west bank of the river–My column opposite the town–Orders not applicable to the situation–Difficulty of communication–Use of discretion–Wilmington evacuated–A happy result.

On Thursday the 26th of January, 1865, I received a telegram from General Schofield directing me to join my command without delay, and I started from my home in northern Ohio the same evening. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 131.] I had spent a week in a delightful visit with my family after two years of absence from them, and had been rapidly improving in health. The growing faith that the campaign of the winter and spring would end in complete victory for the national arms created an ardent zeal to be about it and to have an active hand in the final scenes. Our orders had indicated Annapolis as our port of rendezvous, and our destination the Army of the Potomac in front of Petersburg. [Footnote: _Id._, vol. xlv. pt. ii. pp. 529, 586.] On reaching Annapolis Junction in the night of the 28th, I learned that my division was in Washington, and followed it, arriving there in the morning of the 29th. [Footnote: To get an adequate idea of the task of transporting an army corps so great a distance, one should look at Colonel Parsons’s report, including 250 dispatches. Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. pp. 215-284.]

The change from Annapolis to Washington and Alexandria had been made by Grant upon a suggestion of General Halleck that there was no shelter at Annapolis for such a body of troops, whilst there was enough at the capital. As the winter weather was then severe, this thoughtfulness saved the command much suffering. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 596.] The military situation had also changed materially by the capture of Fort Fisher on the North Carolina coast, on the very day we embarked on the transports at Clifton (January 15th). This capture by the forces under General A. H. Terry was one step in the preparation of a new base for Sherman in his march northward through the Carolinas, and Grant was most anxious that it should be followed by the occupation of Wilmington. His desire to strengthen his own army was made secondary to his determination to make Sherman’s movement an assured success. He wrote to Sherman on the 21st that he would send Schofield to Wilmington, if, as was rumored, the fall of that place had followed the capture of Fort Fisher. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 102.] On the 24th he had made up his mind to send Schofield there anyhow, and was going himself to inspect the fort and the situation at the mouth of Cape Fear River. He telegraphed for Schofield to join him on this visit to Terry, and the outline of the new campaign was then arranged. A new department of North Carolina was decided upon, Schofield was to command it, his army in the field to consist of two provisional corps besides the Twenty-third, of which Terry was to command one, and the other for a time fell to me. This field force was to retain our old title of the Army of the Ohio. On Schofield’s recommendation the brevet rank of major-general was given to General Ruger, and that of brigadier to Colonel Henderson of the One Hundred and Twelfth Illinois, for services at Franklin. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. pp. 121, 179, 190, 201.] Sherman had heard of the fall of Fort Fisher before he broke his communications with Savannah, and was assured of a new base there, even if the line from New Berne to Goldsborough should not be opened.

The correspondence between Sherman and Grant at this time is very characteristic of both men, and throws a bright light on their unselfish friendship and their earnest purpose to bring the war to a successful end without rest or delay. In his letter of the 21st of January, after giving the latest details of his situation, Sherman adds: “I am told that Congress meditates a bill to make another lieutenant-general for me. I have written to John Sherman to stop it if it is designed for me. [Footnote: See Sherman Letters, p. 245.] It would be mischievous, for there are enough rascals who would try to sow differences between us, whereas you and I now are in perfect understanding. I would rather have you in command than anybody else, for you are fair, honest, and have at heart the same purpose that should animate all. I should emphatically decline any commission calculated to bring us into rivalry, and I ask you to advise all your friends in Congress to this effect, especially Mr. Washburne. I doubt if men in Congress fully realize that you and I are honest in our professions of want of ambition. I know that I feel none, and to-day will gladly surrender my position and influence to any other who is better able to wield the power. The flurry attending my recent success will soon blow over and give place to new developments.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 103. In the same letter Sherman referred to the farewell order General Butler had addressed to his troops on being relieved of command. “I am rejoiced that Terry took Fisher,” Sherman said, “because it silences Butler, who was to you a dangerous man. His address to his troops on being relieved was a direct, mean, and malicious attack on you, and I admired the patience and skill by which you relieved yourself and the country of him.” In the address referred to, Butler had said: “I have been chary of the precious charge confided to me. I have refused to order the useless sacrifice of the lives of such soldiers, and I am relieved from your command. The wasted blood of my men does not stain my garments.” (O. R, vol. xlvi. pt. ii. p. 71.) Such a publication made its author liable to court-martial, but Grant took no public notice of it, except to oppose his further assignment to duty. _Id_., vol. xlvii. pt. ii. pp. 537, 562. See also Sherman to Admiral Porter, _Id_., p. 104, and Grant to Sherman, _Id_., p. 859.]

Replying on the 1st of February, Grant said: “I have received your very kind letter, in which you say you would decline, or are opposed to, promotion. No one would be more pleased at your advancement than I, and if you should be placed in my position and I put subordinate, it would not change our relations in the least. I would make the same exertions to support you that you have ever done to support me, and I would do all in my power to make our cause win.” [Footnote: _Id_., p. 193.]

That Sherman knew his campaign in the Carolinas would involve great risks, and had no blind confidence in his fortune, was shown by his reply to the well-known letter of congratulation which President Lincoln sent him upon the surrender of Savannah: [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xliv. p. 809, and Sherman’s Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 166.] “The motto ‘Nothing venture, nothing win,’ which you refer to, is most appropriate, and should I venture too much and happen to lose, I shall bespeak your charitable inference.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 18.]

In writing to Grant also, on the 29th of January, in a very full and interesting letter, he said: “I expect Davis will move Heaven and earth to catch me, for success to my column is fatal to his dream of empire. Richmond is not more vital to his cause than Columbia and the heart of South Carolina.” [Footnote: _Id_., p. 155.]

[Illustration: Map: Northeast Georgia / South Carolina border area]

The general plan which he adopted was to threaten both Charleston and Augusta with the wings of his army, keeping the enemy in doubt as to his purpose as long as possible, whilst he pushed his centre rapidly toward Columbia. He had no mind to waste time in serious operations against Charleston, for he knew that it must fall when his advance threatened to cut it off from communication with Richmond. From Columbia he planned to march on Raleigh by way of Goldsborough, the last-named place being connected by railroad with both Wilmington and New Berne, and being therefore the objective of General Schofield’s movements from both seaports. Beaufort, the harbor of New Berne, was deeper than the mouth of Cape Fear River, and was therefore to be made the principal base of supply for Sherman when he should enter North Carolina; but Wilmington was so much further south that prudence required it to be first occupied and provisioned to give Sherman temporary supply, if any contingency should make it necessary to him before the railroad from New Berne to Goldsborough could be rebuilt. These subsidiary operations in North Carolina were to be our special task. [Footnote: For connected historical treatment of Sherman’s march northward, and of the capture of Fort Fisher, see “March to the Sea,” etc., chaps, viii.-xi.: Life of Sherman (Great Commanders’ Series), chap. xii.]

