Page images


prisoned there, rescued by us, may have assist-
ed in spreading the fire after it had once begun,
and may have indulged in unconcealed joy to
see the ruin of the capital of South Carolina.
During the eighteenth and nineteenth, the
arsenal, railroad depots, machine shops, foun-

stroyed 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 Winnsboro.

Twenty-fifth Iowa infantry, commanding third brigade, First division, Fifteenth corps. About the same time a small party of the Seventeenth corps had crossed the Congaree in a skiff, and entered Columbia from a point immediately west. In anticipation of the occupation of the city, I had made written orders to General How-dries, and other buildings were properly deard touching the conduct of the troops. These were to destroy, absolutely, all arsenals and public property not needed for our own use, as well as all railroads, depots, and machinery useful in war to an enemy, but to spare all dwellings, colleges, schools, asylums, and harmless private property. I was the first to cross the pontoon bridge, and in company with General Howard rode into the city. The day was clear, but a perfect tempest of wind was raging. The brigade of Colonel Stone was already in the city, and was properly posted. Citizens and soldiers were on the streets, and general good order pre-stakes depot, and then turned to Rocky Mount, vailed. General Wade Hampton, who commanded the Confederate rear-guard of cavalry, had, in anticipation of our capture of Columbia, ordered that all cotton, public and private, should be moved into the streets and fired, to prevent our making use of it. Bales were piled everywhere, the rope and bagging cut, and tufts of cotton were blown about in the wind, lodged in the trees and against houses, so as to resemble a snow storm. Some of these piles of cotton were burning, especially one in the very heart of the city, near the Court-house, but the fire was partially subdued by the labor of our soldiers. During the day the Fifteenth corps passed through Columbia and out on the Camden road. The Seventeenth did not enter the town at all; and, as I have before stated, the left wing and cavalry did not come within two miles of the town.

Before one single public building had been fired
by order, the smoldering fires, set by Hampton's
order, were rekindled by the wind, and com-
municated to the buildings around. About dark
they began to spread, and got beyond the con-
trol of the brigade on duty within the city.
The whole of Wood's division was brought in,
but it was found impossible to check the flames,
which, by midnight, had become unmanage-
able, and raged until about four A. M., when
the wind subsiding, they were got under con-
trol. I was up nearly all night, and saw Gen-
erals Howard, Logan, Woods, and others, la-
boring to save houses and protect families
thus suddenly deprived of shelter, and of bed-
ding and wearing apparel. I disclaim on the part
of my army any agency in this fire, but on the
contrary, claim that we saved what of Columbia
remains unconsumed. And without hesitation,
I charge General Wade Hampton with having
burned his own city of Columbia, not with a ma-
licious intent, or as the manifestations of a silly
"Roman stoicism," but from folly and want of
sense, in filling it with lint, cotton, and tinder.
Our officers and men on duty worked well to ex-
tinguish the flames; but others not on duty, in-
cluding the officers who had long been im-

At the same time the left wing and cavalry had crossed the Saluda and Broad rivers, breaking up the railroad about Alston, and as high up as the bridge across Broad river on the Spartanburg road, the main body moving straight for Winnsboro, which General Slocum reached on the twenty-first of February. He caused the railroad to be destroyed up to Blackon the Catawba river. The Twentieth corps reached Rocky Mount on the twenty-second, laid a pontoon bridge, and crossed over during the twenty-third. Kilpatrick's cavalry followed, and crossed over in a terrible rain during the night of the twenty-third, and moved up to Lancaster, with orders to keep up the delusion of a general movement on Charlotte, North Carolina, to which General Beauregard and all the I was also aware that Cheatham's corps, cavalry of the enemy had retreated from Columbia. of Hood's old army, was aiming to make a junction with Beauregard at Charlotte, having been From the twenty-third to the cut off by our rapid movement on Columbia and Winnsboro. twenty-sixth we had heavy rains, swelling the rivers and making the roads almost impassable. the twenty-sixth, and waited there for the FourThe Twentieth corps reached Hanging Rock on teenth corps to get across the Catawba. The heavy rains had so swollen the river, that the pontoon bridge broke, and General Davis had At last he suceeded, and the left wing very hard work to restore it and get his command across. In the mean time, the right wing had broken was all put in motion for Cheraw. up the railroad to Winnsboro, and thence turned for Peay's ferry, where it was crossed over the Catawba before the heavy rains set in, the SevFrom this latter enteenth corps moving straight on Cheraw, via Young's bridge, and the Fifteenth corps by Tiller's and Kelly's bridges. corps, detachments were sent into Camden to burn the bridge over the Wateree, with the railroad depot, stores, &c. A small force of mounted men under Captain Duncan was also despatched to make a dash and interrupt the railroad from Charleston to Florence, but it met Butler s division of cavalry, and after a sharp night skirmish on Mount Elon, was compelled to return unsuccessful. Much bad road was encountered at Lynch's creek, which delayed as the left wing had been at the Catawba. the right wing about the same length of time

