HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Savannah, December 25, 1864.
Major General M. C. MEIGS, Quartermaster-General U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
In reply to your letter of the 15th instant I beg to inform you that I have referred the same to Brigadier General L. C. Easton, my chief quartermaster, who will report fully to you in respect to all matters within his department connected with our recent march. As you say, my marches have demonstrated the great truth that armies, even of vast magnitude, are not tied down to bases. In almost any quarter of the South armies of from 30,000 to 50,000 may safely march, sure to find near their route forage of some kind or other for their animals. It is a physical impossibility to supply an army with forage, and you do perfectly right in demanding that each army should provide itself with long forage and a large proportion of its grain. In the interior of Georgia we found an abundance of the best kind of corn and fodder, and even here on the sea-board we find an abundance of rice in the straw, which our animals eat with avidity and seem to like. It will not be long before I shall sally forth again, and I feel no uneasiness whatever on the score of forage.
You may use my name in any circular addressed to the quartermasters of the army to the effect that every part of the southern country will support their animals by a judicious system of foraging. More animals are lost to your department whilst standing idle, hitched to their wagons, than during the long and seemingly hard marches into the interior. I beg to assure you that all my armies have been abundantly supplied by your department, and I am sometimes amazed at the magnitude of its operations. I think I have personally aided your department more than any general officer in the service, by drawing liberally from the enemy, thereby injuring him financially, and to the same extent helping ourselves, and you may always rely upon my cordially co-operating with any system you may establish.
General Easton is now endeavoring to reduce to a system of accountability our captures; but so long as we keep our trains and animals well up, and prevent as far as possible the appropriation of public property to private use, I take it for granted you will pardon any mere departure from the established rules of accountability. I want nothing in the way of horses or transportation, and would merely ask from time to time some few artillery horses of a size and weight which cannot be found in this country; at present we need none, as I do not propose to increase my artillery arm; but as I have 400 or 500 miles more to march before spring, it might be prudent to reserve for us 400 or 500 good artillery horses. If my cavalry cannot remount itself in the country it may go afoot.
Thanking you for your many expressions of confidence and respect,
I am, as ever, your friend and servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General
CHAS. O. BOUTELLE from the U. S. STEAMER BIBB reports from THUNDERBOLT BATTERY, Wilmington River, GA.:
I have marked this river up to this point, four miles and a half from Savannah, with a good road between the two places. There is a good passage through the obstructions between this place and the battery below here at Turner’s Rocks. Vessels drawing fifteen feet can come directly here; least water at low water ten feet (near the obstructions); rise and fall of tide seven feet. All large vessels can come here without difficulty or danger, so far as we can discover. I have recommended to General Slocum to use this place as a transportation depot, and in an interview with him last night understood him to say that he would do so. What glorious news all round!