Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant [Volume Two]
Ulysses S. Grant

Part 4 out of 9

P. S.--On reflection I will send the 18th corps by way of White
House. The distance which they will have to march will be
enough shorter to enable them to reach you about the same time,
and the uncertainty of navigation on the Chickahominy will be


COLD HARBOR, VA., June 11,1864.

Commanding Army of the Potomac.

Colonel Comstock, who visited the James River for the purpose of
ascertaining the best point below Bermuda Hundred to which to
march the army has not yet returned. It is now getting so late,
however, that all preparations may be made for the move to-morrow
night without waiting longer.

The movement will be made as heretofore agreed upon, that is,
the 18th corps make a rapid march with the infantry alone, their
wagons and artillery accompanying the balance of the army to
Cole's Landing or Ferry, and there embark for City Point, losing
no time for rest until they reach the latter point.

The 5th corps will seize Long Bridge and move out on the Long
Bridge Road to its junction with Quaker Road, or until stopped
by the enemy.

The other three corps will follow in such order as you may
direct, one of them crossing at Long Bridge, and two at Jones's
Bridge. After the crossing is effected, the most practicable
roads will be taken to reach about Fort Powhattan. Of course,
this is supposing the enemy makes no opposition to our
advance. The 5th corps, after securing the passage of the
balance of the army, will join or follow in rear of the corps
which crosses the same bridge with themselves. The wagon trains
should be kept well east of the troops, and if a crossing can be
found, or made lower down than Jones's they should take it.


P. S.--In view of the long march to reach Cole's Landing, and
the uncertainty of being able to embark a large number of men
there, the direction of the 18th corps may be changed to White
House. They should be directed to load up transports, and start
them as fast as loaded without waiting for the whole corps or
even whole divisions to go together.


About this time word was received (through the Richmond papers
of the 11th) that Crook and Averell had united and were moving
east. This, with the news of Hunter's successful engagement
near Staunton, was no doubt known to Lee before it was to me.
Then Sheridan leaving with two divisions of cavalry, looked
indeed threatening, both to Lee's communications and supplies.
Much of his cavalry was sent after Sheridan, and Early with
Ewell's entire corps was sent to the Valley. Supplies were
growing scarce in Richmond, and the sources from which to draw
them were in our hands. People from outside began to pour into
Richmond to help eat up the little on hand. Consternation
reigned there.

On the 12th Smith was ordered to move at night to White House,
not to stop until he reached there, and to take boats at once
for City Point, leaving his trains and artillery to move by land.

Soon after dark some of the cavalry at Long Bridge effected a
crossing by wading and floundering through the water and mud,
leaving their horses behind, and drove away the cavalry
pickets. A pontoon bridge was speedily thrown across, over
which the remainder of the army soon passed and pushed out for a
mile or two to watch and detain any advance that might be made
from the other side. Warren followed the cavalry, and by the
morning of the 13th had his whole corps over. Hancock followed
Warren. Burnside took the road to Jones's Bridge, followed by
Wright. Ferrero's division, with the wagon train, moved farther
east, by Window Shades and Cole's Ferry, our rear being covered
by cavalry.

It was known that the enemy had some gunboats at Richmond. These
might run down at night and inflict great damage upon us before
they could be sunk or captured by our navy. General Butler had,
in advance, loaded some vessels with stone ready to be sunk so as
to obstruct the channel in an emergency. On the 13th I sent
orders to have these sunk as high up the river as we could guard
them, and prevent their removal by the enemy.

As soon as Warren's corps was over the Chickahominy it marched
out and joined the cavalry in holding the roads from Richmond
while the army passed. No attempt was made by the enemy to
impede our march, however, but Warren and Wilson reported the
enemy strongly fortified in their front. By the evening of the
13th Hancock's corps was at Charles City Court House on the
James River. Burnside's and Wright's corps were on the
Chickahominy, and crossed during the night, Warren's corps and
the cavalry still covering the army. The material for a pontoon
bridge was already at hand and the work of laying it was
commenced immediately, under the superintendence of
Brigadier-General Benham, commanding the engineer brigade. On
the evening of the 14th the crossing commenced, Hancock in
advance, using both the bridge and boats.