On the second of March, the leading division of the Twentieth corps entered Chesterfield,


skirmishing with Butler's division of cavalry, therefore, complete the junction with the other and the next day about noon the Seventeenth armies of Johnston and Hoke in North Carolina. corps entered Cheraw, the enemy retreating And the whole, under the command of the skilacross the Pedee and burning the bridge at that ful and experienced Joe Johnston, made up an point. At Cheraw we found much ammunition army superior to me in cavalry, and formidable and many guns, which had been brought from enough in artillery and infantry to justify me in Charleston on the evacuation of that city. These extreme caution in making the last step neceswere destroyed, as also the railroad trestles and sary to complete the march I had undertaken. bridges down as far as Darlington. An expedi- Previous to reaching Fayetteville I had detion of mounted infantry was also sent down to spatched to Wilmington, from Laurel Hill church, Florence, but it encounted both cavalry and in- two of our best scouts with intelligence of our fantry and returned, having only broken up in position and my general plans. Both of these part the branch road from Florence to Cheraw. Without unnecessary delay, the columns were morning of the twelfth of March the army tug messengers reached Wilmington, and on the again put in motion, directed on Fayetteville, Davidson, Captain Ainsworth, reached FayetteNorth Carolina, the right wing crossing the ville from Wilmington, bringing me full intelliPedee at Cheraw and the left wing and cav- gence of events from the outer world. On the alry at Sneedsboro. General Kilpatrick was ordered to keep well on the left flank, and the at Wilmington, and General Schofield, at Newsame day this tug carried back to General Terry, Fourteenth corps, moving by Love's bridge, bern, my despatches to the effect that on Wedwas given the right to enter and occupy Fay.nesday, the fifteenth, we would move for Goldsetteville first. The weather continued unfavor-boro, feigning on Raleigh, and ordering them able and roads bad, but the Fourteenth and to march straight for Goldsboro, which I exSeventeeth corps reached Fayetteville on pected to reach about the twentieth. The same eleventh of March, skirmishing with Wade day the gunboat Eolus, Captain Young, United Hampton's cavalry, that covered the rear States Navy, also reached Fayetteville, and of Hardee's retreating army, which, usual, had crossed Cape Fear river, burning the with Wilmington until the day of our actual deas through her I continued to have communication bridge. During the march from the Pedee Gen-parture. While the work of destruction was eral Kilpatrick had kept his cavalry well on the going on at Fayetteville two pontoon bridges left and exposed flank During the night of the were laid across Cape Fear river, one opposite ninth of March his three brigades were divided the town, the other three miles below. to picket the roads. General Hampton, detecting this, dashed in at daylight, and gained possession of the camp of Colonel Spencer's brigade, and the house in which General Kilpatrick and Colonel Spencer had their quarters. The surprise was complete, but General Kilpatrick quickly succeeded in rallying his men, on foot, in a swamp near by, and by a prompt attack, well followed up, regained his artillery, horses, camp, and everything save some prisoners, whom the enemy carried off, leaving their dead on the ground.

