SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS,Numbers 12.
HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Savannah, Ga., January 14, 1865.
It being represented that the Confederate army and armed bands of robbers, acting professedly under the authority of the Confederate Government, are harassing the people of Georgia and endeavoring to intimidate them in the efforts they are making to secure to themselves provisions, clothing, security to life and property, and the restoration of law and good government in the State, it is hereby ordered and made public:
I. That the farmers of Georgia may bring into Savannah, Fernandina, or Jacksonville, Fla., marketing, such as beef, pork, mutton, vegetables of any kind, fish, &c., as well as cotton in small quantities, and sell the same in open market, except the cotton, which must be sold by or through the Treasury agents, and may invest the proceeds in family stores, such as bacon and flour in reasonable quantities, groceries, shoes, and clothing, and articles not contraband of War, and carry the same back to their families. No trade stores will be attempted in the interior, or stocks of good s sold for them, but families may club together for mutual assistance and protection in coming and going.
II. The people are encouraged to meet together in peaceful assemblage to discuss measures looking to their safety and good government and the restoration of State and National authority, and will be protected by the National Army when so doing, and all peaceable inhabitants who satisfy the commanding officers that they are earnestly laboring to that end must not only be left undisturbed in property and person, but must be protected as far as possible, consistent with the military operations. If any farmer or peaceable inhabitants is molested by the enemy, viz, the Confederate army or guerrillas, because of his friendship for the National Government, the perpetrator, if caught, will be summarily punished or his family made to suffer for the outrage; but if the crime cannot be traced to the actual party then retaliation will be made on the adherents to the cause of the rebellion. Should a Union man a rebel selected by lot will be shot, or if a Union family be persecuted on account of the cause a rebel family will be banished to a foreign land. In aggravated cases retaliations will be extended as high as five for one. All commanding officers will act promptly in such cases and report their action after the retaliation is done.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON, Assistant Adjutant-General
NEAR POTOTALICO, S. C., January 14, 1865-6. 30 p.m.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN:
The Seventeenth Corps, followed by one brigade of the Fifteenth, crossed Whale Branch at Port Royal Ferry at daylight this morning. The bridge had been constructed during the night, 600 feet in length, under the cover of a small force that crossed in boats and intrenched. General Blair met the enemy in some force occupying a remarkably strong position about one mile to the north of Garden’s Corners. Our bridge was so poor, on account of the rotten canvas, that many delays occurred in crossing and closing up, but after the troops were well in hand and the enemy’s position reconnoitered General Leggett succeeded in turning the enemy’s left flank, when he abandoned his position and fled. The force was quite small, probably not exceeding a regiment, with two pieces of artillery. It was only troublesome on account of the swamp in front of its position. His next fortified position in front of Stony Creek was turned in like manner, so that the enemy did not attempt to make a stand, though along the direction route the works are remarkably complete. We pushed on to Pototaligo, reaching the vicinity just at sundown. The military position there we found similar to every other in this country-a swamp in front, with strong works constructed. The skirmish line developed a strong musketry fire that caused us to lose to the service of several valuable men. Our skirmish line pressed up close and developed five or six pieces of artillery, if not more. It was too late in the day for me to attempt the works. General Blair will confront them tomorrow with one division strongly intrenched, while he makes a considerable detour with the other two to turn the position. I have requested General Foster to replace my canvas boats as soon as possible.
Lieutenant Chandler, General Leggett’s picket officer, was killed this evening, and Captain Kellogg, doing the same duty on General G. A. Smith’s staff, was seriously wounded, at Garden’s Corners. Eight or ten will probably cover the casualties of the day.