Part 11 out of 16

I have seen your despatch in which you say, "I want Sheridan put
in command of all the troops in the field, with instructions to
put himself south of the enemy, and follow him to the death.
Wherever the enemy goes, let our troops go also." This, I
think, is exactly right, as to how our forces should move. But
please look over the despatches you may have received from here,
even since you made that order, and discover, if you can, that
there is any idea in the head of any one here, of "putting our
army south of the enemy," or of "following him to the death" in
any direction. I repeat to you it will neither be done nor
attempted unless you watch it every day, and hour, and force it.


I replied to this that "I would start in two hours for
Washington," and soon got off, going directly to the Monocacy
without stopping at Washington on my way. I found General
Hunter's army encamped there, scattered over the fields along
the banks of the Monocacy, with many hundreds of cars and
locomotives, belonging to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which
he had taken the precaution to bring back and collect at that
point. I asked the general where the enemy was. He replied
that he did not know. He said the fact was, that he was so
embarrassed with orders from Washington moving him first to the
right and then to the left that he had lost all trace of the

I then told the general that I would find out where the enemy
was, and at once ordered steam got up and trains made up, giving
directions to push for Halltown, some four miles above Harper's
Ferry, in the Shenandoah Valley. The cavalry and the wagon
trains were to march, but all the troops that could be
transported by the cars were to go in that way. I knew that the
valley was of such importance to the enemy that, no matter how
much he was scattered at that time, he would in a very short
time be found in front of our troops moving south.

I then wrote out General Hunter's instructions. (*39) I told
him that Sheridan was in Washington, and still another division
was on its way; and suggested that he establish the headquarters
of the department at any point that would suit him best,
Cumberland, Baltimore, or elsewhere, and give Sheridan command
of the troops in the field. The general replied to this, that
he thought he had better be relieved entirely. He said that
General Halleck seemed so much to distrust his fitness for the
position he was in that he thought somebody else ought to be
there. He did not want, in any way, to embarrass the cause;
thus showing a patriotism that was none too common in the
army. There were not many major-generals who would voluntarily
have asked to have the command of a department taken from them
on the supposition that for some particular reason, or for any
reason, the service would be better performed. I told him,
"very well then," and telegraphed at once for Sheridan to come
to the Monocacy, and suggested that I would wait and meet him

Sheridan came at once by special train, but reached there after
the troops were all off. I went to the station and remained
there until he arrived. Myself and one or two of my staff were
about all the Union people, except General Hunter and his staff,
who were left at the Monocacy when Sheridan arrived. I hastily
told Sheridan what had been done and what I wanted him to do,
giving him, at the same time, the written instructions which had
been prepared for General Hunter and directed to that officer.

Sheridan now had about 30,000 men to move with, 8,000 of them
being cavalry. Early had about the same number, but the
superior ability of the National commander over the Confederate
commander was so great that all the latter's advantage of being
on the defensive was more than counterbalanced by this
circumstance. As I had predicted, Early was soon found in front
of Sheridan in the valley, and Pennsylvania and Maryland were
speedily freed from the invaders. The importance of the valley
was so great to the Confederates that Lee reinforced Early, but
not to the extent that we thought and feared he would.

To prevent as much as possible these reinforcements from being
sent out from Richmond, I had to do something to compel Lee to
retain his forces about his capital. I therefore gave orders
for another move to the north side of the James River, to
threaten Richmond. Hancock's corps, part of the 10th corps
under Birney, and Gregg's division of cavalry were crossed to
the north side of the James during the night of the 13th-14th of
August. A threatening position was maintained for a number of
days, with more or less skirmishing, and some tolerably hard
fighting; although it was my object and my instructions that
anything like a battle should be avoided, unless opportunities
should present themselves which would insure great success.
General Meade was left in command of the few troops around
Petersburg, strongly intrenched; and was instructed to keep a
close watch upon the enemy in that quarter, and himself to take
advantage of any weakening that might occur through an effort on
the part of the enemy to reinforce the north side. There was no
particular victory gained on either side; but during that time
no more reinforcements were sent to the valley.

I informed Sheridan of what had been done to prevent
reinforcements being sent from Richmond against him, and also
that the efforts we had made had proven that one of the
divisions which we supposed had gone to the valley was still at
Richmond, because we had captured six or seven hundred prisoners
from that division, each of its four brigades having contributed
to our list of captures. I also informed him that but one
division had gone, and it was possible that I should be able to
prevent the going of any more.

To add to my embarrassment at this time Sherman, who was now
near Atlanta, wanted reinforcements. He was perfectly willing
to take the raw troops then being raised in the North-west,
saying that he could teach them more soldiering in one day among
his troops than they would learn in a week in a camp of
instruction. I therefore asked that all troops in camps of
instruction in the North-west be sent to him. Sherman also
wanted to be assured that no Eastern troops were moving out
against him. I informed him of what I had done and assured him
that I would hold all the troops there that it was possible for
me to hold, and that up to that time none had gone. I also
informed him that his real danger was from Kirby Smith, who
commanded the trans-Mississippi Department. If Smith should
escape Steele, and get across the Mississippi River, he might
move against him. I had, therefore, asked to have an expedition
ready to move from New Orleans against Mobile in case Kirby Smith
should get across. This would have a tendency to draw him to the
defence of that place, instead of going against Sherman.

Right in the midst of all these embarrassments Halleck informed
me that there was an organized scheme on foot in the North to
resist the draft, and suggested that it might become necessary
to draw troops from the field to put it down. He also advised
taking in sail, and not going too fast.

The troops were withdrawn from the north side of the James River
on the night of the 20th. Before they were withdrawn, however,
and while most of Lee's force was on that side of the river,
Warren had been sent with most of the 5th corps to capture the
Weldon Railroad. He took up his line of march well back to the
rear, south of the enemy, while the troops remaining in the
trenches extended so as to cover that part of the line which he
had vacated by moving out. From our left, near the old line, it
was about three miles to the Weldon Railroad. A division was
ordered from the right of the Petersburg line to reinforce
Warren, while a division was brought back from the north side of
the James River to take its place.

This road was very important to the enemy. The limits from
which his supplies had been drawn were already very much
contracted, and I knew that he must fight desperately to protect
it. Warren carried the road, though with heavy loss on both
sides. He fortified his new position, and our trenches were
then extended from the left of our main line to connect with his
new one. Lee made repeated attempts to dislodge Warren's corps,
but without success, and with heavy loss.

As soon as Warren was fortified and reinforcements reached him,
troops were sent south to destroy the bridges on the Weldon
Railroad; and with such success that the enemy had to draw in
wagons, for a distance of about thirty miles, all the supplies
they got thereafter from that source. It was on the 21st that
Lee seemed to have given up the Weldon Railroad as having been
lost to him; but along about the 24th or 25th he made renewed
attempts to recapture it; again he failed and with very heavy
losses to him as compared with ours.

On the night of the 20th our troops on the north side of the
James were withdrawn, and Hancock and Gregg were sent south to
destroy the Weldon Railroad. They were attacked on the 25th at
Reams's Station, and after desperate fighting a part of our line
gave way, losing five pieces of artillery. But the Weldon
Railroad never went out of our possession from the 18th of
August to the close of the war.



We had our troops on the Weldon Railroad contending against a
large force that regarded this road of so much importance that
they could afford to expend many lives in retaking it; Sherman
just getting through to Atlanta with great losses of men from
casualties, discharges and detachments left along as guards to
occupy and hold the road in rear of him; Washington threatened
but a short time before, and now Early being strengthened in the
valley so as, probably, to renew that attempt. It kept me pretty
active in looking after all these points.

On the 10th of August Sheridan had advanced on Early up the
Shenandoah Valley, Early falling back to Strasburg. On the 12th
I learned that Lee had sent twenty pieces of artillery, two
divisions of infantry and a considerable cavalry force to
strengthen Early. It was important that Sheridan should be
informed of this, so I sent the information to Washington by
telegraph, and directed a courier to be sent from there to get
the message to Sheridan at all hazards, giving him the
information. The messenger, an officer of the army, pushed
through with great energy and reached Sheridan just in time. The
officer went through by way of Snicker's Gap, escorted by some
cavalry. He found Sheridan just making his preparations to
attack Early in his chosen position. Now, however, he was
thrown back on the defensive.

On the 15th of September I started to visit General Sheridan in
the Shenandoah Valley. My purpose was to have him attack Early,
or drive him out of the valley and destroy that source of
supplies for Lee's army. I knew it was impossible for me to get
orders through Washington to Sheridan to make a move, because
they would be stopped there and such orders as Halleck's caution
(and that of the Secretary of War) would suggest would be given
instead, and would, no doubt, be contradictory to mine. I
therefore, without stopping at Washington, went directly through
to Charlestown, some ten miles above Harper's Ferry, and waited
there to see General Sheridan, having sent a courier in advance
to inform him where to meet me.

When Sheridan arrived I asked him if he had a map showing the
positions of his army and that of the enemy. He at once drew
one out of his side pocket, showing all roads and streams, and
the camps of the two armies. He said that if he had permission
he would move so and so (pointing out how) against the
Confederates, and that he could "whip them." Before starting I
had drawn up a plan of campaign for Sheridan, which I had
brought with me; but, seeing that he was so clear and so
positive in his views and so confident of success, I said
nothing about this and did not take it out of my pocket.

Sheridan's wagon trains were kept at Harper's Ferry, where all
of his stores were. By keeping the teams at that place, their
forage did not have to be hauled to them. As supplies of
ammunition, provisions and rations for the men were wanted,
trains would be made up to deliver the stores to the
commissaries and quartermasters encamped at Winchester. Knowing
that he, in making preparations to move at a given day, would
have to bring up wagons trains from Harper's Ferry, I asked him
if he could be ready to get off by the following Tuesday. This
was on Friday. "O Yes," he said, he "could be off before
daylight on Monday." I told him then to make the attack at that
time and according to his own plan; and I immediately started to
return to the army about Richmond. After visiting Baltimore and
Burlington, New Jersey, I arrived at City Point on the 19th.

On the way out to Harper's Ferry I had met Mr. Robert Garrett,
President of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. He seemed very
anxious to know when workmen might be put upon the road again so
as to make repairs and put it in shape for running. It was a
large piece of property to have standing idle. I told him I
could not answer then positively but would try and inform him
before a great while. On my return Mr. Garrett met me again with
the same and I told him I thought that by the Wednesday he might
send his workmen out on his road. I gave him no further
information however, and he had no suspicion of how I expected
to have the road cleared for his workmen.

Sheridan moved at the time he had fixed upon. He met Early at the
crossing of Opequon Creek, a most decisive victory--one which
the country. Early had invited this attack himself by his bad
generalship and made the victory easy. He had sent G. T.
Anderson's division east of the Blue Ridge before I went to Harper's
Ferry; and about the time I arrived there he started other
divisions (leaving but two in their camps) to march to
Martinsburg for the purpose destroying the Baltimore and Ohio
Railroad at that point. Early here learned that I had been with
Sheridan and, supposing there was some movement on foot, started
back as soon as he got the information. But his forces were
separated and, as I have said, he was very badly defeated. He
fell back to Fisher's Hill, Sheridan following.

The valley is narrow at that point, and Early made another stand
there, behind works which extended across. But Sheridan turned
both his flanks and again sent him speeding up the valley,
following in hot pursuit. The pursuit was continued up the
valley to Mount Jackson and New Market. Sheridan captured about
eleven hundred prisoners and sixteen guns. The houses which he
passed all along the route were found to be filled with Early's
wounded, and the country swarmed with his deserters. Finally,
on the 25th, Early turned from the valley eastward, leaving
Sheridan at Harrisonburg in undisputed possession.

Now one of the main objects of the expedition began to be
accomplished. Sheridan went to work with his command, gathering
in the crops, cattle, and everything in the upper part of the
valley required by our troops; and especially taking what might
be of use to the enemy. What he could not take away he
destroyed, so that the enemy would not be invited to come back
there. I congratulated Sheridan upon his recent great victory
and had a salute of a hundred guns fired in honor of it, the
guns being aimed at the enemy around Petersburg. I also
notified the other commanders throughout the country, who also
fired salutes in honor of his victory.

I had reason to believe that the administration was a little
afraid to have a decisive battle at that time, for fear it might
go against us and have a bad effect on the November elections.
The convention which had met and made its nomination of the
Democratic candidate for the presidency had declared the war a
failure. Treason was talked as boldly in Chicago at that
convention as ever been in Charleston. It was a question
whether the government would then have had the power to make
arrests and punish those who talked treason. But this decisive
victory was the most effective campaign argument made in the

Sheridan, in his pursuit, got beyond where they could hear from
him in Washington, and the President became very much frightened
about him. He was afraid that the hot pursuit had been a little
like that of General Cass was said to have been, in one of our
Indian wars, when he was an officer of army. Cass was pursuing
the Indians so closely that the first thing he knew he found
himself in front, and the Indians pursuing him. The President
was afraid that Sheridan had got on the other side of Early and
that Early was in behind him. He was afraid that Sheridan was
getting so far away that reinforcements would be sent out from
Richmond to enable Early to beat him. I replied to the
President that I had taken steps to prevent Lee from sending
reinforcements to Early, by attacking the former where he was.

On the 28th of September, to retain Lee in his position, I sent
Ord with the 18th corps and Birney with the 10th corps to make
an advance on Richmond, to threaten it. Ord moved with the left
wing up to Chaffin's Bluff; Birney with the 10th corps took a
road farther north; while Kautz with the cavalry took the Darby
road, still farther to the north. They got across the river by
the next morning, and made an effort to surprise the enemy. In
that, however, they were unsuccessful.

The enemy's lines were very strong and very intricate.
Stannard's division of the 18th corps with General Burnham's
brigade leading, tried an assault against Fort Harrison and
captured it with sixteen guns and a good many prisoners. Burnham
was killed in the assault. Colonel Stevens who succeeded him was
badly wounded; and his successor also fell in the same way. Some
works to the right and left were also carried with the guns in
them--six in number--and a few more prisoners. Birney's troops
to the right captured the enemy's intrenched picket-lines, but
were unsuccessful in their efforts upon the main line.

Our troops fortified their new position, bringing Fort Harrison
into the new line and extending it to the river. This brought
us pretty close to the enemy on the north side of the James, and
the two opposing lines maintained their relative positions to the
close of the siege.

In the afternoon a further attempt was made to advance, but it
failed. Ord fell badly wounded, and had to be relieved; the
command devolved upon General Heckman, and later General Weitzel
was assigned to the command of the 18th corps. During the night
Lee reinforced his troops about Fort Gilmer, which was at the
right of Fort Harrison, by eight additional brigades from
Petersburg, and attempted to retake the works which we had
captured by concentrating ten brigades against them. All their
efforts failed, their attacks being all repulsed with very heavy
loss. In one of these assaults upon us General Stannard, a
gallant officer who was defending Fort Harrison, lost an arm.
Our casualties during these operations amounted to 394 killed,
I,554 wounded and 324 missing.

Whilst this was going on General Meade was instructed to keep up
an appearance of moving troops to our extreme left. Parke and
Warren were kept with two divisions, each under arms, ready to
move leaving their enclosed batteries manned, with a scattering
line on the other intrenchments. The object of this was to
prevent reinforcements from going to the north side of the
river. Meade was instructed to watch the enemy closely and, if
Lee weakened his lines, to make an attack.

On the 30th these troops moved out, under Warren, and captured
an advanced intrenched camp at Peeble's farm, driving the enemy
back to the main line. Our troops followed and made an attack
in the hope of carrying the enemy's main line; but in this they
were unsuccessful and lost a large number of men, mostly
captured. The number of killed and wounded was not large. The
next day our troops advanced again and established themselves,
intrenching a new line about a mile in front of the enemy. This
advanced Warren's position on the Weldon Railroad very

Sheridan having driven the enemy out of the valley, and taken
the productions of the valley so that instead of going there for
supplies the enemy would have to bring his provisions with him if
he again entered it, recommended a reduction of his own force,
the surplus to be sent where it could be of more use. I
approved of his suggestion, and ordered him to send Wright's
corps back to the James River. I further directed him to repair
the railroad up the Shenandoah Valley towards the advanced
position which we would hold with a small force. The troops
were to be sent to Washington by the way of Culpeper, in order
to watch the east side of the Blue Ridge, and prevent the enemy
from getting into the rear of Sheridan while he was still doing
his work of destruction.

The valley was so very important, however, to the Confederate
army that, contrary to our expectations, they determined to make
one more strike, and save it if possible before the supplies
should be all destroyed. Reinforcements were sent therefore to
Early, and this before any of our troops had been withdrawn.
Early prepared to strike Sheridan at Harrisonburg; but the
latter had not remained there.

On the 6th of October Sheridan commenced retiring down the
valley, taking or destroying all the food and forage and driving
the cattle before him, Early following. At Fisher's Hill
Sheridan turned his cavalry back on that of Early, which, under
the lead of Rosser, was pursuing closely, and routed it most
completely, capturing eleven guns and a large number of
prisoners. Sheridan lost only about sixty men. His cavalry
pursued the enemy back some twenty-five miles. On the 10th of
October the march down the valley was again resumed, Early again

I now ordered Sheridan to halt, and to improve the opportunity
if afforded by the enemy's having been sufficiently weakened, to
move back again and cut the James River Canal and Virginia
Central Railroad. But this order had to go through Washington
where it was intercepted; and when Sheridan received what
purported to be a statement of what I wanted him to do it was
something entirely different. Halleck informed Sheridan that it
was my wish for him to hold a forward position as a base from
which to act against Charlottesville and Gordonsville; that he
should fortify this position and provision it.

Sheridan objected to this most decidedly; and I was impelled to
telegraph him, on the 14th, as follows:

October 14, 1864.--12.30 P.M.

Cedar Creek, Va.

What I want is for you to threaten the Virginia Central Railroad
and canal in the manner your judgment tells you is best, holding
yourself ready to advance, if the enemy draw off their forces.
If you make the enemy hold a force equal to your own for the
protection of those thoroughfares, it will accomplish nearly as
much as their destruction. If you cannot do this, then the next
best thing to do is to send here all the force you can. I deem a
good cavalry force necessary for your offensive, as well as
defensive operations. You need not therefore send here more
than one division of cavalry.


Sheridan having been summoned to Washington City, started on the
15th leaving Wright in command. His army was then at Cedar
Creek, some twenty miles south of Winchester. The next morning
while at Front Royal, Sheridan received a dispatch from Wright,
saying that a dispatch from Longstreet to Early had been
intercepted. It directed the latter to be ready to move and to
crush Sheridan as soon as he, Longstreet, arrived. On the
receipt of this news Sheridan ordered the cavalry up the valley
to join Wright.

On the 18th of October Early was ready to move, and during the
night succeeded in getting his troops in the rear of our left
flank, which fled precipitately and in great confusion down the
valley, losing eighteen pieces of artillery and a thousand or
more prisoners. The right under General Getty maintained a firm
and steady front, falling back to Middletown where it took a
position and made a stand. The cavalry went to the rear, seized
the roads leading to Winchester and held them for the use of our
troops in falling back, General Wright having ordered a retreat
back to that place.

Sheridan having left Washington on the 18th, reached Winchester
that night. The following morning he started to join his
command. He had scarcely got out of town, when he met his men
returning in panic from the front and also heard heavy firing to
the south. He immediately ordered the cavalry at Winchester to
be deployed across the valley to stop the stragglers. Leaving
members of his staff to take care of Winchester and the public
property there, he set out with a small escort directly for the
scene of battle. As he met the fugitives he ordered them to
turn back, reminding them that they were going the wrong way.
His presence soon restored confidence. Finding themselves worse
frightened than hurt the men did halt and turn back. Many of
those who had run ten miles got back in time to redeem their
reputation as gallant soldiers before night.