On reaching Washington, I found that my troops were just arriving on trains from the West. They were temporarily placed in barracks in the city, till the fleet of transports should be ready. The unusual severity of the winter had frozen the Potomac, and Annapolis was also blocked with ice, so that the quartermaster’s department had to wait two or three days for a change of weather, before fixing the point of departure. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 154.] The time passed pleasantly for me, since it gave me the opportunity of renewing old acquaintance with public men, and of observing for myself the spirit which animated political circles at the capital. Mr. Lincoln with Mr. Seward had gone to Fort Monroe to meet Mr. Stephens and others, commissioned by the Richmond government to confer informally as to the possibilities of peace. The Confederate officials were at Grant’s headquarters on the 1st of February, “very desirous of going to Washington to see Mr. Lincoln,” as the General-in-Chief wrote Sherman incidentally. From his interview with them, Grant was convinced that “the peace feeling within the rebel lines is gaining ground rapidly,” but he added, “This, however, should not relax our energies in the least, but should stimulate us to greater activity.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 194.]

Going to pay my respects to Secretary Stanton at the War Department, I was met by him in an exceedingly cordial way, and in parting, after an interesting visit, he congratulated me on my promotion, saying I owed nobody any thanks for it, as it had been fully and fairly won. I owe it to him to mention this, for so much was current about the brusqueness of his intercourse with army officers, that he is entitled to the testimony that, on this as on all other occasions when I met him personally, nothing could be kinder or more considerate than his manner to me.

My visit to Washington happened to include the day on which the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery passed the House. Breakfasting with Chief-Justice Chase, I met also Henry Ward Beecher, and the great historical event was, of course, the central subject of conversation. The forecast by such men of the effect upon the country and upon the world made a blending of solid wisdom with brilliant eloquence not to be forgotten. My friend Governor Dennison was Postmaster-General, and in his house I had full opportunity to judge of the keen, almost feverish interest with which public men and leading citizens were following the rapid march of both military and civil affairs. Coming, as I was, out of the rough winter campaign of the West for a brief halt in the centre of political activity, before sailing to the swamp-lined shores of Carolina, there was something almost unreal, though fascinating, in the contrast of the excitement of the field with the totally different but scarcely less absorbing excitement which I saw in every face.

Garfield arranged a little dinner at which, besides himself, I met General Schenck and Henry Winter Davis, all of them playing leading roles in the House of Representatives. We four were alone, and it was a rare opportunity for me to hear unrestrained discussion of everything in public affairs. Nearly every phase of current political and military events was treated in brilliant and trenchant criticism, and the conversation turned at last upon the peace conference going on at Fort Monroe. Mr. Davis was a Marylander, who was second to none in uncompromising loyalty to the Union, and had an acknowledged pre-eminence in eloquent advocacy of the National cause. He, however, did not understand or appreciate Mr. Lincoln, and in the celebrated “Wade and Davis manifesto” of the previous year, had opposed the re-election of the President. He now let loose in a witty and scathing denunciation of Lincoln and all his works. The current epithets among the President’s opponents, of which “baboon” was one of the mildest, were flung at him with a venom that, to me, was half shocking and half comical. The soldier habit of making the Hurrah for Lincoln our answering war-cry to the Hurrah for Davis of our enemies in the field, made a bewildering puzzle of such an outburst. The meeting with the Southern commissioners was denounced as a weak compromising of our cause. He saw no force in the argument that weak hearts among us would be strengthened when they saw that now as upon former overtures the Confederate authorities insisted upon independence as the necessary condition of peace, whilst Mr. Lincoln stood firmly for restoration of the Union and abolition of slavery as the essentials. The curious fact was that such a man, ably busied for four years in political co-operation with the President, living in the same city, in frequent personal contact with him, had utterly failed to measure his character and his intellect, or to get even a glimmering idea of what lay beneath that ungraceful exterior and that quaint and humorous speech. The elegant orator and polished man of the world felt no magnetism but that of repulsion; and his senses were so dulled by it that he never guessed the wisdom and the breadth, the subtle policy and the deep statesmanship, the luminous insight and the unfaltering purpose which now seem writ so plain in Lincoln’s words and deeds.

General Schenck did not appear to differ greatly from Davis, but what he said was in short, trenchant sentences, interjected from time to time. Garfield treated the outburst as a sort of extravaganza, and in his position as host did not seriously debate, but rallied his friend with good-humored persiflage, met his outbursts with jovial laughter and prodded him to fresh explosions by shafts of wit. It was a strange and not altogether exhilarating experience for me; but I had afterward to learn that the belittling view of Lincoln was the common one among public men in Washington. The people at a distance got a juster perspective, and knowing him by his written papers and his public acts, divined him better and gave him a loyal support hardly to be distinguished from their devotion to the cause of the country itself. We may fairly conclude that the failure of so many men near the President to understand him is not creditable to their sagacity; but we must also admit that a first impression and a superficial view would in his case be almost surely misleading, and that to correct it would take better opportunities for an intimate study of the man than most public men would have, and most would not care to seek them. The belittling view of men in power fits best our self-esteem.

As soon as General Schofield got back from his trip to Fort Fisher with Grant, he had issued his orders for our movement which was to take place as soon as the ice would permit our transports to enter or leave the harbors on Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac. My own division was to take the lead and sail to Cape Fear River. Couch’s would come next and land at Beaufort for operations on the New Berne line. Ruger’s (the new troops) would sail last, and find orders at Fort Monroe in going down the bay, deciding whether its destination should be Wilmington or Beaufort. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 135.] Meagher’s provisional division of detachments belonging to Sherman’s army was temporarily attached to us, for it was too late to join Sherman by way of Savannah. Meagher had ordered it to rendezvous at New York, but Grant changed its destination to Washington with the purpose just stated. Its commander had gone on to New York in advance without any understanding with army headquarters, and the convivial and unsystematic Irishman thereby fell into trouble. [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 116, 119, 126, 204, 293.]

