Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

Weldon, until the enemy is across Tar River, and that bridge

burned; then it will deflect toward Nashville and Warrenton,

keeping up communication with general headquarters.

3. As soon as the army starts, the chief-quartermaster and

commissary will prepare a resupply of stores at some point on

Pamlico or Albemarle Sounds, ready to be conveyed to Kinston or

Winton and Murfreesboro', according to developments. As soon as

they have satisfactory information that the army is north of the

Roanoke, they will forthwith establish a depot at Winton, with a

sub-depot at Murfreesboro'. Major-General Schofield will hold, as

heretofore, Wilmington (with the bridge across Northern Branch as

an outpost), Newborn (and Kinston as its outpost), and will be

prepared to hold Winton and Murfreesboro' as soon as the time

arrives for that move. The navy has instructions from Admiral

Porter to cooperate, and any commanding officer is authorized to

call on the navy for assistance and cooperation, always in writing,

setting forth the reasons, of which necessarilly the naval

commander must be the judge.

4. The general-in-chief will be with the centre habitually, but

may in person shift to either flank where his presence may be

needed, leaving a staff-officer to receive reports. He requires,

absolutely, a report of each army or grand detachment each night,

whether any thing material has occurred or not, for often the

absence of an enemy is a very important fact in military


By order of Major-General W. T. Sherman,

L. M. DAYTON, Assistant Adjutant-General.

But the whole problem became suddenly changed by the news of the

fall of Richmond and Petersburg, which reached as at Goldsboro', on

the 6th of April. The Confederate Government, with Lee's army, had

hastily abandoned Richmond, fled in great disorder toward Danville,

and General Grant's whole army was in close pursuit. Of course, I

inferred that General Lee would succeed in making junction with

General Johnston, with at least a fraction of his army, somewhere

to my front. I at once altered the foregoing orders, and prepared

on the day appointed, viz., April 10th, to move straight on

Raleigh, against the army of General Johnston, known to be at

Smithfield, and supposed to have about thirty-five thousand men.

Wade Hampton's cavalry was on his left front and Wheeler's on his

right front, simply watching us and awaiting our initiative.

Meantime the details of the great victories in Virginia came thick

and fast, and on the 8th I received from General Grant this

communication, in the form of a cipher-dispatch:


WILSON'S STATION, April 5, 1865

Major-General SHERMAN, Goldsboro', North Carolina:

All indications now are that Lee will attempt to reach Danville

with the remnant of his force. Sheridan, who was up with him last

night, reports all that is left with him--horse, foot, and

dragoons--at twenty thousand, much demoralized. We hope to reduce

this number one-half. I will push on to Burkesville, and, if a

stand is made at Danville, will, in a very few days, go there. If

you can possibly do so, push on from where you are, and let us see

if we cannot finish the job with Lee's and Johnston's armies.

Whether it will be better for you to strike for Greensboro' or

nearer to Danville, you will be better able to judge when you

receive this. Rebel armies now are the only strategic points to

strike at.

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.

I answered immediately that we would move on the 10th, prepared to

follow Johnston wherever he might go. Promptly on Monday morning,

April 10th, the army moved straight on Smithfield; the right wing

making a circuit by the right, and the left wing, supported by the

centre, moving on the two direct roads toward Raleigh, distant

fifty miles. General Terry's and General Kilpatrick's troops moved

from their positions on the south or west bank of the Neuse River

in the same general direction, by Cox's Bridge. On the 11th we

reached Smithfield, and found it abandoned by Johnston's army,

which had retreated hastily on Raleigh, burning the bridges. To

restore these consumed the remainder of the day, and during that

night I received a message from General Grant, at Appomattox, that

General Lee had surrendered to him his whole army, which I at once

announced to the troops in orders:

[Special Field Orders, No. 54]



The general commanding announces to the army that he has official

notice from General Grant that General Lee surrendered to him his

entire army, on the 9th inst., at Appomattox Court-House, Virginia.

Glory to God and our country, and all honor to our comrades in

arms, toward whom we are marching!

A little more labor, a little more toil on our part, the great race

is won, and our Government stands regenerated, after four long

years of war.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.

