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Doc. 109. surrender of General Johnston.

Major-General Sherman's report.

headquarters military division of the Mississippi, In the Field, City Point, Virginia, May 9, 1865.
General — My last official report brought the history of events, as connected with the armies in the field subject to my immediate command, down to the first of April, when the Army of the Ohio, Major-General J. M. Schofield commanding, lay at Goldsboroa, with detachments distributed so as to secure and cover our routes of communication and supply back to the sea at Wilmington and Morehead City; Major-General A. H. Terry, with the Tenth corps, being at Faison's depot; the Army of the Tennessee, Major-General O. O. Howard commanding, was encamped to the right and front of Goldsboroa, and the Army of Georgia, Major-General H. W. Slocum commanding, to its left and front; the cavalry, Brevet-Major-General J. Kilpatrick commanding, at Mount Olive. All were busy in repairing the wear and tear of our then recent and hard march from Savannah, or in replenishing clothing and stores necessary for a further progress.

I had previously, by letter and in person, notified the Lieutenant-General commanding the armies of the United States that the tenth of April would be the earliest possible moment at which I could hope to have all things in readiness, and we were compelled to use our railroads to the very highest possible limit in order to fulfil that promise. Owing to a mistake in the railroad department in sending locomotives and cars of the five-foot gauge, we were limited to the use of the few locomotives and cars of the four-foot-eight-and-a-half-inch gauge already in North Carolina, with such of the old stock as was captured by Major-General Terry at Wilmington, and on his way up to Goldsboroa. Yet such judicious use was made of these, and such industry displayed in the railroad management by Generals Easton and Beckwith, and Colonel Wright and Mr. Van Dyne, that by the tenth of April our men were all reclad, the wagons reloaded, and a fair amount of forage accumulated ahead.

In the meantime Major-General George Stoneman, in command of a division of cavalry operating from East Tennessee in connection with Major-General George H. Thomas, in pursuance of my orders of January twenty-one, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, had reached the railroad about Greensboroa, North Carolina, and had made sad havoc with it, and had pushed along it to Salisbury, destroying en route bridges, culverts, depots, and all kinds of rebel supplies, and had extended the break in the railroad down to the Catawba bridge.

This was fatal to the hostile armies of Lee and Johnston, who depended on that road for supplies and as their ultimate line of retreat. Major-General J. H. Wilson, also in command of the cavalry corps organized by himself under Special Field Orders No.--, of October twenty-four, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-four, at Gaylesville, Alabama, had started from the neighborhood of Decatur and Florence, Alabama, and moved straight into the heart of Alabama, on a route prescribed for General Thomas after he had defeated General Hood at Nashville Tennessee; but the roads being too heavy for infantry, General Thomas had devolved that duty on that most energetic young cavalry officer, General Wilson, who, imbued with the proper spirit, has struck one of the best blows of the war at the waning strength of the Confederacy. His route was one never before touched by our troops, and afforded him abundance of supplies as long as he was in motion, namely, by Tuscaloosa, Selma, Montgomery, Columbus and Macon. Though in communication with him, I have not been able to receive as yet his full and detailed reports, which will in due time be published and appreciated. Lieutenant-General Grant, also in immediate command of the armies about Richmond, had taken the initiative in that magnificent campaign which, in less than ten days, compelled the evacuation of Richmond, and resulted in the destruction and surrender of the entire rebel army of Virginia under command of General Lee.

The news of the battles about Petersburg reached me at Goldsboroa on the sixth of April. Up to that time my purpose was to move rapidly northward, feigning on Raleigh and striking straight for Burksville, thereby interposing between Johnston and Lee. But the auspicious events in Virginia had changed the whole military problem, and in the expressive language of Lieutenant-General Grant, “the Confederate armies of Lee and Johnston” became the “strategic points.” General Grant was fully able to take care of the former, and my task was to capture or destroy the latter. Johnston at that time, April six, had his army well in hand about Smithfield, interposing between me and Raleigh. I estimated his infantry and artillery at thirty-five thousand, and his cavalry from six thousand to ten thousand. He was superior to me in cavalry, so that I held General Kilpatrick in reserve at Mount Olive, with orders to recruit his horses and be ready to make a sudden and rapid march on the tenth of April.