When Sheridan got to the front he found Getty and Custer still
holding their ground firmly between the Confederates and our
retreating troops. Everything in the rear was now ordered up.
Sheridan at once proceeded to intrench his position; and he
awaited an assault from the enemy. This was made with vigor,
and was directed principally against Emory's corps, which had
sustained the principal loss in the first attack. By one
o'clock the attack was repulsed. Early was so badly damaged
that he seemed disinclined to make another attack, but went to
work to intrench himself with a view to holding the position he
had already gained. He thought, no doubt, that Sheridan would
be glad enough to leave him unmolested; but in this he was

About the middle of the afternoon Sheridan advanced. He sent
his cavalry by both flanks, and they penetrated to the enemy's
rear. The contest was close for a time, but at length the left
of the enemy broke, and disintegration along the whole line soon
followed. Early tried to rally his men, but they were followed
so closely that they had to give way very quickly every time
they attempted to make a stand. Our cavalry, having pushed on
and got in the rear of the Confederates, captured twenty-four
pieces of artillery, besides retaking what had been lost in the
morning. This victory pretty much closed the campaigning in the
Valley of Virginia. All the Confederate troops were sent back to
Richmond with the exception of one division of infantry and a
little cavalry. Wright's corps was ordered back to the Army of
the Potomac, and two other divisions were withdrawn from the
valley. Early had lost more men in killed, wounded and captured
in the valley than Sheridan had commanded from first to last.

On more than one occasion in these engagements General R. B.
Hayes, who succeeded me as President of the United States, bore
a very honorable part. His conduct on the field was marked by
conspicuous gallantry as well as the display of qualities of a
higher order than that of mere personal daring. This might well
have been expected of one who could write at the time he is said
to have done so: "Any officer fit for duty who at this crisis
would abandon his post to electioneer for a seat in Congress,
ought to be scalped." Having entered the army as a Major of
Volunteers at the beginning of the war, General Hayes attained
by meritorious service the rank of Brevet Major-General before
its close.

On the north side of the James River the enemy attacked Kautz's
cavalry on the 7th of October, and drove it back with heavy loss
in killed, wounded and prisoners, and the loss of all the
artillery. This was followed up by an attack on our intrenched
infantry line, but was repulsed with severe slaughter. On the
13th a reconnoissance was sent out by General Butler, with a
view to drive the enemy from some new works he was constructing,
which resulted in heavy loss to us.

On the 24th I ordered General Meade to attempt to get possession
of the South Side Railroad, and for that purpose to advance on
the 27th. The attempt proved a failure, however, the most
advanced of our troops not getting nearer than within six miles
of the point aimed for. Seeing the impossibility of its
accomplishment I ordered the troops to withdraw, and they were
all back in their former positions the next day.

Butler, by my directions, also made a demonstration on the north
side of the James River in order to support this move, by
detaining there the Confederate troops who were on that side. He
succeeded in this, but failed of further results by not marching
past the enemy's left before turning in on the Darby road and by
reason of simply coming up against their lines in place.

This closed active operations around Richmond for the winter. Of
course there was frequent skirmishing between pickets, but no
serious battle was fought near either Petersburg or Richmond.
It would prolong this work to give a detailed account of all
that took place from day to day around Petersburg and at other
parts of my command, and it would not interest the general
reader if given. All these details can be found by the military
student in a series of books published by the Scribners, Badeau's
history of my campaigns, and also in the publications of the War
Department, including both the National and Confederate reports.

In the latter part of November General Hancock was relieved from
the command of the 2d corps by the Secretary of War and ordered
to Washington, to organize and command a corps of veteran troops
to be designated the 1st corps. It was expected that this would
give him a large command to co-operate with in the spring. It
was my expectation, at the time, that in the final operations
Hancock should move either up the valley, or else east of the
Blue Ridge to Lynchburg; the idea being to make the spring
campaign the close of the war. I expected, with Sherman coming
up from the South, Meade south of Petersburg and around
Richmond, and Thomas's command in Tennessee with depots of
supplies established in the eastern part of that State, to move
from the direction of Washington or the valley towards
Lynchburg. We would then have Lee so surrounded that his
supplies would be cut off entirely, making it impossible for him
to support his army.

General Humphreys, chief-of-staff of the Army of the Potomac,
was assigned to the command of the 2d corps, to succeed Hancock.



Let us now return to the operations in the military division of
the Mississippi, and accompany Sherman in his march to the sea.

The possession of Atlanta by us narrowed the territory of the
enemy very materially and cut off one of his two remaining lines
of roads from east to west.

A short time after the fall of Atlanta Mr. Davis visited
Palmetto and Macon and made speeches at each place. He spoke at
Palmetto on the 20th of September, and at Macon on the 22d.
Inasmuch as he had relieved Johnston and appointed Hood, and
Hood had immediately taken the initiative, it is natural to
suppose that Mr. Davis was disappointed with General Johnston's
policy. My own judgment is that Johnston acted very wisely: he
husbanded his men and saved as much of his territory as he could,
without fighting decisive battles in which all might be lost. As
Sherman advanced, as I have show, his army became spread out,
until, if this had been continued, it would have been easy to
destroy it in detail. I know that both Sherman and I were
rejoiced when we heard of the change. Hood was unquestionably a
brave, gallant soldier and not destitute of ability; but
unfortunately his policy was to fight the enemy wherever he saw
him, without thinking much of the consequences of defeat.

In his speeches Mr. Davis denounced Governor Brown, of Georgia,
and General Johnston in unmeasured terms, even insinuating that
their loyalty to the Southern cause was doubtful. So far as
General Johnston is concerned, I think Davis did him a great
injustice in this particular. I had know the general before the
war and strongly believed it would be impossible for him to
accept a high commission for the purpose of betraying the cause
he had espoused. There, as I have said, I think that his policy
was the best one that could have been pursued by the whole
South--protract the war, which was all that was necessary to
enable them to gain recognition in the end. The North was
already growing weary, as the South evidently was also, but with
this difference. In the North the people governed, and could
stop hostilities whenever they chose to stop supplies. The
South was a military camp, controlled absolutely by the
government with soldiers to back it, and the war could have been
protracted, no matter to what extent the discontent reached, up
to the point of open mutiny of the soldiers themselves. Mr.
Davis's speeches were frank appeals to the people of Georgia and
that portion of the South to come to their relief. He tried to
assure his frightened hearers that the Yankees were rapidly
digging their own graves; that measures were already being taken
to cut them off from supplies from the North; and that with a
force in front, and cut off from the rear, they must soon starve
in the midst of a hostile people. Papers containing reports of
these speeches immediately reached the Northern States, and they
were republished. Of course, that caused no alarm so long as
telegraphic communication was kept up with Sherman.

When Hood was forced to retreat from Atlanta he moved to the
south-west and was followed by a portion of Sherman's army. He
soon appeared upon the railroad in Sherman's rear, and with his
whole army began destroying the road. At the same time also the
work was begun in Tennessee and Kentucky which Mr. Davis had
assured his hearers at Palmetto and Macon would take place. He
ordered Forrest (about the ablest cavalry general in the South)
north for this purpose; and Forrest and Wheeler carried out
their orders with more or less destruction, occasionally picking
up a garrison. Forrest indeed performed the very remarkable feat
of capturing, with cavalry, two gunboats and a number of
transports, something the accomplishment of which is very hard
to account for. Hood's army had been weakened by Governor
Brown's withdrawing the Georgia State troops for the purpose of
gathering in the season's crops for the use of the people and
for the use of the army. This not only depleted Hood's forces
but it served a most excellent purpose in gathering in supplies
of food and forage for the use of our army in its subsequent
march. Sherman was obliged to push on with his force and go
himself with portions of it hither and thither, until it was
clearly demonstrated to him that with the army he then had it
would be impossible to hold the line from Atlanta back and leave
him any force whatever with which to take the offensive. Had
that plan been adhered to, very large reinforcements would have
been necessary; and Mr. Davis's prediction of the destruction of
the army would have been realized, or else Sherman would have
been obliged to make a successful retreat, which Mr. Davis said
in his speeches would prove more disastrous than Napoleon's
retreat from Moscow.

These speeches of Mr. Davis were not long in reaching Sherman.
He took advantage of the information they gave, and made all the
preparation possible for him to make to meet what now became
expected, attempts to break his communications. Something else
had to be done: and to Sherman's sensible and soldierly mind
the idea was not long in dawning upon him, not only that
something else had to be done, but what that something else
should be.

On September 10th I telegraphed Sherman as follows:

CITY POINT, VA., Sept. 10, 1864.

Atlanta, Georgia.

So soon as your men are sufficiently rested, and preparations
can be made, it is desirable that another campaign should be
commenced. We want to keep the enemy constantly pressed to the
end of the war. If we give him no peace whilst the war lasts,
the end cannot be distant. Now that we have all of Mobile Bay
that is valuable, I do not know but it will be the best move to
transfer Canby's troops to act upon Savannah, whilst you move on
Augusta. I should like to hear from you, however, in this matter.


Sherman replied promptly:

"If I could be sure of finding provisions and ammunition at
Augusta, or Columbus, Georgia, I can march to Milledgeville, and
compel Hood to give up Augusta or Macon, and then turn on the
other. * * * If you can manage to take the Savannah River as
high up as Augusta, or the Chattahoochee as far up as Columbus,
I can sweep the whole State of Georgia."

On the 12th I sent a special messenger, one of my own staff,
with a letter inviting Sherman's views about the next campaign.

CITY POINT, VA., Sept. 12, 1864.

Commanding Mill Division of the Mississippi.

I send Lieutenant-Colonel Porter, of my staff, with this.
Colonel Porter will explain to you the exact condition of
affairs here better than I can do in the limits of a letter.
Although I feel myself strong enough for offensive operations, I
am holding on quietly to get advantage of recruits and
convalescents, who are coming forward very rapidly. My lines
are necessarily very long, extending from Deep Bottom north of
the James across the peninsula formed by the Appomattox and the
James, and south of the Appomattox to the Weldon Road. This
line is very strongly fortified, and can be held with
comparatively few men, but from its great length takes many in
the aggregate. I propose, when I do move, to extend my left so
as to control what is known as the South Side, or Lynchburg and
Petersburg Road, then if possible to keep the Danville Road
cut. At the same time this move is made, I want to send a force
of from six to ten thousand men against Wilmington.