When the Wilderness campaign commenced the Army of the Potomac,
including Burnside's--which was a separate command until the
24th of May when it was incorporated with the main
army--numbered about 116,000 men. During the progress of the
campaign about 40,000 reinforcements were received. At the
crossing of the James River June 14th-15th the army numbered
about 115,000. Besides the ordinary losses incident to a
campaign of six weeks' nearly constant fighting or skirmishing,
about one-half of the artillery was sent back to Washington, and
many men were discharged by reason of the expiration of their
term of service.* In estimating our strength every enlisted man
and every commissioned officer present is included, no matter
how employed; in bands, sick in field hospitals, hospital
attendants, company cooks and all. Operating in an enemy's
country, and being supplied always from a distant base, large
detachments had at all times to be sent from the front, not only
to guard the base of supplies and the roads to it, but all the
roads leading to our flanks and rear. We were also operating in
a country unknown to us, and without competent guides or maps
showing the roads accurately.

The manner of estimating numbers in the two armies differs
materially. In the Confederate army often only bayonets are
taken into account, never, I believe, do they estimate more than
are handling the guns of the artillery and armed with muskets
(*36) or carbines. Generally the latter are far enough away to
be excluded from the count in any one field. Officers and
details of enlisted men are not included. In the Northern
armies the estimate is most liberal, taking in all connected
with the army and drawing pay.

Estimated in the same manner as ours, Lee had not less than
80,000 men at the start. His reinforcements were about equal to
ours during the campaign, deducting the discharged men and those
sent back. He was on the defensive, and in a country in which
every stream, every road, every obstacle to the movement of
troops and every natural defence was familiar to him and his
army. The citizens were all friendly to him and his cause, and
could and did furnish him with accurate reports of our every
move. Rear guards were not necessary for him, and having always
a railroad at his back, large wagon trains were not required. All
circumstances considered we did not have any advantage in

General Lee, who had led the Army of Northern Virginia in all
these contests, was a very highly estimated man in the
Confederate army and States, and filled also a very high place
in the estimation of the people and press of the Northern
States. His praise was sounded throughout the entire North
after every action he was engaged in: the number of his forces
was always lowered and that of the National forces
exaggerated. He was a large, austere man, and I judge difficult
of approach to his subordinates. To be extolled by the entire
press of the South after every engagement, and by a portion of
the press North with equal vehemence, was calculated to give him
the entire confidence of his troops and to make him feared by his
antagonists. It was not an uncommon thing for my staff-officers
to hear from Eastern officers, "Well, Grant has never met Bobby
Lee yet." There were good and true officers who believe now
that the Army of Northern Virginia was superior to the Army of
the Potomac man to man. I do not believe so, except as the
advantages spoken of above made them so. Before the end I
believe the difference was the other way. The Army of Northern
Virginia became despondent and saw the end. It did not please
them. The National army saw the same thing, and were encouraged
by it.

The advance of the Army of the Potomac reached the James on the
14th of June. Preparations were at once commenced for laying
the pontoon bridges and crossing the river. As already stated,
I had previously ordered General Butler to have two vessels
loaded with stone and carried up the river to a point above that
occupied by our gunboats, where the channel was narrow, and sunk
there so as to obstruct the passage and prevent Confederate
gunboats from coming down the river. Butler had had these boats
filled and put in position, but had not had them sunk before my
arrival. I ordered this done, and also directed that he should
turn over all material and boats not then in use in the river to
be used in ferrying the troops across.

I then, on the 14th, took a steamer and ran up to Bermuda
Hundred to see General Butler for the purpose of directing a
movement against Petersburg, while our troops of the Army of the
Potomac were crossing.