On Thursday the 2d of February, General Schofield was able to issue his final orders for embarkation. Only vessels enough for two brigades of my division had been able to reach Alexandria, and Casement’s brigade was sent by rail to Annapolis to take ship there and to be followed immediately by Meagher’s provisional command. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 213.] Friday was spent in getting troops on board the ships at Annapolis and systematizing their accommodation for the voyage. One of our transports was the “Atlantic,” Captain Gray, which, as the crack ship of the Collins Line of New York and Liverpool packets, had led the van of the ocean greyhounds in the days of wooden hulls and side-wheels. General Schofield and myself made our headquarters on this ship. On each of the other vessels the senior officer was made responsible for all the troops on board, and was confidentially authorized, after it should enter Chesapeake Bay, to instruct the master of the ship to make the best of his way to Cape Fear Inlet as the rendezvous for the division. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 293.] General Grant had asked the War Department to arrange for a patrol of the coast by the navy during the transit of Schofield’s little army. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 284.]

On Saturday the 4th we had expected to start at daybreak, but a heavy fog delayed us. When it lifted, we made our way slowly down the Potomac, the drifting ice obstructing the passage so that we could only go at a snail’s pace, backing and filling to keep in the ice openings and to save injury to the vessel. Starting at ten o’clock, we only reached the head of Kettlebottom Shoals by nightfall of the short winter day, making less than twenty miles. The passage of the shoals was too dangerous for so large a vessel in the dark, and we dropped anchor for the night. I had made it my first task on Friday evening to have a complete understanding with Captain Gray, and to get his suggestions as to the orders I desired to issue for the conduct and discipline of the troops while on board ship for which I was responsible. He was a gentleman of ability and large experience in his profession, and co-operated with me so cordially that our week on board the “Atlantic” was a most comfortable one, full of interest and enjoyment, though we met rough weather outside the capes. My order was issued on Saturday and rigidly enforced during the voyage. By Captain Gray’s invitation I made my office in his chart-room on the upper deck, enforcing regular tours of duty for officers and men of the division, of whom nearly 2000 were on board. In the intervals, when the captain was not himself on the bridge, we exchanged stories of our very different experiences, and I found his conversation both interesting and instructive. We had besides, of course, the large circle of comrades and old friends in the cabin, and for those who escaped sea-sickness the hours never hung heavy. [Footnote: As the Records do not seem to contain many orders for the conduct of troops on transport ships, I insert that which I made for this voyage. It was, of course, supplemental to the Army Regulations of 1863, chap, xxxvii.

“Special Orders

No. 9.

HEADQUARTERS, THIRD DIV., 23D ARMY CORPS, Steamship Atlantic, February 4, 1865.

The following regulations will be strictly observed by the officers and men of this command during the present voyage:

1. No open lights will be allowed in any part of the ship occupied by troops. The ship’s lanterns will be arranged by the officers of the vessel in such a way as to light the decks during the night, and will not be opened or interfered with by the men.

2. No smoking will be allowed in any part of the vessel used for sleeping except the open decks. The men may smoke in the open air upon the upper decks, and the brigade commander will provide for giving proper airing, and opportunity to smoke, to the men quartered below. Officers will smoke, either upon deck or in the smoking-room near the water-closets.

3. The division and brigade commissaries will make arrangements with the steward of the ship for cooking the men’s coffee and doing other necessary cooking for the command, and for serving the same out at regular hours.

4. The canteens of the men may be filled with drinking water once each day, the men being marched by companies under their proper officers to the pump in the fore part of the ship for that purpose.

5. The brigade commander, in consultation with the commander of the ship, will arrange for the perfect policing of the quarters, sinks, etc.

6. The starboard side of the upper and main decks abaft of the engine, will be kept clear of men and reserved for the use of officers, both of the command and of the ship, during the day; and such portion of this space as may necessarily be occupied by the men for sleeping at night, will have a passage kept entirely clear for the use of the officers and crew of the vessel in working her at night. No men will at any time be allowed to go upon the roofs of the houses on the upper deck.

7. Proper roll-calls will be established, and the line officers will be strictly required to attend them, and to make close personal inspections daily of the condition of their men, and to be personally in command of them when marched out for water, or coffee, or when on duty.

8. An officer of the day will be daily appointed by the brigade commander, and shall have full charge of the execution of this order, and supervision of all the police arrangements of the command. Proper line officers will be detailed on guard duty, and sentries will be regularly posted at the bulkhead of the ship storeroom on the forward lower deck, at the sinks, over the lights at night, and on the middle line of the decks reserved under paragraph six.

9. The officer of the day, after reporting at brigade headquarters each day, will report to the captain of the ship, in order that the ship’s officers may know to whom to apply for any enforcement of these regulations.

By command of Major-General Cox.

(Signed) THEO. Cox,
Capt. and Ass’t Adj’t-General.”

Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 303.]

Weighing anchor at daybreak on Sunday morning, we passed Kettle Bottom Shoals safely, and found much more open water in the lower river. The day was mild and calm, and we made good progress to Fort Monroe, where we stopped in the evening to take on board a supply of ammunition. While this work was going on, I took advantage of the opportunity to land in a small boat and pass through the place by moonlight. As one of the largest and most important of the fortresses of the old style, with heavy walls of masonry, casemated, and with regular moat, it was an interesting study to a soldier, and all the more so as we were then in the full heat of the discussion of the relative value of such formal works compared with mere earthworks, of which Fort Fisher, to which we were bound, was a very striking example. It was admitted that modern ordnance could soon knock the walls into a rubbish-heap, but Fort Sumter had raised the supplementary debate, whether the rubbish-heap did not begin a new chapter in the defence, longer and more important than the first period of attack.

