Horace Greeley.

The American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 online

. (page 99 of 113)
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pitilessly reconsigned to Slavery, and
thus to their masters' vengeful wratL
Sherman made some little atonement
for this cruelty by assigning lands
on the Sea Islands, deserted by Reb-
els, to the Blacks who had followed
him to the coast.

The merit of Sherman's achieve-
ment is dwarfed to vulgar apprecia-
tion by circumstances which should
rather exalt it. It is true that Hood'a
movement on Nashville had with-
drawn the main obstacle from hm
path ; yet it was still possible to have
confronted him on the Oconee, and
then on the Ogeechee, with 30,000
men, one-third of them mounted; and
thus have compelled him to repeated
concentrations, assaults, and flank
marches, which might have exhaust-
ed his food if not his munitions, and
left him helpless while encircled by
foes and vast stretches of inhospita-
ble swamps and foresta The coun-
try, which yielded bounteous subsist-
ence to an army covering a breadth
of 40 miles and advancing from 10 to
20 miles per day, would have proved
utterly inadequate in the face of a foe
able to detain him a week at each
considerable river and drive in or cut

** QejL JeE 0. Davia appears to have been promine&t in this inhumanity.

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off liifi foraging parties; forcing back
Ilia cavalry on his infantry. Georgia
if^ras swiftly and cheaply traversed,
Bimply by reason of the admirable
dispositions which left the enemy in
cloubt as to his objective, and para-
lyzed, at Macon, Angusta, Savannah,
<firo., forces which should have been
concentrated to oppose his advance.

Sherman announced his crowning
triumph to President lincoln as fol-

**I beg to present yon, as a Oliristmas
(rift, the city of Savannah, with 160 heavy
jpnns and plenty of ammnnition, and also
about 25,000 bales of cotton.^'

The President responded as fol-

" ExEotmvB Mansion, )
** Washington, D. C, Dec. 26, 1864. J
<* 1£t Dear 6bn. Sherman :

**• Many, many thanks for yonr Christmas
gift — the capture of Savannah.

*' When you were about to leave Atlanta
for the Atlantic coast, I was anxiausy if not
fearful ; but, feeling that you were the bet-
ter judge, and remembering that * nothing
risked, nothing gained,* I did not interfere.
Now, the undertaking being a success, the
hoBor is all yours ; for I believe none of us
went further than to acquiesce. And, tak-
ing the work of Gen. Thomas into the ac-
count, as it should be taken, it is indeed a
great success.

" N'ot only does it afford the obvious and
immediate military advantages, but, in show-
ing to the world that your army could be
divided, putting the stronger part to an im-
portant new service, and yet leaving enough
to vanquish the old opposing forces of ti^e
whole — Hood's army — ^it brings those who
sat in darkness to see great light.

"Please make my grateful acknowledg-
ments to your whole army, officers and men.
" Yours, very truly, A. Lincoln."

Two separate expeditions were sent
out from the Mississippi to distract
the enemy's attention from Sherman,
and prevent a concentration against
hinu One of them, nnder Gen. Dana,
waa dispatched from Yicksborg ; en-
countering," on the Big Black, a

Rebel force which it defeated, afker
an obstinate fight; destroying several
miles of the railroad, including the
bridge, with locomotives, cars, cot-
ton, and valuable stores. The other,
under Gen. Davidson, moved simul-
taneously from Baton Rouge to Tan-
gipahoa, where it broke up the same
railroad, destroying bridges, &c. ;
pushing on to Franklinton and West
Pascagoula; meeting little resistance,
taking some prisoners, and causing
alarm for the safety of Mobile.

A third and more important
mounted expedition was dispatched **
by Gen. Dana from Memphis, 3,500
strong, led by Gen. Grierson, south-
efkstward through north Alabama to
Tupelo on the Mobile railroad, which
was thoroughly broken up southward
to Okolona; Col. Earge, by the way,
surprising " a Rebel camp at Verona^
dispersing the force holding it, cap-
turing 32 cars, 8 warehouses filled
with ordnance and supplies, which
were being loaded for Hood's army
on 200 wagons taken by Forrest from
Sturgis at Guntown. All were de-

• At Okolona^ Grierson intercepted"*
diq>atches from Dick Taylor, at Mo-
1>ile, promising reenforcements, which
deserters said would arrive at 11
A. M. next day. He decided, there-
fore, to attack at daylight, and did
so : the Rebels being intrenched at a
little station known as Egypt, with
4 guns on platform cars, and some
1,200 to 2,000 men- While the fight
was in progress, two trains came up
the road with reenforcements for the
enemy ; but Grierson interposed be-
tween these and his stationary jfoea,
repelling the former, and routing the
latter; capturing and destroying a

* Nov. 26.



