Doc. 44. campaign of the Carolinas.
General Sherman's report.
headquarters military division of the Mississippi, Goldsboro, N. G., April 4, 1865.General: I must now endeavor to group the events of the past three months, connected with the armies under my command, in order that you may have as clear an understanding of the late campaign as the case admits of. The reports of the subordinate commanders will enable you to fill up the picture. I have heretofore explained how, in the progress of our arms, I was enabled to leave in the West an army under Major-General George H. Thomas of sufficient strength to meet emergencies in that quarter, while in person I conducted another army, composed of the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Seventeenth, and Twentieth corps, and Kilpatrick's division of cavalry, to the Atlantic slope, aiming to approach the grand theater of war in Virginia by the time the season would admit of military operations in that latitude. The first lodgement on the coast was made at Savannah, strongly fortified and armed, and valuable to us as a good sea-port, with its navigable stream inland. Near a month was consumed there in refitting the army, and in making the proper disposition of captured property, and other local matters, but by the fifteenth of January I was all ready to resume the march. Preliminary to this General Howard, commanding the right wing, was ordered to embark his command at Thunderbolt, transport it to Beaufort, South Carolina, and thence by the fifteenth of January make a lodgement on the Charleston railroad, at or near Pocotaligo. This was accomplished punctually, at little cost, by the Seventeenth corps, Major-General Blair, and a depot for supplies was established near the mouth of Pocotaligo creek, with easy water communication back to Hilton Head. The left wing, Major-General Slocum, and the cavalry, Major-General Kilpatrick, were ordered to rendezvous about the same time near Robertsville and Coosawhatchie, South Carolina, with a depot of supplies at Pureysburg, or Sister's Ferry, on the Savannah river. General Slocum had a good pontoon bridge constructed opposite the city, and the “Union causeway” leading through the low rice fields opposite Savannah was repaired and “corduroyed,” but before the time appointed to start, the heavy rains of January had swelled the river, broken the pontoon bridge, and overflowed the whole “bottom,” so that the causeway was four feet under water, and General Slocum was compelled to look higher up for a passage over the Savannah river. He moved up to Sister's Ferry, but even there the river with its overflowed bottoms was near three miles wide, and he did not succeed in getting his whole wing across until during the first week of February. In the mean time General Grant had sent me Grover's division of the Nineteenth corps to garrison Savannah, and had drawn the Twenty-third corps, Major-General Schofield, from Tennessee, and sent it to reinforce the commands of Major-Generals Terry and Palmer, operating on the coast of North Carolina, to prepare the way for my coming. On the eighteenth of January I transferred the forts and city of Savannah to Major-General Foster, commanding the Department of the South, imparted to him my plans of operations, and instructed him how to follow my movements inland, by occupying in succession the city of Charleston and such other points along the sea-coast as would be of any military value to us. The combined naval and land forces under Admiral Porter and General Terry had, on the fifteenth of January, captured Fort Fisher and the rebel forts at the mouth of Cape Fear river, giving me an additional point of security on the sea-coast. But I had already resolved in  my own mind, and had so advised General Grant, that I would undertake at one stride to to make Goldsboro, and open communication with the sea by the Newbern railroad, and had ordered Colonel W. W. Wright, Superintendent of Military Railroads, to proceed in advance to Newbern, and to be prepared to extend the railroad out from Newbern to Goldsboro by the fifteenth of March. On the nineteenth of January all preparations were complete and the orders of march given. My Chief Quartermaster and Commissary, Generals Easton and Beckwith, were ordered to complete the supplies at Sisters' Ferry and Pocotaligo, and then to follow our movement coastwise, looking for my arrival at Goldsboro, North Carolina, about the fifteenth March, and opening communication with me from Morehead City. On the twenty-second of January I embarked at Savannah for Hilton Head, where I held a conference with Admiral Dahlgren, United States Navy, and Major-General Foster, commanding the Department of the South, and next day proceeded to Beaufort, riding out thence on the twenty-fourth to Pocotaligo, where the Seven-teenth corps, Major-General Blair,was encamped. The Ffteenth corps was somewhat scattered — Wood's and Hazen's divisions at Beaufort, John E. Smith marching from Savannah by the coast road, and Corse still at Savannah, cut off by the storms and freshet in the river. On the twenty-fifth a demonstration was made against the Combahee ferry and railroad bridge across the Salkehatchie, merely to amuse the enemy, who had evidently adopted that river as his defensive line against our supposed objective, the city of Charleston. I reconnoitered the line in person, and saw that the heavy rains had swollen the river so that water stood in the swamps, for a breadth of more than a mile, at a depth of from one to twenty feet. Not having the remotest intention of approaching Charleston, a comparatively small force was able, by seeming preparation to cross over, to keep in their front a considerable force of the enemy disposed to contest our advance on Charleston. On the twenty-seventh I rode to the camp of General Hatch's division of Foster's command, on the Tullafuiney and Coosawhatchie rivers, and directed those places to be evacuated, as no longer of any use to us. That division was then moved to Pocotaligo to keep up the feints already begun, until we should with the right wing move higher up and cross the Salkehatchie about Rivers' or Broxton's bridge. On the twenty-ninth I learned that the roads back of Savannah had at last become sufficiently free of the flood to admit of General Slocum putting his wing in motion, and that he was already approaching Sisters' ferry, whither a gunboat, the Pontiac, Captain Luce, kindly furnished by Admiral Dahlgren, had preceded him to cover the crossing. In the meantime three divisions of the Fifteenth corps had closed up at Pocotaligo, and the right wing had loaded its wagons and was ready to start. I therefore directed General Howard to move one corps, the Seventeenth, along the Salkehatchie, as high up as Rivers' bridge, and the other, the Fifteenth, by Hickory hill, Loper's cross-roads, Anglesey post-office, and Beaufort's bridge. Hatch's division was ordered to remain at Pocotaligo, feigning at the Salkehatchie railroad bridge and ferry, until our movement turned the enemy's position, and forced him to fall behind the Edisto. The Seventeenth and Fifteenth corps drew out of camp on the thirty-first of January, but the real march began on the first of February. All the roads northward had, for weeks, been held by Wheeler's cavalry, who had by details of negro laborers, felled trees, burned bridges, and made obstructions to impede our march. But so well organized were our pioneer battalions, and so strong and intelligent our men, that obstructions seemed only to quicken their progress. Felled trees were removed, and bridges rebuilt by the heads of columns before the rear could close up. On the second of February the Fifteenth corps reached Loper's cross-roads, and the Seventeenth was at Rivers' bridge. From Loper's cross-roads I communicated with General Slocum, still struggling with the floods of the Savannah river at Sisters' ferry. He had two divisions of the Twentieth corps, General Williams, on the east bank, and was enabled to cross over on his pontoons the cavalry of Kilpatrick. General Williams was ordered to Beaufort's bridge, by way of Lawtonville and Allandale, Kilpatrick to Blackville via Barnwell, and General Slocum to hurry the crossing at Sisters' ferry as much as possible, and overtake the right wing on the South Carolina