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[427] without too much cost, I will be in a position to aid you materially in the spring campaign. Joe. Johnston may try to interpose between me here and Schofield above Newbern, but I think he will not try that, but concentrate his scattered armies at Raleigh, and I will go straight at him as soon as I get my men re-clothed and our wagons re-loaded.

On the 15th of March, the command began its march for Goldsboro; the Seventeenth and Fifteenth corps on the right, the Fourteenth and Twentieth on the left, and the cavalry acting in close concert with the left flank. As far as Fayetteville, Sherman had succeeded in interposing his superior army between the scattered portions of the enemy's command. But he was now aware that the fragments driven from Columbia had been reinforced by Cheatham from the army of the Tennessee, as well as by the garrison of Augusta, and ample time had been given for these to move to his front and flank at Raleigh. Hardee also had crossed the Cape Fear river in advance of Sherman, and was, therefore, able to effect a junction with the other rebel forces. All these troops, indeed all the troops of the enemy in North Carolina, were now under the command of Johnston, who was skilful and wary, and familiar with Sherman's strategy. He would be misled by neither feints nor false reports. Sherman estimated the entire rebel force at thirty-seven thousand infantry and eight thousand cavalry; but only Hardee, with ten thousand infantry and one division of cavalry, was in the immediate front. The bulk of the rebel army was supposed to be concentrating on the northwest, at, or in the neighborhood of Raleigh. Sherman

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