Ingraham’s House, Hanging Rock, South Carolina
Two prisoners were brought to me: one a chaplain, the other a boy, son of Richard Bacon, of Charleston, whom I had known as a cadet at West Point. They were just from Charleston, and had been sent away by General Hardee in advance, because he was, they said, evacuating Charleston. Rumors to the same effect had reached me through the negroes, and it was, moreover, reported that Wilmington, North Carolina, was in possession of the Yankee troops; so that I have every reason to be satisfied that our march is fully reaping all the fruits we could possibly ask for.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Ingraham’s House, South Carolina, February 26, 1865
March slow and in order. Send a force to break the railroad. General Davis is not yet across the Catawba. The freshet carried away his pontoons, and I think he will have to burn a part of his trains. The Twentieth Corps is at Hanging rock, and I think General Kilpatrick is at Lancaster. I will go with the Twentieth Corps by Horton’s Tavern and Blakeny’s Bridge.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General
General Corse Reports From My Right Wing on Lynch’s Creek:
I broke camp at 7 a.m. and moved upon the Camden and Cheraw road to Lynch’s Creek, seven mules distant, where I arrived at 10:30 a.m., and found the low land contingent to the stream submerged with water to a mean depth of three feet, and extending over a flat of half a mile in breadth, and although the bridge across the main channel was intact, the roads were impracticable for the passing of army trains, and the water rising rapidly. In order to secure the bridge and occupy the position designated in orders from corps headquarters, I succeeded in crossing one brigade of infantry and my battery, although the men were compelled to wade in the water to their waists, making a lodgment on the opposite banks at 12 m.
Prior to the crossing of this force the foraging details from my own command, and others of the corps, had encountered the enemy’s cavalry and been driven in toward Tiller’s Bridge, but were checked by the appearance of my infantry and the addition of a few mounted men of the Seventh Illinois Veteran Volunteers and orderlies attached to these headquarters. It is impossible to state definitely, tonight, the losses or casualties incident to the promiscuous skirmishing which took place. Nine of the enemy are known to have been killed, several wounded brought in, and five taken prisoners. A list of the casualties of my command will ne forwarded in due time. The enemy’s force is variously estimated at from 500 to 2,000, and reported as passing to my right toward evening.
In the skirmishing which took place I am pleased to mention the name of Corpl. Elijah G. Davis, Company I, Eighty-first Ohio Volunteers, with forage detail, who distinguished himself by refusing to surrender when attacked by four rebels, and fought hand to hand with them until he received seven wounds, and finally escaped death on the spot by the assistance of a comrade. His wounds, it is thought, will not prove fatal, and consist mainly of saber cuts. During the afternoon I succeeded in crossing the remainder of my infantry (Except five companies left as guard to train), and have placed my command in a defensible position, strongly picketing all approaches to the bridge. I have not been able to cross any portion of my supply or ordnance train except thirty-six boxes ammunition which had to be brought a portion of the way by hand. The water, up to 9 p.m., is still rising, and in some places can not be forded.
GENERAL JEFF. C. DAVIS Reports from The Catawba River:
Misfortunes never come single. The work of crossing the trains was continued last night until about 12,30 o’clock, when the bridge gave way in the center. All the boats but two have been recovered. The balking were lost. The river is still rising, and it is doubtful if the anchors will hold the boats in their places against the heavy current. Material to reconstruct the bridge is being gathered from houses, and an attempt to relay it will be made as soon as possible. The roads still continue to be impassable, and corduroy has to be made in every direction where a wagon is to be driven. The weather seems to indicate signs to clearing off. If so, the river, I think, will soon run down and the roads dry up so as to enable us to get on. In the meantime say to the general that we will not lose one moment.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, February 25, 1865.
Major-General SLOCUM, Commanding Left Wing:
It is plain that we must reduce our trains. If you will order General Davis to burn his trains beyond the river and double his teams I can make up 100 or 200 wagons out of the headquarters trains and from Howard when we meet at Cheraw. He could discriminate as to contents, giving the preference to those containing salt, sugar, coffee, and bread. Of course the pontoon train must be carried along.
