January 8, 1865: Hardee on the defensive

William J. Hardee

Hardee explains his situation to Jefferson Davis — he lacks the troops to do anything except try to defend Charleston against Sherman’s forces. And for that matter, he needs more troops even to manage that, and they don’t appear to be forthcoming. Georgia isn’t supplying enough militia, and Hardee hasn’t even heard from Hood.

Official Records:

CHARLESTON, S. C., January 8, 1865–12 m.
His Excellency the PRESIDENT:

Your cipher telegram of the 7th received to-day. I am holding the line of railroad from the Savannah River to this place. The principal force on this line is at Pocotaligo, under Major-General McLaws, who when compelled to retire will take up the line of the Combahee, which I am actively engaged in fortifying. Major-General Wright’s division is stationed in the Fourth Sub-District principally to protect the approaches from John’s Island to the lower Combahee, inclusive. Brigadier-General Taliaferro’s division is distributed in the Second and Third Sub-Districts, principally on James and Sullivan’s Islands and in Christ Church Parish. Conner’s brigade when it arrives will be stationed near Charleston, whence it can re-enforce the Second, Third, or Fourth Sub-Districts.

I have armed the heavy artillery as infantry, brigaded the entire command, and hope soon to provide it with field transportation. Of the force above mentioned, McLaws’ is the only command I regard as movable. The remainder is needed for the defense of Charleston.

I am acting strictly on the defensive, and unless heavily re-enforced must continue to do so. In case of a movement upon Charleston similar to that on Savannah, a movable force of 15,000 additional men operating outside of the city defenses will be required to oppose the enemy.

If this force cannot be furnished, 5,000 regular troops will still be required for the present defensive line. Governor Magrath promises to put in the field 5,000 militia, but I much question his ability to do so. I have requested him to place 1,500 militia at Barnwell, and a like number at Branchville, which with Wheeler’s cavalry will make the railroad from Augusta to Branchville secure.

I have no reason to expect re-enforcements from Georgia other than Major General G. W. Smith’s force of militia, now at Augusta, which is rapidly diminishing by desertion, and numbers less than 1,500 muskets. I have no information whatever from Hood, and have no reason to expect re-enforcements from that quarter.

My effective force in Carolina, exclusive of Conner’s brigade, is as follows: 3,500 regular infantry, 3,000 reserves, 1,100 militia, 3,100 heavy artillerists, 1,700 light artillery, and 6,100 cavalry.


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2 Responses to January 8, 1865: Hardee on the defensive

  1. Allen,
    Have spent hours on you Civil War site, so informative. I am trying to chase down the details of events which occurred around Jefferson City, Missouri – based upon a newspaper article about my 2nd great grandmother. Have attached the link to this message. I am pretty certain that she was mistaken about Abe Lincoln visiting Jefferson City, MO. Did not happen, but the rest of what she says seems to have occurred – Using these dates I have come up with several articles on your site: 13 -15 June 1861 – 21 Aug 1861 – when it is reported that U.S Grant took command of Union Forces at Jefferson City, did not find that one – but wondering if she might have confused him for Pres. Lincoln. From my research, I have learned that Missouri military records are lacking in quality and quality. We have learned that our John Clark was an engineer on a steamboat. If you have any suggestions or comments that might lead me in a direction, would really appreciate it.
    Thanks again

    Frances Adelia Clark’s Salt Lake Telegram account: Utah Digital Newspapers, Salt
    Lake Telgram 1941-07-26, page 9. “She Ate with Abe Lincoln.” “It was at Jefferson
    City, Mo., that Fannie Clark, sleepy eyed . . . met and dined with the great liberator. The year? “About” 1865, . . . My father was a Union army officer. The Union forces had just cleaned out the Southerners from Jefferson City . . . Mr Lincoln spoke, but what he said I don’t recall. I fell asleep while he was offering prayers, and my father took me home. A few days later my father developed pneumonia and died. Mrs Chamberlain said. She was 11 years old at the time.”

  2. Allen Gathman says:

    Interesting account, and yes, it does seem she might have confused Grant with Lincoln. I empathize with you on the topic of Missouri military records — it was out on the frontier at the time, and a bit wild. I don’t have any special source suggestions at the moment, but perhaps another reader may.

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