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Chapter 42:


Before following General Beauregard on his way to Savannah, via Charleston, where he arrived on the evening of December 7th, it may be of interest to mention what he had endeavored to do immediately after the battle of Franklin, with a view to reinforce General Hood's army upon its entrance into Tennessee. He had cast his eyes towards the Trans-Mississippi Department, then under General E. Kirby Smith, and, with that rapidity of strategic conception so remarkable in him, had formed a plan of concentration which, if carried out in season, might have materially changed the aspect of our military affairs. We submit his communication to that effect:

Headquarters, Military division of the West, Montgomery, Ala., Dec. 2d, 1864.
To General E. Kirby Smith, Comdg. Trans-Miss. Dept.:
General,—You are probably aware that the Army of Tennessee, under General J. B. Hood, has penetrated into Middle Tennessee as far as Columbia, and [309] that the enemy is concentrating all his available forces, under General Thomas, to oppose him. It is even reliably reported that the forces, under General A. J. Smith, in Missouri, and Steele, in Arkansas, have been sent to reinforce Thomas. It becomes, then, absolutely necessary, to insure the success of Hood, either that you should send him two or more divisions, or that you should at once threaten Missouri, in order to compel the enemy to recall the reinforcements he is sending to General Thomas.

I beg to urge upon you prompt and decisive action; the fate of the country may depend upon the result of Hood's campaign in Tennessee.

Sherman's army has lately abandoned Atlanta, on a venturesome march across Georgia to the Atlantic coast about Savannah. His object is, besides the destruction of public and private property, probably to reinforce Grant, and compel Lee to abandon Richmond. It is hoped that Sherman may be prevented from effecting his object; but should it be otherwise, the success of Hood in Tennessee and Kentucky would counterbalance the moral effect of the loss of Richmond. Hence the urgent necessity of either reinforcing Hood, or making a diversion in Missouri in his favor.

Hoping that you may give us the desired assistance,

I remain, your obedient servant,

A copy of the foregoing letter was immediately forwarded to Richmond for the information of the War Department, and this telegram preceded it:

Generals Steele and A. J. Smith are reported to be reinforcing General Thomas at Nashville. Cannot General E. Kirby Smith reinforce General Hood in Middle Tennessee, or take offensive in Missouri? His assistance is absolutely necessary at this time.

The next day, and while General Beauregard was already on his way to Georgia, there to gather up, from every quarter, all available forces to check Sherman's advance, he caused the following letter to be sent to General E. K. Smith, in order to give him all possible facilities for successfully executing the transfer of his troops to the eastern side of the Mississippi:

Headquarters, Military division of the West, Montgomery, Dec. 3d, 1864.
To General E. Kirby Smith, Comdg. Trans-Miss. Dept.:
General,—I am this day in receipt of telegram from General Beauregard (who is now en route to the Atlantic coast), dated Opelika, Ala., Dec. 3d, in which he directs that I recommend for your favorable consideration that detached floating booms, armed with torpedoes, in addition to light batteries on shore, be placed in the Mississippi River, to prevent the enemy's gunboats from [310] passing or offering annoyance at the point that you may select for the transfer of troops to this side, should you deem it expedient to make such transfer.

These booms should be triangular in shape, about 40 feet in length by about 20 feet base; should be made of five longitudinal pieces and five or six cross ones, strongly halved into and on top of the former. The booms should be anchored across the river, about forty feet apart from centre to centre, and torpedoes should be anchored in the open space between them.

A second row of booms, breaking openings with the first, should be anchored about one hundred feet below the first row, being in the same manner as the former armed with torpedoes.

The torpedoes should be about six feet below the surface of the water. The booms should be firmly anchored, with the apex of the triangle up stream.

I have the honor to be, General, respectfully, your obt. servt.,

George Wm. Brent, Col., and A. A. G.

The Secretary of War, the Hon. James A. Seddon, had answered General Beauregard's telegram to the President, and, though he doubted General E. Kirby Smith's willingness to respond to the emergency, had, however, authorized the call upon him.1 But his reply reached Headquarters after General Beauregard's departure from Montgomery. When the War Department was apprised of the fact the following telegram was forwarded to Lieutenant-General Taylor:

Meridian, Dec. 14th, 1864. By Telegraph from Richmond, Dec. 7th, via Mobile, Dec. 13th.
To Lieut.-Genl. Taylor:
Transmit by most rapid means the following despatch to General E. Kirby Smith, Shreveport, La.:

If practicable, cross troops. Aid General Hood, or divert forces from operating against him in Tennessee. If crossing be impossible, cannot you make demonstrations to withdraw troops of the enemy?

