Chapter 18: capture of Fort Fisher, Wilmington, and Goldsboroa.--Sherman's March through the Carolinas.--Stoneman's last raid.
- Further designs against Fort Fisher, 484.
-- Second expedition against Fort Fisher, 485.
-- bombardment of Fort Fisher, 486.
-- Fort Fisher to be assaulted, 487.
-- assault on the Fort by land and sea, 488.
-- capture of the Fort.
-- preparations for attacking Wilmington, 490.
-- a large force at Fort Fisher, 491.
-- capture of
-- advance on Goldsboroa, 493.
-- Schofield enters Goldsboroa, 494.
-- Sherman's marching orders, 495.
-- March toward North Carolina, 496.
-- the National Army at Fayetteville, 497.
-- March on Goldsboroa, 498.
-- battle of Averasboroa, 499.
-- battle of Bentonsville, 500, 501, 502.
-- junction of the armies of Sherman, Schofield, and Terry, 503.
-- Stoneman's great raid in Virginia and the Carolinas, 504.
-- Moderwell's expedition, 505.
was greatly disappointed by the resuit of the expedition against Fort Fisher
, and in his General Report of the Operations of the Army,
he severely censured General Butler
, and charged him with “direct violation of the instructions given,” by the “re-embarkation of the troops and return of the expedition.”
In those instructions General Grant
had said: “Should such landing [on the beach above the entrance to the Cape Fear
] be effected whilst the enemy still holds Fort Fisher
and the batteries guarding the entrance to the river, then the troops should intrench themselves, and, by co-operating with the navy, effect the reduction and capture of those places.”
Instead of doing so, Butler
re-embarked his troops, after the reconnoissance to the front of Fort Fisher
He claimed, in justification, that the conditions precedent to intrenching were lacking, in that he had not effected a landing, as only twenty-two hundred of his six thousand five hundred men had reached the shore, and without a single gun, when the sea ran so high that no more guns or men could be landed, and that provisions could reach the shore only by being headed up in casks, and sent on rafts.
He also said that the navy had nearly exhausted its ammunition, and could not be expected to co-operate with the troops in further assault until supplied; and that he had positive information that Confederate troops, larger in number than the whole military force of the expedition, were nigh at hand.
At the request of General Grant
, General Butler
was relieved, and General E. 0. C. Ord
was assigned to the command of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina.
On being informed that the fleet had not left the vicinity of Fort Fisher
, General Grant
wrote to Admiral Porter
asking him to remain, and promising to send a force immediately, to make another attempt to capture the Confederate
defenses at the mouth of the Cape Fear
He selected for the enterprise the same troops led by Weitzel
, with the addition of a thin brigade of fourteen hundred men, and two batteries.1
This force, numbering about eight thousand men, was placed under the command
of General Alfred H. Terry
, with instructions to proceed in transports from Fortress Monroe
, as speedily as possible, to the Cape Fear River
, and report the arrival to Admiral Porter
To Lieutenant-Colonel Comstock
, who accompanied the former expedition, was assigned the position of chief engineer of this.
The general instructions did not differ essentially from those given to General Butler
In them, Terry
was informed that a siege train would be at his disposal at Fortress Monroe
, if he should require it, to consist, as he was told by the Lieutenant-General
, of twenty 30-pounder Parrott guns, four 100-pounder Parrotts, and twenty Cohorn mortars, with a sufficient number of artillerists and engineers.
was directed to send a division to Fortress Monroe
, to follow, in case of need.
The new expedition left Hampton Roads
on the 6th of January,
and on the 8th rendezvoused off Beaufort, North Carolina
, where Porter
was supplying his vessels with coal and ammunition.
Rough weather kept all the vessels there until the 12th, when they went down the coast, the war-vessels in three lines, accompanied by the transports, and appeared off Fort Fisher
In the same order the navy took position the next morning,
and at eight o'clock nearly two hundred boats, besides steam tugs, began the landing of the troops, under cover of the fire of the fleet, a part of which had already attacked Fort Fisher
At three o'clock in the afternoon eight thousand troops were on the shore, their pickets exchanging shots with an outpost of Hoke
's division, which was still there.
first wisely provided against an attack in the rear, from the direction of Wilmington
, by casting up intrenchments across the peninsula, and thus also securing its free use to Masonboroa Inlet, where, if necessary, troops and supplies might be landed in still water.
This was done a short distance above the head of Myrtle Sound
, and about four miles from Fort Fisher
The first line was completed at nine o'clock that evening; another was made a mile nearer the fort, and still another within about two miles of the works.
At the latter, on the morning of the 14th,
the troops were in a defensible position, behind strong breastworks, extending from the Cape Fear River
to the sea, and partially covered by abatis
. This being accomplished without serious difficulty, the landing of the lighter guns was commenced, and was completed that evening.
Before morning they were all in battery, mostly near the Cape Fear
, where the Confederates
, if they should attack, would be the least exposed to the fire of the fleet.
Thus a firm footing was gained on Federal Point
, near Fort Fisher
; and it was made more secure by the seizure of a small, unfinished outwork in front of the west end of the land face of that fortification, by Curtis
's brigade of Ames
's division, which was thrown forward for the purpose.
Whilst making that movement, the brigade captured a small steamer coming down the river with shells and forage for the garrison.
The successful movement, thus far, against the fort, planned by General Terry
, partook of all the elements of a siege, without some of its important operations on his part.
He landed far up the beach, and made approaches without the necessity of zigzag intrenchments to protect his heavy guns, for none were needed, the batteries for that work being afloat in Porter
A careful reconnoissance determined Terry
to make a grand assault there next morning,
and arrangements were accordingly made with Porter
, whose fleet had already been preparing the way for success.
On the morning of the 13th, it had taken its station in three lines, as we have observed.
The New Ironsides
, Commodore Radford
leading the monitors Saugus
, and Mahopac
, moved toward the fort and received its fire unnoticed until they reached a position
within a thousand yards of it, when they opened their batteries, and a sharp fight ensued.
ordered his wooden vessels to engage in the conflict.
Line No. 1
, in the plan on page 486, was led by the Brooklyn
, Captain Alden
, and line No. 2 was led by the Colorado
, Commodore Thatcher
The bombardment was continuous, but not rapid, until dark, to the severe hurt of the armament of the fort, when the wooden vessels fell back to their anchorage.
But the iron-clads fired slowly throughout the night, by which the garrison was worried and fatigued.