I had sent General W. F. Smith back from Cold Harbor by the way
of White House, thence on steamers to City Point for the purpose
of giving General Butler more troops with which to accomplish
this result. General Butler was ordered to send Smith with his
troops reinforced, as far as that could be conveniently done,
from other parts of the Army of the James. He gave Smith about
six thousand reinforcements, including some twenty-five hundred
cavalry under Kautz, and about thirty-five hundred colored
infantry under Hinks.

The distance which Smith had to move to reach the enemy's lines
was about six miles, and the Confederate advance line of works
was but two miles outside of Petersburg. Smith was to move
under cover of night, up close to the enemy's works, and assault
as soon as he could after daylight. I believed then, and still
believe, that Petersburg could have been easily captured at that
time. It only had about 2,500 men in the defences besides some
irregular troops, consisting of citizens and employees in the
city who took up arms in case of emergency. Smith started as
proposed, but his advance encountered a rebel force intrenched
between City Point and their lines outside of Petersburg. This
position he carried, with some loss to the enemy; but there was
so much delay that it was daylight before his troops really got
off from there. While there I informed General Butler that
Hancock's corps would cross the river and move to Petersburg to
support Smith in case the latter was successful, and that I
could reinforce there more rapidly than Lee could reinforce from
his position.

I returned down the river to where the troops of the Army of the
Potomac now were, communicated to General Meade, in writing, the
directions I had given to General Butler and directed him
(Meade) to cross Hancock's corps over under cover of night, and
push them forward in the morning to Petersburg; halting them,
however, at a designated point until they could hear from
Smith. I also informed General Meade that I had ordered rations
from Bermuda Hundred for Hancock's corps, and desired him to
issue them speedily, and to lose no more time than was
absolutely necessary. The rations did not reach him, however,
and Hancock, while he got all his corps over during the night,
remained until half-past ten in the hope of receiving them. He
then moved without them, and on the road received a note from
General W. F. Smith, asking him to come on. This seems to be
the first information that General Hancock had received of the
fact that he was to go to Petersburg, or that anything
particular was expected of him. Otherwise he would have been
there by four o'clock in the afternoon.

Smith arrived in front of the enemy's lines early in the
forenoon of the 15th, and spent the day until after seven
o'clock in the evening in reconnoitering what appeared to be
empty works. The enemy's line consisted of redans occupying
commanding positions, with rifle-pits connecting them. To the
east side of Petersburg, from the Appomattox back, there were
thirteen of these redans extending a distance of several miles,
probably three. If they had been properly manned they could
have held out against any force that could have attacked them,
at least until reinforcements could have got up from the north
of Richmond.

Smith assaulted with the colored troops, and with success. By
nine o'clock at night he was in possession of five of these
redans and, of course, of the connecting lines of rifle-pits.
All of them contained artillery, which fell into our hands.
Hancock came up and proposed to take any part assigned to him;
and Smith asked him to relieve his men who were in the trenches.

Next morning, the 16th, Hancock himself was in command, and
captured another redan. Meade came up in the afternoon and
succeeded Hancock, who had to be relieved, temporarily, from the
command of his corps on account of the breaking out afresh of the
wound he had received at Gettysburg. During the day Meade
assaulted and carried one more redan to his right and two to his
left. In all this we lost very heavily. The works were not
strongly manned, but they all had guns in them which fell into
our hands, together with the men who were handling them in the
effort to repel these assaults.

Up to this time Beauregard, who had commanded south of Richmond,
had received no reinforcements, except Hoke's division from
Drury's Bluff,(*37) which had arrived on the morning of the
16th; though he had urged the authorities very strongly to send
them, believing, as he did, that Petersburg would be a valuable
prize which we might seek.