the plank road to and beyond Averysboro. General Kilpatrick was ordered to move up He was to be followed by four divisions of the left wing, with as few wagons as possible; the rest of the train, under escort of the two remaining divisions of that wing, to take a shorter and more direct road to Goldsboro. In like manner General Howard was ordered to send his trains, under good escort, well to the right, toward Faison's depot and Goldsboro, and to hold four divisions light, ready to go to the aid The weather continued very bad, and the roads of the left wing if attacked while in motion. had become mere quagmires. Almost of it had to be corduroyed, to admit the passage of wheels. Still time was so important that every foot punctually, according to order, the columns moved out from Cape Fear river on Wednesday, the fifteenth of March. General Slocum, who, preceded by Kilpatrick's cavalry, moved up the river or plank-road that I accompanied day to Kyle's landing, Kilpatrick skirmishing heavily with the enemy's rear guard, about Up to this period I had perfectly succeeded General Kilpatrick's request, General Slocum sent three miles beyond, near Taylor's Hole creek. At in interposing my superior army between the forward a brigade of infantry to hold a line of scattered parts of my enemy. But I was then barricades. Next morning the column advanced aware that the fragments that had left Columbia in the same order, and developed the enemy, under Beauregard had been reinforced by Cheat with artillery, infantry, and cavalry, in an inham's corps from the West, and the garrison of trenched position in front of the point where Augusta, and that ample time had been given the road branches off toward Goldsboro, to move them to my front and flank about Ra-through Bentonville. On an inspection of the leigh. Hardee had also succeeded in getting map it was manifest that Hardee, in retreating across Cape Fear river ahead of me, and could, from Fayetteville, had halted in the narrow,

The twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth 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 First regiment Michigan engineers, under the immediate supervision of Colonel O. M. Poe, Chief Engineer. Much valuable property of great use to an enemy, was here destroyed, or cast into the river.


swampy neck between Cape Fear and South killed, and four hundred and seventy-seven
rivers, in hopes to hold me, to save time for the wounded. We lost no prisoners. The enemy's
concentration of Johnston's armies at some point loss can be inferred from his dead (one hun-
to his rear, namely, Raleigh, Smithfield, or dred and eight), left for us to bury. Leaving
Hardee's force was estimated at Ward's division to keep up a show of pur-
It was necessary to dis- suit, Slocum's column was turned to the right,
twenty thousand men.
lodge him, that we might have the use of the built a bridge across the swollen South river,
Goldsboro road, as also to keep up the feint and took the Goldsboro road, Kilpatrick cross-
on Raleigh as long as possible. General Slo- ing to the north in the direction of Elevation,
cum was therefore ordered to press and carry with orders to move eastward, watching that
the position, only difficult by reason of the na- flank. In the mean time the wagon trains and
ture of the ground, which was so soft that guards, as also Howard's column, were wallow-
The enemy's infantry, as before
horses would sink everywhere, and even mening along the miry roads toward Bentonville and
stated, had retreated on Smithfield, and his cav-
could hardly make their way over the common Goldsboro.
pine barren.
alry retreated across our front in the same di-
continued with the head of Slocum's column,
rection, burning the bridges across Mill creek.
and camped the night of the eighteenth with
him on the Goldsboro road, twenty-seven miles
from Goldsboro, about five miles from Benton-
ville, and where the road from Clinton to Smith-
field crosses the Goldsboro road. Howard was
at Lee's store, only two miles south, and both
columns had pickets three miles forward, to
where the two roads came together and became
common to Goldsboro.