At daybreak of the day appointed all the heads of columns were in motion straight against the enemy, Major-General H. W. Slocum taking the two direct roads for Smithfield; Major-General O. O. Howard making a circuit by the right and feigning up the Weldon road, to disconcert the enemy's cavalry; Generals Terry and Kilpatrick moving on the west side of the Neuse river, and aiming to reach the rear of the enemy between Smithfield and Raleigh. General Schofield followed General Slocum in support.

All the columns met, within six miles of Goldsboroa, more or less cavalry, with the usual [628] rail barricades, which were swept before us as chaff, and by ten A. M. of the eleventh the Fourteenth corps entered Smithfield, the Twentieth corps close at hand. Johnston had rapidly retreated across the Neuse river, and, having his railroad to lighten up his trains, could retreat faster than we could pursue. The rains had also set in, making the resort to corduroy absolutely necessary to pass even ambulances. The enemy had burned the bridge at Smithfield, and as soon as possible Major-General Slocum got up his pontoons and crossed over a division of the Fourteenth corps. We there heard of the surrender of Lee's army at Appomattox Court-house, Virginia, which was announced to the armies in orders, and created universal joy. Not an officer or soldier of my armies but expressed a pride and satisfaction that it fell to the lot of Armies of the Potomac and James so gloriously to overwhelm and capture the entire army that held them so long in check, and their success gave new impulse to finish up our task. Without a moment's hesitation we dropped our trains and marched rapidly in pursuit to and through Raleigh, reaching that place at 7:30 A. M. of the thirteenth in a heavy rain. The next day the cavalry pushed on through the rain to Durham's station, the Fifteenth corps following as far as Morrisville station, and the Seventeenth corps to Jones' station. On the supposition that Johnston was tied to his railroad as a line of retreat, by Hilsboroa, Greensboroa, Salisbury, Charlotte, &c., I had turned the other columns across the bend of that road toward Ashboroa (See Special Field Orders number fifty-five.) The cavalry. Brevet Major-General J. Kilpatrick commanding, was ordered to keep up a show of pursuit to the “Company's shops,” in Alamance county; Major-General O. O. Howard to turn to the left by Hackney's cross-roads, Pittsboroa, St. Lawrence and Ashboroa; Major-General H. W. Slocum to cross Cape Fear river at Aven's ferry, and move rapidly by Carthage, Caledonia, and Cox's Mills; Major-General J. M. Schofield was to hold Raleigh and the road back, and with his spare force to follow an intermediate route.

By the fifteenth, though the rains were incessant and the roads almost impracticable, Major-General Slocum had the Fourteenth corps, Brevet Major-General Davis commanding, near Martha's Vineyard, with a pontoon bridge laid across Cape Fear river at Aven's ferry, with the Twentieth corps, Major-General Mower commanding, in support. and Major General Howard had the Fifteenth and Seventeenth corps stretched out on the roads toward Pittsboroa, while General Kilpatrick held Durham's Station and Chapel Hill University.

Johnston's army was retreating rapidly on the roads from Hilsboroa to Greensboroa, he himself at Greensboroa. Although out of place as to time, I here invite all military critics who study the problems of war to take their maps and compare the position of my army on the fifteenth and sixteenth of April, with that of General Halleck about Burksville and Petersburg, Virginia, on the twenty-sixth of April, when, according to his telegram to Secretary Stanton, he offered to relieve me of the task of “cutting off Johnston's retreat.” Major-General Stoneman at the time was at Statesville, and Johnston's only line of retreat was by Salisbury and Charlotte. It may be that General Halleck's troops can outmarch mine, but there is nothing in their past history to show it, or it may be that General Halleck can inspire his troops with more energy of action. I doubt that also, save and except in this single instance, when he knew the enemy was ready to surrender or disperse, as advised by my letter of April eighteen, addressed to him when Chief of Staff at Washington city, and delivered at Washington on the twenty-first instant by Major Hitchcock, of my staff.

Thus matters stood at the time I received General Johnston's first letter and made my answer of April fourteenth, copies of which were sent with all expedition to Lieutenant-General Grant and the Secretary of War, with my letter of April fifteenth. I agreed to meet General Johnston in person at a point intermediate between our pickets on the seventeenth at noon, provided the position of the troops remained statu quo. I was both willing and anxious thus to consume a few days, as it would enable Colonel Wright to finish our railroad to Raleigh.

Two bridges had to be built and twelve miles of new road made. We had no iron except by taking up that on the branch from Goldsboroa to Weldon. Instead of losing by time I gained in every way, for every hour of delay possible was required to reconstruct the railroad to our rear and improve the condition of our wagon-roads to the front, so desirable in case the negotiations failed, and we be forced to make the race of nearly two hundred miles to head off or catch Johnston's army, then retreating toward Charlotte.

At noon of the day appointed I met General Johnston for the first time in my life, although we had been interchanging shots constantly since May, 1863.

Our interview was frank and soldier-like, and he gave me to understand that further war on the part of the Confederate troops was folly; that the cause was lost; and that every life sacrificed after the surrender of Lee's army was the highest possible crime. He admitted that the terms conceded to General Lee were magnanimous and all he could ask, but he did want some general concessions that would enable him to allay the natural fears and anxiety of his followers, and enable him to maintain his control over them until they could be got back to the neighborhood of their homes, thereby saving the State of North Carolina the devastations inevitably to result from turning his men loose and unprovided on the spot, and our pursuit across the State. [629]

He also wanted to embrace in the same general proposition the fate of all the Confederate armies that remained in existence. I never made any concession as to his own army, or assumed to deal finally or authoritatively in regard to any other, but it did seem to me that there was presented a chance for peace that might be deemed valuable to the Government of the United States, and was at least worth the few days that would be consumed in reference.

To push an army whose commander had so frankly and honestly confessed his inability to cope with me were cowardly and unworthy the brave men I led.

Inasmuch as General Johnston did not feel authorized to pledge his power over the armies of Texas, we adjourned to meet next day at noon. I returned to Raleigh and conferred freely with all my general officers, every one of whom urged me to conclude terms that might accomplish so complete and desirable an end. All dreaded the weary and laborious march after a fugitive and dissolving army back toward Georgia, almost over the very country where we had toiled so long. There was but one opinion expressed, and if contrary ones were entertained they were withheld, or indulged in only by that class who shun the fight and the march, but are loudest, bravest, and fiercest when danger is past. I again met General Johnston on the eighteenth, and we renewed the conversation. He satisfied me then of his power to disband the rebel armies in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, as well as those in his immediate command-namely, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia.

The points on which he expressed especial solicitude were lest their States were to be dismembered and denied representation in Congress, or any separate political existence whatever, and that the absolute disarming his men would leave the South powerless and exposed to depredations by wicked bands of assassins and robbers.

President Lincoln's message of 1864; his amnesty proclamation; General Grant's terms to General Lee, substantially extending the benefits of that proclamation to all officers above the rank of colonel; the invitation to the Virginia legislature to reassemble in Richmond by General Weitzel, with the approval of Mr. Lincoln and General Grant, then on the spot; a firm belief that I had been fighting to re-establish the Constitution of the United States; and last, and not least, the general and universal desire to close a war any longer without organized resistance, were the leading facts that induced me to pen the “memorandum” of April eighteen, signed by myself and General Johnston.