•Dec. 21.

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train, taking 500 prisoners, and dis-
persing the force at Egypt. Among
their killed was Gen. Gholson.

Making feints in different direc-
tions, Grierson now moved south-
westward ; striking the Mississippi
Central at Winona, and tearing it up
for miles on either hand ; while the
4th Iowa pushed south to Bankston,
destroying there Confederate cloth
and shoe factories. Grierson moved
from Winona to Benton; where Col.
Osband engaged and defeated Col.
Wood's Rebel cavalry. The expedi-
tion made its way thence to Vicks-
burg with 500 prisoners, 800 beeves,
and 1,000 negroes ; having destroyed
inunense amounts of Rebel property,
most of it of great military value, in-
cluding 95 cars, 800 wagons, 30 full
warehouses, &c., with a total loss of
27 killed, 93 wounded, 7 missing.
Among its prisoners were 100 who
had been recruited from among our
men famishing in Rebel prison-camps,
who had taken this course to save
their lives.

Gen. Foster, commanding on the
Sea Islands, being directed by G^n.
Halleck to make a demonstration in-
land in behalf of Gen. Sherman, who
was expected near Pocotaligo at the
end of November, was enabled to
spare from his various garrisons but
6,000 men for this service. At the
head of this force, he ascended Broad
river on steamboats, landing" at
Boyd^sNeck; immediately pushing
out Gen. J. P. Hatch to seize the
Charleston and Savannah railroad
near Grahamsville. Hatch, missing
the way, failed to reach the railroad
that day, and was confronted, next
morning, by a strong Rebel force

intrenched on Honey hiH, covering
Grahamsville and the railroad. As-
saulting this, he was stoutly fought
and worsted, recoiling at nightfidl ;
having suffered a loss of 746 in killed,
wounded, and missing.

Foster now threw two brigades,
under Gen. E. E. Potter, across the
Coosawhatchie to Devaux Neck, be-
tween the two branches, of Broad
river, whence Potter advance<^ and
seized '• a position within cannon-shot
of the railroad, which he fortified and
held, while the rest of Foster's mov-
able column was brought up to his
support. Here, Foster received " his
first news of Sherman's appearance
before Savannah, and proceeded at
once to the Ogeechee to meet him.
By Sherman's direction, he held on
to his position ; and, after H^dee had
fled past to Charleston, he occupied
without resistance the Rebel works at
Pocotaligo, and at the railroad crosft-
ings of the Coosawhatchie and Tulli-
finny. Gen. Foster was preparing
to operate, under Sherman's orders,
against Charleston, when he was
relieved — because of his suffering
from an unhealed wound — ^by Gen.

Gen. Sherman remained over a
month at Savannah, resting and re*
fitting his army preparatory to fur-
ther and more arduous efforts. He
had intended to resumehisadvanceon
the 15th of January, 1865 ; at which
time, accordingly, the 17th corps.
Gen. F. P. Blair, was taken by water
around by Hilton Head to Poco-
taligo, whence it menaced Charbs-
ton ; as the left wing, Oten. Slocnm,
with Kilpatrick's cavalry, moTcd
up the Savannah to Sister's feny,

•Nov. 30.


"Dec 12.

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threatening an advance on Angnsta
— Gen. Sherman thus pnrsuing his
favorite strategy of dividing the ene-
my's forces and distracting his atten-
tion from his real objective, so as to
prevent a concentration to resist him
in the difficult, inhospitable region
throngh which his course lay.

Incessant rains, which flooded most
of the adjacent country, giving the
Savannah at Sister's ferry a surface
width of nearly three miles, submerg-
ing the causeway road, and breaking
up Gen. Slocum's pontoon-bridge,
compelled a delay of a fortnight ; dur-
ing which, Savannah was made over*'
to Gen. Foster: Gen. Grover's division
of the 19th corps having been sent
.by Gen. Grant to form its garrison.
Some feints were made from Poco-
taligo of an advance on Charleston ;
Foster's position between the Coo-
Bawhatchie and Tullifinny abandoned
as no longer of use ; and at length —
the flood having somewhat abated —
Sherman's whole army moved" nearly
northward ; Slocum, with Kilpatrick,
crossing the Savannah at Sister's ferry
or Purysburg, and moving on Bam-
well and Beaufort's bridge, threaten-
ing Augusta ; while the right wing,
keeping for some distance west of the
(Jombahee and Salkehatchie, should
cross at Eivers's and at Beaufort's
bridges and push rapidly for the
Edisto; thus flanking Charleston and
compelling its precipitate evacuation
by the enemy, after they should have
been kept paralyzed so long as might
be in apprehension of a siege.

