Thursday, January 19, 1865

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Savannah, January 19, 1865.

Major General J. G. FOSTER, Commanding Department of the South:
At my suggestion your command has been re-enforced by the troops serving in North Carolina and a division under command of Major-General Grover. I have also turned over to you the city of Savannah and forts dependent, and beg now to indicate in general terms the course which I propose to pursue, and your share of the undertaking. I propose to march, as soon as my wagons are loaded with forage and provisions, to the railroad leading from Augusta to Charleston, striking it to the west of Branchville, breaking up that road effectually. I will then move in compact order and occupy that space of country lying in the triangle formed by Kinston, Columbia, and Camden. There I propose to devote some attention to Columbia and the railroads in that neighborhood. If I find sufficient forage and subsistence for my army and meet with no reverse, I may move with rapidity to Florence, S. C., in hopes to rescue some 10,000 prisoners confined there. At all events, breaking up the road there, I will move direct for Smithville, at the mouth of Cape Fear River, or to New Berne, N. C., according to the condition of my army at the time. When you hear of our being in motion about Coosawhatchie, toward Barnwell, I want a diversion created at Bull’s Bay, against the Mount Pleasant and Georgetown road, about the Twenty-four Mile Post, to create the impression that my purpose is to swing down against Charleston by the peninsula between the Ashey and Cooper. I think 1,000 men, with the co-operation of the navy, will be sufficient to accomplish that end. At the same time, the command at Marris Island should feel the forces on James Island, either to detect the diminution of the enemy’s forces there, or to compel the enemy to keep as many troops there, or to compel the enemy to keep as many troops there as possible.

I regard any attempt to enter Charleston Harbor by its direct channel or to carry it by storm or James Island as too hazardous to warrant the attempt. Therefore, demonstrations in that quarter should be merely diversions, or to take advantage of anything they may neglect by reason of my appearance in their rear. After I have passed the Santee similar diversions should be made about Georgetown, and if the opportunity presents itself the fort there might be carried and dismantled; and I would like to have a good lookout kept by the navy for any boat or message I might send down the Santee or Pedee with a cipher dispatch. I have already furnished Admiral Dahlgren with the key, which is the same used by our telegraphic operations, a copy of which you had better procure at once from Washington through the War Department. In whatever you may do to aid me along the coast by diversions, I must leave you in a great measure to be guided by such information as reaches you from sources controlled by the enemy, of which you must be duly suspicious. But bearing in mind the foregoing, and knowing the strength and temper of my Army, you can arrive at a pretty fair conclusion. I take it for granted that Fort Fisher and Macon, on the North Carolina coast, will be held secure; and it would be well that you give to each commanding officer from time to time such instructions as will make them cooperate with the general movement to the extent of their power. I attach great importance to the point at New Berne, and think you had better send to that point an inspector-general.

Notify the commanding officer of the importance of the position, and if need be re-enforce him. Notify him further that the railroad from Morehead City to New Berne must be looked to with great care. I propose to send to New Berne an officer in whom I have great confidence, Colonel W. W. Wright, to examine the railroad, to ascertain the quantity of rolling-stock, and to convey there by the time I can arrive increased railroad stock and iron, with the necessary operatives to extend the road to Kinston and Goldsborough. But, as a matter of course, these preliminary preparations should be made so as to attract as little attention as possible. In this connection I would caution you and beg you to caution others against the mischievous newspaper men, who would sacrifice the whole army for a little personal notoriety. If any of them are about and likely to divulge so important a secret don’t risk them, but imprison them till the time is past. At this moment we have learned the capture of Wilmington, which may modify matters somewhat, but the general principles above indicated will be still applicable and sufficient for your guidance. I would like to have you confer frequently with Admirals Dahlgren and Porter, apprise them of all movements, and call upon them for any assistance in the way of gun-boats, &c.

I am, with respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Savannah, January 19, 1865.