We have intelligence that Steele, with 15,000 men, had reached Memphis, and was proceeding to aid Thomas, commanding the enemy in operations against Hood. The campaign in the Trans-Mississippi has ceased or been abandoned, while the enemy concentrates east of the Mississippi.

The co-operation of your troops should, in some force, avail us.

To avoid all possible misunderstanding and present the case in a stronger light, Colonel G. W. Brent, A. A. G., transmitted to [311] General E. K. Smith, through Dr. Macken, special courier of the War Department, a duplicate copy of General Beauregard's first letter, with this additional communication:

Headquarters, Military division of the West, Montgomery, Ala., Dec. 13th, 1864.
To General E. Kirby Smith, Comdg. Trans-Miss. Dept.:
General,—On the 2d inst. General Beauregard transmitted to you, by his aide-de-camp, Captain Toutant, a letter requesting that you would, without delay, send to the support of General Hood two or more divisions, or threaten Missouri, to distract the enemy, so as to induce him to recall his reinforcements to Thomas. Since that date General Beauregard has been ordered to the East, and is now absent, and I am in receipt of a telegram from the Hon. Secretary of War directing General Beauregard to order the movement indicated in the letter of the 2d instant.

In the absence of the General I transmit you a copy of the said letter, and request a speedy compliance with it. Your prompt attention and action are not only required by the order of the Secretary of War, but by the exigencies of the public service.

I am, General, very respectfully, your obt. servt.,

George W. Brent, Col., and A. A. G.

Thus, it is made apparent that General Beauregard's earnest appeal to General E. K. Smith was approved, and promptly acted upon, by the War Department. General Hood in his book also discloses the fact of his great anxiety to receive reinforcements from the Trans-Mississippi Department. He writes:

‘The President was still urgent in his instructions relative to the transference of troops to the Army of Tennessee from Texas—[why from Texas, which would have caused additional delay?]—and I daily hoped to receive the glad tidings of their safe passage across the Mississippi River.’ 2

But no ‘glad tidings’ came. General E. K. Smith could not be moved to action. He allowed exaggerated rumors and obstacles, trifling in their nature, to prevent him from adopting the step which had been so earnestly urged upon him. And here we may appropriately remind the reader that, scarcely one month before, General Forrest, with his light batteries alone, had captured and destroyed several of the enemy's gunboats and transports on the Tennessee River—thus proving that they were by no means so formidable as reported. It is to be regretted that General E. Kirby Smith, although, in many respects, an officer [312] of merit, did not exhibit the energy, daring, and determination that so eminently distinguished General Forrest. Had the latter, and not the former, been then in command of the TransMissis-sippi Department, what a difference might have been made in the result of the war! 3

General Beauregard remained only one day in Charleston; and, as General Hardee was at that time in Savannah, he left on the 8th for the latter place, stopping on his way at Pocotaligo, to confer with Major-General Sam. Jones. He strongly advised the driving back of the enemy from his too close proximity to the Charleston Railroad. At 7 A. M., on the 9th, he reached Savannah. After a careful study of the situation and a full consultation with General Hardee, relative to the defence and possible evacuation of that city, he wrote out the following order and gave it to General Hardee that evening before taking leave of him:

Savannah, Dec. 9th, 1864.
Lieut.-General W. J. Hardee, Comdg., etc., etc.:
General,—It is my desire, after the consultation that has taken place, that you shall hold this city as in your judgment it may be advisable to do, bearing in mind that, should you have to decide between a sacrifice of the garrison and city, you will preserve the garrison for operations elsewhere.

Very respectfully, yours, etc.,

The enemy was now so near the railroad, between Savannah and the river, that General Beauregard was compelled to ascend the stream as far as the bridge—a distance of some fifteen miles— before he could safely take the train, which he did on the 10th, at 1 A. M., being accompanied by Colonels Otey and Roman and Major James B. Eustis. At 5 P. M. on that day he was again in Charleston, and the next morning caused the following order to be published:

Headquarters, Military division of the West, Charleston, Dec. 11th, 1864.