Southern South Carolina is so in-
veterately and generally a swamp,
and was now so sodden and covered
with water, that the belief was com-
mon among her people that for an

army, with its trains, to traverse her
whole extent, from south-west to
north-east, in mid-winter, was a phy-
sical impossibility. Yet, to provide
against the chance of Sherman's prov-
ing able to overcome the resistance
of the elements. Gov. Magrath had,
by proclamation, summoned** to the
field as militia every White male in
the State between the ages of 16 and
60, not already in the service ; pro-
claiming that those who did not vol-
untarily come out should be forced
out, and that all former exemptions
would be disregarded.

Ample time had been afibrded for
felling her abundant trees across her
narrow roads — ^that being about the
last conspicuous service which her
slaves were constrained to render to
their masters. Wheeler's troopers
hovered around our advance, watch-
ing for chances ; while a brigade of
infantry lay beliind the Salkehatchie
at Eivers's bridge, prepared to dis-
pute its passage. This, however, was
brushed** aside by a turning move-
ment from below — ^to make which.
Mower's and G. A. Smith's divisions
of Blair's corps waded through a
swamp three miles wide, covered
with water, one to four feet deep —
the weather having become bitterly
cold — ^the two Generals wading at
the head of their men. Once over,
the Rebels were quickly driven off in
disorder, retreating behind the Edisto
at Branchville: our loss here being
18 killed and 70 wounded. Our in-
fantry pressed rapidly after them;
the enemy burning the bridges
over the Edisto while our men
broke up the South Carolina railroad
for many miles; and Kilpatrick,
skirmishing heavily with Wheeler,

' Jan. 18, 1865.

» Feb. L

' Dea 29, 1864.

' Feb. 3, 1865.

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moved by Barnwell and Blackville to
Aiken, threatening Augusta. Thus,
by the 11th, our whole army was on
the line of the railroad aforesaid,
tearing it up, and holding apart the
enemy's fcJrces covering Augusta on
one hand and Charleston on the other.

Our right was now directed on
Orangeburg ; the 17th corps crossing
the South Edisto at Binnaker's
bridge, while the 15th crossed at
Holman's bridge, farther up; the
two approaching at Poplar Spring :
the 17th moving swiftly on Orange-
burg bridge over the South Edisto,
and carrying it by a dash ; the enemy
trying to bumit with but partial suc-
cess. A battery was in position be-
hind it, covered by a parapet of cot-
ton and earth, with wings extending
fio far as could be seen. Blair con-
fronted it with G. A. Smith's divi-
sion, and sent his other two to a
point two miles below, where pon-
toons were quickly laid and Force's
division crossed; Mower's holding
the bridge as a support. When
Force emerged from the swamp on
the right flank of the Bebels at
Orangeburg, they gave way; when
Smith pushed over ; occupied their
works, repaired the bridge ; and by
4 p. M. the whole corpd was in and
around Orangeburg, tearing up the
railroad leading to Columbia ; press-
ing thence, so soon as possible, on that
metropolis, regardless of Branchville
or Charleston on their right ; as Sher-
man knew that, being thus flanked,
they must be abandoned rather than
run the obvious risk of losing the
troops by whom they were held.

The 15th corps was again resisted **
at tho crossing of the Congaree;
where the bridge was swept by the

guns of a substantial fort on the
north side, with a smaller work or
bridge-head on the south : the ap-
proach being over level, open ground,
covered with mud from the recent
inundation. Gen. Chas. E. Woods,
whose division had the advance,
turned the bridge-head by sending
up Stone's brigade through a cypress
swamp on the left ; when the enemy
decamped, after having fired but not
destroyed the bridge, which was
promptly repaired ; so that our giins
were brought over, and at night the
head of the column bivouacked near
the fine bridge over the Congaree
leading into Columbia, which was
fired and consumed as our van ap-
proached it next morning.

The left wing, nnder Slocum, had
found the crossing of the swollen
Savannah so difficult, that it was not
entirely clear of that river till the
7th ; but it had encountered thence-
forth very little resistance ; Wheeler's
cavalry being the only force that
infest^ its march, and this being
kept quite busy by Kilpatrick alone.
Augusta was ftdl of Bebel stores ;
and, in painful apprehension of a
visit from Sherman, was defended by
such Georgians as could be mustered
for militia ; but Sherman had no no-
tion of molesting or being molested
by them. The shattered remnant of
Hood's army — once more consigned
to Jo. Johnston — ^was making its way,
under Cheatham, from north Missis-
sippi across Sherman's track through
Georgia to his front in the CaroUnas,
but was not yet near enough to give
us trouble : so Slocum, unvexed by
any obstacle but the necessity of cor-
duroying the interminable swamps
he must traverse, crossed the South

* JMk 15.

