HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Savannah, January 17, 1865
Admiral J. A. DAHLGREN, Commanding South Atlantic Squadron, off Charleston:
I have this moment received your note of the 16th instant, with the letter and roll of charts from Admiral Porter. I send you herewith a letter to Admiral Porter, which I beg you will send him at your earliest convenience, but it is not of enough importance to detach a ship. I regret exceedingly the loss of the monitor Patapsco, especially that she carried down so many valuable lives.
Admiral Porter thinks he and General Terry can take Fort Fisher, or at all events occupy the peninsula above it and cut it off from Wilmington. Of this we shall hear soon, as he proposed to renew the attack on the 13th or 14th, and in case of taking Fort Fisher he would send to Charleston all his fleet, save enough to blockade Wilmington and keep up communications for the troops on shore. Otherwise he could hold on there to engage the attention of the enemy about there, to keep them from me.
You will have heard that we took Pocotaligo on the 15th, according to my plans, and we now have the Seventeenth Corps, General Blair, strongly intrenched on the railroad. I would by this time also have had my Left Wing at Sister’s Ferry, but have been, and still am, delayed by the non-arrival of our stores necessary to fill our wagons. I will get all the army in motion. The first installment of General Grovel’s division, which is to garrison Savannah, has just arrived and all will be in tomorrow. I would prefer you should run no risk at all. When we are known to be in rear of Charleston, about Branchville and Orangeburg, it will be well to watch if the enemy lets go of Charleston, in which case Foster will occupy it, otherwise the feint should be about Bull’s Bay. We will need no cover about Port Royal; nothing but the usual guard ships. I think you will concur with me that, in anticipation of the movement of my army to the rear of the coast, it will be unwise to subject your ships to the heavy Artillery of the enemy or his sunken torpedoes. I will instruct Foster, when he knows I have got near Branchville, to make a landing of a small force at Bull’s Bay, to threaten, and it may be occupy, the road from Mount Pleasant to Georgetown. This will make the enemy believe I design to turn down against Charleston and give me a good offing for Wilmington. I will write you again fully on the move of starting in person.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Savannah, January 17, 1865.
Admiral D. D. PORTER,Commanding North Atlantic Squadron, off Wilmington:
DEAR ADMIRAL: I am this moment in receipt of your letter of January 12, with the roll of maps, for which I am much obliged. I hope you will succeed at Fisher, as it will set free much of your fleet for other purposes; but if Terry does not assault he should occupy the peninsula at the narrow neck represented on the map, about four miles north of Fisher, with a strong line looking to the rear, and a battery of 20-pounder Parrotts commanding the channel of Cape Fear River. I know that the enemy would not naturally keep in Fort Fisher to exceed 500 or 600 men, and they could be held there. Still, if he takes it, it settles that matter, and the majority of his troops could return to Grant or re-enforce New Berne and work out toward Kinston. I will send my railroad man, W. W. Wright, up to New Berne, and can send any number of cars and locomotives, so that we can use that road back to Kinston and Goldsborough. We have also a good deal of railroad iron. Pursuant to my plan, the Seventeenth Corps got Pocotaligo and railroad on the 15th, and I would now be in motion for Branchville and Orangeburg, only stores have been delayed by the storms of the past month. But the possession of Pocotaligo and road back to Beaufort, and also from here forward to Hardeeville, gives me a clear start and I will be off as soon as I can get bread enough to load my wagons. The division of Grover, sent by Grant to hold Savannah, has begun to arrive, so I can take with me my entire Army.
I have studied the maps well and like the appearance of New Berne and Goldsborough and would like New Berne held with all tenacity. If Lee sees the points he may try to checkmate me there, and if you have anything to do with it hold fast to New Berne with the tenacity of life. I explained its importance to the Secretary of War, who promised to run in there and attend to it. I am rejoiced that the current of events has carried Butler to Lowell, where he should have stayed and confined his bellicose operations to the factory girls. He always struck me as a mighty man of words but Little in deeds of personal valor. We will be along soon and the braggart Carolinians will find in our Western boys a different kind of metal. See how easy we took McAllister and Pocotaligo, that have defied the East. The latter cost us less than ten lives. I will make a good ready, and then stand from under. I shall account it a happy day if I stand once more on your deck. The world shall not be grieved at Little jealousies, for we feel a just pride in the pure courage and patriotism of each other. I will write you again before I again dive out of sight and hearing.
Very truly, your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General