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[155]

The next day, the 13th, gave us possession of Raleigh, and our general in chief on the 14th, having his troops well up, for they all marched briskly, issued a new set of orders.

Sherman, in these, located Johnston on the North Carolina Railroad at what was called “Company shops,” near the crossing of the Haw River. He ordered a movement straight to Ashboro which, being southward and beyond, would turn Johnston's position and force him to battle, should he remain where he was. Events were following each other rapidly. That day Johnston sent in a flag of truce, and addressed to Sherman a communication which spoke of Lee's action and invited a suspension of operations. Sherman instantly replied in a favorable communication, intimating that he had power to make such arrangements with Johnston as Grant had made with Lee.

It took till evening of the 16th to complete the preliminaries for the interview between Sherman and Johnston. Early April 17th, Sherman, with the officers who were to accompany him, was at the railroad station, and just about boarding a train for Durham Station, when the telegraph operator ran to him and asked him to delay starting, for he was receiving a most important message, one coming by the way of Morehead City. It was in cipher, and of course it took some little time to translate.

This contained the fearful news of the assassination of President Lincoln and of the attempts, so nearly successful, to kill Mr. Seward and other members of the Cabinet. Sherman was greatly startled. Finding that no one but the operator knew the purport of the message, he resolved to delay its announcement

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