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assemblage in Hampton Roads, under Admiral D. D. Porter, of the most formidable armada ever collected for concentration upon one given point. This necessarily attracted the attention of the enemy, as well as that of the loyal North; and through the imprudence of the public press, and very likely of officers of both branches of service, the exact object of the expedition became a subject of common discussion in the newspapers both North and South. The enemy, thus warned, prepared to meet it. This caused a postponement of the expedition until the latter part of November, when, being again called upon by Hon. G. V. Fox, Assistant-Secretary of the Navy, I agreed to furnish the men required at once, and went myself, in company with Major-General Butler, to Hampton Roads, where we had a conference with Admiral Porter as to the force required and the time of starting. A force of six thousand five hundred men was regarded as sufficient. The time of starting was not definitely arranged, but it was thought all would be ready by the sixth of December, if not before. Learning, on the thirtieth of November, that Bragg had gone to Georgia, taking with him most of the forces about Wilmington, I deemed it of the utmost importance that the expedition should reach its destination before the return of Bragg, and directed General Butler to make all arrangements for the departure of Major-General Weitzel, who had been designated to command the land forces, so that the navy might not be detained one moment.
On the sixth of December, the following instructions were given:
"CITY POINT, VA., December 6, 1864. "GENERAL: The first object of the expedition under General Weitzel is to close to the enemy the port of Wilmington. If successful in this, the second will be to capture Wilmington itself. There are reasonable grounds to hope for success, if advantage can be taken of the absence of the greater part of the enemy's forces, now looking after Sherman in Georgia. The directions you have given for the numbers and equipment of the expedition are all right, except in the most unimportant matter of where they embark and the amount of intrenching tools to be taken. The object of the expedition will be gained by effecting a landing on the main land between Cape Fear river and the Atlantic, north of the north entrance to the river. Should such landing be effected while the enemy still holds Fort Fisher and the batteries guarding the entrance to the river, then the troops should intrench themselves, and, by cooperating with the navy, effect the reduction and capture of those places. These in our hands, the navy could enter the harbor, and the port of Wilmington would be sealed. Should Fort Fisher and the point of land on which it is built fall into the hands of our troops immediately on landing, then it will be worth the attempt to capture Wilmington by a forced march and surprise. If time is consumed in gaining the first
General Butler commanding the army from which the troops were taken for this enterprise, and the territory within which they were to operate, military courtesy required that all orders and instructions should go through him. They were so sent; but General Weitzel has since officially informed me that he never received the foregoing instructions, nor was he aware of their existence until he read General Butler's published official report of the Fort Fisher failure, with my endorsement and papers accompanying it. I had no idea of General Butler's accompanying the expedition until the evening before it got off from Bermuda Hundred, and then did not dream but that General Weitzel had received all the instructions, and would be in command. I rather formed the idea that General Butler was actuated by a desire to witness the effect of the explosion of the powder-boat. The expedition was detained several days at Hampton Roads, awaiting the loading of the powder-boat.
The importance of getting the Wilmington expedition off without delay, with or without the powder-boat, had been urged upon General Butler, and he advised to so notify Admiral Porter.
The expedition finally got off on the thirteenth of December, and arrived at the place of rendezvous, off New Inlet, near Fort Fisher, on the evening of the fifteenth. Admiral Porter arrived on the evening of the eighteenth, having put in at Beaufort to get ammunition for the mɔnitors. The sea becoming rough, making it difficult to land troops, and the supply of water and coal being about exhausted, the transport fleet put back to Beaufort to replenish; this, with the state of the weather, delayed the return to the place of rendezvous until the twenty-fourth. The powder-boat was exploded on the morning of the twenty-fourth, before the return of General Butler from Beaufort; but it would seem, from the notice taken of it in the Southern newspapers, that the enemy were never enlightened as to the object of the explosion until they were informed by the Northern press.