As soon as the ammunition was on board and properly stowed, our voyage was resumed, and at daybreak we had passed out of Chesapeake Bay, joining our consorts of the transport fleet near Cape Henry, and were running down the coast along the even line of keys which lie as a breastwork against the Atlantic Ocean outside of the much indented coast proper of North Carolina. The wind was moderate and off shore, so that Captain Gray laid his course straight for Cape Hatteras, with only offing enough to keep in a good depth of water,–say fifteen or twenty miles. At intervals during the day we could see isolated clumps of pine-trees rising out of the water, like low-lying, blue clouds, so that we could hardly say that we were wholly out of sight of land. We passed Cape Hatteras late in the afternoon, about sunset, and as the coast now trends much more to the westward, with concave lines from Hatteras to Cape Lookout (near Beaufort), and from Lookout to Cape Fear, our course took us farther out to sea. I woke on Tuesday morning to find the ship pitching heavily and heavy rain sounding loud on the deck over my head, driven by gusts of wind. Doubts as to the reliability of my “sea legs” made me prudently keep my berth till about ten o’clock, when I went on deck to find a [Illustration: [map of south-central North Carolina at the South Carolina border]] dense fog and a high running sea. The rain had ceased, but the succeeding fog was a worse obstacle to navigation. We were nearly at our destination, and were feeling our way slowly along. My “doubts” vanished in the fresh air, and the bit of real seafaring was exhilarating. Most of the cabin passengers, however, failed to show themselves on deck, and the soldiers and officers whom duty kept there did not all enjoy it greatly. The recruiting regulations, just then, allowed transfers to the gunboat service of soldiers who had any experience even in inland navigation, and the impulse to change had made the subject a “burning question,” even while we were in the West The inveterate practical jokers now had their opportunity, and a man leaning uneasily over the lee rail was sure to be offered the chance to enlist in the navy, with glowing eulogies of its superior comfort compared with marching in the mud. In the middle of the afternoon we dropped anchor in nine fathoms, but toward evening the fog lifted, and we ran further in, anchoring in seven fathoms, about a mile off the shore. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. i. p. 927.] Fort Fisher was abreast of us, on Federal Point, its big parapet looking like a long, low hill, with knobs upon it, rising from the beach of glittering white sand against a background of the pine forest. Admiral Porter’s fleet lay at their moorings all around us, a few of the lighter vessels having crossed the bar and run into the mouth of Cape Fear River behind the fort, where the river channel was nearly parallel to the sea beach and less than a mile from it. We were at New Inlet, between Federal Point and Smith Island, or rather the long, narrow key which runs northward from the island. Cape Fear is the sharp southern point of Smith Island, some seven miles south of where we lay, and the old entrance was south and west of the cape, between the island and the mainland. [Footnote: See official Atlas, pl. cxxxix.]

The landing of the troops was a difficult task, for the roughness of the sea made it impossible for another vessel to lie alongside the transports, and we had to resort to the slow and somewhat dangerous method of transferring the men from the ships to a light-draft steamer in the ship’s small boats. A little wharf was on the inner side of Federal Point, but there the water was so shallow that even the light-draft propeller could not get to the wharf, and another transfer had to be made. Crossing the bar could only be done at high water or near it, and the time for work was consequently so much shortened that the whole of the 8th and 9th was used in landing the division. At sunset of the 9th the sea went down enough for the propeller to come alongside; the headquarters tents and baggage were transferred to her, and we took leave of the good ship “Atlantic.” By the time this transfer was made, the tide was too low to let us pass in over the bar, and we had to pass the night on the dirty propeller, lying outside till eight o’clock of Friday the 10th, when we ran in at high tide, and after the second transfer resumed our character of land forces on the sandy shore of North Carolina. All the saddle horses of the command were, however, upon a freight ship that did not arrive for several days, and mounted officers who had lived in the saddle for years found it slow and tiresome work to wade on foot through the soft sands in the performance of military duty.

General Terry with his forces was holding a line across Federal Point about two miles above Fort Fisher, [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. i. p. 910.] and I directed my own troops to encamp a little in rear of Terry’s line. My own quartermaster arranged with the chief of that department on the ground to send our headquarters tents and baggage with the division. Meanwhile, taking the little river steamboat which had made our final transfer to the shore, I visited General Schofield, who had his headquarters temporarily on the steamer “Spaulding,” assigned to the medical department for hospital use, but which at the time had no sick or wounded on board. Like myself, he was for the nonce dismounted, and as he was contemplating movements up both sides of Cape Fear River, some means of ready communication with both banks was a necessity. With him I visited Admiral Porter on the flag-ship “Malvern,” and a movement for next day, the 11th, was arranged. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. i. p. 927.]

[Illustration: Map]

General Bragg was in command of the Confederate Department of North Carolina, to which he was assigned when General Lee, being made by law general-in-chief of the army, superseded him in the similar duties he had been performing by appointment of President Davis. Bragg’s headquarters were at Wilmington. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. pp. 1088, 1099.] Hoke’s division was mostly in intrenchments across Federal Point about four miles above Fort Fisher, his right resting at Sugar-loaf Hill on the left bank of the river, and his left near the lower end of Myrtle Sound. Opposite Sugar-loaf, at Old Brunswick, was Fort Anderson, a strong earthwork with ten pieces of heavy ordnance, garrisoned by General Hagood with his brigade of two thousand men. [Footnote: Official Atlas, pl. cxxxii.; Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. i. pp. 911, 1077.] The channel of the river was obstructed by torpedoes and other defensive devices. The enemy’s fortifications on Smith Island and near Smithville had been abandoned when Fort Fisher fell, opening the way into the river above them.

On board the “Malvern” it was arranged that a monitor and other vessels of the fleet which could cross the bar should ascend the river and engage Fort Anderson, whilst Terry’s troops, supported by my division, should make a strong reconnoissance of Hoke’s lines and, if they were found to be strongly held, establish counter lines near them, so that most of the forces could then be used for flanking operations. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 958.] Returning to my command, I found it encamped as had been ordered, and our headquarters tents in comfortable shape by the zealous labors of our servants aided by the headquarters guard. General Terry kindly sent over four horses as a mount for myself and my most necessary staff officers in the movement to begin in the morning. One of the first questions a soldier asks in regard to his camping-place is, Where is water to be got? One’s first impression would be that on this flat tongue of sand covered only with a sparse growth of pines and scrub live-oak, with the ocean on one side and a tidal river on the other, fresh water would be scarce and brackish. But we were agreeably disappointed to find that near us, in the middle of the sands, was a juniper swamp and pond of which the water was sweet and wholesome, though from the juniper roots it had the bright brown color of coffee.

On the 11th the movement was made as planned. Hoke’s outposts and pickets were driven from their rifle-pits, and his main line at Sugar-loaf well reconnoitred. Terry’s new line was established within small-arm range of the enemy and intrenched so that Hoke might be obliged to hold his own position in force. In the advance I was much interested in observing the conduct of the colored troops in General Paine’s division, for I had never before seen them in action. They were well disciplined and well led, and went forward with alacrity in capital form, showing that they were good soldiers. I rode well forward purposely to watch their skirmishers, and was greatly pleased to see the pace they took and the lively way in which they followed up the Confederate outposts when once these were started.

