HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, April 18, 1865 - 9. 30 p. m.
Major Hitchcock leaves here in an hour for Washington with dispatches of great importance. Have the most fleet steamer you can obtain ready on his arrival to take him direct to Washington, and return subject to his orders. He will telegraph you from Goldsboreough and New Berne, and you can caltulate the time you will have, but he must not be delayed a minute.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON,
CHAPEL HILL, N. C., April 18, 1865.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN,
Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:
GENERAL: In a hastily written communication addressed to Governor Graham on the 8th instant, which led to our visit to your headquarters on the 12th, I had occasion to remark that since the organization of our State government in 1776 North Carolina had never passed through so severe an ordeal as that in the midst of which we are at present. Unless something can be done to prevent suffering, private, death on the battle-field, death in the most horrible of all forms, the slow and ligering death of famine, is imminent to thousands - not only men, but helpless women and children. The statement was not overdrawn then, but has been rendered more emphatically true by subsequent events. On my return to this village on Saturday morning, the 15th instant, I found that General Wheeler with his division of cavalry had been encamped here for two or three days. He resumed his march the next day (Sunday), leaving the country in his rear denunded of every spieces of forage to a great extent, and taking with him a number of horses and mules. General Atkins arrived with his brigade, contituting a part of General Kilpatrick's division, on Monday morning, and is in camp here at present. I have had repeated interviews with General Atkins, and take pleasure in stating that he manifests every disposition to execute his orders with all the forbearance compatible with the proper discharge of his duty. Many worthy families are, nevertheless, represented to me, on evidence the accuracy of which I cannot doubt, to be stripped of the necessary means of subsistence for man and beast. A Baptist clergyman, a most estimable, useful, and charitable citizen, and the most extensive farmer within a circle of three miles, is almost entirely destitute of provisions for man and beast, and with a family of about fifty persons (white and colored) has not a single horse or mules. Other instances not less striking of persons in more humble circumstances are supposed to exist. I refer particularly to the case of Mr. Purefoy (above) because he has been my very near neighbor for about thirty years, and I hold him in the highest estimation. He, like nmany others, is not only without the present means of subsistence, but unless his horses and mules can be restored or replaced can make no provisions for the future. The delay of a few days only may render it impossible to plant corn in proper time. I am satisfied from my own knowledge of your character and the impressions made upon me during our recent interview that you have no disposition to add to the horrailing yourself of the utmost