Camp on Fayeteville Road, Thirteen Miles from Cheraw, South Carolina
All the army is marching for Fayetteville: the Seventeenth Corps is well to the right, to make room; the Fifteenth Corps marching by a direct road; the Fourteenth Corps is following a direct road from Sneedsboro’ where it crossed the Pedee; and the Twentieth Corps, which came into Cheraw for the convenience of the pontoon-bridge, diverged to the left, so as to enter Fayetteville next after the Fourteenth Corps, which is appointed to lead into Fayetteville. Kilpatrick holds his cavalry still farther to the left rear on the roads from Lancaster, by way of Wadesboro’ and New Gilead, so as to cover our trains from Hampton’s and Wheeler’s cavalry, who have retreated toward the north. I am moving with the 15th Corp on Laurinburg or Lauren Hill as some call it.
HDQRS. CAVALRY COMMAND, MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS., Rockingham, N. C., March 7, 1865. 11 a.m.
I have just occupied Rockingham, driving out Butler’s cavalry, the rear guard of General Hardee’s forces. Hardee made this place his headquarters Saturday evening. His troops commenced coming in Friday morning; the last came in Saturday night and left Monday. The Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry and Tenth Ohio are now pursuing Butler, who has taken the road north, running through Fair Ground to Ashborough. Hardee has taken the road, so far as I can learn through Ashborough to Greensborough. He had with him about 15,000 men with artillery. I can hear nothing from Fayetteville. I believe Hardee is marching to form a junction with Bearuregad, and I think will march first to Ashborough and thence to Greensborough, or Raleigh, as the case may be, and my scouts meet no resistance yet, reported on roads leading to Fayetteville.
The enemy made inquiries in this place about bridges over Haw River, and I thimk if he was marhcing on Raleigh would move as high up as Ashborouugh in order to avoid Cape Fear River, as he has no pontoon bridges, so far as I can learn, with him.
The enemy had three citizens under arrest for burning bridges over Lumber River. It is reported the enemy has about 800 of our prisoners of war with them who have taken the oath of allegiance to the Confederate Govenment, and they are using them to work upon the roads. Four came in to my lines this morning. Our troops under Schofield, it is reported here (and I think the information reliable), were at Elizabeth, thirty- eight miles below Fayetteville, on Friday last. This alone would have driven Hardee north, unless the enemy intended to fight at Fayetteville. I will promptly advise you as to all movements of the enemy in this direction.
I am, major, very respectfully, &c.,
J. KILPATRICK, Brevet major- General, Commanding Cavalry, Army of Invasion
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, Camp on Fayeteville Road, Thirteen Miles from Cheraw, In the Field, March 7, 1865.
General KILPATRICK, Commanding Cavalry, Rockingham:
Yours of this date, 11 a.m., is just recieved. I am well pleased to learn that Hardee is making north. Though willing now to fight Joe Johnston, who commands in chief, I would prefer to work over to the new base to clear our columns of the impedimenta and make junction with Schofield, who is doubtless working up toward Goldsborough. If I can get that point secure, with both railroads down to Wilmington and New Berne, you will perceive what a base I will have. Raleigh will be easy of conquest and we can drive all Carolina north of the Roanoke, where the concentrated armies of the Confederatcy will have contracted foraging gound. But of that hereafter.
Now I will make for Fayetteville, and only ask you to keep your command well in hand, and the horses and men in the best possible order as to food and forage. Tomorrow night I will send messengers with my orders for Shcofield, but shall aim to reach Goldsborough. Our infantry columns are doing well. I will let Davis enter Fayetteville first, and if the people will spare the bridge, I want all to be easy on the citizens, but if they burn bridges or bother us we must go the whole figure.
In conversation with people evince a detemination to maintain the Union, but treat all other matters as beneath a soldier’s notice. Given us a whole country with a Government and leave details to the lawyers. Deal as moderately and fairly by the Notth Carolinains as possible, and fan the flame of discord already subsisting between them and their proud cousins of South Carolina. There never was much love between them. Touch upon the chivalry of running away, always leaving their families for us to feed and protect, and then on purpose accusing us of all sorts of rudeness.
I expect to reach Fayetteville by Saturday, and will determine as quick as possible what is next for you, but I don’t see as you can do better than hold on that flank. There is a body of infantry and cavalry left down in the pocket about Florence that might be caught, but it won’t pay to chase them- horse flesh is too precious. Keep your horses in the best order for the day when we must have a big fight- not, however, on this turn.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major- General, Commanding