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Memoirs of Three Civil War Generals, Complete by U. S. Grant, W. T. Sherman, P. H. Sheridan

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I knew that the country about Decatur and Tuscumbia, Alabama, was
bare of provisions, and inferred that General Hood would have to
draw his supplies, not only of food, but of stores, clothing, and
ammunition, from Mobile, Montgomery, and Selma, Alabama, by the
railroad around by Meridian and Corinth, Mississippi, which we had
most effectually disabled the previous winter.

General Hood did not make a serious attack on Decatur, but hung
around it from October 26th to the 30th, when he drew off and
marched for a point on the south side of the Tennessee River,
opposite Florence, where he was compelled to remain nearly a month,
to collect the necessary supplies for his contemplated invasion of
Tennessee and Kentucky.

The Fourth Corps (Stanley) had already reached Chattanooga, and had
been transported by rail to Pulaski, Tennessee; and General Thomas
ordered General Schofield, with the Twenty-third Corps, to
Columbia, Tennessee, a place intermediate between Hood (then on the
Tennessee River, opposite Florence) and Forrest, opposite

On the 31st of October General Croxton, of the cavalry, reported
that the enemy had crossed the Tennessee River four miles above
Florence, and that he had endeavored to stop him, but without
success. Still, I was convinced that Hood's army was in no
condition to march for Nashville, and that a good deal of further
delay might reasonably be counted on. I also rested with much
confidence on the fact that the Tennessee River below Muscle Shoals
was strongly patrolled by gunboats, and that the reach of the river
above Muscle Shoals, from Decatur as high up as our railroad at
Bridgeport, was also guarded by gunboats, so that Hood, to cross
over, would be compelled to select a point inaccessible to these
gunboats. He actually did choose such a place, at the old
railroad-piers, four miles above Florence, Alabama, which is below
Muscle Shoals and above Colbert Shoals.

On the 31st of October Forrest made his appearance on the Tennessee
River opposite Johnsonville (whence a new railroad led to
Nashville), and with his cavalry and field pieces actually crippled
and captured two gunboats with five of our transports, a feat of
arms which, I confess, excited my admiration.

There is no doubt that the month of October closed to us looking
decidedly squally; but, somehow, I was sustained in the belief that
in a very few days the tide would turn.

On the 1st of November I telegraphed very fully to General Grant,
at City Point, who must have been disturbed by the wild rumors that
filled the country, and on the 2d of November received (at Rome)
this dispatch:

CITY POINT, November 1, 1864--6 P.M.

Major-General SHERMAN:

Do you not think it advisable, now that Hood has gone so far north,
to entirely ruin him before starting on your proposed campaign?
With Hood's army destroyed, you can go where you please with
impunity. I believed and still believe, if you had started south
while Hood was in the neighborhood of you, he would have been
forced to go after you. Now that he is far away he might look upon
the chase as useless, and he will go in one direction while you are
pushing in the other. If you can see a chance of destroying Hood's
army, attend to that first, and make your other move secondary.

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.

My answer is dated

ROME, GEORGIA, November 2, 1864.
Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, City Point, Virginia:

Your dispatch is received. If I could hope to overhaul Hood, I
would turn against him with my whole force; then he would retreat
to the south west, drawing me as a decoy away from Georgia, which
is his chief object. If he ventures north of the Tennessee River, I
may turn in that direction, and endeavor to get below him on his
line of retreat; but thus far he has not gone above the Tennessee
River. General Thomas will have a force strong enough to prevent
his reaching any country in which we have an interest; and he has
orders, if Hood turns to follow me, to push for Selma, Alabama. No
single army can catch Hood, and I am convinced the best results
will follow from our defeating Jeff. Davis's cherished plea of
making me leave Georgia by manoeuvring. Thus far I have confined
my efforts to thwart this plan, and have reduced baggage so that I
can pick up and start in any direction; but I regard the pursuit of
Hood as useless. Still, if he attempts to invade Middle Tennessee,
I will hold Decatur, and be prepared to move in that direction;
but, unless I let go of Atlanta, my force will not be equal to his.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

By this date, under the intelligent and energetic action of Colonel
W. W. Wright, and with the labor of fifteen hundred men, the
railroad break of fifteen miles about Dalton was repaired so far as
to admit of the passage of cars, and I transferred my headquarters
to Kingston as more central; and from that place, on the same day
(November 2d), again telegraphed to General Grant:

KINGSTON, GEORGIA, November 2, 1884.
Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, City Point, Virginia:
If I turn back, the whole effect of my campaign will be lost. By my
movements I have thrown Beauregard (Hood) well to the west, and
Thomas will have ample time and sufficient troops to hold him until
the reenforcements from Missouri reach him. We have now ample
supplies at Chattanooga and Atlanta, and can stand a month's
interruption to our communications. I do not believe the
Confederate army can reach our railroad-lines except by
cavalry-raids, and Wilson will have cavalry enough to checkmate
them. I am clearly of opinion that the best results will follow my
contemplated movement through Georgia.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

That same day I received, in answer to the Rome dispatch, the

CITY POINT, VIRGINIA, November 2,1864--11.30 a.m.

Major-General SHERMAN:

Your dispatch of 9 A.M. yesterday is just received. I dispatched
you the same date, advising that Hood's army, now that it had
worked so far north, ought to be looked upon now as the "object."
With the force, however, that you have left with General Thomas, he
must be able to take care of Hood and destroy him.

I do not see that you can withdraw from where you are to follow
Hood, without giving up all we have gained in territory. I say,
then, go on as you propose.

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General,

This was the first time that General Grant ordered the "march to
the sea," and, although many of his warm friends and admirers
insist that he was the author and projector of that march, and that
I simply executed his plans, General Grant has never, in my
opinion, thought so or said so. The truth is fully given in an
original letter of President Lincoln, which I received at Savannah,
Georgia, and have at this instant before me, every word of which is
in his own familiar handwriting. It is dated--

WASHINGTON, December 26, 1864.

When you were about leaving Atlanta for the Atlantic coast, I was
anxious, if not fearful; but, feeling that you were the better
judge, and remembering "nothing risked, nothing gained," I did not
interfere. Now, the undertaking being a success, the honor is all
yours; for I believe none of us went further than to acquiesce;
and, taking the work of General Thomas into account, as it should
be taken, it is indeed a great success. Not only does it afford
the obvious and immediate military advantages, but, in showing to
the world that your army could be divided, putting the stronger
part to an important new service, and yet leaving enough to
vanquish the old opposing force of the whole, Hood's army, it
brings those who sat in darkness to see a great light. But what
next? I suppose it will be safer if I leave General Grant and
yourself to decide.


Of course, this judgment; made after the event, was extremely
flattering and was all I ever expected, a recognition of the truth
and of its importance. I have often been asked, by well-meaning
friends, when the thought of that march first entered my mind. I
knew that an army which had penetrated Georgia as far as Atlanta
could not turn back. It must go ahead, but when, how, and where,
depended on many considerations. As soon as Hood had shifted
across from Lovejoy's to Palmetto, I saw the move in my "mind's
eye;" and, after Jeff. Davis's speech at Palmetto, of September
26th, I was more positive in my conviction, but was in doubt as to
the time and manner. When General Hood first struck our railroad
above Marietta, we were not ready, and I was forced to watch his
movements further, till he had "carromed" off to the west of
Decatur. Then I was perfectly convinced, and had no longer a
shadow of doubt. The only possible question was as to Thomas's
strength and ability to meet Hood in the open field. I did not
suppose that General Hood, though rash, would venture to attack
fortified places like Allatoona, Resaca, Decatur, and Nashville;
but he did so, and in so doing he played into our hands perfectly.

On the 2d of November I was at Kingston, Georgia, and my four
corps--the Fifteenth, Seventeenth, Fourteenth, and Twentieth--with
one division of cavalry, were strung from Rome to Atlanta. Our
railroads and telegraph had been repaired, and I deliberately
prepared for the march to Savannah, distant three hundred miles
from Atlanta. All the sick and wounded men had been sent back by
rail to Chattanooga; all our wagon-trains had been carefully
overhauled and loaded, so as to be ready to start on an hour's
notice, and there was no serious enemy in our front.

General Hood remained still at Florence, Alabama, occupying both
banks of the Tennessee River, busy in collecting shoes and clothing
for his men, and the necessary ammunition and stores with which to
invade Tennessee, most of which had to come from Mobile, Selma, and
Montgomery, Alabama, over railroads that were still broken.
Beauregard was at Corinth, hastening forward these necessary

General Thomas was at Nashville, with Wilson's dismounted cavalry
and a mass of new troops and quartermaster's employs amply
sufficient to defend the place. The Fourth and Twenty-third Corps,
under Generals Stanley and Schofield were posted at Pulaski,
Tennessee, and the cavalry of Hatch, Croxton, and Capron, were
about Florence, watching Hood. Smith's (A. J.) two divisions of
the Sixteenth Corps were still in Missouri, but were reported as
ready to embark at Lexington for the Cumberland River and
Nashville. Of course, General Thomas saw that on him would likely
fall the real blow, and was naturally anxious. He still kept
Granger's division at Decatur, Rousseau's at Murfreesboro', and
Steedman's at Chattanooga, with strong railroad guards at all the
essential points intermediate, confident that by means of this very
railroad he could make his concentration sooner than Hood could
possibly march up from Florence.

Meantime, General F. P. Blair had rejoined his corps (Seventeenth),
and we were receiving at Kingston recruits and returned
furlough-men, distributing them to their proper companies.
Paymasters had come down to pay off our men before their departure to
a new sphere of action, and commissioners were also on hand from the
several States to take the vote of our men in the presidential
election then agitating the country.

On the 6th of November, at Kingston, I wrote and telegraphed to
General Grant, reviewing the whole situation, gave him my full plan
of action, stated that I was ready to march as soon as the election
was over, and appointed November 10th as the day for starting. On
the 8th I received this dispatch:

CITY POINT, VIRGINIA, November 7, 1864-10.30 P.M.

Major-General SHERMAN:

Your dispatch of this evening received. I see no present reason
for changing your plan. Should any arise, you will see it, or if I
do I will inform you. I think everything here is favorable now.
Great good fortune attend you! I believe you will be eminently
successful, and, at worst, can only make a march less fruitful of
results than hoped for.

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.

Meantime trains of cars were whirling by, carrying to the rear an
immense amount of stores which had accumulated at Atlanta, and at
the other stations along the railroad; and General Steedman had
come down to Kingston, to take charge of the final evacuation and
withdrawal of the several garrisons below Chattanooga.

On the 10th of November the movement may be said to have fairly
begun. All the troops designed for the campaign were ordered to
march for Atlanta, and General Corse, before evacuating his post at
Rome, was ordered to burn all the mills, factories, etc., etc.,
that could be useful to the enemy, should he undertake to pursue
us, or resume military possession of the country. This was done on
the night of the 10th, and next day Corse reached Kingston. On the
11th General Thomas and I interchanged full dispatches. He had
heard of the arrival of General A. J. Smith's two divisions at
Paducah, which would surely reach Nashville much sooner than
General Hood could possibly do from Florence, so that he was
perfectly satisfied with his share of the army.