During the 17th the fighting was very severe and the losses
heavy; and at night our troops occupied about the same position
they had occupied in the morning, except that they held a redan
which had been captured by Potter during the day. During the
night, however, Beauregard fell back to the line which had been
already selected, and commenced fortifying it. Our troops
advanced on the 18th to the line which he had abandoned, and
found that the Confederate loss had been very severe, many of
the enemy's dead still remaining in the ditches and in front of

Colonel J. L. Chamberlain, of the 20th Maine, was wounded on the
18th. He was gallantly leading his brigade at the time, as he
had been in the habit of doing in all the engagements in which
he had previously been engaged. He had several times been
recommended for a brigadier-generalcy for gallant and
meritorious conduct. On this occasion, however, I promoted him
on the spot, and forwarded a copy of my order to the War
Department, asking that my act might be confirmed and
Chamberlain's name sent to the Senate for confirmation without
any delay. This was done, and at last a gallant and meritorious
officer received partial justice at the hands of his government,
which he had served so faithfully and so well.

If General Hancock's orders of the 15th had been communicated to
him, that officer, with his usual promptness, would undoubtedly
have been upon the ground around Petersburg as early as four
o'clock in the afternoon of the 15th. The days were long and it
would have given him considerable time before night. I do not
think there is any doubt that Petersburg itself could have been
carried without much loss; or, at least, if protected by inner
detached works, that a line could have been established very
much in rear of the one then occupied by the enemy. This would
have given us control of both the Weldon and South Side
railroads. This would also have saved an immense amount of hard
fighting which had to be done from the 15th to the 18th, and
would have given us greatly the advantage in the long siege
which ensued.

I now ordered the troops to be put under cover and allowed some
of the rest which they had so long needed. They remained quiet,
except that there was more or less firing every day, until the
22d, when General Meade ordered an advance towards the Weldon
Railroad. We were very anxious to get to that road, and even
round to the South Side Railroad if possible.

Meade moved Hancock's corps, now commanded by Birney, to the
left, with a view to at least force the enemy to stay within the
limits of his own line. General Wright, with the 6th corps, was
ordered by a road farther south, to march directly for the
Weldon road. The enemy passed in between these two corps and
attacked vigorously, and with very serious results to the
National troops, who were then withdrawn from their advanced

The Army of the Potomac was given the investment of Petersburg,
while the Army of the James held Bermuda Hundred and all the
ground we possessed north of the James River. The 9th corps,
Burnside's, was placed upon the right at Petersburg; the 5th,
Warren's, next; the 2d, Birney's, next; then the 6th, Wright's,
broken off to the left and south. Thus began the siege of



On the 7th of June, while at Cold Harbor, I had as already
indicated sent Sheridan with two divisions of cavalry to destroy
as much as he could of the Virginia Central Railroad. General
Hunter had been operating up the Shenandoah Valley with some
success, having fought a battle near Staunton where he captured
a great many prisoners, besides killing and wounding a good many
men. After the battle he formed a junction at Staunton with
Averell and Crook, who had come up from the Kanawha, or Gauley
River. It was supposed, therefore, that General Hunter would be
about Charlottesville, Virginia, by the time Sheridan could get
there, doing on the way the damage that he was sent to do.

I gave Sheridan instructions to have Hunter, in case he should
meet him about Charlottesville, join and return with him to the
Army of the Potomac. Lee, hearing of Hunter's success in the
valley, started Breckinridge out for its defence at once.
Learning later of Sheridan's going with two divisions, he also
sent Hampton with two divisions of cavalry, his own and
Fitz-Hugh Lee's.

Sheridan moved to the north side of the North Anna to get out
west, and learned of the movement of these troops to the south
side of the same stream almost as soon as they had started. He
pushed on to get to Trevilian Station to commence his
destruction at that point. On the night of the 10th he
bivouacked some six or seven miles east of Trevilian, while
Fitz-Hugh Lee was the same night at Trevilian Station and
Hampton but a few miles away.

