Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

agricultural settlement. The three parties named will subdivide

the land, under the supervision of the inspector, among themselves,

and such others as may choose to settle near them, so that each

family shall have a plot of not more than forty acres of tillable

ground, and, when it borders on some water-channel, with not more

than eight hundred feet water-front, in the possession of which

land the military authorities will afford them protection until

such time as they can protect themselves, or until Congress shall

regulate their title. The quartermaster may, on the requisition of

the Inspector of Settlements and Plantations, place at the disposal

of the inspector one or more of the captured steamers to ply

between the settlements and one or more of the commercial points

heretofore named, in order to afford the settlers the opportunity

to supply their necessary wants, and to sell the products of their

land and labor.

4. Whenever a negro has enlisted in the military service of the

United States, be may locate his family in any one of the

settlements at pleasure, and acquire a homestead, and all other

rights and privileges of a settler, as though present in person.

In like manner, negroes may settle their families and engage on

board the gunboats, or in fishing, or in the navigation of the

inland waters, without losing any claim to land or other advantages

derived from this system. But no one, unless an actual settler as

above defined, or unless absent on Government service, will be

entitled to claim any right to land or property in any settlement

by virtue of these orders.

5. In order to carry out this system of settlement, a general

officer will be detailed as Inspector of Settlements and

Plantations, whose duty it shall be to visit the settlements, to

regulate their police and general arrangement, and who will furnish

personally to each head of a family, subject to the approval of the

President of the United States, a possessory title in writing,

giving as near as possible the description of boundaries; and who

shall adjust all claims or conflicts that may arise under the same,

subject to the like approval, treating such titles altogether as

possessory. The same general offcer will also be charged with the

enlistment and organization of the negro recruits, and protecting

their interests while absent from their settlements; and will be

governed by the rules and regulations prescribed by the War

Department for such purposes.

6. Brigadier-General R. Saxton is hereby appointed Inspector of

Settlements and Plantations, and will at once enter on the

performance of his duties. No change is intended or desired in the

settlement now on Beaufort Island, nor will any rights to property

heretofore acquired be affected thereby.

By order of Major-General W. T. Sherman,

L. M. DAYTON, Assistant Adjutant-General.

I saw a good deal of the secretary socially, during the time of his

visit to Savannah. He kept his quarters on the revenue-cutter with

Simeon Draper, Esq., which cutter lay at a wharf in the river, but

he came very often to my quarters at Mr. Green's house. Though

appearing robust and strong, he complained a good deal of internal

pains, which he said threatened his life, and would compel him soon

to quit public office. He professed to have come from Washington

purposely for rest and recreation, and he spoke unreservedly of the

bickerings and jealousies at the national capital; of the

interminable quarrels of the State Governors about their quotas,

and more particularly of the financial troubles that threatened the

very existence of the Government itself. He said that the price of

every thing had so risen in comparison with the depreciated money,

that there was danger of national bankruptcy, and he appealed to

me, as a soldier and patriot, to hurry up matters so as to bring

the war to a close.

He left for Port Royal about the 15th of January, and promised to

go North without delay, so as to hurry back to me the supplies I

had called for, as indispensable for the prosecution of the next

stage of the campaign. I was quite impatient to get off myself,

for a city-life had become dull and tame, and we were all anxious

to get into the pine-woods again, free from the importunities of

rebel women asking for protection, and of the civilians from the

North who were coming to Savannah for cotton and all sorts of


On the 18th of January General Slocum was ordered to turn over the

city of Savannah to General J. G. Foster, commanding the Department

of the South, who proposed to retain his own headquarters at Hilton

Head, and to occupy Savannah by General Grovers division of the

Nineteenth Corps, just arrived from James River; and on the next

day, viz., January 19th, I made the first general orders for the


These were substantially to group the right wing of the army at

Pocotaligo, already held by the Seventeenth Corps, and the left

wing and cavalry at or near Robertsville, in South Carolina. The

army remained substantially the same as during the march from

Atlanta, with the exception of a few changes in the commanders of

brigades and divisions, the addition of some men who had joined

from furlough, and the loss of others from the expiration of their

term of service. My own personal staff remained the same, with the

exception that General W. F. Barry had rejoined us at Savannah,

perfectly recovered from his attack of erysipelas, and continued

with us to the end of the war. Generals Easton and Beckwith

remained at Savannah, in charge of their respective depots, with

orders to follow and meet us by sea with supplies when we should

reach the coast at Wilmington or Newbern, North Carolina.

