HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,
Hilton Head, S. C., January 21, 1865.
Confidential instructions to Major General A. H. Terry, or the Commanding Officer U. S. Forces, Wilmington, N. C.
General Sherman's plans contemplated a devastating march through South Carolina and into North Carolina. He will draw his supplies from the coast, receiving them by different rivers in South Carolina, and when he arrives in North Carolina, from Wilmington and from New Berne. His army has now commenced moving. Full and definite instructions have been given to general Palmer, at New Berne. Less definite instructions are given to you, because it is not certain that Wilmington may be taken at the time General Sherman arrives in North Carolina, and also that you be prepared to take efficient independent action. What I wish attained by this information is a vigilant watch for General Sherman's appearance in your vicinity about the 15th of February, and as great a preparation on your part for the purpose of aiding him. The supplies for his army will come from here in transports loaded for the purpose. There are many things, however, which you can do to facilitate the transmission of these supplies to his army when it arrives. These preparations should have in view the fact that his army numbers 70,000 men and 40,000 animals. If Wilmington be taken you will occupy as much of the railroad toward Manchester as possible, and guard as many of the bridges in that direction as you can. In fact, the same order holds good in regard to the Goldsborough railroad and the railroad through Lumberton and Rockingham toward Charlotte. If Wilmington be not taken of course you can do nothing of this kind, but must be on the watch and ready to act when required. The utmost secrecy must be observed in regard to this. The enemy may suspect the locality of General Sherman's route, but nothing should transpire to lead themon as to his real objects or the points at which he is to get supplies.
Relying upon your discretion in this matter, I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. G. FOSTER,
HILTON HEAD, January 22, 1865.
I am at Hilton Head. Will be up to-morrow. My staff and horses on the steamer Coit will be up in an hour. Let some officer look out for their comfort, as I want the boat to return to Savannah early to-morrow to bring another load. I have ordered the balance of John E. Smith's division and Logan's headquarters to come to you by water. Corse will come by Sister's Ferry. I will be up to-morrow.