by H. W. Slocum, Major-General, U. S. V.From Bentonville [March 22d, 1865] we marched to Goldsboro‘, and in two or three days were in camp, busily engaged in preparing for another campaign. We had made the march from Savannah to Goldsboro‘, a distance of 430 miles, in seven weeks. We had constructed bridges across the Edisto, Broad, Catawba, Pedee, and Cape Fear rivers, and had destroyed all the railroads to the interior of South Carolina. We had subsisted mainly upon the country, and our men and animals were in better condition than when we left Savannah. All this was done in the winter season. We found Goldsboro' already occupied by our troops, the Twenty-third Corps, under General Schofield, and the Tenth Corps, under General Terry, having captured Wilmington and arrived at Goldsboro' a day or two in advance of us.2 The railroad to New Berne was soon put in running order, and supplies of all kinds were pouring in upon us. Soon after we were settled in the vicinity of Goldsboro' General Sherman went to City Point, where he met President Lincoln and Lieutenant-General Grant, and the situation of affairs was discussed by them while on board the River Queen, a small steamer lying near the wharf at City Point. Both Grant and Sherman expressed to Mr. Lincoln their firm conviction that the end was near at hand. During the conversation something was said about the disposition to be made of the rebel leaders, particularly Mr. Davis. Sherman made no secret of the fact that he wished to have Davis escape arrest, get out of the country, and thus save our Government all embarrassment as to his case. Mr. Lincoln said that, occupying the position he did, he could not say that he hoped the leader of the great rebellion, which had brought so much misery upon the land, would escape, but that the situation reminded him of an anecdote. He said a man who had recently taken the temperance pledge was once invited to take a drink of spirits. He said, “No, I can't do it; I will take a glass of lemonade.” When the lemonade was prepared, his friend suggested that its flavor would be improved by pouring in a little brandy. The man said, “If you could pour in a little of that stuff unbeknownst to me, I shouldn't get mad about it.” If Mr. Davis had escaped from the country “unbeknownst” to Mr. Lincoln, he would not have grieved over it. General Sherman soon returned, bringing with him an order constituting the left wing a distinct army under the title of the Army of Georgia, and assigning me to command.3 The Tenth and Twenty-third corps had already been constituted an army known as the Army of the Ohio, with Schofield as commander. On April 5th General Sherman issued a confidential order to the army and corps commanders and the chiefs of the staff departments. It stated that the next grand objective was to place his armies north of the Roanoke River, facing west, and in full communication with the Army of the Potomac. Everything was to be in readiness on April 10th, and the movement was to commence on the morning of the 11th. The Army of Georgia was to have the left, the Army of the Ohio the center, and the Army of the Tennessee the right in the movement. The roads to be taken by each command were indicated in the order. We went to bed that night happy in the belief that we were soon to be  in front of Richmond, with our right connecting with the Army of the Potomac, and after having marched through the entire South from Chattanooga, via Atlanta, Savannah, and Columbia, we were to have the honor of taking part in the capture of Lee's army and the capital of the Confederacy. The next day brought us news which dispelled this happy vision. Richmond had fallen, and Lee's army was marching to make a junction with Johnston. The news was received with great joy by the men of Sherman's army. Bonfires, rockets, and a general jubilee kept the inhabitants of Goldsboro' from sleep that night. This event, however, caused Sherman to change his plans. He decided to move direct to Raleigh, hoping to meet Johnston either there or at Smithfield. We commenced our march on the 10th, arrived at Smithfield on the 11th, only to find that General Johnston had retreated to Raleigh. On the 12th, while on the march to Raleigh, some person on horseback came riding up the road crying to the men as he passed, “Grant has captured Lee's army!” Soon after, Sherman's Special Field Orders, No. 54, dated Smithfield, North Carolina, April 12th, 1865, was brought to me and published to the troops. It read as follows:
It is useless to attempt to describe the effect of this news upon the men of Sherman's army. Instead of looking forward to another long, campaign through the South in pursuit of the united armies of Lee and Johnston, the vision of every man now turned homeward. Thoughts of meeting wives, children, and friends from whom they had been so long separated by the bloody struggle, occupied the minds of all. A happier body of men never before surrounded their camp-fires than were to be found along the roads leading to Raleigh. On the 13th we passed through Raleigh and encamped within three or four miles of the city. Kilpatrick's cavalry followed the retreating enemy about twenty-five miles beyond Raleigh and went into camp at Durham Station, on the road toward Hillsboro‘. On the 14th Sherman ordered his army to move, with a view of preventing the retreat of Johnston in the direction of Salisbury and Charlotte. In this order, he said that in