GENERAL: Your interesting letter of the 12th inst. is just
received. I have never felt any uneasiness for your safety, but I
have felt great anxiety to know just how you were progressing. I
knew, or thought I did, that, with the magnificent army with you,
you would come out safely somewhere.
To secure certain success, I deemed the capture of Wilmington of
the greatest importance. Butler came near losing that prize to us.
But Terry and Schofield have since retrieved his blunders, and I do
not know but the first failure has been as valuable a success for
the country as the capture of Fort Fisher. Butler may not see it
in that light.
Ever since you started on the last campaign, and before, I have
been attempting to get something done in the West, both to
cooperate with you and to take advantage of the enemy's weakness
there--to accomplish results favorable to us. Knowing Thomas to be
slow beyond excuse, I depleted his army to reinforce Canby, so that
he might act from Mobile Bay on the interior. With all I have
said, he has not moved at last advices. Canby was sending a
cavalry force, of about seven thousand, from Vicksburg toward
Selma. I ordered Thomas to send Wilson from Eastport toward the
same point, and to get him off as soon after the 20th of February
as possible. He telegraphed me that he would be off by that date.
He has not yet started, or had not at last advices. I ordered him
to send Stoneman from East Tennessee into Northwest South Carolina,
to be there about the time you would reach Columbia. He would
either have drawn off the enemy's cavalry from you, or would have
succeeded in destroying railroads, supplies, and other material,
which you could not reach. At that time the Richmond papers were
full of the accounts of your movements, and gave daily accounts of
movements in West North Carolina. I supposed all the time it was
Stoneman. You may judge my surprise when I afterward learned that
Stoneman was still in Louisville, Kentucky, and that the troops in
North Carolina were Kirk's forces! In order that Stoneman might
get off without delay, I told Thomas that three thousand men would
be sufficient for him to take. In the mean time I had directed
Sheridan to get his cavalry ready, and, as soon as the snow in the
mountains melted sufficiently, to start for Staunton, and go on and
destroy the Virginia Central Railroad and canal. Time advanced,
until he set the 28th of February for starting. I informed Thomas,
and directed him to change the course of Stoneman toward Lynchburg,
to destroy the road in Virginia up as near to that place as
possible. Not hearing from Thomas, I telegraphed to him about the
12th, to know if Stoneman was yet off. He replied not, but that he
(Thomas) would start that day for Knoxville, to get him off as soon
Sheridan has made his raid, and with splendid success, so far as
heard. I am looking for him at "White House" to-day. Since about
the 20th of last month the Richmond papers have been prohibited
from publishing accounts of army movements. We are left to our own
resources, therefore, for information. You will see from the
papers what Sheridan has done; if you do not, the officer who bears
this will tell you all.
Lee has depleted his army but very little recently, and I learn of
none going south. Some regiments may have been detached, but I
think no division or brigade. The determination seems to be to
hold Richmond as long as possible. I have a force sufficient to
leave enough to hold our lines (all that is necessary of them), and
move out with plenty to whip his whole army. But the roads are
entirely impassable. Until they improve, I shall content myself
with watching Lee, and be prepared to pitch into him if he attempts
to evacuate the place. I may bring Sheridan over--think I will--
and break up the Danville and Southside Railroads. These are the
last avenues left to the enemy.
Recruits have come in so rapidly at the West that Thomas has now
about as much force as he had when he attacked Hood. I have
stopped all who, under previous orders, would go to him, except
those from Illinois.
Fearing the possibility of the enemy falling back to Lynchburg, and
afterward attempting to go into East Tennessee or Kentucky, I have
ordered Thomas to move the Fourth Corps to Bull's Gap, and to
fortify there, and to hold out to the Virginia line, if he can. He
has accumulated a large amount of supplies in Knoxville, and has
been ordered not to destroy any of the railroad west of the
Virginia Hue. I told him to get ready for a campaign toward
Lynchburg, if it became necessary. He never can make one there or
elsewhere; but the steps taken will prepare for any one else to
take his troops and come east or go toward Rome, whichever may be
necessary. I do not believe either will.
When I hear that you and Schofield are together, with your back
upon the coast, I shall feel that you are entirely safe against any
thing the enemy can do. Lee may evacuate Richmond, but he cannot
get there with force enough to touch you. His army is now
demoralized and deserting very fast, both to us and to their homes.