The Twentieth corps, General Williams, had the lead, and Ward's division the advance. This was deployed, and the skirmish line developed the position of a brigade of Charleston heavy artillery, armed as infantry (Rhett's), posted across the road, behind a light parapet, with a battery of guns enfilading the approach across a cleared field. General Williams sent a brigade (Case's), by a circuit to his left, that turned this line, and by a quick charge broke the brigade, which rapidly retreated back to a second line, better built and more strongly held. A battery of artillery (Winniger's), well posted, under the immediate direction of Major Reynolds, Chief of Artillery of Twentieth corps, did good execution on the retreating brigade, and on advancing Ward's division over this ground, General Williams captured three guns and two hundred and seventeen prisoners, of whom sixty-eight were wounded and left in a house near by, with a rebel officer, four men, and five days' rations. One hundred and eight As Ward's direbel dead were buried by us. vision advanced, he developed a second and stronger line, when Jackson's division was deployed forward on the right of Ward, and the two divisions of Jeff. C. Davis' (Fourteenth) corps on the left, well toward the Cape Fear. At the same time Kilpatrick, who was acting in concert with General Williams, was ordered to draw back his cavalry and mass it on the extreme right, and in concert with Jackson's right, to feel forward for the Goldsboro road. He got a brigade on the road, but it was attacked by McLaws' rebel division furiously, and though it fought well and hard, the brigade drew back to the flank of the infantry. The whole line advanced late in the afternoon, drove the enemy well within his intrenched line, and pressed him so hard that next morning he was gone, having retreated in a miserable, stormy night over the worst of roads. Ward's division of infantry followed to and through Averysboro, developing the fact that Hardee had retreated, not on Raleigh but on Smithfield. I had the night before directed Kilpatrick to cross South river at a mill-dam to our right, and move up on the east side toward Elevation. General Slocum reports his aggregate loss in this affair, known as that of Averysboro, at twelve officers and sixty-five men

All the signs induced me to believe that the enemy would make no further opposition to our progress, and would not attempt to strike us in flank while in motion. I therefore directed Howard to move his right wing by the new Goldsboro road, which goes by way of Falling creek church. I also left Slocum, and joined Howard's column with a view to open communications with General Schofield, coming up from Newbern, and Terry from Wilmington. I found General Howard's column well strung out, owing to the very bad roads, and did not overtake him in person until he had reached Falling creek church, with one regiment forward to the crossroads near Cox's bridge across the Neuse. I had gone from General Slocum about six miles when I heard artillery in his direction, but was soon made easy by one of his staff officers overtaking me, explaining that his leading division (Carlin's) had encountered a division of rebel cavalry (Dibbrell's), which he was driving easily. But soon other staff officers came up, reporting that he had developed near Bentonville the whole of the rebel army under General Johnston himself. I sent himn orders to call up the two divisions guarding his wagon trains, and Hazen's division of the Fifteenth corps, still back near Lee's store, to fight defensively until I could draw up Blair's corps, then near Mount Olive station, and with the remaining three divisions of the Fifteenth corps come up on Johnston's left rear from the direction of Cox's bridge. In the mean time, while on the road, I received couriers from both Generals Schofield and Terry. The former reported himself in possession of Kinston, delayed somewhat by want of provisions, but able to march so as to make Goldsboro on the twenty-first; and Terry was at or near Faison s depot. Orders

had made strong connection on his left with Gen-
eral Slocum. This he soon accomplished, and
by four P. M. of the twentieth a complete and
strong line of battle confronted the enemy in
his intrenched position, and General Johnston,
instead of catching us in detail, was on the de-
fensive, with Mill creek and a single bridge to
his rear. Nevertheless, we had no object to

and therefore my general instructions were to
press steadily with skirmishers alone, to use
artillery pretty freely on the wooded space held
by the enemy, and to feel pretty strongly the
flanks of his position, which were, as usual
covered by the endless swamps of this region of
country. I also ordered all empty wagons to be
sent at once to Kinston for supplies, and other
impediments to be grouped near the Neuse,
south of Goldsboro, holding the real army in
close contact with the enemy, ready to fight
him if he ventured outside his parapets and
swampy obstructions.

