throughout, and, as long as the rebels laid down their arms, he did
not care how it was done. I do not know how far he was influenced
by General Grant, but I presume, from their long conferences, that
they must have understood each other perfectly, and that the terms
given to Lee after his surrender were authorized by Mr. Lincoln. I
know that the latter was delighted when he heard that they had been
given, and exclaimed, a dozen times, "Good!" "All right!"
"Exactly the thing!" and other similar expressions. Indeed, the
President more than once told me what he supposed the terms would
be: if Lee and Johnston surrendered, he considered the war ended,
and that all the other rebel forces world lay down their arms at
In this he proved to be right. Grant and Sherman were both of the
same opinion, and so was everyone else who knew anything about the
What signified the terms to them, so long as we obtained the actual
surrender of people who only wanted a good opportunity to give up
gracefully? The rebels had fought "to the last ditch," and all
that they had left them was the hope of being handed down in
history as having received honorable terms.
After hearing General Sherman's account of his own position, and
that of Johnston, at that time, the President expressed fears that
the rebel general would escape south again by the railroads, and
that General Sherman would have to chase him anew, over the same
ground; but the general pronounced this to be impracticable. He
remarked: "I have him where he cannot move without breaking up his
army, which, once disbanded, can never again be got together; and I
have destroyed the Southern railroads, so that they cannot be used
again for a long time." General Grant remarked, "What is to
prevent their laying the rails again?" "Why," said General
Sherman, "my bummers don't do things by halves. Every rail, after
having been placed over a hot fire, has been twisted as crooked as
a ram's-horn, and they never can be used again."
This was the only remark made by General Grant during the
interview, as he sat smoking a short distance from the President,
intent, no doubt, on his own plans, which were being brought to a
The conversation between the President and General Sherman, about
the terms of surrender to be allowed Jos. Johnston, continued.
Sherman energetically insisted that he could command his own terms,
and that Johnston would have to yield to his demands; but the
President was very decided about the matter, and insisted that the
surrender of Johnston's army most be obtained on any terms.
General Grant was evidently of the same way of thinking, for,
although he did not join in the conversation to any extent, yet he
made no objections, and I presume had made up his mind to allow the
best terms himself.
He was also anxious that Johnston should not be driven into
Richmond, to reenforce the rebels there, who, from behind their
strong intrenchments, would have given us incalculable trouble.
Sherman, as a subordinate officer, yielded his views to those of
the President, and the terms of capitulation between himself and
Johnston were exactly in accordance with Mr. Lincoln's wishes. He
could not have done any thing which would have pleased the
Mr. Lincoln did, in fact, arrange the (so considered) liberal terms
offered General Jos. Johnston, and, whatever may have been General
Sherman's private views, I feel sure that he yielded to the wishes
of the President in every respect. It was Mr. Lincoln's policy
that was carried out, and, had he lived long enough, he would have
been but too glad to have acknowledged it. Had Mr. Lincoln lived,
Secretary Stanton would have issued no false telegraphic
dispatches, in the hope of killing off another general in the
regular army, one who by his success had placed himself in the way
of his own succession.
The disbanding of Jos. Johnston's army was so complete, that the
pens and ink used in the discussion of the matter were all wasted.
It was asserted, by the rabid ones, that General Sherman had given
up all that we had been fighting for, had conceded every thing to
Jos. Johnston, and had, as the boys say, "knocked the fat into the
fire;" but sober reflection soon overruled these harsh expressions,
and, with those who knew General Sherman, and appreciated him, he
was still the great soldier, patriot, and gentleman. In future
times this matter will be looked at more calmly and
dispassionately. The bitter animosities that have been engendered
during the rebellion will have died out for want of food on which
to live, and the very course Grant, Sherman, and others pursued, in
granting liberal terms to the defeated rebels, will be applauded.
The fact is, they met an old beggar in the road, whose crutches had
broken from under him: they let him have only the broken crutches
to get home with!
I sent General Sherman back to Newbern, North Carolina, in the
While he was absent from his command he was losing no time, for be
was getting his army fully equipped with stores and clothing; and,
when he returned, he had a rested and regenerated army, ready to
swallow up Jos. Johnston and all his ragamuffins.
