DescriptionWilliam T. Sherman Autograph Letter Signed "W.T. Sherman." One page, 5" x 8", Beaufort [South Carolina], January 23, 1865 [on letterhead that is dated 1864]. Writing to a Gen. Easton [most likely this is Bt. Brig. Gen. Langdon C. Easton, who served as chief quartermaster for Sherman's army during this time], in full: "Transport to Beaufort by boats all of [Gen. Oliver O.] Howards troops, wagons & mules except [Gen. John Murray] Corse's Division which can move with the Left Wing. I have sent you every boat available from this quarter, and would like you to make this job, at one trip." Folds. One small hole just above Sherman's signature.
Following his capture of Savannah in December 1864, Sherman turned his sights to north to Columbia, South Carolina - the cradle of secession. He had planned to move on the city by the 15th of January, but was hindered by the nonstop rain. Sherman reached Beaufort on January 21, 1865, and met up with Gen. Howard. According to sources, "Mules and wagons actually (sank) out of sight." (Nichols, p. 127) The left wing of the army, under the command of Gen. Henry Slocum, made slow progress as the Savannah River was flooding, but they made it nonetheless. On the 24th, Sherman sent this letter, the same day that the weather began to improve, and by the 30th the "invasion" began. By mid-February, Union troops had entered the city. Much of the city was destroyed by fire, either on Sherman's order or by retreating Confederates, when Sherman's troops occupied the city. Columbia surrendered on February 17.
Reference: Nichols, George Ward. The Story of the Great March. From the Diary of a Staff Officer. New York: Harper Brothers, 1865.
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