General orders, No.—:

1. This Military Division having been extended by his Excellency the President to embrace the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, it is announced, for the information of all concerned.

2. In urgent cases district and subdistrict commanders are authorized to [313] communicate directly with these Headquarters, transmitting immediately copies of said correspondence to their proper Commanders.

By command of General Beauregard.

Jno. M. Otey, A. A. G.

The outlook for the immediate future of the Confederacy had become very alarming. Hood's army, near Nashville, was seriously threatened by Thomas, who was hourly awaiting his coming reinforcements. Sherman, almost unimpeded in his march through Georgia, had all but reached his destination. News had also been received that two corps of Grant's army, reinforced by cavalry, were advancing in North Carolina, via Weldon, with a large train of wagons; and General Beauregard was asked for troops with which to oppose the reported movement.4

In a long and explicit letter to President Davis, General Beauregard thus explained the situation in General Hardee's Department:


Sir,—I arrived here, on my way to Savannah, on the evening of the 7th, and remained until the following afternoon, to obtain information relative to the present condition of this Department.

The Second and Third Subdistricts, embracing Charleston and its defences, were reported to me short of provisions and ammunition for a siege. I arrived at Pocotaligo during the night of the 8th, and after spending several hours in conference with General Jones as to the state of affairs in that vicinity, I proceeded to Savannah, arriving there on the morning of the 9th.

General Jones informed me that, after collecting all that could be safely spared from the other points in the District of South Carolina, his forces consisted of about five thousand five hundred effectives of all arms, of which about three thousand were militia and reserves.

Immediately upon my arrival at Savannah I called upon General Hardee, who communicated to me the following information:

1st. That the enemy, supposed to be from thirty-five thousand to forty thousand men of all arms, were advancing on the River road, Middle Ground road, Central Railroad, and Louisville road, and were then reported to be about ten miles from the city, or about six miles from General Hardee's intermediate line of works, known as the Overflow Line; and that a portion of the enemy's troops was reported about three miles from Monteith Station, on the Charleston Railroad.

2d. That his forces in and around Savannah, south of the Savannah River, consisted of about ten thousand effectives of all arms, about one-half of which were reserves and militia; that the main body occupied the works and lines [314] guarding the city and its approaches, while the rest was then engaged in delaying the advancing columns of the enemy, which he supposed, however, would reach the front of his lines that day or the next; hence he had given orders for all extra trains on the Gulf Railroad and Charleston Railroad to be sent in the direction of Charleston as soon as practicable.

3d. That on the north side of the Savannah River, and along New River, the number of troops was small, and only just sufficient to guard the works there constructed.

4th. That Wheeler's cavalry was mostly operating in rear of the enemy, south of the Savannah River.

5th. That in Savannah there were about thirty days provisions for the forces in and around the city.

I advised General Hardee, in accordance with previous instructions, to defend the city so long as consistent with the safety of his command, and suggested that he should make such preparations and arrangements—which I regretted to discover had not been made—as might be necessary for the evacuation of the city at the proper time, should that necessity arise. With these views General Hardee coincided. I particularly called his attention to the necessity of keeping open his communications with Charleston, via the Screven's Ferry Causeway and the Charleston Railroad, the latter being already partially interrupted by a battery of the enemy, near Coosawhatchie. I informed General Hardee that I would return at once to Pocotaligo, to advise with General Jones relative to re-opening, without delay, the communications at Coosawhatchie, and preventing their further interruption.

