Sunday, March 12, 1865

Fayetteville, North Carolina

Sunday, March 12th, is a day of Sabbath stillness in Fayetteville. The people generally attend their churches, for they are a very pious people, descended in a large measure from the old Scotch Covenanters, and our men too were resting from the toils and labors of six weeks of as hard marching as ever fell to the lot of soldiers. Shortly after noon was heard in the distance the shrill whistle of a steamboat, which came nearer and nearer, and soon a shout, long and continuous, was raised down by the river, which spread farther and farther, and we all felt that it meant a messenger from home. The effect was electric, and no one can realize the feeling unless, like us, he has been for months cut off from all communication with friends, and compelled to listen to the croakings and prognostications of open enemies. But in a very few minutes came up through the town to the arsenal on the plateau behind a group of officers, among whom was a large, florid seafaring man, named Ainsworth, bearing a small mail-bag from General Terry, at Wilmington, having left at 2 p.m. the day before. Our couriers had got through safe from Laurel Hill, and this was the prompt reply.

After a few minutes’ conference with Captain Ainsworth about the capacity of his boat, and the state of facts along the river, I instructed him to be ready to start back at 6 p.m., and ordered Captain Byers to get ready to carry dispatches to Washington. I also authorized General Howard to send back by this opportunity some of the fugitives who had traveled with his army all the way from Columbia, among whom were Mrs. Feaster and her two beautiful daughters.

I immediately prepared letters for Secretary Stanton, Generals Halleck and Grant, and Generals Schofield, Foster, Easton, and Beckwith.


Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.
I know you will be pleased to hear that my army has reached this point, and has opened communication with Wilmington. A tug-boat came up this morning, and will start back at 6 P. M.

I have written a letter to General Grant, the substance of which he will doubtless communicate, and it must suffice for me to tell you what I know will give you pleasure–that I have done all that I proposed, and the fruits seem to me ample for the time employed. Charleston, Georgetown, and Wilmington, are incidents, while the utter demolition of the railroad system of South Carolina, and the utter destruction of the enemy’s arsenals of Columbia, Cheraw, and Fayetteville, are the principals of the movement. These points were regarded as inaccessible to us, and now no place in the Confederacy is safe against the army of the West. Let Lee hold on to Richmond, and we will destroy his country; and then of what use is Richmond. He must come out and fight us on open ground, and for that we must ever be ready. Let him stick behind his parapets, and he will perish.

I remember well what you asked me, and think I am on the right road, though a long one. My army is as united and cheerful as ever, and as full of confidence in itself and its leaders. It is utterly impossible for me to enumerate what we have done, but I inclose a slip just handed me, which is but partial. At Columbia and Cheraw we destroyed nearly all the gunpowder and cartridges which the Confederacy had in this part of the country. This arsenal is in fine order, and has been much enlarged. I cannot leave a detachment to hold it, therefore shall burn it, blow it up with gunpowder, and then with rams knock down its walls. I take it for granted the United States will never again trust North Carolina with an arsenal to appropriate at her pleasure.

Hoping that good fortune may still attend my army. I remain your servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

Memorandum of General Barry, chief of artillery
FAYETTEVILLE, N. C., March 12, 1865.
Forty-three guns at Columbia, 25 guns at Cheraw, 17 guns at Fayetteville, total, 85, of which four-fifths were field guns, and all were serviceable; 50 field and siege gun carriages, 30 caissons, 5 battery wagons, 3 traveling forges.

FAYETTVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA, Sunday, March. 12, 1885

Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, commanding United States Army, City Point, Virginia.
DEAR GENERAL: We reached this place yesterday at noon; Hardee, as usual, retreating across the Cape Fear, burning his bridges; but our pontoons will be up to-day, and, with as little delay as possible, I will be after him toward Goldsboro’.
A tug has just come up from Wilmington, and before I get off from here, I hope to get from Wilmington some shoes and stockings, sugar, coffee, and flour. We are abundantly supplied with all else, having in a measure lived off the country.
The army is in splendid health, condition, and spirits, though we have had foul weather, and roads that would have stopped travel to almost any other body of men I ever heard of.

