HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, Chesterfield, S. C., March 3, 1865-6 a. m.
(Received 7. 45 p. m.)
General F. P. BLAIR,
Commanding Seventeenth Corps:
GENERAL: Your messenger with copies of General Howard's letter and your reply is received. I trust you have marched in accordance with your reply to the general, but if not, do so at once, for this corps is near enough in support, and report to General Howard your action and my orders. I expect to see you soon, and will explain my reasons and information. Don't break the railroad bridge across Thompson's Creek, as it will be useful to Howard, but tap the railroad below Cheraw at any point convenient other than that of Thompson's Creek. We hold Chesterfield, and one of the bridges, viz, that on the Wadesborough road, but the enemy burned the other on the Cheraw road, two miles out, where Jackson's division is now repairing.
Have your pontoons at the head of column, or enough for 150 feet of bridge. Feign at several points, but cross at one. We will operate north of Thompson's Creek. If you get a chance let Mower and Force do some of their sharp, quick work. I hardly hope to save the big bridge across the Pedee at Cheraw, but it is worth the effort. Once start the enemy, keep him going, and force him across Pedee, or rather up the plank road on this side. Let us hear your artillery occasionally, but don't waste ammunition. When you get the forks of the road below Thompson's Creek send me word here. Send this to General Howard as explanation for your advance, and I want him up as soon as he can get all up in good shape. As soon as you have got both banks of Thompson's Creek, set the engineer regiment at work on the bridge, unless the banks are low and favorable to pontoons; but we will want the pontoons before are done with the Thompson's Creek bridge. I take it for granted the enemy will burn the road bridge, but think he will spare the railroad bridge. Cheraw is full of hospitals, but not much stores. Hardee is there, but Hampton is not. We encountered Butler's cavalry here, but they gave to a skirmish line. SHERMAN,
HEADQUARTERS SEVENTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Cheraw, S. C., March 3, 1865.
Major L. M. DAYTON,
Asst. Adjt. General, Military Division of the Mississippi:
MAJOR: I have the honor to report that my advance entered this town about 12 m., having skirmished with the enemy's cavalry for seven miles. I endeavored to save the bridge on the Pedee by pushing forward my skirmish line rapidly as possible, but just as the men reached it, it was fired at the other end, and, being prepared with rosin, the flame spread like lighting, and it was comletely destroyed. I shall lay my pontoon to-night if possible. The enemy are in some force on the other side. I found in the city twenty-four pieces of artillery, heavy and light, and a large amount of ammunition. The commissary stores were in the depot and fired by the enemy before leaving.
FRANK P. BLAIR, JR.,