On the twenty-fifth a landing was effected without opposition, and a reconnoissance, under Brevet Brigadier-General Curtis, pushed up toward the fort. But before receiving a full report of the result of this reconnoissance, General Butler, in direct violation of the instructions given, ordered the reëmbarkation of the troops,
and the return of the expedition. The reëembarkation was accomplished by the morning of the twenty-seventh.
On the return of the expedition, officers and men-among them Brevet Major-General (then Brevet Brigadier-General) M. R. Curtis, First Lieutenant G. W. Ross,
of the avenues left open to the enemy. If such a position can be obtained, the siege of Fort Fisher will not be abandoned until its reduction is accomplished, or another plan of campaign is ordered from these headquarters.
'My own views are that, if you effect a landregiment Vering, the navy ought to run a portion of their mont volunteers, First Lieutenant George W. fleet into Cape Fear river, while the balance of Walling, and Second Lieutenant George Simp-it operates on the outside. Land forces cannot son, One Hundred and Forty-second New York invest Fort Fisher, or cut it off from supplies or volunteers voluntarily reported to me that reinforcements, while the river is in the posseswhen recalled they were nearly into the fort, sion of the enemy. and, in their opinion, it could have been taken without much loss.
"In case of failure to effect a landing, bring your command back to Beaufort, and report to these headquarters for further instructions. You will not debark at Beaufort until so directed.
"A siege train will be loaded on vessels and sent to Fort Monroe, in readiness to be sent to Soon after the return of the expedition, I re- you if required. All other supplies can be ceived a despatch from the Secretary of the drawn from Beaufort as you need them. Navy, and a letter from Admiral Porter, inform- Keep the fleet of vessels with you until ing me that the fleet was still off Fort Fisher, your position is assured. When you find they and expressing the conviction that, under a prop-can be spared, order them back, or such of them er leader, the place could be taken. The natu- as you can spare, to Fort Monroe, to report for ral supposition with me was, that when the troops abandoned the expedition the navy would do so also. Finding it had not, however, I answered on the thirtieth of December, advising Admiral Porter to hold on, and that I would send a force and make another attempt to take the place. This time I selected Brevet MajorGeneral (now Major-General) A. H. Terry to command the expedition. The troops composing it consisted of the same that composed the former, with the addition of a small brigade, numbering about one thousand five hundred, and a small siege train. The latter it was never found necessary to land. I communicated direct" Brevet Major-General A. H. TERRY.” to the commander of the expedition the followinstructions:
"General Sheridan has been ordered to send a division of troops to Baltimore, and place them on sea-going vessels. These troops will be brought to Fort Monroe and kept there on the vessels until you are heard from. Should you require them, they will be sent to you. "U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-Colonel C. B. Comstock, aide-decamp (now brevet brigadier-general), who accompanied the former expedition, was assigned in orders as chief engineer to this.
"CITY POINT, VA., January 3, 1865. "GENERAL: The expedition entrusted to your command has been fitted out to renew the at- It will be seen that these instructions did not tempt to capture Fort Fisher, N. C., and Wil-differ materially from those given for the first mington ultimately, if the fort falls. You will, then, proceed with as little delay as possible to the naval fleet lying off Cape Fear river, and report the arrival of yourself and command to Admiral D. D. Porter, commanding North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
expedition; and that in neither instance was there an order to assault Fort Fisher. This was a matter left entirely to the discretion of the commanding officer.