Our march, was substantially what I designed–straight on Columbia, feigning on Branchville and Augusta. We destroyed, in passing, the railroad from the Edisto nearly up to Aiken; again, from Orangeburg to the Congaree; again, from Colombia down to Kingsville on the Wateree, and up toward Charlotte as far as the Chester line; thence we turned east on Cheraw and Fayetteville. At Colombia we destroyed immense arsenals and railroad establishments, among which wore forty-three cannon. At Cheraw we found also machinery and material of war sent from Charleston, among which were twenty-five guns and thirty- six hundred barrels of powder; and here we find about twenty guns and a magnificent United States’ arsenal.

We cannot afford to leave detachments, and I shall therefore destroy this valuable arsenal, so the enemy shall not have its use; and the United States should never again confide such valuable property to a people who have betrayed a trust.

I could leave here tomorrow, but want to clear my columns of the vast
crowd of refugees and negroes that encumber us. Some I will send down the river in boats, and the rest to Wilmington by land, under small escort, as soon as we are across Cape Fear River.

I hope you have not been uneasy about us, and that the fruits of this march will be appreciated. It had to be made not only to destroy the valuable depots by the way, but for its incidents in the necessary fall of Charleston, Georgetown, and Wilmington. If I can now add Goldsboro’ without too much cost, I will be in a position to aid you materially in the spring campaign.

Jos. Johnston may try to interpose between me here and Schofield about Newbern; but I think he will not try that, but concentrate his scattered armies at Raleigh, and I will go straight at him as soon as I get our men reclothed and our wagons reloaded.
Keep everybody busy, and let Stoneman push toward Greensboro’ or Charlotte from Knoxville; even a feint in that quarter will be most important.

The railroad from Charlotte to Danville is all that is left to the enemy, and it will not do for me to go there, on account of the red-clay hills which are impassable to wheels in wet weather.

I expect to make a junction with General Schofield in ten days. Yours truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Fayetteville, N. C., Sunday, March 12, 1865.
Generals EASTON and BECKWITH, or either, At Wilmington:
GENTLEMEN: We need very much shoes, stockings, drawers, and pants; also flour, bread, sugar, and coffee; all else we have in abundance. I cannot afford to stay here longer that Wednesday. The river is now high, and if you, or either of you, are in Wilmington, send from there what you can of such articles as I have mentioned, to the capacity of the boats you have at disposal.
Do not draw from New Berne, but collect there the great depot, especially of forage and clothing. My command will need an entire equipment of clothing. We have been in water half the time since leaving Savannah, and consequently the clothing is worn out. We have not lost a wagon, and our animals are in good condition; but I take it for granted we shall find little or no forage about Goldsborough. The moment you hear I am approaching Goldsborough forward to meet me clothing and bread, sugar and coffee, and empty wagons will meet them. We have made a hard and extraordinary march and achieved all I could expect. We are in good health and fighting condition.
Yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Fayetteville, N. C., March 12, 1865 SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, Numbers 29

I. The general commanding takes pleasure in announcing to the army that he is now in communication with Wilmington, a steam-tug having arrived. He will dispatch her with mail at 6 p.m. today, and have some essential supplies brought up, but we have another march to make before reaching our true destination.

II. Lieutenant S. H. M. Byers, Fifth Iowa Infantry, escaped prisoner, is detailed as bearer of dispatches, and will proceed in the tug-boat now at the bridge to Wilmington and deliver his dispatches, thence to General Grant, at City point, and thence to Washington City, to report to the Commissary-General of Prisoners for instructions.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:

FAYETTVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA, Sunday, March. 12, 1885.

Major-General TERRY, commanding United States Forces, Wilmington, North Carolina.
GENERAL: I have just received your message by the tug which left Wilmington at 2 p.m. yesterday, which arrived here without trouble. The scout who brought me your cipher-message started back last night with my answers, which are superseded by the fact of your opening the river.

