Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

General Sherman has no reason to move in haste, but can choose such

objects as he prefers, and take as much time as their attainment

may demand. The Department will learn the objects in view of

General Sherman more precisely from a letter addressed by him to

General Halleck, which he read to me a few days since.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Rear-Admiral, commanding South-Atlantic Blockading,Squadron.



Major-General J. G. FOSTER, commanding Department of the South.

GENERAL: I have just received dispatches from General Grant,

stating that Schofield's corps (the Twenty-third), twenty-one

thousand strong, is ordered east from Tennessee, and will be sent

to Beaufort, North Carolina. That is well; I want that force to

secure a point on the railroad about Goldsboro', and then to build

the railroad out to that point. If Goldsboro' be too strong to

carry by a rapid movement, then a point near the Neuse, south of

Goldsboro', will answer, but the bridge and position about Kinston,

should be held and fortified strong. The movement should be masked

by the troops already at Newbern. Please notify General Palmer

that these troops are coming, and to be prepared to receive them.

Major-General Schofield will command in person, and is admirably

adapted for the work. If it is possible, I want him to secure

Goldsboro', with the railroad back to Morehead City and Wilmington.

As soon as General Schofield reaches Fort Macon, have him to meet

some one of your staff, to explain in full the details of the

situation of affairs with me; and you can give him the chief

command of all troops at Cape Fear and in North Carolina. If he

finds the enemy has all turned south against me, he need not

follow, but turn his attention against Raleigh; if he can secure

Goldsboro' and Wilmington, it will be as much as I expect before I

have passed the Santee. Send him all detachments of men that have

come to join my army. They can be so organized and officered as to

be efficient, for they are nearly all old soldiers who have been

detached or on furlough. Until I pass the Santee, you can better

use these detachments at Bull's Bay, Georgetown, etc.

I will instruct General McCallum, of the Railroad Department, to

take his men up to Beaufort, North Carolina, and employ them on the

road out. I do not know that he can use them on any road here. I

did instruct him, while awaiting information from North Carolina,

to have them build a good trestle-bridge across Port Royal ferry;

but I now suppose the pontoon-bridge will do. If you move the

pontoons, be sure to make a good road out to Garden's Corners, and

mark it with sign-boards--obstructing the old road, so that, should

I send back any detachments, they would not be misled.

I prefer that Hatch's force should not be materially weakened until

I am near Columbia, when you may be governed by the situation of

affairs about Charleston. If you can break the railroad between

this and Charleston, then this force could be reduced.

I am, with respect, etc.,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.



Hon. EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.

SIR: When you left Savannah a few days ago, you forgot the map

which General Geary had prepared for you, showing the route by

which his division entered the city of Savannah, being the first

troops to occupy that city. I now send it to you.

I avail myself of the opportunity also to inclose you copies of all

my official orders touching trade and intercourse with the people

of Georgia, as well as for the establishment of the negro


Delegations of the people of Georgia continue to come in, and I am

satisfied that, by judicious handling and by a little respect shown

to their prejudices, we can create a schism in Jeff. Davis's

dominions. All that I have conversed with realize the truth that

slavery as an institution is defunct, and the only questions that

remain are what disposition shall be made of the negroes

themselves. I confess myself unable to offer a complete solution

for these questions, and prefer to leave it to the slower

operations of time. We have given the initiative, and can afford

to await the working of the experiment.

As to trade-matters, I also think it is to our interest to keep the

Southern people somewhat dependent on the articles of commerce to

which they have hitherto been accustomed. General Grover is now

here, and will, I think, be able to handle this matter judiciously,

and may gradually relax, and invite cotton to come in in large

quantities. But at first we should manifest no undue anxiety on

that score; for the rebels would at once make use of it as a power

against us. We should assume, a tone of perfect contempt for

cotton and every thing else in comparison with the great object of

the war--the restoration of the Union, with all its rights and

power. It the rebels burn cotton as a war measure, they simply

play into our hands by taking away the only product of value they

have to exchange in foreign ports for war-ships and munitions. By

such a course, also, they alienate the feelings of a large class of

small farmers who look to their little parcels of cotton to

exchange for food and clothing for their families. I hope the

Government will not manifest too much anxiety to obtain cotton in

large quantities, and especially that the President will not

indorse the contracts for the purchase of large quantities of

cotton. Several contracts, involving from six to ten thousand

bales, indorsed by Mr. Lincoln, have been shown me, but were not in

such a form as to amount to an order to compel me to facilitate

their execution.