During the landing of the army ordnance on the 14th,3
and the successful movements of Terry
on the peninsula, all the vessels carrying 11-inch guns, led by the Brooklyn
, joined the monitors in bombarding Fort Fisher
, damaging it severely.
“By sunset,” says Porter
, in his report, “the fort was reduced to a pulp; every gun was silenced by being injured or covered up with earth, so that they could not work.”
In the arrangement for the general attack by land and water, the fleet was to first concentrate its fire on the land face of Fort Fisher
, for the purpose of disabling its guns and destroying the palisades upon its wings and front, when the army should make the assault at three o'clock in the afternoon.
All night the monitors pounded the fort, and allowed the garrison no rest, nor opportunity to repair damages; and at eight o'clock in the morning,
the entire naval force, excepting a division left to aid in the defense of Terry
's line across the peninsula, moved up to the attack, “and a fire, magnificent alike for its power and accuracy, was opened.”
Meanwhile, fourteen hundred marines and six hundred sailors, armed with revolvers, cutlasses and carbines, were detached from the fleet to assist the land troops in the work of assault; and, digging rifle-trenches in the sand under cover of the fire of the ships, they reached a point within two hundred yards of the sea-front of the fort, where they lay awaiting the order for attack.
's division had been selected for the assault.
was placed in command of the defensive line, having with him Abbott
's brigade in addition to his own division.
's first brigade (N. M. Curtis
's) was already at the outwork captured the day before, and in trenches close around it. His other two brigades (G. A. Pennybacker
's and L. Bell
's) were moved, at noon, to within supporting distance of him. At two o'clock, preparations for the assault were commenced.
Sixty sharp-shooters from the Thirteenth Indiana, armed with the Spencer repeating carbine, and forty others, volunteers from Curtis
's brigade, the whole under the command of Lieutenant Lent
, of the Thirteenth Indiana, were thrown forward, at a run, to within less than two hundred yards of the work.
They were provided with shovels, and soon dug pits for shelter, and commenced firing at the parapet, which, as the firing of the fleet at this point had ceased, was instantly manned, and a severe storm opened upon the assailants from musketry and cannon.6
As soon as the sharp-shooters were in position, the fleet changed the direction of its fire from the land face and the palisades of the fort, to its center and right, and Curtis
's brigade moved forward at the double-quick into line less than five hundred yards from the works, and there laid down.
The other two brigades were moved forward, Pennybacker
's to the outwork left by Curtis
, and Bell
's to a point two hundred yards in the rear of it. Perceiving a good cover on the reverse of a slope, fifty yards in the rear of the sharp-shooters, Curtis
moved his men to it, where they instantly covered themselves in trenches.
At the same time, Pennybacker
and occupied the ground he had just left, and Bell
advanced to the outwork.
It was now about half-past 3 o'clock in the afternoon.
Every thing was in readiness for the assault.
The signal was given, when Curtis
's brigade sprang from its cover and dashed forward in line, its left exposed to a severe enfilading fire.
It obliqued to the right, so as to envelop the left of the land-face of the fort.
Preparations had been made for destroying the palisades with powder7
But the fleet had done the work effectually.
The axmen, however, accompanied Curtis
's men. The palisades were soon passed, and a lodgment was made on the parapet, not far from the river.
At the same time the sailors and marines, led by Fleet-Captain K. R. Breese
, eager to be the first to enter the fort, advanced with great gallantry up the beach, and attacked the northeast bastion.
There they were exposed to a murderous fire, and were unable to scale the parapet.
After heavy loss of
officers and men, they were withdrawn.
But they had done valuable work, for they had occupied a greater portion of the garrison, who thought theirs the main attack, and so helped Curtis
to gain his advantage.
With this assault commenced the terrible struggle.
Up to this time the National
loss had been trifling, for the navy had kept the garrison quiet.
Now it was compelled to cease firing at that part of the fort, for its shells would be as hurtful to friends as foes.
Instantly the garrison sprang to its guns, and musketeers swarmed upon the parapet.
held his ground until Pennybacker
, sent by Ames
, came to his support.
The latter advanced rapidly to Curtis
's right, drove the Confederates
from the strong and almost unharmed palisades, extending from the west end of the landface
of the fort to the river (see sketch on page 488), and captured a number of prisoners.
The brigade broke through the palisades and joined Curtis
At the same time Bell
's brigade had been sent forward to occupy the space between that end of the fort and the river; and Terry
sent for Abbott
's brigade to move down from the north line, while Reese
led the sailors and marines up to occupy that position.
He also ordered General Paine
to send down one of his best regiments, when the Twenty-seventh, negro troops, Brevet Brigadier-General A. M. Blackman
, was forwarded.
These arrived when the heaviest of the work was done.
It had been performed by the troops already there, who fought hand to hand with the garrison, while the fleet kept up its fire further to the southward, to prevent re-enforcements reaching the fort from Mound Battery, or Battery Buchanan.
The Confederates used the huge traverses of the land front for breast-works, and over the tops of these the combatants fired in each other's faces.
The struggle was desperate.
The Confederates were steadily pushed back, until, at dusk, they had lost nine of these traverses.
At that time Blackman
reported to Ames
His troops were kept under fire for awhile, when they were withdrawn.
At six o'clock Abbott
entered the fort with his little brigade, and at nine o'clock, when two more traverses had been carried by the Nationals, the contest ceased.
's brigade drove the garrison from its last stronghold, and the occupation of the work was complete.
The Confederates fled toward Battery Buchanan, hotly pursued by Abbott
, accompanied by Blackman
's regiment; and then the whole of the garrison not already in the hands of Terry
, were captured, including Colonel Lamb
, the commander of the fort, and General Whiting
, who was mortally wounded.
The fall of Fort Fisher
rendered all the other works at the mouth of the Cape Fear River
untenable, and during the nights of the 16th and 17th,
blew up Fort Caswell
, on the right an, bank of the river.
They also abandoned Battery Holmes, on Smith's Island
, and their extensive works at Smithville
and Reeves's Point, and fled toward Wilmington
The triumph of the army and navy was now complete.9
was in chief command of the Confederates
in that region, but. seemed to have been paralyzed by the prompt establishment, by Terry
, of an intrenched line across the peninsula and the rapid assault by land and water.10 Hoke
, who was near, made some show on the afternoon of the assault, by Bragg
's orders, but a peremptory command of the latter for the former to attack, was withdrawn, after the commander-in-chief
had reconnoitered for himself.
