bivouac a case containing a dozen bottles of the finest madeira I
ever tasted; and I learned that he had captured, in Cheraw, the
wine of some of the old aristocratic families of Charleston, who
had sent it up to Cheraw for safety, and heard afterward that Blair
had found about eight wagon-loads of this wine, which he
distributed to the army generally, in very fair proportions.
After finishing our lunch, as we passed out of the dining room,
General Blair asked me, if I did not want some saddle-blankets, or
a rug for my tent, and, leading me into the hall to a space under
the stairway, he pointed out a pile of carpets which had also been
sent up from Charleston for safety. After our headquarter-wagons
got up, and our bivouac was established in a field near by, I sent
my orderly (Walter) over to General Blair, and he came back
staggering under a load of carpets, out of which the officers and
escort made excellent tent-rugs, saddle-cloths, and blankets.
There was an immense amount of stores in Cheraw, which were used or
destroyed; among them twenty-four guns, two thousand muskets, and
thirty-six hundred barrels of gunpowder. By the carelessness of a
soldier, an immense pile of this powder was exploded, which shook
the town badly; and killed and maimed several of our men.
We remained in or near Cheraw till the 6th of March, by which time
the army was mostly across the Pedee River, and was prepared to
resume the march on Fayetteville. In a house where General Hardee
had been, I found a late New York Tribune, of fully a month later
date than any I had seen. It contained a mass of news of great
interest to us, and one short paragraph which I thought extremely
mischievous. I think it was an editorial, to the effect that at
last the editor had the satisfaction to inform his readers that
General Sherman would next be heard from about Goldsboro', because
his supply-vessels from Savannah were known to be rendezvousing at
Morehead City:--Now, I knew that General Hardee had read that same
paper, and that he would be perfectly able to draw his own
inferences. Up to, that moment I had endeavored so to feign to our
left that we had completely, misled our antagonists; but this was
no longer possible, and I concluded that we must be ready, for the
concentration in our front of all the force subject to General Jos.
Johnston's orders, for I was there also informed that he had been
restored to the full command of the Confederate forces in South and
On the 6th of March I crossed the Pedee, and all the army marched
for Fayetteville: the Seventeenth Corps kept well to the right, to
make room; the Fifteenth Corps marched by a direct road; the
Fourteenth Corps also followed a direct road from Sneedsboro',
where it had crossed the Pedee; and the Twentieth Corps, which had
come into. Cheraw for the convenience of the pontoon-bridge,
diverged to the left, so as to enter Fayetteville next after the
Fourteenth Corps, which was appointed to lead into Fayetteville.
Kilpatrick held his cavalry still farther to the left rear on the
roads from Lancaster, by way of Wadesboro' and New Gilead, so as to
cover our trains from Hampton's and Wheeler's cavalry, who had
first retreated toward the north. I traveled with the Fifteenth
Corps, and on the 8th of March reached Laurel Hill, North Carolina.
Satisfied that our troops must be at Wilmington, I determined to
send a message there; I called for my man, Corporal Pike, whom I
had rescued as before described, at Columbia, who was then
traveling with our escort, and instructed him in disguise to work
his way to the Cape Fear River, secure a boat, and float down to
Wilmington to convey a letter, and to report our approach. I also
called on General Howard for another volunteer, and he brought me a
very clever young sergeant, who is now a commissioned officer in
the regular army. Each of these got off during the night by
separate routes, bearing the following message, reduced to the same
cipher we used in telegraphic messages:
HEADQURTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI
IN THE FIELD, LAUREL HILL, Wednesday, March 8, 1865.
Commanding Officer, Wilmington, North Carolina:
We are marching for Fayetteville, will be there Saturday, Sunday,
and Monday, and will then march for Goldsboro'.
If possible, send a boat up Cape Fear River, and have word conveyed
to General Schofield that I expect to meet him about Goldsboro'.