When leaving Savannah, at 9 P. m., I received intelligence that the enemy had approached the railroad, between the city and the river, so as to render the running of my train dangerous. I therefore took the cars at the bridge, which I reached by steamboat. On arriving at Pocotaligo, early the next morning, I conferred with General Jones as intended, and came on to Charleston, to furnish him with all available means required by him.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

On the 13th, 14th, and 15th important telegrams5 were exchanged between Generals Beauregard and Hardee—the latter alluding to the critical duties now pressing upon him, and asking for additional orders, the former referring to his despatches of the 8th and his letter of instructions of the 9th. he advised anew the immediate repair of the Screven's Ferry Causeway, and the establishment of a pontoon-bridge across the Savannah River, with flat-boats, which, he thought, could be impressed from neighboring rice-plantations. He directed General Hardee's special attention to the necessity, under all circumstances, of maintaining [315] his communications with General Jones at Pocotaligo; explained his views as to the best method of obstructing, by means of trees and torpedoes, the creeks east of Screven's Ferry; and recommended, at places which he designated, the construction of riflepits and batteries for field-pieces. He also made it clear that, in case it became necessary to abandon Savannah, the river should be obstructed as far down as possible, in order to protect the country and railroad from Charleston to Augusta, and place either or both beyond the reach of a flank attack. On the 16th, at 8 A. M., in answer to General Hardee's telegram of 3.30 P. M. of the previous day, he stated that he must be where most urgently called; that each officer should now bear his own responsibility and do for the best. He promised, however, to leave that day for General Jones's headquarters, and immediately afterwards for Savannah—which he did, reaching the latter place at eleven o'clock at night.

The next day (the 17th) was an eventful day for Savannah. General Sherman, elated by the success of his march through Georgia, addressed the following communication to General Hardee:

in the field, near Savannah, Dec. 17th, 1864.
General William J. Hardee, Comdg. Confederate Forces in Savannah, Ga.:
General,—You have doubtless observed from your status at Roseden that sea-going vessels now come through Ossabaw Sound and up Ogeechee to the rear of my army, giving me abundant supplies of all kinds, and more especially heavy ordnance, necessary to the reduction of Savannah. I have already received guns that can cast heavy and destructive shot as far as the heart of the city. Also, I have for some days held and controlled every avenue by which the people and garrison of Savannah can be supplied.

I am therefore justified in demanding the surrender of Savannah and its dependent forts, and shall wait a reasonable time your answer before opening with heavy ordnance.

Should you entertain the proposition, I am prepared to grant liberal terms to the inhabitants and garrison. But should I be forced to resort to assault, or to the slower and surer process of starvation, I shall then feel justified in resorting to the harshest measures, and shall make little effort to restrain my army, burning to avenge a great national wrong they attach to Savannah and other large cities which have been so prominent in dragging our country into civil war. I enclose you a copy of General Hood's demand for the surrender of the town of Resaca, Ga., to be used by you for what it is worth.6

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

W. T. Sherman, Major-General, U. S. A.


Without loss of time, and after full consultation with General Beauregard, an answer was forwarded by General Hardee. Before submitting it to the reader it is proper to say that General Sherman's threats, should an unconditional surrender be refused, were striking indications of what must have been his premeditated design with regard to the ‘large cities’ of the South—and villages and hamlets—whose misfortune it might be to fall into his power. This letter of General Sherman is a stumbling-block in the way of his later assertions, and conflicts with the statements he has seen fit to make since the war about the burning of Columbia. But we shall have occasion to discuss this subject hereafter.

General Hardee's answer was clear, firm, to the point. It was written with moderation and dignity, and in that respect was in contrast with the communication of the Federal commander.

It read as follows:

Headquarters, Department S. C., Ga., and Fla., Savannah, Ga., Dec. 17th, 1864.
Major-Genl. W. T. Sherman, Comdg. Federal Forces near Savannah, Ga.:
General,—I have to acknowledge receipt of a communication from you of this date, in which you demand “the surrender of Savannah and its dependent forts,” on the ground that you “have received guns that can cast heavy and destructive shot into the heart of the city,” and for the further reason that you “have, for some days, held and controlled every avenue by which the people and garrison can be supplied.” You add, that should you be “forced to resort to assault, or to the slower and surer process of starvation, you will then feel justified in resorting to the harshest measures, and will make little effort to restrain your army,” etc., etc.

The position of your forces, a half-mile beyond the outer line for the land defence of Savannah, is, at the nearest point, at least four miles from the heart of the city. That and the interior line are both intact.

Your statement that you have for some days held and controlled every avenue by which the people and garrison can be supplied is incorrect. I am in free and in constant communication with my Department. [317]

Your demand for the surrender of Savannah and its dependent forts is refused.