When the new position was taken up, I went to the river bank, and there, from a sand breastwork so white that it looked like a snow-drift, I watched with my field-glass a duel between the monitor “Montauk” and Fort Anderson. The monitor, which lay about a mile from the fort, was of the original single-turret form, armed with the large-calibre smooth-bores, which were fired with great deliberation and with surprising accuracy. I could not see how any rifled guns could have improved on their practice. The conical shot would, of course, have excelled in penetrating power and in range, but the big round shells seemed to be put just where the gunners wished. A group of men stood on the deck of the monitor behind the turret, and they frequently came out from its cover to watch the effect of the firing, having time to step back again, between the flash of the enemy’s gun and the passing of the shot. The deck of the monitor, being almost awash, was no mark at all for the artillerists in the fort, and it would be the merest chance if a ricochet shot struck it. If it did, the very low angle of impact made it fly off without doing any harm. The turret was dented with some centre shots, as I saw when I visited the vessel later, but it was practically impregnable to the ordnance the Confederates used. On the other hand, the direct fire from the ship was limited in its effect to the displacement of earth on the parapet or the knocking away of the cheeks of the embrasures. The body of the garrison was kept out of range, and the artillerists were so close to the rampart that when shells exploded over them, the fragments flew beyond and there were few casualties.

General Terry was left to hold the new line established in face of Hoke with Paine’s division and Abbott’s brigade, whilst my division and Ames’s (of Terry’s command) were marched back to camp near Fort Fisher. Schofield’s own idea had been to send me with my own and Ames’s divisions across the river to operate against Fort Anderson by the west bank and, by taking it, force the enemy to evacuate the Sugar-loaf position opposite. By thus concentrating on the bank most weakly held, we would by a sort of see-saw work them back till they must give up Wilmington or fight for it in the open. I was directed to be ready to cross the river on the 12th, but the order was countermanded, and it was determined to try a plan which would avoid the necessity of dividing the forces on the two sides of a large river. Colonel Comstock of Grant’s staff, who had accompanied Terry as engineer in the taking of Fort Fisher [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvi. pt. ii. p. 30.] and who was still with us, had made a reconnoissance up the coast on the 11th, and found at Big Hill, three miles south of Masonboro Inlet, a position from which it seemed practicable to cover the collection and launching of enough pontoon boats to ferry a column of troops across Myrtle Sound. If this could be done with secrecy and speed till enough were over to make head against the enemy while the rest were crossing, Hoke’s position would be turned and he would have to fall back upon more open country, where our whole force could be manoeuvred against him.

On Comstock’s suggestion Schofield determined to try the plan, which was a promising one if winds and waves would permit. The navy was to tow the boats to the place of rendezvous with a body of engineer troops under Comstock’s orders, whilst Schofield led Ames’s and my divisions by the shore. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. pp. 403,404.] The movement was made after dark on the evening of the 12th, but the bad weather had hardened down into a regular northeaster, and it proved impossible to tow the pontoon boats through the heavy sea. After a night of severe exposure we returned to camp to find many of our tents flattened by the gale. After a day’s rest the effort was renewed on the 14th, but as the admiral reported that the sea was too rough for even the smaller steamers to go outside, the plan was modified so as to try drawing the boats on their trucks, though the number of our draft animals was as yet very small. [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 426, 427.] What with the heavy surf on the beach and the deep, soft sand beyond it, the weak teams could not pull the trucks far, and gave out before we reached the chosen position. As we turned back after midnight the moon was just rising, and the scene was a wild one, with the flying clouds and the foaming waves silvered by the moonlight; but the rarest sight was, just as half the moon’s great disk was above the horizon, a ship of war stood against it, exactly framed in the semicircle of light as if drawn in black on the silver surface. The plan was an interesting one and would probably have succeeded in favorable weather, but the winter storm forbade. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 437.]

Then came the resumption of the original purpose, and I was assigned to command the column advancing from Smithville up the other bank of the river. One brigade of Couch’s division (Moore’s) had arrived, and it was ordered to report to me. Ames’s division was also in the column till Fort Anderson was evacuated in the night of the 18th, when it rejoined Terry and I moved on against the Confederate position at Town Creek. [Footnote: _Id._, pt. i. p. 960; pt. ii. pp. 492, 493.] Ferrying the unfordable stream, Hagood’s brigade was attacked and routed on the 20th, capturing two cannon and nearly 400 prisoners, including Colonel Simonton the commandant, Hagood himself having gone to Wilmington. [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 495, 509.] On the 21st we pressed on to Brunswick Ferry, and saved part of the pontoon bridge there which the enemy had not been able to destroy completely. An advance-guard was got over on Eagle Island, the large swampy island lying in front of Wilmington, where the remnant of Hagood’s brigade held the narrow causeway. Bragg had been to Richmond on an official visit, but was back at Wilmington and saw that the time to evacuate had come. The naval stores were set on fare, and the dense black pillars of smoke from the warehouses of resin and turpentine told us the story. [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 1241-1245.]

My route from Town Creek around Mcllhenny’s mill-pond to Brunswick Ferry had taken me some three miles back from the river, and the broad swamps and rice-fields intervening made communication with General Schofield on the “Spaulding,” very slow and difficult. [Footnote: Official Atlas, pl. cxxxii.] The sequel well illustrates the importance of complete confidence on the part of a subordinate that his chief will sanction and heartily approve the use of full discretion in circumstances where quick and full intercourse is impossible. By long service with General Schofield, I knew that he was no martinet, snubbing any independence of action, but an officer of sound and calm judgment, fairly considering the reasons we might have for any departure from the letter of an order. General Terry’s troops were facing the greater part of Hoke’s division in a position nearly opposite the mouth of Town Creek, and were meeting with stubborn resistance. It was known that Hardee’s command, having evacuated Charleston, was moving northward to unite with the Confederates in North Carolina, and it was supposed to aim at reaching Wilmington. There were rumors that he had already joined Bragg.

In these circumstances General Schofield had said to me, by a dispatch in the morning, “If you can destroy the bridge over Brunswick River or break the railroad to-day, do so, but be ready to cross the river early this evening near the mouth of Town Creek.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 520] Early in the afternoon I reported progress, saying: “My head of column reached this place [Brunswick Ferry] about one o’clock. The rebels had partially destroyed their pontoon bridge, but from the creek I got several boats, and have put a regiment over on the island. They got most of the way across, when the enemy opened with one gun, commanding the straight road. As the rest of the island seems impracticably swampy, this checked our reconnoissance; but there can be little doubt the rebels are evacuating. They have made immense fires, the smoke of which you must have seen, indicating that they are destroying turpentine, etc. A few skirmishers were on the opposite side of Brunswick River when we reached it, but they ran at once. The enemy has destroyed all flatboats within reach, but I may hunt some up. I am pushing a reconnoissance further up the river, by way of threatening to cross above the island, and so hasten their movements. I shall put my command in position covering the crossing and the Georgetown road, and watch the movements, in the town. The railroad bridge across Brunswick River is partially destroyed, and we hear the cars on the other side of the town from here. I cannot doubt that General Terry will have an open road in the morning, and think from the general indications that I am entirely secure here. I will face in all directions and get all the intelligence I can, while awaiting orders. There is no railroad or other bridge over Cape Fear River.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 521.]