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Edisto on the ISth, concentrating
hiB command at and below Lexing-
ton, and reaching the Saluda a few
miles above Columbia only an hour
or two after Howard appeared on
that river (which here unites with
the Broad to form the Congaree) on
the 16th.

Gen. Howard, by Sherman's or-
der, promptly threw forward his left
across th^ Saluda, skirmishing with
cavalry; then, during the ensuing
night, threw a flying bridge over the
Broad, three miles above Columbia ;
crossing Stone's brigade, and thus
securing a foothold on the Columbia
side, north of the city, and enabling
him to lay his pontoons on the morn-
ing of the 17th. Columbia was now
plainly ours; there being no adequate
force present to dispute its possession ;
so the Mayor came out, at 11 a. ic,
and formally surrendered it to CoL
Stone^ of Logan's corps, on the north,
about the same time that some of the
17th corps, crossing the Congaree in
a skiff, entered it, unresisted, from
the west. Sherman and Howard now
rode in ; Col. Stone having already
taken possession and posted sentinels :
the inhabitants moving fearlessly
through the streets. During the day,
the 15th corps marched through the
city and out on the Camden road
The 17th corps did not enter it at
all; while the left wing and the
cavalry, crossing both rivers above,
were at no time vnthin two miles of
it. Yet night saw that city in flames,
and a great part of it reduced to
ashes: hence, mutual accusations
and reproaches by Gens. Sherman
and Wade Hampton. Here is Gten.
Sherman's statement in his report :

^ " In anticipation of the occnpatipn of the
dtj, I Lad made written orders to Gen.

Howard touching the oondnct of the troops.
These were: to destroy absolutely all ar-
senals and public property not needed for
our own use, as well as all railroads, d^p6ts,
and machinery useful in war to an enemy;
but to spare sdl dwellings, colleges, schools,
asylums, and harmless private property. I
was the first to cross the ponflooD- bridge,
and, in company with Gen. Howard, rode
into the city. The day was clear; but t
perfect tempest of wind was raging. The
brigade of Col. Stone was already in the
city, and was properly posted. Citizens
and soldiers were on the streets, and gen-
eral good order prevailed. Gen. Wade
Hampton, who commanded the Confede-
rate rear-guard of cavalry, had, in antici-
pation of our capture of Columbia, ordered
that all cotton, public and private, should
be moved into the streets and fired, to
prevent our making use of it. Bales were
piled everywhere; the rope and bagging
cut, and tufts of cotton were blown about
in the wind, lodged in the trees and against
houses, so as to resemble a snow-stonn.
Some of these piles of cotton were burning,
especially one in the very heart of the city,
near the court-house ; but the fire was par-
tially subdued by the labor of our soldiers.
During the day, the 15th oorps passed
through Columbia and out on the Camden
road. The 17th did not enter the town at
all ; and, as I have before stated, the \e&
wing and cavalry did not come within two
miles of the town.

*^ Before one single public building had
been fired by order, the smoldering fires,
set by Hampton's order, were rekindled by
the wind, and communicated to the build-
ings around. About dark, they began to
spread, and got beyond the control of the
brigade on duty within the city. The
whole of Woods's division was brought in;
but it was found impossible to check the
flames ; which, by midnight, had become nn-
manageable, and raged until about 4 a. m.;
when, the wind subsiding, they were got
under oontroL I was up nearly all night,
and saw Gens. Howard, Logan, Woods,
and others, laboring to save houses and
protect families thus suddenly deprired
of shelter, and of bedding and wearing ap-
parel. I disclaim on the part of my army
any agency in this fire ; but, on the contrary,
claim that we saved what of Columbia re-
mains unconsumed. And, without hesita-
tion, I charge Gen. Wade Hampton with
having burned his own city of Colombia ;
not with malicious intent, or as the mam-
festation of a silly * Roman stoicism,' hot
fh>m folly and want of sense, in filling it
with lint, cotton, and tinder. Our officers
and men on duty worked well to extlngaish
the flames ; but others, not on duty, includ-

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in^ the officers who had long heen im-
pnsoned there, rescued hj ns, may have as-
sisted in spreading the fire after it had once
began, and may have indulged in uncon-
eealed joy to see the ruin of the Capital of
South Carolina."