On the 12th, with a full staff, I started from Kingston for
Atlanta; and about noon of that day we reached Cartersville, and
sat on the edge of a porch to rest, when the telegraph operator,
Mr. Van Valkenburg, or Eddy, got the wire down from the poles to
his lap, in which he held a small pocket instrument. Calling
"Chattanooga," he received this message from General Thomas,

NASHVILLE, November 12, 1884--8.80 A.M.

Major-General SHERMAN:

Your dispatch of twelve o'clock last night is received. I have no
fears that Beauregard can do us any harm now, and, if he attempts
to follow you, I will follow him as far as possible. If he does
not follow you, I will then thoroughly organize my troops, and
believe I shall have men enough to ruin him unless he gets out of
the way very rapidly.

The country of Middle Alabama, I learn, is teeming with supplies
this year, which will be greatly to our advantage. I have no
additional news to report from the direction of Florence.
I am now convinced that the greater part of Beauregard's army is
near Florence and Tuscumbia, and that you will have at least a
clear road before you for several days, and that your success will
fully equal your expectations.

George H. THOMAS, Major-General.

I answered simply: "Dispatch received--all right." About that
instant of time, some of our men burnt a bridge, which severed the
telegraph-wire, and all communication with the rear ceased

As we rode on toward Atlanta that night, I remember the railroad-
trains going to the rear with a furious speed; the engineers and
the few men about the trains waving us an affectionate adieu. It
surely was a strange event--two hostile armies marching in opposite
directions, each in the full belief that it was achieving a final
and conclusive result in a great war; and I was strongly inspired
with the feeling that the movement on our part was a direct attack
upon the rebel army and the rebel capital at Richmond, though a
full thousand miles of hostile country intervened, and that, for
better or worse, it would end the war.




On the 12th of November the railroad and telegraph communications
with the rear were broken, and the army stood detached from all
friends, dependent on its own resources and supplies. No time was
to be lost; all the detachments were ordered to march rapidly for
Atlanta, breaking up the railroad en route, and generally to so
damage the country as to make it untenable to the enemy. By the
14th all the troops had arrived at or near Atlanta, and were,
according to orders, grouped into two wings, the right and left,
commanded respectively by Major-Generals O. O. Howard and H. W.
Slocum, both comparatively young men, but educated and experienced
officers, fully competent to their command.

The right wing was composed of the Fifteenth Corps, Major-General
P. J. Osterhaus commanding, and the Seventeenth Corps,
Major-General Frank P. Blair commanding.

The left wing was composed of the Fourteenth Corps, Major-General
Jefferson C. Davis commanding, and the Twentieth Corps,
Brigadier-General A. S. Williams commanding.

The Fifteenth Corps had four divisions, commanded by
Brigadier-Generals Charles R. Woods, W. B. Hazen, John E. Smith,
and John M. Gorse.

The Seventeenth Corps had three divisions, commanded by
Major-General J. A. Mower, and Brigadier-Generals M. D. Leggett
and Giles A. Smith.

The Fourteenth Corps had three divisions, commanded by
Brigadier-Generals W. P. Carlin, James D. Morgan, and A. Baird.

The Twentieth Corps had also three divisions, commanded by
Brigadier-Generals N. J. Jackson, John W. Geary, and W. T. Ward.

The cavalry division was held separate, subject to my own orders.
It was commanded by Brigadier-General Judson Kilpatrick, and was
composed of two brigades, commanded by Colonels Eli H. Murray, of
Kentucky, and Smith D. Atkins, of Illinois.

The strength of the army, as officially reported, is given in the
following tables, and shows an aggregate of fifty-five thousand
three hundred and twenty-nine infantry, five thousand and
sixty-three cavalry, and eighteen hundred and twelve artillery in
all, sixty-two thousand two hundred and four officers and men.

The most extraordinary efforts had been made to purge this army of
non-combatants and of sick men, for we knew well that there was to
be no place of safety save with the army itself; our wagons were
loaded with ammunition, provisions, and forage, and we could ill
afford to haul even sick men in the ambulances, so that all on this
exhibit may be assumed to have been able-bodied, experienced
soldiers, well armed, well equipped and provided, as far as human
foresight could, with all the essentials of life, strength, and
vigorous action.

The two general orders made for this march appear to me, even at
this late day, so clear, emphatic, and well-digested, that no
account of that historic event is perfect without them, and I give
them entire, even at the seeming appearance of repetition; and,
though they called for great sacrifice and labor on the part of the
officers and men, I insist that these orders were obeyed as well as
any similar orders ever were, by an army operating wholly in an
enemy's country, and dispersed, as we necessarily were, during the
subsequent period of nearly six months.

[Special Field Orders, No. 119.]


The general commanding deems it proper at this time to inform the
officers and men of the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Seventeenth, and
Twentieth Corps, that he has organized them into an army for a
special purpose, well known to the War Department and to General
Grant. It is sufficient for you to know that it involves a
departure from our present base, and a long and difficult march to
a new one. All the chances of war have been considered and
provided for, as far as human sagacity can. All he asks of you is
to maintain that discipline, patience, and courage, which have
characterized you in the past; and he hopes, through you, to strike
a blow at our enemy that will have a material effect in producing
what we all so much desire, his complete overthrow. Of all things,
the most important is, that the men, during marches and in camp,
keep their places and do not scatter about as stragglers or
foragers, to be picked up by a hostile people in detail. It is
also of the utmost importance that our wagons should not be loaded
with any thing but provisions and ammunition. All surplus
servants, noncombatants, and refugees, should now go to the rear,
and none should be encouraged to encumber us on the march. At some
future time we will be able to provide for the poor whites and
blacks who seek to escape the bondage under which they are now
suffering. With these few simple cautions, he hopes to lead you to
achievements equal in importance to those of the past.

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

[Special Field Orders, No. 120.]


1. For the purpose of military operations, this army is divided
into two wings viz.:

The right wing, Major-General O. O. Howard commanding, composed of
the Fifteenth and Seventeenth Corps; the left wing, Major-General
H. W. Slocum commanding, composed of the Fourteenth and Twentieth

2. The habitual order of march will be, wherever practicable, by
four roads, as nearly parallel as possible, and converging at
points hereafter to be indicated in orders. The cavalry,
Brigadier-General Kilpatrick commanding, will receive special
orders from the commander-in-chief.

3. There will be no general train of supplies, but each corps will
have its ammunition-train and provision-train, distributed
habitually as follows: Behind each regiment should follow one wagon
and one ambulance; behind each brigade should follow a due
proportion of ammunition-wagons, provision-wagons, and ambulances.
In case of danger, each corps commander should change this order of
march, by having his advance and rear brigades unencumbered by
wheels. The separate columns will start habitually at 7 a.m., and
make about fifteen miles per day, unless otherwise fixed in orders.

4. The army will forage liberally on the country during the march.
To this end, each brigade commander will organize a good and
sufficient foraging party, under the command of one or more
discreet officers, who will gather, near the route traveled, corn
or forage of any kind, meat of any kind, vegetables, corn-meal, or
whatever is needed by the command, aiming at all times to keep in
the wagons at least ten days' provisions for his command, and three
days' forage. Soldiers must not enter the dwellings of the
inhabitants, or commit any trespass; but, during a halt or camp,
they may be permitted to gather turnips, potatoes, and other
vegetables, and to drive in stock in sight of their camp. To
regular foraging-parties must be intrusted the gathering of
provisions and forage, at any distance from the road traveled.

6. To corps commanders alone is intrusted the power to destroy
mills, houses, cotton-gins, etc.; and for them this general
principle is laid down:

In districts and neighborhoods where the army is unmolested, no
destruction of each property should be permitted; but should
guerrillas or bushwhackers molest our march, or should the
inhabitants burn bridges, obstruct roads, or otherwise manifest
local hostility, then army commanders should order and enforce a
devastation more or less relentless, according to the measure of
such hostility.

6. As for horses, mules, wagons, etc., belonging to the
inhabitants, the cavalry and artillery may appropriate freely and
without limit; discriminating, however, between the rich, who are
usually hostile, and the poor and industrious, usually neutral or
friendly. Foraging-parties may also take mules or horses, to
replace the jaded animals of their trains, or to serve as
pack-mules for the regiments or brigades. In all foraging, of
whatever kind, the parties engaged will refrain from abusive or
threatening language, and may, where the officer in command thinks
proper, give written certificates of the facts, but no receipts;
and they will endeavor to leave with each family a reasonable
portion for their maintenance,

7. Negroes who are able-bodied and can be of service to the
several columns may be taken along; but each army commander will
bear in mind that the question of supplies is a very important one,
and that his first duty is to see to those who bear arms.

8. The organization, at once, of a good pioneer battalion for each
army corps, composed if possible of negroes, should be attended to.
This battalion should follow the advance-guard, repair roads and
double them if possible, so that the columns will not be delayed
after reaching bad places. Also, army commanders should practise
the habit of giving the artillery and wagons the road, marching
their troops on one side, and instruct their troops to assist
wagons at steep hills or bad crossings of streams.

9. Captain O. M. Poe, chief-engineer, will assign to each wing of
the army a pontoon-train, fully equipped and organized; and the
commanders thereof will see to their being properly protected at
all times.

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

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

The greatest possible attention had been given to the artillery and
wagon trains. The number of guns had been reduced to sixty-five,
or about one gun to each thousand men, and these were generally in
batteries of four guns each.

Each gun, caisson, and forges was drawn by four teams of horses.
We had in all about twenty-five hundred wagons, with teams of six
mules to each, and six hundred ambulances, with two horses to each.
The loads were made comparatively light, about twenty-five hundred
pounds net; each wagon carrying in addition the forage needed by
its own team: Each soldier carried on his person forty rounds of
ammunition, and in the wagons were enough cartridges to make up
about two hundred rounds per man, and in like manner two hundred
rounds of assorted ammunition were carried for each gun.

The wagon-trains were divided equally between the four corps, so
that each had about eight hundred wagons, and these usually on the
march occupied five miles or more of road. Each corps commander
managed his own train; and habitually the artillery and wagons had
the road, while the men, with the exception of the advance and rear
guards, pursued paths improvised by the aide of the wagons, unless
they were forced to use a bridge or causeway in common.

I reached Atlanta during the afternoon of the 14th, and found that
all preparations had been made-Colonel Beckwith, chief commissary,
reporting one million two hundred thousand rations in possession of
the troops, which was about twenty days' supply, and he had on hand
a good supply of beef-cattle to be driven along on the hoof. Of
forage, the supply was limited, being of oats and corn enough for
five days, but I knew that within that time we would reach a
country well stocked with corn, which had been gathered and stored
in cribs, seemingly for our use, by Governor Brown's militia.