Of course, I gave out with some ostentation, especially among the

rebels, that we were going to Charleston or Augusta; but I had long

before made up my mind to waste no time on either, further than to

play off on their fears, thus to retain for their protection a

force of the enemy which would otherwise concentrate in our front,

and make the passage of some of the great rivers that crossed our

route more difficult and bloody.

Having accomplished all that seemed necessary, on the 21st of

January, with my entire headquarters, officers, clerks, orderlies,

etc., with wagons and horses, I embarked in a steamer for Beaufort,

South Carolina, touching at Hilton Head, to see General Foster.

The weather was rainy and bad, but we reached Beaufort safely on

the 23d, and found some of General Blair's troops there. The pink

of his corps (Seventeenth) was, however, up on the railroad about

Pocotaligo, near the head of Broad River, to which their supplies

were carried from Hilton Head by steamboats. General Hatch's

division (of General Foster's command) was still at Coosawhatchie

or Tullafinny, where the Charleston & Savannah Railroad crosses the

river of that name. All the country between Beaufort and

Pocotaligo was low alluvial land, cut up by an infinite number of

salt-water sloughs and freshwater creeks, easily susceptible of

defense by a small force; and why the enemy had allowed us to make

a lodgment at Pocotaligo so easily I did not understand, unless it

resulted from fear or ignorance. It seemed to me then that the

terrible energy they had displayed in the earlier stages of the war

was beginning to yield to the slower but more certain industry and

discipline of our Northern men. It was to me manifest that the

soldiers and people of the South entertained an undue fear of our

Western men, and, like children, they had invented such ghostlike

stories of our prowess in Georgia, that they were scared by their

own inventions. Still, this was a power, and I intended to utilize

it. Somehow, our men had got the idea that South Carolina was the

cause of all our troubles; her people were the first to fire on

Fort Sumter, had been in a great hurry to precipitate the country

into civil war; and therefore on them should fall the scourge of

war in its worst form. Taunting messages had also come to us, when

in Georgia, to the effect that, when we should reach South

Carolina, we would find a people less passive, who would fight us

to the bitter end, daring us to come over, etc.; so that I saw and

felt that we would not be able longer to restrain our men as we had

done in Georgia.

Personally I had many friends in Charleston, to whom I would gladly

have extended protection and mercy, but they were beyond my

personal reach, and I would not restrain the army lest its vigor

and energy should be impaired; and I had every reason to expect

bold and strong resistance at the many broad and deep rivers that

lay across our path.

General Foster's Department of the South had been enlarged to

embrace the coast of North Carolina, so that the few troops serving

there, under the command of General Innis N. Palmer, at Newbern,

became subject to my command. General A. H. Terry held Fort

Fisher, and a rumor came that he had taken the city of Wilmington;

but this was premature. He had about eight thousand men. General

Schofield was also known to be en route from Nashville for North

Carolina, with the entire Twenty-third Corps, so that I had every

reason to be satisfied that I would receive additional strength as

we progressed northward, and before I should need it.

General W. J. Hardee commanded the Confederate forces in

Charleston, with the Salkiehatchie River as his line of defense.

It was also known that General Beauregard had come from the

direction of Tennessee, and had assumed the general command of all

the troops designed to resist our progress.

The heavy winter rains had begun early in January, rendered the

roads execrable, and the Savannah River became so swollen that it

filled its many channels, overflowing the vast extent of

rice-fields that lay on the east bank. This flood delayed our

departure two weeks; for it swept away our pontoon-bridge at

Savannah, and came near drowning John E. Smith's division of the

Fifteenth Corps, with several heavy trains of wagons that were en

route from Savannah to Pocotaligo by the old causeway.

