Friday, March 3, 1865

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Chesterfield, South Carolina, March 3, 1865 6 a.m.

Major-General KILPATRICK, Commanding Cavalry:
I got your dispatch from Blakeny’s last night. I want you to interpose between Charlotte and Cheraw till we are across. General Blair’s head of column was thirteen miles southwest of Cheraw last night. General Jackson’s division of Twentieth Corps pushed Butler’s cavalry at a run through Chesterfield and across the bridges of Thompson’s Creek, saving the one on the Wadesborough road, excepting one post, which the enemy had time to cut. The other bridge, on the Cheraw road, was burned.
The balance of the corps is pretty well strung out by reason of the roads. I don’t know exactly where General Davis is, but will direct him on Sneedsborough; and would like you to report to me the nature of the roads, especially the one from Mount Croghan by Sinclair’s. By the way, that is your true position, and you should get a party over on the plank road on the line of Jones’ Creek and cut off any courier-line from Wadesborough. I think Hardee will try and escape toward Wadesborough, and in that event you will strike his flank anyhow; and I want you to let go everything and cut his column, reporting to me, that I may throw infantry across.

Until I hear the exact state of matters at Cheraw, I will move the Right Wing on Cheraw and Left on Sneedsborough. I don’t much care now what Beauregard does. He has no railroad now to circulate on and must foot it now, as we do, and he has not the trains that we have. Still he can move more rapidly than we. I want, of course, to get across Pedee and then will fight him where he pleases, and don’t care for his Virginia re-enforcements. We have to meet them some time, and now as well as later; only let me know in advance, as much as possible, the route or routes on which his infantry moves. His cavalry gives no clue on which I can judge. My belief, however, is that Beauregard is tied to a railroad and that railroad will be from Charlotte to Danville.

I have no doubt that Wilmington is, or soon will be, in our hands, and, moreover, that Schofield will or has made a lodgment on the Goldsborough road. A mere strong picket of observation toward Monroe, to give General Davis notice of the approach of danger, will suffice. The bulk of your force should be north of Thompson’s Creek, from Burch’s up toward Jones’ Creek. Reconnoitering parties should examine Pedee from Jones’ Creek down, but do nothing to show a purpose to cross.

Yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding.

Kilpatrick Reports:

HDQRS. CAVALRY COMMAND, ARMY OF INVASION, In the Field, S. C., March 3, 1865.

The enemy appeared in a considerable force this morning from the direction of Monroe, on the road to Blakeny’s, and skirmished with Colonel Spencer’s command, which crossed that road at 10 a. m. today at a point about six miles north of Blakeny’s. After striking the Chesterfield and Monroe road I moved down to Hornsborough Post-Office, then out upon the Wadesborough road to within ten miles of that point, where my own headquarters now are. My scouts have felt the enemy all day upon the left. I think Allen’s division of cavalry is now on the road from White’s Store to Wadesborough. I do not know what other forces of the enemy may be with him. I send you a map indicating my encampment and country watched by my troops. I have had a horrible road to march on today. Tomorrow I shall move to the vicinity of Sneedsborough unless I hear from you.

Five miles of this road will be red slate and firm, after that sandy, and of course good. I have a scouting party in Wadesborough, who will bring me information of the enemy in that direction. Artillery firing is now heard north of and near to Clay’s Creek. Spencer, an hour since, had passed the road coming in from Meltonsville and White’s Store, and should be at this moment in position, covering that road, where I directed him to encamp tonight. My command is all in camp, and I believe my position a good one; covering, however, as I do so many roads, I shall have comparatively but a small force to resist any determined attack upon either one. I will be massed, however, at an early hour tomorrow morning on Chesterfield and Wadesborough road, at a point just north of North Carolina line. Please inform me what operations you require of me tomorrow, and, if possible, for the next day.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. KILPATRICK, Brevet Major-General, Commanding Cavalry

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Chesterfield, S. C., March 3, 1865. 7 a.m.

Major-General SLOCUM, Commanding Left Wing:
General Kilpatrick reports that he is near Blakeny’s, and will move today around the head of Thompson’s Creek to the neighborhood of Sinclair’s and reconnoiter well across to the Pedee. General Blair also reports from his position thirteen miles from Cheraw on the Camden road. General Howard halted him there till the Fifteenth got up in supporting distance. The Fifteenth has been delayed by all sorts of mishaps occasioned by high waters, but General Blair, pursuant to my orders, is now moving straight on Cheraw. I want you to finish up the two bridges, get up your troops from the rear, and move the Twentieth toward Cheraw, north of Thompson’s Creek, until you know that General Blair is in Cheraw, when it will work across to the plank road and up to Sneedsborough, where I design your wing and the cavalry to cross over. You may instruct General Davis to move on Sneedsborough at once, but I don’t see as be can do better than to come here and use your upper bridge unless he gets better roads and more forage by Mount Croghan, Sinclair’s, McQuaig’s, &c. I believe that Hardee is at Cheraw with his Charleston garrison, and it may be part of the Wilmington forces, but I rather think these latter will be used to meet Schofield about Goldsborough. I want Hardee attacked rapidly and boldly, if in any position this side the Pedee. If he makes the mistake to fight on this side we ought to catch him.

I have instructed General Kilpatrick to get a brigade of cavalry across to the plank road at once to observe and attack any force moving on that road from any direction. If Hardee tries to escape toward Wadesborough we must let go our trains and attack him in flank. I think Beauregard, without many wagons, is tied to his Charlotte and Danville railroad. He would not dare depend on the coast road, held as it is, and threatened at Goldsborough. Let us get across the Pedee at all hazards as soon as possible, and then we are all right with Fayetteville as our objective and the Cape Fear River as an alternative.
Yours,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Chesterfield, S. C., March 3, 1865. 6 a.m.

