Gfneral Schofield's report.
headquarters Department of North Carolina, Army of the Ohio, Goldsboro, N. C., April 3, 1865.General: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of the troops under my command since January 1, 1865, the date of my last report, addressed to Major-General George H. Thomas, commanding Department of the Cumberland, under whose command I was then serving. On the second of January, 1865, I marched with the Twenty-third Army Corps from Columbia, Tennessee, and arrived at Clifton, on the Tennessee river, on the eighth, under orders to embark my troops at that point, and, move to Eastport, Mississippi. But before the embarkation had commenced, I received, January fourteenth, an order from the Lieutenant-General commanding, through the Chief of Staff of the Army, to move with the Twenty-third Army Corps to Annapolis, Maryland. Accordingly the movement was commenced on the following day. The troops moved with their artillery and horses, but without wagons, by steam transports to Cincinnati, Ohio, and thence by rail to Washington, District of Columbia, and Alexandria, Virginia, a second order from Washington having changed the destination from Annapolis. Although in midwinter,and weather unusually severe, even for that season, the movement was effected without delay, accident, or suffering on the part of the troops. By the thirty-first of January the whole command had arrived at Washington and Alexandria. At Alexandria great and unavoidable delay was caused by the freezing of the Potomac, which rendered its navigation impossible much of the time for several weeks. Meanwhile I met the Lieutenant-General commanding at Fortress Monroe, and went with him to the mouth of Cape Fear river to consult with Rear-Admiral Porter and Major-General Terry relative to future operations. On my return to Washington an order was issued from the War Department creating the Department of North Carolina, and assigning me to its command. My instructions from the Lieutenant-General commanding, as well as those received from you, through Major-General Foster, made the ultimate object of my operations the occupation of Goldsboro, the opening of railroad communication between that point and the sea-coast, the accumulation of supplies for your army, and the junction of my force with your main army at or near Goldsboro. Wilmington was made my first objective, because it would afford a valuable auxiliary base to Morehead City, in the event of our junction being made at Goldsboro, as designed, and because its possession by us would be of great value to you in case the movement of the enemy's main army or other circumstances should render advisable a concentration of your army at some point further south than Goldsboro. As soon as it became possible to navigate the Potomac I started from Alexandria with the Third division, Twenty-third Army Corps, under command of Major-General J. D. Cox, and reached the mouth of Cape Fear river on the ninth of February, and landed upon the peninsula near Fort Fisher. Major-General A. H. Terry, with about eight thousand men, then held a line across the peninsula about two miles above the fort, and occupied Smithville and Fort Caswell on the south side of the river, while the naval squadron, under Rear-Admiral Porter, occupied positions in Cape Fear river and off the coast, covering the flanks of General Terry's line. The enemy occupied Fort Anderson, on the west bank, with a collateral line running to a large swamp about three fourths of a mile distant, and a line opposite Fort Anderson, running across the peninsula from Cape Fear river to Masonboro sound. His position was impregnable against direct attack, and could be turned only by crossing Masonboro sound, above his left, or passing around the swamp which covered his right. The force I then had seemed too small for so extended a movement as either of those mentioned, but time being important, I determined to make the attempt without waiting for the arrival of more of my troops. On the eleventh of February I pushed forward General Terry's line, supported by General Cox's division, drove in the enemy's pickets, and intrenched in a new position, close enough to the enemy's line to compel him to hold the latter in force. I then made preparation to send a fleet of navy boats and pontoons by sea to a point on the beach above the enemy's position, while a force composed of General Cox's and General Ames' divisions was to march along the beach in the night to the point where the boats were to land, haul them across the beach into the sound, and cross the latter to the main land in rear of Hoke's position. The weather, however, became so stormy as to render the execution of this plan impossible. On the night of February fourteenth I attempted to move the pontoons upon their wagons along the beach with the troops, but the unusually high tides, caused by the heavy sea and wind, made it impracticable to reach the point of crossing before daylight in the morning, when our movement would be discovered by the enemy before a crossing of the sound could be secured. Hence, after a hard night's work, the attempt was abandoned, and I turned attention to the enemy's right, where I would not have to contend with the difficulties of both land and sea. General Cox's and General Ames' divisions were crossed over to Smithville, where they were joined by Colonel Moore's brigade of General Couch's division, which had just debarked, and advanced along the main Wilmington road, until they encountered the enemy's position at Fort Anderson and adjacent works. Here two brigades were intrenched to occupy the enemy, while