were at once despatched to Schofield to push
for Goldsboro, and to make dispositions to cross
Little river, in the direction of Smithfield, as far
as Millard; to General Terry, to move to Cox's
bridge, lay a pontoon bridge, and establish a
crossing; and to Blair, to make a night march
to Falling creek church; and at daylight the
right wing, General Howard, less the necessary
wagon guards, was put in rapid motion on Ben-accomplish by a battle, unless at an advantage,
tonville. By subsequent reports, I learned that
General Slocum's head of column had advanced
from its camp of March eighteenth, and first en-
countered Dibbrell's cavalry, but soon found his
progress impeded by infantry and artillery.
The enemy attacked his head of column, gaining
a temporary advantage, and took three guns,
and caissons of General Carlin's division, driv-
ing the two leading brigades back on the main
body. As soon as General Slocum realized that
he had in his front the whole Confederate army,
be promptly deployed the two divisions of the
Fourteenth corps, General Davis, and rapidly
brought up on their left the two divisions of the
Twentieth corps, General Williams. These he
arranged on the defensive, and hastily pre-
pared a line of barricades. General Kilpatrick
also came up at the sound of artillery, and mass-
ed on the left. In this position the left wing
received six distinct assaults by the combined
forces of Hoke, Hardee, and Cheatham, under
the immediate command of General 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.

Thus matters stood about Bentonville on the twenty-first of March. On the same day General Schofield entered Goldsboro with little or no opposition, and General Terry had got possession of the Neuse river at Cox's bridge, ten miles above, with a pontoon bridge laid and a brigade across, so that the three armies were in actual connection, and the great object of the campaign was accomplished.

On the twenty-first a steady rain prevailed, during which General Mower's division of the Seventeenth corps, on the extreme right, had worked well to the right around the enemy's Johnston had moved by night from Smithfield flank, and nearly reached the bridge across Mill with great rapidity, and without unnecessary creek, the only line of retreat open to the wheels, intending to overwhelm my left flank enemy. Of course there was extreme danger before it could be relieved by its co-operating that the enemy would turn on him all his recolums. But he "reckoned without his host." serves, and it might be let go his parapets to I had expected just such a movement all the overwhelm Mower. Accordingly I ordered at way from Fayetteville, and was prepared for it. once a general attack by our skirmish line from During the night of the nineteenth, General left to right. Quite a noisy battle ensued, durSlocum got up his wagon train with its guard of ing which General Mower was enabled to regain two divisions, and Hazen's division of the Fif- his connection with his own corps by moving teenth corps, which reinforcement enabled him to his left rear. Still he had developed a weakto make his position impregnable, The rightness in the enemy's position, of which advanwing found rebel cavalry watching its approach, but unable to offer any serious opposition until our head of column encountered a considerable body behind a barricade at the forks of the road near Bentonville, about three miles east of the battle-field of the day, before. This body of cavalry was, however, quickly dislodged, and the intersection of the roads secured. On moving forward the Fifteenth corps, General Logan found that the enemy had thrown back his left flank, and had constructed a line of parapet connecting with that toward General Slocum, in the form of a bastion, its salient on the main Goldsboro road, interposing between General Slocum on the west and General Howard on the east, while the flanks rested on Mill Creek, covering the road back to Smithfield. General Howard was instructed to proceed with due caution, until he

tage might have been taken; but that night the
enemy retreated on Smithfield, leaving his pick-
ets to fall into our hands, with many dead un-
buried, and wounded in his field hospitals. At
daybreak of the twenty-second pursuit was
made two miles beyond Mill creek, but checked
by my order. General Johnston had utterly
failed in his attempt, and we remained in full
possession of the field of battle.

General Slocum reports the losses of the left
wing about Bentonville at nine officers and one
hundred and forty-five men killed, fifty-one offi-
cers and eight hundred and sixteen men wound-
ed, and three officers and two hundred and
twenty-three men missing, taken prisoners by
the enemy; total, one thousand two hundred
and forty-seven. He buried on the field one
hundred and sixty-seven rebel dead, and took
three hundred and thirty-eight prisoners.

[merged small][ocr errors]

General Howard reports the losses of the right wing at two officers and thirty-five men killed, twelve officers and two hundred and eighty-nine men wounded, and one officer and sixty men missing; total, three hundred and ninety-nine. He also buried one hundred rebel dead, and took one thousand two hundred and eighty-seven prisoners.

The cavalry of Kilpatrick was held in reserve, and lost but few, if any, of which I have no report as yet. Our aggregate loss at Bentonville was one thousand six hundred and fortysix.

