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Chapter 17: Sherman's March through the Carolinas.--the capture of Fort Fisher.

Having made the necessary orders for the disposition of his troops at Savannah, General Sherman directed his chief engineer (Captain Poe) to examine the works around the city and its vicinity, with a view to their future use. He directed portions of them, including Forts McAllister, Thunderbolt, and Pulaski, to be put in perfect order. The remainder were to be dismantled and destroyed, and their heavy armament sent to Hilton Head. Savannah was made a base of supplies. The formidable obstructions in the river were sufficiently removed to allow the passage of vessels, and the torpedoes which abounded were gathered up under the direction of Admiral Dahlgren. These arrangements were completed by the first of January, when General Sherman was ready for a march northward through the Carolinas.

Sherman appointed the 15th of January

as the day when he would commence his march. The Seventeenth Corps, of Howard's troops, was sent by water, around by Hilton Head, to Pocotaligo, on the Charleston and Savannah railway, where it had made a lodgment by the day above named, and from that point seriously menaced Charleston. The left wing, under Slocum, accompanied by Kilpatrick's cavalry, was to have crossed the Savannah River on a pontoon bridge laid at the city; but incessant rains, which flooded the country, swelled the streams and overflowed the swamps on their margins, had caused the submergence of a causeway which Slocum had constructed opposite Savannah, and broken up his pontoon bridge. He was compelled to look higher up the river for a passage, and marched his troops to Sister's Ferry, or Purysburg. The delay caused by the flood prevented Slocum getting his entire wing of the army across the Savannah River until the first week in February.

In the mean time, General Grant had sent to Savannah Grover's division of the Nineteenth Corps, to garrison that city, and had drawn the Twenty-third Corps, under General Schofield, from General Thomas's command in Tennessee, and sent it to re-enforce Generals Terry and Palmer, operating on the coast of North Carolina, to prepare the way for Sherman's advance. Sherman transferred

January 18.
Savannah and its dependencies to General Foster, then commanding the Department of the South, with instructions to follow Sherman's inland movements by occupying, in succession, Charleston and other places. Hardee, with the troops with which he fled from Savannah, was then in Charleston, preparing to defend it to the best of his ability. [457]

Sherman had advised General Grant that it was his intention “to undertake, at one stride,” after leaving Savannah, “to make Goldsboroa, and open

Hardee's Headquarters in Charleston.1

communications with the sea, by the New Berne railroad,” and for that purpose, he sent Colonel W. W. Wright, superintendent of military roads, to New Berne to prepare for extending the railway from that place to Goldsboroa. Meanwhile, during the delay caused by the floods, some feints were made from Pocotaligo of an advance on Charleston, and thereby Hardee was kept from interfering with Sherman's preparations for his proposed “stride.” Finally, when the waters had somewhat subsided, and every thing was in readiness for an advance, the posts at the Tullifinny and Coosawhatchie rivers were abandoned as useless and the troops a long the Charleston and Savannah railway were concentrated at Pocotaligo.

Sherman's whole army moved forward on the first of February, nearly in a due north course, toward Columbia, the capital of South Carolina. All the roads in that direction had, for weeks, been held by

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