Of course, this created a perfect furore, of rejoicing, and we all

regarded the war as over, for I knew well that General Johnston had

no army with which to oppose mine. So that the only questions that

remained were, would he surrender at Raleigh? or would he allow

his army to disperse into guerrilla bands, to "die in the last

ditch," and entail on his country an indefinite and prolonged

military occupation, and of consequent desolation? I knew well

that Johnston's army could not be caught; the country was too open;

and, without wagons, the men could escape us, disperse, and

assemble again at some place agreed on, and thus the war might be

prolonged indefinitely.

I then remembered Mr. Lincoln's repeated expression that he wanted

the rebel soldiers not only defeated, but "back at their homes,

engaged in their civil pursuits." On the evening of the 12th I was

with the head of Slocum's column, at Gulley's, and General

Kilpatrick's cavalry was still ahead, fighting Wade Hampton's

rear-guard, with orders to push it through Raleigh, while I would

give a more southerly course to the infantry columns, so as, if

possible, to prevent a retreat southward. On the 13th, early, I

entered Raleigh, and ordered the several heads of column toward

Ashville in the direction of Salisbury or Charlotte. Before

reaching Raleigh, a locomotive came down the road to meet me,

passing through both Wade Hampton's and Kilpatrick's cavalry,

bringing four gentlemen, with a letter from Governor Vance to me,

asking protection for the citizens of Raleigh. These gentlemen

were, of course, dreadfully excited at the dangers through which

they had passed. Among them were ex-Senator Graham, Mr. Swain,

president of Chapel Hill University, and a Surgeon Warren, of the

Confederate army. They had come with a flag of truce, to which

they were not entitled; still, in the interest of peace, I

respected it, and permitted them to return to Raleigh with their

locomotive, to assure the Governor and the people that the war was

substantially over, and that I wanted the civil authorities to

remain in the execution of their office till the pleasure of the

President could be ascertained. On reaching Raleigh I found these

same gentlemen, with Messrs. Badger, Bragg, Holden, and others, but

Governor Vance had fled, and could not be prevailed on to return,

because he feared an arrest and imprisonment. From the Raleigh

newspapers of the 10th I learned that General Stoneman, with his

division of cavalry, had come across the mountains from East

Tennessee, had destroyed the railroad at Salisbury, and was then

supposed to be approaching Greensboro'. I also learned that

General Wilson's cavalry corps was "smashing things" down about

Selma and Montgomery, Alabama, and was pushing for Columbus and

Macon, Georgia; and I also had reason to expect that General

Sheridan would come down from Appomattox to join us at Raleigh with

his superb cavalry corps. I needed more cavalry to check

Johnston's retreat, so that I could come up to him with my

infantry, and therefore had good reason to delay. I ordered the

railroad to be finished up to Raleigh, so that I could operate from

it as a base, and then made:

[Special Field Orders, No. 55]



The next movement will be on Ashboro', to turn the position of the

enemy at the "Company's Shops" in rear of Haw River Bridge, and at

Greensboro', and to cut off his only available line of retreat by

Salisbury and Charlotte:

1. General Kilpatrick will keep up a show of pursuit in the

direction of Hillsboro' and Graham, but be ready to cross Haw River

on General Howard's bridge, near Pittsboro', and thence will

operate toward Greensboro', on the right front of the right wing.

2. The right wing, Major-General Howard commanding, will move out

on the Chapel Hill road, and send a light division up in the

direction of Chapel Hill University to act in connection with the

cavalry; but the main columns and trains will move via Hackney's

Cross-Roads, and Trader's Hill, Pittsboro', St. Lawrence, etc., to

be followed by the cavalry and light division, as soon as the

bridge is laid over Haw River.

8. The centre, Major-General Schofield commanding, will move via

Holly Springs, New Hill, Haywood, and Moffitt's Mills.

4. The left wing, Major-General Slocum commanding, will move

rapidly by the Aven's Ferry road, Carthage, Caledonia, and Cox's


5. All the troops will draw well out on the roads designated

during today and to-morrow, and on the following day will move with

all possible rapidity for Ashboro'. No further destruction of

railroads, mills, cotton, and produce, will be made without the

specific orders of an army commander, and the inhabitants will be

dealt with kindly, looking to an early reconciliation. The troops

will be permitted, however, to gather forage and provisions as

heretofore; only more care should be taken not to strip the poorer

classes too closely.