Colonel Poe, United States Engineers, of my staff, had been busy in
his special task of destruction. He had a large force at work, had
leveled the great depot, round house, and the machine-shops of the
Georgia Railroad, and had applied fire to the wreck. One of these
machine-shops had been used by the rebels as an arsenal, and in it
were stored piles of shot and shell, some of which proved to be
loaded, and that night was made hideous by the bursting of shells,
whose fragments came uncomfortably, near Judge Lyon's house, in
which I was quartered. The fire also reached the block of stores
near the depot, and the heart of the city was in flames all night,
but the fire did not reach the parts of Atlanta where the
court-house was, or the great mass of dwelling houses.

The march from Atlanta began on the morning of November 15th, the
right wing and cavalry following the railroad southeast toward
Jonesboro', and General Slocum with the Twentieth Corps leading off
to the east by Decatur and Stone Mountain, toward Madison. These
were divergent lines, designed to threaten both Mason and Augusta
at the same time, so as to prevent a concentration at our intended
destination, or "objective," Milledgeville, the capital of Georgia,
distant southeast about one hundred miles. The time allowed each
column for reaching Milledgeville was seven days. I remained in
Atlanta during the 15th with the Fourteenth Corps, and the
rear-guard of the right wing, to complete the loading of the trains,
and the destruction of the buildings of Atlanta which could be
converted to hostile uses, and on the morning of the 16th started
with my personal staff, a company of Alabama cavalry, commanded by
Lieutenant Snelling, and an infantry company, commanded by Lieutenant
McCrory, which guarded our small train of wagons.

My staff was then composed of Major L. M. Dayton, aide-de-camp and
acting adjutant-general, Major J. C. McCoy, and Major J. C.
Audenried, aides. Major Ward Nichols had joined some weeks before
at Gaylesville, Alabama, and was attached as an acting
aide-de-camp. Also Major Henry Hitchcock had joined at the same
time as judge-advocate. Colonel Charles Ewing was
inspector-general, and Surgeon John Moore medical director. These
constituted our mess. We had no tents, only the flies, with which
we nightly made bivouacs with the assistance of the abundant
pine-boughs, which made excellent shelter, as well as beds.

Colonel L. C. Easton was chief-quartermaster; Colonel Amos
Beckwith, chief-commissary; Colonel O. M. Poe, chief-engineer; and
Colonel T. G. Baylor, chief of ordnance. These invariably rode
with us during the day, but they had a separate camp and mess at

General William F. Barry had been chief of artillery in the
previous campaign, but at Kingston his face was so swollen with
erysipelas that he was reluctantly compelled to leave us for the
rear; and he could not, on recovering, rejoin us till we had
reached Savannah.

About 7 a.m. of November 16th we rode out of Atlanta by the Decatur
road, filled by the marching troops and wagons of the Fourteenth
Corps; and reaching the hill, just outside of the old rebel works,
we naturally paused to look back upon the scenes of our past
battles. We stood upon the very ground whereon was fought the
bloody battle of July 22d, and could see the copse of wood where
McPherson fell. Behind us lay Atlanta, smouldering and in ruins,
the black smoke rising high in air, and hanging like a pall over
the ruined city. Away off in the distance, on the McDonough road,
was the rear of Howard's column, the gun-barrels glistening in the
sun, the white-topped wagons stretching away to the south; and
right before us the Fourteenth Corps, marching steadily and
rapidly, with a cheery look and swinging pace, that made light of
the thousand miles that lay between us and Richmond. Some band, by
accident, struck up the anthem of "John Brown's soul goes marching
on;" the men caught up the strain, and never before or since have I
heard the chorus of "Glory, glory, hallelujah!" done with more
spirit, or in better harmony of time and place.

Then we turned our horses' heads to the east; Atlanta was soon lost
behind the screen of trees, and became a thing of the past. Around
it clings many a thought of desperate battle, of hope and fear,
that now seem like the memory of a dream; and I have never seen the
place since. The day was extremely beautiful, clear sunlight, with
bracing air, and an unusual feeling of exhilaration seemed to
pervade all minds--a feeling of something to come, vague and
undefined, still full of venture and intense interest. Even the
common soldiers caught the inspiration, and many a group called out
to me as I worked my way past them, "Uncle Billy, I guess Grant is
waiting for us at Richmond!" Indeed, the general sentiment was
that we were marching for Richmond, and that there we should end
the war, but how and when they seemed to care not; nor did they
measure the distance, or count the cost in life, or bother their
brains about the great rivers to be crossed, and the food required
for man and beast, that had to be gathered by the way. There was a
"devil-may-care" feeling pervading officers and men, that made me
feel the full load of responsibility, for success would be accepted
as a matter of course, whereas, should we fail, this "march" would
be adjudged the wild adventure of a crazy fool. I had no purpose
to march direct for Richmond by way of Augusta and Charlotte, but
always designed to reach the sea-coast first at Savannah or Port
Royal, South Carolina, and even kept in mind the alternative of

The first night out we camped by the road-side near Lithonia.
Stone Mountain, a mass of granite, was in plain view, cut out in
clear outline against the blue sky; the whole horizon was lurid
with the bonfires of rail-ties, and groups of men all night were
carrying the heated rails to the nearest trees, and bending them
around the trunks. Colonel Poe had provided tools for ripping up
the rails and twisting them when hot; but the best and easiest way
is the one I have described, of heating the middle of the
iron-rails on bonfires made of the cross-ties, and then winding
them around a telegraph-pole or the trunk of some convenient
sapling. I attached much importance to this destruction of the
railroad, gave it my own personal attention, and made reiterated
orders to others on the subject.

The next day we passed through the handsome town of Covington, the
soldiers closing up their ranks, the color-bearers unfurling their
flags, and the bands striking up patriotic airs. The white people
came out of their houses to behold the sight, spite of their deep
hatred of the invaders, and the negroes were simply frantic with
joy. Whenever they heard my name, they clustered about my horse,
shouted and prayed in their peculiar style, which had a natural
eloquence that would have moved a stone. I have witnessed
hundreds, if not thousands, of such scenes; and can now see a poor
girl, in the very ecstasy of the Methodist "shout," hugging the
banner of one of the regiments, and jumping up to the "feet of

I remember, when riding around by a by-street in Covington, to
avoid the crowd that followed the marching column, that some one
brought me an invitation to dine with a sister of Sam. Anderson,
who was a cadet at West Point with me; but the messenger reached me
after we had passed the main part of the town. I asked to be
excused, and rode on to a place designated for camp, at the
crossing of the Ulcofauhachee River, about four miles to the east
of the town. Here we made our bivouac, and I walked up to a
plantation-house close by, where were assembled many negroes, among
them an old, gray-haired man, of as fine a head as I ever saw. I
asked him if he understood about the war and its progress. He said
he did; that he had been looking for the "angel of the Lord" ever
since he was knee-high, and, though we professed to be fighting for
the Union, he supposed that slavery was the cause, and that our
success was to be his freedom. I asked him if all the negro slaves
comprehended this fact, and he said they surely did. I then
explained to him that we wanted the slaves to remain where they
were, and not to load us down with useless mouths, which would eat
up the food needed for our fighting men; that our success was their
assured freedom; that we could receive a few of their young, hearty
men as pioneers; but that, if they followed us in swarms of old and
young, feeble and helpless, it would simply load us down and
cripple us in our great task. I think Major Henry Hitchcock was
with me on that occasion, and made a note of the conversation, and
I believe that old man spread this message to the slaves, which was
carried from mouth to mouth, to the very end of our journey, and
that it in part saved us from the great danger we incurred of
swelling our numbers so that famine would have attended our
progress. It was at this very plantation that a soldier passed me
with a ham on his musket, a jug of sorghum-molasses under his arm,
and a big piece of honey in his hand, from which he was eating,
and, catching my eye, he remarked sotto voce and carelessly to a
comrade, "Forage liberally on the country," quoting from my general
orders. On this occasion, as on many others that fell under my
personal observation, I reproved the man, explained that foraging
must be limited to the regular parties properly detailed, and that
all provisions thus obtained must be delivered to the regular
commissaries, to be fairly distributed to the men who kept their

From Covington the Fourteenth Corps (Davis's), with which I was
traveling, turned to the right for Milledgeville, via Shady Dale.
General Slocum was ahead at Madison, with the Twentieth Corps,
having torn up the railroad as far as that place, and thence had
sent Geary's division on to the Oconee, to burn the bridges across
that stream, when this corps turned south by Eatonton, for
Milledgeville, the common "objective" for the first stage of the
"march." We found abundance of corn, molasses, meal, bacon, and
sweet-potatoes. We also took a good many cows and oxen, and a
large number of mules. In all these the country was quite rich,
never before having been visited by a hostile army; the recent crop
had been excellent, had been just gathered and laid by for the
winter. As a rule, we destroyed none, but kept our wagons full,
and fed our teams bountifully.

The skill and success of the men in collecting forage was one of
the features of this march. Each brigade commander had authority
to detail a company of foragers, usually about fifty men, with one
or two commissioned officers selected for their boldness and
enterprise. This party would be dispatched before daylight with a
knowledge of the intended day's march and camp; would proceed on
foot five or six miles from the route traveled by their brigade,
and then visit every plantation and farm within range. They would
usually procure a wagon or family carriage, load it with bacon,
corn-meal, turkeys, chickens, ducks, and every thing that could be
used as food or forage, and would then regain the main road,
usually in advance of their train. When this came up, they would
deliver to the brigade commissary the supplies thus gathered by the
way. Often would I pass these foraging-parties at the roadside,
waiting for their wagons to come up, and was amused at their
strange collections--mules, horses, even cattle, packed with old
saddles and loaded with hams, bacon, bags of cornmeal, and poultry
of every character and description. Although this foraging was
attended with great danger and hard work, there seemed to be a
charm about it that attracted the soldiers, and it was a privilege
to be detailed on such a party. Daily they returned mounted on all
sorts of beasts, which were at once taken from them and
appropriated to the general use; but the next day they would start
out again on foot, only to repeat the experience of the day before.
No doubt, many acts of pillage, robbery, and violence, were
committed by these parties of foragers, usually called "bummers;"
for I have since heard of jewelry taken from women, and the plunder
of articles that never reached the commissary; but these acts were
exceptional and incidental. I never heard of any cases of murder
or rape; and no army could have carried along sufficient food and
forage for a march of three hundred miles; so that foraging in some
shape was necessary. The country was sparsely settled, with no
magistrates or civil authorities who could respond to requisitions,
as is done in all the wars of Europe; so that this system of
foraging was simply indispensable to our success. By it our men
were well supplied with all the essentials of life and health,
while the wagons retained enough in case of unexpected delay, and
our animals were well fed. Indeed, when we reached Savannah, the
trains were pronounced by experts to be the finest in flesh and
appearance ever seen with any army.

Habitually each corps followed some main road, and the foragers,
being kept out on the exposed flank, served all the military uses
of flankers. The main columns gathered, by the roads traveled,
much forage and food, chiefly meat, corn, and sweet-potatoes, and
it was the duty of each division and brigade quartermaster to fill
his wagons as fast as the contents were issued to the troops. The
wagon-trains had the right to the road always, but each wagon was
required to keep closed up, so as to leave no gaps in the column.
If for any purpose any wagon or group of wagons dropped out of
place, they had to wait for the rear. And this was always dreaded,
for each brigade commander wanted his train up at camp as soon
after reaching it with his men as possible.