General F. P. BLAIR, Commanding Seventeenth Corps:

Your messenger with copies of General Howard’s letter and your reply is received. I trust you have marched in accordance with your reply to the general, but if not, do so at once, for this corps is near enough in support, and report to General Howard your action and my orders. I expect to see you soon, and will explain my reasons and information. Don’t break the railroad bridge across Thompson’s Creek, as it will be useful to Howard, but tap the railroad below Cheraw at any point convenient other than that of Thompson’s Creek. We hold Chesterfield, and one of the bridges, viz, that on the Wadesborough road, but the enemy burned the other on the Cheraw road, two miles out, where Jackson’s division is now repairing.

Have your pontoons at the head of column, or enough for 150 feet of bridge. Feign at several points, but cross at one. We will operate north of Thompson’s Creek. If you get a chance let Mower and Force do some of their sharp, quick work. I hardly hope to save the big bridge across the Pedee at Cheraw, but it is worth the effort. Once you start the enemy, keep him going, and force him across the Pedee, or rather up the plank road on this side. Let us hear your artillery occasionally, but don’t waste ammunition. When you get the forks of the road below Thompson’s Creek send me word here. Send this to General Howard as explanation for your advance, and I want him up as soon as he can get all up in good shape. As soon as you have got both banks of Thompson’s Creek, set the engineer regiment at work on the bridge, unless the banks are low and favorable to pontoons; but we will want the pontoons before are done with the Thompson’s Creek bridge. I take it for granted the enemy will burn the road bridge, but think he will spare the railroad bridge. Cheraw is full of hospitals, but not much stores. Hardee is there, but Hampton is not. We encountered Butler’s cavalry here, but they gave to a skirmish line. SHERMAN,
Major-General.

Blair Has Taken Cheraw:

My advance entered this town about 12 m., having skirmished with the enemy’s cavalry for seven miles. I endeavored to save the bridge on the Pedee by pushing forward my skirmish line rapidly as possible, but just as the men reached it, it was fired at the other end, and, being prepared with rosin, the flame spread like lighting, and it was comletely destroyed. I shall lay my pontoon tonight if possible. The enemy are in some force on the other side. I found in the city twenty-four pieces of artillery, heavy and light, and a large amount of ammunition. The commissary stores were in the depot and fired by the enemy before leaving

I write Major-General HOWARD:
Your dispatch from Cheraw is received. Concentrate your command at Cheraw and make a crossing of and lodgment beyond the Pedee with all possible dispatch, as it is all important we at once hold its left bank. If you think you will have time, send any kind of a force from the rear portion of your command, probably mounted would be the best, down to Florence, with directions to destroy anything of public property there. We will come into Cheraw tomorrow morning. It is not probable there is anything of an enemy at Florence.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Chesterfield, S. C., March 3, 1865 2:30 p. m.

Major-General HOWARD, Commanding Right Wing;
Your dispatch, of 3:30 p. m. of yesterday, from Black Creek, is just received. I wrote this a.m. to General Blair a letter to be sent you, which may reach you before this, but will repeat. Slocum took Chesterfield yesterday, driving Butler’s cavalry to and through the town, but the enemy broke one of the bridges and burned the other. Both are now repaired, and Slocum will push one division down on the north bank so as to uncover your crossing; but send me word as soon as you are over, that the Twentieth Corps may cross over to the Pedee toward Sneedsborough, where I want his wing and the cavalry to cross over. Of course I am a little impatient to get across Pedee before Beauregard can swing around from Charlotte and Salisbury and oppose our crossing. Once across Pedee, I don’t fear the whole Confederate army, for if need be we can swing in against the right bank of Cape Fear and work down till we meet our people, but I shall aim to reach Fayetteville and Goldsborough, where I know Schofield must now be.

I have ordered Davis from McManus’ Bridge via Mount Crogham to Sneedsborough, and Kilpatrick is above him toward Wadesborough. Roads are very bad up here, either quicksand or red clay. The country is also poor; still thus far we find forage, bacon, and corn meal. I met at Winnsborough Mrs. Aiken, wife of the very Colonel Aiken you report as killed in the fight with Duncan. She was a Miss Gayler, of Mobile, sister of Mrs. General Gorgas, of the rebel Ordnance Department. In her conversation with me she said she supposed her husband would have to “submit or get killed,” and I answered her that such was the case, but I hardly thought so soon to be a prophet.

I will send your letter to Slocum, with instructions to read it and push one or two divisions down toward Cheraw as fast as possible, leaving his wagons near the Sneedsborough road. I will stay here tonight and tomorrow come down, in hopes to go into Cheraw. I don’t believe Hardee will fight on this side the river, and it is now too late for him to slip out by way of Wadesborough. Your rear divisions will have plenty of time to close up whilst you are getting your crossing secured and bridged. I take it all the bridges across Thompson’s Creek are gone, unless it be the railroad bridge, which may have been spared for the sake of the wounded that must still be there. I also feel confident that Wilmington is in our possession, and that none of its garrison is at Cheraw.

Yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

Howard Reports:

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE, Cheraw, S. C., March 3, 1865-1. 40 p. m.

Major General W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:
GENERAL: General Blair entered here at about 11:30 a.m., skirmishing with the enemy’s cavalry. Hardee left with the last of his troops this morning. General Mower pushed with all his might, and tried to save the bridge, but could not do it. We have 17 pieces of artillery as far as counted, about 2,000 muskets, and 1 building containing ammunition. The enemy’s skirmishers are on the other side of the river. General Blair will encamp here tonight, and General Logan about eight miles to the rear, on Thompson’s Creek. I send you Fayetteville Observer of the 27th instant [ultimo]. An expedition was sent to break the railroad, with instructions to make a very small break, as I thought you may want to use the road for some purpose.
Very respectfully,
O. O. HOWARD, Major-General

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Thursday, March 2, 1865

Chesterfield, South Carolina

We entered the village of Chesterfield, skirmishing with Butler’s cavalry, which gave ground rapidly. I received a message from General Howard, who, reports that he is already in Cheraw with the Seventeenth Corps, and that the Fifteenth is near at hand.

General Hardee has retreated eastward across the Pedee, burning the bridge. I therefore directed the left wing to march for Sneedsboro’, about ten miles above Cheraw, to cross the Pedee there, while I in person propose to cross over and join the right wing in Cheraw.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, March 2, 1865.
General KILPATRICK, Near Lancaster:
The Twentieth Corps is now starting from Big Lynch’s Creek for Chesterfield, twenty miles distant. The Fourteenth Corps is now at Little Lynch’s Creek, behind us, and will march by McManus’ Bridge toward Chesterfield. General Howard was on the 28th February across Lynch’s Creek at Tiller’s, and General Blair within sixteen miles of Cheraw. All move on Cheraw, where it is said the Charleston and Wilmington garrisons are expecting to meet us. I don’t believe they will fight on this side the Pedee, but you may move on General Davis’ flank near Chesterfield, and by the time you get there I can select the points of crossing. But if there be any enemy at Cheraw he will, of course, break the bridge there and force us to use pontoons, in which case we will probably use Cheraw and Sneedborough.

General Howard sent his company of scouts from Tiller’s toward the Charleston and Wilmington road, but they met two brigades of cavalry near Mount Elon Post-Office, and were driven back. General Howard reports Hampton’s headquarters at Darlington, but I doubt it. I don’t think the enemy would leave his cavalry, or any material part of it, between us and the sea. Doubtless he is watching and using the railroad east and south of us, but to what extent I cannot conjecture until I know whether our people have Wilmington. I suppose Schofield by this time must be on the railroad north of Wilmington, at or near Goldsborough.

Keep near General Davis’ left and act defensively till we know about Cheraw. I will be with the Twentieth Corps, near Chesterfield, where the Lancaster road meets this, about four miles this side of Chesterfield. I will send infantry to Chesterfield to secure if possible the bridges across Thompson’s Creek near that place, tomorrow at Cheraw. You should be tonight on Lynch’s Creek, and tomorrow near Chesterfield. Roads are sandy and good; enemy leaves us good bridges, and thus far we find not even pickets. General Blair found some cavalry on his road, who gave ground easily.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

Kilpatrick Reports:

HDQRS. CAVALRY COMMAND, ARMY OF INVASION, In the Field, near Blakeny’s Cross-Roads, March 2, 1865
Captain Northrop, of my staff, dashed into Monroe yesterday and captured nine of the enemy and broke the enemy’s courier line. Two dispatches had been received from Beauregard to Hampton and Hardee; the one addressed to Hampton seven miles from Lancaster, the other at Cheraw. Captain Lee, of Beauregard’s staff, had just passed through. He told the citizens that our Right Wing was swinging around to Cheraw, and that he was taking orders to Hardee to fight and delay our march; that Charleston and Wilmington had been evacuated in order to concentrate troops; that Cheatham and a portion of A. P. Hill’s corps had reached Charlotte. Beauregard was still in doubt as to our objective point. My officers are fast learning to be good cavalrymen. All little expeditions sent out have been characterized by that enterprise and dash so requisite to success. Captain Northrop brought away nearly one hundred good horses and mules. This information is reliable. Hampton and his cavalry is near Monroe, and not in General Howard’s front. I shall hold the roads to the left of Chesterfield tomorrow night, and will reconnoiter the river as high up as opposite Wadesborough. The impression among citizens and rebel soldiers about Monroe is that Petersburg has been evacuated.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. KILPATRICK, Brevet Major-General, Commanding Cavalry

The Right Wing Struggles With High Water:

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE, Big Black Creek, March 2, 1865 3:30 p.m.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:

Your dispatch of March 1 just received. I did not get it in season to order General Blair forward today. I had ordered General Blair to wait until the Fifteenth Corps was in supporting distance, and hoping that you would get on the road leading from Cheraw northward.

The division of cavalry (Butler’s) in Darlington was withdrawn to Cheraw two days ago. The brigade commander, Brigadier-General (or Colonel) Aiken was killed in Duncan’s night skirmish near Mount Elon, and also a colonel is reported killed. From the tenor of your dispatch I thought you supposed me purposely delaying. I have not done so.

After Hazen had laid bridges across the Lynch his bridge swayed over and fell as soon as the first wagon commenced crossing, and after he had gotten ready again to cross, the old bridge was carried a few feet down-stream and had to be supported. Working hard all the time Generals Corse and Woods only succeeded in effecting a crossing yesterday evening.

The water was three and four feet deep over the roadway, and about a mile of road was covered. After the first few wagons passed any point the bottom gave out and black mud appeared. Everybody worked day and night, and often in the water waist deep. You may ask why I did not go up higher? Because the Little Lynch became almost equally difficult, and I was obliged to get supplies. We have secured them in the vicinity of Kellytown in some quantity. General Corse is now repairing the road across the Big Black, with part of his force on the other side. He will encamp tonight where the New Market raod comes in; General Woods between New Market and that point; General Hazen, and probably General Smith, at Kellytown. Everything will push on to Cheraw tomorrow. As soon as possible I will break the railroad with mounted infantry. The enemy has not destroyed the bridges across these creeks, but the approaches are awful.

I have positive information that Wilmington is in our hands, and that a brigade under Hagood was captured entire near Town Creek, only about twenty-five men escaping. Deserters from that brigade are now at my headquarters. I have forwarded the dispatch you desired to Charleston, and think it will get through safe. From information received I did not think it best to attempt the Florence road again. Could I have gotten my command over Lynch’s Creek promptly nothing would have suited me better than to have gone for Hardee with all my might. My headquarters tomorrow night will be as near Cheraw as I can get.

