Saturday, March 11, 1865

Fayetteville, North Carolina

I found that General Hardee, followed by Wade Hampton’s cavalry, had barely escaped across Cape Fear River, burning the bridge which I had hoped to save. General Slocum was already in possession with the Fourteenth Corps, and all the rest of the army was near at hand when I arrived. I took up my quarters at the old United States Arsenal, which is in fine order, and has been much enlarged by the Confederate authorities, who never dreamed that an invading army would reach it from the west. I found in Fayetteville the widow and daughter of my first captain (General Childs), of the Third Artillery, learned that her son Fred had been the ordnance-officer in charge of the arsenal, and had of course fled with Hardee’s army. During the 11th, the whole army closed down upon Fayetteville, and immediate preparations were made to lay two pontoon bridges, one near the burned bridge, and another about four miles lower down.

HDQRS. MIL, DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI, FIELD In the Field, Fayetteville, N. C., SPECIAL ORDERS, Numbers 28. March 11, 1865

I. The Right Wing. Major General O. O. Howard commanding, will cross Cape Fear River as soon as possible and take roads leading toward Faison’s Station, on the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, but will not depart from the river until further notice.

II. The Left Wing, Major General H. W. Slocum commanding, will hold the town of Fayetteville, and he will lay his pontoons ready to cross the river, but in the meantime will destroy all railroad property, all shops, of factories, tanneries, &c., and all mills save one water-mill of sufficient capacity to grind meal for the people of Fayetteville.

III. The cavalry is charged with destroying the railroad trestles, depots, mills, and factories as far up as lower Little River, including its bridge, and will be prepared to cross to the east of Cape Fear River during Monday night.

IV. Bvt. Colonel O. M. Poe is charged with the utter demolition of the arsenal building and everything pertaining to it, and Bvt. Lieutenant Colonel T. G. Baylor, chief ordnance officer, is charged with the destruction of all powder, and ordnance stores, including guns and small-arms, keeping the usual record. The time allowed will be Sunday and Monday.

V. All commanding officers having refugee families or negroes in charge will prepare a train with a small guard to proceed to Wilmington; after crossing South River an officer will be detailed from these headquarters to conduct them to Wilmington. A guard of 100 men of each wing composed of men entitled to discharge or escaped soldiers and officers will be deemed a sufficient guard.
VI. The army will prepare to lean toward the northeast by Tuesday next.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman

General Logan Reports:

General Corse has just come to my headquarters from Rockfish Creek, and represents that it will be impossible for him to cross his trains without endangering his ammunition and hard bread, unless the stream is bridged, and as it is of considerable width and deth and would delay the column until late in the morning to attempt to construct a bridge, I have ordered General Corse to put in the three pontoon boats now with this column, connecting them with the shore, in order that the three divisions with their trains still on the other side of the stream may cross over as speedily as possible. I have the honor to invite your attention to the inclosed copy of my order to the commanding officer of the section of the pontoon train.

Kilpatrick Reports:

My last communication from Solemn Grove that Hardee was marching rapidly for Fayetteville, but that Hampton and Wheeler were still in rear, and that I would endeavor to cut them off. The information was correct. Hampton, however, was found to be moving upon two roads-the Morganton road and a road three miles farther to the north,, and parallel to it, just south and east of Solemn Grove. I posted upon each road a brigade of cavalry, and learning that there was a road still farther north, upon which some of the enemy’s troops might move, I made a rapid night march with Colonel Spencer’s little brigade of there regiments and 400 dismounted men and one section of artillery, and took post at the point where the road last mentioned intersected the Morganton road.

During the forepoart of the evening I left General Atkins and joined Colonel Spencer with my staff and actually rode through one of General Hampton’s divisions of cavlary, which by 11 o’clock had flanked General Atkins and was then encamped within three miles of Colonel Spencer. My escort of fifteen men and one officer was captured, but I escpaed with my staff. General Atkins and Colonel Jordan discovered about 9 o’clock that, while the enemy was amusing them in front, he was passing with his main force on a road to his right. These officers at once pulled out and made every effort to join me before daylight but failed to do so, owing to the bad roads and the almost incessant skirmishing with the enemy, who was amrchign parallel to him, and at some points not a mile distant. Hampton had marched all day, and rested his men about three miles from Colonel Spencer’s position at 2 o’clock in the morning, and just before daylight charged my position with three divisions of cavalry-Humes’, Allen’s, and Buttler’s. Hampton led the center division-Butler’s-and in less than a minute had driven back my people, had taken possession of my headquarters, captured my artillery, and the whole command was flying before the most formidable cavalry charge I have ever witnessed. Colonel Spencer and a large portion of my staff were virtually taken prisoners. On foot I succeeded in gaining the cavalry camp, a few hundred yards in rear, and found the men fighting with the rebels. The enemy, eager for plunder, failed to promptly follow us up.

