March 30, 1865: Beecher wants to go to Charleston

Preparing to raise the old flag at Fort Sumter

The prominent abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher is anxious to go to Charleston for the planned celebration of the recapture of Fort Sumter. It’s a big occasion, and he seems a bit impatient with the Secretary of War for not getting right on the arrangements — surely Stanton doesn’t have anything more pressing to do.

Official Records:


BROOKLYN, March 30, 1865.
(Received 1 p. m.)
EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

There is a profound feeling about Charleston celebration. It grows daily. It is a grand national event. Many eminent men desire to see this greatest occurrence of their lives. Could not a passenger steamer under direction of Collector Draper be allowed to go?

H. W. BEECHER.

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BROOKLYN, March 30, 1865.
(Received 10. 40 p. m .)
Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

Have received no word. I am at a loss to know what arrangements to make and for what date. Can I take some of my family? A. A. Low, president of New York Chamber of Commerce, wishes to go with his wife. He is one of our first citizens, and early and late energetic for Union, with hand, heart, and purse.

H. W. BEECHER.
WAR DEPARTMENT,
Washington, City, March 30, 1865.

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Rev. HENRY WARD BEECHER, Brooklyn, N. Y.:

In conference with General Anderson final arrangements for the celebration of Fort Sumter were concluded yesterday.

First. The Steamer Argo, will sail with General Anderson and yourself from New York on Friday, the 7th of April.

Second. Your family can accompany you.

Third. Tickets for you and for them will be forwarded by mail to-day.

Fourth. Mr. Low and wife can accompany you, and tickets for them will be sent with yours.

Fifth. I expect to join you at Fortress Monroe if it be possible to leave here.

Sixth. The arrangements and ceremonies will be directed by General Gillmore.

I will write you more at length.
EDWIN M. STANTON.

Posted in Abolitionism, Abolitionists, Charleston, Henry Ward Beecher, South Carolina | Leave a comment

March 29, 1865: Filthy Yankees

Union prisoners in Richmond

The Richmond Daily Dispatch notes that some of Sherman’s cavalry troops are being housed as prisoners in Richmond. Even for dirty Yankees, these appear to be noteworthy. It’s not surprising, considering that they have been living rough with very little baggage since last September. No doubt they look very different from the Eastern troops the Virginians are used to seeing. While the paper doesn’t mention it, it must strike the inhabitants of Richmond as ominous that Sherman is now close enough for captured troops from his force to reach the Confederate capital.


From North Carolina.

We are still without official advices from North Carolina later than General Johnston’s report of the battle of Bentonsville, which we published more than a week ago. When last heard from, Sherman was at Goldsboro’, and we think it likely he is still there, resting and recruiting his men after their tramp through South Carolina. The Yankee papers say he will next direct his columns against Raleigh.
Four hundred and eighty of Kilpatrick’s men, captured by Hampton at Fayetteville, reached this city yesterday. They constituted, by all odds, the nastiest lot of Yankee prisoners that have darkened the streets of this city during the war. It is scarcely possible to conceive how men could be so filthy, and live. Evidently, they had all been strangers to soap, water and combs since they set out from Atlanta last summer.

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March 28, 1865: Sherman in Virginia

William Tecumseh Sherman

Sherman is in City Point to meet with Grant and Lincoln, and soon with his brother John. Stanton sends his prayers.

Official Records:


CITY POINT, VA., March 28, 1865.
(Received 2. 10 p. m.)
Honorable E. M. STANTON:

I await the arrival of General McCallum until his arrival here at 3 p. m., when I will take him with me to New Berne. Before leaving I will arrange with General Ingfalls and Admiral Porter for barges and tugs to transport stores from New Berne up to Kinston, where my wagons can meet them and fill up. I will be at Goldsborough the day after to- morrow. Whilst here also I shall make complete arrangements for my next port of entry at Winton, on the Chowan, or Halifax, on the Roanoke. I have had a long interview with General Grant and the President, and think that everything wears a most favorable aspect. I suppose John Sherman to be with General McCallum, and will prevail on him to go with me as far as Goldsborough. Many thanks for the prompt attention given to our wants.

