Make all requisitions upon the chiefs of their respective departments in the field with me at City Point. Communicate with me by every opportunity, and, should you deem it necessary at any time, send a special boat to Fort Montore, from which point you can communicate by telegraph.
The supplies referred to in these instructions are exclusive of those required for your own command.
The movements of the enemy may justify or even make it your imperative duty to cut loose from your base and strike for the interior to aid Sherman. In such case you will act on your own judgment, without waiting of instructions. You will report, however, what you purpose doing. The details for carrying out these instructions are necessarily left to you. I would urge, however, if I did not know that you are already fully alive to the importance of it, prompt actinon. Sherman may be looked for in the neighborhood of Goldsborough any time from the 22nd to the 28th of February; this limits your time very materially.
If rolling-stock is not secured in the capture of Wilmington, it can be supplied from Washington. A large force of railroad men have already been sent to Beaufort, and other mechanics will go to Fort Fisher in a day or two. On this point I have informed you by telegraph.
U. S. GRANT,
Previous to giving these instructions I had visited Fort Fisher, accompanied by General Schofield, for the purpose of seeing for myself the condition of things, and personally conferring with General Terry and Admiral Porter as to what was best to be done.
Anticipating the arrival of General Sherman at Savannah-his army entirely foot-loose, Hood being then before Nashville, Tenn., the Southern railroad destroyed, so that it would take several months to re-establish a through line from west ot east, and regarding the capture of Lee's army as the most important operation toward closing the rebellion-I sent orders to General Sherman, on the 6th of December, that after establishing a base on the sea-coast, with necessary garrison, to include all his artillery and cavalry, to come by water to City Point with the balance of his command.* On the 18th of December, having received information of the defeat and utter rout of Hood's army by General Thomas, and that, owing ot the great difficulty of procuring ocean transportation, it would take over two months to transport Sherman's army, and doubting whether he might not contribute as much toward the desired result by operating from where he was, I wrote t him to that effect and asked him for his views as to what would be best to do.*
A few days after this I received a communication from General Sherman, of date 16th December,* acknowledging the receipt of my order of the 6th, and informing me of his preparations to carry it into effect as soon as he could get transportation; also, that he had expected, upon reducing Savannah, instantly to march to Columbia, S. C., thence to Raleigh and thence to report to me; but that this would consume about six week's time after the fall of Savannah, whereas by sea he could probably reach me by the middle of January. The confidence he manifested in this letter of being able to march up and join me pleased me, and without waiting for a reply to my letter of the 18th I directed him, on the 28th [27th*] of December, to make preparations to start, as he proposed without delay to break up the railroads in North and South Carolina and join the armies operating against Richmond as soon as he could.
On the 21st of January I informed General Sherman that I had ordered the Twenty-third Corps, Major-General Schofield commanding East; that it numbered about 21,000 men; that we had at Fort Fisher about 8,000 men, at New Berne about 4,000; that if Wilmington was
*See Vol. XLIV, pp. 636, 740, 726, and 820, respectively.