We rallied, and at once advanced upon the enemy. We retook the cavalry camp, and, encouraged by our success, charged the enemy, who was endeavoring to harness up my battery horses and plundering my headquartes. We retook the artillery, turned it upon the enemy about my headquarters, not twenty steps distant, and fianally forced him out of my camp. We re-established our lines, and for an hour and a half foiled every attempt of the enemy to retake it. At about 8 o’clock General Mitchell, with a brigade of infantry, came within supporting distance, having rapidly mrched to my assistance across the country from the plank road. He at once moved up into position, and remained with me until 1:30 o’clock, rendering me every assistance possible. The enemy did not, however, make it necessary for the infantry to fire a single shot. General Mitchell has my thanks and deserves great credit for the rapid march over a broken country, the soldierly feeling displayed, and anxiety to assist me. We lost 4 officers killed, 15 men, and 61 severely wounded, and several others slightly wounded, and 7 officers wounded, and we have lost in officers and men about 100. I do not think it will exceed that number, and may fall short of it. The enemy left in my camp upward of 70 killed, including many officers, and a large number of wounded. The enemy made nothing by the attack, save some 25 or 30 valuable horses about headquarters. We captured about 30 prisoners during the day and about 150 horses and equipments, which the enemy were forced to abandon in a swamp into which he was driven by a charge made by the Fifth Kentucky Cavalry. We held the only road upon which the enemy could move to Fayetteville without moving across the country to a road about five miles distant. I find, however, a portion of Hampton’s cavalry passed during the night upon a road running between my present position and Little River. The main portion of his force, however, has not yet passed. I am now within two miles of the road mentioned, and as soon as my command has fed will move to intercept that portion which has not yet passed.

I have written you in detail, that you may fully know all that has taken place. Prisoners taken from Allen’s, Humes’, and Butler’s divisions differ as to the movements of Cheatham’s command. Some say that it is moving upon the railroad, others that it is dee, and will probably take a road north of Little River. The information is not, however, reliable. We have marched over the worst roads I ever saw, and have had scarcely forage for the past two days, Hardee having taken nearly everything in the country. My command very much needs rest.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Fayetteville, N. C., March 11, 1865

General KILPATRICK, Commanding Cavalry:
I have just received your report and read it with great satisfaction. I feared it was worse, as the enemy claims from 200 to 400 prisoners, which were conducted through Fayetteville. They claimed to have captured our camp and animals, and we were finally forced back some 500 yards farther to a swmap impassalbe to friend or foe. You may rest a couple of days, and then be ready to cross the river. I think there are some of the enemy that failed to escape across the bridge. You might send a strong foraging party up to the Little River bridge and burn the railroad bridge. The enemy have sent a good deal of ordnance up toward the coal mines on the railroad. I would like to have it and the cars and locomitove destoryed, but can hardly spare time. We will lay the pontoons tomorrow and cross Monday. I am at the arsenal. I did not get a dispatch from you at Solemn Grove.

Yours, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

General Terry Sent a Scout from Wilmington with a Message:

WILMINGTON, March 7, 1865. 8 p.m.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN:
General Shcofield is at New Berne. Cox, with his own division and Meagher’s and General Heintzelman’s troops, is on the way from New Berne to Goldsborough, and is probably now near Kinston. General D. N. Couch, with his own and McLean’s division, left here yesterday to join Cox, taking the shore road. My troops are at this place. General Shofield has directed the rrailroad from here to Goldsborough to be repaired, but the construction party not yet arrived. I am to be repaired, but the construction party not yet arrived. I am to advance toward Goldsborough as fast as repairs are effected.
TERRY, Major-General

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Fayetteville, N. C., March 11, 1865
Major-General TERRY, Wilmington:
I have just received your dispatch of the 7th. We entered Fayetteville today, Hardee retreating eastward with 20,000 men and burning the bridge across Cape Fear River. We will cross the river tomorrow and start for Goldsborough on Tuesday. You can calculate the time of my arrival by the weather. I will strike the Wilmington railroad about Faison’s. We are all well and have destroyed a vast amount of stores and done the enemy irreparable damage. I will destroy the arsenal utterly. I want everything concentrated at or as near Goldsborough as possible, with the railroad finished as near as possible. We have a large number of negroes and refugees that I may send to Wilmington.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Fayetteville, N. C., March 11, 1865

General TERRY, Wilmington:
I may send a train of wagons down Cape Fear River to convey refugees and negroes that have followed my army from South Carolina. Please ask Admiral Porter to have some gun-boats feel up Cape Fear Rive as high as Elizabeth City, or, at all events, as high up as the wreck of the Chickamauga, at Indian Wells. The rebels burned their steam-boats here.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

I sent the scout back with my letters and with this one from General Howard:

FAYETTEVILLE, N. C., March 11, 1865. 7:30 p.m.
Major-General TERRY, Wilmington, N. C.:
Today we have added Fayetteville to the list of cities that have fallen into our hands. Hardee, said to have 20,000 men, withdrew across the river yesterday and last night; he is reported en route for Raleigh. The rebels skirmished in the town, and fired artillery upon the houses occupied by women and children. They burned the bridge at this place, and removed all the public stores up the railroad that they could. General Sherman is here, well. Many men are wanting shoes and clothing, yet the army never was in better spirits. Expect us at Goldsborough by the 20th instant.
O. O. HOWARD, Major-General

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About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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