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was a garrison at Fort Fisher of about 8,000, and at Newborn of about 4,000 men; that if Wilmington was captured, Schofield would go there; if not, he would be sent to Newbern; that in either event, all the surplus force at both points would move to the interior towards Goldsborough, in co-operation with his movement; that from either point railroad communication could be run out; and that all these troops would be subject to Sherman's orders as he came into communication with them.
Sherman having recruited his men, and made all the needful preparations for his advance, sent the 17th corps under Blair, January 15th, by way of Beaufort, S. C., to make a lodgment on the Charleston Railroad, at or near Pocataligo. This was accomplished, and a depot for supplies was established near the mouth of Pocataligo Creek. A demonstration was made in the direction of Charleston, so as to divert the attention of the rebels, and cause them, under apprehension of an attack on that city, to keep a considerable force there prepared to defend it. Sherman, however, had no intention of stopping for this purpose; Charleston would fall of itself in due time; and Sherman's blow against the " Confederacy" was to be much heavier than would result from taking the rebel city where was fired the first gun at the opening of the rebellion.
The march of Sherman's army was begun on the 1st of February. Gen. Slocum, with the left wing, had been delayed, by the heavy rains and floods, from crossing the Savannah River; but he was enabled to gain a passage at
Sister's Ferry, on the 2d of February. Kilpatrick's cavalry also was crossed on pontoon bridges. General Howard, with the right wing, was directed to cross the Salkahatchie, and push rapidly for the South Carolina Railroad, at or near Midway. The rebels held the line of the Salkahatchie, in force; but, on the 3d of February, Mower's and Giles's divisions of the 17th corps crossed the swamp nearly three miles wide, and with the water nearly up to the waist, aud drove the enemy towards Branchville. The rebels retreated behind the Edisto, and being threatened at Branchville, burned the railroad bridge, and Walker's bridge below, across the Edisto. From the 7th to the 10th of February, the 17th corps was occupied in thoroughly destroying the railroad track. The left wing was similarly occupied with the South Carolina Railroad, from Branchville to Windsor. Having divided the enemy's forces by these operations, a movement was begun on Orangeburg. On the 12th of February, the rebels attempted resistance at the bridge, and it was partially burned; but they were soon repulsed, the bridge was repaired, and our troops entered Orangeburg late in the afternoon. Blair was ordered to destroy this road effectually up to Lewisville,' and to push the enemy across the Congaree, and force him to burn the bridges, which he did on the 14th of February. Having forced the passage of the Little Congaree, the head of the column, early on the 16th of February, reached the Congaree, opposite Columbia, but too late to save
the fine bridge which spanned the river at that point. It was destroyed by the rebels.
Sherman directed the crossing not to be made in front of Columbia, but three miles above, and the town thus to be taken from the north. There were great astonishment and fright in Columbia; and on the 17th of February, it was surrendered by the mayor to our forces. The rebel general, Wade Hampton, in command, had ordered all the cotton to be moved into the street and fired, which was done. Our men tried to put out the conflagration, but were only partially successful. "I disclaim," says Sherman, in his report, "on the part of my army, any agency in the fire, but on the contrary claim that we saved what of Columbia remains unconsumed. And without hesitation, I charge Gen. Wade Hampton with having burned his own city of Columbia, not with a malicious intent, or as the manifestation of a' silly 'Roman stoicism,' but from folly and want of sense, in filling it with lint, cotton, and tinder." During the 18th and 19th of February, the arsenal, railroad depots, machine shops, foundries, and other buildings were properly destroyed by detailed working parties, and the railroad track torn up and destroyed down to Kingsville and the Wateree Bridge, and up in the direction of Winnsborough*
The capture of Branchville, spoken
* The thieiing and pillaging done by Wheeler's cavalry before Columbia was taken was bitterly moaned over by the rebels; and when was added to this, the fierce conflagration and the terror and dismay of the inhabitants, it became evident that the capital of South Carolina was paying fearfully for its share in the rebellion.