With respect to the threats conveyed in the closing paragraphs of your letter of what may be expected in case your demand is not complied with, I have to say that I have hitherto conducted the military operations intrusted to my direction in strict accordance with the rules of civilized warfare, and I should deeply regret the adoption of any course by you that may force me to deviate from them in future.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obdt. servt.,

W. J. Hardee, Lieut.-General.

The War Department had approved General Beauregard's views as to the stand to be made at Savannah. It had even indicated that the same programme might be adopted with regard to Charleston. The following telegram7 is given in support of this averment:

Richmond, Dec. 17th, 1864.
To General G. T. Beauregard:
The spirit of your instructions to General Hardee, relative to the defences of Savannah, is approved. It is hoped Savannah may be successfully defended. But the defence should not be too protracted, to the sacrifice of the garrison. The same remarks are applicable to Charleston. We must rely upon your judgment to make the fullest possible defence consistently with the safety of the garrisons.

S. Cooper, A. and Insp.-Genl.

This approbation was a cause of no small relief to General Beauregard, and allowed him more latitude than he would otherwise have had.

Active, urgent preparations for the evacuation were instantly begun. It was now but a question of a few days. So little had yet been done that General Beauregard feared there would be insufficient time to save most of the public property, and destroy what must otherwise fall into the hands of the enemy. Most of the orders then issued were not only suggested by him, but, in many instances, written under his dictation.8 His memorandum for the location of troops, dated December 18th, and left with General Hardee, shows the amount of work accomplished during his last visit to the invested city. On the 19th he completed the order relative to the final evacuation, which was forwarded to the different commands, headed ‘Confidential [318] Circular,’ and signed by General Hardee, as Commander of the Department. We refer the reader to this memorandum and to this circular, which will both be found in the Appendix to the present chapter.

General Hardee remained at Savannah, to carry out the dispositions taken by General Beauregard; and the latter, on the same day, left that city to confer with his District and Subdistrict Commanders, and advise with them as to the best methods of putting his plans into execution.

The next day he caused the following letter to be sent to General Hardee:

Headquarters, Military division of the West, Pocotaligo, S. C., Dec. 20th, 1864.
Lieut.-General W. J. Hardee, Comdg., etc., etc.:
General,—I am directed by the General Commanding to forward to you the accompanying memorandum9 of orders, which he wishes you to issue immediately after the evacuation of Savannah. They are designed to carry out his views as to the best disposition of troops under your command for the defence of Charleston and the State of South Carolina generally—Savannah being in the possession of the enemy.

Major-General G. W. Smith's command (about two thousand men) being sent to Augusta, will leave, of the troops coming from Savannah, about six thousand five hundred, which, added to those under the immediate command of Major-General Sam. Jones, on the line of the Savannah and Charleston Railroad—say about five thousand five hundred, exclusive of those in and around Charleston—make about twelve thousand troops. Of these he thinks there should be about two thousand five hundred to guard the left bank of the Combahee, with about one thousand in reserve at a central point between the Combahee and the Ashepoo.

About three thousand five hundred in the Fourth Subdistrict, with about one thousand of them in reserve at or near Adams's Run and Green Pond, and about five thousand in the Second and Third Subdistricts, in addition to those already there. The cavalry guarding the left (or coast) flank, and the front and right flanks, should, of course, be used to support the troops to which they are nearest.

The orders indicated in the accompanying memorandum will make a distribution approximating as nearly to these numbers as circumstances will permit. In carrying them out it will be necessary that you should send promptly the troops carried to Hardeeville by Brigadier-General Taliaferro to rejoin their respective brigades, and the detached companies or battalions of South Carolina reserves and militia to report to Brigadier-General Chestnut, at Grahamville; and the companies of the 3d South Carolina Cavalry, [319] under Colonel Colcock, to unite with those now in front of Grahamville and near Coosawhatchie and Pocotaligo and Kirk's squadron, together with the section of horse artillery attached to the 3d South Carolina Cavalry.

Endeavor to bring and keep together, as far as practicable, the troops of the same organization.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. R. Chisolm, A. D. C.