The way I propose to do this is to land the men north of Fort
Fisher, and hold that point. At the same time a large naval
fleet will be assembled there, and the iron-clads will run the
batteries as they did at Mobile. This will give us the same
control of the harbor of Wilmington that we now have of the
harbor of Mobile. What you are to do with the forces at your
command, I do not see. The difficulties of supplying your army,
except when you are constantly moving, beyond where you are, I
plainly see. If it had not been for Price's movements Canby
would have sent twelve thousand more men to Mobile. From your
command on the Mississippi an equal number could have been
taken. With these forces my idea would have been to divide
them, sending one half to Mobile and the other half to
Savannah. You could then move as proposed in your telegram, so
as to threaten Macon and Augusta equally. Whichever was
abandoned by the enemy you could take and open up a new base of
supplies. My object now in sending a staff officer is not so
much to suggest operations for you, as to get your views and
have plans matured by the time everything can be got ready. It
will probably be the 5th of October before any of the plans
herein indicated will be executed.

If you have any promotions to recommend, send the names forward
and I will approve them. * * *


This reached Sherman on September 20th.

On the 25th of September Sherman reported to Washington that
Hood's troops were in his rear. He had provided against this by
sending a division to Chattanooga and a division to Rome,
Georgia, which was in the rear of Hood, supposing that Hood
would fall back in the direction from which he had come to reach
the railroad. At the same time Sherman and Hood kept up a
correspondence relative to the exchange of prisoners, the
treatment of citizens, and other matters suitable to be arranged
between hostile commanders in the field. On the 27th of
September I telegraphed Sherman as follows:

September 27, 1864--10.30 A.M.


I have directed all recruits and new troops from the Western
States to be sent to Nashville, to receive their further orders
from you. * * *


On the 29th Sherman sent Thomas back to Chattanooga, and
afterwards to Nashville, with another division (Morgan's) of the
advanced army. Sherman then suggested that, when he was
prepared, his movements should take place against Milledgeville
and then to Savannah. His expectation at that time was, to make
this movement as soon as he could get up his supplies. Hood was
moving in his own country, and was moving light so that he could
make two miles to Sherman's one. He depended upon the country to
gather his supplies, and so was not affected by delays.

As I have said, until this unexpected state of affairs happened,
Mobile had been looked upon as the objective point of Sherman's
army. It had been a favorite move of mine from 1862, when I
first suggested to the then commander-in-chief that the troops
in Louisiana, instead of frittering away their time in the
trans- Mississippi, should move against Mobile. I recommended
this from time to time until I came into command of the army,
the last of March 1864. Having the power in my own hands, I now
ordered the concentration of supplies, stores and troops, in the
department of the Gulf about New Orleans, with a view to a move
against Mobile, in support of, and in conjunction with, the
other armies operating in the field. Before I came into
command, these troops had been scattered over the
trans-Mississippi department in such a way that they could not
be, or were not, gotten back in time to take any part in the
original movement; hence the consideration, which had caused
Mobile to be selected as the objective point for Sherman's army
to find his next base of supplies after having cut loose from
Atlanta, no longer existed.

General G. M. Dodge, an exceedingly efficient officer, having
been badly wounded, had to leave the army about the first of
October. He was in command of two divisions of the 16th corps,
consolidated into one. Sherman then divided his army into the
right and left wings the right commanded by General O. O. Howard
and the left by General Slocum. General Dodge's two divisions
were assigned, one to each of these wings. Howard's command
embraced the 15th and 17th corps, and Slocum's the 14th and 20th
corps, commanded by Generals Jeff. C. Davis and A. S. Williams.
Generals Logan and Blair commanded the two corps composing the
right wing. About this time they left to take part in the
presidential election, which took place that year, leaving their
corps to Osterhaus and Ransom. I have no doubt that their
leaving was at the earnest solicitation of the War Department.
General Blair got back in time to resume his command and to
proceed with it throughout the march to the sea and back to the
grand review at Washington. General Logan did not return to his
command until after it reached Savannah.

Logan felt very much aggrieved at the transfer of General Howard
from that portion of the Army of the Potomac which was then with
the Western Army, to the command of the Army of the Tennessee,
with which army General Logan had served from the battle of
Belmont to the fall of Atlanta--having passed successively
through all grades from colonel commanding a regiment to general
commanding a brigade, division and army corps, until upon the
death of McPherson the command of the entire Army of the
Tennessee devolved upon him in the midst of a hotly contested
battle. He conceived that he had done his full duty as
commander in that engagement; and I can bear testimony, from
personal observation, that he had proved himself fully equal to
all the lower positions which he had occupied as a soldier. I
will not pretend to question the motive which actuated Sherman
in taking an officer from another army to supersede General
Logan. I have no doubt, whatever, that he did this for what he
considered would be to the good of the service, which was more
important than that the personal feelings of any individual
should not be aggrieved; though I doubt whether he had an
officer with him who could have filled the place as Logan would
have done. Differences of opinion must exist between the best
of friends as to policies in war, and of judgment as to men's
fitness. The officer who has the command, however, should be
allowed to judge of the fitness of the officers under him,
unless he is very manifestly wrong.

Sherman's army, after all the depletions, numbered about sixty
thousand effective men. All weak men had been left to hold the
rear, and those remaining were not only well men, but strong and
hardy, so that he had sixty thousand as good soldiers as ever
trod the earth; better than any European soldiers, because they
not only worked like a machine but the machine thought.
European armies know very little what they are fighting for, and
care less. Included in these sixty thousand troops, there were
two small divisions of cavalry, numbering altogether about four
thousand men. Hood had about thirty-five to forty thousand men,
independent of Forrest, whose forces were operating in Tennessee
and Kentucky, as Mr. Davis had promised they should. This part
of Mr. Davis's military plan was admirable, and promised the
best results of anything he could have done, according to my
judgment. I say this because I have criticised his military
judgment in the removal of Johnston, and also in the appointment
of Hood. I am aware, however, that there was high feeling
existing at that time between Davis and his subordinate, whom I
regarded as one of his ablest lieutenants.

On the 5th of October the railroad back from Atlanta was again
very badly broken, Hood having got on the track with his army.
Sherman saw after night, from a high point, the road burning for
miles. The defence of the railroad by our troops was very
gallant, but they could not hold points between their intrenched
positions against Hood's whole army; in fact they made no attempt
to do so; but generally the intrenched positions were held, as
well as important bridges, and store located at them.
Allatoona, for instance, was defended by a small force of men
under the command of General Corse, one of the very able and
efficient volunteer officers produced by the war. He, with a
small force, was cut off from the remainder of the National army
and was attacked with great vigor by many times his own number.
Sherman from his high position could see the battle raging, with
the Confederate troops between him and his subordinate. He sent
men, of course, to raise the temporary siege, but the time that
would be necessarily consumed in reaching Corse, would be so
great that all occupying the intrenchments might be dead. Corse
was a man who would never surrender. From a high position some
of Sherman's signal corps discovered a signal flag waving from a
hole in the block house at Allatoona. It was from Corse. He had
been shot through the face, but he signalled to his chief a
message which left no doubt of his determination to hold his
post at all hazards. It was at this point probably, that
Sherman first realized that with the forces at his disposal, the
keeping open of his line of communication with the North would be
impossible if he expected to retain any force with which to
operate offensively beyond Atlanta. He proposed, therefore, to
destroy the roads back to Chattanooga, when all ready to move,
and leave the latter place garrisoned. Yet, before abandoning
the railroad, it was necessary that he should repair damages
already done, and hold the road until he could get forward such
supplies, ordnance stores and small rations, as he wanted to
carry with him on his proposed march, and to return to the north
his surplus artillery; his object being to move light and to have
no more artillery than could be used to advantage on the field.

Sherman thought Hood would follow him, though he proposed to
prepare for the contingency of the latter moving the other way
while he was moving south, by making Thomas strong enough to
hold Tennessee and Kentucky. I, myself, was thoroughly
satisfied that Hood would go north, as he did. On the 2d of
November I telegraphed Sherman authorizing him definitely to
move according to the plan he had proposed: that is, cutting
loose from his base, giving up Atlanta and the railroad back to
Chattanooga. To strengthen Thomas he sent Stanley (4th corps)
back, and also ordered Schofield, commanding the Army of the
Ohio, twelve thousand strong, to report to him. In addition to
this, A. J. Smith, who, with two divisions of Sherman's army,
was in Missouri aiding Rosecrans in driving the enemy from that
State, was under orders to return to Thomas and, under the most
unfavorable circumstances, might be expected to arrive there
long before Hood could reach Nashville.

In addition to this, the new levies of troops that were being
raised in the North-west went to Thomas as rapidly as enrolled
and equipped. Thomas, without any of these additions spoken of,
had a garrison at Chattanooga which had been strengthened by one
division and garrisons at Bridgeport, Stevenson, Decatur,
Murfreesboro, and Florence. There were already with him in
Nashville ten thousand soldiers in round numbers, and many
thousands of employees in the quartermaster's and other
departments who could be put in the intrenchments in front of
Nashville, for its defence. Also, Wilson was there with ten
thousand dismounted cavalrymen, who were being equipped for the
field. Thomas had at this time about forty-five thousand men
without any of the reinforcements here above enumerated. These
reinforcements gave him altogether about seventy thousand men,
without counting what might be added by the new levies already
spoken of.

About this time Beauregard arrived upon the field, not to
supersede Hood in command, but to take general charge over the
entire district in which Hood and Sherman were, or might be,
operating. He made the most frantic appeals to the citizens for
assistance to be rendered in every way: by sending
reinforcements, by destroying supplies on the line of march of
the invaders, by destroying the bridges over which they would
have to cross, and by, in every way, obstructing the roads to
their front. But it was hard to convince the people of the
propriety of destroying supplies which were so much needed by
themselves, and each one hoped that his own possessions might

Hood soon started north, and went into camp near Decatur,
Alabama, where he remained until the 29th of October, but
without making an attack on the garrison of that place.