Respectfully,
O. O. HOWARD, Major-General

General Blair Writes:

I was making preparation to move forward at once on Cheraw, in accordance with inclosed letter from General Sherman, when I received General Howard’s directions to wait. Unless further orders are received I shall move forward tomorrow morning.

Howard Orders Blair To Cheraw:

Move forward on Cheraw at as early an hour as possible tomorrow morning. General Corse and Woods are over Lynch, but are detained to Big Black. Hazen and Smith are not yet all across Lynch. Corse and Woods will probably be near to Cheraw tomorrow night.

Davis’s Corp has been halted at McManus Bridge due to high water. They are repairing the bridge and corduroying the road.

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Wednesday, March 1, 1865

I am at Finlay’s Bridge across Lynch’s Creek with the Twentieth Corp. The roads are so bad that we must to corduroy nearly every foot of the way. There is no serious opposition from the enemy to any movement of the army. The Right Wing is crossing Lynch Creek.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Finlay’s Bridge, Lynch’s Creek, March 1, 1865

General O. O. HOWARD, Commanding Right Wing:
Slocum has the Twentieth here across Lynch’s Creek and a good bridge. Davis is across the Catawba, and ought to be about fifteen miles behind us. Tomorrow all will move forward fifteen miles, which will bring us near Chesterfield, next day at Cheraw, Davis in the meantime closing his gap. Push Blair straight, on Cheraw; with the Fifteenth Corps move on the same point, careful to reach the railroad below Cheraw and break it, then on Cheraw. We will cross to the north of Cheraw. The enemy cannot hold Cheraw against us, because it is on a branch road and we can insulate it. Johnston, if there, will not fight with a bridge behind him. We may have to cross the Pedee with a serious enemy in front, but we must not allow the Confederates caster; also Wheeler. I had an original communication from Wade Hampton yesterday, and he is still watching Kilpatrick, who is at Lancaster till Davis gets past. Push with all energy straight on Cheraw, cutting its road below, and I will be up on the 3rd instant.

Yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, March 1, 1865.

Major-General BLAIR, Commanding Seventeenth Army Corps:
The Twentieth Corps will be tomorrow night at or near Chesterfield. I want the Right Wing to move straight on Cheraw vigorously and secure if possible the bridge across Pedee. You need not suppose the enemy to be there in heavy force. Big generals may be there but not a large force. At all events get across Thompson’s on tomorrow and in Cheraw if possible. I will have men across the same stream about Chesterfield. Communicate with me there tomorrow night.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

Blair Writes:

All prisoners confirm the statement that the garrisons of Charleston and Wilmington are at Cheraw, with Joe Johnston in command, and that they were en route for Charlotte. Deserters and prisoners think they will make a stand here. They have a great deal of field artillery. Day before yesterday there was reported to be eighteen batteries, yesterday twenty-three. My command is intrenched in a strong natural position, and I am safe against anything the enemy can bring. Some of our foragers report seeing the foragers of the Twentieth Corps on this side of Lynch’s Creek, and they report the corps crossing at a bridge some distance above Blakeny’s.
P. S. -I have not considered myself authorized to advance farther after receiving your communication yesterday afternoon.

The slow movement is causing a lack of forage:

SPECIAL ORDERS, Numbers 55.
HDQRS. SEVENTEENTH ARMY CORPS, In the Field, S. C., March 1, 1865

The scarcity of forage renders it necessary that all worthless animals in this command should be at once disposed of. Blair sends orders:

Division commanders will cause an inspection to be made of their camps and all foraging animals found that are in excess of the number allowed by them to each regiment or detachment will be taken to a distance from the camp and killed. If, however, any serviceable animals are found in this excess they will be delivered to the division quartermaster.

Division commanders are specially directed to reduce the number of forage animals in their commands to as small a number as possible.

The attention of division commanders is called to existing orders in relation to forage parties passing ahead of the column. The great number of mounted men that are exploring the country in advance of not only the infantry but the cavalry renders any effort of the latter to obtain information concerning the enemy’s movements perfectly futile.

Foragers are captured every day, and every one captured is a source of information to the enemy. The most stringent measures must be taken to prevent foraging in front of the columns. The operations of foraging parties can be extended to the flank as far as the commanding officer may see proper to go.

Lieutenant Colonel S. T. Hughes, commanding Ninth Illinois Mounted Infantry, will cause all foragers he may find in advance of the column to be dismounted and sent back in arrest.

Division commanders will cause their pickets to be instructed to permit no foragers to pass to the front from the camp.

HEADQUARTERS LEFT WING, ARMY OF GEORGIA, Near Bridge, Lynch’s Creek, S. C., March 1, 1865.

Major-General SHERMAN, Commanding Army:
I have just heard from General Davis; at 11 o’clock this morning his advance had reached Hanging Rock and the corps was coming along well. One of my staff officers has just come from the Fourteenth Army Corps. Morgan’s division, with his train, is in camp on Little Lynch’s Creek, where General Ward encamped last night. The other two divisions are near that point. I think we can push the Twentieth Corps fifteen miles tomorrow. Davis will very soon be up up with us. He will take a road to the left after reaching this point. If he is short of forage he will go to McManus’ Bridge from Horton’s Tavern.

Very respectfully,
H. W. SLOCUM, Major-General.

General Davis Writes:

We are at last on the road and fairly off again. The roads improve by and above the river, but are bad still. We are pushing, and will continue to do so. The pontoon bridge could not be gotten out until last night. The enemy attacked and skirmished quite sharply the rear guard while taking up the bridge. I shall report tonight again. My advance is six miles beyond this.

Morgan is at Horton’s; Baird and Carlin here. The road over the hill at this place is very bad. If the bridge at McManus’ is standing I think Morgan can reach Blakeny’s tomorrow night. The other divisions will not be far behind. My orders are to march at daylight and go into camp at dark. I sent a communication to you this morning by return messenger. Ludlow left me about 1 p.m., and must have reported to you by this time. Make your calculations upon everything being done that men and animals can accomplish in catching up with you. I will dispatch you in the morning again.

Kilpatrick is at Lancaster:

SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, Numbers 29.
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY COMMAND, In the Field, S. C., March 1, 1865.

I. The command will move to Blakeny’s Cross-Roads, six miles from and east of Robinson’s Ford, tomorrow.

II. Colonel Spencer, with Third Brigade and dismounted men, Lieutenant-Colonel Way commanding, will move direct from his camp to the point indicated at 7 o’clock, obstructing ford. After crossing Lynch’s Creek he will encamp north of and east of Blakeny’s.

III. Colonel Jordan, with First Brigade, will move at 6 a.m. via Robinson’s Ford to Blakeny’s.

IV. General Atkins, with Second Brigade, will move at 6 a.m., following Colonel Jordan, and obstructing Robinson’s Ford after crossing.

V. Brigade commanders will see that the command moves steadily forward without halting, in order that they may have no delay.

By command of Brevet Major-General Kilpatrick

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Tuesday, February 28, 1865

Hanging, Rock, South Carolina

General Jeff. C. Davis is crossing the Catawba River. Kilpatrick remains near Lancaster, skirmishing with Wheeler’s and Hampton’s cavalry, keeping up the delusion that we proposed to move on Charlotte and Salisbury.

General Davis is taking all measures possible to hurry along his force. He believes that once across, he can move by the road to the point where the 20th Division has corduroyed the road.

It is doubtful that the entire Right Wing can cross Lynch’s Creek today. The rains have swollen the creek and the roads leading to the bridges are underwater.

It is reported that General Joe Johnston is now commanding and at Cheraw; Beauregard and Hardee are there also. Butler’s division of rebel cavalry passed up the Camden and Cheraw road about 5 o’clock this p.m. A prisoner, taken in a skirmish with them, reports that they are going to Cheraw and are about 1,200 strong. The Ninth Illinois found the enemy (infantry) in line about four miles and a half this side of Cheraw. Their lines are over half a mile long. The Ninth Illinois skirmished with them until they found their strength, and then returned to camp. The cars have been running in and out of Cheraw all day, and the whistle blowing continually.

General Kilpatrick Writes:

HDQRS. CAVALRY COMMAND, MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS., In the Field, February 28, 1865-3 p.m.

Major-General SHERMAN, Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:
I have the honor to forward you General Hampton’s reply to your communication of yesterday. I still hold Lancaster, and send you map indicating the position of my brigades. Hampton’s forces seem to be holding Cane Creek. I am pushing a reconnaissance today well up the Charlotte road, and in direction of Monroe. My people have been as far up as the cross-roads at Plyer’s, Nelson’s, and Metler’s, marked by stars on the map, and driven in the enemy’s pickets. They are still advancing, with orders to push up the country as far as possible. Up to last evening the enemy felt certain that we were moving toward Charlotte, and I think my demonstrations of today will keep him of that opinion.

Davis’ stragglers are now coming into my column. I therefore infer that he is past Pleasant Hill Post-Office by this; he certainly has had time. I have sent our scouting parties to find out what progress he has made. I have eaten out the country about Lancaster, and here it is mighty poor. It won’t pay to halt long at one place. I hope that General Davis will be so far advanced as to allow me to cross Lynch’s Creek tomorrow. Please indicate to me the road upon which General Davis will march after crossing Lynch’s Creek.

I received this morning twenty of my prisoners in exchange for an equal number sent General Wheeler yesterday; in all, he has taken from me but once officer and thirty men since entering upon the present campaign. I have, over and above that number, seventy of his men and four commissioned officers. As I feel confident that I can keep even with him or Hampton in prisoners, if you will give permission, and any of the corps commanders desire it, for infantry officers and soldiers now in Wheeler’s hands I will exchange the prisoners I now have on hand. Three infantry soldiers belonging to the Twentieth Army Corps represented themselves as belonging to my cavalry, and were exchanged last evening. They will be sent to their corps as soon as possible.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. KILPATRICK, Brevet Major-General

Confederate General, Wade Hampton Sent a Reply to My Message:

HEADQUARTERS, In the Field, February 27, 1865.

Major General W. T. SHERMAN, U. S. Army:
GENERAL: Your communication of the 24th instant reached me today. In it you state that it has been officially reported that your foraging parties are “murdered” after capture. You go onto say that you have “ordered a similar number of prisoenrs in our hands to be disposed of in like manner” that is to say, you have ordered a number of Confederate soldiers to be “marked.” You characterize your order in proper terms, for the public voice, even in your own country, where it seldom dares to express itself in vindication of truth, honor, or justice, will surely agree with you that in pronouncing you guilty of murder of your order is carried out. Before dismissing this portion of your letter, I beg to assure you that for every soldier of mine “murdered” by you, I shall have executed at once two of yours, giving in all cases preference to any offices who may be in my hands.

In reference to the statement you make regarding the death of your foragers, I have only to say that I know nothing of it; that no orders given by me authorize the killing of prisoners after capture, and that I do not believe my men killed any of yours, except under circumstances in which it was perfectly legitimate and proper that they should kill them. It is a part of the system of the thieves whom you designate as your foragers to fire the dwellings of those citizens whom they have robbed. To check this inhuman system, which is justly execrated by every civilized nation, I have directed my men to shoot down all of your men who are caught burning houses. This order shall remain in force so long as you disgrace the profession of arms by allowing your men to destroy private dwellings.

You say that I cannot, of course, question your right to forage on the country- “It is a right as old as history. ” I do not, sir, question this right. But there is a right older, even, than this, and one more inalienable – the right that every man has to defend his home and to protect those who are dependent on him; and from my heart I wish that every old man and boy in my country who can fire a gun would shoot down, as he would a wild beast, the men who are desolating their land, burning their homes, and insulting their women.