During the night Hampton ordered an advance on Sheridan, hoping,
no doubt, to surprise and very badly cripple him. Sheridan,
however, by a counter move sent Custer on a rapid march to get
between the two divisions of the enemy and into their rear. This
he did successfully, so that at daylight, when the assault was
made, the enemy found himself at the same time resisted in front
and attacked in rear, and broke in some confusion. The losses
were probably very light on both sides in killed and wounded,
but Sheridan got away with some five hundred prisoners and sent
them to City Point.

During that day, the 11th, Sheridan moved into Trevilian
Station, and the following day proceeded to tear up the road
east and west. There was considerable fighting during the whole
of the day, but the work of destruction went on. In the
meantime, at night, the enemy had taken possession of the
crossing which Sheridan had proposed to take to go north when he
left Trevilian. Sheridan learned, however, from some of the
prisoners he had captured here, that General Hunter was about
Lynchburg, and therefore that there was no use of his going on
to Charlottesville with a view to meet him.

Sheridan started back during the night of the 12th, and made his
way north and farther east, coming around by the north side of
White House, and arriving there on the 21st. Here he found an
abundance of forage for his animals, food for his men, and
security while resting. He had been obliged to leave about
ninety of his own men in the field-hospital which he had
established near Trevilian, and these necessarily fell into the
hands of the enemy.

White House up to this time had been a depot; but now that our
troops were all on the James River, it was no longer wanted as a
store of supplies. Sheridan was, therefore, directed to break it
up; which he did on the 22d of June, bringing the garrison and an
immense wagon train with him. All these were over the James
River by the 26th of the month, and Sheridan ready to follow.

In the meantime Meade had sent Wilson's division on a raid to
destroy the Weldon and South Side roads. Now that Sheridan was
safe and Hampton free to return to Richmond with his cavalry,
Wilson's position became precarious. Meade therefore, on the
27th, ordered Sheridan over the river to make a demonstration in
favor of Wilson. Wilson got back, though not without severe
loss, having struck both roads, but the damage done was soon

After these events comparative quiet reigned about Petersburg
until late in July. The time, however, was spent in
strengthening the intrenchments and making our position
generally more secure against a sudden attack. In the meantime
I had to look after other portions of my command, where things
had not been going on so favorably, always, as I could have

General Hunter who had been appointed to succeed Sigel in the
Shenandoah Valley immediately took up the offensive. He met the
enemy on the 5th of June at Piedmont, and defeated him. On the
8th he formed a junction with Crook and Averell at Staunton,
from which place he moved direct on Lynchburg, via Lexington,
which he reached and invested on the 16th. Up to this time he
was very successful; and but for the difficulty of taking with
him sufficient ordnance stores over so long a march, through a
hostile country, he would, no doubt, have captured Lynchburg.
The destruction of the enemy's supplies and manufactories had
been very great. To meet this movement under General Hunter,
General Lee sent Early with his corps, a part of which reached
Lynchburg before Hunter. After some skirmishing on the 17th and
18th, General Hunter, owing to a want of ammunition to give
battle, retired from before the place. Unfortunately, this want
of ammunition left him no choice of route for his return but by
the way of the Gauley and Kanawha rivers, thence up the Ohio
River, returning to Harper's Ferry by way of the Baltimore and
Ohio Railroad. A long time was consumed in making this
movement. Meantime the valley was left open to Early's troops,
and others in that quarter; and Washington also was uncovered.
Early took advantage of this condition of affairs and moved on

In the absence of Hunter, General Lew Wallace, with headquarters
at Baltimore, commanded the department in which the Shenandoah
lay. His surplus of troops with which to move against the enemy
was small in number. Most of these were raw and, consequently,
very much inferior to our veterans and to the veterans which
Early had with him; but the situation of Washington was
precarious, and Wallace moved with commendable promptitude to
meet the enemy at the Monocacy. He could hardly have expected
to defeat him badly, but he hoped to cripple and delay him until
Washington could be put into a state of preparation for his
reception. I had previously ordered General Meade to send a
division to Baltimore for the purpose of adding to the defences
of Washington, and he had sent Ricketts's division of the 6th
corps (Wright's), which arrived in Baltimore on the 8th of
July. Finding that Wallace had gone to the front with his
command, Ricketts immediately took the cars and followed him to
the Monocacy with his entire division. They met the enemy and,
as might have been expected, were defeated; but they succeeded
in stopping him for the day on which the battle took place. The
next morning Early started on his march to the capital of the
Nation, arriving before it on the 11th.