The Tennessee River was patrolled by gunboats, from Muscle
Shoals east; and, also, below the second shoals out to the Ohio
River. These, with the troops that might be concentrated from
the garrisons along the river at any point where Hood might
choose to attempt to cross, made it impossible for him to cross
the Tennessee at any place where it was navigable. But Muscle
Shoals is not navigable, and below them again is another shoal
which also obstructs navigation. Hood therefore moved down to a
point nearly opposite Florence, Alabama, crossed over and
remained there for some time, collecting supplies of food,
forage and ammunition. All of these had to come from a
considerable distance south, because the region in which he was
then situated was mountainous, with small valleys which produced
but little, and what they had produced had long since been
exhausted. On the 1st of November I suggested to Sherman, and
also asked his views thereon, the propriety of destroying Hood
before he started on his campaign.

On the 2d of November, as stated, I approved definitely his
making his proposed campaign through Georgia, leaving Hood
behind to the tender mercy of Thomas and the troops in his
command. Sherman fixed the 10th of November as the day of

Sherman started on that day to get back to Atlanta, and on the
15th the real march to the sea commenced. The right wing, under
Howard, and the cavalry went to Jonesboro, Milledgeville, then
the capital of Georgia, being Sherman's objective or stopping
place on the way to Savannah. The left wing moved to Stone
Mountain, along roads much farther east than those taken by the
right wing. Slocum was in command, and threatened Augusta as the
point to which he was moving, but he was to turn off and meet the
right wing at Milledgeville.

Atlanta was destroyed so far as to render it worthless for
military purposes before starting, Sherman himself remaining
over a day to superintend the work, and see that it was well
done. Sherman's orders for this campaign were perfect. Before
starting, he had sent back all sick, disabled and weak men,
retaining nothing but the hardy, well-inured soldiers to
accompany him on his long march in prospect. His artillery was
reduced to sixty-five guns. The ammunition carried with them was
two hundred rounds for musket and gun. Small rations were taken
in a small wagon train, which was loaded to its capacity for
rapid movement. The army was expected to live on the country,
and to always keep the wagons full of forage and provisions
against a possible delay of a few days.

The troops, both of the right and left wings, made most of their
advance along the line of railroads, which they destroyed. The
method adopted to perform this work, was to burn and destroy all
the bridges and culverts, and for a long distance, at places, to
tear up the track and bend the rails. Soldiers to do this
rapidly would form a line along one side of the road with
crowbars and poles, place these under the rails and, hoisting
all at once, turn over many rods of road at one time. The ties
would then be placed in piles, and the rails, as they were
loosened, would be carried and put across these log heaps. When
a sufficient number of rails were placed upon a pile of ties it
would be set on fire. This would heat the rails very much more
in the middle, that being over the main part of the fire, than
at the ends, so that they would naturally bend of their own
weight; but the soldiers, to increase the damage, would take
tongs and, one or two men at each end of the rail, carry it with
force against the nearest tree and twist it around, thus leaving
rails forming bands to ornament the forest trees of Georgia.
All this work was going on at the same time, there being a
sufficient number of men detailed for that purpose. Some piled
the logs and built the fire; some put the rails upon the fire;
while others would bend those that were sufficiently heated: so
that, by the time the last bit of road was torn up, that it was
designed to destroy at a certain place, the rails previously
taken up were already destroyed.

The organization for supplying the army was very complete. Each
brigade furnished a company to gather supplies of forage and
provisions for the command to which they belonged. Strict
injunctions were issued against pillaging, or otherwise
unnecessarily annoying the people; but everything in shape of
food for man and forage for beast was taken. The supplies were
turned over to the brigade commissary and quartermaster, and
were issued by them to their respective commands precisely the
same as if they had been purchased. The captures consisted
largely of cattle, sheep, poultry, some bacon, cornmeal, often
molasses, and occasionally coffee or other small rations.

The skill of these men, called by themselves and the army
"bummers," in collecting their loads and getting back to their
respective commands, was marvellous. When they started out in
the morning, they were always on foot; but scarcely one of them
returned in the evening without being mounted on a horse or
mule. These would be turned in for the general use of the army,
and the next day these men would start out afoot and return
again in the evening mounted.

Many of the exploits of these men would fall under the head of
romance; indeed, I am afraid that in telling some of their
experiences, the romance got the better of the truth upon which
the story was founded, and that, in the way many of these
anecdotes are told, very little of the foundation is left. I
suspect that most of them consist chiefly of the fiction added
to make the stories better. In one instance it was reported
that a few men of Sherman's army passed a house where they
discovered some chickens under the dwelling. They immediately
proceeded to capture them, to add to the army's supplies. The
lady of the house, who happened to be at home, made piteous
appeals to have these spared, saying they were a few she had put
away to save by permission of other parties who had preceded and
who had taken all the others that she had. The soldiers seemed
moved at her appeal; but looking at the chickens again they were
tempted and one of them replied: "The rebellion must be
suppressed if it takes the last chicken in the Confederacy," and
proceeded to appropriate the last one.

Another anecdote characteristic of these times has been told.
The South, prior to the rebellion, kept bloodhounds to pursue
runaway slaves who took refuge in the neighboring swamps, and
also to hunt convicts. Orders were issued to kill all these
animals as they were met with. On one occasion a soldier picked
up a poodle, the favorite pet of its mistress, and was carrying
it off to execution when the lady made a strong appeal to him to
spare it. The soldier replied, "Madam, our orders are to kill
every bloodhound." "But this is not a bloodhound," said the
lady. "Well, madam, we cannot tell what it will grow into if we
leave it behind," said the soldier as he went off with it.

Notwithstanding these anecdotes, and the necessary hardship they
would seem to imply, I do not believe there was much
unwarrantable pillaging considering that we were in the enemy's
territory and without any supplies except such as the country

On the 23d Sherman, with the left wing, reached Milledgeville.
The right wing was not far off: but proceeded on its way
towards Savannah destroying the road as it went. The troops at
Milledgeville remained over a day to destroy factories,
buildings used for military purposes, etc., before resuming its

The governor, who had been almost defying Mr. Davis before this,
now fled precipitately, as did the legislature of the State and
all the State officers. The governor, Sherman says, was careful
to carry away even his garden vegetables, while he left the
archives of the State to fall into our hands. The only military
force that was opposed to Sherman's forward march was the Georgia
militia, a division under the command of General G. W. Smith, and
a battalion under Harry Wayne. Neither the quality of the forces
nor their numbers was sufficient to even retard the progress of
Sherman's army.

The people at the South became so frantic at this time at the
successful invasion of Georgia that they took the cadets from
the military college and added them to the ranks of the
militia. They even liberated the State convicts under promise
from them that they would serve in the army. I have but little
doubt that the worst acts that were attributed to Sherman's army
were committed by these convicts, and by other Southern people
who ought to have been under sentence--such people as could be
found in every community, North and South--who took advantage of
their country being invaded to commit crime. They were in but
little danger of detection, or of arrest even if detected.

The Southern papers in commenting upon Sherman's movements
pictured him as in the most deplorable condition: stating that
his men were starving, that they were demoralized and wandering
about almost without object, aiming only to reach the sea coast
and get under the protection of our navy. These papers got to
the North and had more or less effect upon the minds of the
people, causing much distress to all loyal persons particularly
to those who had husbands, sons or brothers with Sherman. Mr.
Lincoln seeing these accounts, had a letter written asking me if
I could give him anything that he could say to the loyal people
that would comfort them. I told him there was not the slightest
occasion for alarm; that with 60,000 such men as Sherman had with
him, such a commanding officer as he was could not be cut off in
the open country. He might possibly be prevented from reaching
the point he had started out to reach, but he would get through
somewhere and would finally get to his chosen destination: and
even if worst came to worst he could return North. I heard
afterwards of Mr. Lincoln's saying, to those who would inquire
of him as to what he thought about the safety of Sherman's army,
that Sherman was all right: "Grant says they are safe with such
a general, and that if they cannot get out where they want to,
they can crawl back by the hole they went in at."

While at Milledgeville the soldiers met at the State House,
organized a legislature, and proceeded to business precisely as
if they were the legislative body belonging to the State of
Georgia. The debates were exciting, and were upon the subject of
the situation the South was in at that time, particularly the
State of Georgia. They went so far as to repeal, after a
spirited and acrimonious debate, the ordinance of secession.

The next day (24th) Sherman continued his march, going by the
way of Waynesboro and Louisville, Millen being the next
objective and where the two columns (the right and left wings)
were to meet. The left wing moved to the left of the direct
road, and the cavalry still farther off so as to make it look as
though Augusta was the point they were aiming for. They moved on
all the roads they could find leading in that direction. The
cavalry was sent to make a rapid march in hope of surprising
Millen before the Union prisoners could be carried away; but
they failed in this.

The distance from Milledgeville to Millen was about one hundred
miles. At this point Wheeler, who had been ordered from
Tennessee, arrived and swelled the numbers and efficiency of the
troops confronting Sherman. Hardee, a native of Georgia, also
came, but brought no troops with him. It was intended that he
should raise as large an army as possible with which to
intercept Sherman's march. He did succeed in raising some
troops, and with these and those under the command of Wheeler
and Wayne, had an army sufficient to cause some annoyance but no
great detention. Our cavalry and Wheeler's had a pretty severe
engagement, in which Wheeler was driven towards Augusta, thus
giving the idea that Sherman was probably making for that point.

Millen was reached on the 3d of December, and the march was
resumed the following day for Savannah, the final objective.
Bragg had now been sent to Augusta with some troops. Wade
Hampton was there also trying to raise cavalry sufficient to
destroy Sherman's army. If he ever raised a force it was too
late to do the work expected of it. Hardee's whole force
probably numbered less than ten thousand men.

From Millen to Savannah the country is sandy and poor, and
affords but very little forage other than rice straw, which was
then growing. This answered a very good purpose as forage, and
the rice grain was an addition to the soldier's rations. No
further resistance worthy of note was met with, until within a
few miles of Savannah. This place was found to be intrenched
and garrisoned. Sherman proceeded at once on his arrival to
invest the place, and found that the enemy had placed torpedoes
in the ground, which were to explode when stepped on by man or
beast. One of these exploded under an officer's horse, blowing
the animal to pieces and tearing one of the legs of the officer
so badly that it had to be amputated. Sherman at once ordered
his prisoners to the front, moving them in a compact body in
advance, to either explode the torpedoes or dig them up. No
further explosion took place.