Honorable Edwin M. STANTON, Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.:
When you left Savannah a few days ago you forgot the map which General Geary had prepared for you, showing the route by which his division entered the city of Savannah, being the first troops to occupy that city. I now send it to you. I avail myself of the opportunity also to inclose you copies of all my official orders touching trade and intercourse with the people of Georgia, as well as for the establishment of the negro settlements. Delegations of the people of Georgia continue to come in and I am satisfied that, with a Little judicious handling and by a Little respect being paid to their prejudices we can create a schism in Jeff. Davis’ dominions. All that I have conversed with realize the truth that slavery as an institution is defunct, and the only question that remains is, what disposition shall be made of the negroes themselves. I confess myself unable to offer a complete solution of this question, and prefer to leave it to the slower operations of time. We have given an initiative and can afford to await the working of the experiment. As to trade matters, I also think that it is to our interest to keep the people somewhat dependent upon the articles of commerce to which they have been hitherto accustomed.

General Grover is now here and will, I think, be able to manage this matter judiciously, and may gradually relax and invite cotton to come in larger quantities. But at first we should manifest no undue anxiety on that score, for the rebels would at once make use of it as a power against us. We should assume a tone of perfect contempt for cotton and everything else in comparison with the great object of the war-the restoration of the Union with all its rights and power. If the rebels burn cotton as a war measure, they simply play into our hands by taking away the only product of value they now have to exchange in foreign ports for war ships and munitions. By such a course, also, they alienate the feelings of the large class of small farmers that look to their Little parcels of cotton to exchange for food and clothing for their families. I hope the Government will not manifest too much anxiety to obtain cotton in large quantities, and especially that the President will not indorse the contracts for the purchase of large quantities of cotton. Several contracts, involving from 6,000 to 10,000 bales, indorsed by Mr. Lincoln, have been shown me, but were not in such a form as to amount to an order for me to facilitate their execution.
As to Treasury trade agents and agents to take charge of confiscated and abandoned property, whose salaries depend upon their fees, I can only say, that as a general rule they are mischievous and disturbing elements to a military government. And it is almost impossible for us to study the law and regulations so as to understand fully their powers and duties. I rather think the Quartermaster’s Department of the Army could better fulfill all their duties and accomplish all that is aimed at by the law. Yet on this subject I will leave General Foster and General Grover to do the best they can.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Savannah, January 19, 1865.

Honorable W. P. FESSENDEN, Secretary of the Treasury, Washington, D. C.:
I have the honor herewith to inclose you copies of my Special Field Orders, Nos. 12 and 13, the only ones I have issued touching matters of trade in this part of the country. I beg to invite your attention to them. I desire to pay every possible respect to the regulations of your Department and to carry out the policy of the Government to the furthest extent; but I know that we can derive but Little revenue from the South, because no one will buy confiscated lands, and if we strip the inhabitants of all personal property they at once fall back upon us with claims of humanity which cannot be disregarded. I think that both General Grant and myself are as severe to secessionists as men could be, but each of us has been forced to feed the inhabitants of the conquered country after they fallen helpless in our power. Without any clearly-defined rule, our practice has been harsh enough as long as resistance lasted; but the moment resistance ceased we could not see people round our camps perish of hunger. Immense quantities of provisions were issued by the commissary department round about Vicksburg and in East Tennessee; but I have forbidden my commissary to issue provisions to the people direct, but have set aside captured rice to be converted, under the direction of my commissary, into food for the inhabitants.

In like manner I propose to invite the people to bring into Savannah for exchange such things as cotton, cattle, sheep, hogs, &c., which had not fallen into our hands before Savannah surrendered. I think, also, that cotton may be brought into Savannah, Fernandina, and Jacksonville in some considerable quantities; but it is very important that we keep away the sharks and rascals that hang round an army like birds of prey. Therefore, I shall insist that in no event shall private citizens be allowed to purchase anywhere in this neighborhood. It is impossible for you in Washington to know the rascalities they perpetrate to get hold of cotton cheap, utterly regardless of honesty or the military interests of our country. As to shipments to Savannah and elsewhere of innocent goods, I am perfectly willing to leave this to the discretion of the collectors of Northern ports, with the simple military check which post commanders can readily apply under my orders. When it is well understood that every trader in our lines engages to do military service, we will be rid of the worst class of characters. Also, so far as I am concerned, I have no objection to the collector in New York or elsewhere clearing for Port Royal any cargo of goods not contraband, when post commanders can regulate the amounts to be brought to other points indicated in my orders. I expect, in a day or two, to take my departure hence, after which General Foster will have supreme control.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding.

