March 8, 1865: Gentler treatment of North Carolina

Carolinas Campaign map

Several generals have complained about the devastation caused by unsupervised foragers, and the general vindictiveness shown by the Union troops against South Carolina, the leader of the secession movement. Now that Sherman’s men are crossing into North Carolina, the new orders are to rein in their activities carefully.

Near Beaver Dam Creek, S. C., March 7, 1865.
Captain A.m. VAN DYKE,
Asst. Adjt. General, Dept. and Army of the Tennessee:

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that my command is in camp on the east side of Beaver Dam Creek, with the mounted infantry at Bam’s Bridge. Every house that we pass is pillaged, and as we are about to enter the State of North Carolina, I think the people should be treated more considerately. The only way to prevent this state of affairs is to put a stop to foraging. I have enough in my wagons to last to Goldsborough, and I suppose the rest of the army has also. I respectfully suggest that an order be issued against foraging.

Very respectfully,
Major- General.


Major General HOWARD,
Commanding Army and Department of the Tennssee:

Every house we pass is pillaged precisely as the one you spoke of in your dispatch yesterday. There is no cure except the entire cessation of foraging. The system is vicious and its results utterly deplorable. As there is no longer a necessity for it I beg that an order may be issued to prohibit it. General Sherman said that when we reached North Carolina he would pay for everything brought to us an forbid foraging. I believe it would have an excellent effect upon the country to change our policy in this respect, and consider it my duty to submit the matter to your consideration.

Respectfully, your obedient servt,
Major- General.



Laurel Hill, N. C., March 8, 1865.

I. The Fifteenth Army Corps, Major General John A. Logan commanding, will move to- morrow, crossing Lumber River at Gilchrist’s Bridge. One division will move thence, by the right- hand road, to Randalsville. The other three divisions, moving on the direct road, will cross Raft Swamp with at least one division. The Seventeenth Army corps, Major G en. F. P. Blair commanding, will move from Campbell’s Bridge, by both routes- two divisions by the lower, the other by the road via Melrose, the head of both columns reaching the cross- road beyond Raft Swamp if possible. The bridge train will follow the main column of the Fifteenth Army Corps. These headquarters will follow the leading division of the Fifteenth Army Corps, and be established at Randalsville.

II. Hereafter but one mounted foraging party, to consist of sixty men with the proper number of commissioned officers, will be allowed for each division. The division commanders will be careful to select reliable officers for the command of these parties who shall be held strictly accountable for the conduct of their men. Whenever it may be necessary to send a party from the main body, a commissioned officer will be sent in charge, but in no case will it be allowed to go in advance of the infantry advance guard of the leading division, or more than five miles from either flank of the column. All surplus animals will be disposed of by the corps quartermasters for the benefit of the artillery, bridge train, &c. Foraging for the artillery trains, including the pontoons and the different headquarters, will continue as at present.

III. If not already done, there will be organized for each division a provost guard, to consist of as many picked and resolute men as the division commanders may deem sufficient. On the march the guard of the leading division will march with the advance guard, and establish guards at every house on the line of march, which will be relieved by the guard of each succeeding division as it comes up.

By order of Major General O. O. Howard:
Assistant Adjutant-General.

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