While the foregoing communication was being penned this telegram was forwarded to Richmond:

General Hardee reports that about fifteen hundred of the enemy's infantry crossed yesterday Savannah River, from Argyle Island to Izard's plantation. Wheeler holds them in check. General Hardee will probably evacuate Savannah to-night. His first defensive line will be in rear of the Combahee. Wheeler's cavalry will guard country thence to the Savannah River. All quiet here. No report from General Hood since 28th of November.

He now ordered that the Savannah River Railroad bridge and trestle-work on the Carolina side should be immediately and thoroughly destroyed, and that Generals Wheeler and Taliaferro should be instructed to that effect. Through Captain Courtney, at Hardeeville, he also communicated with Commodore Hunter, and pointed out the necessity of commanding the Savannah River by his gunboat, as long as possible, from the enemy's battery to a point as far up the stream as navigation would permit.

During the night of the 20th, and in strict obedience to General Beauregard's instructions, Savannah was successfully evacuated. President Davis was informed of the fact as follows:

Pocotaligo, S. C., Dec. 21st, 1864.
General Hardee reports to-day from Hardeeville that evacuation of Savannah, as instructed by me,10 was successfully accomplished last night. All the light artillery and most of the stores and munitions were brought off. The heavy guns were spiked and otherwise disabled. Line of defence behind Combahee River will be taken as soon as possible.

On the same day he sent this telegram to General Hardee:

Pocotaligo, S. C., Dec. 21st, 1864.
I congratulate you on the success of the evacuation. You can delay [320] movement on Combahee line long enough to secure your supplies, provided you send your surplus artillery here and reinforce Fourth District and Charleston, as per my memorandum of yesterday, forwarded to you to-day by staffofficer.

Sufficient transportation had not been prepared for the troops at Pocotaligo and Hardeeville, and for those whose movements were now so important for the defence of Charleston and other threatened points in South Carolina. General Beauregard, who was much disappointed at this want of forethought on the part of the district and subdistrict commanders, at once issued energetic orders designed to remedy the evil, and among them the following:

Pocotaligo, S. C., Dec. 21st, 1864.
Lieut.-Colonel John M. Otey, A. A. G.:
Forces here and at Savannah are almost unprovided with transportation. Have impressed forthwith sufficient for three thousand men here, same in Fourth Subdistrict, and six thousand about Charleston. I leave about 2 p. M.

On the same day the following telegram was also forwarded:

Pocotaligo, S. C., Dec. 21st, 1864.
Lieut.-Colonel John M. Otey, A. A. G.:
Until further orders there must be three full trains on road from Coosawhatchie to Hardeeville, and three or four near here, awaiting troops for Fourth District and Charleston. See that it be done at once.

On the 22d General Beauregard was again in Charleston, his mind engrossed with the preparations to be made for the safety of that city and the establishment of new defensive lines for the State. It would uselessly encumber the narrative, to insert here the various orders he issued at that time. Most of them, as also part of his correspondence in that connection, will appear in the Appendix to the present chapter. His activity was quickened by the unofficial news of General Hood's disaster at or near Nashville, and the desire, more than once expressed, since General Beauregard's arrival in Charleston, that he should visit, as soon as possible, the Army of Tennessee.

The three following letters show what minute attention General Beauregard was giving to the impending dangers of the moment: [321]

Headquarters, Military division of the West, Charleston, S. C., Dec. 25th, 1864.
Lieut.-General W. J. Hardee, Comdg. Dept. S. C., Ga., and Fla.:
General,—If the pontoons now at Pocotaligo are not required there, General Beauregard deems it best that the officer in charge of them be ordered by telegraph to send them to this city at once.

He also deems it best, and directs, that the wagons lately sent from this city to Pocotaligo be furnished with covers, as most of them are without them.

I am further directed to inquire of you what torpedoes have been put down lately in the channel and harbor. If none, the Commanding General directs that they be laid at once where originally contemplated, especially in front of the rope obstructions. Mr. Fraser Mathews is suggested as one who could be charged with this duty, if no one else can accomplish the work.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

John M. Otey, A. A. G.

Headquarters, Military division of the West, Charleston, S. C., Dec. 27th, 1864.
Lieut.-General W. J. Hardee, Comdg. Dept. S. C., Ga., and Fla.:
General,—I am instructed by the Commanding General to direct as follows:

1st. That you make, silently and cautiously, all necessary preparations for the evacuation of Charleston—should it become necessary—taking at the same time the proper steps to save the garrisons of the different works.

