brigade of John E. Smith, one division of the Fifteenth Corps (Corse's), and all of the Fourteenth Corps, General Davis. All were ordered to move up the west bank of the Savannah to cross at Sister's Ferry, but the rains have so flooded the country that we have been brought to a standstill; but I will persevere and get the army as soon as possible up to the line from Sister's Ferry to Pocotaligo, where we will have terra firma to work on. Our supplies have come daily, that is, we have never had four days' forage ahead, but I will depend on enough coming to get me out to the neighborhood of Barnwell, where we will find some.
General Grover's division now occupies Savannah, which I had refortified, and I have turned over everything to General Foster, so that nothing now hinders me but water. I rather think the heavy rains in January will give us good weather in February and March. You cannot do much in Virginia till April or May, and when I am at Goldsborough and move against Raleigh, Lee will be forced to divide his command or give up Richmond.
I am rejoiced that Terry took Fisher, because it silences Butler, who was to you a dangerous man. His address* to his troops on being relieved was a direct, mean, and malicious attack on you, and I admired the patience and skill by which you relieved yourself and the country of him. If you want some new and fresh men, able to handle large armies, I will offer you Charles R. Woods, Hazen, and Mower, all good and capable officers for an army of any size. Of course, I prefer to have them myself, but would give them up if you can do better by them.
As soon as possible, if I were in your place, I would break up the Department of the James, make the Richmond army one; then when I get to Goldsborough you will have a force to watch Lee, and I can be directed to gradually close in, cutting all communications. In the meantime Thomas' Army should not be reduced too much, but he should hold Chattanooga, Decatur, and Eastport, collect supplies, and in aMarch move on Tuscaloosa, Selma, Montgomery, and back to Rome, Ga., when he could be met from Chattanooga.
I take if for granted that Beauregard will bring, as fast as he can, such part of Hood's army as can be moved over to Augusta to hit me in flank as I swing round Charleston. To cover the withdrawal Forrest will be left in Mississippi and West Tennessee, to divert attention by threatening the boats on the Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers. This should be disregarded and Thomas should break through the shell, expose the thick, and prevent the planting of corn this spring in Middle Alabama. The people of Georgia, like those of Mississippi, are worn out with care, but they are so afraid of their own leaders that they fear to organize for positive resistance. Their motives of "honor" and "fair play" are, that by abandoning the cause now they would be construed as "mean" for leaving their commands in the scrape. I have met the overtures of the people frankly, and given them the best advice I knew how.
I inclose copies of orders issued for the guidance of General Foster and other officers on this coast. + These orders are made on conference with the Secretary of War.
I have been told that Congress meditates a bill to make another lieutenant-general for me. I have written to John Sherman to stop it, if it is designed for me. It would be mischievous, for there are enough
*See Vol. XLVI, Part II, p. 70.
+See Special Field Orders, Nos. 13, 15, 18 and 19, pp. 52, 60, 81, 90.