W. T. SHERMAN,
Major- General.

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WAR DEPARTMENT,
Washington, March 28, 1865- 7. 30 p. m.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN,
Fortress Monroe:

God speed you; and that He may have you in his keeping, shield you from every danger, and crown you with victory, is my earnest prayer.

E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

Posted in Abraham Lincoln, John Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant, Virginia, William Tecumseh Sherman | Leave a comment

March 27, 1865: France will bail us out

Advice from the Richmond Daily Dispatch

The Richmond Daily Dispatch advises southerners to hold on, because France will enter the war on their side any time. And besides, the fate of a conquered South is too heinous to contemplate.


There is every inducement for the Confederate people to show a firm countenance, and a determination to hold out, at least during this campaign. In the first place, the Yankees are themselves as tired of the war as we are. But for the unfortunate withdrawal of Johnston last summer, and the consequent defeat of Hood, which led to the invasion of Tennessee and the dispersion of his army, and the invasion of Georgia by Sherman; but for that one error, the cry for peace at the North would have been stronger than it ever has been here.

Indeed, it had already commenced, under the influence of Lee’s victories over Grant, and the unparalleled slaughter by which they were attended, when that unfortunate affair occurred, and changed at once the whole current of the Yankee mind.–Intent upon peace on any terms a moment ago, it changed with success, and now nothing less than subjugation would do.

That was because subjugation was now believed to be easy. The war is thought there to be almost at an end. They are told so by their newspapers every day, who, at the same time, fail not to represent our affairs in a condition which it requires but little effort, on their part, to render desperate. Let them be convinced that it is not so, and we shall soon see the Yankee mind veer around to peace once more. Mr. Pollard says that the greatest apprehension expressed by them was that we would persevere. That was the fear of everybody, and expressed in all companies. It was so dreadful because it implied a continuance of war, and they are sick of it to death.

Another reason why we should continue the war is, that a year cannot pass without a collision between France and Yankeedom. All signs indicate the approaching conflict in a manner which it is impossible to mistake. It will be through no love of us, or care for our welfare, that France will undertake this war; but there can be no reason whatever why we should not extract all the advantage we can out of her act. A powerful fleet and army from abroad, operating against the coasts which the Yankees actually own, or claim, must be powerfully in our favor; and, as long as this is certain to happen, it were folly in us to lose the opportunity it will present by submitting too hastily.

But the most powerful motive of all is to be found in the terms which the enemy offer us. Nothing less than absolute submission will answer their terms. We must lay down our arms, disband our armies, and submit to such terms as they choose to prescribe.–What those terms will be, we are not left to conjecture. They have already passed a law abolishing slavery. They have already passed a law confiscating the entire territory covered by the Confederate States. They have already declared that the States shall, in future, be entitled to no rights greater than those possessed by the counties.

They have, in a word, inaugurated for our benefit one of the most stupendous systems of centralized despotism the world ever beheld, and it is to be inaugurated with the proper accompaniments of a general confiscation and an universal spoliation. A Confederate is to own nothing that he can call his own. He is to be judged by Yankee judges and tried by Yankee juries. He is to be the slave of his own negroes and of their Yankee associates. Such a let is offered him as even Katherine or Nicholas never thought of entailing upon the Poles, and such as makes that of the Irish people blessed in the comparison. If these are not motives for fighting on, then there can be none.

Posted in France, John Bell Hood, Joseph Johnston, Robert E. Lee, Sherman's March, Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman | 1 Comment

March 26, 1865: Slavery in Kentucky

Thomas E. Bramlette
Gov. Thomas E. Bramlette

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A New York Times correspondent describes the situation in the loyal border state of Kentucky.


LEXINGTON, Ky.

