Page images
PDF
EPUB

A LARGE FORCE AT FORT FISHER.

491

1865.

J. M. SCHOFIELD.

Cincinnati, with his whole corps, artillery and horses, leaving his wagons behind, and thence by railroad to Washington City" and Alexandria. There he was detained awhile by the frozen Potomac,

* January 28, but finally went in steamers to the coast of North Carolina, where he landed near Fort Fisher, with Cox's (Third) division, on the 9th of February. The remainder of the troops speedily followed (some going to New Berne), and swelled Terry's little army of eight thousand men to full twenty thousand. Terry was then also occupying Fort Caswell and Smithville, on the opposite side of the Cape Fear River. The Department of North Carolina had just been created, and Schofield was assigned to its command ; so, on his arrival, he assumed the charge of all the troops in that Department.

The main object of the movement now to be undertaken was, as we have observed,' the occupation of Goldsboro', in aid of Sherman's march to that place. Grant had communicated to that leader that Schofield had been ordered to the sea, where he would have under his command over thirty thousand troops. The grand object of all the movements now was the dispersion of Johnston's army gathering in North Carolina, and the capture of Lee's at Richmond and Petersburg. Grant went down to Fort Fisher with Schofield, and conferred with General Terry and Admiral Porter, and on his returu to City Point he issued instructions to Schofield to move on Goldsboro' either from Wilmington (if he should capture it), or from New Berne. “Sherman,” he said, “may be looked for in the neighborhood of Goldsboro' any time from the 22d to the 28th of February."

Two days after Schofield's arrival at Fort Fisher with General J. D. Cox's division, Terry was pushed forward. He drove the Confederate

d Feb. 11. pickets, and established an intrenched line so close to Hoke's, that the latter was compelled to defend his in force. Then, by the aid of navy boats and pontoons, Terry attempted to turn Hoke's left flank, but was foiled by the high winds and waves of a storm. The turning of Hoke's right was then attempted, and crowned with success. For that purpose Schofield sent the divisions of Ames and Cox across the river to Smithville, where they were joined by Moore's brigade, of Couch's division, just debarked. Marching northward, they enveloped Fort Anderson. At the same time the gun-boats opened a heavy fire on

• Feb. 18. that work, the monitor Montauk lying close to the fort, and others enfilading it. Perceiving the peril, the garrison fled that night, taking with them six guns and many valuable things, and leaving behind

[graphic]

Jan. 21.

• Jan. 81.

1 See page 456.

492

CAPTURE OF WILMINGTON.

ten heavy guns and much ammunition. On the following morning troops marched into the fort, and raised the National flag over it.

The garrison of Fort Anderson fled to intrenchments behind Old Town Creek, closely followed by General Cox, who crossed the little stream on a

flat-boat, attacked them on flank and rear, and routed them, with a loss to the defeated of three hundred and seventy-five men

a Feb. 20,

1865.

and two guns.

The evacuation of Fort Anderson, and the defeat of the Confederates near Old Town Creek, caused the abandonment of all the defenses along the Cape Fear. Ames's division was sent to the east side to assist Terry, when Hoke, perceiving his peril, left his intrenchments and fell back toward Wil-* mington. The National troops pressed up both sides of the river, and the gun-boats, removing torpedoes, moved up the stream, silencing batteries on both banks. The most formidable of these were Fort Strong, on the east side, and Fort St. Philip, at the mouth of the Brunswick River. These

made very slight resistance, and on the morning of the 21st, ► February.