I am, yours, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General
I have ordered the Twentieth Corps to remain in its present camp until Davis’ corps crosses the river. I ordered Howard to advance no farther for now. I hope he will succeed in crossing tomorrow. If he cannot repair the present bridge it seems to me that the best course will be to start at daylight and lay the bridge at Peay’s Ferry, where Howard crossed, sending the trains already over with Morgan’s division directly. By this course I think he can get everything over tomorrow, and can then push on here via Liberty Hill and Russell Place.
Williams Reponds to General Kilpatrick’s Charges:
General Kilpatrick has been misinformed, and has had his feelings strongly excited by false statements. General Geary’s division with his train and about 100 cavalry-wagons were held in readiness to cross the bridge at Rocky Mount Ferry all the afternoon of the 23rd instant. The train of Geary’s division commenced crossing at 5 p.m. I was with it, and informed General Geary in person that General Kilpatrick would be entitled to the bridge at 7 o’clock, unless General Sherman postponed the hour for which application had been made. General Kilpatrick should not forget that delay of General Geary was caused mainly by crossing more than 200 of his own wagons now with this corps. Under General Sherman’s order General Kilpatrick could have taken the bridge at 7 o’clock. No order or instructions of mine to General Geary could have prevented it of course. General Geary was confident, however, that with his whole division to assist his trains he could complete the crossing by 7:30 to 8 o’clock.
The five cavalrymen who were punished by my provost-marshal (not while the whole corps marched by, but for fifteen minutes, as the provost-marshal reports) were found by a commissioned officer throwing the furniture of an old woman into the streets and threatening to burn her house. They were a part of the detail attached to the cavalry train, which is, and has been from Sister’s Ferry, with my command. While with me I take it for granted they are subject to my orders and to such discipline as I may think for the good of the service. Still, as soon as I heard of the case I directed the provost-marshal to return them to Major Dunbar, assistant quartermaster, in charge of the cavalry wagons, with a statement of their offense.
In regard to the detail sent out by Major Dunbar, assistant quartermaster cavalry, and the captured ten mules and four horses, I have this to day: Major Dunbar is now, and was then, temporarily with my command and subject to my orders. He violated an order which prohibited any foraging party from preceding the head of my column, under penalty of arrest and forfeiture of all animals and supplies taken from the country. Yet in this case, when brought to my notice, I directed the animals to be returned, and seventeen mules (the horses could not be recognized) were given to Major Dunbar, assistant quartermaster, as an equivalent for the four horses and ten mules, with which arrangement, I am assured, he expressed entire satisfaction. In both these cases I relaxed a rule which I should have enforced on my own command (though the offenders were temporarily under my command) in a sincere and earnest spirit of conciliation, courtesy, and good will toward General Kilpatrick and his valuable command.
I do not believe that any man of my command has intentionally destroyed forage. In the marches of nearly a year through Georgia and this State, I have never found an instant in which forage has been destroyed by my men. Besides, my corps has never been on the road indicated by General Kilpatrick, but was marching directly from it. Be that as it may, I will thank General Kilpatrick, or any other general, to punish on the spot any man of this command found burning forage or pillaging the houses of decrepit old women. Or if he will return them to me with a statement of the case, I shall most assuredly not endeavor to screen them on the denial of the offenders alone. General Kilpatrick speaks of his ability to “retaliate,” as though I had sent out men to harass his column, or had personally endeavored to affront him in some way. It would be puerile in me to disavow any such intention, and I really must protest against being held responsible for the conduct of bummers and stragglers. I have the most kind and respectful feelings toward General Kilpatrick and his command, and I regret exceedingly to find that the irritated tone of his communication does not indicate a reciprocity of the feeling on his part. I shall endeavor, however, to take good care of his 250 wagons as I have done for the last month, and to avoid all real causes of complaint or ill-feeling. I earnestly desire to cultivate a feeling of harmony and good feeling between the different commands, and in that spirit I respectfully request that General Kilpatrick be not permitted to “retaliate” by putting in force the order he announces in his communication.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. S. WILLIAMS, Brevet Major-General, Commanding.