Learning of the gravity of the situation I had directed General
Meade to also order Wright with the rest of his corps directly
to Washington for the relief of that place, and the latter
reached there the very day that Early arrived before it. The
19th corps, which had been stationed in Louisiana, having been
ordered up to reinforce the armies about Richmond, had about
this time arrived at Fortress Monroe, on their way to join us. I
diverted them from that point to Washington, which place they
reached, almost simultaneously with Wright, on the 11th. The
19th corps was commanded by Major-General Emory.

Early made his reconnoissance with a view of attacking on the
following morning, the 12th; but the next morning he found our
intrenchments, which were very strong, fully manned. He at once
commenced to retreat, Wright following. There is no telling how
much this result was contributed to by General Lew Wallace's
leading what might well be considered almost a forlorn hope. If
Early had been but one day earlier he might have entered the
capital before the arrival of the reinforcements I had sent.
Whether the delay caused by the battle amounted to a day or not,
General Wallace contributed on this occasion, by the defeat of
the troops under him a greater benefit to the cause than often
falls to the lot of a commander of an equal force to render by
means of a victory.

Farther west also the troubles were threatening. Some time
before, Forrest had met Sturgis in command of some of our
cavalry in Mississippi and handled him very roughly, gaining a
very great victory over him. This left Forrest free to go
almost where he pleased, and to cut the roads in rear of Sherman
who was then advancing. Sherman was abundantly able to look
after the army that he was immediately with, and all of his
military division so long as he could communicate with it; but
it was my place to see that he had the means with which to hold
his rear. Two divisions under A. J. Smith had been sent to
Banks in Louisiana some months before. Sherman ordered these
back, with directions to attack Forrest. Smith met and defeated
him very badly. I then directed that Smith should hang to
Forrest and not let him go; and to prevent by all means his
getting upon the Memphis and Nashville Railroad. Sherman had
anticipated me in this matter, and given the same orders in
substance; but receiving my directions for this order to Smith,
he repeated it.

On the 25th of June General Burnside had commenced running a
mine from about the centre of his front under the Confederate
works confronting him. He was induced to do this by Colonel
Pleasants, of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, whose regiment was
mostly composed of miners, and who was himself a practical
miner. Burnside had submitted the scheme to Meade and myself,
and we both approved of it, as a means of keeping the men
occupied. His position was very favorable for carrying on this
work, but not so favorable for the operations to follow its
completion. The position of the two lines at that point were
only about a hundred yards apart with a comparatively deep
ravine intervening. In the bottom of this ravine the work
commenced. The position was unfavorable in this particular:
that the enemy's line at that point was re-entering, so that its
front was commanded by their own lines both to the right and
left. Then, too, the ground was sloping upward back of the
Confederate line for a considerable distance, and it was
presumable that the enemy had, at least, a detached work on this
highest point. The work progressed, and on the 23d of July the
mine was finished ready for charging; but I had this work of
charging deferred until we were ready for it.

On the 17th of July several deserters came in and said that
there was great consternation in Richmond, and that Lee was
coming out to make an attack upon us the object being to put us
on the defensive so that he might detach troops to go to Georgia
where the army Sherman was operating against was said to be in
great trouble. I put the army commanders, Meade and Butler, on
the lookout, but the attack was not made.