Detailed and confidential instructions should be given as to the spiking, by means of rat-tail files, all heavy guns and such others as cannot be moved; for disabling carriages, chassis, and batteries.

2d. That the infantry and cavalry of your command be organized forthwith into brigades and divisions, under good commanders. That all the troops be supplied with knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, blankets, and shoes; and that ample transportation be supplied, as also ammunition for small-arms and light batteries.

3d. That all light batteries be organized into battalions of three batteries each; one battalion being attached to each division, the others in reserve, under the Chief of Artillery.

The battalions attached to divisions, although under the orders of the division commanders, in battle and on the march, will, nevertheless, make all their returns and reports to the Chief of Artillery, and all correspondence relative to the organization, equipment, and interior management of batteries will pass through the same channel. Such batteries will only be under the orders of the Chief of Artillery when in permanent camp or winter-quarters.

The Commanding General also directs that, should field-officers be needed for the battalions, you will apply by telegraph to the War Department, and request immediate attention.

I have the honor to be, General, very respectfully, your obdt. servt.,

John M. Otey, A. A. G.


Headquarters, Military division of the West, Charleston, S. C., Dec. 29th, 1864.
Lieut.-General J. W. Hardee, Comdg. Dept. S. C., Ga., and Fla.:
1st. The lines in Christ Church require the special attention of your Engineer and the Commander of the Second Subdistrict. The woods in front of the lines should be cut into abatis at once, and positions for field-guns in embrasure should be established immediately along them.

2. The batteries commanding approaches through the creeks should be put in perfect order and garrisoned.

3d. A pontoon-bridge should be thrown across Cooper River at the most favorable point, if practicable.

4th. I think you ought to apply for the promotion of Majors Lucas and Manigault, to give them more authority over their battalions.

Respectfully yours,

Two days before, General Beauregard had forwarded the following telegrams to the War Department:


Charleston, S. C., Dec. 27th, 1864.
General S. Cooper, Adjt.-Genl., Richmond, Va.:
In event of having to abandon the coast, and enemy's movements will permit a choice of base of operations, shall it be towards North Carolina or Georgia? Latter is true base for forces of this Department; but views of War Department may require otherwise.11


Charleston, S. C., Dec. 27th, 1864.
General S. Cooper, Adjt.-Genl., Richmond, Va.:
General Hood desires me to visit Army of Tennessee. Colonel Brent, my Chief of Staff at Montgomery, says my presence is required West, owing to some confusion in various matters, and want of supplies and ammunition. Unless otherwise instructed, I will leave here as soon as I can make definite arrangements for future operations in this State.

On the 30th General Beauregard, having completed all possible arrangements for the pending emergency, asked to be relieved of the command of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, in order that he might devote all his time and attention to his Department proper—the Military Division of the West. His request was granted by President Davis, in the following despatch:

Richmond, Dec. 30th, 1864.
To General G. T. Beauregard:
Your despatch of this day received, also copy of that to General Cooper, [323] in relation to assignment of General Bragg. You will leave with General Hardee orders and instructions in regard to the Department east of Augusta, and will resume the command of the District west of Augusta, as heretofore defined. The change will be more formally announced from the Adjutant-General's office.

Before taking leave of General Hardee, and of Charleston, where he had ever met with so much sympathy and encouragement, General Beauregard, in a last letter, thus expressed his views as to what should be done after his departure:

Charleston, S. C., Dec. 31st, 1864.
Lieut.-General W. J. Hardee, Comdg. Dept. S. C., Ga., and Fla.:
General,—I enclose herewith a copy of a telegram received to-day from the President relieving me, at my request, of the general command of the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. My presence is absolutely required at this moment at Montgomery and with the Army of Tennessee, and I cannot inform you when I will be able to return in this direction. The interruption of railroad communication might render it impracticable to get back in time to be of assistance to you, should you require my aid suddenly.

The telegram of the President not being explicit as to the status of Augusta, I have requested that it should be included in your Department, as you now have under you the whole of Wheeler's cavalry and nearly all the available forces of Georgia, which are also required by you for the defence of South Carolina. The defence of the city is so intimately connected with that of the western portion of this State, that you will consider it within the limits of your Department until further orders from the War Department.