the hope of an early reconciliation no further destruction of railroads or private property would be permitted. We were authorized to take from the people forage and other necessary supplies, but were cautioned against stripping the poorer classes. On the morning of the day that this movement was to commence, General Sherman received from General Johnston a message requesting a cessation of hostilities with a view of negotiating terms of surrender. Sherman sent a reply at once, and arrangements were made for a personal interview on the 17th between the two commanders, at a point midway between our advance and the position held by the enemy. As Sherman was entering a car on the morning of the 17th to attend this meeting, the telegraph operator stopped him and requested him to wait a few minutes, as he was just receiving an important dispatch, which he ought to see before he left. The dispatch was from Mr. Stanton announcing the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, and the attempt on the life of Mr. Seward and his son.4 General Sherman asked the operator if he had divulged the contents of the dispatch to any one, and being answered in the negative, he ordered him to keep it a secret until his return. Sherman and his staff met Johnston and Wade Hampton with a number of staff-officers at the house of Mrs. Bennett. None of the Confederate officers had heard of the assassination of Lincoln, and Sherman first made the fact known to them. They were much affected by the news, and apparently regretted it as much as did our own officers. In conversing as to the terms of surrender, Johnston suggested that they should be such as to embrace not only his army, but the armies under Dick Taylor and Kirby Smith in the Gulf States, and those under Maury, Forrest, and others. Sherman questioned Johnston's authority to negotiate the surrender of the other armies, and Johnston assured him that he could soon obtain the authority. A meeting was arranged for the following day. Sherman returned to Raleigh and issued an order announcing the assassination of President Lincoln, which was published to the troops on the following morning. The men appreciated the generosity and nobleness of Mr. Lincoln's nature. The fact that he had carried us successfully through the great struggle caused them to feel toward him an attachment which the soldier always feels toward a great and successful leader. The startling  news of his death was received with gloom and sadness. On the following day General Sherman met General Johnston and negotiated with him a conditional treaty for the surrender of all the Confederates then under arms.5 The condition was that it should first be approved by the President. Pending these negotiations, and after the proposed terms had been made known to the leading officers of Sherman's army, I conversed with nearly all these officers, among them Logan, Howard, and Blair, and heard no word of dissent from any of them. I can now recall to mind but one general officer who, at the time, questioned the wisdom of General Sherman's action, and that was General Carl Schurz. General Schurz was then serving temporarily as my chief-of-staff, and when I returned from Sherman's headquarters about 12. o'clock on the night of the 18th I found General Schurz sitting up, waiting for me. He was eager to learn the terms, and when I stated them to him he expressed regret and predicted just what subsequently happened. He said the public mind of the North would be inflamed by the assassination of Lincoln, and now that the armies of the Confederacy were virtually crushed, anything looking toward leniency would not be well received. The terms were not approved by President Johnson, and General Grant came to Raleigh.6 His meeting with Sherman was a friendly one. He laid before Sherman a letter of instructions which he had received from Mr. Lincoln some time before the fall of Richmond, prohibiting him from. embracing, in any negotiations he might have with General Lee, anything of a political nature. Had a copy of this letter been furnished General Sherman, his treaty with Johnston would not have been made. Sherman and all his officers were exceedingly anxious to prevent the Confederate armies from breaking up into guerrilla bands and roaming through the South, keeping the country in a disturbed condition for months, and perhaps for years. There never was the slightest justification for the criticisms that were showered upon him  for his course in this matter. On the 2 6th of April General Johnston surrendered his army upon the same terms that General Lee had received.8 During our stay in Raleigh I witnessed a scene which to me was one of the most impressive of the war. It was the review by General Sherman of a division of colored troops. These troops passed through the principal streets of the city. They were well drilled, dressed in new and handsome uniforms, and with their bright bayonets gleaming in the sun they made a splendid appearance. The sides of the streets were lined with residents of the city and the surrounding country,--many of them, I presume, the former owners of some of these soldiers. Soon after the surrender, orders were issued for the right and left wings to march to Washington via Richmond. On the evening before we left Raleigh the mails from the North arrived, and with them a large number of New York papers. On the following day, when we were about five miles from the city, my