I am well satisfied that the enemy lost heavily, especially during his assaults on the left wing during the afternoon of the nineteenth; but as I have no data save his dead and wounded left in our hands, I prefer to make no compari


the navy steamer Bat, Captain Barnes, which Admiral Porter placed at my command, and returned via Hatteras Inlet and Newbern, reaching my own headquarters in Goldsboro during the night of the thirtieth. During my absence full supplies of clothing and food had been brought to camp, and all things were working well.

I have thus rapidly sketched the progress of our columns from Savannah to Goldsboro, but for more minute details must refer to the reports of subordinate commanders and of staff officers, which are not yet ready, but will in due season be forwarded and filed with this report. I cannot even, with any degree of precision, recapitulate the vast amount of injury done the enemy, or the quantity of guns and material of war captured and destroyed. In general terms we have traversed the country Thus, as I have endeavored to explain, we had from Savannah to Goldsboro, with an average completed our march on the twenty-first, and had breadth of forty miles, consuming all the forage, full possession of Goldsboro, the real "object-cattle, hogs, sheep, poultry, cured meats, corn ive," with its two railroads back to the seaports of Wilmington and Beaufort, North Carolina. These were rapidly being repaired by strong working parties directed by Colonel W. W. Wright, of the Railroad Department. A large number of supplies had already been brought forward to Kinston, to which place our wagons had been sent to receive them. I therefore directed General Howard and the cavalry to remain at Bentonville during the twenty-second, to bury the dead and remove the wounded, and on the following day all the armies to move to the camps assigned to them about Goldsboro, there to rest and receive the clothing and supplies of which they stood in need. In person I went on the twenty-second to Cox's bridge to meet General Terry, whom I met for the first time, and on the following day rode into Goldsboro, where I found General Schofield and his army. The left wing came in during the same day and next morning, and the right wing followed on the twenty-fourth, on which day the cavalry moved to Mount Olive station, and General Terry back to Faison's. On the twenty-fifth the Newbern railroad was finished, and the first train of cars came in, thus giving us the means of bringing from the depot at Morehead City full supplies for the army.

It was all-important that I should have an interview with the General-in-chief, and presuming that he could not at this time leave City Point, I left General Schofield in chief command, and proceeded with all expedition by rail to Morehead City, and thence by steamer to City Point, reaching General Grant's headquarters on the evening of the twenty-seventh of March. I had the good fortune to meet General Grant, the President, Generals Meade, Ord, and others of the Army of the Potomac, and soon learned the general state of the military world, from which I had been in a great measure cut off since January. Having com

meal, &c. The public enemy, instead of drawing supplies from that region to feed his armies, will be compelled to send provisions from other quarters to feed the inhabitants. A map herewith, prepared by my Chief Engineer, Colonel Poe, with the routes of the four corps and cavalry, will show at a glance the country traversed. Of course the abandonment to us by the enemy of the whole sea-coast, from Savannah to Newbern, North Carolina, with its forts, dock-yards, gunboats, &c., was a necessary incident to our occupation and destruction of the inland routes of travel and supply. But the real object of this march was to place this army in a position easy of supply, whence it could take an appropriate part in the spring and summer campaign of 1865. This was completely accomplished on the twenty-first of March by the junction of the three armies and occupation of Goldsboro.

In conclusion, I beg to express in the most emphatic manner my entire satisfaction with the tone and temper of the whole army. Nothing seems to dampen their energy, zeal or cheerfulness. It is impossible to conceive a march involving more labor and exposure, yet I cannot recall an instance of bad temper by the way, or hearing an expression of doubt as to our perfect success in the end. I believe that this cheerfulness and harmony of action reflects upon all concerned quite as much real honor and fame as "battles gained" or "cities won," and I therefore commend all, generals, staff, officers, and men, for these high qualities, in addition to the more soldierly ones of obedience to orders and the alacrity they have always manifested when danger summoned them "to the front."

I have the honor to be
Your obedient servant,
Major-General, Commanding.

pleted all necessary business, I reëmbarked on Major-General H. W. HALLECK,

Chief of Staff, Washington, D. C.

« PreviousContinue »