IN THE FIELD, FAYETTEVILLE, N. C.,
Sunday, March 12, 1865.
We reached this place yesterday in good health and condition. We have had bad roads and weather but made good progress, and have achieved all I aimed to accomplish. Our main columns came through Columbia and Cheraw, South Carolina. We have had no general battle, and only skirmishes on the skirts of the army. The enemy gave ground when I moved in force. The importance of this march exceeds that from Atlanta to Savannah. South Carolina has had a visit from the West that will cure her of her pride and boasting. I sent couriers to Wilmington and a tug boat got up this morning, and I will start her back at 6 P. M. with despatches to Grant, the Secretary of War, and all my subordinate commanders. I do not intend to go to the sea shore, but will move on. I have no doubt you have all been uneasy on our account, but barring bad weather and mud we have had no trouble. . . .
The same brags and boasts are kept up, but when I reach the path where the lion crouched I find him slinking away. My army is in the same condition as before, and seems to possess abiding confidence in its officers. It would amuse you to hear their comments on me as I ride along the ranks, but I hope you will hear the jokes and fun of war at a fitter time for amusement. Now it is too serious. I think we are bringing matters to an issue. Johnston is restored to the supreme command and will unite the forces hitherto scattered and fight me about Raleigh or Goldsboro. Lee may reinforce him from Richmond, but if he attempts that Grant will pitch in. I can whip Joe Johnston unless his men fight better than they have since I left Savannah.
As I rode into Columbia crowds gathered round me, composed of refugees and many officers who had escaped their prison guards and hid themselves. One of them handed me the enclosed1 which is so handsomely got up that I deem it worthy of preservation. I want Lizzie to keep it. The versification is good, and I am told the music to which the prisoners set and sung it is equally so. I have never heard it sung, as the officers who composed the Glee Club in their prison at Columbia were not of the number who did escape. The author did escape and he is the one I have appointed to carry my despatches down to Wilmington tonight.
I expect to stay here a few days in hopes to receive some bread and shoes from Wilmington. The river is now high and easily navigated, and had I time I should have no trouble in getting supplies up, but time is so important that I must “Forward.” . . .
It is now 2 P. M. and I have written ten letters of four pages each, orders and instructions to my commanders on the seaboard. . . .
1 A copy of "Sherman's March to the Sea," by Major S. H. M. Byers, later U. S. Consul-General to Italy and Switzerland.
SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 332-3. A full copy of this letter can be found in the William T Sherman Family papers (SHR), University of Notre Dame Archives (UNDA), Notre Dame, IN 46556, Folder CSHR 2/21