War of the Rebellion: Serial 103 Page 0371 WILSON'S RAID - ALABAMA AND GEORGIA.

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or reliable information as to its extent or the probable course that would be adopted by the rebel Government. I assumed, however, that they would either endeavor to concentrate their forces in North Carolina and make further head against our armies, or that they would disband and endeavor to save themselves by flight. In either case it was clearly the duty of my command to close in upon them on the line upon which it was moving, with the greatest possible rapidity, so as to join in the final and decisive struggle, or to assist in the capture of such important persons as might seek safety in flight. Accordingly our march from Montgomery to Macon, a distance of 235 miles, was made in less than six days, and included the passage of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers, and the capture of the two fortified towns of Columbus and West Point. In order to cover the widest possible front of operations, and to obtain such information in regard to rebel movements as might enable us to act advisedly, detachments were sent off to the right and left of the main column. At Macon we were arrested by the armistice concluded between Generals Sherman and Johnston, though not until the city had fallen into our possession. During my conference with Generals Cobb and G. W. Smith, on the evening of the 20th, I received the first reliable information in regard to Lee's surrender and the course of events in Virginia.

The situation of my command was peculiar. Originally organized as a corps under General Sherman, the commanding general of the Military Division of the Mississippi, and not having been transferred, it still formed a legitimate part of his command, wherever he might be. General Sherman, with the main body of his army, was at that time in North Carolina moving northward. Before leaving North Alabama he had instructed me to report with my entire corps, except Kilpatrick's division, to Major General George H. Thomas, to assist in the operations against Hood. It was the intention of General Sherman, however, as developed in frequent conversations with me while lying at Gaylesville, Ala., in October, 1864, that, as soon as Hood could be disposed of, and my command could be reorganized and remounted, I should gather together every man and horse that could be made fit for service and march through the richer parts of Alabama and Georgia for the purpose of destroying the railroad communications and supplies of the rebels, and bringing my command into the theater of operations toward which all our great armies were moving. In the campaign terminating at Macon I had actually moved under the direct instructions of General Thomas, but with the "amplest latitude of an independent commander," transmitted through him from General Grant in person. I found myself cut off from all communication with these generals, but liable to receive orders from either or all of them, and from the Secretary of War in addition. My first duty was clearly to take care of the public interests and to reconcile orders afterward, should they come in conflicting terms from different directions. In anticipation of a final break-up of the rebel forces, I had already determined to keep a sharp lookout for Davis and the leading rebel authorities. As soon as I became satisfied be reliable instructions from General Sherman that he had actually concluded an armistice, and intended it to apply to my command, I felt bound to observe it, but only upon the condition that the rebels should also comply with its provisions in equal good faith. One of those provisions was, that neither party should make any changes in the station of troops during the continuance of the armistice. My command while remaining in camp was therefore kept on the alert, and ready to move in my direction. Having heard from citizens, however,