Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

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

successful termination.

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

President better.

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

steamer Bat.

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.]



Confidential to Army Commanders, Corps Commanders, and Chiefs of

Staff Departments:

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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