CONFIDENTIAL.] HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Savannah, Ga., January 19, 1865. SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, Numbers 19.

I. Major General J. G. Foster, commanding Department of the South, will occupy in force the city of Savannah and river defenses and maintain a good, strong picket in connection with the gun-boats at or near Purysburg. He will also establish an intrenched camp at or near Pocotaligo, covering Port Royal Ferry and the road back to Broad River.

II. Major-General Howard, commanding Right Wing, Army in the Field, will group his army in front of Coosawhatchie and Pocotaligo, prepared to move inland with his wagons containing five days’ forage and provisions and ammunition to the full capacity of his wagons in about the same proportion as when the army left Atlanta. He will continue to draw supplies from the head of Broad River up to the last moment before departure.

III. Major-General Slocum, commanding Left Wing, Army in the Field, will in like manner conduct his wing to convenient camps in the neighborhood of Robertsville, extending toward Coosawhatchie, loading his wagons in the manner prescribed for the Right Wing and drawing his supplies up to the last moment from Purysburg and Sister’s Ferry on the Savannah River.

IV. Brevet Major-General Kilpatrick will move his cavalry in concert with the Left Wing, cross the Savannah River at Sister’s Ferry and picket the roads in front of the Left Wing and open communication with Coosawhatchie, drawing his supplies also from the depot at Sister’s Ferry.

V. Headquarters of the army will be established first at Coosawhatchie, to which point army commanders will report all matters of interest and the earliest moment possible that they will be ready to move inland.

The Right Wing will establish a depot for sick and property at Hilton Head; the Left Wing and cavalry corps the same at Savannah, and each corps will leave behind all unnecessary servants and noncombatants, all tents save one for headquarters of brigade and upwards, flies to shelter from the weather, and tents necessary for hospital purposes; also all chests for office papers and other baggage not necessary for use in battle, with orders for their office papers and necessary baggage to follow them by water.

VI. The Chief quartermaster and commissary of the Army in the Field will use all possible exertion to push forward supplies to the points named in this order, and will be prepared to follow the movements of the army by water, with the provisions, forage, and stores necessary for a resupply.

By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON, Assistant Adjutant-General.

Major-General HOWARD:
Dispatch received. Break up railroad at leisure and either send away the iron or disable it absolutely. General Grover arrived yesterday and today I install him in command. Accumulate food and forage at Pocotaligo and establish a depot at Hilton Head for your suite and the baggage and officers to be left behind. It will be some days before Jeff. Davis gets up to Robertsville or Logan gets to Pocotaligo, but I will push matters as fast as possible.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

The following movements are ordered and will take place at the earliest moment practicable: The Fourteenth Corps, Bvt. Major General J. C. Davis commanding, will move via Springfield, cross the river at or near Sister’s Ferry, and concentrate at that point.

The Twentieth Corps, Bvt. Major General A. S. Williams commanding, will cross the river at Savannah and concentrate at Purysburg. The corps will be prepared to move from the above points with five days’ forage and provisions, and ammunition to the full capacity of the wagons, in about the same proportion as when the army left Atlanta. To accomplish this, each corps commander will leave at Savannah a competent officer of the quartermaster’s and commissary departments to forward the supplies by river to the above points of concentration, and they will see that supplies are promptly forwarded in sufficient quantities to meet the wants of the command while there, and at the same time enable them to start with a full supply of both rations and forage. All surplus baggage, servants, and non-combatants, and all tents, save one for headquarters of brigades and superior commands, will be left behind, with orders for the necessary baggage, office papers, and furniture to follow by water.

Slocum Reports:

The rain of today has made the roads so bad that Geary’s division and the headquarters supply trains of this corps must march with General Davis’ column. All of the roads on the west side of the river, including the causeway, are almost impassable, and if the rain continues will be entirely so.

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