Johnston was cornered, could not move without leaving every thing
behind him, and could not go to Richmond without bringing on a
famine in that destitute city.
I was with Mr. Lincoln all the time he was at City Point, and until
be left for Washington. He was more than delighted with the
surrender of Lee, and with the terms Grant gave the rebel general;
and would have given Jos. Johnston twice as much, had the latter
asked for it, and could he have been certain that the rebel world
have surrendered without a fight. I again repeat that, had Mr.
Lincoln lived, he would have shouldered all the responsibility.
One thing is certain: had Jos. Johnston escaped and got into
Richmond, and caused a larger list of killed and wounded than we
had, General Sherman would have been blamed. Then why not give him
the full credit of capturing on the best terms the enemy's last
important army and its best general, and putting an end to the
It was a finale worthy of Sherman's great march through the swamps
and deserts of the South, a march not excelled by any thing we read
of in modern military history.
D. D. PORTER, Vice-Admiral.
(Written by the admiral in 1866, at the United States Naval Academy
at Annapolis, Md., and mailed to General Sherman at St. Louis, Mo.)
As soon as possible, I arranged with General Grant for certain
changes in the organization of my army; and the general also
undertook to send to North Carolina some tug-boat and barges to
carry stores from Newbern up as far as Kinston, whence they could
be hauled in wagons to our camps, thus relieving our railroads to
that extent. I undertook to be ready to march north by April 10th,
and then embarked on the steamer Bat, Captain Barnes, for North
Carolina. We steamed down James River, and at Old Point Comfort
took on board my brother, Senator Sherman, and Mr. Edwin Stanton,
son of the Secretary of War, and proceeded at once to our
destination. On our way down the river, Captain Barnes expressed
himself extremely obliged to me for taking his vessel, as it had
relieved him of a most painful dilemma. He explained that he had
been detailed by Admiral Porter to escort the President's unarmed
boat, the River Queen, in which capacity it became his special duty
to look after Mrs. Lincoln. The day before my arrival at City
Point, there had been a grand review of a part of the Army of the
James, then commanded by General Ord. The President rode out from
City Point with General Grant on horseback, accompanied by a
numerous staff, including Captain Barnes and Mrs. Ord; but Mrs.
Lincoln and Mrs. Grant had followed in a carriage.
The cavalcade reached the review-ground some five or six miles out
from City Point, found the troops all ready, drawn up in line, and
after the usual presentation of arms, the President and party,
followed by Mrs. Ord and Captain Barnes on horseback, rode the
lines, and returned to the reviewing stand, which meantime had been
reached by Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Grant in their carriage, which had
been delayed by the driver taking a wrong road. Mrs. Lincoln,
seeing Mrs. Ord and Captain Barnes riding with the retinue, and
supposing that Mrs. Ord had personated her, turned on Captain
Barnes and gave him a fearful scolding; and even indulged in some
pretty sharp upbraidings to Mrs. Ord.
This made Barne's position very unpleasant, so that he felt much
relieved when he was sent with me to North Carolina. The Bat was
very fast, and on the morning of the 29th we were near Cape
Hatteras; Captain Barnes, noticing a propeller coming out of
Hatteras Inlet, made her turn back and pilot us in. We entered
safely, steamed up Pamlico Sound into Neuse River, and the next
morning,--by reason of some derangement of machinery, we anchored
about seven miles below Newbern, whence we went up in Captain
Barnes's barge. As soon as we arrived at Newbern, I telegraphed up
to General Schofield at Goldsboro' the fact of my return, and that
I had arranged with General Grant for the changes made necessary in
the reorganization of the army, and for the boats necessary to
carry up the provisions and stores we needed, prior to the renewal
of our march northward.
These changes amounted to constituting the left wing a distinct
army, under the title of "the Army of Georgia," under command of
General Slocum, with his two corps commanded by General Jeff. C.
Davis and General Joseph A. Mower; the Tenth and Twenty-third Corps
already constituted another army, "of the Ohio," under the command
of Major-General Schofield, and his two corps were commanded by
Generals J. D. Cox and A. H. Terry. These changes were necessary,
because army commanders only could order courts-martial, grant
discharges, and perform many other matters of discipline and
administration which were indispensable; but my chief purpose was
to prepare the whole army for what seemed among the probabilities
of the time--to fight both Lee's and Johnston's armies combined, in
case their junction could be formed before General Grant could
possibly follow Lee to North Carolina.