On the 10th of December the siege of Savannah commenced. Sherman
then, before proceeding any further with operations for the
capture of the place, started with some troops to open
communication with our fleet, which he expected to find in the
lower harbor or as near by as the forts of the enemy would
permit. In marching to the coast he encountered Fort McAllister,
which it was necessary to reduce before the supplies he might
find on shipboard could be made available. Fort McAllister was
soon captured by an assault made by General Hazen's division.
Communication was then established with the fleet. The capture
of Savannah then only occupied a few days, and involved no great
loss of life. The garrison, however, as we shall see, was
enabled to escape by crossing the river and moving eastward.

When Sherman had opened communication with the fleet he found
there a steamer, which I had forwarded to him, carrying the
accumulated mails for his army, also supplies which I supposed
he would be in need of. General J. G. Foster, who commanded all
the troops south of North Carolina on the Atlantic sea-board,
visited General Sherman before he had opened communication with
the fleet, with the view of ascertaining what assistance he
could be to him. Foster returned immediately to his own
headquarters at Hilton Head, for the purpose of sending Sherman
siege guns, and also if he should find he had them to spare,
supplies of clothing, hard bread, etc., thinking that these
articles might not be found outside. The mail on the steamer
which I sent down, had been collected by Colonel A. H. Markland
of the Post Office Department, who went in charge of it. On
this same vessel I sent an officer of my staff (Lieutenant Dunn)
with the following letter to General Sherman:

CITY POINT, VA., Dec. 3, 1864.

Commanding Armies near Savannah, Ga.

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 at 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 anything 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
co-operate with you.

Thomas has got back into the defences 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 could 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,

I quote this letter because it gives the reader a full knowledge
of the events of that period.

Sherman now (the 15th) returned to Savannah to complete its
investment and insure the surrender of the garrison. The
country about Savannah is low and marshy, and the city was well
intrenched from the river above to the river below; and assaults
could not be made except along a comparatively narrow causeway.
For this reason assaults must have resulted in serious
destruction of life to the Union troops, with the chance of
failing altogether. Sherman therefore decided upon a complete
investment of the place. When he believed this investment
completed, he summoned the garrison to surrender. General
Hardee, who was in command, replied in substance that the
condition of affairs was not such as Sherman had described. He
said he was in full communication with his department and was
receiving supplies constantly.

Hardee, however, was cut off entirely from all communication
with the west side of the river, and by the river itself to the
north and south. On the South Carolina side the country was all
rice fields, through which it would have been impossible to bring
supplies so that Hardee had no possible communication with the
outside world except by a dilapidated plank road starting from
the west bank of the river. Sherman, receiving this reply,
proceeded in person to a point on the coast, where General
Foster had troops stationed under General Hatch, for the purpose
of making arrangements with the latter officer to go through by
one of the numerous channels running inland along that part of
the coast of South Carolina, to the plank road which General
Hardee still possessed, and thus to cut him off from the last
means he had of getting supplies, if not of communication.

While arranging for this movement, and before the attempt to
execute the plan had been commenced, Sherman received
information through one of his staff officers that the enemy had
evacuated Savannah the night before. This was the night of the
21st of December. Before evacuating the place Hardee had blown
up the navy yard. Some iron-clads had been destroyed, as well
as other property that might have been valuable to us; but he
left an immense amount of stores untouched, consisting of
cotton, railroad cars, workshops, numerous pieces of artillery,
and several thousand stands of small arms.

A little incident occurred, soon after the fall of Savannah,
which Sherman relates in his Memoirs, and which is worthy of
repetition. Savannah was one of the points where blockade
runners entered. Shortly after the city fell into our
possession, a blockade runner came sailing up serenely, not
doubting but the Confederates were still in possession. It was
not molested, and the captain did not find out his mistake until
he had tied up and gone to the Custom House, where he found a new
occupant of the building, and made a less profitable disposition
of his vessel and cargo than he had expected.

As there was some discussion as to the authorship of Sherman's
march to the sea, by critics of his book when it appeared before
the public, I want to state here that no question upon that
subject was ever raised between General Sherman and myself.
Circumstances made the plan on which Sherman expected to act
impracticable, as as commander of the forces he necessarily had
to devise a new on which would give more promise of success:
consequently he recommended the destruction of the railroad back
to Chattanooga, and that he should be authorized then to move, as
he did, from Atlanta forward. His suggestions were finally
approved, although they did not immediately find favor in
Washington. Even when it came to the time of starting, the
greatest apprehension, as to the propriety of the campaign he
was about commence, filled the mind of the President, induced no
doubt by his advisers. This went so far as to move the
President to ask me to suspend Sherman's march for a day or two
until I could think the matter over. My recollection is, though
I find no record to show it, that out of deference to the
President's wish I did send a dispatch to Sherman asking him to
wait a day or two, or else the connections between us were
already cut so that I could not do so. However this may be, the
question of who devised the plan of march from Atlanta to
Savannah is easily answered: it was clearly Sherman, and to him
also belongs the credit of its brilliant execution. It was
hardly possible that any one else than those on the spot could
have devised a new plan of campaign to supersede one that did
not promise success. (*40)

I was in favor of Sherman's plan from the time it was first
submitted to me. My chief of staff, however, was very bitterly
opposed to it and, as I learned subsequently, finding that he
could not move me, he appealed to the authorities at Washington
to stop it.



As we have seen, Hood succeeded in crossing the Tennessee River
between Muscle Shoals and the lower shoals at the end of
October, 1864. Thomas sent Schofield with the 4th and 23d
corps, together with three brigades of Wilson's cavalry to
Pulaski to watch him. On the 17th of November Hood started and
moved in such a manner as to avoid Schofield, thereby turning
his position. Hood had with him three infantry corps, commanded
respectively by Stephen D. Lee, Stewart and Cheatham. These,
with his cavalry, numbered about forty-five thousand men.
Schofield had, of all arms, about thirty thousand. Thomas's
orders were, therefore, for Schofield to watch the movements of
the enemy, but not to fight a battle if he could avoid it; but
to fall back in case of an advance on Nashville, and to fight
the enemy, as he fell back, so as to retard the enemy's
movements until he could be reinforced by Thomas himself. As
soon as Schofield saw this movement of Hood's, he sent his
trains to the rear, but did not fall back himself until the
21st, and then only to Columbia. At Columbia there was a slight
skirmish but no battle. From this place Schofield then retreated
to Franklin. He had sent his wagons in advance, and Stanley had
gone with them with two divisions to protect them. Cheatham's
corps of Hood's army pursued the wagon train and went into camp
at Spring Hill, for the night of the 29th.

Schofield retreating from Columbia on the 29th, passed Spring
Hill, where Cheatham was bivouacked, during the night without
molestation, though within half a mile of where the Confederates
were encamped. On the morning of the 30th he had arrived at

Hood followed closely and reached Franklin in time to make an
attack the same day. The fight was very desperate and
sanguinary. The Confederate generals led their men in the
repeated charges, and the loss among them was of unusual
proportions. This fighting continued with great severity until
long after the night closed in, when the Confederates drew
off. General Stanley, who commanded two divisions of the Union
troops, and whose troops bore the brunt of the battle, was
wounded in the fight, but maintained his position.

The enemy's loss at Franklin, according to Thomas's report, was
1,750 buried upon the field by our troops, 3,800 in the
hospital, and 702 prisoners besides. Schofield's loss, as
officially reported, was 189 killed, 1,033 wounded, and 1,104
captured and missing.

Thomas made no effort to reinforce Schofield at Franklin, as it
seemed to me at the time he should have done, and fight out the
battle there. He simply ordered Schofield to continue his
retreat to Nashville, which the latter did during that night and
the next day.

Thomas, in the meantime, was making his preparations to receive
Hood. The road to Chattanooga was still well guarded with
strong garrisons at Murfreesboro, Stevenson, Bridgeport and
Chattanooga. Thomas had previously given up Decatur and had
been reinforced by A. J. Smith's two divisions just returned
from Missouri. He also had Steedman's division and R. S.
Granger's, which he had drawn from the front. His
quartermaster's men, about ten thousand in number, had been
organized and armed under the command of the chief
quartermaster, General J. L. Donaldson, and placed in the
fortifications under the general supervision of General Z. B.
Tower, of the United States Engineers.

Hood was allowed to move upon Nashville, and to invest that
place almost without interference. Thomas was strongly
fortified in his position, so that he would have been safe
against the attack of Hood. He had troops enough even to
annihilate him in the open field. To me his delay was
unaccountable--sitting there and permitting himself to be
invested, so that, in the end, to raise the siege he would have
to fight the enemy strongly posted behind fortifications. It is
true the weather was very bad. The rain was falling and freezing
as it fell, so that the ground was covered with a sheet of ice,
that made it very difficult to move. But I was afraid that the
enemy would find means of moving, elude Thomas and manage to get
north of the Cumberland River. If he did this, I apprehended
most serious results from the campaign in the North, and was
afraid we might even have to send troops from the East to head
him off if he got there, General Thomas's movements being always
so deliberate and so slow, though effective in defence.

I consequently urged Thomas in frequent dispatches sent from
City Point(*41) to make the attack at once. The country was
alarmed, the administration was alarmed, and I was alarmed lest
the very thing would take place which I have just described that
is, Hood would get north. It was all without avail further than
to elicit dispatches from Thomas saying that he was getting
ready to move as soon as he could, that he was making
preparations, etc. At last I had to say to General Thomas that
I should be obliged to remove him unless he acted promptly. He
replied that he was very sorry, but he would move as soon as he

General Logan happening to visit City Point about that time, and
knowing him as a prompt, gallant and efficient officer, I gave
him an order to proceed to Nashville to relieve Thomas. I
directed him, however, not to deliver the order or publish it
until he reached there, and if Thomas had moved, then not to
deliver it at all, but communicate with me by telegraph. After
Logan started, in thinking over the situation, I became
restless, and concluded to go myself. I went as far as
Washington City, when a dispatch was received from General
Thomas announcing his readiness at last to move, and designating
the time of his movement. I concluded to wait until that time.
He did move, and was successful from the start. This was on the
15th of December. General Logan was at Louisville at the time
this movement was made, and telegraphed the fact to Washington,
and proceeded no farther himself.