General Howard just reports that he has secured one of the enemy’s steamboats below the city, General Slocum will try to secure two others known to be above, and we will load them with refugees (white and black) who have clung to our skirts, impeded our movements, and consumed our food.

We have swept the country well from Savannah to here, and the men and animals are in fine condition. Had it not been for the foul weather, I would have caught Hardee at Cheraw or here; but at Columbia, Cheraw, and here, we have captured immense stores, and destroyed machinery, guns, ammunition, and property, of inestimable value to our enemy. At all points he has fled from us, “standing not on the order of his going.”
The people of South Carolina, instead of feeding Lee’s army, will now call on Lee to feed them.

I want you to send me all the shoes, stockings, drawers, sugar, coffee, and flour, you can spare; finish the loads with oats or corn: Have the boats escorted, and let them run at night at any risk. We must not give time for Jos. Johnston to concentrate at Goldsboro’. We cannot prevent his concentrating at Raleigh, but he shall have no rest. I want General Schofield to go on with his railroad from Newbern as far as he can, and you should do the same from Wilmington. If we can get the roads to and secure Goldsboro’ by April 10th, it will be soon enough; but every day now is worth a million of dollars. I can whip Jos. Johnston provided he does not catch one of my corps in flank, and I will see that the army marches hence to Goldsboro’ in compact form.

I must rid our army of from twenty to thirty thousand useless mouths; as many to go down Cape Fear as possible, and the rest to go in vehicles or on captured horses via Clinton to Wilmington.

I thank you for the energetic action that has marked your course, and shall be most happy to meet you.

I am, truly your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

In quick succession I received other messages from General Terry, of older date, and therefore superseded by that brought by the tug Davidson, viz., by two naval officers, who had come up partly by canoes and partly by land; General Terry had also sent the Thirteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry to search for us, under Colonel Kerwin, who had dispatched Major Berks with fifty men, who reached us at Fayetteville. I am in full communication with General Terry and the outside world. I am anxious to reach Goldsboro’, there to make junction with General Schofield, so as to be ready for the next and last stage of the war. General Jos. E. Johnston, is back, with part of his old army; and he will not be misled by feints and false reports, and will somehow compel me to exercise more caution than I have hitherto done. I am determined to give him as little time for organization as possible.

WILMINGTON, March 4, 1865
Major-General SHERMAN:
I expect to get Goldsborough by the 14th or 15th of this month if I have force enough to take it, and to have the railroad running from New Berne as far as I go. It will take some time longer to get the road in use from this point. We have no rolling-stock here. If you find it necessary to come this way supplies can be sent you by boat up the river as far as Elizabethtown. If you go direct to Goldsborough I think there can be no doubt of our having supplies there or near there on your arrival. If I find you are keeping off from the coast I shall push out toward Raleigh and join you. I have received nothing from you yet. Such information as I have places you about Rockingham today. I have not heard from General Grant since the 25th. No material change had taken place about Richmond at that time.
J. M. SCHOFIELD, Major-General.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Fayetteville, N. C., Sunday, March 12, 1865.
Major-General SCHOFIELD, Commanding at New Berne, N. C.:
GENERAL: We reached here yesterday and will be delayed until Tuesday or Wednesday putting down pontoons. I will destroy utterly the arsenal and other public property, and I hope to get up some shoes and small stores from Wilmington before we leave. I will then march in compact order straight for the bridge across Neuse River, south of Goldsborough. I expect to make junction with you thereabouts. If I don’t find you there I will fell toward Kinston and New Berne. I will need clothing and provisionas. We have gathered plentuyu of cattle and bacon and a good deal of corn meal and molasses. We have also found plenty of corn and fodder, and my animals are all in good order. I will have trains enough for you. I have plenty of wagons and mules for 100,000 men, so you need not bring any from the North. On making jucntion with you, I want you to make your command 25,000, and will call it the Center, thus restoring our old Atlanta organization. Go on repairing the railroad toward Goldsborough, and let Terry repair the Wilmington road northward as far as he can, and if possible to the Neuse. I will get the navy to patrol Cape Fear River so as to make the Wilmington and Goldsborough road safe. You must judge as to the mode and manner of covering the railroad from Goldsborough to New Berne. I have ordered General Foster to diminish his garrisons of Savannah, Charleston, and Wilmington to the minimum and re-enforce the movement from New Berne on Goldsborough. I really do not know if any change has been made in the command on the seaboard, but whether you of Foster command I want the foregoing policy to be adopted. If I find that holding Savannah, Charleston, and Wilmington will cost us too many men I would not hesitate to destroy them and use the garrison in the field. It will be time enough to build up the country when war is over. Keep your command well concentrated on the defensive, advancing as fast as the road is built, but reach Goldsborough if possible and fortify. Hardee crossed here with a force represented at 20,000, but I don’t see the “signs” of that many. He has six batteries of four guns each. I suppose Johnston may have up about Greensborough now moving to Raleigh 10,000, and I estimate Hoke’s command at 8,000. All told, he may concentrate at Raleigh 40,000 to 45,000 men. I can whip that number with my present force, and with yours and Terry’s added we can go wherever we can live. We can live where the people do, and if anybody has to suffer let them suffer.

