Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

the river to bring you through. I shall establish communication

with you there, by steamboat and gunboat. By this means your wants

can be partially supplied. I shall hope to hear from you soon, and

to hear your plan, and about the time of starting.

Please instruct Foster to hold on to all the property in Savannah,

and especially the cotton. Do not turn it over to citizens or

Treasury agents, without orders of the War Department.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.



Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, City Point.

GENERAL : I have received, by the hands of General Barnard, your

note of 26th and letter of 27th December.

I herewith inclose to you a copy of a projet which I have this

morning, in strict confidence, discussed with my immediate


I shall need, however, larger supplies of stores, especially grain.

I will inclose to you, with this, letters from General Easton,

quartermaster, and Colonel Beckwith, commissary of subsistence,

setting forth what will be required, and trust you will forward

them to Washington with your sanction, so that the necessary steps

may be taken at once to enable me to carry out this plan on time.

I wrote you very fully on the 24th, and have nothing to add. Every

thing here is quiet, and if I can get the necessary supplies in our

wagons, shall be ready to start at the time indicated in my projet

(January 15th). But, until those supplies are in hand, I can do

nothing; after they are, I shall be ready to move with great


I have heard of the affair at Cape Fear. It has turned out as you

will remember I expected.

I have furnished General Easton a copy of the dispatch from the

Secretary of War. He will retain possession of all cotton here,

and ship it as fast as vessels can be had to New York.

I shall immediately send the Seventeenth Corps over to Port Royal,

by boats, to be furnished by Admiral Dahlgren and General Foster

(without interfering with General Easton's vessels), to make a

lodgment on the railroad at Pocotaligo.

General Barnard will remain with me a few days, and I send this by

a staff-officer, who can return on one of the vessels of the

supply-fleet. I suppose that, now that General Butler has got

through with them, you can spare them to us.

My report of recent operations is nearly ready, and will be sent

you in a day or two, as soon as some farther subordinate reports

come in.

I am, with great respect, very truly, your friend,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

[Entirely confidential]


1. Right wing to move men and artillery by transports to head of

Broad River and Beaufort; reestablish Port Royal Ferry, and mass

the wing at or in the neighborhood of Pocotaligo.

Left wing and cavalry to work slowly across the causeway toward

Hardeeville, to open a road by which wagons can reach their corps

about Broad River; also, by a rapid movement of the left, to secure

Sister's Ferry, and Augusta road out to Robertsville.

In the mean time, all guns, shot, shell, cotton, etc., to be moved

to a safe place, easy to guard, and provisions and wagons got ready

for another swath, aiming to have our army in hand about the head

of Broad River, say Pocotaligo, Robertsville, and Coosawhatchie, by

the 15th January.

2. The whole army to move with loaded wagons by the roads leading

in the direction of Columbia, which afford the best chance of

forage and provisions. Howard to be at Pocotaligo by the 15th

January, and Slocum to be at Robertsville, and Kilpatrick at or

near Coosawhatchie about the same date. General Fosters troops to

occupy Savannah, and gunboats to protect the rivers as soon as

Howard gets Pocotaligo.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

Therefore, on the 2d of January, I was authorized to march with my

entire army north by land, and concluded at once to secure a

foothold or starting-point on the South Carolina side, selecting

Pocotaligo and Hardeeville as the points of rendezvous for the two

wings; but I still remained in doubt as to the wishes of the

Administration, whether I should take Charleston en route, or

confine my whole attention to the incidental advantages of breaking

up the railways of South and North Carolina, and the greater object

of uniting my army with that of General Grant before Richmond.

General Barnard remained with me several days, and was regarded

then, as now, one of the first engineers of the age, perfectly

competent to advise me on the strategy and objects of the new

campaign. He expressed himself delighted with the high spirit of

the army, the steps already taken, by which we had captured

Savannah, and he personally inspected some of the forts, such as

Thunderbolt and Causten's Bluff, by which the enemy had so long

held at bay the whole of our navy, and had defeated the previous

attempts made in April, 1862, by the army of General Gillmore,

which had bombarded and captured Fort Pulaski, but had failed to

reach the city of Savannah. I think General Barnard expected me to

invite him to accompany us northward in his official capacity; but

Colonel Poe, of my staff, had done so well, and was so perfectly

competent, that I thought it unjust to supersede him by a senior in

his own corps. I therefore said nothing of this to General

Barnard, and soon after he returned to his post with General Grant,

at City Point, bearing letters and full personal messages of our

situation and wants.

