Rocky Mount, South Carolina
I am with the Twentieth Corps, left wing of my army which reached Rocky Mount today. The right wing has turned eastward, toward Cheraw, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, to cross the Catawba River at Peay’s Ferry. I ordered the cavalry to follow the railroad north as far as Chester, and then to turn east to Rocky Mount, the point indicated for the passage of the left wing.
General Howard sends news from Peay’s Ferry, South Carolina
A negro has just come in who left Charleston on Friday. The rebels all left Charleston the same day and our troops immediately took possession of the city. He says they left the city in a great hurry, leaving several light batteries for want of horses, all their heavy guns, and their commissary and quartermaster’s stores. He accompanied the troops as far as Summerville and Laurence, where they stopped. Another negro has come in, who was employed in the engineer department on James Island. He left that place one week ago last Monday. He says all the engineers left the same day, going direct through Charleston north. He came through Camden last Monday. Says that General Beauregard was there then, but not many troops. He says the people are not going to destroy the bridge, in the hope that it will be better for the town if it should be captured. The pontoon bridge at this point was begun at 1 p.m. There was only a picket-poost here, which ran away at the approach of our soldiers.
Yours of today from Peay’s Ferry has just been received. Put your whole command over the river with due expedition, and it would be well to move out in the direction intended some ten or twelve miles, say Russell Place, until the high or table land may be reached. Reconnoiter for roads toward Cheraw well, and toward Camden. Two divisions of the Twentieth Corps with the entire train of this wing have reached Rocky Mount and are mostly in camp. The bridge is completed ready for crossing. The balance of the command are destroying railroad.
Logan has problems with the refugee train:
Owing to the utter impossibility of moving the refugee train over the heavy and difficult roads of the country with any prospect of getting it into camp at a reasonable time for the comfort of the refugees themselves, or of the division with which it moves, the general commanding has decided to divide the train proportionately among the respective divisions of the corps. The sections will report for tomorrow’s march as they may be assigned, and division commanders will please designate an appropriate place for them in their column and see that they (the refugees) are rationed and properly cared for in every particular. Should any brigade or division commander desire to have a refugee family move with his headquarters, he will be allowed to receive them, but must charge himself with their care and protection. At any time during the campaign should improper persons be found with the column the general commanding directs they be at once removed from the command.
Hazen Requests Permission to Mount Foragers
I have the honor to state that until the reception of Special Orders, Numbers 53, of this date, from headquarters Fifteenth Army Corps, I had supposed the mounting of foragers authorized, if not in orders, at least from custom and necessity. Upon this supposition I had directed my brigade commanders to mount about 5 per cent. of their command for the purpose of gathering food. They had done this at no little trouble and had just reported that they could subsist their brigades with but little assistance from the commissary of subsistence. This cannot be done without mounting the foragers, and as our main supplies must be derived this way, I would most respectfully call especial attention to this subject. Late orders regulating issues from the wagons make it necessary for each division of the army to procure from the country about 7,000 pounds of food daily, which amounts do not exist along the immediate lines of march, but must be procured from points more or less remote along the flanks. It is as much as footmen can do to make long marches along the straight lines of the road. I have given the subject of foraging my closet attention since it was adopted as our means of subsisting the army, and have at no time permitted more than the minimum number necessary to perform the duty to be mounted, and unless they are so authorized or mount themselves without authority this command cannot be properly fed. This is corroborated by all my brigade commanders, who, with myself, desire only the best interests of the service. On the late campaign in Georgia I found no difficulty in supplying my command and furnished 22,000 rations to needy troops, but at no time had a less per cent. than 5 of my men mounted and never had any of them dismounted. Should this arrangement be broken up my supplies will fall short of absolute necessity.
HDQRS. CAVALRY COMMAND, ARMY OF INVASION, Douglass’ House, near Black Stocks Station, February 22, 1865
Major L. M. DAYTON, A. S. G., Military Division of the Mississippi:
I am now encamped at Springwell on railroad, and cross to J. Y. Mills’ house, on Little Rocky Creek. My advance has been to within five miles of Chesterville. A portion of Wheeler’s cavalry is at that point, but he and Hampton are moving toward Landsford. General Carlin encamps tonight at Youngsville. I will move at an early hour for the pontoon, and my first brigade (General Atkins) will be at the river ready to cross at 3 p.m. tomorrow. By rapid marching I can reach Lancaster before the half of the rebel cavalry can reach that point. I think, however, they are marching for Charlotte. Cheatham has not yet crossed Broad River; was making preparations to do so today. The bridges you wished destroyed were all burned by Captain Northrop of my staff.
An infantry lieutenant and seven men were murdered yesterday by the Eighth Texas Cavalry after they had surrendered. We found their bodies all together and mutilated, with paper on their breasts, saying, “Death to foragers. ” Eighteen of my men were killed yesterday and some had their throats cut. There is no doubt about this, general, and I have sent Wheeler word that I intend to hand eighteen of his men, and if the cowardly acts is repeated, will burn every house along my line of march that can be reached by my scouting parties. I have a number of prisoners, and shall take a fearful revenge. My people were deliberately murdered and by a sortie of 300 men commanded by a lieutenant-colonel. I will try and see the general-in-chief at the bridge.
Very respectfully, &c.,
J. K. KILPATRICK, Brevet Major-General