Even the roads over which Sherman
must be supplied were to be carried towards the rendezvous, to meet his column on its northward march.
In the latter part of January, the Potomac
still being frozen, the general-in-chief proceeded with Schofield
, in advance of the troops, to the mouth of the Cape Fear river
, to consult with Porter
, and to study the situation on the coast.
was now placed in command of all the forces in North Carolina
, and ordered to report to Sherman
as soon as the latter came within communication.
On the 21st, Grant
wrote out his full instructions: ‘The first point to be attained,’ he said, ‘is to secure Wilmington
will then be your objective point, moving either from Wilmington
, or both, as you deem best.
Should you not be able to reach Goldsboro
, you will advance on the line or lines of railway connecting that place with the sea-coast, or as near to it as you can, building the road behind you
. The enterprise under you has two objects: the first is to give General Sherman
material aid, if needed, in his march north; the second, to open a base of supplies for him on his line of march.
As soon, therefore, as you can determine which of the two, Wilmington
, you can best use for throwing supplies from to the interior, you will commence the accumulation of twenty days rations and forage for sixty thousand men and twenty thousand animals.
You will get of these as many as you can house and protect to such point in the interior as you may be able to occupy.’
was first to establish himself on the coast and capture Wilmington
, and then to