I have seen much skill and industry displayed by these
quarter-masters on the march, in trying to load their wagons with
corn and fodder by the way without losing their place in column.
They would, while marching, shift the loads of wagons, so as to have
six or ten of them empty. Then, riding well ahead, they would secure
possession of certain stacks of fodder near the road, or cribs of
corn, leave some men in charge, then open fences and a road back for
a couple of miles, return to their trains, divert the empty wagons
out of column, and conduct them rapidly to their forage, load up and
regain their place in column without losing distance. On one occasion
I remember to have seen ten or a dozen wagons thus loaded with corn
from two or three full cribs, almost without halting. These cribs
were built of logs, and roofed. The train-guard, by a lever, had
raised the whole side of the crib a foot or two; the wagons drove
close alongside, and the men in the cribs, lying on their backs,
kicked out a wagon-load of corn in the time I have taken to describe

In a well-ordered and well-disciplined army, these things might be
deemed irregular, but I am convinced that the ingenuity of these
younger officers accomplished many things far better than I could
have ordered, and the marches were thus made, and the distances
were accomplished, in the most admirable way. Habitually we
started from camp at the earliest break of dawn, and usually
reached camp soon after noon. The marches varied from ten to
fifteen miles a day, though sometimes on extreme flanks it was
necessary to make as much as twenty, but the rate of travel was
regulated by the wagons; and, considering the nature of the roads,
fifteen miles per day was deemed the limit.

The pontoon-trains were in like manner distributed in about equal
proportions to the four corps, giving each a section of about nine
hundred feet. The pontoons were of the skeleton pattern, with
cotton-canvas covers, each boat, with its proportion of balks and
cheeses, constituting a load for one wagon. By uniting two such
sections together, we could make a bridge of eighteen hundred feet,
enough for any river we had to traverse; but habitually the leading
brigade would, out of the abundant timber, improvise a bridge
before the pontoon-train could come up, unless in the cases of
rivers of considerable magnitude, such as the Ocmulgee, Oconee,
Ogeechee, Savannah, etc.

On the 20th of November I was still with the Fourteenth Corps, near
Eatonton Factory, waiting to hear of the Twentieth Corps; and on
the 21st we camped near the house of a man named Mann; the next
day, about 4 p.m., General Davis had halted his head of column on a
wooded ridge, overlooking an extensive slope of cultivated country,
about ten miles short of Milledgeville, and was deploying his
troops for camp when I got up. There was a high, raw wind blowing,
and I asked him why he had chosen so cold and bleak a position. He
explained that he had accomplished his full distance for the day,
and had there an abundance of wood and water. He explained further
that his advance-guard was a mile or so ahead; so I rode on, asking
him to let his rear division, as it came up, move some distance
ahead into the depression or valley beyond. Riding on some
distance to the border of a plantation, I turned out of the main
road into a cluster of wild-plum bushes, that broke the force of
the cold November wind, dismounted, and instructed the staff to
pick out the place for our camp.

The afternoon was unusually raw and cold. My orderly was at hand
with his invariable saddle-bags, which contained a change of
under-clothing, my maps, a flask of whiskey, and bunch of cigars.
Taking a drink and lighting a cigar, I walked to a row of
negro-huts close by, entered one and found a soldier or two warming
themselves by a wood-fire. I took their place by the fire,
intending to wait there till our wagons had got up, and a camp made
for the night. I was talking to the old negro woman, when some one
came and explained to me that, if I would come farther down the
road, I could find a better place. So I started on foot, and found
on the main road a good double-hewed-log house, in one room of
which Colonel Poe, Dr. Moore, and others, had started a fire. I
sent back orders to the "plum-bushes" to bring our horses and
saddles up to this house, and an orderly to conduct our headquarter
wagons to the same place. In looking around the room, I saw a
small box, like a candle-box, marked "Howell Cobb," and, on
inquiring of a negro, found that we were at the plantation of
General Howell Cobb, of Georgia, one of the leading rebels of the
South, then a general in the Southern army, and who had been
Secretary of the United States Treasury in Mr. Buchanan's time. Of
course, we confiscated his property, and found it rich in corn,
beans, pea-nuts, and sorghum-molasses. Extensive fields were all
round the house; I sent word back to General David to explain whose
plantation it was, and instructed him to spare nothing. That night
huge bonfires consumed the fence-rails, kept our soldiers warm, and
the teamsters and men, as well as the slaves, carried off an
immense quantity of corn and provisions of all sorts.

In due season the headquarter wagons came up, and we got supper.
After supper I sat on a chair astride, with my back to a good fire,
musing, and became conscious that an old negro, with a
tallow-candle in his hand, was scanning my face closely. I inquired,
"What do you want, old man!" He answered, "Dey say you is Massa
Sherman." I answered that such was the case, and inquired what he
wanted. He only wanted to look at me, and kept muttering, "Dis
nigger can't sleep dis night." I asked him why he trembled so, and
he said that he wanted to be sure that we were in fact "Yankees,"
for on a former occasion some rebel cavalry had put on light-blue
overcoats, personating Yankee troops, and many of the negroes were
deceived thereby, himself among the number had shown them sympathy,
and had in consequence been unmercifully beaten therefor. This
time he wanted to be certain before committing himself; so I told
him to go out on the porch, from which he could see the whole
horizon lit up with camp-fires, and he could then judge whether he
had ever seen any thing like it before. The old man became
convinced that the "Yankees" had come at last, about whom he had
been dreaming all his life; and some of the staff officers gave him
a strong drink of whiskey, which set his tongue going. Lieutenant
Spelling, who commanded my escort, was a Georgian, and recognized
in this old negro a favorite slave of his uncle, who resided about
six miles off; but the old slave did not at first recognize his
young master in our uniform. One of my staff-officers asked him
what had become of his young master, George. He did not know, only
that he had gone off to the war, and he supposed him killed, as a
matter of course. His attention was then drawn to Spelling's face,
when he fell on his knees and thanked God that he had found his
young master alive and along with the Yankees. Spelling inquired
all about his uncle and the family, asked my permission to go and
pay his uncle a visit, which I granted, of course, and the next
morning he described to me his visit. The uncle was not cordial,
by any means, to find his nephew in the ranks of the host that was
desolating the land, and Spelling came back, having exchanged his
tired horse for a fresher one out of his uncle's stables,
explaining that surely some of the "bummers" would have got the
horse had he not.

The next morning, November 23d, we rode into Milledgeville, the
capital of the State, whither the Twentieth Corps had preceded us;
and during that day the left wing was all united, in and around
Milledgeville. From the inhabitants we learned that some of
Kilpatrick's cavalry had preceded us by a couple of days, and that
all of the right wing was at and near Gordon, twelve miles off,
viz., the place where the branch railroad came to Milledgeville
from the Mason & Savannah road. The first stage of the journey
was, therefore, complete, and absolutely successful.

General Howard soon reported by letter the operations of his right
wing, which, on leaving Atlanta, had substantially followed the two
roads toward Mason, by Jonesboro' and McDonough, and reached the
Ocmulgee at Planters' Factory, which they crossed, by the aid of
the pontoon-train, during the 18th and 19th of November. Thence,
with the Seventeenth Corps (General Blair's) he (General Howard)
had marched via Monticello toward Gordon, having dispatched
Kilpatrick's cavalry, supported by the Fifteenth Corps
(Osterhaus's), to feign on Mason. Kilpatrick met the enemy's
cavalry about four miles out of Mason, and drove them rapidly back
into the bridge-defenses held by infantry. Kilpatrick charged
these, got inside the parapet, but could not hold it, and retired
to his infantry supports, near Griswold Station. The Fifteenth
Corps tore up the railroad-track eastward from Griswold, leaving
Charles R. Wood's division behind as a rear-guard-one brigade of
which was intrenched across the road, with some of Kilpatrick's
cavalry on the flanks. On the 22d of November General G. W. Smith,
with a division of troops, came out of Mason, attacked this brigade
(Walcutt's) in position, and was handsomely repulsed and driven
back into Mason. This brigade was in part armed with Spencer
repeating-rifles, and its fire was so rapid that General Smith
insists to this day that he encountered a whole division; but he is
mistaken; he was beaten by one brigade (Walcutt's), and made no
further effort to molest our operations from that direction.
General Walcutt was wounded in the leg, and had to ride the rest of
the distance to Savannah in a carriage.

Therefore, by the 23d, I was in Milledgeville with the left wing,
and was in full communication with the right wing at Gordon. The
people of Milledgeville remained at home, except the Governor
(Brown), the State officers, and Legislature, who had ignominiously
fled, in the utmost disorder and confusion; standing not on the
order of their going, but going at once--some by rail, some by
carriages, and many on foot. Some of the citizens who remained
behind described this flight of the "brave and patriotic" Governor
Brown. He had occupied a public building known as the "Governor's
Mansion," and had hastily stripped it of carpets, curtains, and
furniture of all sorts, which were removed to a train of
freight-cars, which carried away these things--even the cabbages and
vegetables from his kitchen and cellar--leaving behind muskets,
ammunition, and the public archives. On arrival at Milledgeville I
occupied the same public mansion, and was soon overwhelmed with
appeals for protection. General Slocum had previously arrived with
the Twentieth Corps, had taken up his quarters at the Milledgeville
Hotel, established a good provost-guard, and excellent order was
maintained. The most frantic appeals had been made by the Governor
and Legislature for help from every quarter, and the people of the
State had been called out en masse to resist and destroy the invaders
of their homes and firesides. Even the prisoners and convicts of the
penitentiary were released on condition of serving as soldiers, and
the cadets were taken from their military college for the same
purpose. These constituted a small battalion, under General Harry
Wayne, a former officer of the United States Army, and son of the
then Justice Wayne of the Supreme Court. But these hastily retreated
east across the Oconee River, leaving us a good bridge, which we
promptly secured.

At Milledgeville we found newspapers from all the South, and
learned the consternation which had filled the Southern mind at our
temerity; many charging that we were actually fleeing for our lives
and seeking safety at the hands of our fleet on the sea-coast. All
demanded that we should be assailed, "front, flank, and rear;" that
provisions should be destroyed in advance, so that we would starve;
that bridges should be burned, roads obstructed, and no mercy shown
us. Judging from the tone of the Southern press of that day, the
outside world must have supposed us ruined and lost. I give a few
of these appeals as samples, which to-day must sound strange to the
parties who made them:

Corinth, Mississippi, November 18, 1884.

To the People of Georgia:

Arise for the defense of your native soil! Rally around your
patriotic Governor and gallant soldiers! Obstruct and destroy all
the roads in Sherman's front, flank, and rear, and his army will
soon starve in your midst. Be confident. Be resolute. Trust in an
overruling Providence, and success will soon crown your efforts. I
hasten to join you in the defense of your homes and firesides.


RICHMOND, November 18, 1884.

