I am readying my troops for their march. Tomorrow, Geary will be relieved from Savannah to rejoin his Corp and Foster will assume command of Savannah.
HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Savannah, Ga.,
SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, Numbers 18. January 18, 1865.
I. Major General H. W. Slocum, commanding Left Wing, will tomorrow, January 19, turn over to Major General J. G. Foster, commanding Department of the South, the command and charge of the city of Savannah, Ga.
II. Major-General Foster will thereon relieve the guards, patrols, and fatigue parties belonging to General Geary’s command and assign a commander for the post and city of Savannah, to be governed by existing orders and instructions from these headquarters.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON, Assistant Adjutant-General.
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE, Beaufort, S. C., January 18, 1865.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of 16th instant relative to movements, &c. I had already directed a scouting party to reconnoiter toward Gillisonville. General Blair reports that the party found the enemy (Artillery and cavalry) about six miles beyond Gillisonville. They were obliged to return to Coosawhatchie, capturing, however, a surgeon, lieutenant, and ten men of the enemy. The officer in command then struck off via Grahamville toward Robertsville. When within eight miles of that point they ran upon the enemy’s picket. They learned from a prisoner captured from the Third South Carolina Cavalry that one division of Wheeler’s cavalry, with seven pieces of Artillery, was at Robertsville. Citizens on the road confirm this statement. General Blair further reports that a party sent last evening (17th) to Salkehatchie found the enemy still there, with seven pieces of Artillery in sight from the road, and strengthening their works. I have directed General Blair to keep up his reconnaissances toward Salkehatchie.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
O. O. HOWARD, Major-General.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Savannah, Ga., January 18, 1865.
Your note of January 17, with inclosures, is received. It is best that all the Fifteenth Corps not yet off should march, and that you get your whole command in the neighborhood of Pocotaligo and Coosawhatchie and make as many wharves as possible, that you may accumulate stores in your wagons. Slocum has two divisions at Hardeeville and Purysburg, and today a gun-boat and two transports move up to that point, and it will be five days before Slocum can have Sister’s Ferry and Robertsville. The division of Cuvier Grover is now arriving and will occupy Savannah. This will relieve Geary’s division. Davis will start tomorrow for Sister’s Ferry on the west bank of Savannah, with Kilpatrick’s cavalry.
I now have official notice that General Terry carried Fort Fisher by assault, capturing 72 guns and 1,780 prisoners. This closes up Cape Fear River and helps us. I want them also to strengthen New Berne, and work out the railroad toward Goldsborough. Get your command so as to move north as soon as possible, and get all the bread and forage accumulated you can. As soon as possible we will cast off, and then for another cruise that will, in my judgment, do more to bring matters to a crisis than the last. Choose the best points you can find to land stores for Pocotaligo. Don’t cross the Salkehatchie, but hold all the ground up to it, as though we intended to break across. The next movement I want the enemy to feel is from the left flank. Purysburg is reported as a fine point, with deep river and a good bluff.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding.
Lieutenant McQueen, of my escort, has just returned from a reconnaissance. He communicated with a regiment of General Logan’s mounted infantry at New River bridge yesterday a.m. The small bridges are destroyed; the road otherwise good. He brings from General Blair fifteen prisoners, including two commissioned officers. Do you wish the railroad destroyed?
General Blair finds the enemy’s camp at Robertsville. Was not Slocum to occupy that place on the 15th?
Slocum is not yet up at Robertsville but is at Hardeeville. It will be four days before he gets to Robertsville.
Recruiters will ruin my army if they recruit my men:
The necessities of the service require that the negroes employed in the engineer, commissary, and quartermaster’s departments of this army should not be molested by recruiting parties for colored organizations. Recruiting parties are, therefore, expressly prohibited from recruiting any such employee in this Army. If taken in violation of these orders he will be reclaimed, and the person recruiting him arrested and dealt with accordingly. To prevent mistakes officers employing negroes will furnish them with certificates showing by who and how employed.