WASHINGTON, D. C., March 12, 1865-3. 30 p. m.
(Via New York.)
General Grant directs me to say that the second brigade of Grover's division should be sent to Wilmington unless you learn that Sherman strikes the coast south of that point, in which case they will join him wherever he may be. It is General Grant's wish that no points in the Department of the South be garrisoned which you do not deem it essential to defend. No active operations are contemplated in that quarter. Your duty is simply defensive.
H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General and Chief of Staff.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, Fayetteville, N. C., March 12, 1865.
Commanding Department of the South, Charleston:
GENERAL: We reached this place yesterday without opposition. Our march was exactly as I expected, and its fruits all I could have asked for. We have destroyed vast magazines at Columbia, Cheraw, and here, and have destroyed effectually the railroad system of South Carolina. From Cheraw I sent a small cavalry force to Florence, but it found a force of infantry and cavalry more than it could master and had to return, breaking only the railroad trestles down as far as Darlington. The enemy still has much railroad stock and munitions on the track about Sumtervelle and Florence, and if you can make up a force of 2,500 men out of your Charleston and Savannah garrisons I want you to reach that road and destroy everything possible and exhaust the country of supplies. The best points of departure are Georgetown and the Santee bridge. I think Admiral Dahlgren could send some light gun-boats up the Santee, but don't know enough about the bar; but the distance from Georgetown does not exceed sixty miles, and we look on sixty miles as a pleasant excursion. As soon as you accomplish this reduce your garrisons at Savannah and Charleston to the minimum and re-enforce the movement on Goldsborough, which is the real objective now. I expect to be there in ten days. My army is in splendid health and condition, and we have had no battle involving more than a single brigade or division at a tim. Our foragers have had plenty of fighting on a limited scale, and have gathered more bacon, chickens, turkeys, and corn meal than I believed was in the country. We are now only short of bread, sugar, and coffee, but our men have been so much in the mud and water that shoes and stockings are scarce. Send to Goldsborough via New Berne all the clothing you can spare.
I am, truly, your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN,