all the bridges for several miles on all the railroads leading out of the town. On the afternoon of April thirteenth, the command moved westward to Statesville and Lenoir, at which latter point General Stoneman left the troops to be disposed of by General Gillem, and proceeded with the prisoners and captured artillery to East Tennessee, reporting his arrival, on the nineteenth, at Greenville, and detailing the disposition of his troops, which was as follows: Palmer's brigade, with headquarters at Lincolnton, North Carolina, to scout down the Catawba river toward Charlotte; Brown's brigade, with headquarters at Morgantown, to connect with Palmer, down the Catawba, and Miller's brigade, with General Gillem, was to take post at Ashville, with directions to open up communication through to Greenville, East Tennessee. The object in leaving the cavalry on the other side of the mountains being to obstruct, intercept, or disperse any troops of the enemy going south, and to capture trains. General Gillem followed the directions given him, and marched on Ashville, with Miller's brigade, but was opposed at Swannano Gap by a considerable force of the enemy. Leaving sufficient of his force to amuse them, with the balance he moved by way of Howard's Gap, gained the enemy's rear, and surprised and captured his artillery; after which he made his appearance in front of Ashville, where he was met by a flag of truce on the twenty-third, with the intelligence of the truce existing between Generals Sherman and Johnston, and bearing an order from General Sherman to General Stoneman, for the latter to go to the railroad station at Durham's, or Hillsboroa, nearly two hundred miles distant, whereas the distance to Greenville, East Tennessee, was but sixty. Coming to the conclusion that the order was issued by General Sherman, under the impression that the cavalry division was still at Salisbury or Statesville, General Gillem determined to move to Greenville. The rebel General Martin, with whom he communicated under flag of truce, demanded the rendition of the artillery captured, which, of course, could not be granted, and in return General Gillem requested the rebel commander to furnish his troops with three days rations, as by the terms of the armistice they were required to withdraw. Had it not been for this, Ashville and its garrison would have fallen into our hands. Up to that period I had not been officially notified of the existence of any armistice between the forces of Generals Sherman and Johnston, and the information only reached me through my sub-commanders, Generals Wilson and Stoneman, from Macon, Georgia, and Greenville, East Tennessee, almost simultaneously. The question naturally arose in my mind, whether the troops acting under my direction by virtue of General Sherman's Special Field Orders No. 105, Series of 1864, directing me to assume control of all the forces of the Military Division of the Mississippi “not absolutely in the presence of the General-in-chief,” were to be bound by an armistice or agreement made at a distance of several hundred miles from where those troops were operating, and of which they were advised through an enemy, then in such straightened circumstances, that any ruse, honorable, at least in war, was likely to be practised by him to relieve himself from his difficult position. Then, again, General Sherman was operating with a movable column beyond the limits of his territorial command, viz., the Military Division of the Mississippi, and far away from all direct communication with it, whereas “the troops not absolutely in the presence of the General-in-chief” were operating under special instructions, and not even in co-operation with General Sherman against Johnston; but, on the contrary, General Stoneman was dismantling the country to obstruct Lee's retreat, and General Wilson was moving independently in Georgia or co-operating with General Canby. Before I could come to any conclusion how I should proceed under the circumstances, and without disrespect to my superior officer, General Sherman, Mr. Secretary Stanton telegraphed to me from Washington on the twenty-seventh of April, and through me to my subcommanders, to disregard all orders except those coming from General Grant or himself, and to resume hostilities at once, sparing no pains to press the enemy firmly, at the same time notifying me that General Sherman's negotiations with Johnston had been disapproved. Based on that notification the following dispositions were made with a view of capturing President Davis and party, who, on the cessation of the armistice, had started south from Charlotte, North Carolina, with an escort variously estimated at from five hundred to two thousand picked cavalry, to endeavor to make his way to the trans-Mississippi. General Stoneman was directed to send the brigades of Miller, Brown, and Palmer, then in Western North Carolina, to concentrate at Anderson, South Carolina, and scout down the Savannah river to Augusta, Georgia, if possible, in search of the fugitives. General Gillem being absent, Colonel Palmer, Fifteenth Pennsylvania cavalry, took command of the expedition. By rapid marching they succeeded in reaching and crossing the Savannah river in advance of Davis, and so disposed the command as to effectually cut off his retreat toward Mississippi, and forced him to alter his route toward the Atlantic coast. General Wilson, at Macon, Georgia, was also notified of the action taken at Washington on General Sherman's negotiations with Johnston, and he was directed to resume hostilities at once — especially to endeavor to intercept Davis. Scarcely were the above orders issued and in process of execution, when notification reached me of the surrender by Johnston of all the enemy's forces east of the Chattahoochee river. General Wilson received similar notification from General Sherman direct, through the
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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