Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

would select. No reply is yet received. Canby has been ordered to

set offensively from the seacoast to the interior, toward

Montgomery and Selma. Thomas's forces will move from the north at

an early day, or some of his troops will be sent to Canby. Without

further reenforcement Canby will have a moving column of twenty

thousand men.

Fort Fisher, you are aware, has been captured. We have a force

there of eight thousand effective. At Newbern about half the

number. It is rumored, through deserters, that Wilmington also has

fallen. I am inclined to believe the rumor, because on the 17th we

knew the enemy were blowing up their works about Fort Caswell, and

that on the 18th Terry moved on Wilmington.

If Wilmington is captured, Schofield will go there. If not, he

will be sent to Newbern. In either event, all the surplus forces

at the two points will move to the interior, toward Goldsboro', in

cooperation with your movements. From either point, railroad

communications can be run out, there being here abundance of

rolling-stock suited to the gauge of those roads.

There have been about sixteen thousand men sent from Lee's army

south. Of these, you will have fourteen thousand against you, if

Wilmington is not held by the enemy, casualties at Fort Fisher

having overtaken about two thousand.

All other troops are subject to your orders as you come in

communication with them. They will be so instructed. From about

Richmond I will watch Lee closely, and if he detaches many men, or

attempts to evacuate, will pitch in. In the meantime, should you

be brought to a halt anywhere, I can send two corps of thirty

thousand effective men to your support, from the troops about


To resume: Canby is ordered to operate to the interior from the

Gulf. A. J. Smith may go from the north, but I think it doubtful.

A force of twenty-eight or thirty thousand will cooperate with you

from Newbern or Wilmington, or both. You can call for


This will be handed you by Captain Hudson, of my ataff, who will

return with any message you may have for me. If there is any thing

I can do for you in the way of having supplies on shipboard, at any

point on the seacoast, ready for you, let me know it.

Yours truly,

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.



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

DEAR GENERAL: Captain Hudson has this moment arrived with your

letter of January 21st, which I have read with interest.

The capture of Fort Fisher has a most important bearing on my

campaign, and I rejoice in it for many reasons, because of its

intrinsic importance, and because it gives me another point of

security on the seaboard. I hope General Terry will follow it up

by the capture of Wilmington, although I do not look for it, from

Admiral Porter's dispatch to me. I rejoice that Terry was not a

West-Pointer, that he belonged to your army, and that he had the

same troops with which Butler feared to make the attempt.

Admiral Dahlgren, whose fleet is reenforced by some more ironclads,

wants to make an assault a la Fisher on Fort Moultrie, but I

withhold my consent, for the reason that the capture of all

Sullivan's Island is not conclusive as to Charleston; the capture

of James Island would be, but all pronounce that impossible at this

time. Therefore, I am moving (as hitherto designed) for the

railroad west of Branchville, then will swing across to Orangeburg,

which will interpose my army between Charleston and the interior.

Contemporaneous with this, Foster will demonstrate up the Edisto,

and afterward make a lodgment at Bull's Bay, and occupy the common

road which leads from Mount Pleasant toward Georgetown. When I get

to Columbia, I think I shall move straight for Goldsboro', via

Fayetteville. By this circuit I cut all roads, and devastate the

land; and the forces along the coast, commanded by Foster, will

follow my movement, taking any thing the enemy lets go, or so

occupy his attention that he cannot detach all his forces against

me. I feel sure of getting Wilmington, and may be Charleston, and

being at Goldsboro', with its railroads finished back to Morehead

City and Wilmington, I can easily take Raleigh, when it seems that

Lee must come out. If Schofield comes to Beaufort, he should be

pushed out to Kinston, on the Neuse, and may be Goldsboro' (or,

rather, a point on the Wilmington road, south of Goldsboro'). It

is not necessary to storm Goldsboro', because it is in a distant

region, of no importance in itself, and, if its garrison is forced

to draw supplies from its north, it, will be eating up the same

stores on which Lee depends for his command.