In my last I barely touched upon the breaking up of the patriarchal system in this State, as leading to the leasing of land, or letting it “go to grass” the coming year. In truth this is the easy method by which Kentuckians have been accustomed to restore the fertility of the soil, after being exhausted by several year’s cropping, without the application of manure. The fields are allowed to lie in fallow, when they acquire a fresh supply of carbonaceous matter, that, added to the limestone of which the Bluegrass region consists, makes them as productive as ever. It is unnecessary to add that no country on the globe is better adapted to dairy farming than that embraced within a radius of 70 or 80 miles of Cincinnati, and lying in this State.

“Ye have taken away my gods, and what have I left?” exclaimed the apostate Hebrew; and this may be regarded as the interrogations of the Kentucky planters and farmers as a body. Most of them are at a loss what to do or say. Shiftless, at best they seem hardly to know how to turn themselves. They profess loyalty, and would be happy to be with freedom, “were ‘tother dear charmer away;” but with this they cannot think of parting company. Gov. BRAMLETTE lately recommended the ratification of the constitutional amendment, on condition of the receipt from the general Government of thirty-four millions of dollars as compensation: but the Legislature was coaxed or bullied into rejecting this most sensible of BRAMLETTE’s recommendations. The result will be that they will lose the slaves and get nothing.

The sybil, when she returns, will not have even one book spared. Of the 225,000 bondmen in this State, five years ago, about 23,000 have already enlisted as soldiers; doubtless as many other able-bodied men have taken their departure. Senator WILSON’s bill will probably set free more than 50,000 of the wives and children of colored troops. If this were insufficient to hasten the overthrow of the system, the owners are driving away the old, the infirm, and the children or such as have enlisted, after accompanying this with a “blessing in disguise,” administered through the cat-o’-nine-tails, I have talked with several who were cripples, or too infirm to render further service, or too young to be marketable in time, and so were turned adrift to shift for themselves.

White this is largely the rule, there are numerous exceptions. In families where the slaves were treated as human beings rather than brutes, (and there were not a few of these,) the masters have comprehended the course of events, and adopted the sensible method of offering their servants regular wages, which they readily accept and stay. The native kindness of heart and attachment to home of the negro are well known, and there is little doubt that if common prudence, instead of revenge, actuated the masters as a class, they would at once emancipate their slaves, and so keep them morally adscripti glebae forever.

“What!” exclaimed a loyal citizen in Lexington the other day; ask my nigger to work for me on condition of giving him regular wages. No! I would see him in _____ first!” This illustrates the spirit of nearly the whole caste, especially in the southern and western counties.

Posted in Kentucky, Reconstruction, Slavery | Leave a comment

March 25, 1865: Sherman’s march

Victory parade, March 6, 1865
Victory parade in New York, March 6, 1865.
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Harper’s Weekly mocks the rebel papers’ denigration of Sherman.


SHERMAN.

THE mystery of SHERMAN’S march was imposing. Yet the silence of the rebels was most expressive. If they made eager haste to publish such stories as that of BRAGG’S victory and of WADE HAMPTON’S victory, did they not see that not to claim SHERMAN’S defeat was to concede his success? The winks and shrugs and hints of the Richmond journals were simply the grimaces of despair. ” She knew that I knew that she knew,” says the good lady in Cranford, and we know that the rebels know that we know that SHERMAN’S march is as yet unimpeded.

It is the flying of a bird through the air;” “it is a huge raid ;” ” the country closes up behind him ;” “he is marching to his doom:” these and other things like them were all the rebel journals had to say. Did they really suppose that bluster in Richmond would stop SHERMAN in Carolina ? Did they imagine that railing and roaring, or sneering and snuffling were valuable allies against such a man ? ” He has yet to prove himself a soldier,” they cried. Would they not have consulted their own honor by admitting that a man who could march from Chattanooga to Richmond by the way of Atlanta, Savannah, and South and North Carolina, shaking the ” Confederacy” at every step, might have some military talent?

War is uncertain. We constantly remember it and remind our readers of it. But if SHERMAN joins GRANT, will it be conceded that he has done any thing? If Richmond is evacuated and Davis flies, will SHERMAN’S march still be a huge raid ? If this campaign shall end the substantial military effort of the rebellion, will GRANT still be only a butcher, and will SHERMAN yet have to prove himself a soldier?