General Cox, who had crossed the Brunswick River to Eagle Island, opposite Wilmington, on Confederate pontoons, near the site of the railroad bridge which they had destroyed, was within rifle-shot of the wharves of the city. Terry, meanwhile, was pushing up in pursuit of Hoke, who, when Cox threw some shells into the town, ordered the destruction of all the steamers, and such military and naval stores as they could not carry away. Among the vessels destroyed were the Chickamagua and Tallahassee, two of the Confederate pirate ships. Having accomplished the work of destruction as nearly as their haste to depart would permit, the

Confederates abandoned Wilmington, and on the following morn.

ingo Scofield's victorious troops marched in unopposed. That officer made his quarters at the house of P. K. Dickinson, and Terry made his at the dwelling of Mrs. Anderson, both on Front Street. So fell Wilmington, then, considering its relations to the commercial world by its operations in connection with blockade-running, the most important port in the control of the Confederates."

Schofield's next objective and final destination, in co-operation with Sherman, was Goldsboro,' on the railway, eighty-four miles north of Wilmington, toward which Hoke had fled. Having left his wagons in Tennessee, he lacked these and draft animals, and could not pursue Hoke directly. But he proceeded to put in motion five thousand troops at New Berne, whom General J. N. Palmer was directed to move on Kinston (a small town north of and near the Neuse River), as quickly as possible, to protect the work

3

e Feb. 22.

1 Admiral Porter said that after the reduction of Fort Fisher, to the capture of Wilmington, the navy took possession of works bearing, in the aggregate, $3 guns.

? They burned about 1,000 bales of cotton, and 15,000 barrels of rosin. The Confederates had lost in the defense of Wilmington, after Schofield began his march upon it, about 1,000 men. Schofield's loss was about 200. IIo had captured 65 cannon and a large amount of ammunition.

3 See page 433.

4 The coast of North Carolina, and the peculiar character of the entrances to Cape Fear River, made intercourse with Wilmington, by means of blockade-runners, almost absolutely safe. When the wind blew off the coast, the blockading fleet was driven to sea. When it blew landward, it was compelled to haul off to a great distance to escape the dangers of a rocky coast, without a harbor within nearly a day's sail. The shoals were from five to twenty miles wide. The light-draft, swift-sailing, and fog-colored blockade-runners, could easily evadle the watchers, especially in foul weather, for they could run close to the shore where the ships of war dared not approach.

ADVANCE ON GOLDSBORO'.

493

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

8 March.

a

men there repairing the railway between New Berne and Goldsboro,' and to establish a depot of supplies at Kinston. Ruger's division of the Twentythird Corps was sent from Fort Fisher to re-enforce him. Palmer was not ready to advance so soon as desired, and General Cox was sent from Wilmington to take the command, leaving his own division in charge of Brigadier-General Reilly. He arrived at New Berne on the 6th of March,' and immediately moved the troops, reaching Wise's Forks, a mile and a half below Southwest Creek, on the 8th, where he was joined by General Schofield the same day.' Meanwhile, Couch's division had arrived at Wilmington, and, with Cox's, was ordered to march across the country from that city to Kinston. Lack of transportation delayed their departure until the 6th, when they proceeded parallel with the coast to avoid Holly Shelter Swamp, and then by way of Onslow and Richlands.

Behind Southwest Creek lay Hoke's division, with a small body of reserves, ready to dispute the passage of Schofield's troops. The march in that direction, through swamps made miry by recent rains, had been very fatiguing, but the troops were in good spirits; and when the Fifteenth Connecticut and Twenty-seventh Massachusetts were ordered forward, under Colonel l'pham, to seize the crossing of the creek on the Dover road, they marched with alacrity. Hoke watched the movement keenly. He had just been reenforced by a remnant of Hood's army, under Cheatham, and feeling strong, he sent a force, under cover of the tangled swamp, around Upham's flank, to fall upon his rear and surprise him. This was done, and the Nationals were routed, with a loss of seven hundred men made prisoners. Elated by this success, Hoke advanced a larger force, and attempted to wedge it in between, and separate, the divisions of Generals Palmer and Carter, respectively, holding the railway and the Dover road. The Nationals were pressed back, but the timely arrival of Ruger's division interfered with Hoke's operations. The result was a moderate battle, with slight loss—a conflict not much more severe than Savage's Twelfth New York Cavalry had engaged in on their march out from New Berne on the Trent road.

