create the impression that my purpose is to swing down against Charleston by the peninsula between the Ashey and Cooper. I think 1,000 men, with the co-operation of the navy, will be sufficient to accomplish that end. At the same time, the command at Marris Island should feel the forces on James Island, either to detect the diminution of the enemy's forces there, or to compel the enemy to keep as many troops there, or to compel the enemy to keep as many troops there as possible.
I regard any attempt to enter Charleston Harbor by its direct channel or to carry it by storm or James Island as too hazardous to warrant the attempt. Therefore, and demonstrations in that quarter should be merely diversions, or to take advantage of anything they may neglect by reason of my appearance in their rear. After I have passed the Santee similar diversions should be made about Georgetown, and if the opportunity presents itself the fort there might be carried and dismantled; and I would like to have a good lookout kept by the navy for any boat or message I might send down the Santee or Pedee with a cipher dispatch. I have already furnished Admiral Dahlgren with the key, which is the same used by our telegraphic operations, a copy of which you had better procure at once from Washington through the War Department. In whatever you may do to aid me along the coast by diversions, I must leave you in a great measure to be guided by such information as reaches you from sources controlled by the enemy, of which you must be duly suspicious. But bearing in mind the foregoing, and knowing the strength and temper of my Army, you can arrive at a pretty fair conclusion. I take it for granted that Fort Fisher and Macon, on the North Carolina coast, will be held secure; and it would be well that you [give] to each commanding officer from time to time such instructions as will make them co-operate with the general movement to the extent of their power. I attach great importance to the point at New Berne, and think you had better send to that point an inspector-general.
Notify the commanding officer of the importance of the position, and if need be re-enforce him. Notify him further that the railroad from Morehead City to New Berne must be looked to with great care. I propose to send to New Berne an officer in whom I have great confidence, Colonel W. W. Wright, to examine the railroad, to ascertain the quantity of rolling-stock, and to convey there by the time I can arrive increased railroad stock and iron, with the necessary operatives to extend the road to Kinston and Goldsborough. But, as a matter of course, these preliminary preparations should be made so as to attract as Little attention as possible. In this connection I would caution you and beg you to caution others against the mischievous newspaper men, who would sacrifice the whole army for a Little personal notoriety. If any of them are about and likely to divulge so important a secret don't risk them, but imprison them till the time is past. At this moment we have learned the capture of Wilmington, which may modify matters somewhat, but the general principles above indicated will be still applicable and sufficient for your guidance. I would like to have you confer frequently with Admirals Dahlgren and Porter, apprise them of all movements, and call upon them for any assistance in the way of gun-boats, &c.
I am, with respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN,
7 R R-VOL XLVII, PT II.