To the People of Georgia:

You have now the best opportunity ever yet presented to destroy the
enemy. Put every thing at the disposal of our generals; remove all
provisions from the path of the, invader, and put all obstructions
in his path.

Every citizen with his gun, and every negro with his spade and axe,
can do the work of a soldier. You can destroy the enemy by
retarding his march.

Georgians, be firm! Act promptly, and fear not!

B. H. Hill, Senator.

I most cordially approve the above.
James A. SEDDON, Secretary of War.

Richmond, November 19,1864.

To the People of Georgia:

We have had a special conference with President Davis and the
Secretary of War, and are able to assure you that they have done
and are still doing all that can be done to meet the emergency that
presses upon you. Let every man fly to arms! Remove your negroes,
horses, cattle, and provisions from Sherman's army, and burn what
you cannot carry. Burn all bridges, and block up the roads in his
route. Assail the invader in front, flank, and rear, by night and
by day. Let him have no rest.


Members of Congress.

Of course, we were rather amused than alarmed at these threats, and
made light of the feeble opposition offered to our progress. Some
of the officers (in the spirit of mischief) gathered together in
the vacant hall of Representatives, elected a Speaker, and
constituted themselves the Legislature of the State of Georgia! A
proposition was made to repeal the ordinance of secession, which
was well debated, and resulted in its repeal by a fair vote! I was
not present at these frolics, but heard of them at the time, and
enjoyed the joke.

Meantime orders were made for the total destruction of the arsenal
and its contents, and of such public buildings as could be easily
converted to hostile uses. But little or no damage was done to
private property, and General Slocum, with my approval, spared
several mills, and many thousands of bales of cotton, taking what
he knew to be worthless bonds, that the cotton should not be used
for the Confederacy. Meantime the right wing continued its
movement along the railroad toward Savannah, tearing up the track
and destroying its iron. At the Oconee was met a feeble resistance
from Harry Wayne's troops, but soon the pontoon-bridge was laid,
and that wing crossed over. Gilpatrick's cavalry was brought into
Milledgeville, and crossed the Oconee by the bridge near the town;
and on the 23d I made the general orders for the next stage of the
march as far as Millen. These were, substantially, for the right
wing to follow the Savannah Railroad, by roads on its south; the
left wing was to move to Sandersville, by Davisboro' and
Louisville, while the cavalry was ordered by a circuit to the
north, and to march rapidly for Millen, to rescue our prisoners of
war confined there. The distance was about a hundred miles.

General Wheeler, with his division of rebel cavalry, had succeeded
in getting ahead of us between Milledgeville and Augusta, and
General P. J. Hardee had been dispatched by General Beauregard from
Hood's army to oppose our progress directly in front. He had,
however, brought with him no troops, but relied on his influence
with the Georgians (of whose State he was a native) to arouse the
people, and with them to annihilate Sherman's army!

On the 24th we renewed the march, and I accompanied the Twentieth
Corps, which took the direct road to Sandersville, which we reached
simultaneously with the Fourteenth Corps, on the 26th. A brigade
of rebel cavalry was deployed before the town, and was driven in
and through it by our skirmish-line. I myself saw the rebel cavalry
apply fire to stacks of fodder standing in the fields at
Sandersville, and gave orders to burn some unoccupied dwellings
close by. On entering the town, I told certain citizens (who would
be sure to spread the report) that, if the enemy attempted to carry
out their threat to burn their food, corn, and fodder, in our
route, I would most undoubtedly execute to the letter the general
orders of devastation made at the outset of the campaign. With
this exception, and one or two minor cases near Savannah, the
people did not destroy food, for they saw clearly that it would be
ruin to themselves.

At Sandersville I halted the left wing until I heard that the right
wing was abreast of us on the railroad. During the evening a negro
was brought to me, who had that day been to the station (Tenille),
about six miles south of the town. I inquired of him if there were
any Yankees there, and he answered, "Yes." He described in his own
way what he had seen.

"First, there come along some cavalry-men, and they burned the
depot; then come along some infantry-men, and they tore up the
track, and burned it;" and just before he left they had "sot fire
to the well."

The next morning, viz., the 27th, I rode down to the station, and
found General Corse's division (of the Fifteenth Corps) engaged in
destroying the railroad, and saw the well which my negro informant
had seen "burnt." It was a square pit about twenty-five feet deep,
boarded up, with wooden steps leading to the bottom, wherein was a
fine copper pump, to lift the water to a tank above. The soldiers
had broken up the pump, heaved in the steps and lining, and set
fire to the mass of lumber in the bottom of the well, which
corroborated the negro's description.

From this point Blair's corps, the Seventeenth, took up the work of
destroying the railroad, the Fifteenth Corps following another road
leading eastward, farther to the south of the railroad. While the
left wing was marching toward Louisville, north of the railroad,
General Kilpatrick had, with his cavalry division, moved rapidly
toward Waynesboro', on the branch railroad leading from Millen to
Augusta. He found Wheeler's division of rebel cavalry there, and
had considerable skirmishing with it; but, learning that our
prisoners had been removed two days before from Millen, he returned
to Louisville on the 29th, where he found the left wing. Here he
remained a couple of days to rest his horses, and, receiving orders
from me to engage Wheeler and give him all the fighting he wanted,
he procured from General Slocum the assistance of the infantry
division of General Baird, and moved back for Waynesboro' on the 2d
of December, the remainder of the left wing continuing its march on
toward Millers. Near Waynesboro' Wheeler was again encountered,
and driven through the town and beyond Brier Creek, toward Augusta,
thus keeping up the delusion that the main army was moving toward
Augusta. General Kilpatrick's fighting and movements about
Waynesboro' and Brier Creek were spirited, and produced a good
effect by relieving the infantry column and the wagon-trains of all
molestation during their march on Millen. Having thus covered that
flank, he turned south and followed the movement of the Fourteenth
Corps to Buckhead Church, north of Millen and near it.

On the 3d of December I entered Millen with the Seventeenth Corps
(General Frank P. Blair), and there paused one day, to communicate
with all parts of the army. General Howard was south of the
Ogeechee River, with the Fifteenth Corps, opposite Scarboro'.
General Slocum was at Buckhead Church, four miles north of Millen,
with the Twentieth Corps. The Fourteenth (General Davis) was at
Lumpkin's Station, on the Augusta road, about ten miles north of
Millen, and the cavalry division was within easy support of this
wing. Thus the whole army was in good position and in good
condition. We had largely subsisted on the country; our wagons
were full of forage and provisions; but, as we approached the
sea-coast, the country became more sandy and barren, and food
became more scarce; still, with little or no loss, we had traveled
two-thirds of our distance, and I concluded to push on for
Savannah. At Millen I learned that General Bragg was in Augusta,
and that General Wade Hampton had been ordered there from Richmond,
to organize a large cavalry force with which to resist our

General Hardee was ahead, between us and Savannah, with McLaw's
division, and other irregular troops, that could not, I felt
assured, exceed ten thousand men. I caused the fine depot at
Millen to be destroyed, and other damage done, and then resumed the
march directly on Savannah, by the four main roads. The Seventeenth
Corps (General Blair) followed substantially the railroad,
and, along with it, on the 5th of December, I reached Ogeechee
Church, about fifty miles from Savannah, and found there fresh
earthworks, which had been thrown up by McLaw's division; but he
must have seen that both his flanks were being turned, and
prudently retreated to Savannah without a fight. All the columns
then pursued leisurely their march toward Savannah, corn and forage
becoming more and more scarce, but rice-fields beginning to occur
along the Savannah and Ogeechee Rivers, which proved a good
substitute, both as food and forage. The weather was fine, the
roads good, and every thing seemed to favor us. Never do I recall
a more agreeable sensation than the sight of our camps by night,
lit up by the fires of fragrant pine-knots. The trains were all in
good order, and the men seemed to march their fifteen miles a day
as though it were nothing. No enemy opposed us, and we could only
occasionally hear the faint reverberation of a gun to our left
rear, where we knew that General Kilpatrick was skirmishing with
Wheeler's cavalry, which persistently followed him. But the
infantry columns had met with no opposition whatsoever. McLaw's
division was falling back before us, and we occasionally picked up
a few of his men as prisoners, who insisted that we would meet with
strong opposition at Savannah.

On the 8th, as I rode along, I found the column turned out of the
main road, marching through the fields. Close by, in the corner of
a fence, was a group of men standing around a handsome young
officer, whose foot had been blown to pieces by a torpedo planted
in the road. He was waiting for a surgeon to amputate his leg, and
told me that he was riding along with the rest of his brigade-staff
of the Seventeenth Corps, when a torpedo trodden on by his horse
had exploded, killing the horse and literally blowing off all the
flesh from one of his legs. I saw the terrible wound, and made
full inquiry into the facts. There had been no resistance at that
point, nothing to give warning of danger, and the rebels had
planted eight-inch shells in the road, with friction-matches to
explode them by being trodden on. This was not war, but murder,
and it made me very angry. I immediately ordered a lot of rebel
prisoners to be brought from the provost-guard, armed with picks
and spades, and made them march in close order along the road, so
as to explode their own torpedoes, or to discover and dig them up.
They begged hard, but I reiterated the order, and could hardly help
laughing at their stepping so gingerly along the road, where it was
supposed sunken torpedoes might explode at each step, but they
found no other torpedoes till near Fort McAllister. That night we
reached Pooler's Station, eight miles from Savannah, and during the
next two days, December 9th and 10th, the several corps reached the
defenses of Savannah--the Fourteenth Corps on the left, touching
the river; the Twentieth Corps next; then the Seventeenth; and the
Fifteenth on the extreme right; thus completely investing the city.
Wishing to reconnoitre the place in person, I rode forward by the
Louisville road, into a dense wood of oak, pine, and cypress, left
the horses, and walked down to the railroad-track, at a place where
there was a side-track, and a cut about four feet deep. From that
point the railroad was straight, leading into Savannah, and about
eight hundred yards off were a rebel parapet and battery. I could
see the cannoneers preparing to fire, and cautioned the officers
near me to scatter, as we would likely attract a shot. Very soon I
saw the white puff of smoke, and, watching close, caught sight of
the ball as it rose in its flight, and, finding it coming pretty
straight, I stepped a short distance to one side, but noticed a
negro very near me in the act of crossing the track at right
angles. Some one called to him to look out; but, before the poor
fellow understood his danger, the ball (a thirty-two-pound round
shot) struck the ground, and rose in its first ricochet, caught the
negro under the right jaw, and literally carried away his head,
scattering blood and brains about. A soldier close by spread an
overcoat over the body, and we all concluded to get out of that
railroad-cut. Meantime, General Mower's division of the Seventeenth
Corps had crossed the canal to the right of the Louisville
road, and had found the line of parapet continuous; so at Savannah
we had again run up against the old familiar parapet, with its deep
ditches, canals, and bayous, full of water; and it looked as though
another siege was inevitable. I accordingly made a camp or bivouac
near the Louisville road, about five miles from Savannah, and
proceeded to invest the place closely, pushing forward
reconnoissances at every available point.