Collect all the forage you can at New Berne, also provisions and clothing. We will need an immense supply of clothing, for we have been working from knee to waist deep in water for 400 miles and our men will need reclothing throughout. Organize your command into divisions of about 5,000 men each, but don’t embrace any men rightfully belonging to the organizations now with me, but order them at once to join their proper brigades and divisions on our arrival at your neighborhood. We have had so much bad weather in February and March that I hope we now may count on a change for the better. Hoping to meet you in person in ten days,
I am, your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Fayetteville, N. C., Sunday, March 12, 1865.
SIR: My army is here, the enemy having fled eastward across the river, burning his bridge, but I will have pontoons down today. I will be here probably till Wednesday, and would like some of your boats to come up for effect, and, if agreeable, can give you a load of “refugees or cotton at pleasure. ” I would like to produce the “effect” of a design to establish a “base,” which, of course, I do not propose to do. Water will continue high some time.
Yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Fayetteville, N. C., March 12, 1865.

Major-General FOSTER, Commanding Department of the South, Charleston:
GENERAL: We reached this place yesterday without opposition. Our march was exactly as I expected, and its fruits all I could have asked for. We have destroyed vast magazines at Columbia, Cheraw, and here, and have destroyed effectually the railroad system of South Carolina. From Cheraw I sent a small cavalry force to Florence, but it found a force of infantry and cavalry more than it could master and had to return, breaking only the railroad trestles down as far as Darlington. The enemy still has much railroad stock and munitions on the track about Sumtervelle and Florence, and if you can make up a force of 2,500 men out of your Charleston and Savannah garrisons I want you to reach that road and destroy everything possible and exhaust the country of supplies. The best points of departure are Georgetown and the Santee bridge.

I think Admiral Dahlgren could send some light gun-boats up the Santee, but don’t know enough about the bar; but the distance from Georgetown does not exceed sixty miles, and we look on sixty miles as a pleasant excursion. As soon as you accomplish this reduce your garrisons at Savannah and Charleston to the minimum and re-enforce the movement on Goldsborough, which is the real objective now. I expect to be there in ten days. My army is in splendid health and condition, and we have had no battle involving more than a single brigade or division at a time. Our foragers have had plenty of fighting on a limited scale, and have gathered more bacon, chickens, turkeys, and corn meal than I believed was in the country. We are now only short of bread, sugar, and coffee, but our men have been so much in the mud and water that shoes and stockings are scarce. Send to Goldsborough via New Berne all the clothing you can spare.

I am, truly, your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Fayetteville, N. C., March 12, 1865.
Major-General SLOCUM, Commanding, &c.:
GENERAL: Your report of subsistence on hand is received. The general-in-chief directs me to say that in all probability we will remain here to include Wednesday, and if possible will get such essential stores as are required. He is anxious that you should secure the steamers on the river above us, and will give you the exclusive use of them as you may wish.
I am, with respect, yours, &c.,
L. M. DAYTON, Assistant Adjutant-General.

