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18 Series I Volume XLVII-I Serial 98 - Columbia Part I

Page 18 OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA. Chapter LIX.

In the meantime General Grant had sent me Grover's division, of the Nineteenth Corps, to garrison Savannah, and had drawn the Twenty-third Corps, Major-General Schofield, from Tennessee, and sent it to re-enforce the commands of Major-Generals Terry and Palmer, operating on the coast of North Carolina, to prepare the way for my coming.

On the 18th of January I transferred the forts and city of Savannah to Major-General Foster, commanding the Department of the south, imparted to him my plans of operations, and instructed him how to follow my movements inland by occupying in succession the city of Charleston and such other points along the sea-coast as would be of any military value to us. The combined naval and land forces under Admiral Porter and General T Gerry had on the 15th of January captured Fort Fisher and the rebel forts at the mouth of cape Fear River, giving me an additional point of security on the sea-coast. But I had already resolved in my own mind, and had so advised General Grant, that I would undertake at one stride to make Goldsborough, and open communication with the sea by the New Berne railroad, and had ordered Colonel W. W. Wright, superintendent of military railroads, to proceed in advance to New Berne, and to be prepared to extend the railroad out from New Berne to Goldsborough by the 15th of March.

On the 19th of January all preparations were complete and the orders of march given. My chief quartermaster and commissary, Generals Easton and Beckwith, were ordered to complete the supplies at Sister's Ferry and Pocotaligo, and then to follow our movement coastwise, looking for my arrival at Goldsborough, N. C., about March 15, and opening communication with me from Morehead City.

On the 22nd of January I embarked at Savannah for Hilton Head, where I held a conference with Admiral Dahlgren, U. S. Navy, and Major-General Foster, commanding the Department of the South, and next day proceeded to Beaufort, riding out thence on the 24th to Pocotaligo, where the Seventeenth Corps, Major-General Blair, was encamped. The Fifteenth Corps was somewhat scattered--Woods' and Hazen's divisions at Beaufort, John E. Smith marching from Savannah by the coast road, and Corse still at Savannah, cut off by the storms and freshet in the river. On the 25th a demonstration was made against the Combahee Ferry and railroad bridge across the Salkehatchie, merely to amuse the enemy, who had evidently adopted that river as his defensive line against our supposed objective, the city of Charleston. I reconnoitered the line in person, and saw that the heavy rains had swollen the river so that water stood in the swamps for a breadth of more than a mile, at a depth of from one to twenty feet. Not having the remotest intention of approaching Charleston, a comparatively small force was able, by seeming preparations to cross over, to keep in their front a considerable force of the enemy disposed to contest our advance on Charleston. On the 27th I rode to the camp of General Hatch's division, of Foster's command, on the Tullifinny and Coosawhatchie Rivers, and directed those places to be evacuated, as no longer of any use to us. That division was then moved to Pocotaligo to keep up the feints already begun, until we should with the Right Wing move higher up and cross the Salkehatchie about Rivers' or Broxton's Bridge.

On the 29th I learned that the roads back of Savannah had at last become sufficiently free of the flood to admit of General Slocum putting his wing in motion, and that he was already approaching Sister's Ferry, whither a gun-boat, the Pontiac, Captain Luce, kindly furnished by Admiral Dahlgren, had preceded him to cover the crossing. In the meantime three divisions of the Fifteenth Corps had closed up at Pocotaligo,

Page 18 OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA. Chapter LIX.