Tuesday, February 28, 1865

Hanging, Rock, South Carolina

General Jeff. C. Davis is crossing the Catawba River. Kilpatrick remains near Lancaster, skirmishing with Wheeler’s and Hampton’s cavalry, keeping up the delusion that we proposed to move on Charlotte and Salisbury.

General Davis is taking all measures possible to hurry along his force. He believes that once across, he can move by the road to the point where the 20th Division has corduroyed the road.

It is doubtful that the entire Right Wing can cross Lynch’s Creek today. The rains have swollen the creek and the roads leading to the bridges are underwater.

It is reported that General Joe Johnston is now commanding and at Cheraw; Beauregard and Hardee are there also. Butler’s division of rebel cavalry passed up the Camden and Cheraw road about 5 o’clock this p.m. A prisoner, taken in a skirmish with them, reports that they are going to Cheraw and are about 1,200 strong. The Ninth Illinois found the enemy (infantry) in line about four miles and a half this side of Cheraw. Their lines are over half a mile long. The Ninth Illinois skirmished with them until they found their strength, and then returned to camp. The cars have been running in and out of Cheraw all day, and the whistle blowing continually.

General Kilpatrick Writes:

HDQRS. CAVALRY COMMAND, MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS., In the Field, February 28, 1865-3 p.m.

Major-General SHERMAN, Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:
I have the honor to forward you General Hampton’s reply to your communication of yesterday. I still hold Lancaster, and send you map indicating the position of my brigades. Hampton’s forces seem to be holding Cane Creek. I am pushing a reconnaissance today well up the Charlotte road, and in direction of Monroe. My people have been as far up as the cross-roads at Plyer’s, Nelson’s, and Metler’s, marked by stars on the map, and driven in the enemy’s pickets. They are still advancing, with orders to push up the country as far as possible. Up to last evening the enemy felt certain that we were moving toward Charlotte, and I think my demonstrations of today will keep him of that opinion.

Davis’ stragglers are now coming into my column. I therefore infer that he is past Pleasant Hill Post-Office by this; he certainly has had time. I have sent our scouting parties to find out what progress he has made. I have eaten out the country about Lancaster, and here it is mighty poor. It won’t pay to halt long at one place. I hope that General Davis will be so far advanced as to allow me to cross Lynch’s Creek tomorrow. Please indicate to me the road upon which General Davis will march after crossing Lynch’s Creek.

I received this morning twenty of my prisoners in exchange for an equal number sent General Wheeler yesterday; in all, he has taken from me but once officer and thirty men since entering upon the present campaign. I have, over and above that number, seventy of his men and four commissioned officers. As I feel confident that I can keep even with him or Hampton in prisoners, if you will give permission, and any of the corps commanders desire it, for infantry officers and soldiers now in Wheeler’s hands I will exchange the prisoners I now have on hand. Three infantry soldiers belonging to the Twentieth Army Corps represented themselves as belonging to my cavalry, and were exchanged last evening. They will be sent to their corps as soon as possible.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. KILPATRICK, Brevet Major-General

Confederate General, Wade Hampton Sent a Reply to My Message:

HEADQUARTERS, In the Field, February 27, 1865.

Major General W. T. SHERMAN, U. S. Army:
GENERAL: Your communication of the 24th instant reached me today. In it you state that it has been officially reported that your foraging parties are “murdered” after capture. You go onto say that you have “ordered a similar number of prisoenrs in our hands to be disposed of in like manner” that is to say, you have ordered a number of Confederate soldiers to be “marked.” You characterize your order in proper terms, for the public voice, even in your own country, where it seldom dares to express itself in vindication of truth, honor, or justice, will surely agree with you that in pronouncing you guilty of murder of your order is carried out. Before dismissing this portion of your letter, I beg to assure you that for every soldier of mine “murdered” by you, I shall have executed at once two of yours, giving in all cases preference to any offices who may be in my hands.

In reference to the statement you make regarding the death of your foragers, I have only to say that I know nothing of it; that no orders given by me authorize the killing of prisoners after capture, and that I do not believe my men killed any of yours, except under circumstances in which it was perfectly legitimate and proper that they should kill them. It is a part of the system of the thieves whom you designate as your foragers to fire the dwellings of those citizens whom they have robbed. To check this inhuman system, which is justly execrated by every civilized nation, I have directed my men to shoot down all of your men who are caught burning houses. This order shall remain in force so long as you disgrace the profession of arms by allowing your men to destroy private dwellings.

You say that I cannot, of course, question your right to forage on the country- “It is a right as old as history. ” I do not, sir, question this right. But there is a right older, even, than this, and one more inalienable – the right that every man has to defend his home and to protect those who are dependent on him; and from my heart I wish that every old man and boy in my country who can fire a gun would shoot down, as he would a wild beast, the men who are desolating their land, burning their homes, and insulting their women.

You are particular in defending and claiming “war rights. ” May I ask if you enumerate among these the right to fire upon a defensess city without notice; to burn that city to the ground after it had been surrendered by the inhabitants who claimed, though in vain, that protection which is always accorded in civilized warfare to non-combatants; to fire the dwelling houses of citizen after robbing them; and the petrate even darker crimes than these – crimes too black to be mentioned?

You have permitted, if your have not ordered, the commissioned of these offenses against humanity and the rules of war; you fired into the city of Columbia without a word of warning; after its surrender by the mayor, who demanded protection to private property, you laid the whole city in ashes, leaving amidst its ruins thousands of old men and helpless women and children, who are likely to perish of starvation and exposure. Your line of march can be traced by the lurid light of burning houses, and in more than one household there is now an agony far more bitter than that of death. The Indian scalped his victim regardless of age or sex, but with all his barbarity he always respected the persons of his female captives. Your soldiers, more savage than the Indian, insult those whose natural protectors are absent.

In conclusion, I have only to request that whenever you have any of my men “murdered” or “desposed of,” for the terms appear to be synonymous with you, you will let me hear of it, that I may know what action to take in the matter. In the meantime I shall hold fifty-six of your men as hostages for those whom you have ordered to be executed.

I am, yours, &c.,
WADE HAMPTON, Lieutenant-General

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