We are all well and have done finely. The rains make our roads
difficult, and may delay us about Fayetteville, in which case I
would like to have some bread, sugar, and coffee. We have
abundance of all else. I expect to reach Goldsboro' by the 20th
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
On the 9th I was with the Fifteenth Corps, and toward evening
reached a little church called Bethel, in the woods, in which we
took refuge in a terrible storm of rain, which poured all night,
making the roads awful. All the men were at work corduroying the
roads, using fence-rails and split saplings, and every foot of the
way had thus to be corduroyed to enable the artillery and wagons to
pass. On the 10th we made some little progress; on the 11th I
reached Fayetteville, and found that General Hardee, followed by
Wade Hampton's cavalry, had barely escaped across Cape Fear River,
burning the bridge which I had hoped to save. On reaching
Fayetteville I found General Slocum already in possession with the
Fourteenth Corps, and all the rest of the army was near at hand. A
day or two before, General Kilpatrick, to our left rear, had
divided his force into two parts, occupying roads behind the
Twentieth Corps, interposing between our infantry columns and Wade
Hampton's cavalry. The latter, doubtless to make junction with
General Hardee, in Fayetteville, broke across this line, captured
the house in which General Kilpatrick and the brigade-commander,
General Spencer, were, and for a time held possession of the camp
and artillery of the brigade. However, General Kilpatrick and most
of his men escaped into a swamp with their arms, reorganized and
returned, catching Hampton's men--in turn, scattered and drove them
away, recovering most of his camp and artillery; but Hampton got
off with Kilpatrick's private horses and a couple hundred
prisoners, of which he boasted much in passing through
It was also reported that, in the morning after Hardee's army was
all across the bridge at Cape Fear River, Hampton, with a small
bodyguard, had remained in town, ready to retreat and burn the
bridge as soon as our forces made their appearance. He was getting
breakfast at the hotel when the alarm was given, when he and his
escort took saddle, but soon realized that the alarm came from a
set of our foragers, who, as usual, were extremely bold and rash.
On these he turned, scattered them, killing some and making others
prisoners; among them General Howard's favorite scout, Captain
Duncan. Hampton then crossed the bridge and burned it.
I took up my quarters at the old United States Arsenal, which was
in fine order, and had been much enlarged by the Confederate
authorities, who never dreamed that an invading army would reach it
from the west; and I also found in Fayetteville the widow and
daughter of my first captain (General Childs), of the Third
Artillery, learned that her son Fred had been the ordnance-officer
in charge of the arsenal, and had of course fled with Hardee's
During the 11th. the whole army closed down upon Fayetteville, and
immediate preparations were made to lay two pontoon bridges, one
near the burned bridge, and another about four miles lower down.
Sunday, March 12th, was a day of Sabbath stillness in Fayetteville.
The people generally attended their churches, for they were a very
pious people, descended in a large measure from the old Scotch
Covenanters, and our men too were resting from the toils and labors
of six weeks of as hard marching as ever fell to the lot of
soldiers. Shortly after noon was heard in the distance the shrill
whistle of a steamboat, which came nearer and nearer, and soon a
shout, long and continuous, was raised down by the river, which
spread farther and farther, and we all felt that it meant a
messenger from home. The effect was electric, and no one can
realize the feeling unless, like us, he has been for months cut off
from all communication with friends, and compelled to listen to the
croakings and prognostications of open enemies. But in a very few
minutes came up through the town to the arsenal on the plateau
behind a group of officers, among whom was a large, florid
seafaring man, named Ainsworth, bearing a small mail-bag from
General Terry, at Wilmington, having left at 2 p.m. the day
before. Our couriers had got through safe from Laurel Hill, and
this was the prompt reply.
As in the case of our former march from Atlanta, intense anxiety
had been felt for our safety, and General Terry had been prompt to
open communication. After a few minutes' conference with Captain
Ainsworth about the capacity of his boat, and the state of facts
along the river, I instructed him to be ready to start back at 6
p.m., and ordered Captain Byers to get ready to carry dispatches to
Washington. I also authorized General Howard to send back by this
opportunity some of the fugitives who had traveled with his army
all the way from Columbia, among whom were Mrs. Feaster and her two
I immediately prepared letters for Secretary Stanton, Generals
Halleck and Grant, and Generals Schofield, Foster, Easton, and
Beckwith, all of which have been published, but I include here only
those to the Secretary of War, and Generals Grant and Terry, as
samples of the whole:
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, IN THE FIELD,
FAYETTVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA, Sunday, March. 12, 1885.
Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.
DEAR SIR: I know you will be pleased to hear that my army has
reached this point, and has opened communication with Wilmington.