I concluded, then, a few days later, to do something in the way
of offensive movement myself, having in view something of the
same object that Lee had had. Wright's and Emory's corps were
in Washington, and with this reduction of my force Lee might
very readily have spared some troops from the defences to send
West. I had other objects in view, however, besides keeping Lee
where he was. The mine was constructed and ready to be exploded,
and I wanted to take that occasion to carry Petersburg if I
could. It was the object, therefore, to get as many of Lee's
troops away from the south side of the James River as
possible. Accordingly, on the 26th, we commenced a movement
with Hancock's corps and Sheridan's cavalry to the north side by
the way of Deep Bottom, where Butler had a pontoon bridge laid.
The plan, in the main, was to let the cavalry cut loose and,
joining with Kautz's cavalry of the Army of the James, get by
Lee's lines and destroy as much as they could of the Virginia
Central Railroad, while, in the mean time, the infantry was to
move out so as to protect their rear and cover their retreat
back when they should have got through with their work. We were
successful in drawing the enemy's troops to the north side of the
James as I expected. The mine was ordered to be charged, and the
morning of the 30th of July was the time fixed for its
explosion. I gave Meade minute orders (*38) on the 24th
directing how I wanted the assault conducted, which orders he
amplified into general instructions for the guidance of the
troops that were to be engaged.

Meade's instructions, which I, of course, approved most
heartily, were all that I can see now was necessary. The only
further precaution which he could have taken, and which he could
not foresee, would have been to have different men to execute

The gallery to the mine was over five hundred feet long from
where it entered the ground to the point where it was under the
enemy's works, and with a cross gallery of something over eighty
feet running under their lines. Eight chambers had been left,
requiring a ton of powder each to charge them. All was ready by
the time I had prescribed; and on the 29th Hancock and Sheridan
were brought back near the James River with their troops. Under
cover of night they started to recross the bridge at Deep Bottom,
and to march directly for that part of our lines in front of the

Warren was to hold his line of intrenchments with a sufficient
number of men and concentrate the balance on the right next to
Burnside's corps, while Ord, now commanding the 18th corps,
temporarily under Meade, was to form in the rear of Burnside to
support him when he went in. All were to clear off the parapets
and the _abatis_ in their front so as to leave the space as open
as possible, and be able to charge the moment the mine had been
sprung and Burnside had taken possession. Burnside's corps was
not to stop in the crater at all but push on to the top of the
hill, supported on the right and left by Ord's and Warren's

Warren and Ord fulfilled their instructions perfectly so far as
making ready was concerned. Burnside seemed to have paid no
attention whatever to the instructions, and left all the
obstruction in his own front for his troops to get over in the
best way they could. The four divisions of his corps were
commanded by Generals Potter, Willcox, Ledlie and Ferrero. The
last was a colored division; and Burnside selected it to make
the assault. Meade interfered with this. Burnside then took
Ledlie's division--a worse selection than the first could have
been. In fact, Potter and Willcox were the only division
commanders Burnside had who were equal to the occasion. Ledlie
besides being otherwise inefficient, proved also to possess
disqualification less common among soldiers.

There was some delay about the explosion of the mine so that it
did not go off until about five o'clock in the morning. When it
did explode it was very successful, making a crater twenty feet
deep and something like a hundred feet in length. Instantly one
hundred and ten cannon and fifty mortars, which had been placed
in the most commanding positions covering the ground to the
right and left of where the troops were to enter the enemy's
lines, commenced playing. Ledlie's division marched into the
crater immediately on the explosion, but most of the men stopped
there in the absence of any one to give directions; their
commander having found some safe retreat to get into before they
started. There was some delay on the left and right in
advancing, but some of the troops did get in and turn to the
right and left, carrying the rifle-pits as I expected they would