The expedition sailed from Fort Monroe on the morning of the sixth, arriving on the rendezvous off Beaufort on the eighth, where, owing to the difficulties of the weather, it lay until the morning of the twelfth, when it got under way, and reached its destination that evening. Under
"It is exceedingly desirable that the most complete understanding should exist between yourself and the naval commander. I suggest, therefore, that you consult with Admiral Porter freely, and get from him the part to be perform-cover of the fleet, the disembarkation of the ed by each branch of the public service, so that there may be unity of action. It would be well to have the whole programme laid down in writing. I have served with Admiral Porter, and know that you can rely on his judgment and his nerve to undertake what he proposes. I would, therefore, defer to him as much as is consistent with your own responsibilities. The first object to be attained is to get a firm position on the spit of land on which Fort Fisher is built, from which you can operate against that fort. You want to look to the practicability of receiving your supplies, and to defending yourself against superior forces sent against you by any
troops commenced on the morning of the thirteenth, and by three o'clock P. M. was completed without loss. On the fourteenth, a reconnois. sance was pushed to within five hundred yards of Fort Fisher, and a small advance work taken possession of and turned into a defensive line against any attempt that might be made from the fort. This reconnoissance disclosed the fact that the front of the work had been seriously injured by the navy fire. In the afternoon of the fifteenth the fort was assaulted, and after most desperate fighting was captured, with its entire garrison and armament. Thus was 80cured, by the combined efforts of the navy and
army, one of the most important successes of the
At my request, Major-General B. F. Butler was relieved, and Major-General E. O. C. Ord assigned to the command of the department of Virginia and North Carolina.
The defence of the line of the Tennessee no longer requiring the force which had beaten and nearly destroyed the only army threatening it, I determined to find other fields of operation for General Thomas' surplus troops-fields from which they would cooperate with other movements. General Thomas was therefore directed to collect all troops, not essential to hold his communications at Eastport, in readiness for orders. On the seventh of January General Thomas was directed, if he was assured of the departure of Hood south from Corinth, to send General Schofield, with his corps, east with as little delay as possible. This direction was promptly complied with, and the advance of the corps reached Washington on the twenty-third of the same month, whence it was sent to Fort Fisher and Newbern. On the twenty-sixth he was directed to send General A. J. Smith's command and a division of cavalry to report to General Canby. By the seventh of February the whole force was en route for its destination. The State of North Carolina was constituted into a military department, and General Schofield assigned to command, and placed under the orders of Major-General Sherman. The following instructions were given him:
from General Sherman on the subject of secu
"The supplies referred to in these instructions are exclusive of those required for your own command.
"The movements of the enemy may justify, or even make it your imperative duty, to cut loose from your base and strike for the interior to aid Sherman. In such case you will act on your own judgment, without waiting for instructions. You will report, however, what you purpose doing. The details for carrying out these instructions are necessarily left to you. I would urge, however, if I did not know that you are already fully alive to the importance of it, prompt action. Sherman may be looked for in the neighborhood of Goldsboro' any time from the twenty-second to the twentyeighth of February; this limits your time very materially.
"If rolling stock is not secured in the capture of Wilmington, it can be supplied from Washington. A large force of railroad men have already been sent to Beaufort, and other mechanics will go to Fort Fisher in a day or two. On this point I have informed you by telegraph. "U. S. GRANT, "Lieutenant-General
"Major-General J. M. SCHOFIELD."
to what was best to be done.
Anticipating the arrival of General Sherman at Savannah-his army entirely foot-loose, Hood being then before Nashville, Tennessee, the Southern railroads destroyed, so that it would take several months to reestablish a through line from west to east, and regarding the capture of Lee's army as the most important operation toward closing the rebellion-I sent orders to General Sherman on the sixth of December, that after establishing a base on the sea-coast, with necessary garrison, to include all his artillery and cavalry, to come by water to City Point with the balance of his command.
