|Chapter LIX]THE CAMPAIGN OF THE CAROLINAS.
RALEIEm, March 11, 1865. GENERAL: Lieutenant-General Hardee, then at Fayetteville, informed by telegraph last night that General Shermans army was within seven miles of the place; that he would cross the river during the night, and Lieutenant-General Hampton this morning. The closing of the tele- graph office has indicated the evacuation of the place. General Bragg rel)orted at the same time that he had not dislodged the enemy from the position which he took after the action of the 8th, the strength of the intrenched position and re-enforcements to the enemy making it impracticable. A strong body of troops was also marching by the coast road to join Coxs command. He is, therefore, falling back, instructed to halt at Goldsb3rough. It seems to me probable that General Sher- man intends to unite the troops near Kinston with his own army. If he moves toward Goldsborough for this object, I hope to be able to concentrato our forces there to attack Cox. By the slow working of the railroad the Tennessee troops are not all up yet, although the movement commenced eight days ago. Should the Federal army move upon Raleigh from Fayetteville, the course of the Cape Fear might conceal his movements to within thirty miles of the place, and prevent my meeting it near the river, where its columns are most likely to be separated. Generals Holmes and Gatlin tell me that the country between Raleigh and Clarksville will sustain no considerable body of troops, and that to reach the Roanoke it would be necessary to directour march at least as low on the river as Gaston. The chief commissary, however, reports the country along most of the route to Clarksville abundant. I think that my course ought to depend much upon your situation. In a battle with Sherman on equal ground the chances would be decidedly against us. Hardees troops have seen little real service, and have among the superior officers few who have shown them- selves competent to their grades. Their present organization is new, made when Charleston was evacuated. The Army of Tennessee is represented to be in great need of reorganization. Their best general officers were lost at Franklin and Nashville. Lieutenant-General Hardees force at Cheraw was, includ- ing 1,000 South Carolina reserves and militia, about 10,000. There have been many deserters since. General Bragg estimated his at about 7,000. His loss was about 500 in the recent engagement. Gen- eral Beauregard estimated the effective total of the Army of Ten- nessee at 6,700. Our cavalry is better and more numerous than that of the enemy, and is undcr a much abler commander. The Federal army is supposed by our officers to amount to 45,000. I have no other means of estimating its strength. Under such circumstances I will not give battle to Shermans united army unless your situation may require such a course; but will if I can find it divided. Of this please advise me. I need not say that your opinions will have a control equal to that of your official authority. Should Sherman and Coxunite, their march into Virginia cannot be prevented by iue. In that event, if I understand your letter of February 23, you will meet us at the southern edge of Virginia to give battle. Would it be practicable, instead, to hold one of the inner lines of Richmond with one part of your army, and meet Sherman with the other, returning to Richmond after figlmting%~ I should be glad to know as much as you think it pru- dent to communicate of the effect upon your position of the interrup- tion by the Federal army of the railroad by Raleigh. If the posses- sion of the road by Raleigh is necessary for the subsistence of your army, unless it is improper to ask, I should be glad to be informed. I beg
|THE CAMPAIGN OF THE CAROLINAS.