We were very much in want of light-draught steamers for navigating

the shallow waters of the coast, so that it took the Seventeenth

Corps more than a week to transfer from Thunderbolt to Beaufort,

South Carolina. Admiral Dahlgren had supplied the Harvest Moon and

the Pontiac, and General Foster gave us a couple of hired steamers;

I was really amused at the effect this short sea-voyage had on our

men, most of whom had never before looked upon the ocean. Of

course, they were fit subjects for sea-sickness, and afterward they

begged me never again to send them to sea, saying they would rather

march a thousand miles on the worst roads of the South than to

spend a single night on the ocean. By the 10th General Howard had

collected the bulk of the Seventeenth Corps (General Blair) on

Beaufort Island, and began his march for Pocotaligo, twenty-five

miles inland. They crossed the channel between the island and

main-land during Saturday, the 14th of January, by a pontoon-

bridge, and marched out to Garden's Corners, where there was some

light skirmishing; the next day, Sunday, they continued on to

Pocotaligo, finding the strong fort there abandoned, and

accordingly made a lodgment on the railroad, having lost only two

officers and eight men.

About the same time General Slocum crossed two divisions of the

Twentieth Corps over the Savannah River, above the city, occupied

Hardeeville by one division and Purysburg by another. Thus, by the

middle of January, we had effected a lodgment in South Carolina,

and were ready to resume the march northward; but we had not yet

accumulated enough provisions and forage to fill the wagons, and

other causes of delay occurred, of which I will make mention in due


On the last day of December, 1864, Captain Breese, United States

Navy, flag-officer to Admiral Porter, reached Savannah, bringing

the first news of General Butler's failure at Fort Fisher, and that

the general had returned to James River with his land-forces,

leaving Admiral Porter's fleet anchored off Cape Fear, in that

tempestuous season. Captain Breese brought me a letter from the

admiral, dated December 29th, asking me to send him from Savannah

one of my old divisions, with which he said he would make short

work of Fort Fisher; that he had already bombarded and silenced its

guns, and that General Butler had failed because he was afraid to

attack, or even give the order to attack, after (as Porter

insisted) the guns of Fort Fisher had been actually silenced by the


I answered him promptly on the 31st of December, that I proposed to

march north inland, and that I would prefer to leave the rebel

garrisons on the coast, instead of dislodging and piling them up in

my front as we progressed. From the chances, as I then understood

them, I supposed that Fort Fisher was garrisoned by a comparatively

small force, while the whole division of General Hoke remained

about the city of Wilmington; and that, if Fort Fisher were

captured, it would leave General Hoke free to join the larger force

that would naturally be collected to oppose my progress northward.

I accordingly answered Admiral Porter to this effect, declining to

loan him the use of one of my divisions. It subsequently

transpired, however, that, as soon as General Butler reached City

Point, General Grant was unwilling to rest under a sense of

failure, and accordingly dispatched back the same troops,

reenforced and commanded by General A. H. Terry, who, on the 15th

day of January, successfully assaulted and captured Fort Fisher,

with its entire garrison. After the war was over, about the 20th

of May, when I was giving my testimony before the Congressional

Committee on the Conduct of the War, the chairman of the committee,

Senator B. F. Wade, of Ohio, told me that General Butler had been

summoned before that committee during the previous January, and had

just finished his demonstration to their entire satisfaction that

Fort Fisher could not be carried by assault, when they heard the

newsboy in the hall crying out an "extra" Calling him in, they

inquired the news, and he answered, "Fort Fisher done took!" Of

course, they all laughed, and none more heartily than General

Butler himself.

On the 11th of January there arrived at Savannah a revenue-cutter,

having on board Simeon Draper, Esq., of New York City, the Hon. E.

M. Stanton, Secretary of War, Quartermaster-General Meigs,

Adjutant-General Townsend, and a retinue of civilians, who had come

down from the North to regulate the civil affairs of Savannah....