railroad. General Howard, with the right wing, was directed to cross the Salkehatchie and push rapidly for the South Carolina railroad, at or near Midway. The enemy held the line of the Salkehatchie in force, having infantry and artillery intrenched at Rivers' and Beaufort's bridges. The Seventeenth corps was ordered to carry Rivers' bridge, and the Fifteenth corps Beaufort's bridge. The former position was carried promptly and skilfully by Mower's and Giles A. Smith's divisions of the Seventeenth corps, on the third of February, by crossing the swamp, nearly three miles wide, with water varying from knee to shoulder-deep. The weather was bitter cold, and Generals Mower and Smith led their divisions in person, on foot, waded the swamp, made a lodgement below the bridge, and turned on the rebel brigade which guarded it, driving it in confusion and disorder toward Branchville. Our casualties were one officer and seventeen men killed, and seventy men wounded, who were sent to Pocotaligo. The line of the Salkehatchie being thus broken, the enemy retreated at once behind the Edisto at Branchville, and the whole army was pushed rapidly to the South Carolina railroad at Midway, Bamberg (or Lowry's station), and Graham's station. The Seventeenth corps, by  threatening Branchville, forced the enemy to burn the railroad bridge, and Walker's bridge below, across the Edisto. All hands were at once set to work to destroy railroad track. From the seventh to the tenth of February this work was thoroughly prosecuted by the Seventeenth corps from the Edisto up to Bamberg, and by the Fifteenth corps from Bamberg up to Blackville. In the meantime General Kilpatrick had brought his cavalry rapidly by Barnwell to Blackville, and had turned toward Aiken, with orders to threaten Augusta, but not to be drawn needlessly into a serious battle. This he skilfully accomplished, skirmishing heavily with Wheeler's cavalry, first at Blackville and afterward at Williston and Aiken. General Williams, with two divisions of the Twentieth corps, marched to the South Carolina railroad at Graham Station on the eighth, and General Slocum reached Blackville on the tenth. The destruction of the railroad was continued by the left wing from Blackville up to Windsor. By the eleventh of February all the army was on the railroad from Midway to Johnson's station, thereby dividing the enemy's forces, which still remained at Branchville and Charlestonon the one hand, Aiken and Augusta on the other. We then began the movement on Orangeburg. The Seventeenth corps crossed the south fork of Edisto river at Binnaker's bridge and moved straight for Orangeburg, while the Fifteenth corps crossed at Holman's bridge and moved to Poplar Springs in support. The left wing and cavalry were still at work on the railroad, with orders to cross the South Edisto at New and Guignard's bridges, move to the Orangeburg and Edgefield road, and there await the result of the attack on Orangeburg. On the twelfth the Seventeenth corps found the enemy intrenched in front of the Orangeburg bridge, but swept him away by a dash, and followed him, forcing him across the bridge, which was partially burned. Behind the bridge was a battery in position, covered by a cotton and earth parapet, with wings as far as could be seen. General Blair held one division (Giles A. Smith's) close up to Edisto, and moved the other two to a point about two miles below, where he crossed Force's division by a pontoon bridge, holding Mower's in support. As soon as Force emerged from the swamp the enemy gave ground, and Giles Smith's division gained the bridge, crossed over, and occupied the enemy's parapet. He soon repaired the bridge, and by four P. M. the whole corps was in Orangeburg and had begun the work of destruction on the railroad. Blair was ordered to destroy this railroad effectually up to Lewisville, and to push the enemy across the Congaree and force him to burn the bridges, which he did on the fourteenth; and without wasting time or labor on Branchville or Charleston, which I knew the enemy could no longer hold, I turned all the column's strength on Columbia. The Seventeenth corps followed the State road, and the Fifteenth crossed the North Edisto from Poplar Springs at Schilling's bridge, above the mouth of “Cawcaw Swamp” creek, and took a country road which came into the State road at Zeigler's. On the fifteenth, the Fifteenth corps found the enemy in a strong position at Little Congaree bridge (across Congaree creek), with a tete-de-pont on the south side, and a well-constructed fort on the north side, commanding the bridge with artillery. The ground in front was very bad, level and clear, with a fresh deposit of mud from a recent overflow. General Charles R. Woods, who commanded the leading division, succeeded, however in turning the flank of the tete-de-pont by sending Stone's brigade through a cypress swamp to the left; and following up the retreating enemy promptly, he got possession of the bridge and the fort beyond. The bridge had been partially damaged by fire, and had to be repaired for the passage of artillery, so that night closed in before the head of the column could reach the bridge across Congaree river in front of Columbia. That night the enemy shelled our camps from a battery on the east side of the Congaree above Granby. Early next morning (February sixteen) the head of column reached the bank of the Congaree, opposite Columbia, but too late to save the fine bridge which spanned the river at that point. It was burned by the enemy. While waiting for the pontoons to come to the front we could see people running about the streets of Columbia, and occasionally small bodies of cavalry, but no masses. A single gun of Captain De Grass' battery was firing at their cavalry squads, but I checked his firing, limiting him to a few shots at the unfinished State House walls, and a few shells at the railway depot, to scatter the people who were seen carrying away sacks of corn and meal that we needed. There was no white flag or manifestation of surrender. I directed General Howard not to cross directly in front of Columbia, but to cross the Saluda at the Factory, three miles above, and afterward Broad river, so as to approach Columbia from the north. Within an hour of the arrival of General Howard's head of column at the river opposite Columbia, the head of column of the left wing also appeared, and I directed General Slocum to cross the Saluda at Zion church, and thence to take roads direct for Winnsboro, breaking up en route the railroads and bridges about Alston. General Howard effected a crossing of the Saluda, near the Factory, on the sixteenth, skirmishing with cavalry, and the same night made a flying bridge across Broad river, about three miles above Columbia, by which he crossed over Stone's brigade, of Wood's division, Fifteenth corps. Under cover of this brigade, a pontoon bridge was laid on the morning of the seventeenth. I was in person at this bridge, and at eleven A. M. learned that the Mayor of Columbia had come out in a carriage, and made a formal surrender of the city to Colonel Stone,  Twenty-fifth Iowa infantry, commanding third brigade, First division, Fifteenth corps. About the same time a small party of the Seventeenth corps had crossed the Congaree in a skiff, and entered Columbia from a point immediately west. In anticipation of the occupation of the city, I had made written orders to General Howard touching the conduct of the troops. These were to destroy, absolutely, all arsenals and public property not needed for our own use, as well as all railroads, depots, and machinery useful in war to an enemy, but to spare all dwellings, colleges, schools, asylums, and harmless private property. I was the first to cross the pontoon bridge, and in company with General Howard rode into the city. The day was clear, but a perfect tempest of wind was raging. The brigade of Colonel Stone was already in the city, and was properly posted. Citizens and soldiers were on the streets, and general good order prevailed. General Wade Hampton, who commanded the Confederate rear-guard of cavalry, had, in anticipation of our capture of Columbia, ordered that all cotton, public and private, should be moved into the streets and fired, to prevent our making use of it. Bales were piled everywhere, the rope