A retrograde movement would cost him thousands of men, even if we
did not follow.
Five thousand men, belonging to the corps with you, are now on
their way to join you. If more reenforoements are necessary, I
will send them. My notion is, that you should get Raleigh as soon
as possible, and hold the railroad from there back. This may take
more force than you now have.
From that point all North Carolina roads can be made useless to the
enemy, without keeping up communications with the rear.
Hoping to hear soon of your junction with the forces from
Wilmington and Newborn, I remain, very respectfully, your obedient
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI IN THE FIELD,
COX'S BRIGADE, NEUSE RIVER, NORTH CAROLINA, March 22, 1865
Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, Commander-in-Chief, City Point,
GENERAL: I wrote you from Fayetteville, North Carolina, on Tuesday,
the 14th instant, that I was all ready to start for Goldsboro', to
which point I had also ordered General Schofield, from Newborn, and
General Terry, from Wilmington. I knew that General Jos. Johnston
was supreme in command against me, and that he would have time to
concentrate a respectable army to oppose the last stage of this
march. Accordingly, General Slocum was ordered to send his main
supply-train, under escort of two divisions, straight for
Bentonsville, while he, with his other four divisions,
disencumbered of all unnecessary wagons, should march toward
Raleigh, by way of threat, as far as Averysboro'. General Howard,
in like manner, sent his trains with the Seventeenth Corps, well to
the right, and, with the four divisions of the Fifteenth Corps,
took roads which would enable him to come promptly to the exposed
left flank. We started on the 16th, but again the rains set in,
and the roads, already bad enough, became horrible.
On Tuesday, the 16th, General Slocum found Hardee's army, from
Charleston, which had retreated before us from Cheraw, in position
across the narrow, swampy neck between Cape Fear and North Rivers,
where the road branches off to Goldsboro'. There a pretty severe
fight occurred, in which General Slocum's troops carried handsomely
the advanced line, held by a South Carolina brigade, commanded by a
Colonel Butler. Its Commander, Colonel Rhett, of Fort Sumter
notoriety, with one of his staff, had the night before been
captured, by Kilpatrick's scouts, from his very skirmish-line. The
next morning Hardee was found gone, and was pursued through and
beyond Averysboro'. General Slocum buried one hundred and eight
dead rebels, and captured and destroyed three guns. Some eighty
wounded rebels were left in our hands, and, after dressing their
wounds, we left them in a house, attended by a Confederate officer
and four privates, detailed out of our prisoners and paroled for
We resumed the march toward Goldsboro'. I was with the left wing
until I supposed all danger had passed; but, when General Slocum's
head of column was within four miles of Bentonsville, after
skirmishing as usual with cavalry, he became aware that there was
infantry in his front. He deployed a couple of brigades, which, on
advancing, sustained a partial repulse, but soon rallied, when he
formed a line of the two leading divisions (Morgan's and Carlin's)
of Jeff. C. Davis's corps. The enemy attacked these with violence,
but was repulsed. This was in the forenoon of Sunday, the 19th.
General Slocum brought forward the two divisions of the Twentieth
Corps, hastily disposed of them for defense, and General Kilpatrick
massed his cavalry on the left.
General Jos. Johnston had, the night before, marched his whole army
(Bragg, Cheatham, S. D. Lee, Hardee, and all the troops he had
drawn from every quarter), determined, as he told his men, to crash
one of our corps, and then defeat us in detail. He attacked
General Slocum in position from 3 P. M. on the 19th till dark; but
was everywhere repulsed, and lost heavily. At the time, I was with
the Fifteenth Corps, marching on a road more to the right; but, on
hearing of General Slocum's danger, directed that corps toward
Cox's Bridge, in the night brought Blair's corps over, and on the
20th marched rapidly on Johnston's flank and rear. We struck him
about noon, forced him to assume the defensive, and to fortify.