I have already given you all the verbal instructions possible for the defence of Charleston and this State. The answer of the War Department, not yet received, to my telegram of the 27th instant, will determine whether, in the event of evacuating this city, you will retire towards Georgia or North Carolina as a base. The first is your natural base; but should you have reason to expect large reinforcements from the latter State, you should, of course, retire in that direction.

You will apply to the defence of Charleston the same principle applied to that of Savannah: that is, defend it as long as compatible with the safety of your forces. Having no reason at present to expect succor from an army of relief, you must save your troops for the defence of South Carolina and Georgia.

The fall of Charleston would, necessarily, be a terrible blow to the Confederacy, but its fall, with the loss of its brave garrison, would be still more fatal to our cause. You will; however, make all the preparations necessary for the possible evacuation of the city, and “clear your decks for action.” Should it not take place, the trouble and expense of transportation will amount to little; but should you be compelled to evacuate the city when unprepared, the loss of public property would be incalculable.

All the cotton in the city should be removed; and if any be in the city at the time of its evacuation, it must be destroyed. [324]

As already instructed, you should organize all your troops for the field, collecting sufficient transportation, ammunition, and provisions for an active campaign. You must have depots of provisions and forage at several points in the interior of the State. Columbia would be a very suitable point; Florence also, if you expect to move in the direction of North Carolina. Augusta, Mayfield, and Milledgeville must be depots for future operations.

Your defensive lines from the Savannah River would be as already explained to you:

1st. The Combahee and Salkehatchie to Barnwell Court-house, thence to the Savannah River.

2d. The Ashepoo and Salkehatchie to Barnwell Court-house, thence to Savannah River.

3d. Edisto to Branchville, thence across towards Barnwell Court-house.

4th. Edisto and Caw-caw Swamp, or Rantool Creek.

5th. Edisto and Ashley.

Wheeler's cavalry must protect your front towards Savannah River, and your right flank from Barnwell Court-house towards Augusta. At least, the larger portion of his cavalry must be south of that river to watch the movements and check the progress of any force moving towards Augusta or the interior of Georgia, until the rest of the cavalry and other forces could be sent to give battle to the enemy.

Please keep General Cobb and myself advised of your movements and those of the enemy, in order that we may give you in time any assistance in our power.

Hoping that you may be successful in holding Charleston, and repelling any advance of the enemy,

I remain, respectfully, your obt. servt.,

These dispositions being taken, General Beauregard left Charleston on the 2d of January, 1865, and on the 8th reached Montgomery, on his way to Tupelo, Miss. He carried with him sad forebodings of inevitable calamity to the Confederacy—the consequence of General Hood's disastrous campaign into Middle Tennessee.

1 Mr. Seddon's telegram to General Beauregard read: ‘Your telegram of the 2d inst. is referred to me for answer. If General E. K. Smith can now act as you suggest, it would be well he should do so. You are authorized so to inform him, and to request his prompt attention. He has, however, failed heretofore to respond to like emergencies, and no plans should be based on his compliance.’ The telegram was dated Richmond, December 4th, 1864.

2 ‘Advance and Retreat,’ p. 299.

3 See, in Appendix, General E. Kirby Smith's reasons for not acceding to General Beauregard's call upon him.

4 See General Whiting's telegram, in Appendix.

5 See Appendix.

6 This demand of General Hood for the surrender of Resaca (October 12th, 1864,) contained the following words: ‘If the place is carried by assault, no prisoners will be taken.’ We do not intend to discuss the propriety of such demands of surrender, or to approve of the tone characterizing them; but it should be remembered that General Hood was addressing an invading enemy, whose passage through the South had already been marked by acts of cruelty, pillage, and devastation. Whereas General Sherman was the commander of that invading army, whose conduct at Atlanta, after its surrender, had aroused and justified a feeling of resentment on the part of the commander of the Confederate forces.

7 It was a ciphered telegram.

8 See Colonel John. G. Clarke's letter to General Beauregard, in Appendix.

9 We invite the reader's special attention to the memorandum above referred to. See Appendix.

10 See, in Appendix, Colonel Clarke's letters to General Beauregard.

11 This telegram, and that which immediately follows it, were in cipher.

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