and bagging cut, and tufts of cotton were blown about in the wind, lodged in the trees and against houses, so as to resemble a snow storm. Some of these piles of cotton were burning, especially one in the very heart of the city, near the Court-house, but the fire was partially subdued by the labor of our soldiers. During the day the Fifteenth corps passed through Columbia and out on the Camdenroad. The Seventeenth did not enter the town at all; and, as I have before stated, the left wing and cavalry did not come within two miles of the town. Before one single public building had been fired by order, the smoldering fires, set by Hampton's order, were rekindled by the wind, and communicated to the buildings around. About dark they began to spread, and got beyond the control of the brigade on duty within the city. The whole of Wood's division was brought in, but it was found impossible to check the flames, which, by midnight, had become unmanageable, and raged until about four A. M., when the wind subsiding, they were got under control. I was up nearly all night, and saw Generals Howard, Logan, Woods, and others, laboring to save houses and protect families thus suddenly deprived of shelter, and of bedding and wearing apparel. I disclaim on the part of my army any agency in this fire, but on the contrary, claim that we saved what of Columbia remains unconsumed. And without hesitation, I charge General Wade Hampton with having burned his own city of Columbia, not with a malicious intent, or as the manifestations of a silly “Roman stoicism,” but from folly and want of sense, in filling it with lint, cotton, and tinder. Our officers and men on duty worked well to extinguish the flames; but others not on duty, including the officers who had long been imprisoned there, rescued by us, may have assisted in spreading the fire after it had once begun, and may have indulged in unconcealed joy to see the ruin of the capital of South Carolina. During the eighteenth and nineteenth, the arsenal, railroad depots machine shops, foundries, and other buildings were properly destroyed by detailed working parties, and the railroad track torn up and destroyed down to Kingsville and the Wateree bridge, and up in the direction of Winnsboro. At the same time the left wing and cavalry had crossed the Saluda and Broad rivers, breaking up the railroad about Alston, and as high up as the bridge across Broad river on the Spartanburg road, the main body moving straight for Winnsboro, which General Slocum reached on the twenty-first of February. He caused the railroad to be destroyed up to Blackstakes depot, and then turned to Rocky Mount, on the Catawba river. The Twentieth corps reached Rocky Mount on the twenty-second, laid a pontoon bridge, and crossed over during the twenty-third. Kilpatrick's cavalry followed, and crossed over in a terrible rain during the night of the twenty-third, and moved up to Lancaster, with orders to keep up the delusion of a general movement on Charlotte, North Carolina, to which General Beauregard and all the cavalry of the enemy had retreated from Columbia. I was also aware that Cheatham's corps, of Hood's old army, was aiming to make a junction with Beauregard at Charlotte, having been cut off by our rapid movement on Columbia and Winnsboro. From the twenty-third to the twenty-sixth we had heavy rains, swelling the rivers and making the roads almost impassable. The Twentieth corps reached Hanging Rock on the twenty-sixth,and waited there for the Fourteenth corps to get across the Catawba. The heavy rains had so swollen the river, that the pontoon bridge broke, and General Davis had very hard work to restore it and get his command across. At last he suceeded, and the left wing was all put in motion for Cheraw. In the mean time, the right wing had broken up the railroad to Winnsboro, and thence turned for Peay's ferry, where it was crossed over the Catawba before the heavy rains set in, the Seventeenth corps moving straight on Cheraw, via Young's bridge, and the Fifteenth corps by Tiller's and Kelly's bridges. From this latter corps, detachments were sent into Camden to burn the bridge over the Wateree, with the railroad depot, stores, &c. A small force of mounted men under Captain Duncan was also despatched to make a dash and interrupt the railroad from Charleston to Florence, but it met Butler s division of cavalry, and after a sharp night skirmish on Mount Elon, was compelled to return unsuccessful. Much bad road was encountered at Lynch's creek, which delayed the right wing about the same length of time as the left wing had been at the Catawba. On the second of March, the leading division of the Twentieth corps entered Chesterfield,  skirmishing with Butler's division of cavalry, and the next day about noon the Seventeenth corps entered Cheraw, the enemy retreating across the Pedee and burning the bridge at that point. At Cheraw we found much ammunition and many guns, which had been brought from Charleston on the evacuation of that city. These were destroyed, as also the railroad trestles and bridges down as far as Darlington. An expedition of mounted infantry was also sent down to Florence, but it encounted both cavalry and infantry and returned, having only broken up in part the branch road from Florence to Cheraw. Without unnecessary delay, the columns were again put in motion, directed on Fayetteville, North Carolina, the right wing crossing the Pedee at Cheraw and the left wing and cavalry at Sneedsboro. General Kilpatrick was ordered to keep well on the left flank, and the Fourteenth corps, moving by Love's bridge, was given the right to enter and occupy Fayetteville first. The weather continued unfavorable and roads bad, but the Fourteenth and Seventeeth corps reached Fayetteville on eleventh of March, skirmishing with Wade Hampton's cavalry, that covered the rear of Hardee's retreating army, which, as usual, had crossed Cape Fear river, burning the bridge. During the march from the Pedee General Kilpatrick had kept his cavalry well on the left and exposed flank During the night of the ninth of March his three brigades were divided to picket the roads. General Hampton, detecting this, dashed in at daylight, and gained possession of the camp of Colonel Spencer's brigade, and the house in which General Kilpatrick and Colonel Spencer had their quarters. The surprise was complete, but General Kilpatrick quickly succeeded in rallying his men, on foot, in a swamp near by, and by a prompt attack, well followed up, regained his artillery, horses, camp, and everything save some prisoners, whom the enemy carried off, leaving their dead on the ground. The twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth were passed at Fayetteville, destroying absolutely the United States arsenal and the vast amount of machinery which had formerly belonged to the old Harper's Ferry United Statesarsenal. Every building was knocked down and burned, and every piece of machinery utterly broken up and ruined, by the First regiment Michigan engineers, under the immediate supervision of Colonel O. M. Poe, Chief Engineer. Much valuable property of great use to an enemy, was here destroyed, or cast into the river. Up to this period I had perfectly succeeded in interposing my superior army between the scattered parts of my enemy. But I was then aware that the fragments that had left Columbia under Beauregard had been reinforced by Cheatham's corps from the West, and the garrison of Augusta, and that ample time had been given to move them to my front and flank about Raleigh. Hardee had also succeeded in getting across Cape Fear river ahead of me, and could, therefore, complete the junction with the other armies of Johnston and Hoke in North Carolina. And the whole, under the command of the skilful and experienced Joe Johnston, 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. Previous to reaching Fayetteville I had despatched to Willnington, from Laurel Hill church, two of our best scouts with intelligence of our position and my general plans. Both of these messengers reached Wilmington, and on the morning of the twelfth of March the army tug Davidson, Captain Ainsworth, reached Fayetteville from Wilmington, bringing me full intelligence of events from the outer world. On the same day this tug carried back to General Terry, at Wilmington, and General Schofield, at Newbern, my despatches to the effect that on Wednesday, the fifteenth, we would move for Goldsboro, feigning on Raleigh, and ordering them to march straight for Goldsboro, which I expected to reach about the twentieth. The same day the gunboat Eolus, Captain Young, United States Navy, also reached Fayetteville, and through her I continued to have communication with Wilmington until the day of our actual departure. While the work of destruction was going on at Fayetteville two pontoon bridges were laid across Cape Fear river, one opposite the town, the other three miles below. General Kilpatrick was ordered to move up the plank road to and beyond Averysboro. He was to be followed by four divisions of the left wing, with as few wagons as possible; the rest of the train, under escort of the two remaining divisions of that wing, to take a shorter and more direct road to Goldsboro. In like manner General Howard was ordered to send his trains, under good escort, well to the right, toward Faison's depot and Goldsboro, and to hold four divisions light, ready to go to the aid of the left wing if attacked while in motion. The weather continued very bad, and the roads had become mere quagmires. Almost every foot of it had to be corduroyed, to admit the passage of wheels. Still time was so important that punctually, according to order, the columns moved out from Cape Fear river on Wednesday, the fifteenth of March. I accompanied General Slocum, who, preceded by Kilpatrick's cavalry, moved up the river or plank-road that day to Kyle's landing, Kilpatrick skirmishing heavily with the enemy's rear guard, about three miles beyond, near Taylor's Hole creek. At General Kilpatrick's request,General Slocum sent forward a brigade of infantry to hold a line of barricades. Next morning the column advanced in the same order, and developed the enemy, with artillery, infantry, and cavalry, in an intrenched position in front of the point where the road branches off toward Goldsboro, through Bentonville. On an inspection of the map it was manifest that Hardee, in retreating from Fayetteville, had halted in the narrow,  swampy neck between Cape Fear and South rivers, in hopes to hold me, to save time for the concentration of Johnston's armies at some point to his rear, namely, Raleigh, Smithfield, or Goldsboro. Hardee's force was estimated at twenty thousand men. It was necessary to dislodge him, that we might have the use of the Goldsboro road, as also to keep up the feint on Raleigh as long as possible. General Slocum was therefore ordered to press and carry the position, only difficult by reason of the nature of the ground, which was so soft that horses would sink everywhere, and even men could hardly make their way over the common pine barren. The Twentieth corps, General Williams, had the lead, and Ward's division the advance. This was deployed, and the skirmish line developed the position of a brigade of Charleston heavy artillery, armed as infantry (Rhett's), posted across the road, behind a light parapet, with a battery of guns enfilading the approach across a cleared field. General Williams sent a brigade (Case's), by a circuit to his left, that turned this line, and by a quick charge broke the brigade, which rapidly retreated back to a second line, better built and more strongly held. A battery of artillery (Winniger's), well posted, under the immediate direction of Major Reynolds, Chief of Artillery of Twentieth corps, did good execution on the retreating brigade, and on advancing Ward's division over this ground, General Williams captured three guns and two hundred and seventeen prisoners, of whom sixty-eight were wounded and left in a house near by, with a rebel officer, four men, and five days rations. One hundred and eight rebel dead were buried by us. As Ward's division advanced, he developed a second and stronger line, when Jackson's division was deployed forward on the right of Ward, and the two divisions of Jeff. C. Davis' (Fourteenth) corps on the left, well toward the Cape Fear. At the same time Kilpatrick, who was acting in concert with General Williams, was ordered to draw back his cavalry and mass it on the extreme right, and in concert with Jackson's right, to feel forward for the Goldsboro road. He got a brigade on the road, but it was attacked by McLaws' rebel division furiously, and though it fought well and hard, the brigade drew back to the flank of the infantry. The whole line advanced late in the afternoon, drove the enemy well within his intrenched line, and pressed him so hard that next morning he was gone, having retreated in a miserable, stormy night over the worst of roads. Ward's division of infantry followed to and through Averysboro, developing the fact that Hardee had retreated, not on Raleigh but on Smithfield. I had the night before directed Kilpatrick to cross South river at a mill-dam to our right, and move up on the east side toward Elevation. General Slocum reports his aggregate loss in this affair, known as that of Averysboro, at twelve officers and sixty-five men killed, and four hundred and seventy-seven wounded. We lost no prisoners. The enemy's loss can be inferred from his dead (one hundred and eight), left for us to bury. Leaving Ward's division to keep up a show of pursuit, Slocum's column was turned to the right, built a bridge across the swollen South river, and took the Goldsboro road, Kilpatrick crossing to the north in the direction of Elevation, with orders to move eastward, watching that flank. In the mean time the wagon trains and guards, as also Howard's column, were wallowing along the miry roads toward Bentonville and Goldsboro. The enemy's infantry, as before stated, had retreated on Smithfield, and his cavalry retreated across our front in the same direction, burning the bridges across Mill creek. I continued with the head of Slocum's column, and camped the night of the eighteenth with him on the Goldsboro road, twenty-seven miles from Goldsboro, about five miles from Bentonville, and where the road from Clinton to Smithfield crosses the Goldsboro road. Howard was at Lee's store, only two miles south, and both columns had pickets three miles forward, to where the two roads came together and became common to Goldsboro. All the signs 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. I therefore directed Howard to move his right wing by the new Goldsboro road, which goes by way of Falling creek church. I also left Slocum, and joined Howard's column with a view to open communications with General Schofield, coming up from Newbern, and Terry from Wilmington. I found General Howard's column well strung out, owing to the very bad roads, and did not overtake him in person until he had reached Falling creek church, with one regiment forward to the crossroads near Cox's bridge across the Neuse. I had gone from General Slocum about six miles when I heard artillery in his direction, but was soon made easy by one of his staff officers overtaking me, explaining that his leading division (Carlin's) had encountered a division of rebel cavalry (Dibbrell's), which he was driving easily. But soon other staff officers came up, reporting that he had developed near Bentonville the whole of the rebel army under General Johnston himself. I sent him orders to call up the two divisions guarding his wagon trains, and Hazen's division of the Fifteenth corps, still back near Lee's store, to fight defensively until I could draw up Blair's corps, then near Mount Olive station, and with the remaining three divisions of the Fifteenth corps come up on Johnston's left rear from the direction of Cox's bridge. In the mean time, while on the road, I received couriers from both Generals Schofield and Terry. The former reported himself in possession of Kinston, delayed somewhat by want of provisions, but able to march so as to make Goldsboro on the twenty-first; and Terry was at or near Faison s depot. Orders  were at once despatched to Schofield to push for Goldsboro, and to make dispositions to cross Little river, in the direction of Smithfield, as far as Millard; to General Terry, to move to Cox's bridge, lay a pontoon bridge, and establish a crossing; and to Blair, to make a night march to Falling creek church; and at daylight the right wing, General Howard, less the necessary