General Slocum had already ferried two of his divisions across the

river, when Sister's Ferry, about forty miles above Savannah, was

selected for the passage of the rest of his wing and of

Kilpatrick's cavalry. The troops were in motion for that point

before I quitted Savannah, and Captain S. B. Luce, United States

Navy, had reported to me with a gunboat (the Pontiac) and a couple

of transports, which I requested him to use in protecting Sister's

Ferry during the passage of Slocum's wing, and to facilitate the

passage of the troops all he could. The utmost activity prevailed

at all points, but it was manifest we could not get off much before

the 1st day of February; so I determined to go in person to

Pocotaligo, and there act as though we were bound for Charleston.

On the 24th of January I started from Beaufort with a part of my

staff, leaving the rest to follow at leisure, rode across the

island to a pontoon-bridge that spanned the channel between it and

the main-land, and thence rode by Garden's Corners to a plantation

not far from Pocotaligo, occupied by General Blair. There we found

a house, with a majestic avenue of live-oaks, whose limbs had been

cut away by the troops for firewood, and desolation marked one of

those splendid South Carolina estates where the proprietors

formerly had dispensed a hospitality that distinguished the old

regime of that proud State. I slept on the floor of the house, but

the night was so bitter cold that I got up by the fire several

times, and when it burned low I rekindled it with an old

mantel-clock and the wreck of a bedstead which stood in a corner of

the room--the only act of vandalism that I recall done by myself

personally during the war.

The next morning I rode to Pocotaligo, and thence reconnoitred our

entire line down to Coosawhatchie. Pocotaligo Fort was on low,

alluvial ground, and near it began the sandy pine-land which

connected with the firm ground extending inland, constituting the

chief reason for its capture at the very first stage of the

campaign. Hatch's division was ordered to that point from

Coosawhatchie, and the whole of Howard's right wing was brought

near by, ready to start by the 1st of February. I also

reconnoitred the point of the Salkiehatchie River, where the

Charleston Railroad crossed it, found the bridge protected by a

rebel battery on the farther side, and could see a few men about

it; but the stream itself was absolutely impassable, for the whole

bottom was overflowed by its swollen waters to the breadth of a

full mile. Nevertheless, Force's and Mower's divisions of the

Seventeenth Corps were kept active, seemingly with the intention to

cross over in the direction of Charleston, and thus to keep up the

delusion that that city was our immediate "objective." Meantime, I

had reports from General Slocum of the terrible difficulties he had

encountered about Sister's Ferry, where the Savannah River was

reported nearly three miles wide, and it seemed for a time almost

impossible for him to span it at all with his frail pontoons.

About this time (January 25th), the weather cleared away bright and

cold, and I inferred that the river would soon run down, and enable

Slocum to pass the river before February 1st. One of the divisions

of the Fifteenth Corps (Corse's) had also been cut off by the loss

of the pontoon-bridge at Savannah, so that General Slocum had with

him, not only his own two corps, but Corse's division and

Kilpatrick's cavalry, without which it was not prudent for me to

inaugurate the campaign. We therefore rested quietly about

Pocotaligo, collecting stores and making final preparations, until

the 1st of February, when I learned that the cavalry and two

divisions of the Twentieth Corps were fairly across the river, and

then gave the necessary orders for the march northward.

Before closing this chapter, I will add a few original letters that

bear directly on the subject, and tend to illustrate it


WASHINGTON, D. C. January 21, 1866.

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding Military Division of the


GENERAL: Your letters brought by General Barnard were received at

City Point, and read with interest. Not having them with me,

however, I cannot say that in this I will be able to satisfy you on

all points of recommendation. As I arrived here at 1 p.m., and

must leave at 6 p.m., having in the mean time spent over three

hours with the secretary and General Halleck, I must be brief.

Before your last request to have Thomas make a campaign into the

heart of Alabama, I had ordered Schofield to Annapolis, Maryland,

with his corps. The advance (six thousand) will reach the seaboard

by the 23d, the remainder following as rapidly as railroad

transportation can be procured from Cincinnati. The corps numbers

over twenty-one thousand men.

Thomas is still left with a sufficient force, surplus to go to

Selma under an energetic leader. He has been telegraphed to, to

know whether he could go, and, if so, by which of several routes he

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