Whilst this report was on the road to Schofield, a messenger who left the general about noon was slowly working his way to me, bearing this message: “My last report from General Terry indicates that he will not be able to force the enemy back from the position held by him last evening. General Terry thinks Hoke has his whole force in his front. It will therefore be necessary to transfer your troops to the east bank of the river to-night. The men will be put across in small boats near the mouth of Town Creek, unless Terry succeeds in effecting a lodgment higher up. In the latter event I will signal you. Otherwise move your troops to the mouth of Town Creek without further orders. Let your artillery and animals go down to Fort Anderson. I will have them sent from that place by steamers to Federal Point this evening. If you can destroy the bridges over Brunswick River to-day, do so; but in any event be ready to commence crossing the river by dusk or earlier, if practicable. You might perhaps send back a brigade or two while the others are doing the work.” [Footnote: _Ibid._]

At six o’clock, in the dusk of the evening, this letter reached me, and I instantly replied: “Your dispatch directing movement is only just received, the messenger having lost his way. As I am eight miles from the mouth of Town Creek, and it is already dark, your directions cannot be literally followed, and the circumstances impress me so strongly with the belief that the enemy are about to evacuate Wilmington to-night that I venture to send one brigade now and wait further orders before withdrawing all. It will take all night to get the whole command to Town Creek, and it seems impossible to cross them all, beginning at an hour so much later than you anticipated when sending the dispatch. Some engineers on the railroad who have come into my lines, several other citizens, and a number of slaves, all agree in reporting the intention of evacuating immediately. The destruction of immense quantities of property since I came up this evening looks the same way. I have collected and repaired nearly all of the pontoons and materials of the bridge, and had begun relaying them when your dispatch came. I cannot retire my own force now without it appearing a retreat. I would be entirely willing to stay here with one brigade, and should feel quite confident that I could at any time bring it off safely, if we remained here several days even. Thinking you would not desire more troops at Town Creek than you can cross to-night, I … think it right to send the one brigade, and if more can cross, I can still send them, so as to be not much behind the others if the messenger makes reasonable haste. I believe I mentioned in a former dispatch that the rebels themselves destroyed the Brunswick River railroad bridge.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 522.]

The orderly who reached me had been landed from a small boat and made his way to me on foot, and as he had eight or nine miles to walk by a wretched road, it was not strange that he was late in reaching me. Giving him his supper whilst I wrote my dispatch, I then mounted him on a horse, and sent with him another mounted man to bring the return message. My first messenger had tried to reach the river through the swamps at several points, but had not succeeded in getting within hailing distance of any vessels in the stream. He happened, however, to fall in with the second messengers in his wanderings, and was now taken to the place where a small boat was to be sent, and so it happened that both my dispatches reached Schofield together, but not till about half-past ten. Meanwhile, the general having heard nothing whatever from me, and getting unfavorable reports from Terry, wrote me again at a quarter-past seven.

He said: “My orderlies and your signal officer seem to have got lost, and I have heard nothing from you since 10.30 A. M. I sent an order to you by an orderly on foot about noon, but do not feel at all certain that it has reached you. I want you to move back abreast of the fleet, just above the mouth of Town Creek, to-night, and be ready to cross the river at dawn of day in the morning. Send all your wagons and horses to Fort Anderson. The men will cross in small boats. Better send a regiment with your wagons, horses, and artillery. Should the enemy be in force in your front, it might be necessary to cross Town Creek before crossing the river. About this, act according to your judgment. I intended you to cross the river to-night, but it is now too late.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 522.]

But whilst this last orderly was on his dark and weary way to me, my two dispatches finally got through, and at 10.20 Schofield wrote me from the cabin of the “Spaulding” as follows: “Your dispatch of 6 P.M. is just received, and is highly satisfactory. The one of an earlier date, but the hour not given, came at the same time. About seven o’clock I sent another to you directing you to come back. I hope this will reach you in time to take its place. My orders were based on General Terry’s report of an increase of the force in his front, and that of prisoners that Hardee’s forces had arrived from Charleston. I think you would certainly have learned it if the latter were true That you have sent one brigade back is well. You may send another as soon as you get this dispatch. Keep the other two where you are until daylight in the morning. Then, if the rebels have gone, you can enter the town, taking care to hold the river crossings. If the enemy has not gone, or you are not positive that he is going, then move back and cross the river as before directed.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvit. pt. ii. p. 522.]

Immediately after this, Schofield wrote me another dispatch, briefer, but of the same general purport. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 523.] It was probably sent by way of precaution, in case any accident happened to the bearer of the other. Arrangements had been made to get over some horsemen so as to speed these dispatches, and they came through to me by midnight. But meanwhile my perplexity as to my duty was intensified. I had put over the Sixteenth Kentucky upon Eagle Island, and made them throw up a breastwork across the cause-way facing that of the enemy, which was near the main channel of Cape Fear River. They were exploring the swamps, seeking information and preparing to force the position in the morning. My confidence in my forecast was such that I did not cease work on the repair of the pontoons, and had the crossing ready for use late in the evening, but awaited further orders with great anxiety. At 11.45, however, came the order dated at 7.15, reiterating the direction to withdraw. Moore’s brigade had gone under the first order, Henderson’s was waiting ready to march, and I started it for Town Creek. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 524.] Reilly’s (Colonel Sterl in command) began to follow. The march in a dark night made it proper to leave reasonable intervals between the brigades, and I was still waiting with Casement’s brigade, and had not destroyed the pontoon bridge, when, at midnight, I got Schofield’s dispatch of 10.20, which had come through in less than half the time other messages had taken, under his eager orders to force the horses through at speed. I at once recalled Sterl, and with great satisfaction wrote to the General, “Your dispatch of 10.20 received in time to stop two brigades. Henderson’s and Moore’s have gone forward and will report at the river above Town Creek. I will inform you of any changes in the morning. The railroad employes who came in to me informed me positively that Hardee’s troops had not come here.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 523.] My outpost on the island was replaced, and before day dawned we knew that the last of the enemy had disappeared from our immediate front and that Wilmington was evacuated. Bragg had carefully removed all boats from our side of the channel, but citizens anxious to prevent us from firing on the town came over in skiffs, and we learned that the Confederate forces had marched away toward Goldsborough, leaving the way open for Terry’s march into the city, which took place in the early morning of the 22d, which we were happy to recall was Washington’s Birthday.

