the road from Cox's Bridge to Wilmington. By to-night I will know if Joe Johnston intends to fight me in force, when I will communicate further. Until you know the result, you and General Schofield should work up to my support, south of the Neuse.
W. T. SHERMAN,
P. S. -Send that cavalry regiment through to me via the Bentonville road. We hold the bridge over Falling Creek.
W. T. S.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, near Bentonville, N. C., March 20, 1865-9 p. m.
GENERAL: We struck Johnston on his left rear to-day, and have been skirmishing pretty hard all day. We have opened communication with General Slocum, who had a hard fight yesterday. We are now ready for battle if Johnston desires it to-morrow, but as he has failed to overcome one wing he will hardly invite battle with both. I don't want to fight now or here, and therefore won't object to his drawing off to-night toward Smitfield, as he should. General Schofield moves to-day from Kinston for Goldsborough, and I wish you to go to Cox's, to which point I will send a pontoon train if I conclude to lay a bridge there. The north side of Neuse will afford us good foraging ground, and will be a direct threat to Smithfield and the rear of Johnston's army now to my front. I may have to send all my empty wagons to Kinston for clothing and supplies, but you would do well to have the railroad from Wilmington repaired up to the Neuse and you can draw supplies up that road. If Johnston insists on fighting us here I may call you up, but if he goes I will drop down to Goldsborough, put you about Faison's or Mount Olive and General Schofield at Kinston until we are resupplied and equipped for the next campaign. This will feed your men until the roads are equipped, but it is wenderfull how necessity develops the searching qualities of soldiers. My men seem to keep fat and healthy on parched corn and bacon. Have both bridges over Falling Water put in good order and tell General Schofield to repair at once the road bridge across the Neuse at Goldsborough. The railroad bridge will be built by Colonel Wright with his railroad gang. I do hope we will have some fine weather, as rain makes these roads terrible.
W. T. SHERMAN,
HEADQUARTERS PROVISIONAL ARMY CORPS,
Faison's Depot, March 20, 1865.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN,
Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:
GENERAL: I forward inclosed cipher dispatches received at Wilmington just before I left there. There was no cipher operator there,