It was designed to be, and so expressed on its face, as a mere “basis” for reference to the President of the United States and constitutional commander-in-chief. to enable him, if he chose, at one blow to dissipate the military power of the Confederacy, which had threatened the national safety for years. It admitted of modification, alteration, and change. It had no appearance of an ultimatum, and by no false reasoning can it be construed into an usurpation of power on my part. I have my opinions on the questions involved, and I will stand by the memorandum; but this forms no part of a military report. Immediately on my return to Raleigh I despatched one of my staff, Major Hitchcock, to Washington, enjoining him to be most prudent and careful to avoid the spies and informers that would be sure to infest him by the way, and to say nothing to anybody until the President could make known to me his wishes and policy in the matter.

The news of President Lincoln's assassination on the fourteenth of April (wrongly reported to me by telegraph as having occurred on the eleventh) reached me on the seventeenth, and was announced to my command on the same day in Special Field Orders No. 56. I was duly impressed with its horrible atrocity and probable effect upon the country; but when the property and interests of millions still living were involved, I saw no good reason to change my course, but thought rather to manifest real respect for his memory by following after his death that policy which, if living, I feel certain he would have approved, or at least not rejected with disdain.

Up to that hour I had never received one word of instruction, advice, or counsel as to the “plan or policy” of Government looking to a restoration of peace on the part of the rebel States of the South. Whenever asked for an opinion on the points involved, I had always evaded the subject. My letter to the mayor of Atlanta has been published to the world, and I was not rebuked by the War Department for it.

My letter to Mr. N----W----, at Savannah, was shown by me to Mr. Stanton before its publication, and all that my memory retains of his answer is that he said, like my letters generally, it was sufficiently “emphatic, and could not be misunderstood.”

Both these letters asserted my belief that, according to Mr. Lincoln's proclamation and messages, when the people of the South had laid down their arms and submitted to the lawful power of the United States, ipso facto the war was over as to them; and furthermore that if any State in rebellion would conform to the Constitution of the United States, “cease war,” elect senators and representatives to Congress, if admitted (of which each house of Congress alone is the judge), that State became instanter as much in the Union as New York or Ohio. Nor was I rebuked for this expression, though it was universally known and commented on at the time. And again, Mr. Stanton, in person, at Savannah, speaking of the terrific expenses of the war, and difficulty of realizing the money necessary for the daily wants of the government, impressed me most forcibly with the necessity of bringing the war [630] to a close as soon as possible for financial reasons.

On the evening of April twenty-three Major Hitchcock reported his return to Morehead City with despatches, of which fact General Johnston, at Hillsboroa, was notified, so as to be ready in the morning for an answer. At six o'clock A. M. on the twenty-fourth Major Hitchcock arrived, accompanied by General Grant and members of his staff, who had not telegraphed the fact of his coming over our exposed road for prudential reasons.

I soon learned that the memorandum was disapproved, without reasons assigned, and I was ordered to give the forty-eight hours notice, and resume hostilities at the close of that time, governing myself by the substance of a despatch then enclosed, dated March third, twelve noon, at Washington, District of Columbia, from Secretary Stanton to General Grant, at City Point, but not accompanied by any part of the voluminous matter so liberally lavished on the public in the New York journals of the twenty-fourth of April. That was the first and only time I ever saw that telegram, or had one word of instruction on the important matter involved in it; and it does seem strange to me that every bar-room loafer in New York can read in the morning journals “official” matter that is withheld from a general whose command extends from Kentucky to North Carolina.

Within an hour a courier was riding from Durham's Station toward Hillsboroa with notice to General Johnston of the suspension of the truce, and renewing my demand for the surrender of the armies under his immediate command (see two letters, April twenty-four, six A. M.), and at twelve noon I had the receipt of his picket officer.

I therefore published my Orders No. 62 to the troops terminating the truce at twelve M. on the twenty-sixth, and ordered all to be in readiness to march at that hour on the routes prescribed in Special Field Order No. 55, April fourteen, from the positions held April eighteen.

General Grant had orders from the President, through the Secretary of War, to direct military movements, and I explained to him the exact position of the troops, and he approved of it most emphatically; but he did not relieve me or express a wish to assume command. All things were in readiness, when, on the evening of the twenty-fifth, I received another letter from General Johnston asking another interview to renew negotiations.