Although a greater part of the guns of Fort Fisher
were dismounted, or otherwise disabled, the work itself was so slightly damaged that it could be readily repaired.
But the Nationals had no use for it. The port of Wilmington
was closed to blockade-runners; and the town itself was to be the next object of visitation by Terry
The latter immediately ordered Lieutenant-Commander R. Chandler
, commanding the Maumee
, to buoy out the channel of New Inlet
, when several of the lighter draught vessels went into the Cape Fear River
He also dispatched the gallant Cushing
who was then in command of the Monticello
, to ascertain the state of affairs on the right bank of the river.
soon reported success, by raising the National
flag over Fort Caswell
when preparations were made for taking up the torpedoes, and ascending the river in the lighter vessels, the heavier being excluded by the shallowness of the water.
posted his troops at his intrenched line across the peninsula, two or three miles above Fort Fisher
But it was considered imprudent to attempt an advance until the army should be re-enforced, for Hoke
was holding Fort Anderson
, on the river, about half-way between Fort.
, and had cast up a line of intrenchments across the peninsula, from Sugar Loaf Battery, nearly opposite that fort, on the east bank of the Cape Fear
, to the ocean, thus strongly confronting Terry
Behind these Hoke
had about six thousand men. Fort Anderson
was an extensive earth-work, with a large number of guns, which commanded the approaches by land and water.
Immediately under cover of its guns was. a large wharf; also various obstructions in the channel.
Re-enforcements were not long delayed.
, as we have seen, had ordered General Schofield
to the coast of North Carolina
, with the Twenty-third Corps.
received the command
while preparing to obey General Thomas
's order to go into winter-quarters at Eastport, Mississippi
He started the following day, in steamers, down the Tennessee River
, and up the Ohio
, with his whole corps, artillery and horses, leaving his wagons behind, and thence by railroad to Washington City
There he was detained awhile by the frozen Potomac, but finally went in steamers to the coast of North Carolina
, where he landed near Fort Fisher
, with Cox
's (Third) division, on the 9th of February.
The remainder of the troops speedily followed (some going to New Berne), and swelled Terry
's little army of eight thousand men to full twenty thousand.
was then also occupying Fort Caswell
, on the opposite side of the Cape Fear River
The Department of North Carolina had just been created, and Schofield
was assigned to its command; so, on his arrival, he assumed the charge of all the troops in that Department.
The main object of the movement now to be undertaken was, as we have observed,14
the occupation of Goldsboroa,
in aid of Sherman
's march to that place.
to that leader that Schofield
had been ordered to the sea, where he would have under his command over thirty thousand troops.
The grand object of all the movements now was the dispersion of Johnston
's army gathering in North Carolina
, and the capture of Lee
's at Richmond
went down to Fort Fisher
, and conferred with General Terry
and. Admiral Porter
, and on his return to City Point
instructions to Schofield
to move on Goldsboroa either from Wilmington
(if he should capture it), or from New Berne.
,” he said, “may be looked for in the neighborhood of Goldsboroa any time from the 22d to the 28th of February.”
Two days after Schofield
's arrival at Fort Fisher
with General J. D. Cox
's. division, Terry
was pushed forward.
He drove the Confederate
pickets, and established an intrenched line so close to Hoke
's, that the latter was compelled to defend his in force.
Then, by the aid — of navy boats and pontoons, Terry
attempted to turn Hoke
's left flank, but was foiled by the high winds and waves of a storm.
The turning of Hoke
's right was then attempted, and crowned with success.
For that purpose Schofield
sent the divisions of Ames
across the river to Smithville
, where they were joined by Moore
's brigade, of Couch
's division, just debarked.
Marching northward, they enveloped Fort Anderson
At the same time the gun-boats opened a heavy fire on that work, the monitor Montauk
lying close to the fort, and others enfilading it. Perceiving the peril, the garrison fled that night, taking with them six guns and many valuable things, and. leaving behind
ten heavy guns and much ammunition.
On the following morning troops marched into the fort, and raised the National
flag over it.
The garrison of Fort Anderson
fled to intrenchments behind Old Town Creek
, closely followed by General Cox
, who crossed the little stream on a flat-boat, attacked
them on flank and rear, and routed them, with a loss to the defeated of three hundred and seventy-five men and two guns.
The evacuation of Fort Anderson
, and the defeat of the Confederates
near Old Town Creek
, caused the abandonment of all the defenses along the Cape Fear
's division was sent to the east side to assist Terry
, when Hoke
, perceiving his peril, left his intrenchments and fell back toward Wilmington
The National troops pressed up both sides of the river, and the gun-boats, removing torpedoes, moved up the stream, silencing batteries on both banks.
The most formidable of these were Fort Strong
, on the east side, and Fort St. Philip
, at the mouth of the Brunswick River
These made very slight resistance, and on the morning of the 21st, General Cox
, who had crossed the Brunswick River
to Eagle Island
, opposite Wilmington
, on Confederate pontoons, near the site of the railroad bridge which they had destroyed, was within rifle-shot of the wharves of the city.
, meanwhile, was pushing up in pursuit of Hoke
, who, when Cox
threw some shells into the town, ordered the destruction of all the steamers, and such military and naval stores as they could not carry away.16
Among the vessels destroyed were the Chickamagua
, two of the Confederate
Having accomplished the work of destruction as nearly as their haste to depart would permit, the Confederates
, and on the following morning Scofield
's victorious troops marched in unopposed.