By order of General W. T. Sherman,

L. M. DAYTON, Assistant Adjutant-General.

Thus matters stood, when on the morning of the 14th General

Kilpatrick reported from Durham's Station, twenty-six miles up the

railroad toward Hillsboro', that a flag of truce had come in from

the enemy with a package from General Johnston addressed to me.

Taking it for granted that this was preliminary to a surrender, I

ordered the message to be sent me at Raleigh, and on the 14th

received from General Johnston a letter dated April 13, 1865, in

these words:

The results of the recent campaign in Virginia have changed the

relative military condition of the belligerents. I am, therefore,

induced to address you in this form the inquiry whether, to stop

the further effusion of blood and devastation of property, you are

willing to make a temporary suspension of active operations, and to

commnnicate to Lieutenant-General Grant, commanding the armies of

the United States, the request that he will take like action in

regard to other armies, the object being to permit the civil

authorities to enter into the needful arrangements to terminate the

existing war.

To which I replied as follows:



General J. E. JOHNSTON, commanding Confederate Army.

GENERAL: I have this moment received your communication of this

date. I am fully empowered to arrange with you any terms for the

suspension of farther hostilities between the armies commanded by

you and those commanded by myself, and will be willing to confer

with you to that end. I will limit the advance of my main column,

to-morrow, to Morrisville, and the cavalry to the university, and

expect that you will also maintain the present position of your

forces until each has notice of a failure to agree.

That a basis of action may be had, I undertake to abide by the same

terms and conditions as were made by Generals Grant and Lee at

Appomattox Court-House, on the 9th instant, relative to our two

armies; and, furthermore, to obtain from General Grant an order to

suspend the movements of any troops from the direction of Virginia.

General Stoneman is under my command, and my order will suspend any

devastation or destruction contemplated by him. I will add that I

really desire to save the people of North Carolina the damage they

would sustain by the march of this army through the central or

western parts of the State.

I am, with respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

I sent my aide-de-camp, Colonel McCoy, up to Durham's Station with

this letter, with instructions to receive the answer, to telegraph

its contents back to me at Raleigh, and to arrange for an

interview. On the 16th I received a reply from General Johnston,

agreeing to meet me the next day at a point midway between our

advance at Durham and his rear at Hillsboro'. I ordered a car and

locomotive to be prepared to convey me up to Durham's at eight

o'clock of the morning of April 17th. Just as we were entering the

car, the telegraph-operator, whose office was up-stairs in the

depot-building, ran down to me and said that he was at that instant

of time receiving a most important dispatch in cipher from Morehead

City, which I ought to see. I held the train for nearly half an

hour, when he returned with the message translated and written out.

It was from Mr. Stanton, announcing the assassination of Mr.

Lincoln, the attempt on the life of Mr. Seward and son, and a

suspicion that a like fate was designed for General Grant and all

the principal officers of the Government. Dreading the effect of

such a message at that critical instant of time, I asked the

operator if any one besides himself had seen it; he answered No!

I then bade him not to reveal the contents by word or look till I

came back, which I proposed to do the same afternoon. The train

then started, and, as we passed Morris's Station, General Logan,

commanding the Fifteenth Corps, came into my car, and I told him I

wanted to see him on my return, as I had something very important

to communicate. He knew I was going to meet General Johnston, and

volunteered to say that he hoped I would succeed in obtaining his

surrender, as the whole army dreaded the long march to Charlotte

(one hundred and seventy-five miles), already begun, but which had

been interrupted by the receipt of General Johnston's letter of the

13th. We reached Durham's, twenty-six miles, about 10 a.m., where

General Kilpatrick had a squadron of cavalry drawn up to receive

me. We passed into the house in which he had his headquarters, and

soon after mounted some led horses, which he had prepared for

myself and staff. General Kilpatrick sent a man ahead with a white

flag, followed by a small platoon, behind which we rode, and were

followed by the rest of the escort. We rode up the Hillsboro' road

for about five miles, when our flag bearer discovered another

coming to meet him: They met, and word was passed back to us that

General Johnston was near at hand, when we rode forward and met

General Johnston on horseback, riding side by side with General

Wade Hampton. We shook hands, and introduced our respective

attendants. I asked if there was a place convenient where we could

be private, and General Johnston said he had passed a small

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