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[349] toward the desired result by operating from where he was, I wrote to him to that effect, and asked him for his views as to what would be best to do. A few days after this I received a communication from General Sherman, of date sixteenth December, acknowledging the receipt of my order of the sixth, and informing me of his preparations to carry it into effect as soon as he could get transportation. Also that he had expected, upon reducing Savannah, instantly to march to Columbia, South Carolina, thence to Raleigh, and thence to report to me; but that this would consume about six weeks time after the fall of Savannah, whereas by sea he could probably reach me by the middle of January. The confidence he manifested in this letter of being able to march up and join me pleased me, and, without waiting for a reply to my letter of the eighteenth, I directed him, on the twenty-eighth of December, to make preparations to start, as he proposed, without delay, to break up the railroads in North and South Carolina, and join the armies operating against Richmond as soon as he could.

On the twenty-first of January I informed General Sherman that I had ordered the Twenty-third corps, Major-General Schofield commanding, east; that it numbered about twenty-one thousand men; that we had at Fort Fisher about eight thousand men; at Newbern about four thousand; that if Wilmington was captured, General Schofield would go there; if not, he would be sent to Newbern; that, in either event, all the surplus force at both points would move to the interior toward Goldsboroa, in cooperation with his movement; that from either point railroad communication could be run out; and that all these troops would be subject to his orders as he came into communication with them.

In obedience to his instructions, General Schofield proceeded to reduce Wilmington, North Carolina, in cooperation with the navy under Admiral Porter, moving his forces up both sides of the Cape Fear river. Fort Anderson, the enemy's main defence on the west bank of the river, was occupied on the morning of the nineteenth, the enemy having evacuated it after our appearance before it.

After fighting on the twentieth and twenty-first, our troops entered Wilmington on the morning of the twenty-second, the enemy having retreated toward Goldsboroa during the night. Preparations were at once made for a movement on Goldsboroa in two columns--one from Wilmington, and the other from Newbern — and to repair the railroad leading there from each place, as well as to supply General Sherman by Cape Fear river, toward Fayetteville, if it became necessary. The column from Newbern was attacked on the eighth of March, at Wise's Forks, and driven back with the loss of several hundred prisoners. On the eleventh the enemy renewed his attack upon our intrenched position, but was repulsed with severe loss, and fell back during the night. On the fourteenth the Neuse river was crossed and Kinston occupied, and on the twenty-first Goldsboroa was entered. The column from Wilmington reached Cox's bridge, on the Neuse river, ten miles above Goldsboroa, on the twenty-second.

By the first of February General Sherman's whole army was in motion from Savannah. He captured Columbia, South Carolina, on the seventeenth; thence moved on Goldsboroa, North Carolina, via Fayetteville, reaching the latter place on the twelfth of March, opening up communication with General Schofield by way of Cape Fear river. On the fifteenth he resumed his march on Goldsboroa. He met a force of the enemy at Averysboroa, and after a severe fight defeated and compelled it to retreat. Our loss in the engagement was about six hundred. The enemy's loss was much greater. On the eighteenth the combined forces of the enemy, under Joe Johnston, attacked his advance at Bentonville, capturing three guns and driving it back upon the main body. General Slocum, who was in the advance, ascertaining that the whole of Johnston's army was in the front, arranged his troops on the defensive, intrenched himself and awaited reinforcements, which were pushed forward. On the night of the twenty-first the enemy retreated to Smithfield, leaving his dead and wounded in our hands. From there Sherman continued to Goldsboroa, which place had been occupied by General Schofield on the 21st (crossing the Neuse river ten miles above there, at Cox's bridge, where General Terry had got possession and thrown a pontoon bridge, on the twenty-second), thus forming a junction with the columns from Newbern and Wilmington.

Among the important fruits of this campaign was the fall of Charleston, South Carolina. It was evacuated by the enemy on the night of the seventeenth of February, and occupied by our forces on the eighteenth.

On the morning of the thirty-first of January General Thomas was directed to send a cavalry expedition, under General Stoneman, from East Tennessee to penetrate South Carolina well down toward Columbia, to destroy the railroads and military resources of the country, and return, if he was able, to East Tennessee by way of Salisbury, North Carolina, releasing our prisoners there, if possible. Of the feasibility of this latter, however, General Stoneman was to judge. Sherman's movements, I had no doubt, would attract the attention of all the force the enemy could collect, and facilitate the execution of this. General Stoneman was so late in making his start on this expedition (and Sherman having passed out of the State of South Carolina), on the twenty-seventh of February I directed General Thomas to change his course, and ordered him to repeat his raid of last fall, destroying the railroad toward Lynchburg as far as he could. This would keep him between our garrisons in East Tennessee and the enemy. I regarded it not impossible that, in the event of the enemy being driven from Richmond, he might fall back to

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