That officer made his quarters at the house of P. K. Dickinson
, and Terry
made his at the dwelling of Mrs. Anderson
, both on Front Street. So fell Wilmington
, then, considering its relations to the commercial world by its operations in connection with blockade-running, the most important port in the control of the Confederates
's next objective and final destination, in co-operation with Sherman
, was Goldsboroa, on the railway, eighty-four miles north of Wilmington
, toward which Hoke
Having left his wagons in Tennessee
, he lacked these and draft animals, and could not pursue Hoke
But he proceeded to put in motion five thousand troops at New Berne, whom General J. N. Palmer
was directed to move on Kinston
(a small town north of and near the Neuse River
), as quickly as possible, to protect the work-men
there repairing the railway between New Berne and Goldsboroa, and to establish a depot of supplies at Kinston
's division of the Twenty-third Corps was sent from Fort Fisher
to re-enforce him. Palmer
was not ready to advance so soon as desired, and General Cox
was sent from Wilmington
to take the command, leaving his own division in charge of Brigadier-General Reilly
He arrived at New Berne on the 6th of March,
and immediately moved the troops, reaching Wise's Forks, a mile and a half below Southwest Creek
, on the 8th, where he was joined by General Schofield
the same day.19
's division had arrived at Wilmington
, and, with Cox
's, was ordered to march across the country from that city to Kinston
Lack of transportation delayed their departure until the 6th,
when they proceeded parallel with March.
the coast to avoid Holly Shelter Swamp
, and then by way of Onslow
Behind Southwest Creek
's division, with a small body of reserves, ready to dispute the passage of Schofield
The march in that direction, through swamps made miry by recent rains, had been very fatiguing, but the troops were in good spirits; and when the Fifteenth Connecticut and Twenty-seventh Massachusetts were ordered forward, under Colonel Upham
, to seize the crossing of the creek on the Dover
road, they marched with alacrity.
watched the movement keenly.
He had just been re-enforced by a remnant of Hood
's army, under Cheatham
, and feeling strong, he sent a force, under cover of the tangled swamp, around Upham
's flank, to fall upon his rear and surprise him. This was done, and the Nationals were routed, with a loss of seven hundred men made prisoners.
Elated by this success, Hoke
advanced a larger force, and attempted to wedge it in between, and separate, the divisions of Generals Palmer
, respectively, holding the railway and the Dover
were pressed back, but the timely arrival of Ruger
's division interfered with Hoke
The result was a moderate battle, with slight loss — a conflict not much more severe than Savage
's Twelfth New York Cavalry had engaged in on their march out from New Berne on the Trent
perceived that Hoke
's force was fully equal to his own, and he ordered Cox
to form an intrenched line, stand on the defensive, and wait for the arrival of Couch
with his own and Cox
's division, then moving on from Richlands.
's line was heavily pressed by Hoke
, and on the 10th,
being advised of the approach of Couch
, and having been further re-enforced, he struck its left and center a severe blow, the chief weight of it falling upon Ruger
The assailed struck back with such force, that the Confederates
were repulsed with severe loss.
reported his own loss at three hundred men, and that of Hoke
at fifteen hundred.
The latter then retreated across the Neuse River
, burning the railway bridge behind him. During that night Couch
arrived, and Schofield
pressed on to the Neuse
; but, for lack of pontoons, he was delayed there until the 14th, when, having rebuilt the bridge, his whole force passed over without opposition, and entered Kinston
was then approaching that region, so the Confederates
hastened to join General Johnston
, who was concentrating his forces at Smithfield
, on the road to Raleigh
, to confront the conqueror coming up from Fayetteville
moved forward on the 20th,
and entered Goldsboroa on the evening of the next day, with very little opposition.
In the mean time, Terry
with a portion of the troops that had been left there, and pushing along the line of the railway northward, crossed the Neuse
at Cox's Bridge on the 22d, and joined Schofield
And so it was that the co-operative movements with Sherman
, on the coast, were promptly and successfully executed.
Let us now resume the consideration of Sherman
's march through the Carolinas.
We left Sherman
and his army at the smoldering capital of South Carolina
, on the 18th of February,20
in possession of the National
There was no unnecessary tarrying at Columbia
, for Sherman
had fixed the time for reaching Goldsboroa.
He spent the 18th and 19th
in destroying the arsenal, machine shops, founderies, and other structures at Columbia
, devoted to the uses of the Confederates
; also the railway tracks, one southeasterly as far as Kingsville
and Wateree junction on the Wilmington
road; and northward, in the direction of Charlotte
, as far as Winnsboroa
, who had been out on quite an extensive raid, was working round toward the last point.
He had first gone out toward Aiken
, to make the Confederates
believe that Augusta
's brigade had a severe skirmish
with some of Wheeler
's cavalry, near Williston Station, and routed them.
The track was torn up in that vicinity, and Atkins
's brigade was sent to Aiken
was there in force,
and drove him back, and marching out, charged Kilpatrick
's entire command.
was repulsed with a loss of two hundred and fifty-one men. Kilpatrick
then threatened Wheeler
until the night of the 12th, when he drew off, and, moving rapidly on the left of the Fourteenth Corps, struck the highway nine miles northwest of Lexington
, when only about fifteen hundred of Wheeler
's cavalry were between him and Columbia
But when Kilpatrick
crossed the Saluda
, on the day
when the main army reached Columbia
, he found Wheeler
ahead of him. At that time the remnant of Hood
's army, under Cheatham
, was moving northeastward in that region, and for a day the Union
cavalry marched parallel with it, a stream dividing the hostile columns.
On the 18th, Kilpatrick
struck the Greenville and Columbia railroad, and tore up the track to Alston
, where he crossed
the Broad River
, and pushed northerly almost to Chesterville
There he found that Wheeler
had united with Hampton
, and the combined forces were before him, on the road leading to Charlotte
, in which
direction the troops of Beauregard
had marched, not doubting Sherman
's next objective to be Charlotte
, judging from the course he had taken from Columbia
In the mean time, Sherman
's army had marched due north, in the direction of Charlotte
, leaving behind it a most desolate track.
had determined to make the war so felt as a dreadful calamity, that those who had begun it might be induced to abandon it speedily.
He issued precise instructions for the conduct of the troops in their passage through South Carolina
. “The army,” he said, “will forage liberally on the country during the march;” and each brigade commander was directed to “organize a good and sufficient foraging party, under the command of one or more discreet officers,” whose business it was to gather food for man and beast, “aiming at all times to keep in the wagon trains at least ten days provisions for the command, and three days forage.”
Soldiers were forbidden to enter private houses or commit trespasses, but were permitted to forage for food, in the vicinity of a camp, or at a halt.
He gave the corps commanders power to “destroy mills, houses, cotton-gins,” &c. Such destruction was not to be made in districts or neighborhoods where the army was not molested; but in those regions where guerrillas and bushwackers should infest the march, or the “inhabitants should burn bridges, or otherwise manifest local hostility, the corps commanders should order and enforce a devastation more or less relentless, according to the measure of such hostility.”
He permitted the cavalry to “appropriate, freely and without limit,” horses, mules, wagons, &c., belonging to the inhabitants, “discriminating, however, between the rich, who are usually hostile, and the poor and industrious, usually neutral or friendly.”