You are particular in defending and claiming “war rights. ” May I ask if you enumerate among these the right to fire upon a defensess city without notice; to burn that city to the ground after it had been surrendered by the inhabitants who claimed, though in vain, that protection which is always accorded in civilized warfare to non-combatants; to fire the dwelling houses of citizen after robbing them; and the petrate even darker crimes than these – crimes too black to be mentioned?

You have permitted, if your have not ordered, the commissioned of these offenses against humanity and the rules of war; you fired into the city of Columbia without a word of warning; after its surrender by the mayor, who demanded protection to private property, you laid the whole city in ashes, leaving amidst its ruins thousands of old men and helpless women and children, who are likely to perish of starvation and exposure. Your line of march can be traced by the lurid light of burning houses, and in more than one household there is now an agony far more bitter than that of death. The Indian scalped his victim regardless of age or sex, but with all his barbarity he always respected the persons of his female captives. Your soldiers, more savage than the Indian, insult those whose natural protectors are absent.

In conclusion, I have only to request that whenever you have any of my men “murdered” or “desposed of,” for the terms appear to be synonymous with you, you will let me hear of it, that I may know what action to take in the matter. In the meantime I shall hold fifty-six of your men as hostages for those whom you have ordered to be executed.

I am, yours, &c.,
WADE HAMPTON, Lieutenant-General

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Monday, February 27, 1865

Hanging Rock, South Carolina

General Jeff. C. Davis finally got across the Catawba. The march on Cheraw is resumed.

Howard Writes:

I have just sent a cipher message as you desired. The Lynch is over its banks a mile wide and now swimming deep. We will do well to get our trains across today. I am sorry for the accident at the Catawba. They should make platforms and ferry over the balance of their wagons. But I suppose they know best.
If the water continues to fall General Logan can get his trains over in the morning at Tiller’s Bridge and at Kelly’s, and the moment he can do it I will have him push a division to the Big Black.

General JEF. C. DAVIS Reports:

The bridge is being laid in a new place and bids fair of being a success. The current was thought to be still too rapid at the old one immediately below the falls. The bridge will probably be done by 4 o’clock this evening, and I shall make every exertion to cross and be on the march tomorrow morning at daylight. This is the best that can possibly be hoped for under the circumstances. I am doing everything that man can do, but I cannot dry up the river that separates my command; it has fallen about eighteen inches and is still falling. I do not know what the emergency is in the front, but presume it must be very great, judging by the general’s dispatches, and am working accordingly.

Kilpatrick reported to me from Lancaster yesterday, but has not reported today. I should like him to remain on my flank, as it will enable me to march more securely and, of course, more rapidly.

Kilpatrick Reports:

HDQRS. CAVALRY COMMAND, MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS., Lancaster, S. C., February 27, 1865

Major-General SHERMAN, Commanding Militia Division of the Mississippi:
I am still encamped at Lancaster, holding the roads running in the direction of Charlotte and Monroe. Wheeler is holding the country in that direction. Hampton is in command. Wheeler reports to him. Such is my information. The enemy are under the impression that General Davis, Fourteenth Army Corps, is at or near this point, and that our intention is to move upon Charlotte by way of Monroe. The enemy is now intrenching, to hold the roads in that direction. I have made demonstrations on all roads in that direction, and have been met each time by the enemy in strong force. Hampton has received your communication. General Butler’s cavalry, of Hampton’s command, is moving on your immediate front in direction of, I think, Hickory Head. I shall move parallel to Davis, who expects to be at Pleasant Hill Post-Office tonight. I think I shall move on road by way of Nelson’s, Montgomery’s, and, unless I think the enemy too strong, by Plyer’s, and thence across the headwaters of Lynch’s Creek; otherwise cross the creek at French Creek Steam Mill. I shall move rather upon the left and rear of Davis, that the enemy may be deceived as long as possible as to our real direction of march and to protect his flanks from an attack, which the enemy certainly cold make at almost any point, owing to the great number of roads.

The country here is good; forage plenty. My command has been resting for two days, and is in better condition than at any time during the march. We have captured a large number of mules and some horses, and have mounted all my dismounted men, save 300. I think Hampton’s and Wheeler’s forces combined amount to about 6,000 fighting men. Notwithstanding this superiority of numbers, I shall attack if a favorable opportunity offers. The road upon which I shall march is the best in the country. I will keep you advised daily as to my operations and position.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. KILPATRICK, Brevet Major-General, Commanding.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Hanging Rock, February 27, 1865.

Major-General KILPATRICK, Lancaster:
Your letter is just received. It is all important that you keep me advised. Davis was slow in using the bridge and it carried away and was not mended until today. He will be all over tonight. The movement you describe is the proper one, to keep on the left rear of the left infantry corps. I have word from Howard that will put him near Cheraw tomorrow night, and I shall push to meet him, but must wait till General Davis gets along; probably will be about Horton’s Tavern tomorrow night. Keep feeling the different roads toward Charlotte till you hear General Davis is well toward the head of Lynch’s Creek and then draw off.

General Howard captured a good many horses and mules and some militia. He will send a division, light, to Florence simply to break that road and prevent the removal of any more railroad stock. There is little doubt our troops are in Charleston, and General Howard reports that a dispatch reached Camden yesterday that we also had taken Wilmington. In that event the enemy will collect all his forces about Raleigh as soon as he sees I am not coming to Charlotte. Keep me advised daily; a dispatch sent to the nearest corps, to be forwarded, will answer the purpose, but I think Hampton will draw off as soon as he feels General Howard’s approach to Cheraw.

General Howard is moving on the two roads from Young’s and Tillersville.
General Slocum, Twentieth Corps, will probably pass at Blakeny’s and General Davis at McManus’. You will have no trouble with Lynch’s Creek, as it is passable anywhere above McManus’.

Yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

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Sunday, February 26, 1865

Ingraham’s House, Hanging Rock, South Carolina

Two prisoners were brought to me: one a chaplain, the other a boy, son of Richard Bacon, of Charleston, whom I had known as a cadet at West Point. They were just from Charleston, and had been sent away by General Hardee in advance, because he was, they said, evacuating Charleston. Rumors to the same effect had reached me through the negroes, and it was, moreover, reported that Wilmington, North Carolina, was in possession of the Yankee troops; so that I have every reason to be satisfied that our march is fully reaping all the fruits we could possibly ask for.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Ingraham’s House, South Carolina, February 26, 1865

General HOWARD:
March slow and in order. Send a force to break the railroad. General Davis is not yet across the Catawba. The freshet carried away his pontoons, and I think he will have to burn a part of his trains. The Twentieth Corps is at Hanging rock, and I think General Kilpatrick is at Lancaster. I will go with the Twentieth Corps by Horton’s Tavern and Blakeny’s Bridge.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

General Corse Reports From My Right Wing on Lynch’s Creek:

I broke camp at 7 a.m. and moved upon the Camden and Cheraw road to Lynch’s Creek, seven mules distant, where I arrived at 10:30 a.m., and found the low land contingent to the stream submerged with water to a mean depth of three feet, and extending over a flat of half a mile in breadth, and although the bridge across the main channel was intact, the roads were impracticable for the passing of army trains, and the water rising rapidly. In order to secure the bridge and occupy the position designated in orders from corps headquarters, I succeeded in crossing one brigade of infantry and my battery, although the men were compelled to wade in the water to their waists, making a lodgment on the opposite banks at 12 m.

Prior to the crossing of this force the foraging details from my own command, and others of the corps, had encountered the enemy’s cavalry and been driven in toward Tiller’s Bridge, but were checked by the appearance of my infantry and the addition of a few mounted men of the Seventh Illinois Veteran Volunteers and orderlies attached to these headquarters. It is impossible to state definitely, tonight, the losses or casualties incident to the promiscuous skirmishing which took place. Nine of the enemy are known to have been killed, several wounded brought in, and five taken prisoners. A list of the casualties of my command will ne forwarded in due time. The enemy’s force is variously estimated at from 500 to 2,000, and reported as passing to my right toward evening.

In the skirmishing which took place I am pleased to mention the name of Corpl. Elijah G. Davis, Company I, Eighty-first Ohio Volunteers, with forage detail, who distinguished himself by refusing to surrender when attacked by four rebels, and fought hand to hand with them until he received seven wounds, and finally escaped death on the spot by the assistance of a comrade. His wounds, it is thought, will not prove fatal, and consist mainly of saber cuts. During the afternoon I succeeded in crossing the remainder of my infantry (Except five companies left as guard to train), and have placed my command in a defensible position, strongly picketing all approaches to the bridge. I have not been able to cross any portion of my supply or ordnance train except thirty-six boxes ammunition which had to be brought a portion of the way by hand. The water, up to 9 p.m., is still rising, and in some places can not be forded.

GENERAL JEFF. C. DAVIS Reports from The Catawba River:

Misfortunes never come single. The work of crossing the trains was continued last night until about 12,30 o’clock, when the bridge gave way in the center. All the boats but two have been recovered. The balking were lost. The river is still rising, and it is doubtful if the anchors will hold the boats in their places against the heavy current. Material to reconstruct the bridge is being gathered from houses, and an attempt to relay it will be made as soon as possible. The roads still continue to be impassable, and corduroy has to be made in every direction where a wagon is to be driven. The weather seems to indicate signs to clearing off. If so, the river, I think, will soon run down and the roads dry up so as to enable us to get on. In the meantime say to the general that we will not lose one moment.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, February 25, 1865.
Major-General SLOCUM, Commanding Left Wing:
It is plain that we must reduce our trains. If you will order General Davis to burn his trains beyond the river and double his teams I can make up 100 or 200 wagons out of the headquarters trains and from Howard when we meet at Cheraw. He could discriminate as to contents, giving the preference to those containing salt, sugar, coffee, and bread. Of course the pontoon train must be carried along.
I am, yours, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

I have ordered the Twentieth Corps to remain in its present camp until Davis’ corps crosses the river. I ordered Howard to advance no farther for now. I hope he will succeed in crossing tomorrow. If he cannot repair the present bridge it seems to me that the best course will be to start at daylight and lay the bridge at Peay’s Ferry, where Howard crossed, sending the trains already over with Morgan’s division directly. By this course I think he can get everything over tomorrow, and can then push on here via Liberty Hill and Russell Place.

Williams Reponds to General Kilpatrick’s Charges:

General Kilpatrick has been misinformed, and has had his feelings strongly excited by false statements. General Geary’s division with his train and about 100 cavalry-wagons were held in readiness to cross the bridge at Rocky Mount Ferry all the afternoon of the 23rd instant. The train of Geary’s division commenced crossing at 5 p.m. I was with it, and informed General Geary in person that General Kilpatrick would be entitled to the bridge at 7 o’clock, unless General Sherman postponed the hour for which application had been made. General Kilpatrick should not forget that delay of General Geary was caused mainly by crossing more than 200 of his own wagons now with this corps. Under General Sherman’s order General Kilpatrick could have taken the bridge at 7 o’clock. No order or instructions of mine to General Geary could have prevented it of course. General Geary was confident, however, that with his whole division to assist his trains he could complete the crossing by 7:30 to 8 o’clock.

The five cavalrymen who were punished by my provost-marshal (not while the whole corps marched by, but for fifteen minutes, as the provost-marshal reports) were found by a commissioned officer throwing the furniture of an old woman into the streets and threatening to burn her house. They were a part of the detail attached to the cavalry train, which is, and has been from Sister’s Ferry, with my command. While with me I take it for granted they are subject to my orders and to such discipline as I may think for the good of the service. Still, as soon as I heard of the case I directed the provost-marshal to return them to Major Dunbar, assistant quartermaster, in charge of the cavalry wagons, with a statement of their offense.