of above, rendered the evacuation of Charleston a necessity. With its supplies cut off, with the army of Sherman in the rear, closely beset on James Island by the forces of the department of the South, with Admiral Dahlgren's powerful navy in front, it was no longer tenable as a military post. It was only left to Har- imgj' dee, who was in command, to escape while he could by the single northerly coast line of railroad still open to him. Prominent citizens had already left, the army and stores were being removed, and on the 18th of February, the city was surrendered. Gillmore announced the fact in a dispatch to Washington of the same date. All that could be destroyed by the rebels was set on fire or blown up; cotton warehouses, arsenal, bridges, vessels in the ship yard, stores, locomotives, etc., shared a common fate. The cotton destroyed was estimated at 4,000 bales. Gillmore reported a capture of 450 pieces of ordnance and a large quantity of ammunition; but the city itself was in a deplorable state. It was almost desolate, and far the greater part of the inhabitants which were left, were the poor and destitute who could not get away.* Hardee retreated in the direc
* A correspondent of one of the journals gives a graphic account of the state of affairs in Charleston when our troops took possession. "It is an indescribable scene of desolation and ruin, of roofless, doorless, windowless houses, crumbling walls, upheaved pavements, and grassgrown streets—silent to all sounds of business, and voiceless only to the woe-begone, povertystricken, haggard people, who wander up and down amid the ruins, looking to a jubilant past, a disappointed present, and a hopeless future. They are in rags, and their boots are out at the toes, their shoes down at the heels. There is no longer a manifestat ion of arrogance, lordly insolence, and conscious superiority over the Yankees on the part of the whites."
tion of North Carolina, having with him about 12,000 men. ,
Gen. Schofield, who had received instructions from Grant, as noted on a previous page (p. 519), acting in concert with Admiral Porter, entered vigorously upon the work with which he was charged. After the capture of Fort Fisher (p. 500) the chief obstacle hindering an advance by water to Wilmington, N. C., was Fort Anderson, on the Cape Fear River, guarding the approach to the citv. It was said to be a work of immense strength and extent, enclosing an area of about four square miles. The movement up the river was begun on the 11th of February, with a reconnaissance which was pushed to the rebel lines on the left bank of the river opposite the fort and about twelve miles from Wilmington. There was some sharp skirmishing at the enemy's outposts, Gen. Hoke being in command of the rebel forces, in which the negro troops were actively engaged, while the Monitor Montauk bombarded the fort." These preliminary movements were followed up, on the 16th of February, by the transfer by Gen. Schofield of Cox's division of the 23d corps across from Federal Point to Smithfield, whence they advanced on the right bank of the river through swampy and difficult ground to the rear of Fort Anderson. Early on the morning of the 18th of February, Porter began and kept up during the day a heavy fire upon the fort. Schofield, meanwhile, was working in the rear of the rebels, to cut them off; but during the night they abandoned the fort, which was occupied by our forces the next morning.
This stronghold having been lost, Hoke speedily evacuated Wilmington, which, after some fighting, on the 20th and 21st of February, was entered, on the morning of the 22d, by the troops under Gen. Terry. The rebels retreated towards Goldsborough during the night, having destroyed before they left about 1,000 bales of cotton, 15,000 barrels of rosin, a large cotton shed and presses, an iron-clad partly completed, three extensive turpentine works, and various bridges. About 700 prisoners were captured, and also some thirty to forty pieces of artillery.
The taking of Wilmington was looked upon as very valuable and important, with reference to further operations on the part of Sherman, and preparations were at once made for a movement on Goldsborough in two columns, the one from Wilmington, and the other from Newbern. Preparations were also made for repairing the railroad leading to Goldsborough, from each of the places just named, as well as to supply Sherman by Cape Fear River toward Fayetteville, if it should become necessary.
On the last day of January, Grant directed Gen. Thomas to send a cavalry expedition, under Gen. Stoneman, from East Tennessee to penetrate South Carolina, well down toward Columbia, to destroy the railroads and mili- mMM tary resources of the country, and return, if he was able, to East Tennessee by way of Salisbury, N. C., releasing our prisoners t :ere, if possible. Of the feasibility of .his latter, however, Gen. Stoneman was to judge. Sherman's movements, Grant had no
doubt, would attract the attention of all the force the enemy could collect and facilitate the execution of this. Stoneman was so late in making his start on this expedition, February 27th, and Sherman having passed out of the state of South Carolina, Grant directed Thomas to change his course, and ordered him to repeat his raid of last fall, destroying the railroad toward Lynchburg as far as he could. This would keep him between our garrisons in East Tennessee and the enemy. It was regarded as not impossible that, in the event of the enemy being driven from Richmond, he might fall back to Lynchburg, and attempt a raid north through East Tennessee. About the middle of February, Thomas was directed to start the expedition, consisting of 4,000 to 5,000 cavalry, as soon as he could get it under way
Columbia having fallen on the 17th of February, Slocum moved on Winnsborough, which was reached on the 21st, the roads being destroyed, and a further movement made to Rocky Mount on the Catawba River. This was crossed on the 23d, and the cavalry marched to Lancaster, to keep up the delusion of a movement on Charlotte, N. C, to which Beauregard, with all the rebel cavalry, had retreated from Columbia. Yery heavy rains caused considerable delay in advancing; on the 26th of February, however, the Catawba was crossed, and the left wing put in motion for Cheraw. The right wing was also delayed by bad roads, and by skirmishes with the rebel cavalry. On the 3d of March, Cheraw was entered, the enemy retreating across the Pedee, and
destroying the bridge at that point. Ammunition, stores, railroad trestles, etc., found here were destroyed.