A tug-boat came up this morning, and will start back at 6 P. M.
I have written a letter to General Grant, the substance of which he
will doubtless communicate, and it must suffice for me to tell you
what I know will give you pleasure--that I have done all that I
proposed, and the fruits seem to me ample for the time employed.
Charleston, Georgetown, and Wilmington, are incidents, while the
utter demolition of the railroad system of South Carolina, and the
utter destruction of the enemy's arsenals of Columbia, Cheraw, and
Fayetteville, are the principals of the movement. These points
were regarded as inaccessible to us, and now no place in the
Confederacy is safe against the army of the West. Let Lee hold on
to Richmond, and we will destroy his country; and then of what use
is Richmond. He must come out and fight us on open ground, and for
that we must ever be ready. Let him stick behind his parapets, and
he will perish.
I remember well what you asked me, and think I am on the right
road, though a long one. My army is as united and cheerful as
ever, and as full of confidence in itself and its leaders. It is
utterly impossible for me to enumerate what we have done, but I
inclose a slip just handed me, which is but partial. At Columbia
and Cheraw we destroyed nearly all the gunpowder and cartridges
which the Confederacy had in this part of the country. This
arsenal is in fine order, and has been much enlarged. I cannot
leave a detachment to hold it, therefore shall burn it, blow it up
with gunpowder, and then with rams knock down its walls. I take it
for granted the United States will never again trust North Corolina
with an arsenal to appropriate at her pleasure.
Hoping that good fortune may still attend my army. I remain your
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, IN THE FIELD,
FAYETTVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA, Sunday, March. 12, 1885.
Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, commanding United States Army,
City Point, Virginia.
DEAR GENERAL: We reached this place yesterday at noon; Hardee, as
usual, retreating across the Cape Fear, burning his bridges; but
our pontoons will be up to-day, and, with as little delay as
possible, I will be after him toward Goldsboro'.
A tug has just come up from Wilmington, and before I get off from
here, I hope to get from Wilmington some shoes and stockings,
sugar, coffee, and flour. We are abundantly supplied with all
else, having in a measure lived off the country.
The army is in splendid health, condition, and spirits, though we
have had foul weather, and roads that would have stopped travel to
almost any other body of men I ever heard of.
Our march, was substantially what I designed--straight on Columbia,
feigning on Branchville and Augusta. We destroyed, in passing, the
railroad from the Edisto nearly up to Aiken; again, from Orangeburg
to the Congaree; again, from Colombia down to Kingsville on the
Wateree, and up toward Charlotte as far as the Chester line; thence
we turned east on Cheraw and Fayetteville. At Colombia we
destroyed immense arsenals and railroad establishments, among which
wore forty-three cannon. At Cheraw we found also machinery and
material of war sent from Charleston, among which were twenty-five
guns and thirty-six hundred barrels of powder; and here we find
about twenty guns and a magnificent United States' arsenal.
We cannot afford to leave detachments, and I shall therefore
destroy this valuable arsenal, so the enemy shall not have its use;
and the United States should never again confide such valuable
property to a people who have betrayed a trust.
I could leave here to-morrow, but want to clear my columns of the
vast crowd of refugees and negroes that encumber us. Some I will
send down the river in boats, and the rest to Wilmington by land,
under small escort, as soon as we are across Cape Fear River.
I hope you have not been uneasy about us, and that the fruits of
this march will be appreciated. It had to be made not only to
destroy the valuable depots by the way, but for its incidents in
the necessary fall of Charleston, Georgetown, and Wilmington. If I
can now add Goldsboro' without too much cost, I will be in a
position to aid you materially in the spring campaign.
Jos. Johnston may try to interpose between me here and Schofield
about Newbern; but I think he will not try that, but concentrate
his scattered armies at Raleigh, and I will go straight at him as
soon as I get our men reclothed and our wagons reloaded.
Keep everybody busy, and let Stoneman push toward Greensboro' or
Charlotte from Knoxville; even a feint in that quarter will be most
The railroad from Charlotte to Danville is all that is left to the
enemy, and it will not do for me to go there, on account of the
red-clay hills which are impassable to wheels in wet weather.
I expect to make a junction with General Schofield in ten days.
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