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[140] some of Blair's men, skirmishing down the river, had discovered a small Confederate steamer and captured it, with its freight of cotton and forage.

The 15th of the month one of our gunboats reached us and was followed by other steamers. They brought us mail, sugar, coffee, shoes, and forage which were most welcome.

It was here that Sherman took advantage of returning steamers to send our sick to better accommodations and to forward mail for the whole command. The remaining space on the vessels was occupied by the refugees, whom I have before described. Besides these, a column of whites and negroes, with all their indescribable belongings, were organized in a military way and sent down the river road. From the numerous men going out of the service, I furnished them abundant guards and wagons sufficient to carry the small children, the sick, and the extra food. It was a singular spectacle that drew out of camp on Wednesday, March 15, 1865, and set out for Wilmington via Clinton. There were 4,500, mostly negroes, from my wing alone.

Feeling pretty sure that Joe Johnston, our new adversary, who was somewhere in our path, would soon make a stand or an attack, the entire command, under Sherman's instructions, stripped for battle; that is to say, the wagon trains, except those absolutely essential, were thrown back, kept well together and placed under special escort, covered, of course, by the rear guard.

Slocum, deviating from our direct march toward Goldsboro, went by the way of Kyle's Landing, aiming for Bentonville, while his wagon train followed the Goldsboro route. Kilpatrick's cavalry was clearing the way on Slocum's left and front. Slocum found,

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Henry W. Slocum (3)
W. T. Sherman (2)
Judson Kilpatrick (1)
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March 15th, 1865 AD (1)
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