Thursday, March 16, 1865

Kyle’s Landing, North Carolina

The opposition is stubborn and Hardee has taken up a strong position. General Slocum deployed Jackson’s division of the Twentieth Corps, with part of Ward’s. Kilpatrick was on his right front. Coming up, I advised that a brigade should make a wide circuit by the left, and, if possible, catch this line in flank. The movement was completely successful, the first line of the enemy was swept away, and we captured the larger part of Rhett’s brigade, two hundred and seventeen men, including Captain Macbeth’s battery of three guns, and buried one hundred and eight dead.

U. S. STEAMER EOLUS, Off Fayetteville, March 16, 1865-5 a. m.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:

SIR: I had the honor to receive your communication of the 15th, at 7 p.m. of same date. I have written Captain Young, making known your wishes in regard to this vessel; also the tug. He will see General Dodge and make the necessary arrangements with him. I do not think Captain Young has a tug at his disposal now. I shall remain as near Fayetteville as long as possible til ordered down, or until I hear from you that my services are no longer needed. The steamers Lady Lang and Mary Benton are here unloading. The former goes down this morning. I shall send my dispatch by her. The river has stopped falling. More transports are expected up.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. S. KEYSER, Acting Master, Commanding.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Kyle’s Landing, N. C., March 16, 1865-2 a. m.

Major-General HOWARD, Commanding Right Wing:
Yours is just received. Your orders are all right. I fear the present rain will make the road utterly impracticable. Hardee’s whole force is in our front near the forks of the road, and I have ordered Slocum to go at him in the morning in good shape but vigorously and push him beyond Averysborough. Kilpatrick is ahead across the branch marked Taylor’s Hole, about two miles this side the forks. Your courier brings me good news from Schofield and Terry. Schofield reports he whipped Bragg handsomely at Kinston and undertakes to have supplies for us there and probably farther along. Terry says he can reach Faison’s with his 9,000 men by Sunday or Monday, and that the rest of Schofield’s troops that had left Wilmington had made junction with Schofield at Kinston. Also that Sheridan is coming to us by land with 8,000 cavalry. So all is working well around us and we must not scatter, but aim to converge about Bentonville, and afterward Goldsborough. The rain is as bad for our opponents as for us, and I doubt if they have as good supplies or transportation as we. Terry has sent up 3,800 pairs of shoes and 2,400 pairs of pants. Divide with Slocum. We took Colonel Alfred Rhett, of Fort Sumter, prisoner yesterday. He is commanding a brigade in Hardee’s troops ahead, and from dropped expressions I think Hardee will try and fight us at the cross-roads.

Yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding.

Howard Writes:

HDQRS. DEPT. AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE, Near Jackson’s Farm, N. C., Graham’s Bridge Road, March 16, 1865.

Major General W. T. SHERMAN:
General Logan’s head of column reached this point about 1. 30 p. m. His divisions are going into camp; three will be here by dark. Wood’s division will encamp near South River. The roads are so terrible that we cannot more than close up the wagon train to that point. General Geary, with his train, is near by, and will encamp on my left. There is a cross-road here leading north into the Raleigh road. General Blair will, without doubt, be at the cross-roads just east of Owensville. In the morning I will move forward toward Bentonville, till I reach the road leading northward from Beaman’s Cross-Roads. General Blair has been directed to move to Beaman’s Cross-Roads, throwing his mounted men down to Clinton, to cover the refugee train. General Geary was going farther, but I took the liberty of stopping him here in consequence of your letter. The rebel cavalry have been very stubborn today in our front. Corse’s men drove them across the Cohera, covering the movement northward. The rebels were intrenched at South River, at Logan’s crossing. His men were crossed above in pontoons and turned them out. They have with that force a section of artillery. I am anxious to hear the moment General Slocum’s left column gets across the Black.

Howard orders Blair to support the Left Wing:

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE, Near Jackson’s Farm, N. C., March 16, 1865.

Major General F. P. BLAIR, Commanding Seventeenth Army Corps:
General Sherman says that Hardee is in front of Slocum on the river road, and he thinks he intends to make a stand at the cross-roads above Kyle’s Landing. Please move to Beaman’s Cross-Roads tomorrow, effecting a crossing, however, of the creek in your front with your mounted men, in order to let the refugees pass through Clinton. If Slocum needs us we can march up the Raleigh road, but if he does not you will be directed to Troublefield’s Store, and Logan’s disencumbered divisions will move straight on Bentonville, while his trains will follow you from Beaman’s Cross-Roads. Our main objective has been changed to Everettsville instead of Faison’s Depot, as ordered before. Schofield reports that he whipped Bragg, and is near Kinston. Terry says he will be at Faison’s by Sunday or Monday. Expect further orders at Beaman’s Cross-Roads. We have skirmished with the rebel cavalry to-day, supporting artillery. Your movement will turn them out.
Very respectfully,
O. O. HOWARD, Major-General.

In the Field, 13 Miles on Raleigh Road out of Fayetteville, March 16, 1865-2 a.m.
Major-General TERRY, Wilmington, N. C.:
Thank you kindly for the shoes and pants, and still more for the certain knowledge that General Schofield is in possession of Kinston. That is of great importance, for thence to Goldsborough there are no bridges. I will, in consequence, move straight on Goldsborough. It is now raining hard and the bottom has fallen out, and we will have to corduroy every foot of the way. Hardee is ahead of me and shows fight. I will go at him in the morning with four divisions and push him as far as Averysborough before turning toward Bentonville and Cox’s Bridge. My extreme right will aim for Everettsviole and Faison’s. I am delighted that General Sheridan is slashing away with his column of cavalry. He will be a disturbing element in the grand and beautiful game of war, and if he reaches me I’ll make all North Carolina howl. I will make him a deed of gift of every horse in the State, to be settled for at the day of judgment. I cannot, of course, reach General Sheridan with any suggestions, but he should march for Danville, Greensborough, and Raleigh, or rather near those points, making some detours to mislead.

Tell General Dodge to keep boats running up Cape Fear until he knows I am at my new base. This rain, so damaging to my land transportation, is a good thing for the river, which had fallen very much. He can use the rebel captured boats, which, if lost, are of no account. Each of those boats should be supplied a good barge that can hold all the crew in case the boat is caught by a fall in the river. Captain Young agreed to keep his gun-boats running busy and as high up as possible. I want to keep up the impression that I am using the Cape Fear River for supplies, for our foolish Northern journals have published the fact that I am aiming for New Berne, a fact that I had concealed from everybody not necessarily in my confidence. These fellows discovered it by the course taken by the supply boats from Port Royal.
Hoping to meet you soon, I am, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding.

P. S. -We took some prisoners to-day, among them Colonel Alfred Rhett, of Fort Sumter, who command a brigade in Hardee’s army Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.

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