Yesterday we pushed him hard, and came very near crushing him, the
right division of the Seventeenth Corps (Mower's) having broken in
to within a hundred yards of where Johnston himself was, at the
bridge across Mill Creek. Last night he retreated, leaving us in
possession of the field, dead, and wounded. We have over two
thousand prisoners from this affair and the one at Averysboro', and
I am satisfied that Johnston's army was so roughly handled
yesterday that we could march right on to Raleigh; but we have now
been out six weeks, living precariously upon the collections of our
foragers, our men dirty, ragged, and saucy, and we must rest and
fix up a little. Our entire losses thus far (killed, wounded, and
prisoners) will be covered by twenty-five hundred, a great part of
which are, as usual, slight wounds. The enemy has lost more than
double as many, and we have in prisoners alone full two thousand.
I limited the pursuit, this morning, to Mill Creek, and will
forthwith march the army to Goldsboro', there to rest, reclothe,
and get some rations.
Our combinations were such that General Schofield entered
Goldsboro' from Newborn; General Terry got Cox's Bridge, with
pontoons laid, and a brigade across Neuse River intrenched; and we
whipped Jos. Johnston--all on the same day.
After riding over the field of battle to-day, near Bentonsville,
and making the necessary orders, I have ridden down to this place
(Cox's Bridge) to see General Terry, and to-morrow shall ride into
I propose to collect there my army proper; shall post General Terry
about Faison's Depot, and General Schofield about Kinston, partly
to protect the road, but more to collect such food and forage as
the country affords, until the railroads are repaired leading into
I fear these have not been pushed with the vigor I had expected;
but I will soon have them both going. I shall proceed at once to
organize three armies of twenty-five thousand men each, and will
try and be all ready to march to Raleigh or Weldon, as we may
determine, by or before April 10th.
I inclose you a copy of my orders of to-day. I would like to be
more specific, but have not the data. We have lost no general
officers nor any organization. General Slocum took three guns at
Averysboro', and lost three others at the first dash on him at
Bentonsville. We have all our wagons and trains in good order.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI IN THE FIELD,
COX'S BRIGADE, GOLDSBORO', NORTH CAROLINA, March 23, 1865.
Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, commanding the Armies of the United
States, City Point, Virginia.
GENERAL: On reaching Goldsboro' this morning, I found Lieutenant
Dunn awaiting me with your letter of March 18th and dispatch of the
17th. I wrote you fully from Cox's Bridge yesterday, and since
reaching Goldsboro' have learned that my letter was sent punctually
to Newborn, whence it will be dispatched to you.
I am very glad to hear that General Sheridan did such good service
between Richmond and Lynchburg, and hope he will keep the ball
moving, I know that these raids and dashes disconcert our enemy and
discourage him much.
General Slocum's two corps (Fourteenth and Twentieth) are now
coming in. I will dispose of them north of Goldsboro', between the
Weldon road and Little River. General Howard to-day is marching
south of the Nenae, and to-morrow will come in and occupy ground
north of Goldsboro', extending from the Weldon Railroad to that
leading to Kinston.
I have ordered all the provisional divisions, made up of troops
belonging to the regular corps, to be broken up, and the men to
join their proper regiments and organizations; and have ordered
General Schofield to guard the railroads back to Newborn and
Wilmington, and to make up a movable column equal to twenty-five
thousand men, with which to take the field. His army will be the
centre, as on the Atlanta campaign. I do not think I want any more
troops (other than absentees and recruits) to fill up the present
regiments, and I can make up an army of eighty thousand men by
April 10th. I will post General Kilpatrick at Mount Olive Station
on the Wilmington road, and then allow the army some rest.
We have sent all our empty wagons, under escort, with the proper
staff-officers, to bring up from Kinston clothing and provisions.
As long as we move we can gather food and forage; but, the moment
we stop, trouble begins.
I feel sadly disappointed that our railroads are not done. I do
not like to say there has been any neglect until I make inquiries;
but it does seem to me the repairs should have been made ere this,
and the road properly stocked. I can only hear of one locomotive
(besides the four old ones) on the Newbern road, and two damaged
locomotives (found by General Terry) on the Wilmington road. I
left Generals Easton and Beckwith purposely to make arrangements in
anticipation of my arrival, and have heard from neither, though I
suppose them both to be at Morehead City.
At all events, we have now made a junction of all the armies, and
if we can maintain them, will, in a short time, be in a position to
march against Raleigh, Gaston, Weldon, or even Richmond, as you may
If I get the troops all well planed, and the supplies working well,
I may run up to see you for a day or two before diving again into
the bowels of the country.
I will make, in a very short time, accurate reports of our
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