wagon guards, was put in rapid motion on Bentonville. By subsequent reports, I learned that General Slocum's head of column had advanced from its camp of March eighteenth, and first encountered Dibbrell's cavalry, but soon found his progress impeded by infantry and artillery. The enemy attacked his head of column, gaining a temporary advantage, and took three guns, and caissons of General Carlin's division, driving the two leading brigades back on the main body. As soon as General Slocum realized that he had in his front the whole Confederate army, he promptly deployed the two divisions of the Fourteenth corps, General Davis, and rapidly brought up on their left the two divisions of the Twentieth corps, General Williams. These he arranged on the defensive, and hastily prepared a line of barricades. General Kilpatrick also came up at the sound of artillery, and massed on the left. In this position the left wing received six distinct assaults by the combined forces of Hoke, Hardee, 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. Johnston had moved by night from Smithfield with great rapidity, and without unnecessary wheels, intending to overwhelm my left flank before it could be relieved by its co-operating colums. But he “reckoned without his host.” I had expected just such a movement all the way from Fayetteville, and was prepared for it. During the night of the nineteenth, General Slocum got up his wagon train with its guard of two divisions, and Hazen's division of the Fifteenth corps, which reinforcement enabled him to make his position impregnable, The right wing found rebel cavalry watching its approach, but unable to offer any serious opposition until our head of column encountered a considerable body behind a barricade at the forks of the road near Bentonville, about three miles east of the battle-field of the day, before. This body of cavalry was, however, quickly dislodged, and the intersection of the roads secured. On moving forward the Fifteenth corps, General Logan found that the enemy had thrown back his left flank, and had constructed a line of parapet connecting with that toward General Slocum, in the form of a bastion, its salient on the main Goldsboro road, interposing between General Slocum on the west and General Howard on the east, while the flanks rested on Mill Creek, covering the road back to Smithfield. General Howard was instructed to proceed with due caution, until he had made strong connection on his left with General Slocum. This he soon accomplished, and by four P. M. of the twentieth a complete and strong line of battle confronted the enemy in his intrenched position, and General Johnston, instead of catching us in detail, was on the defensive, with Mill creek and a single bridge to his rear. Nevertheless, we had no object to accomplish by a battle, unless at an advantage, and therefore my general instructions were to press steadily with skirmishers alone, to use artillery pretty freely on the wooded space held by the enemy, and to feel pretty strongly the flanks of his position, which were, as usual covered by the endless swamps of this region of country. I also ordered all empty wagons to be sent at once to Kinston for supplies, and other impediments to be grouped near the Neuse, south of Goldsboro, holding the real army in close contact with the enemy, ready to fight him if he ventured outside his parapets and swampy obstructions. Thus matters stood about Bentonville on the twenty-first of March. On the same day General Schofield entered Goldsboro with little or no opposition, and General Terry had got possession of the Neuse river at Cox's bridge, ten miles above, with a pontoon bridge laid and a brigade across, so that the three armies were in actual connection, and the great object of the campaign was accomplished. On the twenty-first a steady rain prevailed, during which General Mower's division of the Seventeenth corps, on the extreme right, had worked well to the right around the enemy's flank, and nearly reached the bridge across Mill creek, the only line of retreat open to the enemy. Of course there was extreme danger that the enemy would turn on him all his reserves, and it might be let go his parapets to overwhelm Mower. Accordingly I ordered at once a general attack by our skirmish line from left to right. Quite a noisy battle ensued, during which General Mower was enabled to regain his connection with his own corps by moving to his left rear. Still he had developed a weakness in the enemy's position, of which advantage might have been taken; but that night the enemy retreated on Smithfield, leaving his pickets to fall into our hands, with many dead unburied, and wounded in his field hospitals. At daybreak of the twenty-second pursuit was made two miles beyond Mill creek, but checked by my order. General Johnston had utterly failed in his attempt, and we remained in full possession of the field of battle. General Slocum reports the losses of the left wing about Bentonville at nine officers and one hundred and forty-five men killed, fifty-one officers and eight hundred and sixteen men wounded, and three officers and two hundred and twenty-three men missing, taken prisoners by the enemy; total, one thousand two hundred and forty-seven. He buried on the field one hundred and sixty-seven rebel dead, and took three hundred and thirty-eight prisoners.  General Howard reports the losses of the right wing at two officers and thirty-five men killed, twelve officers and two hundred and eighty-nine men wounded, and one officer and sixty men missing; total, three hundred and ninety-nine. He also buried one hundred rebel dead, and took one thousand two hundred and eighty-seven prisoners. The cavalry of Kilpatrick was held in reserve, and lost but few, if any, of which I have no report as yet. Our aggregate loss at Bentonville was one thousand six hundred and forty-six. I am well satisfied that the enemy lost heavily, especially during his assaults on the left wing during the afternoon of the nineteenth; but as I have no data save his dead and wounded left in our hands, I prefer to make no comparisons. Thus, as I have endeavored to explain, we had completed our march on the twenty-first, and had full possession of Goldsboro, the real “objective,” with its two railroads back to the seaports of Wilmington and Beaufort, North Carolina. These were rapidly being repaired by strong working parties directed by Colonel W. W. Wright, of the Railroad Department. A large number of supplies had already been brought forward to Kinston, to which place our wagons had been sent to receive them. I therefore directed General Howard and the cavalry to remain at Bentonville during the twenty-second, to bury the dead and remove the wounded, and on the following day all the armies to move to the camps assigned to them about Goldsboro, there to rest and receive the clothing and supplies of which they stood in need. In person I went on the twenty-second to Cox's bridge to meet General Terry, whom I met for the first time, and on the following day rode into Goldsboro, where I found General Schofield and his army. The left wing came in during the same day and next morning, and the right wing followed on the twenty-fourth, on which day the cavalry moved to Mount Olive station, and General Terry back to Faison's. On the twenty-fifth the Newbern railroad was finished, and the first train of cars came in, thus giving us the means of bringing from the depot at Morehead City full supplies for the army. It was all-important that I should have an interview with the General-in-chief, and presuming that he could not at this time leave City Point, I left General Schofield in chief command, and proceeded with all expedition by rail to Morehead City, and thence by steamer to City Point, reaching General Grant's headquarters on the evening of the twenty-seventh of March. I had the good fortune to meet General Grant, the President, Generals Meade, Ord, and others of the Army of the Potomac, and soon learned the general state of the military world, from which I had been in a great measure cut off since January. Having completed all necessary business, I reembarked on the navy steamer Bat, Captain Barnes, which Admiral Porter placed at my command, and returned via Hatteras Inlet and Newbern, reaching my own headquarters in