April 12, 1865: Sherman will pursue Johnston

Gen. Joseph Johnston

Sherman responds to the news of Lee’s surrender with a promise to pursue Johnston to Raleigh. He says he’ll offer the same terms Grant did, which would be a good idea.

Official Records:

In the Field, Smithfield, N. C., April 12, 1865 – 5 a. m.
(Received 2. 20 p. m. 14th.)
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,
Commanding Armies of the United States, Virginia:

GENERAL: I have this moment received your telegram announcing the surrender of Lee’s army. I hardly know how to express my feelings, but you can imagine them. The terms you have given Lee are magnanimous and liberal. Should Johnston follow Lee’s example I shall of course grant the same. He is retreating before me on Raleigh, but I shall be there to-morrow. Roads are heavy, but under the inspiration of the news from you we can march twenty-five miles a day. I am now twenty-seven miles from Raleigh, but some of my army is eight miles behind. If Johnston retreats south I will follow him to insure the scattering of his force and capture of the locomotives and cars at Charlotte; but I take it he will surrender at Raleigh. Kilpatrick’s cavalry is ten miles to the south and west of me, viz, on Middle Creek, and I have sent Major Audenried with orders to make for the south and west of Raleigh to impede the enemy if he goes beyond Raleigh. All the infantry is pointed straight for Raleigh by five different roads. The railroad is being repaired from Goldsborough to Raleigh, but I will not aim co carry it farther. I shall expect to hear from General Sheridan in case Johnston does not surrender at Raleigh. With a little more cavalry I would be sure to capture the whole army.

Yours, truly,

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