Foragers were also permitted to exchange their jaded animals for fresh ones.
They were also directed to “leave with each family a reasonable portion for their maintenance.”
The simple execution of the orders for the army to live off the country, must have produced an almost absolute peeling of the inhabitants in the track of that host, which devoured every thing in its way over a path of more than forty miles in width.
And so universal was the hostility of the inhabitants, incited by Wade Hampton
and his fellow-traitors of South Carolina
, that the restrictive conditions concerning devastation were nowhere applicable.22
The feeling that South Carolina
was the chief offender — the author of all the woes inflicted by the war, its politicians being the chief originators of treasonable designs, and the first to strike the intended deadly blow at the heart of the Republic
— made many a soldier more relentless.
The system of foraging allowed wide latitude, and afforded license for many outrages and cruelties on the part of unscrupulous soldiers, who always form a part of an army.
Large numbers of these, called “bummers,” went in
advance of the columns, gathering up food according to instructions, and plundering for their private gain, in violation of instructions.
Many of these were better marauders than fighters, and their conduct disgraced the army and the service.
But the effect of Sherman
's march through South Carolina
was precisely what that leader desired and expected.
War was made so terrible, that the offenders were glad to cry for mercy.
A leading citizen of South Carolina
said to the writer:--“Sherman
's march was terrible, but it was merciful.
It tended to a speedy ending of the war. We lost our property
, but saved our sons
. Had the war continued, we should have lost both.”
moved his whole army from Columbia
, in the direction of Charlotte
, and from that point, Slocum
, who arrived there on the 21st of February with the Twentieth Corps, and the cavalry, caused the railway to be broken up as far as Blackstock's Station, well toward Chesterville
Then he turned suddenly eastward, toward Rocky Mount
, on the Catawba
, leaving to the left the Confederate forces which were concentrating for the purpose of disputing the expected march of the Nationals on Charlotte
The whole movement in that direction was a feint to deceive the foe, and was successful.
The Confederate troops then in front of the Union
army were the forces of Beauregard
, and the cavalry of Hampton
, which had fled from Columbia
was near, earnestly striving to form a junction with Beauregard
, at Charlotte
crossed the Catawba
on a pontoon bridge, at Rocky Mount
, on the 23d, just as a heavy rain-storm set in, which flooded the country and swelled the streams.
He pushed on to Hanging Rock
over a region made memorable by the exploits of Sumter
in the old war for Independence.
There he waited for Davis
's (Fourteenth) corps to come up, it having been detained at the Catawba
, in consequence of the breaking of the pontoon bridge by the flood.
arrived, the left wing was all put in motion for Cheraw
, on the Great Pedee River.
The right wing, meanwhile, had broken up the railway from Columbia
then turned eastward and crossed the Catawba
at Peay's Ferry, before the storm began.
It also pushed on to the Pedee
This wing passed a little north of Camden
, and thus swept over the region made famous by the contests of Rawdon
and Cornwallis, with Greene
, eighty-five years before.
It was a most fatiguing march for the whole, army, for much of the country presented flooded swamps, especially in the region of Lynch's Creek
, at which the left wing was detained.
The right, wing crossed it at Young's, Tiller's, and Kelly's bridges.
On the 2d of March the leading division of the Twentieth Corps reached Chesterfield
, skirmishing there with Butler
's cavalry division; and at about noon the next day the Seventeenth Corps (Blair
's) entered Cheraw
, where it was expected Hardee
, who was holding the post with his fugitives from Charleston
, would make a stand.
But he did not. He retreated across the Pedee
, burning the railway bridge behind him, and fled to Fayetteville
, leaving as spoils for his pursuers, twenty-five cannon, which he had brought from
, and considerable ammunition.
caused the bridges and trestle-work of the road to be destroyed down as far as Darlington
, and menaced Florence
now pushed on toward Fayetteville, in North Carolina
The right wing of the army crossed the Pedee
, and the left, with the cavalry, at Sneedsboroa, on the State
They marched in parallel lines, within easy supporting distance, Kilpatrick
well on the left of all, and skirmishing some with Wade Hampton
's cavalry, which was covering the rear of Hardee
's retreating army, burning the bridges behind them.
The weather was inclement, but the Nationals made good time, and on the 11th of March Sherman
's whole force was concentrated at Fayetteville
, from which Hardee
had also retreated.
There, on the following day, Sherman
received the cipher dispatch from Schofield
, at Wilmington
, already mentioned.24
On that morning the army-tug Davidson
, commanded by the stalwart and fear-less Captain Ainsworth
, after much peril in ascending the Cape Fear River
, arrived from Wilmington
, with intelligence of what had occurred there and at the mouth of the stream.
Just before reaching Fayetteville
had sent two of his best scouts to Wilmington
, with intelligence of his position and plans.
By Captain Ainsworth
, who returned the same day, he sent.
dispatches to Terry
, informing them that he should move on Goldsboroa on the 15th, feigning Raleigh
to deceive the foe.
had met with very little opposition in his march from the Catawba
to the Cape Fear
The most serious encounter was by Kilpatrick
As the former was advancing on the extreme-left, by way of Rockingham
, he struck the rear of Hardee
in its retreat on Fayetteville
Learning from prisoners that Hampton
was behind, he resolved to intercept him. Posting a brigade, under Atkins
, on the road he was traveling, he made a rapid night-march with Spencer
's brigade, across to another road, and in doing so, passed through a division of Hampton
It was a perilous feat.
lost his escort of sixteen men, but escaped with his staff.
then moved stealthily around, and at daylight fell upon Spencer
's brigade, and the house at which that officer and Kilpatrick
had their quarters.
It was a complete surprise.
and most of Kilpatrick
's staff were made prisoners, and they lost all their guns.
The brigade was routed, and Kilpatrick
barely escaped on foot to a swamp, where he rallied the men. Hampton
's troopers, considering the rout complete, began to plunder the captured camp, when Kilpatrick
and his rallied men fell upon and routed them, retaking Headquarters and guns, just as the foe was harnessing the horses to drag the latter away.
The Confederates were driven in confusion.
rallied them, and tried to recover what he had so suddenly won and lost, but his adversary kept him at bay until a brigade of infantry of the Twentieth Corps, under General Mitchell
, came to his support.
He had inflicted a loss on the Unionists of one hundred and eighty-three men, of whom one hundred and three were made prisoners.
on the day
when the army was concentrated there.