When a rebellion is reduced to frantic rhetoric it will soon spend its last breath.

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March 24, 1865: Yet more on Black Confederates

First charge of "Black Confederates"

The New York Times has a couple of items from southern papers relating to arming slaves. The first company in Richmond wasn’t ready to parade, but apparently Kirby Smith has 25,000 black troops, which will never again be heard of.


NEGRO SOLDIERS. PARADE OF THE FIRST COMPANY OF SLAVE TROOPS.

From the Richmond Whig, March 21

A large number of ladies and gentlemen assembled on the Capitol-square, yesterday, to witness the promised parade of the first company of negro troops raised under the recent act of Congress, but owing to the fact that the new recruits have not yet been supplied with their uniforms and equipments, the parade has been postponed. We learn that the recruiting is going on rapidly. A refugee, from Fauquier County, offers to buy ten negroes who are willing to volunteer, and will emancipate them for meritorious service.

The battalion of colored troops from Camps Winder and Jackson, under the command of Dr. CHAMBLISS, including the company under Capt. GRIMES, will parade on the Square Wednesday evening at 4 1/2 o’clock.

This is the first company of negro soldiers raised in Virginia. It was organized about a month ago by Dr. CHAMBLISS, from the employes of the hospitals. The men were on the lines during the recent raid.

SLAVE TROOPS IN THE SOUTHWEST.

From the Richmond Dispatch, March 21.

Mobile papers of a recent date have reliable information that KIRBY SMITH has twenty-five thousand negro troops armed, equipped and organized under their masters, and operating in the Trans-Mississippi Department. The muster-roll of that department contains over one hundred thousand names, of which eighty thousand are effective for service. We should prefer to hear that Gen. KIRBY SMITH was moving some portion of this immense force to this side of the Mississippi River.

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March 23, 1865: Sherman to Grant: ready to roll

Ulysses S. Grant

Sherman is ready to roll, if only the railroads were. But anyway, having joined forces with Schofield, he has the strength to head anywhere Grant wants him. But he’s promised the troops that they’d have all the supplies they need at Goldsboro, and he needs the supplies to hurry up and get there.


HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,

In the Field, Goldsborough, N. C., March 23, 1865.

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,

Commanding Armies of the United States, City Point, Va.:

GENERAL: On reaching Goldsborough this morning I found Lieutenant Dunn waiting for me with your letter of March 16 and dispatch of 17th. I wrote you fully from Bentonville [Cox's Bridge] yesterday, and since reaching Goldsborough have learned that my leter was sent punctually down the New Berne, whence it will be dispatched to you. I am very glad to hear that Sheridan did such good service between Richmond and Lynchburg, and hope he will keep the ball moving. I know these raids and dashes disconcert our enemy and discourage him. Slocum’s two corps–Fourteenth and Twentieth–are now coming in, and I will dispose them north of Goldsborough, between the Weldon road and Little River. Howard to-day is marching south of the Neuse, and to-morrow will come in and occupy ground north of Goldsbrough, and extending from the Weldon railroad to that leading to Kinston. I have ordered all the provisional divisions made up of troops belonging to other corps to be broken up and the men to join their proper regiments and organizations, and have ordered Schofield to guard the railroads back to New Berne and Wilmington, and make up a movable column equal to 25,000 men with which to take the field. He will be my center as in the Atlanta campaign. I don’t think I want any more troops other than absentees and recruits to fill up the present regiments, but that I can make up an army of 80,000 men by April 10. I will put Kilpatrick out at Mount Olive Station, on the Wilmington road, and then allow the army some rest. We have sent all our empty wagons under escort, with the proper staff officers, to bring up clothing and provisions. As long as we move we can gather food and forage, but the moment we stop trouble begins. I feel sadly disappointed that our railroads are not done. I don’t like to say that there has been any neglect until I make inquiries, but it does seem to me the repairs should have been made and the road properly stocked. I can only hear of one locomotive besides the four old ones on the New Berne road and two damaged locomotives found by Terry on the Wilmington road. I left Easton and Beckwith purposely to make arrangements in anticipation of my arival, and I have heard from neither, though I suppose them both to be at Morehead City. At all events we have now made a junction of all the armies, and if we can maintain them will in a short time be in position to march against Raleigh, or Gaston, or Weldon, or even Richmond, as you may determine. If I get the troops all well placed, and the supplies working well, I might run up to see you for a day or two before diving again into the bowels of the country. I will make in a very short time accurate reports of our operations for the past two months.