Goldsboro during the night of the thirtieth. During my absence full supplies of clothing and food had been brought to camp, and all things were working well. I have thus rapidly sketched the progress of our columns from Savannah to Goldsboro, but for more minute details must refer to the reports of subordinate commanders and of staff officers, which are not yet ready, but will in due season be forwarded and filed with this report. I cannot even, with any degree of precision, recapitulate the vast amount of injury done the enemy, or the quantity of guns and material of war captured and destroyed. In general terms we have traversed the country from Savannah to Goldsboro, with an average breadth of forty miles, consuming all the forage, cattle, hogs, sheep, poultry, cured meats, corn meal. &c. The public enemy, instead of drawing supplies from that region to feed his armies, will be compelled to send provisions from other quarters to feed the inhabitants. A map herewith, prepared by my Chief Engineer, Colonel Poe, with the routes of the four corps and cavalry, will show at a glance the country traversed. Of course the abandonment to us by the enemy of the whole sea-coast, from Savannah to Newbern, North Carolina, with its forts, dock-yards, gunboats, &c., was a necessary incident to our occupation and destruction of the inland routes of travel and supply. But the real object of this march was to place this army in a position easy of supply, whence it could take an appropriate part in the spring and summer campaign of 1865. This was completely accomplished on the twenty-first of March by the junction of the three armies and occupation of Goldsboro. In conclusion, I beg to express in the most emphatic manner my entire satisfaction with the tone and temper of the whole army. Nothing seems to dampen their energy, zeal or cheerfulness. It is impossible to conceive a march involving more labor and exposure, yet I cannot recall an instance of bad temper by the way, or hearing an expression of doubt as to our perfect success in the end. I believe that this cheerfulness and harmony of action reflects upon all concerned quite as much real honor and fame as “battles gained” or “cities won,” and I therefore commend all, generals, staff, officers, and men, for these high qualities, in addition to the more soldierly ones of obedience to orders and the alacrity they have always manifested when danger summoned them “to the front.” I have the honor to be Your obedient servant,
Gfneral Schofield's report.
headquarters Department of North Carolina, Army of the Ohio, Goldsboro, N. C., April 3, 1865.General: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of the troops under my command since January 1, 1865, the date of my last report, addressed to Major-General George H. Thomas, commanding Department of the Cumberland, under whose command I was then serving. On the second of January, 1865, I marched with the Twenty-third Army Corps from Columbia, Tennessee, and arrived at Clifton, on the Tennessee river, on the eighth, under orders to embark my troops at that point, and, move to Eastport, Mississippi. But before the embarkation had commenced, I received, January fourteenth, an order from the Lieutenant-General commanding, through the Chief of Staff of the Army, to move with the Twenty-third Army Corps to Annapolis, Maryland. Accordingly the movement was commenced on the following day. The troops moved with their artillery and horses, but without wagons, by steam transports to Cincinnati, Ohio, and thence by rail to Washington, District of Columbia, and Alexandria, Virginia, a second order from Washington having changed the destination from Annapolis. Although in midwinter,and weather unusually severe, even for that season, the movement was effected without delay, accident, or suffering on the part of the troops. By the thirty-first of January the whole command had arrived at Washington and Alexandria. At Alexandria great and unavoidable delay was caused by the freezing of the Potomac, which rendered its navigation impossible much of the time for several weeks. Meanwhile I met the Lieutenant-General commanding at Fortress Monroe, and went with him to the mouth of Cape Fear river to consult with Rear-Admiral Porter and Major-General Terry relative to future operations. On my return to Washington an order was issued from the War Department creating the Department of North Carolina, and assigning me to its command. My instructions from the Lieutenant-General commanding, as well as those received from you, through Major-General Foster, made the ultimate object of my operations the occupation of Goldsboro, the opening of railroad communication between that point and the sea-coast, the accumulation of supplies for your army, and the junction of my force with your main army at or near Goldsboro. Wilmington was made my first objective, because it would afford a valuable auxiliary base to Morehead City, in the event of our junction being made at Goldsboro, as designed, and because its possession by us would be of great value to you in case the movement of the enemy's main army or other circumstances should render advisable a concentration of your army at some point further south than Goldsboro. As soon as it became possible to navigate the Potomac I started from Alexandria with the Third division, Twenty-third Army Corps, under command of Major-General J. D. Cox, and reached the mouth of Cape Fear river on the ninth of February, and landed upon the peninsula near Fort Fisher. Major-General A. H. Terry, with about eight thousand men, then held a line across the peninsula about two miles above the fort, and occupied Smithville and Fort Caswell on the south side of the river, while the naval squadron, under Rear-Admiral Porter, occupied positions in Cape Fear river and off the coast, covering the flanks of General Terry's line. The enemy occupied Fort Anderson, on the west bank, with a collateral line running to a large swamp about three fourths of a mile distant, and a line opposite Fort Anderson, running across the peninsula from Cape Fear river to Masonboro sound. His position was impregnable against direct attack, and could be turned only by crossing Masonboro sound, above his left, or passing around the swamp which covered his right. The force I then had seemed too small for so extended a movement as either of those mentioned, but time being important, I determined to make the attempt without waiting for the arrival of more of my troops. On the eleventh of February I pushed forward General Terry's line, supported by General Cox's division, drove in the enemy's pickets, and intrenched in a new position, close enough to the enemy's line to compel him to hold the latter in force. I then made preparation to send a fleet of navy boats and pontoons by sea to a point on the beach above the enemy's position, while a force composed of General Cox's and General Ames' divisions was to march along the beach in the night to the point where the boats were to land, haul them across the beach into the sound, and cross the latter to the main land in rear of Hoke's position. The weather, however, became so stormy as to render the execution of this plan impossible. On the night of February fourteenth I attempted to move the pontoons upon their wagons along the beach with the troops, but the unusually high tides, caused by the heavy sea and wind, made it impracticable to reach the point of crossing before daylight in the morning, when our movement would be discovered by the enemy before a crossing of the sound could be secured. Hence, after a hard night's work, the attempt was abandoned, and I turned attention to the enemy's right, where I would not have to contend with the difficulties of both land and sea. General Cox's and General Ames' divisions were crossed over to Smithville, where they were joined by Colonel Moore's brigade of General Couch's division, which had just debarked, and advanced along the main Wilmington road, until they encountered the enemy's position at Fort Anderson and adjacent works. Here two brigades were intrenched to occupy the enemy, while  General Cox, with his other two brigades and General Ames' division, started around the swamp covering the enemy's right, to strike the Wilmington road in rear of Fort Anderson. The distance to be