It has seemed worth while to give the correspondence at such length, because it well illustrates the difficulties under which officers must labor in war, and the necessity for a good deal of freedom of action and of discretion in deciding upon his course, when the commander of a detached column finds his communication with headquarters obstructed and retarded by accidental circumstances. Had General Schofield’s methods been rigid in requiring literal obedience, my command would have abandoned the advantages we had gained, and the campaign might have taken quite another turn. My complete confidence in the liberality of his judgment when the facts should be all known, encouraged me to a course which would otherwise have been impossible. [Footnote: In 1870 Moltke had adopted the wise rule of leaving to subordinates of the higher grades very large discretion, and to avoid trammelling them by detailed orders or by prematurely communicated plans. “The very lack of instructions gave them liberty and imposed on them the duty of acting on their own responsibility, in case unforeseen events should require such prompt action that orders from the Supreme Commander could not be waited for.” (Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen, Strategy, vol. i. p. 324.) It was even looked upon as “an unwarranted censure” on the subordinate “if anything was enjoined unnecessarily,” or which was within the proper knowledge and discretion of the officer. _Id_., vol. ii. p. 39.] There was with me a very efficient squad of the Signal Corps, under Lieutenant Ketchum, which had kept up flag communication with the “Spaulding” and across the river in our advance from Smithville to Town Creek, but when we advanced to Brunswick Ferry, Mr. Ketchum found it impossible, on account of the course of Brunswick River and the dense woods upon the banks, to establish any station from which he could communicate with any of the vessels in the river below, or with General Terry on the east bank of the Cape Fear. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. i. pp. 915, 916.] This threw us unexpectedly upon messengers as the only go-betweens, and led to the embarrassments which have been described.



The Confederates lose Charleston and Columbia–Facing a crisis–Hopeless apathy of Southern people–Mr. Davis’s perplexity–Beauregard startles him–Lee calls Johnston to command–Personal relations of leading officers–Dwindling armies–The cavalry–Assignments of generals–The Beaufort and New Berne line–Am ordered to New Berne–Provisional corps–Advance to cover railway building–Dover and Gum swamps–Bragg concentrates to oppose us–Position near Kinston–Bragg’s plan of attack–Our own movements–Condition of railroad and river–Our advance to Wise’s Forks and Southwest Creek–Precautions–Conference with Schofield–Battle of Kinston–Enemy attack our left front–Rout of Upham’s brigade–Main line firm–Ruger’s division reaches the field–Enemy repulsed–End of first day’s fight–Extending our trenches on the left–Sharp skirmishing of the 9th–Bragg’s reinforcements–His attack of the both–Final repulse and retreat of the enemy.

Upon our occupation of Wilmington, Bragg retreated northward along the line of the railroad toward Goldsborough, which was the crossing of the Wilmington and Weldon Railway with that from New Berne to Raleigh. Sherman had captured the capital of South Carolina, and in his movement northward his left wing had followed the railroad from Columbia toward Charlotte, N. C, as far as Winnsborough, forty miles, for the purpose of making a permanent break in that line of communication before turning his columns eastward toward Cheraw and Fayetteville on his way to Goldsborough, the rendezvous he had fixed for his junction with Schofield’s army. Beauregard, whose command now included South Carolina, [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. pp. 1202, 1204.] had moved with the forces under his immediate command from Augusta, through Columbia to Charlotte, and was calling to him all the Confederate troops operating against Sherman. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. pp. 1193, 1202, 1217, 1238.] On the 14th of February he had ordered Hardee to evacuate Charleston, and the unwelcome proof that South Carolina was lost so alarmed Mr. Davis that he urged Hardee to hold on as long as possible. But both Lee and Beauregard became uneasy lest Hardee should be caught before he could join the rest, and despite Mr. Davis’s bitter disappointment, the evacuation was made in the night of the 17th, Hardee being sick abed for a few days, and turning over the command to General McLaws. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 1177, 1181, 1195, 1201-1202, 1204, 1223, 1258.]

The loss of Charleston, the original cradle of secession, seemed a portent to the people of the South, and well-nigh destroyed all hope. Governor Magrath of South Carolina had written Mr. Davis, a month before, that the fate of the Confederacy was involved in the early movements of Sherman’s march from Savannah, and that he was in earnest correspondence with the Governors of North Carolina and Georgia, urging extraordinary efforts. “Richmond will surely fall when Charleston is lost,” he said, adding emphatically, “To retain Richmond until Charleston is lost is to sacrifice both.” [Footnote: _Id_., p. 1035.] Davis was not blind to the consequences, or to the nature of the crisis. A week before Magrath’s letter was written, the Confederate President had sent a dispatch to Governor Brown of Georgia, declaring the absolute necessity of making Hardee strong enough to stop Sherman on the line of the Combahee, which he rightly said was stronger than any position that could be occupied further north. He ended with the appeal, “We must look forward, and leave discussions of the past to a more convenient season.” [Footnote: _Id_., p. 1016.] Governor Vance of North Carolina issued a proclamation powerfully appealing to his people for a final rally, using the failure of the recent peace conference at Fort Monroe as proof that there was only subjugation offered us, the mere details of which they [Lincoln and Seward] proposed to settle. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 1189.] But the whole South was already in apathetic despair under the conviction of their helplessness to check the triumphant march of Sherman’s 60,000 veterans or prevent his junction with Schofield’s 30,000. Instead of growing by an enthusiastic rally of the old men and the boys, the Southern army was dwindling by steady small streams of deserters, no longer able to repress the impulse to go to their helpless families within the Union lines. [Footnote: Lee to Vance, Id., p. 1270.] The appeals of the governors produced no result, or only called out responses in the press, never ventured before, saying the desperate efforts had already been made, the physical power of the States was exhausted, it was vain to talk of independence, it was time to make real overtures for peace. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. pp. 1250-1255.]

