Wednesday, April 12, 1865

SMITHFIELD, NORTH CAROLINA

Before dawn, I received a message from General Grant, at Appomattox, that General Lee had surrendered to him his whole army, which I at once announced to the troops in orders:

Special Field Orders, No. 54
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI IN THE FIELD, SMITHFIELD, NORTH CAROLINA, April 12, 1865

The general commanding announces to the army that he has official notice from General Grant that General Lee surrendered to him his entire army, on the 9th inst., at Appomattox Court-House, Virginia. Glory to God and our country, and all honor to our comrades in arms, toward whom we are marching! A little more labor, a little more toil on our part, the great race is won, and our Government stands regenerated, after four long years of war.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General Commanding.

Of course, this created a perfect furore, of rejoicing, and we all regard the war as over, for I know well that General Johnston has no army with which to oppose mine. So that the only questions that remain are, “Will he surrender at Raleigh?” or “Will he allow his army to disperse into guerrilla bands, to “die in the last ditch,” and entail on his country an indefinite and prolonged military occupation, and of consequent desolation?” I know well that Johnston’s army can not be caught; the country is too open; and, without wagons, the men can escape us, disperse, and assemble again at some place agreed on, and thus the war might be prolonged indefinitely.

I remember Mr. Lincoln’s repeated expression that he wanted the rebel soldiers not only defeated, but “back at their homes, engaged in their civil pursuits.” On the evening of the 12th I was with the head of Slocum’s column, at Gulley’s, and General Kilpatrick’s cavalry was still ahead, fighting Wade Hampton’s rear-guard, with orders to push it through Raleigh, while I gave a more southerly course to the infantry columns, so as, if possible, to prevent a retreat southward.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Smithfield, N. C., April 12, 1865. 5 a.m.
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT, Commanding Armies of the United States, Virginia:
GENERAL: I have this moment received your telegram announcing the surrender of Lee’s army. I hardly know how to express my feelings, but you can imagine them. The terms you have given Lee are magnanimous and liberal. Should Johnston follow Lee’s example I shall of course grant the same. He is retreating before me on Raleigh, but I shall be there tomorrow. Roads are heavy, but under the inspiration of the news from you we can march twenty-five miles a day. I am now twenty-seven miles from Raleigh, but some of my army is eight miles behind. If Johnston retreats south I will follow him to insure the scattering of his force and capture of the locomotives and cars at Charlotte; but I take it he will surrender at Raleigh. Kilpatrick’s cavalry is ten miles to the south and west of me, viz, on Middle Creek, and I have sent Major Audenreid with orders to make for the south and west of Raleigh to impede the enemy if he goes beyond Raleigh.
All the infantry is pointed straight for Raleigh by five different roads. The railroad is being repaired from Goldsborough to Raleigh, but I will not aim co carry it farther. I shall expect to hear from General Sheridan in case Johnston does not surrender at Raleigh. With a little more cavalry I would be sure to capture the whole army.
Yours, truly,
W.T. SHERMAN, Major-General

Governor Vance Writes:

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, Raleigh, April 12, 1865.
General W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding U. S. Forces:
SIR: Understanding that your army is advancing on this capital, I have to request, under proper safe-conduct, a personal interview, at such time as may be agreeable to you, for the purpose of conferring upon the subject of a suspension of hostilities, with a view to further communications with the authorities of the United States, touching the final termination of the existing war. If you concur in the propriety of such a proceeding I shall be obliged by and early reply.
With high respect, your obedient servant,
Z. B. VANCE.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gulley’s Station, N. C., April 12, 1865.

His Excellency Z. B. VANCE, Governor of North Carolina:
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your communication of this date, and inclose you a safeguard for yourself and any members of the State government that choose to remain in Raleigh. I would gladly have enabled you to meet me here, but some interruption occurred to the train, by the orders of General Johnston, after it had passed within the lines of my cavalry advance, but as it came out of Raleigh in good faith it shall return in good faith, and will in no measure be claimed by us. I doubt if hostilities can be suspended as between the army of the Confederate Government and the one I command, but I will aid you all in my power to contribute to the end you aim to reach, the termination of the existing war.
I am. truly, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, Gulley’s Station, April 12, 1865.
All officers and soldiers of this army are commanded to respect and protect the governor of North Carolina and the officers and servants of the State government, the mayor and civil authorities of Raleigh, provided no hostile act is committed against the officers and men of this army between this and the city.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gulley’s Station, April 12, 1865.
Governor VANCE:
If you conclude to remain in Raleigh you had better send some one out by the train to me as quick as possible, that I may make orders that will prevent any unnecessary confusion resulting from several heads of column with necessary skirmishers coming in and through the city at the same time. As the confederate army is our only enemy I must take all possible precautions, as you are aware that they do not recognize you as an agent to commit them.
Yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

Before reaching Raleigh, a locomotive came down the road to meet me, passing through both Wade Hampton’s and Kilpatrick’s cavalry, bringing four gentlemen, with a letter from Governor Vance to me, asking protection for the citizens of Raleigh. These gentlemen were, of course, dreadfully excited at the dangers through which they had passed. Among them were ex-Senator Graham, Mr. Swain, president of Chapel Hill University, and a Surgeon Warren, of the Confederate army. They had come with a flag of truce, to which they were not entitled; still, in the interest of peace, I respected it, and permitted them to return to Raleigh with their locomotive, to assure the Governor and the people that the war was substantially over, and that I wanted the civil authorities to remain in the execution of their office till the pleasure of the President could be ascertained.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gulley’s Station, April 12, 1865.
The train of cars now here in charge of Colonel James G. Burr, of the staff of Governor Vance, can pass to and from Raleigh without let or hindrance until further orders. All guards and pickets will see that it is not interfered with or destroyed.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, N. C., April 12, 1865. 5 p.m.
Colonel W. W. WRIGHT, Superintendent of Construction:
COLONEL: Go on with repairs on railroad as high as Raleigh until you hear further from me. The damage is from a point five miles this side of the Little River bridge and extends to Mitchener’s Depot, but is confined to the ties burnt. I cannot hear that the iron is damaged. It is important that the work should be pushed to any turnout above the Neuse bridge near Smithfield, so that if we are delayed about Raleigh we can haul from the end of the road without crossing the Neuse. All the bridges hereabouts are destroyed. We cross on pontoons, and are off for Raleigh, which I expect to reach tomorrow.
Yours,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding.