I have no doubt Hood will bring his army to Augusta. Canby and

Thomas should penetrate Alabama as far as possible, to keep

employed at least a part of Hood's army; or, what would accomplish

the same thing, Thomas might reoccupy the railroad from Chattanooga

forward to the Etowah, viz., Rome, Kingston, and Allatoona, thereby

threatening Georgia. I know that the Georgia troops are

disaffected. At Savannah I met delegates from several counties of

the southwest, who manifested a decidedly hostile spirit to the

Confederate cause. I nursed the feeling as far as possible, and

instructed Grower to keep it up.

My left wing must now be at Sister's Ferry, crossing the Savannah

River to the east bank. Slocum has orders to be at Robertsville

to-morrow, prepared to move on Barnwell. Howard is here, all ready

to start for the Augusta Railroad at Midway.

We find the enemy on the east aide of the Salkiehatchie, and

cavalry in our front; but all give ground on our approach, and seem

to be merely watching us. If we start on Tuesday, in one week we

shall be near Orangeburg, having broken up the Augusta road from

the Edisto westward twenty or twenty-five miles. I will be sure

that every rail is twisted. Should we encounter too much

opposition near Orangeburg, then I will for a time neglect that

branch, and rapidly move on Columbia, and fill up the triangle

formed by the Congaree and Wateree (tributaries of the Santee),

breaking up that great centre of the Carolina roads. Up to that

point I feel full confidence, but from there may have to manoeuvre

some, and will be guided by the questions of weather and supplies.

You remember we had fine weather last February for our Meridian

trip, and my memory of the weather at Charleston is, that February

is usually a fine month. Before the March storms come we should be

within striking distance of the coast. The months of April and May

will be the best for operations from Goldsboro' to Raleigh and the

Roanoke. You may rest assured that I will keep my troops well in

hand, and, if I get worsted, will aim to make the enemy pay so

dearly that you will have less to do. I know that this trip is

necessary; it must be made sooner or later; I am on time, and in

the right position for it. My army is large enough for the

purpose, and I ask no reinforcement, but simply wish the utmost

activity to be kept up at all other points, so that concentration

against me may not be universal.

I suspect that Jeff. Davis will move heaven and earth to catch me,

for success to this column is fatal to his dream of empire.

Richmond is not more vital to his cause than Columbia and the heart

of South Carolina.

If Thomas will not move on Selma, order him to occupy Rome,

Kingston, and Allatoona, and again threaten Georgia in the

direction of Athena.

I think the "poor white trash" of the South are falling out of

their ranks by sickness, desertion, and every available means; but

there is a large class of vindictive Southerners who will fight to

the last. The squabbles in Richmond, the howls in Charleston, and

the disintegration elsewhere, are all good omens for us; we must

not relax one iota, but, on the contrary, pile up our efforts: I

world, ere this, have been off, but we had terrific rains, which

caught us in motion, and nearly drowned some of the troops in the

rice-fields of the Savannah, swept away our causeway (which had

been carefully corduroyed), and made the swamps hereabout mere

lakes of slimy mud. The weather is now good, and I have the army

on terra firma. Supplies, too, came for a long time by daily

driblets instead of in bulk; this is now all remedied, and I hope

to start on Tuesday.

I will issue instructions to General Foster, based on the

reenforcements of North Carolina; but if Schofield comes, you had

better relieve Foster, who cannot take the field, and needs an

operation on his leg. Let Schofield take command, with his

headquarters at Beaufort, North Carolina, and with orders to secure

Goldsboro' (with its railroad communication back to Beaufort and

Wilmington). If Lee lets us get that position, he is gone up.

I will start with my Atlanta army (sixty thousand), supplied as

before, depending on the country for all food in excess of thirty

days. I will have less cattle on the hoof, but I hear of hogs,

cows, and calves, in Barnwell and the Colombia districts. Even

here we have found some forage. Of course, the enemy will carry

off and destroy some forage, but I will burn the houses where the

people burn their forage, and they will get tired of it.

I must risk Hood, and trust to you to hold Lee or be on his heels

if he comes south. I observe that the enemy has some respect for

my name, for they gave up Pocotaligo without a fight when they

heard that the attacking force belonged to my army. I will try and

keep up that feeling, which is a real power. With respect, your


W. T. SHERMAN, Major-general commanding.

P. S.--I leave my chief-quartermaster and commissary behind to

follow coastwise.

