back to Morehead City and Wilmington, I can easily take Raleigh, when it seems that Lee must come out of his trenches or allow his army to be absolutely invested. If Schofield comes to Beaufort he should be pushed out to Kinston on the Neuse, and may be Goldsborough, or rather a point on the Wilmington road south of Goldsborough. It is not necessary to storm Goldsborough, because it is in a distant region of no importance in itself, and if its garrison is forced to draw supplies from its north it will be eating up the same stores on which Lee depends for his command. I have no doubt Hood will bring his army to Augusta, and Canby and Thomas should penetrate Alabama as far as possible to keep employed, at least, a part of Hood's Army, or what would accomplish the same thing, Thomas might reoccupy the railroad from Chattanooga forward to the Etowah, viz, Rome, Kingston, and Allatoona, thereby threatening Georgia. I know that the Georgia troops are disaffected. At Savannah I met delegates from several counties to the southwest that manifested a decidedly hostile spirit to the Confederate cause. I nursed it along as far as possible and instructed Grover to keep it up. My Left Wing must now be at Sister's Ferry, crossing the Savannah River to the east bank. Slocum has orders to be at Robertsville to-morrow, prepared to move on Barnwell. Howard is here, all ready to start for the Augusta railroad at Midway.
We find the enemy on the east side of the Salkehatchie and cavalry in our front, but all give ground on our approach, and seem to be merely watching us. If I start on Tuesday, in one week I will be near Orangeburg, having broken up the Augusta road, from the Edisto westward twenty or twenty-five miles. I will be sure that every rail is twisted. Should I encounter too much opposition near Orangeburg, then I will for a time neglect that branch and rapidly move on Columbia and fill up the triangle formed by the Congaree and Wateree, tributaries of the Santee, breaking up that great center of the Carolina roads. Up to that point I feel full confidence, but from there I may have to maneuver some, and will be guided by the questions of weather and supplies. You remember I had fine weather all February for my Meridian trip, and my memory of the weather at Charleston is that February is usually a fine month. Before the March storms come I should be within striking distance of the coast. The months of April and May will be the best for operations from Goldsborough to Raleigh and the Roanoke. You may rest assured that I will keep my troops well in hand, and if I get worsted will aim to make the enemy pay so dearly that you will have less to do. I know this trip is necessary to the war. It must be made sooner or later, and I am on time and in the right position for it. My army is large enough for the purpose, and I ask no re-enforcement, but simply wish the utmost activity at all other points, so that concentration against me may not be universal.
I expect Davis will move Heaven and earth to catch me, for success to my column is fatal to his dream of empire. Richmond is not more vital to his cause than Columbia and the heart of South Carolina. If Thomas will not move on Selma, order him to occupy Rome, Kingston, and Allatoona, and again threaten Georgia in the direction of Athens. I think the poor white trash of the South are falling out of their ranks by sickness, desertion, and every available means; but there is a large class of vindictive Southerners who will fight to the last. The squabbles in Richmond, the howls in Charleston, and the disintegration elsewhere are all good omens to us, but we must not relax one iota, but on the contrary pile up our efforts.