In regard to the detail sent out by Major Dunbar, assistant quartermaster cavalry, and the captured ten mules and four horses, I have this to day: Major Dunbar is now, and was then, temporarily with my command and subject to my orders. He violated an order which prohibited any foraging party from preceding the head of my column, under penalty of arrest and forfeiture of all animals and supplies taken from the country. Yet in this case, when brought to my notice, I directed the animals to be returned, and seventeen mules (the horses could not be recognized) were given to Major Dunbar, assistant quartermaster, as an equivalent for the four horses and ten mules, with which arrangement, I am assured, he expressed entire satisfaction. In both these cases I relaxed a rule which I should have enforced on my own command (though the offenders were temporarily under my command) in a sincere and earnest spirit of conciliation, courtesy, and good will toward General Kilpatrick and his valuable command.

I do not believe that any man of my command has intentionally destroyed forage. In the marches of nearly a year through Georgia and this State, I have never found an instant in which forage has been destroyed by my men. Besides, my corps has never been on the road indicated by General Kilpatrick, but was marching directly from it. Be that as it may, I will thank General Kilpatrick, or any other general, to punish on the spot any man of this command found burning forage or pillaging the houses of decrepit old women. Or if he will return them to me with a statement of the case, I shall most assuredly not endeavor to screen them on the denial of the offenders alone. General Kilpatrick speaks of his ability to “retaliate,” as though I had sent out men to harass his column, or had personally endeavored to affront him in some way. It would be puerile in me to disavow any such intention, and I really must protest against being held responsible for the conduct of bummers and stragglers. I have the most kind and respectful feelings toward General Kilpatrick and his command, and I regret exceedingly to find that the irritated tone of his communication does not indicate a reciprocity of the feeling on his part. I shall endeavor, however, to take good care of his 250 wagons as I have done for the last month, and to avoid all real causes of complaint or ill-feeling. I earnestly desire to cultivate a feeling of harmony and good feeling between the different commands, and in that spirit I respectfully request that General Kilpatrick be not permitted to “retaliate” by putting in force the order he announces in his communication.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. S. WILLIAMS, Brevet Major-General, Commanding.

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Saturday, February 25, 1865

Hanging Rock, South Carolina

The countryside is wet. Howard was to move tomorrow at 7 a.m. on Cheraw, concentrating at that point on the 1st of March. The Fifteenth Army Corps was to cross Lynch’s Creek but cannot on account of the flooding, some three-quarters of a mile wide, and, for some distance in many places, swimming to a horse. The roads are bad and several miles must be corduroyed. The water has risen considerably and it will be impossible to cross any more of the train until the water subsides. Perhaps by tomorrow morning the water will fall so that the wagons can be crossed without difficulty. They will be delayed.

Hazen’s foragers have captured the town of Camden. Foragers skirmished up to the suburbs of the town, were twice repulsed, but on the evening of the 23rd entered the town, capturing several militiamen. On the on the morning of the 24th a party of foragers approaching the left of the town were captured by a small party of Hampton’s cavalry, but those approaching from the right carried the town, releasing their comrades and killing one militiamen.

There was found in town 50,000 rations of corn meal and several thousand bales of cotton, all of which was burned.

Genearal Howard Reports From the Right Wing:

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE, Near Williams’ Cross-Roads, February 25, 1865.

Major General W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:
Your dispatch of yesterday is just received. General Logan’s head of column reached West’s Cross-Roads, near De Bruhl’s, where he encamped two divisions last night. His other two divisions are heading on the same road, having moved toward Camden as far as Saunders’ Creek, and then taking a cross-road directly toward Tillersville. I have today sent my headquarters escort, signal party, and scouts with instructions to go to Camden, burn the depot and bridge, and then rejoin us. I also directed General Logan to send all his mounted men to secure and hold Tiller’s Bridge.
The rest of Logan’s command will remain in camp today. General Blair’s head of column encamped near Flat Rock last night. As soon as he gets near enough he will send his mounted infantry straight to Young’s Bridge.

Considering the rain the roads in this quarter are not bad, though the farms are not very productive, and a good ways apart. My scouts, day before yesterday, under Lieutenant McQueen, stampeded a force of the enemy near Camden, captured three prisoners, and broke up twelve or fifteen muskets. General Logan’s scouts were near Camden yesterday, and encountered some mounted militia, but no great force. The advance yesterday captured some 50 or 60 refugee wagons and a large number of fine mules. General John E. Smith’s foragers captured about 70 militia. It is said they gave themselves up. General Blair’s advance encountered a few rebel cavalry near Flat Rock last night. We have a good many prisoners, who left Charleston Thursday.

The information is positive that Charleston is in our hands. A dispatch was received in Camden yesterday stating that Wilmington was in possession of our forces.
At the last crossing about 2,000 horses and mules were taken from men not authorized to use them. The unserviceable were killed. The artillery and mounted men and pontoon trains were refitted. I believe I understand your views fully, and will not hasten my march too much, and will carefully consider the propriety of sending a force to Florence. I think I might at least secure some rolling-stock above Black Creek by tapping the railroad near Darlington. I could send a division light to Darlington with mounted infantry. Thence the latter could move down to Florence and vicinity, burn bridges, trestle-work, &c., and return. This could be accomplished and the entire expedition reach Cheraw in five days, causing us to wait at Cheraw about three days. Please say if your movements on the left will admit of that amount of delay. My headquarters tomorrow night will be at Tillersville Post-Office. Please communicate with me through General Blair.

This will probably reach you in time to answer tonight, as the rear of General Blair’s column will not be farther than Williams’ Cross-Roads.

Very respectfully,
O. O. HOWARD, Major-General

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