The National army rested three days at Fayetteville
, during which time the United States Arsenal there,25
with all the costly machinery which the Confederates
brought to that place from Harper's Ferry
, in the Spring
was utterly destroyed by the First Michigan Engineers, under the direction of Colonel Poe
was satisfied that, thereafter, on his march toward Goldsboroa, he would have heavy and somewhat perilous work to do, for before him was now an army of about forty thousand veteran soldiers, under the able General Joseph E. Johnston
It was composed of the combined forces of Hardee
, from Charleston
, from Columbia
, with Hood
's men, and the garrison at Augusta
, with the forces which had been defending the seaboard of North Carolina
, and the cavalry of Wheeler
said, “made up an army superior to me in cavalry, and formidable enough in artillery and infantry to justify me in extreme caution in making the last step necessary to complete the march I had undertaken.”
He made disposition of his army accordingly, and on the 15th of March crossed the Cape Fear
on pontoon bridges, and pressed forward.
In accordance with his usual plan of distracting the attention of his antagonist, General Sherman
, with four divisions of the left wing, preceded by the cavalry, toward Averasboroa, on the main road to Raleigh
, feigning an advance upon the capital of the State
, while the two remaining divisions of that wing, and the train, took the direct road to Goldsboroa.
moved on roads to the right, holding four divisions light, ready to march to the assistance of the left wing, and sending his trains toward Faison's Station, on the Wilmington
Sher-man was with Slocum
, on the left.
Incessant rains had made quagmires of the roads, and the army was compelled to corduroy them continually.
Near Taylor's Hole Creek, a little beyond Kyle's Landing, to which Slocum
had advanced, Kilpatrick
skirmished heavily with Hardee
's rear-guard, that evening, and captured some of them.27
On the following morning, Slocum
advanced his infantry, and in the vicinity of Averasboroa near the road that ran eastwardly toward Bentonsville, he found Hardee
intrenched, with a force, of all arms, estimated at twenty thousand men, on a narrow, swampy neck of land between the Cape Fear
's object was to hold Sherman
there, while Johnston
should concentrate his forces at Raleigh
It was necessary to dislodge him to prevent that consummation, and also to keep up the feint on Raleigh
as long as possible, and hold possession of the road to Goldsboroa, through Bentonsville.
was, therefore, ordered to advance and carry the position.
The ground was so soft that horses sunk deep at every step, and men traveled over the pine-barren only with difficulty.
But obstacles were not to be thought of. General Williams
, with the Twentieth Corps, took the lead.
's division was deployed in the advance, and very soon his skirmishers developed Rhett
's brigade of heavy artillery, armed as infantry, holding a slightly intrenched line across the road, on the brow of a hill, skirted by a
ravine and creek, with a battery that enfiladed an open field over which the Nationals must advance.
To avoid the perils of a direct attack under such circumstances, Williams
's brigade to turn the left of the Confederate
This was promptly done, and, by a quick charge upon their flank, he broke that wing into fragments, and drove it back upon a second and stronger line, under fire of Winnegar
's battery, directed by Major Reynolds
's division was now rapidly advanced upon the retreating force, and captured three guns and two hundred and seventeen men. The Confederates, in their haste, left one hundred and eight of their dead on the field.
's division was quickly brought upon Ward
's right, and two divisions of the Fourteenth (Davis
's) Corps were placed on his left, well toward the Cape Fear
, while Kilpatrick
, acting in concert farther to the right, was directed to secure a footing on the road leading to Bentonsville.
He reached it with one brigade, when he was furiously attacked by McLaws
's division, and, after a hard fight, was pushed back.
Then the whole of Slocum
's line advanced, drove Hardee
within his entrenchments, and there pressed him so heavily, that during the dark and stormy night that succeeded, he retreated to Smithfield
was concentrating his forces), over the most wretched roads.
So ended the conflict
known as the battle of Averasboroa, in which Slocum
lost seventy-seven killed, and four hundred and seventy-seven wounded, but no prisoners.
's loss was estimated at about the same.
, on the following morning,
pursued the fugitives through Averasboroa, but soon gave up the chase and rejoined the main army, which had now turned toward Goldsboroa.
felt satisfied that he should have no more serious strife with the Confederates
, on his march to Goldsboroa.
“All signs,” he said in his-report, “induced me to believe that the enemy would make no further opposition to our progress, and would not attempt to strike us in flank, while in motion.”
In accordance with this impression he issued an order to the effect that further opposition being now past, corps commanders would march their troops in the easiest manner and by the nearest roads to Goldsboroa.
That sense of security was almost fatal to Sherman
's army, for at that moment, Johnston
, who had come down from Smithfield
in rapid but stealthy march, under cover of night, was hovering near in full force, ready to pounce upon his unsuspecting adversary at the earliest and most promising opportunity.
He found the Union
forces, under the assuring order of the commander-in-chief
, in a favorable position for the execution of his designs.
The Fourteenth (J. C. Davis
's) Corps were encamped on the night of the 18th
on the Goldsboroa road, at the point where it was crossed by one from Clinton
Two divisions of the Twentieth (Williams
's) Corps were camped ten or twelve miles in their rear, on the same road, near the Mingo Creek
, in charge of Slocum
's wagon train.
The remaining two divisions of these two corps were on other roads some distance to the south.
The Fifteenth (Logan
's) and Seventeenth (Blair
's) were scattered to the south and east.
Early on the morning of the 19th, Sherman
was so assured of security, that he left Slocum
's wing of the army, which was most exposed to the foe, and joined Howard
's, farther to the right, which was scattered, and moving
as rapidly as the wretched state of the roads would admit.
When only six miles on his journey, to overtake Howard
, he heard cannonading at the northwest, but was assured that it was only a slight encounter between Carlin
's division and Dibbrell
's cavalry, and that the former was easily driving the latter.
It was true that Carlin
had met, but the matter soon assumed a most serious aspect.
The divisions of Carlin
, of the Fourteenth Corps, had moved that morning
at six o'clock, the former in advance.
As usual, they soon encountered Confederate cavalry, but these made much stouter resistance than common.
Each moment they revealed increased strength.
Measures were taken to counteract it, and by ten o'clock the brigades of Hobart
, of Carlin
's division, were both deployed, and the former had made a vigorous assault on the Confederates
and driven them back some distance.
's brigade, by order of General Slocum
, had been sent around to the left to find the rear of the assailants.