Schofield perceived that Hoke's force was fully equal to his own, and he ordered Cox to form an intrenched line, stand on the defensive, and wait for the arrival of Couch with his own and Cox's division, then moving on from Richlands.

Cox's line was heavily pressed by Hoke, and on the 10th, being advised of the approach of Couch, and having been further re-enforced, he struck its left and center a severe blow, the chief weight of it falling upon Ruger's division. The assailed struck back with such force, that the Confederates were repulsed with severe loss. Schofield reported his own loss at three hundred men, and that of Hoke at fifteen hundred.

[ocr errors]

• March.

1 Before leaving Wilmington, Schofield prepared a dispatch, in cipher, for Sherman, and placed it in the hands of Acting-Master H. W. Grinnell, on the 4th, to be carried to that commander. He left Wilmington in a dug-out, with Acting-Ensign H. B. Colby, Thomas Gillespie, seaman, and Joseph Williams, ship painter, all armed with Sharp's rifles, and revolvers, and carrying two days' rations. They went up the Cape Fear River about 12 miles, when, in consequence of meeting Confederate pickets, they abandoned their boat, and struck across the country for the Pedee River. After many stirring adventures, and experiencing the kindness and sid of the negroes in affording food and guidance, they reached Sherman's head-quarters at Fayetteville, North Carolina, on the 12th, at one o'clock in the afternoon.

194

SCHOFIELD ENTERS GOLDSBORO'.

. March, 1865.

with very

- March 15.

[ocr errors]

February.

The latter then retreated across the Neuse River, burning the railway bridge behind him. During that night Conch arrived, and Schofield pressed on to the Neuse; but, for lack of pontoons, he was delayed there until the 14th, when, having rebuilt the bridge, his whole force passed over without oppo sition, and entered Kinston. Sherman was then approaching that region, so the Confederates hastened to join General Johnston, who was concentrating his forces at Smithfield, on the road to Raleigh, to confront the conqueror

coming up from Fayetteville. Schofield moved forward on the 20th,“ and entered Goldsboro' on the evening of the next day,

little opposition. In the mean time, Terry had moved from Wilmington with a portion of the troops that had been left there, and pushing along the line of the railway northward, crossed the Neuse at Cox's Bridge on the 22d, and joined Schofield at Goldsboro'. And so it was that the co-operative movements with Sherman, on the coast, were promptly and successfully executed.

Let us now resume the consideration of Sherman's march through the Carolinas.

We left Sherman and his army at the smoldering capital of South Carolina, on the 18th of February,' and Charleston in possession of the National troops. There was no unnecessary tarrying at Columbia, for Sherman had

fixed the time for reaching Goldsboro? He spent the 18th and

19th in destroying the arsenal, machine shops, founderies, and other structures at Columbia, devoted to the uses of the Confederates; also the railway tracks, one southeasterly as far as Kingsville and Wateree junction on the Wilmington road; and north ward, in the direction of Charlotte, as far as Winnsboro'. Meanwhile, Kilpatrick, who had been out on quite an extensive raid, was working round toward the last point. He had first gone out toward Aiken, to make the Confederates believe that Augusta was

Sherman's destination. Spencer's brigade had a severe skirmish

with some of Wheeler's cavalry, near Williston Station, and routed them. The track was torn up in that vicinity, and Atkins's brigade was

sent to Aiken. Wheeler was there in force,' and drove him back,

and marching out, charged Kilpatrick's entire command. Wheeler was repulsed with a loss of two hundred and fifty-one men. Kilpatrick then threatened Wheeler at Aiken until the night of the 12th, when he drew off, and, moving rapidly on the left of the Fourteenth Corps, struck the highway nine miles northwest of Lexington, when only about fifteen hundred of Wheeler's cavalry were between him and Columbia. But when Kilpatrick

crossed the Saluda, on the day when the main army reached Co

lumbia, he found Wheeler ahead of him. At that time the remnant of Hood's army, under Cheatham, was moving northeastward in that region, and for a day the Union cavalry marched parallel with it, a stream dividing the hostile columns. On the 18th, Kilpatrick struck the Greenville

and Columbia railroad, and tore up the track to Alston, where he

crossed the Broad River, and pushed northerly almost to Chesterville. There he found that Wheeler had united with Hampton, and the combined forces were before him, on the road leading to Charlotte, in which

d

« Feb. 8.