As to Treasury agents, and agents to take charge of confiscated and

abandoned property, whose salaries depend on their fees, I can only

say that, as a general rule, they are mischievous and disturbing

elements to a military government, and it is almost impossible for

us to study the law and regulations so as to understand fully their

powers and duties. I rather think the Quartermaster's Department

of the army could better fulfill all their duties and accomplish

all that is aimed at by the law. Yet on this subject I will leave

Generals Foster and Grover to do the best they can.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.



Hon. EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.

SIR: I have just received from Lieutenant-General Grant a copy of

that part of your telegram to him of December 26th relating to

cotton, a copy of which has been immediately furnished to General

Easton, chief-quartermaster, who will be strictly governed by it.

I had already been approached by all the consuls and half the

people of Savannah on this cotton question, and my invariable

answer was that all the cotton in Savannah was prize of war,

belonged to the United States, and nobody should recover a bale of

it with my consent; that, as cotton had been one of the chief

causes of this war, it should help to pay its expenses; that all

cotton became tainted with treason from the hour the first act of

hostility was committed against the United States some time in

December, 1860; and that no bill of sale subsequent to that date

could convey title.

My orders were that an officer of the Quartermaster's Department,

United States Army, might furnish the holder, agent, or attorney, a

mere certificate of the fact of seizure, with description of the

bales' marks, etc., the cotton then to be turned over to the agent

of the Treasury Department, to be shipped to New York for sale.

But, since the receipt of your dispatch, I have ordered General

Easton to make the shipment himself to the quartermaster at New

York, where you can dispose of it at pleasure. I do not think the

Treasury Department ought to bother itself with the prizes or

captures of war.

Mr. Barclay, former consul at New York, representing Mr. Molyneux,

former consul here, but absent a long time, called on me with

reference to cotton claimed by English subjects. He seemed amazed

when I told him I should pay no respect to consular certificates,

that in no event would I treat an English subject with more favor

than one of our own deluded citizens, and that for my part I was

unwilling to fight for cotton for the benefit of Englishmen openly

engaged in smuggling arms and instruments of war to kill us; that,

on the contrary, it would afford me great satisfaction to conduct

my army to Nassau, and wipe out that nest of pirates. I explained

to him, however, that I was not a diplomatic agent of the General

Government of the United States, but that my opinion, so frankly

expressed, was that of a soldier, which it would be well for him to

heed. It appeared, also, that he owned a plantation on the line of

investment of Savannah, which, of course, was pillaged, and for

which he expected me to give some certificate entitling him to

indemnification, which I declined emphatically.

I have adopted in Savannah rules concerning property--severe but

just--founded upon the laws of nations and the practice of

civilized governments, and am clearly of opinion that we should

claim all the belligerent rights over conquered countries, that the

people may realize the truth that war is no child's play.

I embrace in this a copy of a letter, dated December 31, 1864, in

answer to one from Solomon Cohen (a rich lawyer) to General Blair,

his personal friend, as follows:

Major-General F. P. BLAIR, commanding Seventeenth Army Corps.

GENERAL: Your note, inclosing Mr. Cohen's of this date, is

received, and I answer frankly through you his inquiries.

1. No one can practise law as an attorney in the United States

without acknowledging the supremacy of our Government. If I am not

in error, an attorney is as much an officer of the court as the

clerk, and it would be a novel thing in a government to have a

court to administer law which denied the supremacy of the

government itself.

2. No one will be allowed the privileges of a merchant, or,

rather, to trade is a privilege which no one should seek of the

Government without in like manner acknowledging its supremacy.

3. If Mr. Cohen remains in Savannah as a denizen, his property,

real and personal, will not be disturbed unless its temporary use

be necessary for the military authorities of the city. The title

to property will not be disturbed in any event, until adjudicated

by the courts of the United States.