General Grant not only approved, but urged me to accept, and I appointed a meeting at our former place at noon of the twenty-sixth, the very hour fixed for the renewal of hostilities. General Johnston was delayed by an accident to his train, but at two P. M. arrived. We then consulted, concluded and signed the final terms of capitulation. These were taken by me back to Raleigh, submitted to General Grant, and met his immediate approval and signature. General Johnston was not even aware of the presence of General Grant at Raleigh at the time.

Thus was surrendered to us the second great army of the so-called Confederacy, and though undue importance has been given to the so-called negotiations which preceded it, and a rebuke and public disfavor cast on me wholly unwarranted by the facts, I rejoice in saying it was accomplished without further ruin and devastation to the country, without the loss of a single life to those gallant men who had followed me from the Mississippi to the Atlantic, and without subjecting brave men to the ungracious task of pursuing a fleeing foe that did not want to fight. As for myself, I know my motives, and challenge the instance during the past four years where an armed and defiant foe stood before me that I did not go in for a fight, and I would blush for shame if I ever insulted or struck a fallen foe. The instant the terms of surrender were approved by General Grant, I made my Orders No. 65, assigning to each of my subordinate commanders his share of the work, and with General Grant's approval, made Special Field Orders No. 66, putting in motion my old army (no longer required in Carolina) northward for Richmond. General Grant left Raleigh at nine A. M. of the twenty-seventh, and I glory in the fact that during his three days stay with me I did not detect in his language or manner one particle of abatement in the confidence, respect, and affection that have existed between us throughout all i the varied events of the past war, and though we have honestly differed in opinion in other cases, as well as this, still we respected each other's honest convictions.

I still adhere to my then opinions, that, by a few general concessions, “glittering generalities,” all of which in the end must and will be conceded to the organized States of the South, this day there would not be an armed battalion opposed to us within the broad area of the dominions of the United States. Robbers and assassins must in any event result from the disbandment of large armies, but even these should be and could be taken care of by the local civil authorities without being made a charge on the national treasury. On the evening of the twenty-eighth, having concluded all business requiring my personal attention at Raleigh, and having conferred with every army commander and delegated to him the authority necessary for his future action, I despatched my headquarters wagons by land along with the Seventeenth corps, the office in charge of General Webster from Newbern to Alexandria, Virginia, by sea, and in person, accompanied only by my personal staff, hastened to Savannah, to direct matters in the interior of South Carolina and Georgia. I had received across the rebel telegraph wires cipher despatches from General Wilson at Macon, to the effect that he was in receipt of my Orders No. 65, and would send [631] General Upton's division to Augusta, General McCook's division to Tallahassee, to receive the surrender of those garrisons, take charge of the public property, and execute the paroles required by the terms of the surrender. He reported a sufficiency of forage for his horses in South-west Georgia, but asked me to send him a supply of clothing, sugar, coffee, &c., by way of Augusta, Georgia, whence he could get it by rail.

I therefore went rapidly to Goldsboroa and Wilmington, reaching the latter city at ten A. M. of the twenty-ninth, and the same day embarked for Hilton Head in the blockade-runner Russia, Captain A. M. Smith. I found General Q. A. Gillmore, commanding Department of the South, at Hilton Head, on the evening of April thirtieth, and ordered him to send to Augusta at once what clothing and small stores he could spare for General Wilson, and to open up a line of certain communication and supply with him at Macon, Within an hour the captured steam-boats Jeff Davis and Amazon, both adapted to the shallow and crooked navigation of the Savannah river, were being loaded, the one at Savannah and the other at Hilton Head. The former started up the river on the first of May, in charge of a very intelligent officer (whose name I cannot recall) and forty-eight men, all the boat could carry, with orders to occupy temporarily the United States arsenal at Augusta, and to open up communication with General Wilson at Macon, in the event that General McCook's division of cavalry was not already there. The Amazon followed next day, and General Gillmore had made the necessary orders for a brigade of infantry, to be commanded by General Molyneaux, to follow by a land march to Augusta as its permanent garrison. Another brigade of infantry was ordered to occupy Orangeburg, South Carolina, the point furthest in the interior that can at present be reached by rail from the sea-coast (Charleston).