• Feb. 11.

Feb. 17.

* Feb. 19.

See page 461.

1 See PC

464.

SHERMAN'S MARCIIING ORDERS.

495

direction the troops of Beauregard and Cheatham hail marched, not doubting Sherman's next objective to be Charlotte, judging from the course he had taken from Columbia.

In the mean time, Sherman's army had marched due north, in the direction of Charlotte, leaving behind it à most desolate track. Sherman had determined to make the war so felt as a dreadful calamity, that those who had begun it might be induced to abandon it speedily. He issued precise instructions for the conduct of the troops in their passage through South Carolina. “The army,” he said, “ will forage liberally on the country during the march;" and each brigade commander was directed to “organize a good and sufficient foraging party, under the command of one or more discreet officers," whose business it was to gather food for man and beast, “aiming at all times to keep in the wagon trains at least ten days' provisions for the command, and three days' forage.” Soldiers were forbidden to enter private houses or commit trespasses, but were permitted to forage for food, in the vicinity of a camp, or at a halt. He gave

the
corps
commanders

power to “destroy mills, houses, cotton-gins,” &c. Such destruction was not to be made in districts or neighborhoods where the army was not molested; but in those regions where guerrillas and bushwackers should infest the march, or the “inhabitants should burn bridges, or otherwise manifest local hostility, the corps commanders should order and enforce a devastation more or less relentless, according to the measure of such hostility.” He permitted the cavalry to "appropriate, freely and without limit,” horses, mules, wagons, &c., belonging to the inhabitants, “discriminating, however, between the rich, who are usually hostile, and the poor and industrious, usually neutral or friendly.” Foragers were also permitted to exchange their jaded animals for fresh ones. They were also directed to "leave with each family a reasonable portion for their maintenance.”

The simple execution of the orders for the army to live off the country, must have produced an almost absolute peeling of the inhabitants in the track of that host, which devoured every thing in its way over a path of more than forty miles in width. And so universal was the hostility of the inhabitants, incited by Wade Hampton and his fellow-traitors of South Carolina, that the restrictive conditions concerning devastation were nowhere applicable.' The feeling that South Carolina was the chief offender—the author of all the woes inflicted by the war, its politicians being the chief originators of treasonable designs, and the first to strike the intended deadly blow at the heart of the Republic-made many a soldier more relentless. The system of foraging allowed wide latitude, and afforded license for many outrages and cruelties on the part of unscrupulous soldiers, who always form a part of an army. Large numbers of these, called “bummers," went in

i Dr. J. F. G. Mittag, of Lancasterville, South Carolina, relates the following circumstance. When Sherman wis approaching that place, it was expected that the cavalry, as usual, would burn the public buildings. Dr. Mittag's dwelling was close to the court-house, and would be consumed with it. How should be save it? He recollected that he had in his possession a number of letters from the late eminent Dr. John W. Francis, of New York City, in which that gentleman had expressed great kindness and respect for this South Carolina physician. These he determined to show to General Kilpatrick, as an evidence of his character as a man and physician. He did so.

“ After reading a part of a letter," says Dr. Mittag, in relating the circumstance, “Kilpatrick said twice to his aids, 'Tell them not to burn the court-house.'" And when he was about to leave the village, be issued an order to the same effect, and Lancasterville was saved from destruction. “ I have no doubt," says the doctor, " that it was the letter of this great and good man that saved the village from conflagration.”

« PreviousContinue »