General George H. Thomas, who still remained at Nashville, was not
pleased with these changes, for the two corps with General Slocum,
viz., the Fourteenth and Twentieth, up to that time, had remained
technically a part of his "Army of the Cumberland;" but he was so
far away, that I had to act to the best advantage with the troops
and general officers actually present. I had specially asked for
General Mower to command the Twentieth Corps, because I regarded
him as one of the boldest and best fighting generals in the whole
army. His predecessor, General A. S. Williams, the senior division
commander present, had commanded the corps well from Atlanta to
Goldsboro', and it may have seemed unjust to replace him at that
precise moment; but I was resolved to be prepared for a most
desperate and, as then expected, a final battle, should it fall on
I returned to Goldsboro' from Newbern by rail the evening of March
30th, and at once addressed myself to the task of reorganization
and replenishment of stores, so as to be ready to march by April
10th, the day agreed on with General Grant.
The army was divided into the usual three parts, right and left
wings, and centre. The tabular statements herewith will give the
exact composition of these separate armies, which by the 10th of
April gave the following effective strength:
Infantry ................... 80,968
Artillery .................. 2,448
Cavalry .................... 5,587
Aggregate ............ 88,948
Total number of guns, 91
The railroads to our rear had also been repaired, so that stores
were arriving very fast, both from Morehead City and Wilmington.
The country was so level that a single locomotive could haul
twenty-five and thirty cars to a train, instead of only ten, as was
the case in Tennessee and Upper Georgia.
By the 5th of April such progress had been made, that I issued the
following Special Field Orders, No. 48, prescribing the time and
manner of the next march[Special Field Orders, No. 48.]
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI
IN THE FIELD, GOLDSBORO', NORTH CAROLINA, April 5, 1865.
Confidential to Army Commanders, Corps Commanders, and Chiefs of
The next grand objective is to place this army (with its full
equipment) north of Roanoke River, facing west, with a base for
supplies at Norfolk, and at Winton or Murfreesboro' on the Chowan,
and in full communication with the Army of the Potomac, about
Petersburg; and also to do the enemy as much harm as possible en
1. To accomplish this result the following general plan will be
followed, or modified only by written orders from these
headquarters, should events require a change:
(1.) On Monday, the 10th of April, all preparations are presumed to
be complete, and the outlying detachments will be called in, or
given directions to meet on the next march. All preparations will
also be complete to place the railroad-stock back of Kinston on the
one road, and below the Northeast Branch on the other.
(2.) On Tuesday, the 11th, the columns will draw out on their lines
of march, say, about seven miles, and close up.
(3.) On Wednesday the march will begin in earnest, and will be kept
up at the rate, say, of about twelve miles a day, or according to
the amount of resistance. All the columns will dress to the left
(which is the exposed flank), and commanders will study always to
find roads by which they can, if necessary, perform a general left
wheel, the wagons to be escorted to some place of security on the
direct route of march. Foraging and other details may continue as
heretofore, only more caution and prudence should be observed; and
foragers should not go in advance of the advance-guard, but look
more to our right rear for corn, bacon, and meal.
2. The left wing (Major-General Slocum commanding) will aim
straight for the railroad-bridge near Smithfield; thence along up
the Neuse River to the railroad-bridge over Neuse River, northeast
of Raleigh (Powell's); thence to Warrenton, the general point of
The centre (Major-General Schofield commanding) will move to
Whitley's Mill, ready to support the left until it is past
Smithfield, when it will follow up (substantially) Little River to
about Rolesville, ready at all times to move to the support of the
left; after passing Tar River, to move to Warrenton.
The right wing (Major-General Howard commanding), preceded by the
cavalry, will move rapidly on Pikeville and Nahunta, then swing
across to Bulah to Folk's Bridge, ready to make junction with the
other armies in case the enemy offers battle this side of Neuse
River, about Smithfield; thence, in case of no serious opposition
on the left, will work up toward Earpsboro', Andrews, B----, and
The cavalry (General Kilpatrick commanding), leaving its
encumbrances with the right wing, will push as though straight for
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