Today in History:

1057 Series I Volume XLVII-I Serial 98 - Columbia Part I


On the 21st heavy skirmishing was renewed on the whole front. At noon, by throwing forward Stewarts and Taliaferros skirmishers, it was found that the enemy had drawn back his left and intrenched it, as if to cover a march toward Goldsborough. During the afternoon the firing was very brisk on MeLaws and Hokes lines, and about 4 oclock the Seventeenth Corps penetrated the thin line of cavalry forming our extreme left, and moved upon Bentonville. Lieutenant-General Hardee, (letached to that point with the reserves, met it iu front with Cum- mings (Georgia) brigade, the only infantry up, while cavalry, directed by LieutenantGeneral Hampton and MajorGeneral Wheeler, was thrown upon its flanks. By these combined attacks this corps was proniptly driven back. In this affair Cumnmings brigade, under Colonel Henderson, and the Eighth Texas Cavalry, distinguished themselves. In the latter General Hardees son, a very promising youth of sixteen, fell mortally wounded when gallantly charging in the foremost rank. Finding during the imight-that Schofield had reached Goldsborough and that Sherman was moving toward Coxs Bridge, and that all onr wounded that could bear transportation had been removed, on the 22d we moved to the neighborhood of Smithfield, encamping south of the Nense. We took about 15,000 men into action on the 19th. The enemys force before 6 oclock was above 20,000, then increased by about 10,000. Ott the 20th and 21st the whole army was before us, amounting to near 44,000, including losses. But for the thickets which impeded our movements we should undoubtedly have beaten the Fourteenth and Twentieth Corps before 5 oclock. I expected to use our cavalry on the enemys left, but the character of the country is such that Lieutenant- General Hampton could not bring it into action. Our loss is found to be greater than that first reported. It amounted in the three days to 224 killed, 1,470 wounded, and about 600 missing. Some of the latter skulked to the rear; most of them, h ow~ver, were captured by separating late in the afternoon from parties which pene- trated the enemys line in the thickets in which it lay. The Federal loss conld not be estimated, as it was greatest in the thick woods in which the action of the 19th terminated, and in front of our breast- works on the 20th and 21st. It certainly exceeded ours greatly. The moral effect of these operations has been very beneficial. The spirit of the army is greatly improved and is now excellent. I am informed by persons of high standing that a similar effect is felt in the country. Most respectfully, your obedient servant, J. E. JOHNSTON, General. General 11. E. LEE, General-in- (JhieJ. A DDENDA. NEAR SMITHFIELD, March 27, 1865. GENERAL: I have the honor to transmit for your information a rough field return of this army: On the 17th General Bragg had Infantry 4~ 775 Artillery - - - - 782 On the same day Lieutenant-General Stewart had, infantry 3, 956 On the morning of the 19th Lieutenant-General Hardee had, infantry 5, 400 Total 14, 913 67 E HVOL XLVII, PT I