The battle during the 15th was severe, but favorable to the
Union troops, and continued until night closed in upon the
combat. The next day the battle was renewed. After a
successful assault upon Hood's men in their intrenchments the
enemy fled in disorder, routed and broken, leaving their dead,
their artillery and small arms in great numbers on the field,
besides the wounded that were captured. Our cavalry had fought
on foot as infantry, and had not their horses with them; so that
they were not ready to join in the pursuit the moment the enemy
retreated. They sent back, however, for their horses, and
endeavored to get to Franklin ahead of Hood's broken army by the
Granny White Road, but too much time was consumed in getting
started. They had got but a few miles beyond the scene of the
battle when they found the enemy's cavalry dismounted and behind
intrenchments covering the road on which they were advancing.
Here another battle ensued, our men dismounting and fighting on
foot, in which the Confederates were again routed and driven in
great disorder. Our cavalry then went into bivouac, and renewed
the pursuit on the following morning. They were too late. The
enemy already had possession of Franklin, and was beyond them.
It now became a chase in which the Confederates had the lead.

Our troops continued the pursuit to within a few miles of
Columbia, where they found the rebels had destroyed the railroad
bridge as well as all other bridges over Duck River. The heavy
rains of a few days before had swelled the stream into a mad
torrent, impassable except on bridges. Unfortunately, either
through a mistake in the wording of the order or otherwise, the
pontoon bridge which was to have been sent by rail out to
Franklin, to be taken thence with the pursuing column, had gone
toward Chattanooga. There was, consequently, a delay of some
four days in building bridges out of the remains of the old
railroad bridge. Of course Hood got such a start in this time
that farther pursuit was useless, although it was continued for
some distance, but without coming upon him again.



Up to January, 1865, the enemy occupied Fort Fisher, at the
mouth of Cape Fear River and below the City of Wilmington. This
port was of immense importance to the Confederates, because it
formed their principal inlet for blockade runners by means of
which they brought in from abroad such supplies and munitions of
war as they could not produce at home. It was equally important
to us to get possession of it, not only because it was desirable
to cut off their supplies so as to insure a speedy termination of
the war, but also because foreign governments, particularly the
British Government, were constantly threatening that unless ours
could maintain the blockade of that coast they should cease to
recognize any blockade. For these reasons I determined, with
the concurrence of the Navy Department, in December, to send an
expedition against Fort Fisher for the purpose of capturing it.

To show the difficulty experienced in maintaining the blockade,
I will mention a circumstance that took place at Fort Fisher
after its fall. Two English blockade runners came in at
night. Their commanders, not supposing the fort had fallen,
worked their way through all our fleet and got into the river
unobserved. They then signalled the fort, announcing their
arrival. There was a colored man in the fort who had been there
before and who understood these signals. He informed General
Terry what reply he should make to have them come in, and Terry
did as he advised. The vessels came in, their officers entirely
unconscious that they were falling into the hands of the Union
forces. Even after they were brought in to the fort they were
entertained in conversation for some little time before
suspecting that the Union troops were occupying the fort. They
were finally informed that their vessels and cargoes were prizes.

I selected General Weitzel, of the Army of the James, to go with
the expedition, but gave instructions through General Butler. He
commanded the department within whose geographical limits Fort
Fisher was situated, as well as Beaufort and other points on
that coast held by our troops; he was, therefore, entitled to
the right of fitting out the expedition against Fort Fisher.

General Butler conceived the idea that if a steamer loaded
heavily with powder could be run up to near the shore under the
fort and exploded, it would create great havoc and make the
capture an easy matter. Admiral Porter, who was to command the
naval squadron, seemed to fall in with the idea, and it was not
disapproved of in Washington; the navy was therefore given the
task of preparing the steamer for this purpose. I had no
confidence in the success of the scheme, and so expressed
myself; but as no serious harm could come of the experiment, and
the authorities at Washington seemed desirous to have it tried, I
permitted it. The steamer was sent to Beaufort, North Carolina,
and was there loaded with powder and prepared for the part she
was to play in the reduction of Fort Fisher.

General Butler chose to go in command of the expedition himself,
and was all ready to sail by the 9th of December (1864). Very
heavy storms prevailed, however, at that time along that part of
the sea-coast, and prevented him from getting off until the 13th
or 14th. His advance arrived off Fort Fisher on the 15th. The
naval force had been already assembled, or was assembling, but
they were obliged to run into Beaufort for munitions, coal,
etc.; then, too, the powder-boat was not yet fully prepared. The
fleet was ready to proceed on the 18th; but Butler, who had
remained outside from the 15th up to that time, now found
himself out of coal, fresh water, etc., and had to put into
Beaufort to replenish. Another storm overtook him, and several
days more were lost before the army and navy were both ready at
the same time to co-operate.

On the night of the 23d the powder-boat was towed in by a
gunboat as near to the fort as it was safe to run. She was then
propelled by her own machinery to within about five hundred yards
of the shore. There the clockwork, which was to explode her
within a certain length of time, was set and she was
abandoned. Everybody left, and even the vessels put out to sea
to prevent the effect of the explosion upon them. At two
o'clock in the morning the explosion took place--and produced no
more effect on the fort, or anything else on land, than the
bursting of a boiler anywhere on the Atlantic Ocean would have
done. Indeed when the troops in Fort Fisher heard the explosion
they supposed it was the bursting of a boiler in one of the
Yankee gunboats.

Fort Fisher was situated upon a low, flat peninsula north of
Cape Fear River. The soil is sandy. Back a little the
peninsula is very heavily wooded, and covered with fresh-water
swamps. The fort ran across this peninsula, about five hundred
yards in width, and extended along the sea coast about thirteen
hundred yards. The fort had an armament of 21 guns and 3
mortars on the land side, and 24 guns on the sea front. At that
time it was only garrisoned by four companies of infantry, one
light battery and the gunners at the heavy guns less than seven
hundred men with a reserve of less than a thousand men five
miles up the peninsula. General Whiting of the Confederate army
was in command, and General Bragg was in command of the force at
Wilmington. Both commenced calling for reinforcements the
moment they saw our troops landing. The Governor of North
Carolina called for everybody who could stand behind a parapet
and shoot a gun, to join them. In this way they got two or
three hundred additional men into Fort Fisher; and Hoke's
division, five or six thousand strong, was sent down from
Richmond. A few of these troops arrived the very day that
Butler was ready to advance.

On the 24th the fleet formed for an attack in arcs of concentric
circles, their heavy iron-clads going in very close range, being
nearest the shore, and leaving intervals or spaces so that the
outer vessels could fire between them. Porter was thus enabled
to throw one hundred and fifteen shells per minute. The damage
done to the fort by these shells was very slight, only two or
three cannon being disabled in the fort. But the firing
silenced all the guns by making it too hot for the men to
maintain their positions about them and compelling them to seek
shelter in the bomb-proofs.

On the next day part of Butler's troops under General Adelbert
Ames effected a landing out of range of the fort without
difficulty. This was accomplished under the protection of
gunboats sent for the purpose, and under cover of a renewed
attack upon the fort by the fleet. They formed a line across
the peninsula and advanced, part going north and part toward the
fort, covering themselves as they did so. Curtis pushed forward
and came near to Fort Fisher, capturing the small garrison at
what was called the Flag Pond Battery. Weitzel accompanied him
to within a half a mile of the works. Here he saw that the fort
had not been injured, and so reported to Butler, advising against
an assault. Ames, who had gone north in his advance, captured
228 of the reserves. These prisoners reported to Butler that
sixteen hundred of Hoke's division of six thousand from Richmond
had already arrived and the rest would soon be in his rear.

Upon these reports Butler determined to withdraw his troops from
the peninsula and return to the fleet. At that time there had
not been a man on our side injured except by one of the shells
from the fleet. Curtis had got within a few yards of the
works. Some of his men had snatched a flag from the parapet of
the fort, and others had taken a horse from the inside of the
stockade. At night Butler informed Porter of his withdrawal,
giving the reasons above stated, and announced his purpose as
soon as his men could embark to start for Hampton Roads. Porter
represented to him that he had sent to Beaufort for more
ammunition. He could fire much faster than he had been doing,
and would keep the enemy from showing himself until our men were
within twenty yards of the fort, and he begged that Butler would
leave some brave fellows like those who had snatched the flag
from the parapet and taken the horse from the fort.

Butler was unchangeable. He got all his troops aboard, except
Curtis's brigade, and started back. In doing this, Butler made
a fearful mistake. My instructions to him, or to the officer
who went in command of the expedition, were explicit in the
statement that to effect a landing would be of itself a great
victory, and if one should be effected, the foothold must not be
relinquished; on the contrary, a regular siege of the fort must
be commenced and, to guard against interference by reason of
storms, supplies of provisions must be laid in as soon as they
could be got on shore. But General Butler seems to have lost
sight of this part of his instructions, and was back at Fort
Monroe on the 28th.

I telegraphed to the President as follows:

Dec. 28, 1864.--8.30 P.M.

The Wilmington expedition has proven a gross and culpable
failure. Many of the troops are back here. Delays and free
talk of the object of the expedition enabled the enemy to move
troops to Wilmington to defeat it. After the expedition sailed
from Fort Monroe, three days of fine weather were squandered,
during which the enemy was without a force to protect himself.
Who is to blame will, I hope, be known.


Porter sent dispatches to the Navy Department in which he
complained bitterly of having been abandoned by the army just
when the fort was nearly in our possession, and begged that our
troops might be sent back again to cooperate, but with a
different commander. As soon as I heard this I sent a messenger
to Porter with a letter asking him to hold on. I assured him
that I fully sympathized with him in his disappointment, and
that I would send the same troops back with a different
commander, with some reinforcements to offset those which the
enemy had received. I told him it would take some little time
to get transportation for the additional troops; but as soon as
it could be had the men should be on their way to him, and there
would be no delay on my part. I selected A. H. Terry to command.