"CITY POINT, VA., January 31, 1865. Previous to giving these instructions I had "GENERAL: * * * Your movements are visited Fort Fisher, accompanied by General intended as cooperative with Sherman through Schofield, for the purpose of seeing for myself the States of South and North Carolina. The the condition of things, and personally conferfirst point to be attained is to secure Wilming-ring with General Terry and Admiral Porter as ton. Goldsboro' will then be your objective point, moving either from Wilmington or Newbern, or both, as you deem best. Should you not be able to reach Goldsboro', you will advance on the line or lines of railway connecting that place with the sea-coast-as near to it as you can, building the road behind you. The enterprise under you has two objects: the first is to give General Sherman material aid, if needed, in his march north; the second, to open a base of supplies for him on his line of march. As soon, therefore, as you can determine which of the two points, Wilmington or Newbern, you can best use for throwing supplies from to the interior, you will commence the accumulation of twenty days' rations and forage for sixty thousand men and twenty thousand animals. You will get of these as many as you can house and protect to such point in the interior as you may be able to occupy. I believe General Palmer has received some instructions direct
On the eighteenth of December, having received information of the defeat and utter rout of Hood's army by General Thomas, and that, owing to the great difficulty of procuring ocean transportation, it would take over two months to transport Sherman's army, and doubting whether he might not contribute as much
toward the desired result by operating from where he was, I wrote to him to that effect, and asked him for his views as to what would be best to do. A few days after this I received a communication from General Sherman, of date sixteenth December, acknowledging the receipt of my order of the sixth, and informing me of his preparations to carry it into effect as soon as he could get transportas tion. Also that he had expected, upon reducing Savannah, instantly to march to Columbia, South Carolina, thence to Raleigh, and thence to report to me; but that this would consume about six weeks' time after the fall of Savannah, whereas by sea he could probably reach me by the middle of January. The confidence he manifested in this letter of being able to march up and join me pleased me, and, without waiting for a reply to my letter of the eighteenth, I directed him, on the twenty-eighth of December, to make preparations to start, as he proposed, without delay, to break up the railroads in North and South Carolina, and join the armies soon as he operating against Richmond as could.
back during the night. On the fourteenth the
By the first of February General Sherman's
On the twenty-first of January I informed General Sherman that I had ordered the Twenty-awaited reinforcements, which were pushed forthird corps, Major-General Schofield commanding, east; that it numbered about twenty-one thousand men; that we had at Fort Fisher about eight thousand men; at Newbern about four thousand; that if Wilmington was captured, General 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 toward Goldsboro', in coöperation with his movement; that from either point railroad communication could be run out; and that all these troops would be subject to his orders as be came into communication with them.
ward. On the night of the twenty-first the ene-
On the morning of the thirty-first of January In obedience to his instructions, General Schofield proceeded to reduce Wilmington, North Carolina, in coöperation with the navy under General Thomas was directed to send a cavalry Admiral Porter, moving his forces up both sides expedition, under General Stoneman, from East of the Cape Fear river. Fort Anderson, the Tennessee to penetrate South Carolina well down enemy's main defence on the west bank of the toward Columbia, to destroy the railroads and river, was occupied on the morning of the nine-military resources of the country, and return, if bury, North Carolina, releasing our prisoners teenth, the enemy having evacuated it after our he was able, to East Tennessee by way of Salisappearance before it. After fighting on the twentieth and twenty-there, if possible. Of the feasibility of this latfirst, our troops entered Wilmington on the morning of the twenty-second, the enemy having retreated toward Goldsboro' during the night. Preparations were at once made for a movement on Goldsboro' in two columns-one from Wilmington, and the other from Newbern-and to repair the railroad leading there from each place, as well as to supply General Sherman by Cape Fear river, toward Fayetteville, if it became necessary. The column from Newbern was attacked on the eighth of March, at Wise's Forks, and driven back with the loss of several hundred prisoners. On the eleventh the enemy renewed his attack upon our intrenched position, but was repulsed with severe loss, and fell
ter, however, General Stoneman was to judge. Sherman's movements, I had no doubt, would attract the attention of all the force the enemy could collect, and facilitate the execution of this. General Stoneman was so late in making his start on this expedition (and Sherman having passed out of the State of South Carolina), on the twenty-seventh of February 1 directed General 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. I regarded it 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
On the fifteenth he was directed to start the expedition as soon after the twentieth as he could get it off.