Howard Writes:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE, Pineville, N. C., April 12, 1865. 1:45 p.m.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:
GENERAL: General Logan arrived at this place with one division. His corps is well closed up. The roads are different from map. Watson’s Mill is at Pineville, and General Logan reports but one road from Folk’s Bridge across. General Blair will encamp about three miles back. Johnston’s army was on this road near Mitchener’s Station. He left day before yesterday. His cavalry left yesterday. There was very little cavalry in our front today. A citizen said that Johnston reviewed his command near his house a few days since, and that it took about two hours and a half for it to pass by the flank. The ground along the river is higher and the roads begin to grow better.
Very respectfully,
O. O. HOWARD, Major-General.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gulley’s, April 12, 1865. 8 p. m.
Major-General HOWARD, Commanding Army of the Tennessee:

GENERAL: Your note from Pineville, 1:45 p. m., just to hand. I am directed by the general-in-chief to answer. This column moves steadily along, skirmishing with Hampton some little, and are now camped here in good order. Mower is abreast and Kilpatrick on the enemy ‘s flank and rear three miles and a half from Raleigh. Information gained would seem to indicate Johnston retreating to Greensborough. As I write the general is in conversation with ex-Governors Graham and Swain and the surgeon-general of North Carolina, just come in on a train from Raleigh, peacefully. They report the railroad cut between Greensborough and Danville, and Jeff. Davis dispatches Governor Vance that the disaster to Lee was the worst possible. Kilpatrick seems to have Hampton in a measure cut off, or tight pressed, and his operations promise well. He is picking up a considerable number of Hampton’s command. The general desires you to reach Raleigh tomorrow.
I am. general, yours, with respect,
L. M. DAYTON, Assistant Adjutant-General.

P. S. (Private)-The party from Raleigh is some seven or eight, delegated by Governor Vance. Johnston would not let them come at first. They are loyal, of course.
Yours,
L. M. D.

KILPATRICK REPORTS:

I have driven Wheeler in confusion in upon the rebel infantry, Hoke’s division. They have a long wagon train and are fighting stubbornly. The infantry was passing through this place yesterday and all last night. The enemy proposes to fight at Hillsborough. There are two good roads to Hillsborough from a point about two miles this side of Raleigh. I shall press them hard.
………….
I have had some hard fighting to-day, from Swift Creek to this point on the railroad, six miles from Raleigh. I have intercepted Hampton and am now driving him in toward the river. I hope to either capture or force him across the river. I send you some gentlemen, messengers from Governor Vance. Hampton refused to let them pass to you and requested me to allow the train to return to Raleigh, but I simply told them that I could not let them return till they had seen you. The rebel army is now marching through Raleigh. I will move early in the morning and as soon as I find any force in front I shall flank it and move to the left or south of Raleigh, but I think as Johnston is in full retreat and his cavalry unable to hold me in check, I can do no better than drive directly in his rear as he marches nearly as fast as I do. Please write me full instructions. The rebel cavalry will fight some for Raleigh. I should like very much to take it.
I am, very respectfully, yours,
J. KILPATRICK, Brevet Major-General.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, near Gulley’s, April 12, 1865. 7 p. m.
General KILPATRICK:
Your note is received. Certainly you may go into Raleigh tonight and press Johnston’s rear. I want him to go toward Greensborough, and I will cut across to Charlotte via Ashborough. Cut across the rear of his column, right and left. I will come to Raleigh early. Keep me advised of the direction of Johnston’s retreat as often as possible.
Yours, in haste,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

Schofield Reports:

HDQRS. DEPT. OF NORTH CAROLINA, ARMY OF THE OHIO, Near Smithfield, N. C., April 12, 1865 – 7:45 a. m.
Major-General SHERMAN, Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:
GENERAL: I have received your orders for the movement on Raleigh, and also your note directing me to continue my movement toward Chapel Hill if Johnston retreats from Raleigh. My pontoons are just now coming up and I hope to get them laid by 10 o’clock. I will then push forward as rapidly as possible.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. M. SCHOFIELD, Major-General.

P.S. – The news from Grant is glorious beyond parallel. I hope Johnston will follow Lee’s sensible example in a few days.
J. M. S.
………..

6:30 p.m.
I am near the road from Elevation to Raleigh, as represented on our maps, and a mile south of Middle Creek. Cox is with me. I expect Terry tonight about four miles south of here on the same road. Cox has made eighteen miles today, and Terry, I suppose, sixteen. The road after crossing the Neuse has been very good. I have heard nothing of the enemy, but Slocum’s bummers have been all over the country, and my men have not been able to get a pound of anything. If they can’t be kept on their own side of the creeks I will have to take a wider front. I shall look for orders from you before morning, but if they do not come I will move across Middle Creek on the Raleigh road and there find a road to the left between Middle Creek and Swift Creek.
Very respectfully,
J. M. SCHOFIELD, Major-General

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