It was the 6th of January before the transports could be got
ready and the troops aboard. They sailed from Fortress Monroe
on that day. The object and destination of the second
expedition were at the time kept a secret to all except a few in
the Navy Department and in the army to whom it was necessary to
impart the information. General Terry had not the slightest
idea of where he was going or what he was to do. He simply knew
that he was going to sea and that he had his orders with him,
which were to be opened when out at sea.

He was instructed to communicate freely with Porter and have
entire harmony between army and navy, because the work before
them would require the best efforts of both arms of service.
They arrived off Beaufort on the 8th. A heavy storm, however,
prevented a landing at Forth Fisher until the 13th. The navy
prepared itself for attack about as before, and the same time
assisted the army in landing, this time five miles away. Only
iron-clads fired at first; the object being to draw the fire of
the enemy's guns so as to ascertain their positions. This object
being accomplished, they then let in their shots thick and
fast. Very soon the guns were all silenced, and the fort showed
evident signs of being much injured.

Terry deployed his men across the peninsula as had been done
before, and at two o'clock on the following morning was up
within two miles of the fort with a respectable abatis in front
of his line. His artillery was all landed on that day, the
14th. Again Curtis's brigade of Ame's division had the lead. By
noon they had carried an unfinished work less than a half mile
from the fort, and turned it so as to face the other way.

Terry now saw Porter and arranged for an assault on the
following day. The two commanders arranged their signals so
that they could communicate with each other from time to time as
they might have occasion. At day light the fleet commenced its
firing. The time agreed upon for the assault was the middle of
the afternoon, and Ames who commanded the assaulting column
moved at 3.30. Porter landed a force of sailors and marines to
move against the sea-front in co-operation with Ames's
assault. They were under Commander Breese of the navy. These
sailors and marines had worked their way up to within a couple
of hundred yards of the fort before the assault. The signal was
given and the assault was made; but the poor sailors and marines
were repulsed and very badly handled by the enemy, losing 280
killed and wounded out of their number.

Curtis's brigade charged successfully though met by a heavy
fire, some of the men having to wade through the swamp up to
their waists to reach the fort. Many were wounded, of course,
and some killed; but they soon reached the palisades. These
they cut away, and pushed on through. The other troops then
came up, Pennypacker's following Curtis, and Bell, who commanded
the 3d brigade of Ames's division, following Pennypacker. But
the fort was not yet captured though the parapet was gained.

The works were very extensive. The large parapet around the
work would have been but very little protection to those inside
except when they were close up under it. Traverses had,
therefore, been run until really the work was a succession of
small forts enclosed by a large one. The rebels made a
desperate effort to hold the fort, and had to be driven from
these traverses one by one. The fight continued till long after
night. Our troops gained first one traverse and then another,
and by 10 o'clock at night the place was carried. During this
engagement the sailors, who had been repulsed in their assault
on the bastion, rendered the best service they could by
reinforcing Terry's northern line--thus enabling him to send a
detachment to the assistance of Ames. The fleet kept up a
continuous fire upon that part of the fort which was still
occupied by the enemy. By means of signals they could be
informed where to direct their shots.

During the succeeding nights the enemy blew up Fort Caswell on
the opposite side of Cape Fear River, and abandoned two
extensive works on Smith's Island in the river.

Our captures in all amounted to 169 guns, besides small-arms,
with full supplies of ammunition, and 2,083 prisoners. In
addition to these, there were about 700 dead and wounded left
there. We had lost 110 killed and 536 wounded.

In this assault on Fort Fisher, Bell, one of the brigade
commanders, was killed, and two, Curtis and Pennypacker, were
badly wounded.

Secretary Stanton, who was on his way back from Savannah,
arrived off Fort Fisher soon after it fell. When he heard the
good news he promoted all the officers of any considerable rank
for their conspicuous gallantry. Terry had been nominated for
major-general, but had not been confirmed. This confirmed him;
and soon after I recommended him for a brigadier-generalcy in
the regular army, and it was given to him for this victory.



When news of Sherman being in possession of Savannah reached the
North, distinguished statesmen and visitors began to pour in to
see him. Among others who went was the Secretary of War, who
seemed much pleased at the result of his campaign. Mr. Draper,
the collector of customs of New York, who was with Mr. Stanton's
party, was put in charge of the public property that had been
abandoned and captured. Savannah was then turned over to
General Foster's command to hold, so that Sherman might have his
own entire army free to operate as might be decided upon in the
future. I sent the chief engineer of the Army of the Potomac
(General Barnard) with letters to General Sherman. He remained
some time with the general, and when he returned brought back
letters, one of which contained suggestions from Sherman as to
what ought to be done in co-operation with him, when he should
have started upon his march northward.

I must not neglect to state here the fact that I had no idea
originally of having Sherman march from Savannah to Richmond, or
even to North Carolina. The season was bad, the roads impassable
for anything except such an army as he had, and I should not have
thought of ordering such a move. I had, therefore, made
preparations to collect transports to carry Sherman and his army
around to the James River by water, and so informed him. On
receiving this letter he went to work immediately to prepare for
the move, but seeing that it would require a long time to collect
the transports, he suggested the idea then of marching up north
through the Carolinas. I was only too happy to approve this;
for if successful, it promised every advantage. His march
through Georgia had thoroughly destroyed all lines of
transportation in that State, and had completely cut the enemy
off from all sources of supply to the west of it. If North and
South Carolina were rendered helpless so far as capacity for
feeding Lee's army was concerned, the Confederate garrison at
Richmond would be reduced in territory, from which to draw
supplies, to very narrow limits in the State of Virginia; and,
although that section of the country was fertile, it was already
well exhausted of both forage and food. I approved Sherman's
suggestion therefore at once.

The work of preparation was tedious, because supplies, to load
the wagons for the march, had to be brought from a long
distance. Sherman would now have to march through a country
furnishing fewer provisions than that he had previously been
operating in during his march to the sea. Besides, he was
confronting, or marching toward, a force of the enemy vastly
superior to any his troops had encountered on their previous
march; and the territory through which he had to pass had now
become of such vast importance to the very existence of the
Confederate army, that the most desperate efforts were to be
expected in order to save it.

Sherman, therefore, while collecting the necessary supplies to
start with, made arrangements with Admiral Dahlgren, who
commanded that part of the navy on the South Carolina and
Georgia coast, and General Foster, commanding the troops, to
take positions, and hold a few points on the sea coast, which he
(Sherman) designated, in the neighborhood of Charleston.

This provision was made to enable him to fall back upon the sea
coast, in case he should encounter a force sufficient to stop
his onward progress. He also wrote me a letter, making
suggestions as to what he would like to have done in support of
his movement farther north. This letter was brought to City
Point by General Barnard at a time when I happened to be going
to Washington City, where I arrived on the 21st of January. I
cannot tell the provision I had already made to co-operate with
Sherman, in anticipation of his expected movement, better than
by giving my reply to this letter.

Jan. 21, 1865.

Commanding Mill Div. of the Mississippi.

GENERAL:--Your letters brought by General Barnard were received
at City Point, and read with interest. Not having them with me,
however, I cannot say that in this I will be able to satisfy you
on all points of recommendation. As I arrived here at one P.M.,
and must leave at six P.M., having in the meantime spent over
three hours with the Secretary and General Halleck, I must be
brief. Before your last request to have Thomas make a campaign
into the heart of Alabama, I had ordered Schofield to Annapolis,
Md., with his corps. The advance (six thousand) will reach the
seaboard by the 23d, the remainder following as rapidly as
railroad transportation can be procured from Cincinnati. The
corps numbers over twenty-one thousand men. I was induced to do
this because I did not believe Thomas could possibly be got off
before spring. His pursuit of Hood indicated a sluggishness
that satisfied me that he would never do to conduct one of your
campaigns. The command of the advance of the pursuit was left
to subordinates, whilst Thomas followed far behind. When Hood
had crossed the Tennessee, and those in pursuit had reached it,
Thomas had not much more than half crossed the State, from
whence he returned to Nashville to take steamer for Eastport. He
is possessed of excellent judgment, great coolness and honesty,
but he is not good on a pursuit. He also reported his troops
fagged, and that it was necessary to equip up. This report and
a determination to give the enemy no rest determined me to use
his surplus troops elsewhere.

Thomas is still left with a sufficient force surplus to go to
Selma under an energetic leader. He has been telegraphed to, to
know whether he could go, and, if so, which of the several routes
he would select. No reply is yet received. Canby has been
ordered to act offensively from the sea-coast to the interior,
towards Montgomery and Selma. Thomas's forces will move from
the north at an early day, or some of his troops will be sent to
Canby. Without further reinforcements Canby will have a moving
column of twenty thousand men.

Fort Fisher, you are aware, has been captured. We have a force
there of eight thousand effective. At New Bern about half the
number. It is rumored, through deserters, that Wilmington also
has fallen. I am inclined to believe the rumor, because on the
17th we knew the enemy were blowing up their works about Fort
Caswell, and that on the 18th Terry moved on Wilmington.

If Wilmington is captured, Schofield will go there. If not, he
will be sent to New Bern. In either event, all the surplus
forces at the two points will move to the interior toward
Goldsboro' in co-operation with your movements. From either
point, railroad communications can be run out, there being here
abundance of rolling-stock suited to the gauge of those roads.

There have been about sixteen thousand men sent from Lee's army
south. Of these, you will have fourteen thousand against you,
if Wilmington is not held by the enemy, casualties at Fort
Fisher having overtaken about two thousand.

All these troops are subject to your orders as you come in
communication with them. They will be so instructed. From
about Richmond I will watch Lee closely, and if he detaches much
more, or attempts to evacuate, will pitch in. In the meantime,
should you be brought to a halt anywhere, I can send two corps
of thirty thousand effective men to your support, from the
troops about Richmond.

To resume: Canby is ordered to operate to the interior from the
Gulf. A. J. Smith may go from the north, but I think it
doubtful. A force of twenty-eight or thirty thousand will
co-operate with you from New Bern or Wilmington, or both. You
can call for reinforcements.

This will be handed you by Captain Hudson, of my staff, who will
return with any message you may have for me. If there is


Back to Full Books