SHERMAN, WILLIAM TECUMSEH, Lt. General. Autograph letter signed ("W.T. Sherman") to General J.G. Foster, "In the Field, Pocataligo Is." 28 January 1865. 3 pages, 4to, endorsed on verso, neat fold repairs, slight staining, two small holes at fold intersections.
SHERMAN LAYS OUT HIS STRATEGY FOR THE INGENIOUS CAROLINAS CAMPAIGN
An important letter. Deep in the heart of the Confederacy, Sherman prepares to march north through the Carolinas in his last, and some have said, greatest military campaign. Delayed since January by bad weather, he writes: "...I am pushing my efforts to secure a departure by Monday or Tuesday next. I have in person reconnoitred the Country from Isekehatchee Ridge to Crosawhatchee. The Country is very low and swampy, and impassable save by the Road marked on the map...This is the first point of Terra firma, and has better connections inland...Therefore until I am surely between Augusta and Charleston it would be imprudent to let go this point. I have ordered General Hatch to move to a Camp...and to picket Crosawhatchee Fort and the fort back at Pocataligo Ridge. This latter is the Key Point for 'defense' but for offense the line of the Rail road is the proper point...The bridges have been burned by the enemy who seems to occupy the opposite bank but his force if amounting to anything is kept well back. I could see a few men at the railroad bank...[no artillery fire came] although our men stood in tempting groups...in easy 6 pd. range. We found cavalry to our front towards Rumville, and some infantry, but I suppose the enemy simply is watching me and keeps his main force where it can be thrown rapidly on exposed points...The Admiral's feeling up the Edisto and Ilonon is well, but my movement to the rear of Charlestown is the principal and all others should be accessory."
On 1 February, Sherman's army of 60,000 moved out, through South Carolina and into North Carolina, encountering largely ineffectual, though spirited, resistence. He reached Goldsboro in late March and, after Lee's surrender at Appomattox, Johnston surrendered his remaining armies on April 26. "The march through the Carolinas had been one continuous battle with the elements, and must be reckoned a greater achievement than the more famous march through Georgia...As a triumph of physical endurance and mechanical skill on the part of the army and of inflexible resolution in the general, it stands unrivalled in the history of modern war..." (Wood and Edmonds, Civil War in the U.S., pp.465-466).