W. T. S.

[Dispatch No. 6.]


SAVANNAH RIVER, January 4, 1865.

HON. GIDEON WELLS, Secretary of the Navy.

SIR: I have already apprised the Department that the army of

General Sherman occupied the city of Savannah on the 21st of


The rebel army, hardly respectable in numbers or condition, escaped

by crossing the river and taking the Union Causeway toward the


I have walked about the city several times, and can affirm that its

tranquillity is undisturbed. The Union soldiers who are stationed

within its limits are as orderly as if they were in New York or

Boston.... One effect of the march of General Sherman through

Georgia has been to satisfy the people that their credulity has

been imposed upon by the lying assertions of the rebel Government,

affirming the inability of the United States Government to

withstand the armies of rebeldom. They have seen the old flag of

the United States carried by its victorious legions through their

State, almost unopposed, and placed in their principal city without

a blow.

Since the occupation of the city General Sherman has been occupied

in making arrangements for its security after he leaves it for the

march that he meditates. My attention has been directed to such

measures of cooperation as the number and quality of my force


On the 2d I arrived here from Charleston, whither, as I stated in

my dispatch of the 29th of December, I had gone in consequence of

information from the senior officer there that the rebels

contemplated issuing from the harbor, and his request for my

presence. Having placed a force there of seven monitors,

sufficient to meet each an emergency, and not perceiving any sign

of the expected raid, I returned to Savannah, to keep in

communication with General Sherman and be ready to render any

assistance that might be desired. General Sherman has fully

informed me of his plans, and, so far as my means permit, they

shall not lack assistance by water.

On the 3d the transfer of the right wing to Beaufort was began, and

the only suitable vessel I had at hand (the Harvest Moon) was sent

to Thunderbolt to receive the first embarkation. This took place

about 3 p.m., and was witnessed by General Sherman and General

Bernard (United States Engineers) and myself. The Pontiac is

ordered around to assist, and the army transports also followed the

first move by the Harvest Moon.

I could not help remarking the unbroken silence that prevailed in

the large array of troops; not a voice was to be heard, as they

gathered in masses on the bluff to look at the vessels. The notes

of a solitary bugle alone came from their midst.

General Barnard made a brief visit to one of the rebel works

(Cansten's Bluff) that dominated this water-course--the best

approach of the kind to Savannah.

I am collecting data that will fully exhibit to the Department the

powerful character of the defenses of the city and its approaches.

General Sherman will not retain the extended limits they embrace.

but will contract the line very much.

General Foster still holds the position near the Tullifinny. With

his concurrence I have detached the fleet brigade, and the men

belonging to it have returned to their vessels. The excellent

service performed by this detachment has fully realized my wishes,

and exemplified the efficiency of the organization--infantry and

light artillery handled as skirmishers. The howitzers were always

landed as quickly as the men, and were brought into action before

the light pieces of the land-service could be got ashore.

I regret very much that the reduced complements of the vessels

prevent me from maintaining the force in constant organization.

With three hundred more marines and five hundred seamen I could

frequently operate to great advantage, at the present time, when

the attention of the rebels is so engrossed by General Sherman.

It is said that they have a force at Hardeeville, the pickets of

which were retained on the Union Causeway until a few days since,

when some of our troops crossed the river and pushed them back.

Concurrently with this, I caused the Sonoma to anchor so as to

sweep the ground in the direction of the causeway.

The transfer of the right-wing (thirty thousand men) to Beaufort

will so imperil the rebel force at Hardeeville that it will be cut

off or dispersed, if not moved in season.

Meanwhile I will send the Dai-Ching to St. Helena, to meet any want

that may arise in that quarter, while the Mingo and Pontiac will be

ready to act from Broad River.

The general route of the army will be northward; but the exact

direction must be decided more or less by circumstances which it

may not be possible to foresee....

My cooperation will be confined to assistance in attacking

Charleston, or in establishing communication at Georgetown, in case

the army pushes on without attacking Charleston, and time alone

will show which of these will eventuate.

The weather of the winter first, and the condition of the ground in

spring, would permit little advantage to be derived from the

presence of the army at Richmond until the middle of May. So that

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