travelled was about fifteen miles. The enemy, warned by his cavalry of General Cox's movement, hastily abandoned his works on both sides of the river during the night of February nineteenth, and fell back behind Town creek on the west, and to a corresponding position, covered by swamps, on the east. We thus gained possession of the main defences of Cape Fear river and of Wilmington, with ten pieces of heavy ordnance and a large amount of ammunition. Our loss was but trifling. On the following day General Cox pursued the enemy to Town creek, behind which he was found intrenched, and had destroyed the only bridge. General Terry also encountered the enemy in his new postion, and in force superior to General Terry's. General Ames' division was recrossed to the east bank and joined General Terry on the night of the nineteenth. On the twentieth General Cox crossed Town creek below the enemy's position, by the use of a single flat boat found in the stream, and by wading through swamps reached the enemy's flank and rear, attacked and routed him, capturing two pieces of artillery, three hundred and seventy-five prisoners, besides the killed and wounded, and dispersed the remainder. During the night General Cox rebuilt the bridge, crossed his artillery, and the next morning pushed on toward Wilmington without opposition. General Terry was unable to make any further advance, but occupied the attention of all of Hoke's force, so that he could not send any to replace that which Cox had destroyed. On the twenty-first General Cox secured a portion of the enemy's pontoon bridge across Brunswick river, which he had attempted to destroy, put a portion of his troops on to Eagle Island, and threatened to cross the Cape Fear above Wilmington. The enemy at once set fire to his steamers, cotton, and military and naval stores, and abandoned the town. Our troops entered without opposition early on the morning of February twenty-second, and General Terry pursued the enemy across North-east river. Our total loss in the operations from February eleventh to the capture of Wilmington was about two hundred officers and men killed and wounded. That of the enemy was not less than one thousand killed, wounded, and prisoners; fifty-one pieces of heavy ordnance, fifteen light pieces, and a large amount of ammunition fell into our hands. It affords me pleasure to acknowledge the cordial and constant cooperation of the naval squadron under Rear-Admiral Porter, so far as the nature of the operations would admit. Having no rolling stock at Wilmington, and being nearly destitute of wagon transportation, I was compelled to operate from Newbern alone for the capture of Goldsboro. I had already sent to Newbern about five thousand troops belonging to the various corps of your amy, and directed Brigadier-General I. M. Palmer to move, with as little delay as practicable, with all his available force toward Kinston, to cover the workmen engaged in repairing the railroad. As soon as Wilmington was secured, I also sent General Ruger's division, Twenty-third Army Corps, which was then arriving at Cape Fear inlet by sea, to Morehead City, to reinforce the column moving from Newbern. On the twenty-fifth, finding that General Palmer had not moved, as was expected, I sent Major-General Cox to take command at Newbern and push forward at once. General Couch's division, which had nearly completed its debarkation when Wilmington was captured, was brought to that place, and that division, with General Cox's, temporarily commanded by Brigadier-General Reilly, was prepared as rapidly as possible to join the column moving from Newbern by a land march. These arrangements were made because of the scarcity of both land and sea transportation. It was not until March sixth that I was able to obtain wagons enough, including those belonging to General Terry's command, to move the two divisions from Wilmington to Kinston. On the sixth, General Couch started with the two divisions, Second and Third of the Twenty-third corps, and marched, via Onslow and Richland's, for Kinston. On the same day I went by sea to Morehead City, and joined General Cox beyond Newbern on the eighth. General Cox had advanced to Wise's forks, about one and a half miles below South-west creek, and the railroad was in rapid process of reconstruction. The force in front of General Cox, which appeared to consist of Hoke's division and a small body of reserves, had fallen back behind Southwest creek, and General Cox had sent two regiments, under Colonel Upham, Fifteenth Connecticut infantry, to secure the crossing of the creek on the Dover road. The enemy, having been reinforced by a portion of the old Army of Tennessee, recrossed the creek some distance above the Dover road, came down in rear of Colonel Upham's position, and surprised and captured nearly his entire command, about seven hundred men. The enemy then advanced and endeavored to penetrate between General Carter's and General Palmer's divisions, occupying the Dover road and the railroad respectively, but was checked by General Ruger's division, which was just arriving upon the field. There was no engagement during the day beyond light skirmishing, and the loss on either. side, with the exception of the prisoners captured from Colonel Upham, was insignificant. It being evident that the enemy's force was at least equal to that of General Cox, and that  reinforcements were arriving as rapidly as they could be brought by rail, I directed General Cox to put his troops in position, intrench them securely, and await the arrival of General Couch. On the ninth, the enemy pressed our lines strongly, and felt for its flanks. Heavy skirmishing was kept up during the day, but no assault was made. On the tenth, the enemy having been largely reinforced, and doubtless learning of the approach of General Couch's column. made a heavy attack upon General Cox's left and centre, but was decisively repulsed, and with heavy loss. Both attacks were met mainly by General Ruger's division, a portion of that division having been rapidly transferred from the centre to the left to meet the attack there, and then returned to the centre in time to repel the attack on that portion of the line. The enemy retreated in confusion from the field, leaving his killed and wounded; also a large number of arms and intrenching tools, and during the night fell back across the Neuse, and burned the bridge. Our loss in this engagement was about three hundred killed and wounded; that of the enemy probably about fifteen hundred in killed, wounded, and prisoners. General Couch effected his junction with General Cox on the following day. Having no pontoon train I was unable to cross the Neuse until the bridge could be repaired, or the pontoons which had just arrived from the North could be brought by rail from Morehead City. The crossing was effected without opposition on the fourteenth, the enemy having abandoned Kinston and moved rapidly toward Smithfield to join the force under Johnston, which was concentrating to oppose your advance from Fayetteville. Immediately upon the occupation of Kinston I put a large force of troops to work upon the railroad, in aid of the construction corps under Colonel Wright, rebuilt the wagon bridge over the Neuse, and brought forward supplies preparatory to a further advance. I moved from Kinston on the morning of the twentieth, and entered Goldsboro with but slight opposition on the evening of the twenty-first. The portion of my command which had remained at Wilmington, under Major-General Terry, moved from that point March fifteenth, reached Faison's depot on the twentieth, and in compliance with your orders, moved from that point to Cox's bridge, and secured the crossing of the Neuse on the twenty-second. Your plans for the concentration of your entire army about this place having been fully accomplished on the twenty-third and twenty-fourth, I then had the honor of reporting to you in person, and uniting my troops to their old comrades in arms after a separation of near five months, marked by unparalleled marches and brilliant achievements, which will ever furnish bright pages in military history, and it is hoped proved decisive in their results upon the present rebellion. I have the honor to be, General, Very respectfully, Your obedient servant,
General Barry's report.