As soon as it was demonstrated that Savannah was well fortified,
with a good garrison, commanded by General William J. Hardee, a
competent soldier, I saw that the first step was to open
communication with our fleet, supposed to be waiting for us with
supplies and clothing in Ossabaw Sound.

General Howard had, some nights previously, sent one of his best
scouts, Captain Duncan, with two men, in a canoe, to drift past
Fort McAllister, and to convey to the fleet a knowledge of our
approach. General Kilpatrick's cavalry had also been transferred
to the south bank of the Ogeechee, with orders to open
communication with the fleet. Leaving orders with General Slocum
to press the siege, I instructed General Howard to send a division
with all his engineers to Grog's Bridge, fourteen and a half miles
southwest from Savannah, to rebuild it. On the evening of the 12th
I rode over myself, and spent the night at Mr. King's house, where
I found General Howard, with General Hazen's division of the
Fifteenth Corps. His engineers were hard at work on the bridge,
which they finished that night, and at sunrise Hazen's division
passed over. I gave General Hazen, in person, his orders to march
rapidly down the right bank of the Ogeechee, and without hesitation
to assault and carry Fort McAllister by storm. I knew it to be
strong in heavy artillery, as against an approach from the sea, but
believed it open and weak to the rear. I explained to General
Hazen, fully, that on his action depended the safety of the whole
army, and the success of the campaign. Kilpatrick had already felt
the fort, and had gone farther down the coast to Kilkenny Bluff, or
St. Catharine's Sound, where, on the same day, he had communication
with a vessel belonging to the blockading fleet; but, at the time,
I was not aware of this fact, and trusted entirely to General Hazen
and his division of infantry, the Second of the Fifteenth Corps,
the same old division which I had commanded at Shiloh and
Vicksburg, in which I felt a special pride and confidence.

Having seen General Hazen fairly off, accompanied by General
Howard, I rode with my staff down the left bank of the Ogeechee,
ten miles to the rice-plantation of a Mr. Cheevea, where General
Howard had established a signal-station to overlook the lower
river, and to watch for any vessel of the blockading squadron,
which the negroes reported to be expecting us, because they nightly
sent up rockets, and daily dispatched a steamboat up the Ogeechee
as near to Fort McAllister as it was safe.

On reaching the rice-mill at Cheevea's, I found a guard and a
couple of twenty-pound Parrott gone, of De Gres's battery, which
fired an occasional shot toward Fort McAllister, plainly seen over
the salt-marsh, about three miles distant. Fort McAllister had the
rebel flag flying, and occasionally sent a heavy shot back across
the marsh to where we were, but otherwise every thing about the
place looked as peaceable and quiet as on the Sabbath.

The signal-officer had built a platform on the ridge-pole of
the rice-mill. Leaving our horses behind the stacks of rice-straw,
we all got on the roof of a shed attached to the mill, wherefrom I
could communicate with the signal-officer above, and at the same
time look out toward Ossabaw Sound, and across the Ogeechee River
at Fort McAllister. About 2 p.m. we observed signs of commotion
in the fort, and noticed one or two guns fired inland, and some
musket-skirmishing in the woods close by.

This betokened the approach of Hazen's division, which had been
anxiously expected, and soon thereafter the signal-officer
discovered about three miles above the fort a signal-flag, with
which he conversed, and found it to belong to General Hazen, who
was preparing to assault the fort, and wanted to know if I were
there. On being assured of this fact, and that I expected the fort
to be carried before night, I received by signal the assurance of
General Hazen that he was making his preparations, and would soon
attempt the assault. The sun was rapidly declining, and I was
dreadfully impatient. At that very moment some one discovered a
faint cloud of smoke, and an object gliding, as it were, along the
horizon above the tops of the sedge toward the sea, which little by
little grew till it was pronounced to be the smoke-stack of a
steamer coming up the river. "It must be one of our squadron!"
Soon the flag of the United States was plainly visible, and our
attention was divided between this approaching steamer and the
expected assault. When the sun was about an hour high, another
signal-message came from General Hazen that he was all ready, and I
replied to go ahead, as a friendly steamer was approaching from
below. Soon we made out a group of officers on the deck of this
vessel, signaling with a flag, "Who are you!" The answer went back
promptly, "General Sherman." Then followed the question, "Is Fort
McAllister taken?" "Not yet, but it will be in a minute!" Almost
at that instant of time, we saw Hazen's troops come out of the dark
fringe of woods that encompassed the fort, the lines dressed as on
parade, with colors flying, and moving forward with a quick, steady
pace. Fort McAllister was then all alive, its big guns belching
forth dense clouds of smoke, which soon enveloped our assaulting
lines. One color went down, but was up in a moment. On the lines
advanced, faintly seen in the white, sulphurous smoke; there was a
pause, a cessation of fire; the smoke cleared away, and the
parapets were blue with our men, who fired their muskets in the
air, and shouted so that we actually heard them, or felt that we
did. Fort McAllister was taken, and the good news was instantly
sent by the signal-officer to our navy friends on the approaching
gunboat, for a point of timber had shut out Fort McAllister from
their view, and they had not seen the action at all, but must have
heard the cannonading.

During the progress of the assault, our little group on Cheeves's
mill hardly breathed; but no sooner did we see our flags on the
parapet than I exclaimed, in the language of the poor negro at
Cobb's plantation, "This nigger will have no sleep this night!"

I was resolved to communicate with our fleet that night, which
happened to be a beautiful moonlight one. At the wharf belonging
to Cheeves's mill was a small skiff, that had been used by our men
in fishing or in gathering oysters. I was there in a minute,
called for a volunteer crew, when several young officers, Nichols
and Merritt among the number; said they were good oarsmen, and
volunteered to pull the boat down to Fort McAllister. General
Howard asked to accompany me; so we took seats in the stern of the
boat, and our crew of officers pulled out with a will. The tide
was setting in strong, and they had a hard pull, for, though the
distance was but three miles in an air-line, the river was so
crooked that the actual distance was fully six miles. On the way
down we passed the wreck of a steamer which had been sunk some
years before, during a naval attack on Fort McAllister.

Night had fairly set in when we discovered a soldier on the beach.
I hailed him, and inquired if he knew where General Hazen was. He
answered that the general was at the house of the overseer of the
plantation (McAllister's), and that he could guide me to it. We
accordingly landed, tied our boat to a driftlog, and followed our
guide through bushes to a frame-house, standing in a grove of
live-oaks, near a row of negro quarters.

General Hazen was there with his staff, in the act of getting
supper; he invited us to join them, which we accepted promptly, for
we were really very hungry. Of course, I congratulated Hazen most
heartily on his brilliant success, and praised its execution very
highly, as it deserved, and he explained to me more in detail the
exact results. The fort was an inclosed work, and its land-front
was in the nature of a bastion and curtains, with good parapet,
ditch, fraise, and chevaux-de-frise, made out of the large branches
of live-oaks. Luckily, the rebels had left the larger and unwieldy
trunks on the ground, which served as a good cover for the
skirmish-line, which crept behind these logs, and from them kept
the artillerists from loading and firing their guns accurately.

The assault had been made by three parties in line, one from below,
one from above the fort, and the third directly in rear, along the
capital. All were simultaneous, and had to pass a good abatis and
line of torpedoes, which actually killed more of the assailants
than the heavy guns of the fort, which generally overshot the mark.
Hazen's entire loss was reported, killed and wounded, ninety-two.
Each party reached the parapet about the same time, and the
garrison inside, of about two hundred and fifty men (about fifty of
them killed or wounded), were in his power. The commanding
officer, Major Anderson, was at that moment a prisoner, and
General Hazen invited him in to take supper with us, which he did.

Up to this time General Hazen did not know that a gunboat was in
the river below the fort; for it was shut off from sight by a point
of timber, and I was determined to board her that night, at
whatever risk or cost, as I wanted some news of what was going on
in the outer world. Accordingly, after supper, we all walked down
to the fort, nearly a mile from the house where we had been,
entered Fort McAllister, held by a regiment of Hazen's troops, and
the sentinel cautioned us to be very careful, as the ground outside
the fort was full of torpedoes. Indeed, while we were there, a
torpedo exploded, tearing to pieces a poor fellow who was hunting
for a dead comrade. Inside the fort lay the dead as they had
fallen, and they could hardly be distinguished from their living
comrades, sleeping soundly side by side in the pale moonlight. In
the river, close by the fort, was a good yawl tied to a stake, but
the tide was high, and it required some time to get it in to the
bank; the commanding officer, whose name I cannot recall, manned
the boat with a good crew of his men, and, with General Howard, I
entered, and pulled down-stream, regardless of the warnings all
about the torpedoes.

The night was unusually bright, and we expected to find the gunboat
within a mile or so; but, after pulling down the river fully three
miles, and not seeing the gunboat, I began to think she had turned
and gone back to the sound; but we kept on, following the bends of
the river, and about six miles below McAllister we saw her light,
and soon were hailed by the vessel at anchor. Pulling alongside,
we announced ourselves, and were received with great warmth and
enthusiasm on deck by half a dozen naval officers, among them
Captain Williamson, United States Navy. She proved to be the
Dandelion, a tender of the regular gunboat Flag, posted at the
mouth of the Ogeechee. All sorts of questions were made and
answered, and we learned that Captain Duncan had safely reached the
squadron, had communicated the good news of our approach, and they
had been expecting us for some days. They explained that Admiral
Dahlgren commanded the South-Atlantic Squadron, which was then
engaged in blockading the coast from Charleston south, and was on
his flag-ship, the Harvest Moon, lying in Wassaw Sound; that
General J. G. Foster was in command of the Department of the South,
with his headquarters at Hilton Head; and that several ships loaded
with stores for the army were lying in Tybee Roads and in Port
Royal Sound. From these officers I also learned that General Grant
was still besieging Petersburg and Richmond, and that matters and
things generally remained pretty much the same as when we had left
Atlanta. All thoughts seemed to have been turned to us in Georgia,
cut off from all communication with our friends; and the rebel
papers had reported us to be harassed, defeated, starving, and
fleeing for safety to the coast. I then asked for pen and paper,
and wrote several hasty notes to General Foster, Admiral Dahlgren,
General Grant, and the Secretary of War, giving in general terms
the actual state of affairs, the fact of the capture of Fort
McAllister, and of my desire that means should be taken to
establish a line of supply from the vessels in port up the Ogeechee
to the rear of the army. As a sample, I give one of these notes,
addressed to the Secretary of War, intended for publication to
relieve the anxiety of our friends at the North generally:

ON BOARD DANDELION, OSSABAW SOUND, December 13, 1864--11.50 p.m.

To Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.:

To-day, at 6 p. m., General Hazen's division of the Fifteenth Corps
carried Fort McAllister by assault, capturing its entire garrison
and stores. This opened to us Ossabaw Sound, and I pushed down to
this gunboat to communicate with the fleet. Before opening
communication we had completely destroyed all the railroads leading
into Savannah, and invested the city. The left of the army is on
the Savannah River three miles above the city, and the right on the
Ogeechee, at King's Bridge. The army is in splendid order, and
equal to any thing. The weather has been fine, and supplies were
abundant. Our march was most agreeable, and we were not at all
molested by guerrillas.

