March 14, 1865: Sherman heads for Goldsborough

Sherman in Atlanta, 1864

Sherman reports to Grant that he’s trying to join up with Schofield, and both will make for Goldsboro, while feinting toward Raleigh to keep the rebel cavalry from concentrating against them.

Official Records:


HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, opposite Fayetteville, Tuesday, March 14, 1865.
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,
City Point:

DEAR GENERAL: I am now across Cape Fear River with nearly all my army, save a division, with orders to cross at daylight to-morrow. I shall then draw out ten miles and begin my maneuvers for the possession of Goldsborough, which is all important to our future purposes. I was in hopes that I could get some shoes and stockings at Wilmington, but the tug Davidson has returned with Brigadier-General Dodge, chief quartermaster, with word that there is no clothing there, but he brings us some forage, sugar, and coffee. I can get along for ten days, having forced the army to collect plenty of beef, and a good deal of corn meal.

I shall to-night move my cavalry, 5,000, straight toward Raleigh, and follow it with four divisions without trains, and keep the trains off toward the right rear. I will hold another four divisions in close support and move toward Smithland [Smithfield] or to strike the railroad half way between Goldsborough and Raleigh; then when my trains are well across toward the Neuse will move rapidly to Bennettsvile [Bentonville], and afterward, at leisure, move opposite Goldsborough, open direct communication with Schofield, who is ordered to push against Kinston and Goldsborough. I may cross Neuse, about Cox’s Bridge, and move into Goldsborough, but will not attempt it till within close communication with Schofield. I have sent
full orders to Schofield.

It will not do to build any determinate plan from there till I am in full possession of Goldsborough. I have ordered Schofield and Terry to press toward Goldsborough as hard as possible from the east as I advance from the southwest.

The enemy is superior to me in cavalry, but I can beat his infantry man for man, and I don’t think he can bring 40,000 men to battle. I will force him to guard Raleigh till I have interposed between it and Goldsborough. Weather is now good, but threatens rain. We are all well. Keep all parts busy and I will give the enemy no rest.

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

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