Today in History:

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


for the surrender of arms and paroling of prisoners made by General Johnston's capitulation of April 26, and had properly and most opportunely ordered General Gillmore to occupy Orangeburg and Augusta, strategic points of great value at all times, in peace or war; but as the Secretary had taken upon himself to order my subordinate generals to disobey my "orders," I explained to General Gillmore that I would no longer confuse him or General Wilson with "orders" that might conflict with those of the Secretary, which, as reported, were sent, not through me, but in open disregard of me and of my lawful authority.

It now becomes my duty to paint, in justly severe character, the still more offensive and dangerous matter of General Halleck's dispatch of April 26 to the Secretary of War, embodied in his to General Dix of April 27.

General Halleck had been chief of staff of the Army at Washington, in which capacity he received my official letter of April 18,* wherein I wrote clearly that if Johnston's army about Greensborough were "pushed" it would "disperse," an event I wished to prevent. About that time he seems to have been sent from Washington to Richmond to command the news Military Division of the James, in af which, on the 22d, he defines the limits of his authority to be the "Department of Virginia, the Army of the Potomac, and such part of North Carolina as may not be occupied by the command of Major-General Sherman. " (See his General Orders, Numbers 1.)+ Four days later, April 26, he reports to the Secretary that he has ordered Generals Meade, Sheridan, and Wright to invade that part of North Carolina which was occupied by my command, and pay "no regard to any truce or orders of" mine. They were ordered to "push forward, regardless of any orders, save those of Lieutenant-General Grant, and cut off Johnston's retreat. " He knew at the time he penned that dispatch and made those orders that Johnston was not retreating, but was halted under a forty-eight hours' truce with me, and was laboring to surrender his command and prevent its dispersion into guerrilla bands, and that I had on the spot a magnificent army at my command, amply sufficient for all purposes required by the occasion.

The plan of cutting off a retreat from the direction of Burkeville and Danville is hardly worthy one of his military education and genius. When he contemplated an act so questionable as the violation of a "truce" made by competent authority within his sphere of command, he should have gone himself and not have sent subordinates, for he knew I was bound in honor to defend and maintain my own truce and pledge of faith, even at the cost of many lives.

When an officer pledges the faith of his Government he is bound to defend it, and he is no soldier who would violate it knowingly.

As to Davis and his stolen treasure, did General Halleck, as chief of staff or commanding officer of the neighboring military division, notify me of the facts contained in his dispatch to the Secretary? No, he did not. If the Secretary of War wanted Davis caught, why not order it, instead of, by publishing in the newspapers, putting him on his guard to hide away and escape? No orders or instructions to catch Davis or his stolen treasure ever came to me; but, on the contrary, I was led to believe that the Secretary of War rather preferred he should effect an escape from the country if made "unknown" to him. But even on this point I inclose a copy of my letter to Admiral Dahlgren, at Charleston, sent him by a fleet steamer from Wilmington on the 25th of April, two


*See Sherman to Rawlins, May 30, p. 42.

+See Vol. XLVI, Part III, p. 891.