Yours, truly,

W. T. -General, Commanding.

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HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,

In the Field, Goldsborough, N. C., March 23, 1865.

Brigadier General L. C. EASTON,

Chief Quartermaster, Morehead City:

GENERAL: I have made junction of my armies at Goldsborough a few days later than I appointed, but I find neither railroads completed, nor have I a word or sign from you or General Beckwith of the vast stores of supplies I hoped to meet here or hear of. We have sent wagons to Kinston in hopes to get something there, but at all events I should know what has been done and what is being done. I have constantly held out to the officers and men to bear patiently the want of clothing and other necessaries, for at Goldsborough awaited us everything. If you can expedite the movement of stores from the sea to the army, do so, and don’t stand on expenses. The reshould always be three details of workers, of eight hours each, making twenty-four hours per day of work on every job, whether building a bridge, unloading vessels, loading cars, or what not. Draw everything you need from Savannah, Port Royal, Charleston, &c., for this emergency, and don’t let the delay we had at Savannah recur. Remember that we want the stores and nothing else. We don’t want a pemanent establishment at Morehead city, at New Berne, or here. Our wagons are our store-houses. I must be off again in twenty days, with wagons full, men reclad, &c.

Yours, truly,

W. T. SHERMAN,

Major-General.

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March 22, 1865: Sherman takes Goldsboro

Carolinas campaign map
Official Records:

After the success at Bentonville, Sherman pushes on into Goldsboro, North Carolina, where he makes his junction with Schofield, who came in from the coast at New Bern.


In the Field, near Bentonville, N. C., March 22, 1865.

Major-General HOWARD,

Commanding Right Wing:

GENERAL: General Schofield reports from Goldsborough, which he occupied with little opposition, so that our campaign is an eminent success. Let Slocum have the roads to-day, and to-morrow move at your leisure to your new position on the right of Goldsborough, facing north, first south of the Neuse and next north. I will promise that no pains or efforts on my part shall be spared to supply your command in themost thorough manner before calling on them for new efforts.

Yours, truly,

W. T. SHERMAN,

Major-General.

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March 21, 1865: Full report on Bentonville

William T. Sherman

Carolinas campaign

Sherman reports to Grant on the events from the 14th through the 21st. He reports that Johnston tried and failed to break Slocum’s wing, while Schofield took Goldsborough. He plans to rest the troops a bit, and then move toward Raleigh.

Official Records:

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, Cox’s Bidge, over Neuse River, N. C.,
March 22, 1865.
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT, Commander-in-Chief, City Point, Va.:

GENERAL: I wrote you from Fayetteville, N. C., on Tuesday, the 14th instant, that I was all ready to start for Goldsborough, to which point I had also ordered General Schofield from New Berne and General Terry from Wilmington. I knew that General Joe Johnston was supreme in command against me, and that he would have time to concentrate a respectable army to oppose the last stage of this march. Accordingly General Slocum was ordered to send his main supply train under escort of two divisions straight for Bentonville, whilst he, with his other four divisions disencumbered off all unnecessary wagons, should march toward Raleigh by way of threat as far as Averasborough. General Howard in like manner sent his trains with the Seventeenth Corps well to the right, and with the four divisions of the Fifteenth Corps took roads which enable [him] to come promptly to the exposed left flank.