The columns were again put in motion, directed on Fayetteville, N. C., the right wing crossing the Pedee at Cheraw, and the left wing and cavalry at Sneedsborough. The weather continued bad, and the roads were anything but good; but the 14th and 17 th corps reached Fayetteville on the 11th of March, skirmishing with Hampton's cavalry, that covered the rear of Hardee's retreating troops. The three following days were passed at Fayetteville, destroying absolutely the United States arsenal and the vast amount of machinery which had formerly belonged to the old Harper's Ferry United States arsenal. Every building was knocked down and burned, and every piece of machinery utterly broken up and ruined by the engineers, under the immediate supervision of Col. Poe, chief engineer. Much valuable property of great use to the enemy was here destroyed or cast into the river. "Up to this period," says Sherman, in his report, "I had perfectly succeeded in interposing my superior army between the scattered parts of the enemy. But I was then aware that the fragments that had left Columbia, under Beauregard, had been reinforced by Cheatham's corps lgfl5 from the west, and the garrison of Augusta, and that ample time had been given to move them to my front and flank about Raleigh. Hardee had also succeeded in getting across Cape Fear River ahead of me, and could therefore complete the junction with the other armies of Johnston and Hoke in North Carolina. And the whole, under the command of the skilful and experienced Joe Johnston, made up an army superior to me in cavalry, and formidable enough in artillery and infantry to justify me in extreme caution in making the last step necessary to complete the march I had undertaken."
Sherman next sent word to Terry at Wilmington, and Schofield at Newbern, that, on Wednesday, March 15th, he would move for Goldsborough, feigning on Raleigh, and giving them orders to march straight for Goldsborough, which place he expected to reach about the 20th. The column from Newbern, we may here mention, was attacked on the 8th of March, at Wise's Forks, and driven back with the loss of several hundred prisoners. On the 11th, the rebels renewed the attack on our entrenched position, but were repulsed with severe loss, and fell back during the night. On the 14th, the Neuse River was crossed and Kinston occupied, and on the 21st, Goldsborough was entered. The column from Wilmington reached Cox's bridge, on the Neuse River, ten miles above Goldsborough, on the 22d of March. On the 15th, as above indicated, Sherman resumed his advance on Goldsborough. The weather continued unfavorable, and the roads were proportionably bad and difficult to travel over. Hardee, on retreating from Fayetteville, had halted in the swampy district between Cape Fear and South Rivers, having, it was supposed, about 20,000 men, and being in hope of delaying Sherman, so as to gain time for Johnston to concentrate the rebel troops either at Raleigh,
Smithfield, or Goldsborough. Slocum was ordered to dislodge Hardee, and clear the road for the advance. This was done, after a severe contest, at a place called Averysborough, our loss being about 600. The rebel loss was probably much greater.
On the 18th of March, when near Bentonville, the rebels attacked Slocum's head of column, gaining a temporary advantage, and took three guns and caissons, driving the two leading brigades back on the main body. As soon as Gen. Slocum realized that he had in his front the whole rebel force under Johnston, he promptly deployed the two divisions of the 14th corps, Gen. Davis, and rapidly brought up on their left the two divisions of the 20th corps, Gen. WiUiams. These he arranged on the defensive, and hastily prepared a line of barricades. Gen. Kilpatrick also came up at the sound of artillery, and massed on the left. In this position the left received six distinct assaults by the combined forces of Hoke, Hardee, and Cheatham, under the immediate command of Johnston himself, without giving an inch of ground, and doing good execution on the enemy's ranks, especially with our artillery, the enemy having little or none. Reinforcements were brought up during the night of the 19th and on the 20th of March. The next night the enemy retreated to Smithfield, leaving the dead and wounded in the hands of our men. Slocum reported the loss on the left wing at 1,250, he having taken 338 prisoners. Howard's loss on the right was reported at 400; prisoners taken, about 1,200. Thus, aa