artillery headquarters military division of the Mississippi, Goldsboro, N. C., March 31, 1865.General: I have the honor to report the operations of the artillery of the armies under your command during the Carolina campaign of February and March, 1865. In consideration of the peculiarities of the campaign, involving long and rapid marches over bad roads, and at an inclement season of the year, the same precautions which were so advantageously taken for your Savannah campaign of last autumn were again observed. The number of guns was reduced to one per thousand effective bayonets, and each artillery carriage was provided with eight draught animals. The whole number of field batteries was sixteen, comprising sixty-eight guns, which were distributed and of calibres as follows:
|20-pounders. Parrotts.||12-pounders.||3-inch rifles.||Total.|
|Fifteenth Army Corps||4||10||4||18|
|Seventeenth Army Corps||4||10||14|
|Fourteenth Army Corps||8||8||16|
|Twentieth Army Corps||8||8||16|
|by what batteries procured||flour.||corn Mral.||bacon.||beef, &C.||potatoes.||corn.||Hay and Fodder.||horses.||mules.|
|Twentieth Army corps||8,000||10,000||25,000||50,000||50,000||350,000||300,000||96||602|
|Fourteenth Army corps.||3,000||5,200||4,360||8,065||219,920||91,800||53||85|
|Fifteenth Army corps||4,900||5,700||23,000||2,300||37,440||499,000||90,000||50||63|
|Seventeenth Army corps||2,000||3,200||18,000||218,000||106,000||50||33|
|Fourteenth Army corps||1||4||6||1||25|
|Twentieth Army corps||1||14||1||3|
|Fifteenth Army corps||5||3|
|Seventeenth Army corps||1||1||1|
|command.||no. Of rounds.|
|Fourteenth Army corps||1,007|
|Twentieth Army corps||832|
|Army of Tennessee||1,665|
|place.||captured from enemy.||lost by us.|
|No. of Guns.||No. of Guns.|
Grahams, S. C., February 7, 1865.General: I have the honor to propose that if the troops of your army be required to discontinue burning the houses of our citizens I will discontinue burning cotton. As an earnest of the good faith in which my proposition is tendered, I leave at this plate about three hundred bales cotton, unharmed, worth, in New York, over a quarter of a million, and in our currency one and a half millions. I trust my having commenced will cause you to use your influence to ensure the acceptance of the proposition by your whole army. I trust that you will not deem it improper for me to ask that you will require the troops under your command to discontinue the wanton destruction of property not necessary for their sustenance. Respectfully, General. Your obedient servant,
Answered by General Sherman.
headquarters military division of the Mississippi, in the field, February 8, 1865.General: Yours, addressed to General Howard, is received by me. I hope you will burn all cotton, and save us the trouble. We don't want it; and it has proven a curse to our country. All you don't burn I will. As to private houses, occupied by peaceful families, my orders are not to molest or disturb them, and I think my orders are obeyed. Vacant houses, being of no use to anybody, I care little about, as the owners have thought them of no use to themselves. I don't want them destroyed, but do not take much care to preserve them. I am, with respect, yours truly,
headquarters military division of the Mississippi, in the field, February 24, 1865.General: It is officially reported to me that our foraging parties are murdered after capture, and labelled “Death to all foragers.” One instance of a lieutenant and seven men near Chesterville, and another of twenty, “near a ravine eighty rods from the main road,” about three miles from Feastersville, I have ordered a similar number of prisoners in our hands to be disposed of in like manner. I hold about a thousand prisoners, captured in various ways, and can stand it as long as you, but I hardly think these murders are committed with your knowledge, and would suggest that you give notice to the people at large that every life taken by them simply results in the death of one of your confederates. Of course you cannot question my right to “forage on the country.” It is a war-right as old as history. The manner of exercising it varies with circumstances, and if the civil authorities will supply my requisitions I will forbid all foraging. But I find no civil authorities who can respond to calls for forage or provisions, therefore must collect directly of the people. I have no doubt this is the occasion of much misbehavior on the part of our men, but I cannot permit an enemy to judge, or punish with wholesale murder. Personally I regret the bitter feelings engendered by this war; but they were to be expected; and I simply allege that those who struck the first blow, and made war inevitable, ought not, in fairness, to reproach us for the natural consequences. I merely assert our warright to forage, and my resolve to protect my foragers to the extent of life for life. I am, with respect, Your obedientservant
Headquarters in the field, February 27, 1865.Genral: Your communication of the twenty-fourth inst. reached me to-day. In it you state that it has been officially reported that your foraging parties are “murdered” after capture. You go on to say that you have “ordered a similar number of prisoners in our hands to be disposed of in like manner;” that is to say, have ordered a number of Confederate soldiers to be “murdered.” You characterize your order in proper terms, for the public voice, even in your own country, where it seldom dares to express itself in vindication of truth, honor, or justice, will surely agree with you in pronouncing you guilty of murder, if your order is carried out. Before dismissing this portion of your letter, I beg to assure you, that for every soldier of mine “murdered” by you, I shall have executed at once two of yours, giving, in all cases, preference to any officers who may be in my hands. In reference to the statement you make regarding the death of your foragers, I have only to say that I know nothing of it; that no orders given by me authorize the killing of prisoners after capture, and I do not believe my men killed any of yours except under circumstances in which it was perfectly legitimate and proper they should kill them. It is a part of the system of the thieves whom you designate as your foragers to fire the dwellings of those citizens whom they have robbed. To check this inhuman system, which is justly execrated by every civilized nation, I have directed my men to shoot down all of your men who are caught burning houses. This order shall remain in force so long as you disgrace the profession of arms by allowing your men to destroy private dwellings. You say that I cannot, of course, question your right to forage on the country. “It is a right as old as history.” I do not, sir, question this right. But there is a right older even than this, and one more inalienable — the right that every man has to defend his home, and to protect those who are dependent on him: and from my heart I wish that every old man and boy in my country, who can fire a gun, would shoot down, as he would a wild beast, the men who are desolating their land, burning their homes, and insulting their women. You are particular in defining and claiming “war-rights.” May I ask if you enumerate among these the right to fire upon a defenseless city without notice; to burn that city to the ground after it had been surrendered by the inhabitants, who claimed, though in vain, that protection which is always accorded in civilized warfare to non-combatants; to fire the dwelling-houses of citizens after robbing them, and to perpetrate even darker crimes than these — crimes too black to be mentioned. You have permitted, if you have not ordered, the commission of these offences against humanity and the rules of war. You fired into the city of Columbia without a word of warning, after its surrender by the mayor, who demanded protection to private property; you laid the whole city in ashes, leaving amidst its ruins thousands of old men and helpless women and children, who are likely to perish of starvation and exposure. Your line of march can be traced by the lurid light of burning houses; and in more than one household there is an agony far you more bitter than that of death. The Indian scalped his victim regardless of age or sex, but with all his barbarity he always respected the persons of his female captives. Your soldiers, more savage than the Indian, insult those whose natural protectors are absent. In conclusion, I have only to request that whenever you have any of my men “murdered” or “disposed of” --for the terms seem synonymous with you — you will let me hear of it, that I may know what action to take in the matter.  In the mean time I shall hold fifty-six of your men as hostages for those whom you have ordered to be executed. I am yours, &c.,