The military outlook for the South was certainly gloomy enough. Distrusting Beauregard’s ability to deal with his perplexing problem, Mr. Davis had asked Lee (on the 19th) whether it was possible for him to get away from Petersburg long enough to go to Beauregard and advise him after a personal conference. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 1222.] But Lee could not leave his post for a moment with any confidence that Grant’s iron grip would not crush the defences of Petersburg and bring the final struggle. Davis became still more troubled when, on the 21st, Beauregard sent him a dispatch indicating his belief that Lee must join him at Salisbury with part of his forces, say 20,000 men, give Sherman battle there,” crush him, then to concentrate all forces against Grant, and then to march on Washington to dictate a peace.” Beauregard’s evident opinion that he was wholly unable to cope with Sherman was much more depressing than his light-hearted suggestion of marching on Washington to dictate a peace was inspiring. Davis sent it to Lee, saying it was “of a startling character,” and urged that the General-in-Chief should direct the concentration of the forces in the Carolinas. He sent also General Gilmer, his chief of engineers, to Beauregard to examine the situation, to advise with him and report. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. pp. 1229, 1237, 1238.]

In this condition of affairs, Beauregard’s retreat into North Carolina, where Bragg commanded and was senior in rank, made a new complication; whilst the fall of Wilmington and the danger of Hardee’s being cut off before he could unite with the Confederate forces trying to resist Sherman, made a climax of embarrassments which imperatively required the appointment of some one to command in chief in the Carolinas. The same current of opinion in the Confederate Congress which had resulted in Lee’s assignment by law (February 9th) [Footnote: _Id_., pt. i. p. 1.] to command all the Confederate armies, indicated General Johnston for the post second in importance. Indeed, the knowledge of Mr. Davis’s determination not to intrust Johnston with another army in the field entered into the motives for taking the military command out of the President’s hands, for it was understood that Lee believed Johnston to be the man best fitted for the second place. Action could be no longer delayed, and the very day of our occupation of Wilmington, Lee telegraphed to Johnston to assume command, concentrate all available forces, and drive back Sherman. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. ii. p. 1247.] For the moment Bragg was not directed to report to Johnston, but consideration for the unpleasant personal relations between them since the Atlanta campaign could not stand long in the way. Beauregard accepted loyally his subordination to Johnston, and, his health not being very strong, was assigned at his own request to administrative duties at Raleigh, including the collection and forwarding of troops, their supply in the field and the management of the relations to the civil authorities of North Carolina, with nominal position of second in command. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. pp. 1248, 1399.]

Johnston had been at Lincolnton, N. C., when notified of his appointment, and in accepting the call to duty, gave his opinion that it was too late to concentrate troops enough to drive back Sherman. He promised, however, to learn from Beauregard the actual situation, and to do all in his power to collect the army and resist Sherman’s advance. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 1047.] He met Beauregard at Charlotte, and on the 25th of February assumed command. As to his means of resistance, the returns show a significant dwindling in each of his corps. Hardee had reported, on January 20th, 25,290 present for duty in his department. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 1032.] Hood’s army at Tupelo, at the same date, returned 18,708 infantry and artillery, which were soon nearly all in motion for the Carolinas. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xlv. pt. i. p. 664. General Taylor volunteered to send the whole to Beauregard except French’s division, which he said was very weak. Some Mississippi troops were given a short furlough, others took “French leave” (_Id_., vol. xlvii. pt. ii. pp. 1059, 1174, 1194), and delays in transportation occurred, so that it is very hard to say how many of the Army of Tennessee were actually in the final combats in North Carolina. They all seem to have gathered there before the final surrender at Greensborough.] Bragg’s return for his command in North Carolina on February 10th was 11,206. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 1154.] Besides these, there were some militia from Georgia and South Carolina estimated at 1450, [Footnote: _Id_., p. 1084.] and Butler’s division of cavalry, more than 3000 strong, had been sent from Lee’s army in Virginia. [Footnote: _Ibid_.] Here were, then, between 55,000 and 60,000 men apparently available to oppose Sherman, and making a larger army than the Confederate generals attributed to him when he started from Savannah. [Footnote: When Beauregard took command of the forces in South Carolina, etc., on February 16th, he reckoned them at “about 20,000 effective infantry and artillery, more or less demoralized,” and said of Sherman’s army that it numbered “nearly double our force.” (Dispatch to Lee, Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 1202.) This would make Sherman about 40,000 strong. Beauregard’s underestimate of his own force is in accordance with the common habit of officers who are somewhat discouraged and wish to be reinforced.] It was not strange, therefore, that when, at a conference of Beauregard with Hardee and others in Augusta on February 3d, the troops relied on for the campaign were estimated at 33,450, [Footnote: _Id._, p. 1084.] Mr. Davis noted by his indorsement on the paper that the previous returns showed a larger force present for duty. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 1086.] He however added that the language “relied on as effectives” might account for the difference. But when on the 21st Beauregard, in the dispatch proposing that Lee should send part of his army to Salisbury, N. C., said, “Hardee and myself can collect about 15,000 exclusive of Cheatham and Stewart, not likely to reach in time,” [Footnote: _Id._, p. 1238.] the startling effect on the Confederate President was the most natural thing in the world. Armies seemed to vanish in thin air.

On taking command, Johnston had accepted his predecessor’s estimates of both his own forces and those of Sherman. From Charlotte, N. C., he wrote Lee that his opponent now seemed to be moving eastward, aiming at Fayetteville. This place he thought he might make the point of concentration for Hardee’s troops, coming from Charleston to Cheraw by railroad, and those with Beauregard, which were in the main the divisions of Hood’s army, coming forward piecemeal, and now amounting to something over 9000 men. He suggested that Bragg should join him at Fayetteville also. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 1271. At the end of February, the portions of S. D. Lee’s corps which had joined Beauregard had 2502 present for duty, Cheatham’s 4697, Stewart’s 1694, Engineers 185; total, 9078. (_Id._, pp. 1285, 1326.) The rest of the Army of Tennessee were still in Georgia on their way to the front.] The Confederate cavalry was now led by Wade Hampton, who was made lieutenant-general to outrank Wheeler, who was not regarded equal to the responsibility. The latter retained two divisions, and the rank of corps commander under Hampton. [Footnote: The complaints of marauding by Wheeler’s cavalry had been loud and bitter, and inefficiency was charged. D. H. Hill to Hardee, Official Records, vol. xlvii. pt. ii. p. 1046; Do. to Iverson, pp. 1047, 1068; Beauregard to Lee, p. 1165; Davis to Hampton, 1207. For Wheeler’s earnest defence, see _Id_., pp. 987, 1004.] As soon as it was evident that Sherman was likely to reach the North Carolina border, Johnston was authorized to control Bragg’s operations also.