There had been great consternation in Petersburg, as we were
well aware, about a rumored mine that we were going to
explode. They knew we were mining, and they had failed to cut
our mine off by countermining, though Beauregard had taken the
precaution to run up a line of intrenchments to the rear of that
part of their line fronting where they could see that our men
were at work. We had learned through deserters who had come in
that the people had very wild rumors about what was going on on
our side. They said that we had undermined the whole of
Petersburg; that they were resting upon a slumbering volcano and
did not know at what moment they might expect an eruption. I
somewhat based my calculations upon this state of feeling, and
expected that when the mine was exploded the troops to the right
and left would flee in all directions, and that our troops, if
they moved promptly, could get in and strengthen themselves
before the enemy had come to a realization of the true
situation. It was just as I expected it would be. We could see
the men running without any apparent object except to get away.
It was half an hour before musketry firing, to amount to
anything, was opened upon our men in the crater. It was an hour
before the enemy got artillery up to play upon them; and it was
nine o'clock before Lee got up reinforcements from his right to
join in expelling our troops.

The effort was a stupendous failure. It cost us about four
thousand men, mostly, however, captured; and all due to
inefficiency on the part of the corps commander and the
incompetency of the division commander who was sent to lead the

After being fully assured of the failure of the mine, and
finding that most of that part of Lee's army which had been
drawn north of the James River were still there, I gave Meade
directions to send a corps of infantry and the cavalry next
morning, before Lee could get his forces back, to destroy
fifteen or twenty miles of the Weldon Railroad. But misfortunes
never come singly. I learned during that same afternoon that
Wright's pursuit of Early was feeble because of the constant and
contrary orders he had been receiving from Washington, while I
was cut off from immediate communication by reason of our cable
across Chesapeake Bay being broken. Early, however, was not
aware of the fact that Wright was not pursuing until he had
reached Strasburg. Finding that he was not pursued he turned
back to Winchester, where Crook was stationed with a small
force, and drove him out. He then pushed north until he had
reached the Potomac, then he sent McCausland across to
Chambersburg, Pa., to destroy that town. Chambersburg was a
purely defenceless town with no garrison whatever, and no
fortifications; yet McCausland, under Early's orders, burned the
place and left about three hundred families houseless. This
occurred on the 30th of July. I rescinded my orders for the
troops to go out to destroy the Weldon Railroad, and directed
them to embark for Washington City. After burning Chambersburg
McCausland retreated, pursued by our cavalry, towards
Cumberland. They were met and defeated by General Kelley and
driven into Virginia.

The Shenandoah Valley was very important to the Confederates,
because it was the principal storehouse they now had for feeding
their armies about Richmond. It was well known that they would
make a desperate struggle to maintain it. It had been the
source of a great deal of trouble to us heretofore to guard that
outlet to the north, partly because of the incompetency of some
of the commanders, but chiefly because of interference from

It seemed to be the policy of General Halleck and Secretary
Stanton to keep any force sent there, in pursuit of the invading
army, moving right and left so as to keep between the enemy and
our capital; and, generally speaking, they pursued this policy
until all knowledge of the whereabouts of the enemy was lost.
They were left, therefore, free to supply themselves with
horses, beef cattle, and such provisions as they could carry
away from Western Maryland and Pennsylvania. I determined to
put a stop to this. I started Sheridan at once for that field
of operation, and on the following day sent another division of
his cavalry.

I had previously asked to have Sheridan assigned to that
command, but Mr. Stanton objected, on the ground that he was too
young for so important a command. On the 1st of August when I
sent reinforcements for the protection of Washington, I sent the
following orders:


August 1, 1864, 11.30 A.M.

Washington D. C.

I am sending General Sheridan for temporary duty whilst the
enemy is being expelled from the border. Unless General Hunter
is in the field in person, 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. Once started up the valley they
ought to be followed until we get possession of the Virginia
Central Railroad. If General Hunter is in the field, give
Sheridan direct command of the 6th corps and cavalry division.
All the cavalry, I presume, will reach Washington in the course
of to-morrow.


The President in some way or other got to see this dispatch of
mine directing certain instructions to be given to the
commanders in the field, operating against Early, and sent me
the following very characteristic dispatch:

WASHINGTON, D. C., August 3, 1864.

Cypher. 6 P.M.,

City Point, Va.

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,


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