Laurel Hill, North Carolina
I traveled with the Fifteenth Corps, and today reached Laurel Hill, North Carolina. The roads are very bad and all the roads must be corduroyed to move the wagons. Satisfied that our troops must be at Wilmington, I determined to send a message there; I called for my man, Corporal Pike, whom I had rescued at Columbia, who has been traveling with our escort, and instructed him in disguise to work his way to the Cape Fear River, secure a boat, and float down to Wilmington to convey a letter, and to report our approach. I also called on General Howard for another volunteer, and he brought me a very clever young sergeant. Each of these got off during the night by separate routes, bearing the following message, reduced to the same cipher we used in telegraphic messages:
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI IN THE FIELD, LAUREL HILL, Wednesday, March 8, 1865
Commanding Officer, Wilmington, North Carolina:
We are marching for Fayetteville, will be there Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and will then march for Goldsboro’.
If possible, send a boat up Cape Fear River, and have word conveyed to General Schofield that I expect to meet him about Goldsboro’. We are all well and have done finely. The rains make our roads difficult, and may delay us about Fayetteville, in which case I would like to have some bread, sugar, and coffee. We have abundance of all else. I expect to reach Goldsboro’ by the 20th instant.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General
Howard Tries To Reign In Foragers:
Hereafter but one mounted foraging pary, to consist of sixty men with the proper number of commissiaoned officers, will be allowed for each divison. The division commanders will be careful to select reliebvle officers of the command of these parties who shall be held strictly accountable for the conduct of thr men.
Wheneer it may be necessary to send a party from the main body, a commissined officer will be sent in charge, but in no case will it be allowed to go in adcvnce of the infantry advance guard of the leading division, or more than five miles from either flank of the column. All surplus animals will be disposed of by the corps quartermasters for the benefit of the artillery, bridge train, &c. Foraging for the artillery traisn, including the pontoons and the different headquarters, will continue as at present.
If not already done, there will be organized for each division a provost guard, to consist of as many picked and resolute men as the division commanders may deem sufficeint. On the march the guard of the leading divisionw will march with the advance guard, and establish gurads at every house on the line of march, which will be relieved by the guard of each succeeding division as it comes up.