Monday, January 23, 1865

Beaufort, South Carolina

I wrote to Quartermaster Easton:
Transport to Beaufort, by boats, all of Howard’s troops, wagons, and mules, except Corse’s division, which can move with the Left Wing. I have sent you every boat available from this quarter and would like you to push this job at one trip.

I want the army prepared for the march. Howard gives the orders to the 15th Corp:

I. The First Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, having the most transportation, the quartermaster thereof, in accordance with the directions of the Chief quartermaster of the Army, will turn over to Lieutenant Brown, acting assistant quartermaster, pontoon train, five six-mule teams with harness and wagons complete for the use of that organization. As good teams are required the present ones in the division will not be selected for this purpose.

II. As directed by Major-General Sherman, upon the advance of this army all unnecessary servants and non-combatants will be left behind. All chests for office papers and baggage not strictly necessary in the field, and all tents save one for headquarters of each brigade, division, corps, or Army, and such as may be necessary for hospital purposes, will be sent to Beaufort or Hilton Head and left in charge of proper persons until such time as they can follow by water. Flies only will be used for shelter. The Inspector-general’s department is charged with the requirements of this order.

General Corse is struggling with the high water. I cannot possibly spare the steamers from carrying supplies to Purysburg and Pocotaligo, in order to transport his division. Logan should direct General Corse to move back over the route he came, between the Big and Little Ogeechee Rivers, keeping up as high as, or higher, than the Twenty-Mile Station. Perhaps it would be better to take General Blair’s old route from Station Numbers 2 back to Guyton, or Numbers 3, and thence via Springfield to Sister’s Ferry. He should proceed thence by some route parallel to Davis’ line of march to Hickory Hill. At that point Logan should be able to unite his corps. This march General Corse can make easily in seven days, but he will have to be exceedingly careful of forage until he crosses the Savannah. If General Corse should happen to fall one or even two days in rear of other divisions at Hickory Hill it will not matter.

Major General John Smith reports from Pocotaligo:

I have the honor to report my arrival at this point at 12 m. today. I left Savannah at 6 a.m. on the 19th instant, in compliance with orders from headquarters Fifteenth Army Corps. The road across Hutchinson’s Island and the levees between the island and the Union Causeway, although badly cut up, were passable up to 12 m. of the 19th, when the rain and sudden rise of water made them impassable. I had gone forward to New River bridge, fourteen miles from Savannah, to see if it was in readiness to cross, but, finding it would not be completed until about 4 p.m., I made my arrangements to camp at the junction of the Hardeeville and Charleston roads. I expected the remainder of my division would arrive without serious difficulty. About this time I received a communication from Major-General Logan directing me to assume command of the Third and Fourth Divisions, when the orderly informed me that the balance of the troops were on the island and could not come forward, owing to the condition of the roads.

I sent a staff officer to communicate with General Corse, and on the morning of the 20th sent the pioneer corps of the Third and Fourth Divisions, but they found it impossible to join the troops on the island, the road between the rice fields and them being covered with water to the depth of four feet. I rode back, intending to reach Savannah by Screven’s Ferry, but found it impossible to get nearer than two miles. I had, however, upon learning the situation of the troops on the island, ordered Colonel McCown, commanding First Brigade, that if he could not get the wagons out to abandon them and return with the men and animals as speedily as possible.
Upon my return from my attempt to communicate by way of Screven’s Ferry I met Captain Wellman, whom I had sent to General Corse. He informed me that the troops had been ordered to return to Savannah by Major-General Logan, and that he thought but few wagons would have to be abandoned. He also brought directions from Major-General Logan to push through to this place the best I could. I accordingly broke camp at 7 a.m. on the 21st instant, marching through water not deep enough for navigation, but too deep to say we came by land.

It has rained incessantly from 12 m. of the 19th to 10 a.m. this date. The officers and men were very patient; to be cheerful was beyond human nature. I have with me the Second Brigade, composed of three regiments; Battery B, First Michigan Artillery, and all of supply trains except twenty-seven wagons.

The water is making roads impassible. Hazen is ordered to corduroy the road.

The Major-general commanding directs me to say that he wishes you to detail about 400 men to work on the road between this point and bridge at Port Royal Ferry. He also wishes you to send in a quartermaster to receipt for and take out some 200 axes, to be used by a portion of your detail in cutting material for corduroying the road, the axes to be returned to the depot quartermaster when the work shall have been done. The road is in very bad condition, and the general is anxious to have it put in as good repair as possible. Should you not have sufficient teams with your command to enable you to push the work rapidly, you can borrow from General Woods’ division. Please place the detail in charge of a driving officer.

I asked Blair to make a feint toward Charleston and to corduroy the road from Garden Corners.

The Major-general commanding directs me to say that in accordance with General Sherman’s desire to threaten Charleston, he wishes your demonstration of the 20th instant to the Salkehatchie repeated and, if possible, a lodgment effected on the other side. He suggests that you make a trestle or floating bridge out of such material as may be most convenient for crossing infantry only. The general also directs me to say you had better not attempt to send in any more wagons than you can possibly help for the present, as the road is bad enough now and trains passing over it would cut it up so much as to render it impassable for some time to come. General Hazen and General Woods are at work corduroying and repairing it from here to Garden’s Corners. You must make it good the rest of the way.

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