On the first of May I went on to Savannah, where General Gillmore also joined me, and the arrangements ordered for the occupation of Augusta were consummated.

At Savannah I found the city in the most admirable police, under direction of Brevet Major-General Grover, and the citizens manifested the most unqualified joy to hear that, so far as they were concerned, the war was over. All classes, Union men as well as former rebels, did not conceal, however, the apprehensions naturally arising from a total ignorance of the political conditions to be attached to their future state. Anything at all would be preferable to this dread uncertainty.

On the evening of the second of May I returned to Hilton Head, and there, for the first time, received the New York papers of April twenty-eighth, containing Secretary Stanton's despatch of nine A. M. of the twenty-seventh of April to General Dix, including General Halleck's, from Richmond, of nine P. M. of the night before, which seems to have been rushed with extreme haste before an excited public, namely, morning of the twenty-eighth. You will observe from the dates that these despatches were running back and forth from Richmond and Washington to New York, and there published, while General Grant and I were together in Raleigh, North Carolina, adjusting, to the best of our ability, the terms of surrender of the only remaining formidable rebel army in existence at the time east of the Mississippi river. Not one word of intimation had been sent to me of the displeasure of the Government with my official conduct, but only the naked disapproval of a skeleton memorandum sent properly for the action of the President of the United States.

The most objectionable features of my memorandum had already (April twenty-fourth) been published to the world in violation of official usage, and the contents of my accompanying letters to General Halleck, General Grant, and Mr. Stanton, of even date, though at hand, were suppressed.

In all these letters I had stated clearly and distinctly that Johnston's army would not fight, but, if pushed, would “disband” and “scatter” into small and dangerous guerrilla parties as injurious to the interests of the United States as to the rebels themselves; that all parties admitted that the rebel cause of the South was abandoned; that the negro was free; and that the temper of all was most favorable to a lasting peace. I say all these opinions of mine were withheld from the public with a seeming purpose; and I do contend that my official experience and former services, as well as my past life and familiarity with the people and geography of the South, entitled my opinions to at least a decent respect,

Although this despatch (Mr. Stanton's of April twenty-seventh) was printed “official,” it had come to me only in the questionable newspapar paragraph, headed “Sherman's truce disregarded.”

I had already done what General Wilson wanted me to do, namely, had sent him supplies of clothing and food, with clear and distinct orders and instructions how to carry out in Western Georgia the terms for the surrender of arms and paroling of prisoners made by General Johnston's capitulation of April twenty-sixth, and had properly and most opportunely ordered General Gillmore to occupy Orangeburg and Augusta, strategic points of great value at all times, in peace or war; but as the Secretary had taken upon himself to order my subordinate generals to disobey my “orders,” I explained to General Gillmore that I would no longer confuse him or General Wilson with “orders” that might conflict with those of the Secretary, which, as reported, were sent, not through me, but in open disregard of me and of my lawful authority.

It now becomes my duty to paint, in justly severe characters, the still more offensive and dangerous matter of General Halleck's despatch of April twenty-sixth to the Secretary of War, [632] embodied in his to General Dix of April twenty-seventh.

General Halleck had been Chief of Staff of the army at Washington, in which capacity he must have received my official letter of April eighteenth, wherein I wrote clearly that if Johnston's army about Greensboroa were “pushed” it would “disperse,” an event I wished to prevent. About that time he seems to have been sent from Washington to Richmond to command the new military division of the James, in assuming charge of which, on the twenty-second, he defines the limits of his authority to be the “Department of Virginia, the Army of the Potomac, and such part of North Carolina as may not be occupied by the command of Major-General Sherman.” (See his General Orders No. 1). Four days later, April twenty-sixth, he reports to the Secretary that he has ordered Generals Meade, Sheridan, and Wright, to invade that part of North Carolina which was occupied by my command, and pay “no regard to any truce or orders of” mine. They were ordered to “push forward, regardless of any orders save those of Lieutenant-General Grant, and cut off Johnston's retreat.” He knew at the time he penned that despatch and made those orders, that Johnston was not retreating, but was halted under a forty-eight hours truce with me, and was laboring to surrender his command and prevent its dispersion into guerrilla bands, and that I had on the spot a magnificent army at my command, amply sufficient for all purposes required by the occasion.