4. If Mr. Cohen leaves Savannah under my Special Order No. 148, it

is a public acknowledgment that he "adheres to the enemies of the

United States," and all his property becomes forfeited to the

United States. But, as a matter of favor, he will be allowed to

carry with him clothing and furniture for the use of himself, his

family, and servants, and will be trans ported within the enemy's

lines, but not by way of Port Royal.

These rules will apply to all parties, and from them no exception

will be made.

I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

This letter was in answer to specific inquiries; it is clear, and

covers all the points, and, should I leave before my orders are

executed, I will endeavor to impress upon my successor, General

Foster, their wisdom and propriety.

I hope the course I have taken in these matters will meet your

approbation, and that the President will not refund to parties

claiming cotton or other property, without the strongest evidence

of loyalty and friendship on the part of the claimant, or unless

some other positive end is to be gained.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.




On the 1st day of February, as before explained, the army designed

for the active campaign from Savannah northward was composed of two

wings, commanded respectively by Major-Generals Howard and Slocum,

and was substantially the same that had marched from Atlanta to

Savannah. The same general orders were in force, and this campaign

may properly be classed as a continuance of the former.

The right wing, less Corse's division, Fifteenth Corps, was grouped

at or near Pocotaligo, South Carolina, with its wagons filled with

food, ammunition, and forage, all ready to start, and only waiting

for the left wing, which was detained by the flood in the Savannah

River. It was composed as follows:

Fifteenth Corps, Major-General JOHN A. LOGAN.

First Division, Brigadier-General Charles R. Woods;

Second Division, Major-General W. B. Hazen;

Third Division, Brigadier-General John E. Smith;

Fourth Division, Brigadier-General John M. Corse.

Artillery brigade, eighteen guns, Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. Ross,

First Michigan Artillery.

Seventeenth. Corps, Major-General FRANK P. BLAIR, JR.

First Division, Major-General Joseph A. Mower;

Second Division, Brigadier-General M. F. Force;

Fourth Division, Brigadier-General Giles A. Smith.

Artillery brigade, fourteen guns, Major A. C. Waterhouse, First

Illinois Artillery.

The left wing, with Corse's division and Kilpatrick's cavalry,

was at and near Sister's Ferry, forty miles above the city of

Savannah, engaged in crossing the river, then much swollen.

It was composed as follows:

Fourteenth Corps, Major-General JEFF. C. DAVIS.

First Division, Brigadier-General W. P. Carlin;

Second Division, Brigadier-General John D. Morgan;

Third Division, Brigadier-General A. Baird.

Artillery brigade, sixteen guns, Major Charles Houghtaling, First

Illinois Artillery.

Twentieth Corps, Brigadier-General A. S. WILLIAMS.

First Division, Brigadier-General N. I. Jackson;

Second Division, Brigadier-General J. W. Geary;

Third Division, Brigadier-General W. T. Ward.

Artillery brigade, Sixteen gnus, Major J. A. Reynolds, First New

York Artillery.

Cavalry Division, Brigadier-General JUDSON KILPATRICK.

First Brigade, Colonel T. J. Jordan, Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry;

Second Brigade, Colonel S. D. Atkins, Ninety-second Illinois Vol.;

Third Brigade, Colonel George E. Spencer, First Alabama Cavalry.

One battery of four guns.

The actual strength of the army, as given in the following official

tabular statements, was at the time sixty thousand and seventy-nine

men, and sixty-eight guns. The trains were made up of about

twenty-five hundred wagons, with six mules to each wagon, and about

six hundred ambulances, with two horses each. The contents of the

wagons embraced an ample supply of ammunition for a great battle;

forage for about seven days, and provisions for twenty days, mostly

of bread, sugar, coffee, and salt, depending largely for fresh meat

on beeves driven on the hoof and such cattle, hogs, and poultry, as

we expected to gather along our line of march.


February 1. March 1. April 1. April 10

Pers: 60,079 57,676 81,150 88,948

The enemy occupied the cities of Charleston and Augusta, with

garrisons capable of making a respectable if not successful

defense, but utterly unable to meet our veteran columns in the open

«- Previous | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 | View All | Next -»