It will be seen that Gen. Sherman
does not charge Hampton with in-
tending to burn the city, which he
was confessedly unable to hold ; nor
does he deny that some of our men,
not on duty, may have aided to ex-
tend the coimagration. Kor does
Beauregard, who was Hampton's
superior in command at Columbia,
and who ordered its evacuation,
indorse the charges against his suc-
cessful antagonist. Nor does Pollard
— who never misses an opportunity
to defame the detested ' Yankees ' —
directly accuse Sherman of having
ordered or desired the conflagration*,
though he evidently wishes to con-
vey the impression that he did.
Here is his account of the capture :

'* A white flaff, displayed from the steeple
of the City HalT, announced the surrender
of the town. With hands playing, drum-
corps beating, flags flying, and their men in
step, the Yankee army marched down
3£am-8treet to the Capitol square.

" No sooner had the enemy entered Co-
lumbia than a wild and savage scene of pil-
lage commenced. Stragglers, * bummers,*
pontoon men, and the riffiraff of the army,
-i¥ere to be met in every street and almost
every house. If they wanted a pair of
boots, they took them from 'one s feet.
Watches were in constant demand — in
several instances, being snatched from the
persons of ladies. Ear and finger rings
were taken by force ; and, in isolated cases,
the dresses of ladies were torn from their
bodies by villains who expected to find jew-
els or plate concealed. Search for silver
and provisions was made in every conceiv-
able place. Ramrods were used as probes
to indicate where boxes were buried; and
gardens, out-houses, cellars, garrets, chim-
neys, and nooks never thought of by any-
body but a thief in search of plunder, were
tamed, so to speak, inside out Rev. Mr.
8hand, the Episcopalian clergyman, while
conveying a truni containing the com-
znonion service of silyer Arom the church to

the South Carolina College, was accosted
by a Yankee and a negro, who compelled
him, under threat of death, to give it up.

^^ The conflagration which destroyed the
city commenced about dusk. The fire
started near the rear of the jail. A high
wind prevailed; and, in a short time, the
flames were in ftiU and unconquerable pro-
gress, spreading rapidly in three directions
— up and down Main-street, and eastwardly. j
From 10 p. m. till 8 a. m., the scene was ap- i
palling. The sky was one broad sheet of
flame ; above which, amid the lurid smoke,
drifted in eddying circles a myriad of sparks :
these falling, scattered the conflagration on
every side. The monotone of :the roaring,
leaping, hissing tongues of flame, as they
careered on their wild course, alone filled
hearts with dismay. The air was like that
.of a ftimace. Many of the streets were im-
passable. Frightened men, women, and
children, ran m all directions ; some only
to flee again from the fresh attacks of the
destroying element. Property thrown out
of houses was either burned or stolen.
Many of the Federal soldiers, maddened by
liquor, dashed through the city with lighted
torches to inflame tlie dwellings yet un-
touched. Morning revealed, to some ex-
tent, the broad sweep of destruction. Four
thousand or more citizens were houseless
and homeless. From the State House to
Cotton Town, and an average of two or
three squares on each side of Main-street,
nothing but blackened ruins remained.
Every vestige of that once busy street was
gone. ^ After having completed, as far as
possible, the destruction of Columbia, Sher-
man continued his march northward.''

Ab the fall of Columbia involved
that of Charleston, including Fort
Sumter and all its other defenses —
Hardee properly declining to be here
isolated and consigned to capture at
our convenience — and, as the scene
of destruction which marked that
evacuation has not even been charged
to the Unionists, we will copy Pol-
lard's graphic description of this also,
as a companion-piece to that of Co-
lumbia. He says :

" The movement of Sherman had already
been decisive of the fate of Charleston.
Oen. Hardee, finding himself flanked at
Charleston, and appreciating the instant
necessity of effecting a junction with Beau*
regard and Cheatham and concentratins all
available forces in Sherman^? path, resolyed

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to evacuate this city, bo famous in the War,
and so long coveted by the Yankees. But
he was resolved to leave as little as possible
for the enemy's rapacity.

** At an early hour of the morning, before
the retirement of Gen. Hardee's troops,
every building, warehouse, or shed, stored
with cotton, was fired by a guard detailed
for the purpose. The engines were brought
out; but, with the small force at the dispo-
sal of the fire department, very little else
could be done than to keep the surround-
ing buildings from ignitiuff. On the west-
ern side of the city, the names raged wiUi

Online LibraryHorace GreeleyThe American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 → online text (page 99 of 113)