By 12 o'clock the fighting had become stubborn; artillery was at work vigorously on both sides; and yet, up to this time, only cavalry and a battery of artillery, on the part of the assailants, had been developed.
But an hour or two later, Morgan
's division, deploying on Carlin
's right, felt infantry in their front in the woods.
By that time Buell
, on the extreme left, had also struck infantry behind intrenchments.
He outflanked them, but met with a most deplorable repulse.
By this time the character and meaning of the severe pressure on Sherman
's left was developed.
A deserter, a “galvanized Yankee,” 28
had been brought to Generals Slocum
, while they were in consultation, and in an excited manner he declared to them, what proved to be true, that the whole of Johnston
's army, augmented by the commands of Hardee
, were in a fortified position immediately in front of the left wing, intending an immediate attack, and that Johnston
had ridden along the column of his army, and assured them that victory over Sherman
's entire force was now certain.
It was a surprise.
It was now half-past 2 o'clock. Intelligence confirmatory of the deserter's declarations had come in from the right and left flanks of the Union
forces engaged, and measures were immediately taken for the employment of all possible power to resist the expected overwhelming attack.
A line of barricades was hastily thrown up. Orders had already been dispatched by Slocum
to hurry up the two divisions of the Twentieth Corps, while Robinson
's brigade, of that corps, which was much in advance of the rest of the troops, was put in to fill a gap between the divisions of Morgan
Just then the Confederates
dashed out of the woods, and fell with great fury mainly upon Carlin
's division, already wearied and weakened by continual and severe fighting for hours.
They were driven back at all points in much confusion.
's division on the right stood firm.
The brigades of Mitchell
and Vandevere were in line, and Fearing
's was in reserve.
It was now the crisis of battle.
, who had thus far conducted his troops with great skill and coolness, seeing the mortal peril, arid only one way to escape from it, extricated himself from the broken column of Carlin
division, rode rapidly to the right, faced Fearing
's brigade to the left, and hurled them upon the flank of the Confederates
, who were heavily pressing the broken center.
The scene of conflict was in a densely wooded swamp, dark, and wet, and dismal.
“Push right in the direction of that heaviest firing,” shouted Davis
to Fearing, as he gave him the order to move, “and attack whatever is in that swamp!
Fight them for the best that is in your brigade!
You'll stop that advance, sir, and we'll whip them yet!”
The men caught up the words “we'll whip them yet,” and dashed forward in an impetuous charge, under the immediate directions of Davis
That charge was a magnificent display of courage, discipline, and enthusiasm.
The Confederates were staggered and paralyzed by this unexpected and stunning blow from a force hitherto unseen by them.
They reeled and fell back in amazement, fearing they knew not what, and the attack was not renewed on that part of the field for more than an hour afterward.
The army was saved
! In that charge the gallant young General Fearing
, the commander of the brigade, was disabled by a bullet, and hundreds of its dead and wounded strewed the field of conflict.
The check thus given to the Confederates
was of infinite value to Sherman
's army, for it gave an opportunity for re-forming the disordered left and center of Davis
It was drawn back and formed in open fields, half a mile in the rear of the old line.
The artillery was massed on a commanding knoll, so as to sweep the whole space between the woods wherein the Confederates
were stationed and the new line; and Kilpatrick
massed his cavalry on the left.
Meanwhile, the attack upon Morgan
was terrible and unceasing.
“Seldom have I heard such continuous and remorseless roar of musketry,” said an actor in the scene.29
“It seemed more than men could bear.
Twice General Davis
turned to me and said, ‘If Morgan
's troops can stand this, all is right; if not, the day is lost.
There is no reserve — not a regiment to move — they must fight it out.’
And fight it out they did. They were entirely surrounded.
I, myself, trying to get to them from the rear, three times ran into heavy bodies of the enemy's troops.
Two or three different times, after resisting attacks from the front, they were compelled to jump over their own works and fight to the rear.
Soldiers in that command who have passed through their score of battles, will tell you they never saw any thing like the fighting at Bentonsville.
In the midst of the hottest of it, at perhaps five o'clock, Coggswell
's brigade of the Twentieth Corps, arrived to fill the gap between the new formation of Carlin
's line and that of Morgan
They moved forward, and the roar of musketry resounded along that line as it did along Morgan
's. They seized the position, and gallantly held it. Meanwhile, the enemy on the left moved to the attack several times, but the repulse they had already received seemed to have dispirited them, and the terrible havoc of our massed artillery drove them back almost before they reached the fire of the infantry, who were burning to avenge the morning's disaster.”
The National forces received, Sherman
said, “six distinct assaults by the combined forces of Hoke
, and Cheatham
, under the immediate command of General Johnston
himself, without giving an inch of ground,
and doing good execution on the enemy's ranks, especially with our artillery, the enemy having little or none.”
With the coming of darkness ended the conflict known as the battle of Bentonsville
which, in brilliancy of personal achievements, and in lasting advantage to the cause of the Republic
, must ever be ranked among the most memorable and important contests of the war. Indeed, it seems
Sherman's March through the Carolinas. |
proper to consider it the key-battle of the Civil War
. Had Johnston
won there, the sad consequences would probably have been the loss of the whole of Sherman
's army, and the quick and fatal dispersion or capture of Grant
's army before Petersburg
, by the combined forces of Lee
, attacking him in overwhelming numbers, in front and rear.
In this view the solid importance of the victory of Bentonsville can not be over-estimated.
In that, his last battle, as in all others during the war, General Jefferson C. Davis Exhibited
in full relief those qualities which always distinguished him as a cool, discreet, and vigorous fighting commander.
During the night after the battle Slocum
's wagon-train and its guard of two divisions of the Twentieth Corps, also Hazen
division, of the Fifteenth Corps, came up and made the position of the left wing almost impregnable.
The right wing moving to the relief of the left, found its approach opposed by a considerable body of Confederate cavalry behind a barricade at the forks of the road near Bentonsville.
's cavalry were soon dislodged, and Howard
moved forward and joined his left to Slocum
The Confederates had thrown back their left flank, and had constructed a line of parapet connected with that in front of Slocum
, in the form of a bastion, its salient on the main Goldsboroa road, interposing between Slocum
on the west and Howard
on the east, while the flanks rested on Mill Creek
, covering the road back to Smithfield
By four o'clock in the afternoon,
after more or less skirmishing all day, the Nationals had a strong line of battle confronting this position, and putting Johnston
on the defensive.