We started on the 15th, but again the rains set in, and the roads, already bad enough, became horrible. In Thursday, the 15th [16th], General Slocum found Hardee’s army from Charleston, which had retreated before us from Cheraw, in position across the marrow, swampy neck between Cape Fear and North Rivers, where the road branches off to Goldsborough. There a pretty severe fight occurred, in which General Slocum’s troops carried handsomely the advanced line held by a South Carolina brigade, commanded by a Colonel Butler. Its commander, Colonel Rhett, of Fort Sumter notoriety, with one of his staff, had the night before been captured by some of General Kilpatrick’s scouts from his very skirmish line. The next morning Hardee was found gone and was pursued through and beyond Averasborough. General Slocum buried 108 dead rebels, and captured and destroyed 3 guns. Some 80 wounded rebels were left in our hands, and after dressing their wounds we left them in a house attended by a Confederate officer and four privates detailed out of our prisoners and paroled for the purpose.

We resumed the march toward Goldsborough. I was with the Left Wing until I supposed all danger was passed, but when General Slocum’s head of column was within four miles of Bentonville, after skirmishing as usual with cavalry, he become aware that there was infantry at his front. He deployed a couple of brigades, which, on advancing, sustained a partial repulse but soon rallied, and he formed a line of the two leading divisions, Morgan’s and Carlin’s, of Jeff. C. Davis’ corps. The enemy attacked these with violence but was repulsed. This was in the forenoon of Sunday, the 19th. General Slocum brought forward the two divisions of the Twentieth Corps, and hastily disposed of them for defense, and General Kilpatrick massed his cavalry on the left.

General Joe Johnston had the night before marched his whole army, Bragg, Cheatham, S. D. Lee, Hardee, and all the troops he had drawn from every quarter, determined, as he told his men, to crush one of our corps and then defeat us in detail. He attacked Slocum in position from 3 p. m. of the 19th till dark, but was everywhere repulsed and lost fearfully. At the time I was with the Fifteenth Corps, marching on a road more to the right, but on hearing of Slocum’s danger directed that corps toward Cox’s Bridge and that night brought Blair’s corps over, and on the 20th marched on Johnston’s flank and rear. We struck him about noon and forced him to assume the defensive and to fortify.

Yesterday we pushed him hard, and came very near crushing him, the right division of the Seventeenth Corps, Mower’s, having broken in to within 100 yards of where Johnston himself was, at the bridge across Mill Creek. Last night he retreated, leaving us in possession of the field, dead and wounded. We have over 2,000 prisoners from this affair and the one at Averasborough, and am satisfied that Johnston’s army was so roughly handled yesterday that we could march right on to Raleigh, but we have now been out six weeks, living precariously upon the collections of our foragers, our men “dirty, ragged, and saucy,” and we must rest and fix up a little.

Our entire losses thus far, killed, wounded, and prisoners, will be covered by 2,500, a great part of which are, as usual, slight wounds. The enemy has lost more than double as many, and we have in prisoners alone full 2,000. I limited the pursuit this morning to Mill Creek, and will forthwith march the army to Goldsborough to rest, reclothe, and get some rations.

Our combinations were such that Schofield entered Goldsborough from New Berne, Terry got Cox’s Bridge with pontoons laid and a brigade across intrenched, and we whipped Joe Johnston, all on the same day.

After riding over the field of battle to-day near Bentonville, and making the necessary orders, I have ridden down to this place, Cox’s Bridge, to see General Terry, and to-morrow shall ride into Goldsborough. I propose to collect there my army proper; shall put General Terry about Faison’s Depot and General Schofield about Kinston, partly to protect the road, but more to collect such food and forage as the country affords, until the railroads are repaired leading into Goldsborough. I fear these have not been pushed with the vigor I expected, but I will soon have them both going.

I shall proceed forthwith to reorganize the three armies into bodies of 25,000 men each, and will try and be all ready to march to Raleigh or Weldon, as we may determine, by or before April 10. I inclose you a copy of my orders of to-day. * I would like to be more specific but have not the data. We have lost no general officers or no organization. Slocum took three guns at Averasborough, and lost three at the first dash on him at Bentonville. We have all of our wagons and trains in good order.

Yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General, Commanding.

Posted in Henry W. Slocum, Hugh Judson Kilpatrick, J.M. Schofield, Joseph Johnston, North Carolina, Sherman's March, William J. Hardee, William Tecumseh Sherman | Leave a comment