General J. G. Barnard, United States Engineers, arrived direct from General Grant’s headquarters, bearing the following letter, in the general’s own handwriting, which is here given:
HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES, City Point, Va., December 27, 1864
Major General W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:
Before writing you definite instructions for the next campaign, I wanted to receive your answer to my letter written from Washington. Your confidence in being able to march up and join this army pleases me, and I believe it can be done. The effect of such a campaign will be to disorganize the South, and prevent the organization of new armies from their broken fragments. Hood is now retreating, with his army broken and demoralized. His loss in men has probably not been far from 20,000, besides, deserters. If time is given the fragments may be collected together and many of the deserters reassemble; if we can we should act to prevent this. Your spare army, as it were, moving as proposed, will do this.
In addition to holding Savannah, it looks to me that an intrenched camp ought to be held on the railroad between Savannah and Charleston. Your movement toward Branchville will probably enable Foster to reach this with his own force. This will give us a position in the South from which we can threaten the interior, without marching over long narrow causeways easily defended, as we have heretofore been compelled to do. Could not such a camp be established about Pocotaligo, or Coosawhatchie?
I have thought that Hood being so completely wiped out for present harm, I might bring A. J. Smith here with from 10,000 to 15,000 men. With this increase I could hold my lines and move out with a greater force than Lee has. It would compel Lee to retain all his present force in the defenses of Richmond, or abandon them entirely. This latter contingency is probably the only danger to the easy success of your expedition. In the event you should meet Lee’s army, you would be compelled to beat it, or find the sea-coast. Of course I shall not let Lee’s army escape if I can help it, and will not let it go without following to the best of my ability.
Without waiting further directions, then, you may make preparations to start on your northern expedition without delay. Break up the railroads in South and North Carolina, and join the armies operating against Richmond as soon as you can. I will leave out all suggestions about the route you should take, knowing that your information, gained daily in the progress of events, will be better than any that can be obtained now. It may not be possible for you to march to the rear of Petersburg, but failing in this you could strike either of the sea-coast ports in North Carolina held by us; from there you could take shipping. It would be decidedly preferable, however, if you could march the whole distance.
From the best information I have, you will find no difficulty in supplying your army until you cross the Roanoke. From there to here is but a few days’ march, and supplies could be collected south of the river to bring you through. I shall establish communication with you there by steam-boat and gun-boat. By this means your wants can be partially supplied. I shall hope to hear from you soon, and to hear your plan and about the time and starting. Please instruct Foster to hold on to all the property captured in Savannah, and especially the cotton. Do not turn it over to citizens or Treasury agents without orders of the War Department.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, IN THE FIELD, NEAR SAVANNAH, GEORGIA, January 2, 1865
Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, City Point.
GENERAL: I have received, by the hands of General Barnard, your note of 26th and letter of 27th December. I herewith inclose to you a copy of a projet which I have this morning, in strict confidence, discussed with my immediate commanders.
I shall need, however, larger supplies of stores, especially grain. I will inclose to you, with this, letters from General Easton, quartermaster, and Colonel Beckwith, commissary of subsistence, setting forth what will be required, and trust you will forward them to Washington with your sanction, so that the necessary steps may be taken at once to enable me to carry out this plan on time.
I wrote you very fully on the 24th, and have nothing to add. Every thing here is quiet, and if I can get the necessary supplies in our wagons, shall be ready to start at the time indicated in my project. But, until those supplies are in hand, I can do nothing; after they are, I shall be ready to move with great rapidity.
I have heard of the affair at Cape Fear. It has turned out as you will remember I expected.
I have furnished General Easton a copy of the dispatch from the Secretary of War. He will retain possession of all cotton here, and ship it as fast as vessels can be had to New York.
I shall immediately send the Seventeenth Corps over to Port Royal, by boats, to be furnished by Admiral Dahlgren and General Foster (without interfering with General Easton’s vessels), to make a lodgment on the railroad at Pocotaligo.
General Barnard will remain with me a few days, and I send this by a staff-officer, who can return on one of the vessels of the supply-fleet. I suppose that, now that General Butler has got through with them, you can spare them to us.
My report of recent operations is nearly ready, and will be sent you in a day or two, as soon as some farther subordinate reports come in.
I am, with great respect, very truly, your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General
PROJET FOR JANUARY.
1. Right wing to move men and artillery by transports to head of Broad River and Beaufort; reestablish Port Royal Ferry, and mass the wing at or in the neighborhood of Pocotaligo.
Left wing and cavalry to work slowly across the causeway toward Hardeeville, to open a road by which wagons can reach their corps about Broad River; also, by a rapid movement of the left, to secure Sister’s Ferry, and Augusta road out to Robertsville.
In the mean time, all guns, shot, shell, cotton, etc., to be moved to a safe place, easy to guard, and provisions and wagons got ready for another swath, aiming to have our army in hand about the head of Broad River, say Pocotaligo, Robertsville, and Coosawhatchie, by the 15th January.
2. The whole army to move with loaded wagons by the roads leading in the direction of Columbia, which affords the best chance of forage and provisions. Howard to be at Pocotaligo by the 15th January, and Slocum to be at Robertsville, and Kilpatrick at or near Coosawhatchie about the same date. General Foster’s troops to occupy Savannah, and gunboats to protect the rivers as soon as Howard gets Pocotaligo.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General
I am now authorized to march with my entire army north by land, and will at once secure a foothold or starting-point on the South Carolina side. Pocotaligo and Hardeeville are the points of rendezvous for the two wings; but I still remain in doubt as to the wishes of the Administration, whether I should take Charleston en route, or confine my whole attention to the incidental advantages of breaking up the railways of South and North Carolina, and the greater object of uniting my army with that of General Grant before Richmond.