I was instructed by Mr. Stanton to transfer to Mr. Draper the

custom house, post-office, and such other public buildings as these

civilians needed in the execution of their office, and to cause to

be delivered into their custody the captured cotton. This was

accomplished by-

[Special Field Orders, No. 10.]



1. Brevet Brigadier-General Euston, chief-quartermaster, will turn

over to Simeon Draper, Esq., agent of the United States Treasury

Department, all cotton now in the city of Savannah, prize of war,

taking his receipt for the same in gross, and returning for it to

the quartermaster-general. He will also afford Mr. Draper all the

facilities in his power in the way of transportation, labor, etc.,

to enable him to handle the cotton with expedition.

2. General Euston will also turn over to Mr. Draper the custom-

house, and such other buildings in the city of Savannah as he may

need in the execution of his office.

By order of General W. T. Sherman,

L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp.

Up to this time all the cotton had been carefully guarded, with

orders to General Euston to ship it by the return-vessels to New

York, for the adjudication of the nearest prize-court, accompanied

with invoices and all evidence of title to ownership. Marks,

numbers, and other figures, were carefully preserved on the bales,

so that the court might know the history of each bale. But Mr.

Stanton, who surely was an able lawyer, changed all this, and

ordered the obliteration of all the marks; so that no man, friend

or foe, could trace his identical cotton. I thought it strange at

the time, and think it more so now; for I am assured that claims,

real and fictitious, have been proved up against this identical

cotton of three times the quantity actually captured, and that

reclamations on the Treasury have been allowed for more than the

actual quantity captured, viz., thirty-one thousand bales.

Mr. Stanton staid in Savannah several days, and seemed very curious

about matters and things in general. I walked with him through the

city, especially the bivouacs of the several regiments that

occupied the vacant squares, and he seemed particularly pleased at

the ingenuity of the men in constructing their temporary huts.

Four of the "dog-tents," or tentes d'abri, buttoned together,

served for a roof, and the sides were made of clapboards, or rough

boards brought from demolished houses or fences. I remember his

marked admiration for the hut of a soldier who had made his door

out of a handsome parlor mirror, the glass gone and its gilt frame

serving for his door.

He talked to me a great deal about the negroes, the former slaves,

and I told him of many interesting incidents, illustrating their

simple character and faith in our arms and progress. He inquired

particularly about General Jeff. C. Davis, who, he said, was a

Democrat, and hostile to the negro. I assured him that General

Davis was an excellent soldier, and I did not believe he had any

hostility to the negro; that in our army we had no negro soldiers,

and, as a rule, we preferred white soldiers, but that we employed a

large force of them as servants, teamsters, and pioneers, who had

rendered admirable service. He then showed me a newspaper account

of General Davis taking up his pontoon-bridge across Ebenezer

Creek, leaving sleeping negro men, women, and children, on the

other side, to be slaughtered by Wheeler's cavalry. I had heard

such a rumor, and advised Mr. Stanton, before becoming prejudiced,

to allow me to send for General Davis, which he did, and General

Davis explained the matter to his entire satisfaction. The truth

was, that, as we approached the seaboard, the freedmen in droves,

old and young, followed the several columns to reach a place of

safety. It so happened that General Davis's route into Savannah

followed what was known as the "River-road," and he had to make

constant use of his pontoon-train--the head of his column reaching

some deep, impassable creek before the rear was fairly over

another. He had occasionally to use the pontoons both day and

night. On the occasion referred to, the bridge was taken up from

Ebenezer Creek while some of the camp-followers remained asleep on

the farther side, and these were picked up by Wheeler's cavalry.

Some of them, in their fright, were drowned in trying to swim over,

and others may have been cruelly killed by Wheeler's men, but this

was a mere supposition. At all events, the same thing might have

resulted to General Howard, or to any other of the many most humane

commanders who filled the army. General Jeff. C. Davis was

strictly a soldier, and doubtless hated to have his wagons and

columns encumbered by these poor negroes, for whom we all felt

sympathy, but a sympathy of a different sort from that of Mr.

Stanton, which was not of pure humanity, but of politics. The

negro question was beginning to loom up among the political

eventualities of the day, and many foresaw that not only would the

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