I would ere this have been off, but we had terrific rains which caught me in motion and nearly drowned some of my columns in the rice fields of the Savannah, swept away our causeway, which had been carefully corduroyed, and made the swamps hereabout mere lakes of slimy mud, but the weather is now good and I have my army on terra firma. Supplies, too, came for a long time by daily driblets instead of in bulk; but this is now all remedied, and I hope to start on Tuesday.
I will issue instructions to Foster, based on the re-enforcements of North Carolina, and if Schofield comes you had better relieve Foster, who cannot take the field, and needs an operation on his leg, and let Schofield take command with headquarters at Beaufort, N. C., and orders to secure, if possible, Goldsborough, with railroad confections back to Beaufort and Wilmington. If Lee lets us get that position he is gone up.
I will start with my Atlanta Army, 60,000; supplied as before and depending on the country for all in excess of thirty days. I will have less cattle on the hoof, but I hear of hogs, cows and calves in Barnwell and the Columbia Districts; even here we found some forage. Of course the enemy will carry off and destroy some forage but I will burn the houses where the people burn forage and they will get tired of that.
I must risk Hood, and trust to you to hold lee, or be on his heels if he comes south. I observe that the enemy has some respect for my men, for they gave up Pocotaligo quick when they heard that the attacking force belonged to me. I will try and keep up that feeling, which is a real power.
With respect, your friend.
W. T. SHERMAN,
I leave my Chief quartermaster and commissary behind to follow coastwise.
FLAG-SHIP HARVEST MOON,
Port Royal, January 25, 1865.
General SHERMAN, Commanding, &c.:
DEAR GENERAL: I was very glad to hear by your note of the 27th, just received, that everything was going so much to your satisfaction. I wish I could say so for myself, but first the Patapsco would be blown up by a torpedo, and now the Dai Ching gets foul of a battery, gets aground, can't get off, and is destroyed. One thing was right, she was defended for seven hours and abandoned to the flames only when her pivot gun was disabled by a shot. All the officers and men brought off but four captured in a boat by pickets, so the rebels did not gain much. A contraband from Charleston says they have drawn off nearly all the troops from about the city toward Branchville, where they look for "Mr. Sherman. " I had no gun-boat to replace the Dai Ching in the Combahee, and sent the Pawnee from the Ashepoo to North Edisto, because I understood General Foster that he was sending a detachment there fora diversion. The Sonoma was there already. Very sorry, general, that I cannot do any more for you, but the consolation is that you do not need it. The cipher is all right, and its Chief merit seems to me that when once written it may be inscrutable to everybody.
With my heartiest wishes, dear general, I am, most truly, yours,
J. A. DAHLGREN.
P. S. -When you get to Richmond I wish to be there, for I have yet to bury my boy.