I deemed it of the utmost importance, before a general movement of the armies operating against Richmond, that all communications with the city, north of James river, should be cut off. The enemy having withdrawn the bulk of his force from the Shenandoah Valley, and sent it south, or to replace troops sent from Richmond, and desiring to reinforce Sherman, if practicable, whose cavalry was greatly inferior in numbers to that of the enemy, I determined to make a move from the Shenandoah, which, if success
sibly the latter of these objects. I therefore telegraphed General Sheridan as follows:
"CITY POINT, VA., February 14, 1865. "General Canby is preparing a movement from Mobile bay against Mobile and the interior of Alabama. His force will consist of about twenty thousand men, besides A. J. Smith's command. The cavalry you have sent to Canby will be debarked at Vicksburg. It, with the availaable cavalry already in that section, will move from there eastward, in coöperation. Hood's army has been terribly reduced by the severe punishment you gave it in Tennessee, by deser-ful, would accomplish the first at least, and postion consequent upon their defeat, and now by the withdrawal of many of them to oppose Sherman. (I take it a large portion of the infantry has been so withdrawn. It is so asserted in the Richmond papers, and a member of the rebel Congress said a few days since in a speech that one-half of it had been brought to South Carolina to oppose Sherman.) This being true, or even if it is not true, Canby's movement will attract all the attention of the enemy, and leave the advance from your stand-point easy. think it advisable, therefore, that you prepare as much of a cavalry force as you can spare, and hold it in readiness to go south. The object would be threefold: First, to attract as much of the enemy's force as possible, to ensure success to Canby; second, to destroy the enemy's line of communications and military resources; third, to destroy or capture their forces brought into the field. Tuscaloosa and Selma would probably be the points to direct the expedition against. This, however, would not be so important as the mere fact of penetrating deep into Alabama. Discretion should be left to the officer commanding the expedition to go where, according to the information he may receive, he will best secure the objects named above.
"CITY POINT, VA., February 20, 1865-1 P. M. "GENERAL: As soon as it is possible to travel, I think you will have no difficulty about reaching Lynchburg with a cavalry force alone. From there you could destroy the railroad and canal in every direction, so as to be of no further use to the rebellion. Sufficient cavalry should be left behind to look after Mosby's gang. From Lynchburg, if information you might get there would justify it, you could strike south, heading the streams in Virginia to the westward of Danville, and push on and join General Sherman. This additional raid, with one now about starting from East Tennessee, under Stoneman, numbering four to five thousand cavalry, one from Vicksburg, numbering seven or eight thousand cavalry, one from Eastport, Mississippi, ten thousand cavalry, Canby from Mobile bay, with about thirty-eight thousand mixed troops, these three latter pushing for Tuscaloosa, Selma and Montgomery, and Sherman with a large army eating out the vitals of South Carolina, is all that will be wanted to leave nothing for the rebellion to stand upon. I would advise you to overcome great obstacles to accomplish this. Charleston was evacuated on Tuesday last. "U. S. GRANT,
"Now that your force has been so much depleted, I do not know what number of men you can put into the field. If not more than five thousand men, however, all cavalry, I think it will be sufficient. It is not desirable that you" Major-General P. H. SHERIDAN." should start this expedition until the one leaving Vicksburg has been three or four days out, or even a week. I do not know when it will start, but will inform you by telegraph as soon as I learn. If you should hear through other sources before hearing from me, you can act on
the information received.
"To ensure success, your cavalry should go with as little wagon train as possible, relying upon the country for supplies. I would also reduce the number of guns to a battery, or the number of batteries, and put the extra teams to the guns taken. No guns or caissons should be taken with less than eight horses.
Please inform me by telegraph, on receipt of this, what force you think you will be able to send under these directions. U. S. GRANT, "Lieutenant-General. "Major-General G. H. THOMAS."
On the twenty-fifth I received a despatch from General Sheridan, inquiring where Sherman was aiming for, and if I could give him definite information as to the points he might be expected to move on, this side of Charlotte, North Carolina. In answer the following telegram was sent him:
"CITY POINT, VA., February 25, 1865. "GENERAL: Sherman's movements will depend on the amount of opposition he meets with from the enemy. If strongly opposed, he may possibly have to fall back to Georgetown, S. C., and fit out for a new start. I think, however, all danger for the necessity of going to that point has passed. I believe he has passed Charlotte. He may take Fayetteville on his way