We reached Savannah three days ago, but, owing to Fort McAllister,
could not communicate; but, now that we have McAllister, we can go

We have already captured two boats on the Savannah river and
prevented their gunboats from coming down.

I estimate the population of Savannah at twenty-five thousand, and
the garrison at fifteen thousand. General Hardee commands.

We have not lost a wagon on the trip; but have gathered a large
supply of negroes, mules, horses, etc., and our teams are in far
better condition than when we started.

My first duty will be to clear the army of surplus negroes, mules,
and horses. We have utterly destroyed over two hundred miles of
rails, and consumed stores and provisions that were essential to
Lee's and Hood's armies.

The quick work made with McAllister, the opening of communication
with our fleet, and our consequent independence as to supplies,
dissipate all their boasted threats to head us off and starve the

I regard Savannah as already gained.
Yours truly,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

By this time the night was well advanced, and the tide was running
ebb-strong; so I asked. Captain Williamson to tow us up as near
Fort McAllister as he would venture for the torpedoes, of which the
navy-officers had a wholesome dread. The Dandelion steamed up some
three or four miles, till the lights of Fort McAllister could be
seen, when she anchored, and we pulled to the fort in our own boat.
General Howard and I then walked up to the McAllister House, where
we found General Hazen and his officers asleep on the floor of one
of the rooms. Lying down on the floor, I was soon fast asleep, but
shortly became conscious that some one in the room was inquiring
for me among the sleepers. Calling out, I was told that an officer
of General Fosters staff had just arrived from a steamboat anchored
below McAllister; that the general was extremely anxious to see me
on important business, but that he was lame from an old Mexican-War
wound, and could not possibly come to me. I was extremely weary
from the incessant labor of the day and night before, but got up,
and again walked down the sandy road to McAllister, where I found a
boat awaiting us, which carried us some three miles down the river,
to the steamer W. W. Coit (I think), on board of which we found
General Foster. He had just come from Port Royal, expecting to
find Admiral Dahlgren in Ossabaw Sound, and, hearing of the capture
of Fort McAllister, he had come up to see me. He described fully
the condition of affairs with his own command in South Carolina.
He had made several serious efforts to effect a lodgment on the
railroad which connects Savannah with Charleston near Pocotaligo,
but had not succeeded in reaching the railroad itself, though he
had a full division of troops, strongly intrenched, near Broad
River, within cannon-range of the railroad. He explained,
moreover, that there were at Port Royal abundant supplies of bread
and provisions, as well as of clothing, designed for our use. We
still had in our wagons and in camp abundance of meat, but we
needed bread, sugar, and coffee, and it was all-important that a
route of supply should at once be opened, for which purpose the
assistance of the navy were indispensable. We accordingly
steamed down the Ogeechee River to Ossabaw Sound, in hopes to meet
Admiral Dahlgren, but he was not there, and we continued on by the
inland channel to Warsaw Sound, where we found the Harvest Moon,
and Admiral Dahlgren. I was not personally acquainted with him at
the time, but he was so extremely kind and courteous that I was at
once attracted to him. There was nothing in his power, he said,
which he would not do to assist us, to make our campaign absolutely
successful. He undertook at once to find vessels of light draught
to carry our supplies from Port Royal to Cheeves's Mill, or to
Grog's Bridge above, whence they could be hauled by wagons to our
several camps; he offered to return with me to Fort McAllister, to
superintend the removal of the torpedoes, and to relieve me of all
the details of this most difficult work. General Foster then
concluded to go on to Port Royal, to send back to us six hundred
thousand rations, and all the rifled guns of heavy calibre, and
ammunition on hand, with which I thought we could reach the city of
Savannah, from the positions already secured. Admiral Dahlgren
then returned with me in the Harvest Moon to Fort McAllister. This
consumed all of the 14th of December; and by the 15th I had again
reached Cheeves's Mill, where my horse awaited me, and rode on to
General Howard's headquarters at Anderson's plantation, on the
plank-road, about eight miles back of Savannah. I reached this
place about noon, and immediately sent orders to my own
head-quarters, on the Louisville road, to have them brought over to
the plank-road, as a place more central and convenient; gave written
notice to Generals Slocum and Howard of all the steps taken, and
ordered them to get ready to receive the siege-guns, to put them in
position to bombard Savannah, and to prepare for the general assault.
The country back of Savannah is very low, and intersected with
innumerable saltwater creeks, swamps, and rice-fields. Fortunately
the weather was good and the roads were passable, but, should the
winter rains set in, I knew that we would be much embarrassed.
Therefore, heavy details of men were at once put to work to prepare a
wharf and depot at Grog's Bridge, and the roads leading thereto were
corduroyed in advance. The Ogeechee Canal was also cleared out for
use; and boats, such as were common on the river plantations, were
collected, in which to float stores from our proposed base on the
Ogeechee to the points most convenient to the several camps.

Slocum's wing extended from the Savannah River to the canal, and
Howard's wing from the canal to the extreme right, along down the
Little Ogeechee. The enemy occupied not only the city itself, with
its long line of outer works, but the many forts which had been
built to guard the approaches from the sea-such as at Beaulieu,
Rosedew, White Bluff, Bonaventura, Thunderbolt, Cansten's Bluff,
Forts Tatnall, Boggs, etc., etc. I knew that General Hardee could
not have a garrison strong enough for all these purposes, and I was
therefore anxious to break his lines before he could receive
reenforcements from Virginia or Augusta. General Slocum had
already captured a couple of steamboats trying to pass down the
Savannah River from Augusta, and had established some of his men on
Argyle and Hutchinson Islands above the city, and wanted to
transfer a whole corps to the South Carolina bank; but, as the
enemy had iron-clad gunboats in the river, I did not deem it
prudent, because the same result could be better accomplished from
General Fosters position at Broad River.

Fort McAllister was captured as described, late in the evening of
December 13th, and by the 16th many steamboats had passed up as
high as King's Bridge; among them one which General Grant had
dispatched with the mails for the army, which had accumulated since
our departure from Atlanta, under charge of Colonel A. H. Markland.
These mails were most welcome to all the officers and soldiers of
the army, which had been cut off from friends and the world for two
months, and this prompt receipt of letters from home had an
excellent effect, making us feel that home was near. By this
vessel also came Lieutenant Dune, aide-de-camp, with the following
letter of December 3d, from General Grant, and on the next day
Colonel Babcock , United States Engineers, arrived with the letter
of December 6th, both of which are in General Grant's own
handwriting, and are given entire:

CITY POINT, VIRGINIA, December 3, 1864.

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding Armies near Savannah,

GENERAL: The little information gleaned from the Southern press
indicating no great obstacle to your progress, I have directed your
mails (which had been previously collected in Baltimore by Colonel
Markland, special-agent of the Post-Office Department) to be sent
as far as the blockading squadron off Savannah, to be forwarded to
you as soon as heard from on the coast.

Not liking to rejoice before the victory is assured, I abstain from
congratulating you and those under your command, until bottom has
been struck. I have never had a fear, however, for the result.

Since you left Atlanta no very great progress has been made here.
The enemy has been closely watched, though, and prevented from
detaching against you. I think not one man has gone from here,
except some twelve or fifteen hundred dismounted cavalry. Bragg
has gone from Wilmington. I am trying to take advantage of his
absence to get possession of that place. Owing to some
preparations Admiral Porter and General Butler are making to blow
up Fort Fisher (which, while hoping for the best, I do not believe
a particle in), there is a delay in getting this expedition off. I
hope they will be ready to start by the 7th, and that Bragg will
not have started back by that time.

In this letter I do not intend to give you any thing like
directions for future action, but will state a general idea I have,
and will get your views after you have established yourself on the
sea-coast. With your veteran army I hope to get control of the only
two through routes from east to west possessed by the enemy before
the fall of Atlanta. The condition will be filled by holding
Savannah and Augusta, or by holding any other port to the east of
Savannah and Branchville. If Wilmington falls, a force from there
can cooperate with you.

Thomas has got back into the defenses of Nashville, with Hood close
upon him. Decatur has been abandoned, and so have all the roads,
except the main one leading to Chattanooga. Part of this falling
back was undoubtedly necessary, and all of it may have been. It
did not look so, however, to me. In my opinion, Thomas far
outnumbers Hood in infantry. In cavalry Hood has the advantage in
morale and numbers. I hope yet that Hood will be badly crippled,
if not destroyed. The general news you will learn from the papers
better than I can give it.

After all becomes quiet, and roads become so bad up here that there
is likely to be a week or two when nothing can be done, I will run
down the coast to see you. If you desire it, I will ask Mrs.
Sherman to go with me.
Yours truly,

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.

CITY POINT, VIRGINIA, December 6, 1864.

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

GENERAL: On reflection since sending my letter by the hands of
Lieutenant Dunn, I have concluded that the most important operation
toward closing out the rebellion will be to close out Lee and his

You have now destroyed the roads of the South so that it will
probably take them three months without interruption to reestablish
a through line from east to west. In that time I think the job here
will be effectually completed.

My idea now is that you establish a base on the sea-coast, fortify
and leave in it all your artillery and cavalry, and enough infantry
to protect them, and at the same time so threaten the interior that
the militia of the South will have to be kept at home. With the
balance of your command come here by water with all dispatch.
Select yourself the officer to leave in command, but you I want in
person. Unless you see objections to this plan which I cannot see,
use every vessel going to you for purposes of transportation.

Hood has Thomas close in Nashville. I have said all I can to force
him to attack, without giving the positive order until to-day.
To-day, however, I could stand it no longer, and gave the order
without any reserve. I think the battle will take place to-morrow.
The result will probably be known in New York before Colonel
Babcock (the bearer of this) will leave it. Colonel Babcock will
give you full information of all operations now in progress.
Very respectfully your obedient servant,

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.

The contents of these letters gave me great uneasiness, for I had
set my heart on the capture of Savannah, which I believed to be
practicable, and to be near; for me to embark for Virginia by sea
was so complete a change from what I had supposed would be the
course of events that I was very much concerned. I supposed, as a
matter of course, that a fleet of vessels would soon pour in, ready
to convey the army to Virginia, and as General Grant's orders
contemplated my leaving the cavalry, trains, and artillery, behind,
I judged Fort McAllister to be the best place for the purpose, and
sent my chief-engineer, Colonel Poe, to that fort, to reconnoitre
the ground, and to prepare it so as to make a fortified camp large
enough to accommodate the vast herd of mules and horses that would
thus be left behind. And as some time might be required to collect
the necessary shipping, which I estimated at little less than a
hundred steamers and sailing-vessels, I determined to push
operations, in hopes to secure the city of Savannah before the
necessary fleet could be available. All these ideas are given in
my answer to General Grant's letters (dated December 16, 1864)
herewith, which is a little more full than the one printed in the
report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, because in that
copy I omitted the matter concerning General Thomas, which now need
no longer be withheld:

IN THE FIELD, NEAR SAVANNAH, December 16, 1864.

Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, Commander-in-Chief, City Point,

GENERAL: I received, day before yesterday, at the hands of
Lieutenant Dunn, your letter of December 8d, and last night, at the
hands of Colonel Babcock, that of December 6th. I had previously
made you a hasty scrawl from the tugboat Dandelion, in Ogeechee
River, advising you that the army had reached the sea-coast,
destroying all the railroads across the State of Georgia, investing
closely the city of Savannah, and had made connection with the

Since writing that note, I have in person met and conferred with
General Foster and Admiral Dahlgren, and made all the arrangements
which were deemed essential for reducing the city of Savannah to
our possession. But, since the receipt of yours of the 6th, I have
initiated measures looking principally to coming to you with fifty
or Sixty thousand infantry, and incidentally to capture Savannah,
if time will allow.

At the time we carried Fort McAllister by assault so handsomely,
with its twenty-two guns and entire garrison, I was hardly aware
of its importance; but, since passing down the river with General
Foster and up with Admiral Dahlgren, I realize how admirably
adapted are Ossabaw Sound and Ogeechee River to supply an army
operating against Savannah. Seagoing vessels can easily come to
King's Bridge, a point on Ogeechee River, fourteen and a half miles
due west of Savannah, from which point we have roads leading to all
our camps. The country is low and sandy, and cut up with marshes,
which in wet weather will be very bad, but we have been so favored
with weather that they are all now comparatively good, and heavy
details are constantly employed in double-corduroying the marshes,
so that I have no fears even of bad weather. Fortunately, also, by
liberal and judicious foraging, we reached the sea-coast abundantly
supplied with forage and provisions, needing nothing on arrival
except bread. Of this we started from Atlanta, with from eight to
twenty days' supply per corps and some of the troops only had one
day's issue of bread during the trip of thirty days; yet they did
not want, for sweet-potatoes were very abundant, as well as
corn-meal, and our soldiers took to them naturally. We started
with about five thousand head of cattle, and arrived with over ten
thousand, of course consuming mostly turkeys, chickens, sheep,
hogs, and the cattle of the country. As to our mules and horses,
we left Atlanta with about twenty-five hundred wagons, many of
which were drawn by mules which had not recovered from the
Chattanooga starvation, all of which were replaced, the poor mules
shot, and our transportation is now in superb condition. I have no
doubt the State of Georgia has lost, by our operations, fifteen
thousand first-rate mules. As to horses, Kilpatrick collected all
his remounts, and it looks to me, in riding along our
columns, as though every officer had three or four led horses, and
each regiment seems to be followed by at least fifty negroes and
foot-sore soldiers, riding on horses and mules. The custom was for
each brigade to send out daily a foraging-party of about fifty men,
on foot, who invariably returned mounted, with several wagons
loaded with poultry, potatoes, etc., and as the army is composed of
about forty brigades, you can estimate approximately the number of
horses collected. Great numbers of these were shot by my order,
because of the disorganizing effect on our infantry of having too
many idlers mounted. General Euston is now engaged in collecting
statistics on this subject, but I know the Government will never
receive full accounts of our captures, although the result aimed at
was fully attained, viz., to deprive our enemy of them. All these
animals I will have sent to Port Royal, or collected behind Fort
McAllister, to be used by General Saxton in his farming operations,
or by the Quartermaster's Department, after they are systematically
accounted for. While General Easton is collecting transportation
for my troops to James River, I will throw to Port Royal Island all
our means of transportation I can, and collect the rest near Fort
McAllister, covered by the Ogeeehee River and intrenchments to be
erected, and for which Captain Poe, my chief-engineer, is now
reconnoitring the ground, but in the mean time will act as I have
begun, as though the city of Savannah were my objective: namely,
the troops will continue to invest Savannah closely, making attacks
and feints wherever we have fair ground to stand upon, and I will
place some thirty-pound Parrotts, which I have got from General
Foster, in position, near enough to reach the centre of the city,
and then will demand its surrender. If General Hardee is alarmed,
or fears starvation, he may surrender; otherwise I will bombard the
city, but not risk the lives of our men by assaults across the
narrow causeways, by which alone I can now reach it.

If I had time, Savannah, with all its dependent fortifications,
would surely fall into our possession, for we hold all its avenues
of supply.

The enemy has made two desperate efforts to get boats from above to
the city, in both of which he has been foiled-General Slocum (whose
left flank rests on the river) capturing and burning the first
boat, and in the second instance driving back two gunboats and
capturing the steamer Resolute, with seven naval officers and a
crew of twenty-five seamen. General Slocum occupies Argyle Island
and the upper end of Hutchinson Inland, and has a brigade on the
South Carolina shore opposite, and is very urgent to pass one of
his corps over to that shore. But, in view of the change of plan
made necessary by your order of the 6th, I will maintain things in
statu quo till I have got all my transportation to the rear and out
of the way, and until I have sea-transportation for the troops you
require at James River, which I will accompany and command in
person. Of course, I will leave Kilpatrick, with his cavalry (say
five thousand three hundred), and, it may be, a division of the
Fifteenth Corps; but, before determining on this, I must see
General Foster, and may arrange to shift his force (now over above
the Charleston Railroad, at the head of Broad River) to the
Ogeeohee, where, in cooperation with Kilpatrick's cavalry, he can
better threaten the State of Georgia than from the direction of
Port Royal. Besides, I would much prefer not to detach from my
regular corps any of its veteran divisions, and would even prefer
that other less valuable troops should be sent to reenforce Foster
from some other quarter. My four corps, full of experience and
full of ardor, coming to you en masse, equal to sixty thousand
fighting men, will be a reenforcement that Lee cannot disregard.
Indeed, with my present command, I had expected, after reducing
Savannah, instantly to march to Columbia, South Carolina; thence to
Raleigh, and thence to report to you. But this would consume, it
may be, six weeks' time after the fall of Savannah; whereas, by
sea, I can probably reach you with my men and arms before the
middle of January.

I myself am somewhat astonished at the attitude of things in
Tennessee. I purposely delayed at Kingston until General Thomas
assured me that he was all ready, and my last dispatch from him of
the 12th of November was full of confidence, in which he promised
me that he would ruin Hood if he dared to advance from Florence,
urging me to go ahead, and give myself no concern about Hood's army
in Tennessee.

Why he did not turn on him at Franklin, after checking and
discomfiting him, surpasses my understanding. Indeed, I do not
approve of his evacuating Decatur, but think he should have assumed
the offensive against Hood from Pulaski, in the direction of
I know full well that General Thomas is slow in mind and in action;
but he is judicious and brave and the troops feel great confidence
in him. I still hope he will out-manoeuvre and destroy Hood.

As to matters in the Southeast, I think Hardee, in Savannah, has
good artillerists, some five or six thousand good infantry, and,
it may be, a mongrel mass of eight to ten thousand militia. In all
our marching through Georgia, he has not forced us to use any thing
but a skirmish-line, though at several points he had erected
fortifications and tried to alarm us by bombastic threats. In
Savannah he has taken refuge in a line constructed behind swamps
and overflowed rice-fields, extending from a point on the Savannah
River about three miles above the city, around by a branch of the
Little Ogeechee, which stream is impassable from its salt-marshes
and boggy swamps, crossed only by narrow causeways or common

There must be twenty-five thousand citizens, men, women, and
children, in Savannah, that must also be fed, and how he is to feed
them beyond a few days I cannot imagine. I know that his
requisitions for corn on the interior counties were not filled, and
we are in possession of the rice-fields and mills, which could
alone be of service to him in this neighborhood. He can draw
nothing from South Carolina, save from a small corner down in the
southeast, and that by a disused wagon-road. I could easily get
possession of this, but hardly deem it worth the risk of making a
detachment, which would be in danger by its isolation from the main
army. Our whole army is in fine condition as to health, and the
weather is splendid. For that reason alone I feel a personal
dislike to turning northward. I will keep Lieutenant Dunn here
until I know the result of my demand for the surrender of Savannah,
but, whether successful or not, shall not delay my execution of
your order of the 6th, which will depend alone upon the time it
will require to obtain transportation by sea.

I am, with respect, etc., your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General United States Army.

Having concluded all needful preparations, I rode from my
headquarters, on the plank-road, over to General Slocum's
headquarters, on the Macon road, and thence dispatched (by flag of
truce) into Savannah, by the hands of Colonel Ewing,
inspector-general, a demand for the surrender of the place. The
following letters give the result. General Hardee refused to
surrender, and I then resolved to make the attempt to break his
line of defense at several places, trusting that some one would

IN THE FIELD, NEAR SAVANNAH, December 17, 1864.

General WILLIAM J. HARDEE, commanding Confederate Forces in

GENERAL: You have doubtless observed, from your station at Rosedew
that sea-going vessels now come through Ossabaw Sound and up the
Ogeechee to the rear of my army, giving me abundant supplies of all
kinds, and more especially heavy ordnance necessary for the
reduction of Savannah. I have already received guns that can cast
heavy and destructive shot as far as the heart of your city; also,
I have for some days held and controlled every avenue by which the
people and garrison of Savannah can be supplied, and I am therefore
justified in demanding the surrender of the city of Savannah, and
its dependent forts, and shall wait a reasonable time for your
answer, before opening with heavy ordnance. Should you entertain
the proposition, I am prepared to grant liberal terms to the
inhabitants and garrison; but should I be forced to resort to
assault, or the slower and surer process of starvation, I shall
then feel justified in resorting to the harshest measures, and
shall make little effort to restrain my army--burning to avenge the
national wrong which they attach to Savannah and other large cities
which have been so prominent in dragging our country into civil
war. I inclose you a copy of General Hood's demand for the
surrender of the town of Resaoa, to be used by you for what it is
worth. I have the honor to be your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA, December 17, 1864

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding Federal Forces near
Savannah, Georgia.

GENERAL: I have to acknowledge the receipt of a communication from
you of this date, in which you demand "the surrender of Savannah
and its dependent forts," on the ground that you "have received
guns that can cast heavy and destructive shot into the heart of the
city," and for the further reason that you "have, for some days,
held and controlled every avenue by which the people and garrison
can be supplied." You add that, should you be "forced to resort to
assault, or to the slower and surer process of starvation, you will
then feel justified in resorting to the harshest measures, and will
make little effort to restrain your army," etc., etc. The position
of your forces (a half-mile beyond the outer line for the
land-defense of Savannah) is, at the nearest point, at least four
miles from the heart of the city. That and the interior line are
both intact.

Your statement that you have, for some days, held and controlled
every avenue by which the people and garrison can be supplied, is
incorrect. I am in free and constant communication with my

Your demand for the surrender of Savannah and its dependent forts
is refused.

With respect to the threats conveyed in the closing paragraphs of
your letter (of what may be expected in case your demand is not
complied with), I have to say that I have hitherto conducted the
military operations intrusted to my direction in strict accordance
with the rules of civilized warfare, and I should deeply regret the
adoption of any course by you that may force me to deviate from
them in future. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your
obedient servant,

W. J. HARDEE, Lieutenant-General.

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