HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Pocotaligo, S. C., January 27, 1865.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, Chief of Staff, Washington, D. C.:
We had heavy and continuous rains up to and including the 24th instant, causing all the rivers, the Savannah included, to overflow their banks, and making the roads simply impassable. I came up to this point on the 25th, and with the troops here, Seventeenth Corps, have been demonstrating against the Salkehatchie, but that stream is out of its banks and we cannot cross. I only aim to drive the enemy over toward Edisto, a Little farther from our flank, when I move against the Charleston and Augusta road. I have in person reconnoitered the ground from Salkehatchie bridge back to Coosawhatchie, and find the country very low and intersected by creeks and points of salt marsh, making roads very bad, but I am pushing to get the Right wing here, and have official notice from general Slocum that he had the Twentieth Corps, General Williams, on this side the Savannah at Purysburg, and on the 25th the Fourteenth Corps, General Davis, would resume his march from Cherokee Hill, ten miles out of Savannah, where he was caught by the rain-storm, so that I expect to hear of the Left Wing and cavalry reaching Sister’s Ferry tomorrow. A gun-boat and fleet of transports will attend the Left Wing up the Savannah River, and General Slocum is ordered to replenish his wagons, rendezvous at Robertsville, and report his readiness to me.
I expect on Monday or Tuesday next, viz, February 1, to be all ready, when I will move rapidly up toward Barnwell and wheel to the right on the railroad at Midway leaving Branchville to the right; after destroying that road I will move on Orangeburg, and so on to Columbia, avoiding any works the enemy may construct in my path, and forcing him to fight me in open ground, if he risk battle. I will use Hatch’s division, of Foster’s command (4,000), to cover my moment by posting it between this and Salkehatchie bridge. You will note that our position is now nearer Branchville than from Charleston. I get a few deserters and have made some prisoners, who report cavalry only between me and Barnwell and infantry between me and Charleston.
Of course, I shall keep up the delusion of an attack on Charleston always, and have instructed General Foster to watch the harbor close from Morris Island, and when he hears of my being on the railroad near Branchville to make a landing at Bull’s Bay, and occupy the Georgetown road, twenty-four miles east of Charleston. My Chief difficulty will be to supply my Army, but on this point I must risk a good deal, based upon the idea that where other people live we can, even if they have to starve or move away.
Weather is now cold and clear. I will write again.
I am, with respect, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding
General Foster Relays a message from Admiral Dahlgren:
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH, Hilton Head, S. C., January 27, 1865.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi, Pocotaligo:
Admiral Dahlgren informs me that in obedience to your request, by telegram, he has sent the following vessels to make the demonstrations requested by you, viz: To the Combahee River, the gun-boat Bai Ching and one armed tug; to the South Edisto, the Pawnee and one armed tug; to the North Edisto, the Sonoma; to the Stono, the Wissahickon, the McDonough, and two mortar schooners. In addition, I have directed General Potter to proceed to Edisto Island, and with the Thirty-second U. S. Colored Troops, already landed there, to make a strong demonstration toward Williston, on the South Edisto River, co-operating with the navy. I will, if required, re-enforce him as far as necessary. The enemy have always kept a force at Williston guarding the roads to Adams’ Run and Jacksonborough.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. G. FOSTER, Major-General of Volunteers
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Pocotaligo, January 27, 1865.
Admiral DAHLGREN, Commanding South Atlantic Squadron:
DEAR ADMIRAL: I have now reconnoitered all the country from the Salkehatchie bridge back to and including Coosawhatchie. The enemy had fortified every path leading from the various landings to the railroad, and could have bothered us a good deal had we not got Pocotaligo in the way we did by the several diversions and the quick, prompt attack. From here we will find no trouble in getting an offing.
I have official reports that Slocum got off for Sister’s Ferry on the 25th, and he should be there tomorrow.
It will take him till Monday or Tuesday to cross over, load his wagons, and rendezvous at Robertsville, when we will be off. I hope this cold, clear weather will last for that time, as the roads here would cut to the hub after an hour’s rain.
I have been feeling the Combahee Ferry and also at the bridge, but the river is over its banks and fills the swamps for a mile back, too deep at points to Wade and too shallow at others to use boats. I can only see a few rebels on the other bank, but a prisoner captured says there is a brigade back a short distance and a considerable force about Green Pond, ten miles east of this. We find no enemy this side of the Salkehatchie, except cavalry, which is simply watching us, but I will clear it away in a hurry when we are ready to move. I will be sure to let you know the moment we are off, and will leave Hatch’s division, of Foster’s command, here to cover our movement.
I am, with great respect, yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE,
Near Pocotaligo, S. C., January 27, 1865.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN,
Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:
GENERAL: General Logan moved one division (Hazen’s) to the vicinity of Port Royal Ferry and another (General Woods’) to Garden’s Corners. Supplies had not arrived at Beaufort in sufficient quantity to fill the wagons when the divisions left. Hazen’s transportation, however, is still at Beaufort, and I understand that supplies have arrived, so that he will be able to fill up. General Logan says that General Easton would not allow him boats, so that there are some 600 mules not yet over. General Slocum had not left Savannah yesterday afternoon at 2 o’clock. Corse will follow Geary’s division. I perceive by General Foster’s note that we will have plenty of supplies now. General Logan was here in person this afternoon.
Very respectfully, yours,
O. O. HOWARD, Major-General