attention was called to a group of soldiers standing around a cart under which they had built a fire. The cart and its contents were being burned, while a young man in citizen's dress, with the mule that had been taken from the cart, was looking on. I sent a staff-officer to learn the meaning of it. He soon returned to me and said that a soldier, who seemed to be the leader of the party, said, “Tell General Slocum that cart is loaded with New York papers for sale to the soldiers. These papers are filled with the vilest abuse of General Sherman. We have followed Sherman through a score of battles and through nearly two thousand miles of the enemy's country, and we do not intend to allow these vile slanders against him to be circulated among his men.” This was the last property that I saw destroyed by the men of Sherman's army, and I witnessed the scene with keener satisfaction than I had felt over the destruction of any property since the day we left Atlanta. A march of three or four days brought us in sight of Richmond. There were men in the Twentieth Corps who had been near enough to that city, on a former occasion, to enable them to see the spires of her churches. Some had been in the first Bull Run, many more in the Seven Days battles about Richmond, nearly all of them had been at Chancellorsville, Antietam, and Gettysburg. After the repulse at Chickamauga they had been detached from the Army of the Potomac and sent by rail with all possible speed to Nashville. Thence they had marched via Chattanooga, Atlanta, Savannah, Columbia, and Raleigh to the point which, during the first two years of the war, they had struggled so hard to reach by approaching it from the north side. They had swung around the circle,--the largest circle ever swung around by an army corps. After resting a few days near Richmond we  started for Washington over the battle-scarred route so familiar to the men who had fought under McDowell, McClellan, and subsequently under Grant, as well as to those who had served under Lee. The weather was pleasant and the march full of interest. On some of the fields where great battles had been fought we found the bodies of many Union soldiers lying unburied, apparently just as they had fallen on the field. Parties were detailed to bury the dead, and subsequently a party was sent from Washington to complete the work. We went into camp in the vicinity of Alexandria, my own headquarters being very near the place I had occupied during the first winter of the war, when McClellan was organizing the Army of the Potomac. We were soon informed that the final scene of the war was to be a grand review of all the troops by the President and his Cabinet. All the foreign ministers resident in Washington, the governors of the States, and many other distinguished people had been invited to be present. The Eastern troops were to be reviewed on the 23d of May, and the Western on the day following. The leading officers of Sherman's command were invited to the stand to witness the review of the Army of the Potomac, and they gladly accepted the invitation. After the close of the review of that army, several of our officers assembled at Sherman's headquarters to discuss matters and prepare for the work to be done next day. In speaking of the review of the Army of the Potomac Sherman said: “It was magnificent. In dress, in soldierly appearance, in precision of alignment and marching we cannot beat those fellows.” All present assented to this statement. Some one then suggested that we should not make the attempt, but should pass in review “as we went marching through Georgia” ; that the foragers, familiarly known among us as “bummers,” should form part of the column. This suggestion seemed to strike General Sherman favorably, and instructions were issued to carry it into effect. Early on the following morning the head of our column started up Pennsylvania Avenue and soon passed the reviewing stand, which was filled with distinguished people from all parts of the country. Sherman's men certainly presented a very soldierly appearance. They were proud of their achievements, and had the swing of men who had marched through half a dozen States. But the feature of the column which seemed to interest the spectators most was the attachments of foragers in rear of each brigade. At the review the men appeared “in their native ugliness” as they appeared on the march through Georgia and the Carolinas. Their pack-mules and horses, with rope bridles or halters, laden with supplies such as they had carried on the march, formed part of the column. It was a new feature in a grand review, but one which those who witnessed it will never forget. Soon after the review the troops were ordered into various camps, where the paymaster paid them his last visit, and then they separated, never again to meet in large bodies, except on Memorial Day, the 30th of May, of each year,9 when they meet to honor the memory of comrades who gave their lives for their country, and at annual reunions of regimental associations, when they assemble to renew the ties of comradeship10 formed during the struggle of more than four years duration, which cost us hundreds of thousands of lives and thousands of millions of treasure, but which has conferred, even upon the defeated South, blessings that more than compensate the country for all her losses.
|Grand reviewing stand in front of the White House, Washington, May 23-24, 1865. from a photograph.|