The plan of cutting off a retreat from the direction of Burksville and Danville is hardly worthy one of his military education and genius. When he contemplated an act so questionable as the violation of a “truce” made by competent authority within his sphere of command, he should have gone himself and not have sent subordinates, for he knew I was bound in honor to defend and maintain my own truce and pledge of faith, even at the cost of many lives.

When an officer pledges the faith of his government, he is bound to defend it, and he is no soldier who would violate it knowingly.

As to Davis and his stolen treasure, did General Halleck, as Chief of Staff or commanding officer of the neighboring military division, notify me of the facts contained in his despatch to the Secretary? No, he did not. If the Secretary of War wanted Davis caught, why not order it, instead of, by publishing in the newspapers, putting him on his guard to hide away and escape? No orders or instructions to catch Davis or his stolen treasure ever came to me; but on the contrary, I was led to believe that the Secretary of War rather preferred he should effect an escape from the country, if made “unknown” to him. But even on this point I enclose a copy of my letter to Admiral Dahlgren, at Charleston, sent him by a fleet steamer from Wilmington on the twenty-fifth of April, two days before the bankers of Richmond had imparted to General Halleck the important secret as to Davis' movements, designed doubtless to stimulate his troops to march their legs off to catch their treasure for their own use.

I know now that Admiral Dahlgren did receive my letter on the twenty-sixth, and had acted on it before General Halleck had even thought of the matter; but I don't believe a word of the treasure story; it is absurd on its face, and General Halleck or anybody has my full permission to chase Jeff. Davis and cabinet, with their stolen treasure, through any part of the country occupied by my command.

The last and most obnoxious feature of General Halleck's despatch is wherein he goes out of his way, and advises that my subordinates, Generals Thomas, Stoneman, and Wilson, should be instructed not to obey “Sherman's” commands.

This is too much, and I turn from the subject with feelings too strong for words, and merely record my belief that so much mischief was never before embraced in so small a space as in the newspaper paragraph headed “Sherman's truce disregarded,” authenticated as “official” by Mr. Secretary Stanton, and published in the New York papers of April twenty-eighth.

During the night of May second, at Hilton Head, having concluded my business in the Department of the South, I began my return to meet my troops then marching toward Richmond from Raleigh. On the morning of the third we ran into Charleston harbor, where I had the pleasure to meet Admiral Dahlgren, who had, in all my previous operations from Savannah northward, aided me with a courtesy and manliness that commanded my entire respect and deep affection; also General Hatch, who, from our first interview at his Tullafinnay camp, had caught the spirit of the move from Pocotaligo northward, and had largely contributed to our joint success in taking Charleston and the Carolina coast. Any one who is not satisfied with war should go and see Charleston, and he will pray louder and deeper than ever that the country may in the long future be spared any more war. Charleston and secession being synonymous terms, the city should be left as a sample, so that centuries may pass away before that false doctrine is again preached in our Union.

We left Charleston on the evening of the third of May, and hastened with all possible speed back to Morehead City, which we reached at night of the fourth. I immediately communicated by telegraph with General Schofield at Raleigh, and learned from him the pleasing fact that the Lieutenant-General commanding the armies of the United States had reached the Chesapeake in time to countermand General Halleck's orders, and prevent his violating my truce, invading the area of my command, and driving Johnston's surrendering army into fragments. General Johnston had fulfilled his agreement to the very best of his ability; and the officers charged with issuing the paroles at Greensboroa reported about thirty thousand (30,000) already made, and that the greater part of the North [633] Carolina troops had gone home without waiting for their papers, but that all of them would doubtless come into some one of the military posts, the commanders of which are authorized to grant them. About eight hundred (800) of the rebel cavalry had gone south, refusing to abide the terms of the surrender, and it was supposed they would make for Mexico. I would sincerely advise that they be encouraged to go and stay; they would be a nuisance to any civilized government, whether loose or in prison.