The skirmish line pressed him steadily, and on the following day this pressure became so vigorous, that it almost amounted to a general engagement.
There was skirmishing and hard fighting all day long.
, as we have seen,32
had been approaching Goldsboroa, and at the very time
was pressing Johnston
at Bentonsville, the former entered that place, and Terry
laid a pontoon bridge over the Neuse River
, ten miles above, at Cox's Bridge.
So the three armies were now in actual connection.
, informed of this, perceived that all chance of success against Sherman
had vanished; and that night, after having his only line of retreat seriously menaced by a flank movement by General Mower
, covered by an attack along the Confederate
front, he withdrew, and fled toward Smithfield
in such haste that he left his pickets, many dead, and his wounded in hospitals, to fall into Sherman
Pursuit was made at dawn,
but continued for only a short distance.
On the 23d of March all the armies, in the aggregate about sixty thousand strong, were disposed in camps around Goldsboroa, there to rest and receive needed clothing.
On the 25th, the railroad between Goldsboroa and New Berne was completed and in perfect order, by which a rapid channel of supply from the sea was opened.
So ended, in complete triumph, and with small loss, Sherman
's second great march through the interior of the enemy's country; and he was then in a desirable position of easy supply, to take an efficient part in the spring
campaign of 1865, if the war should continue.
Considering it important to have a personal interview with the General-in-chief
temporarily in chief command of the army, and hastened by railway to Morehead City
, and thence by water to Headquarters at City Point
, where he arrived on the evening of the 27th of March.
There he met Generals Grant
, and other leading army commanders, and President Lincoln
He “learned,” he said, “the general state of the military world,” and then returned to New Berne in a navy steamer, and reached Goldsboroa on the night of the 30th.
After his winter campaign in Southwestern Virginia
, already n<*>ed,33 General Stoneman
returned to Knoxville
, and was ordered
to make a cavalry raid into South Carolina
, in aid of Sherman
was ready to move, Sherman
had marched so far and so triumphantly that the aid of the former was not needed, and he was ordered to march eastward and destroy the Virginia and Tennessee railroad, as far toward Lynchburg
He concentrated the cavalry brigades of Colonels Palmer
, and Brown
, of Gillem
's division, about six thousand strong, at Mossy Creek
, on the 20th of March.
He moved eastward to Bull's Gap
, where he divided his forces, sending Miller
, to make a feint, and moving with the rest of his command to Jonesboroa
, when he crossed over Stone Mountain
into North Carolina
, to Boone
There, after a sharp skirmish,
he captured two hundred Home Guards.
Thence he moved through mountain gaps to Wilkesboroa, where the advance skirmished
and captured prisoners and stores.
Continuing his march, he crossed the Yadkin River
, and, turning northward, went on to Cranberry Plain, in Carroll County, Virginia
From that point he sent Colonel Miller
, to destroy the railway in that vicinity, and with the main force he moved eastward to Jacksonville
, skirmishing with Confederates at the crossing of Big Red Island Creek.
, Major Wagner
advanced on Salem
, and sweeping along the railway eastward, destroyed it from New River Bridge to within four miles of Lynchburg
At the same time Stoneman
, with the main body, advanced on Christiansburg
, and, sending troops east and west, destroyed the railway for about ninety miles,34
and then returned to Jacksonville
Having performed his prescribed duty, General Stoneman
turned his face southward, and, on the 9th of April, struck the North Carolina railroad between Danville
several hundred negroes, who had joined the column, were sent back into East Tennessee
At the same time Colonel Palmer
was sent to destroy the railroad between Salisbury
and Greensboroa, and the factories at Salem, in North Carolina
; while the main column moved on Salisbury
, forcing the Yadkin
and skirmishing near there.
performed his duty well, and near Deep River Bridge, he captured a South Carolina regiment of four hundred men.
was a prisoner-depot, and a considerable Confederate force was stationed there, under General W. M. Gardiner
They were about three thousand strong.
They were found at Grant's Creek
, ten miles east of Salisbury
, early on the 12th,
with eighteen guns, under the direction of Pemberton
's opponent at Vicksburg
, now reduced from a lieutenant-general to a colonel.
This force was gallantly charged by the brigades of General A. C. Gillem
and Colonel Brown
, of the Eleventh Michigan Cavalry, and instantly routed.
Its guns were all captured, and over twelve hundred of its men were made prisoners.
The spoils, besides the cannon, were three thousand small-arms, and a vast quantity of stores of every kind.
Those of the Confederates
who fled were chased several miles.
were found a vast collection of ammunition, provision, clothing,
and medicine, with ten thousand small-arms, four cotton factories, and seven thousand bales of cotton.
These were all destroyed, with the railway tracks in each direction from Salisbury
The Union prisoners had been removed.
The prison-pens where they had suffered were destroyed.
On the 17th of April, Stoneman
started, with a part of his command, for East Tennessee
, taking with him the prisoners, captured artillery, and thousands of negroes.
On the following day, General Palmer
, whose command was at Lincolnton
, sent Major E. C. Moderwell
, with two hundred and fifty men of the Twelfth Ohio Cavalry, to destroy the bridge of the Charlotte
and South Carolina railroad,over the Catawba River
At that time, Jefferson Davis
, having fled from Richmondi was at Charlotte
with a very considerable force; and the mounted men of Vaughn
, who had come down from the borders of Virginia
, were on the Catawba
On that account it was necessary to move with great
At Dallas Moderwell
had a skirmish with these cavalry leaders, but evaded a battle with them; and at daybreak on the 19th,
force arrived at the doomed bridge, where they captured the picket and surprised the guard.
The bridge, delineated in the engraving, was a splendid structure, eleven hundred and fifty feet in length, and fifty feet above the water.
's men set it on fire at one end, and in thirty minutes it was completely destroyed.
After skirmishing with Ferguson
's Confederate cavalry (which came up on the north side of the bridge) for two hours, the raiders turned back, and, by marching all night, rejoined the brigade at Dallas
, with three hundred and twenty-five prisoners, two hundred horses, and two pieces of artillery.
This was one of the most gallant little exploits of the war.
During the raid just recorded, the National
cavalry captured six thousand prisoners, twenty-five pieces of artillery taken in action, and twenty-one abandoned by the foe, and a large number of small-arms; and they destroyed an immense amount of public property.