I sent Schofield the details of my march:

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Fayetteville, N. C., Sunday, March 12, 1865-5 p. m.

General SCHOFIELD, New Berne:
GENERAL: I have this moment received at the hands of the two officers of the navy who came from Wilmington by canoe and land your cipher dispatch of March 4. I am marching for Goldsborough.

Salkehatchie River; bivouacked near the river, the head of the column at 5 p.m. . the rear a t 7 o’clock. Day’s march, fifteen miles.

February 9, marched at 6 a. m. ; crossed Guyll Creek; bivouacked at 6 p. m. near Balckville. Day’s march, eighteen miles.

February 10 marched at 7 a. m.; moved into Blackville; remained there until 2 p. m.; marched to the South Edisto River and crossed it at the upper end of Fair’s Island; bivouacked near the river. The bridge not being in condition to allow the crossing of animals they did not cross until the next day. Day’s march, eighth miles.

February 11, remained in camp. Heavy details were sent out to curdoroy the road over the swamp adjacent to the river.

February 12, mached at 5 a. m. The brigade, with t rain, bivouacked at 5 p. m. near Jeffcoat’s Bridge on the North Edisto River. Day’s march, eight miles.

February 13, moved across the river at 5 a. m. The enemy showed a thin skirmish line. The Sixtieth New York was thrown forward as skirmishers and a few shots were exchanged. About 8 o’clock the Third Division came up and moved past us. The Sixtieth was then withdrawn. Commenced moving againa t dark; got into camp at 9 p. m. Day’s march, five miles.

February 14, marched at daylight; bivouacked at 3 p. m. at the crossing of Lexington and Orangeburg with Augusta and Columbia roads. Day’s march, six miles and a half.

February 15, marched at 7 a. m.; went into camp at 3 p. m. near the Two-Notch road and about two miles from Lexington. In about half an hour orders wee received from Bvt. Major General J. W. Geary to move forward and occupy the town, one battery of artilleery accompanying the brigade. The command moved forwqrd until within a mile of the town, when the One hundred and thirty-seventh New York was thrown forward as skirmishers, the remainder of the brigade suporting. They moved forward to the town and through it, driving quite a force of rebel cavalry before them. The rest of the comand moved into the place, and after barricading the approaches bivouacked for the night. During our stay at this place citizens were protected in their rights and private property respected. Day’s march, twelve miles.

February 16, moved at 7 a. m., General Carlin, of the Fourteenth Corps, relieving this command at Lexington. Joined the division and marched to within four miles of the Congaree River on the Columbia road; bivouacked at 2 p. m. Day’s march, eight miles.

February 17, marched at 9 a. m. ; crossed Six-Mile Creek; bivouacked at 4 p. m. near Zion Church. Day’s march, three miles.

February 18, marched at 8 a. m. in charge of train; crossed the Saluda River; bivouacked at 5 p. m. near Metts’ Steam Mill. Day’s march, eight miles.

February 19, marched at 3 p. m. ; repaired the road; bivoaucked at 9 o’clock near Freshly’s Ferry, on Broad River. Day’s march, five miles.

February 20, marched at 11 a. m. ; crossed Broad and Little Rivers; bivouacked at 6 p. m. at cross-roads near kincaid’s house. Day’s march, nine miles.

February 21, marched at 6 a. m. ; passed through Winssborough and commenced tearing up railroad about three miles from town; destroyed about two miles of road; worked until dark, then moved back toward town two miles and bivouacked. Day’s march, thirteen miles.

February 22, marched at 7 a. m. toward White Oak and destroyed railroad until 4 p. m., when I received orders to move the Second Brigade with my own to Wateree Meeting-House, which I did, arriving at 9 p. m. and reporting to General J. W. Geary, commanding division. The command marched fifteen miles and effectually destroyed three miles of railroad, every rail being twisted.

February 23, marched at 6. 30 a. m.; crossed Wateree River at Rocky and will start Wednesday. I wrote you fully today, and send by this same opportunity, viz, the tugboat Davidson, that came up from Wolmington last night.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding


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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