With the exception of some plundering on the part of Lee's and Johnston's disbanded men, all else in North Carolina was “quiet.” When to the number of men surrendered at Greensboroa are added those at Tallahassee, Augusta, and Macon, with the scattered squads who will come in at other military posts, I have no doubt fifty thousand (50,000) armed men will be disarmed and restored to civil pursuits by the capitulation made near Durham's station, North Carolina, on the twenty-sixth of April, and that, too, without the loss of a single life to us.

On the fifth of May I received and here subjoin a further despatch from General Schofield, which contains inquiries I have been unable to satisfy, similar to those made by nearly every officer in my command whose duty brings him in contact with citizens. I leave you to do what you think expedient to provide the military remedy.

[By telegraph ]

When General Grant was here, as you doubtless recollect, he said the lines had been extended to embrace this and other States south. The order, it seems, has been modified so as to include only Virginia and Tennessee. I think it would be an act of wisdom to open this State to trade at once. I hope the Government will make known its policy in the organ of State governments without delay. Affairs must necessarily be in a very unsettled state until that is done; the people are now in a mood to accept almost anything which promises a definite settlement.

What is to be done with the freedmen is the question of all, and is the all-important question. It requires prompt and wise action to prevent the negro from becoming a huge elephant on our hands. If I am to govern this State, it is important for me to know it at once. If another is to be sent here, it cannot be done too soon, for he will probably undo the most that I shall have done. I shall be glad to hear from you freely when you have time to write.

I will send your message to Wilson at once.

I give this despatch entire, to demonstrate how intermingled have become civil matters with the military, and how almost impossible it has become for an officer in authority to act a purely military part.

There are no longer armed enemies in North Carolina, and a soldier can deal with no other sort. The marshals and sheriffs with their posses (of which the military may become a part), are the only proper officers to deal with civil criminals and marauders. But I will not be drawn out in a discussion of this subject, but instance the case to show how difficult is the task become to military officers, when men of the rank, education, experience, nerve, and good sense of General Schofield feel embarrassed by them.

General Schofield, at Raleigh, has a well-appointed and well-disciplined command, is in telegraph communication with the controlling parts of his department, and remote ones in the direction of Georgia, as well as with Washington, and has military possession of all strategic points.

In like manner General Gillmore is well situated in all respects except as to rapid communication with the seat of the general Government. I leave him also with every man he ever asked for, and in full and quiet. possession of every strategic point in his department; and General Wilson has in the very heart of Georgia the strongest, best-appointed, and best-equipped cavalry corps that ever fell under my command; and he has now, by my recent action, opened to him a source and route of supply by way of Savannah river that simplifies his military problem, so that I think I may with a clear conscience leave them and turn my attention once more to my special command, the army with which I have been associated through some of the most eventful scenes of this or any war.

I hope and believe none of these commanders will ever have reason to reproach me for any “orders” they may have received from me, and the President of the United States may be assured that all of them are in position, ready and willing to execute to the letter and in spirit any orders he may give. I shall henceforth cease to give them any orders at all, for the occasion that made them subordinate to me is past, and I shall confine my attention to the army composed of the Fifteenth and Seventeenth, the Fourteenth and Twentieth corps, unless the Commanding General of the armies of the United States orders otherwise.

At four P. M. of May 9 I reached Manchester, on the James river, opposite Richmond, and found that all the four corps had arrived from Raleigh, and were engaged in replenishing their wagons for the resumption of the march toward Alexandria,

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

W. T. Sherman, Major-General, Commanding. General John A. Rawlins, Chief of Staff, Washington, D. C.

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