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    William T. Sherman Autograph Letter Signed "W. T. Sherman / Maj. Gen." Three ruled pages written in pencil, 7.75" x 10", "12 miles out on the Raleigh Road," March 15, 1865, on letterhead reading, "Headquarters, Military Division of the Mississippi." Few letters like this exist from Sherman written during his Carolina Campaign. This letter contains orders issued to Captain E. S. Keyser, commander of the USS Eolus on Cape Fear River. As Sherman moved deeper into North Carolina, he expected that "the Enemy [Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston] will attempt to oppose me," so he asks that Keyser and the Eolus stay close. Sherman also mentions in the letter that he is headed to Bentonville, which will become the scene of the final battle between General Sherman and General Johnston four days after this letter was written. This letter, written just before the Civil War ended, bears minor soiling and smoothed folds.

    After successfully completing his March to the Sea by capturing Savannah, Georgia, on December 21, 1864, and presenting it to President Lincoln as a Christmas present, General Sherman turned northward toward the Carolinas. His goal was to unite with General John Schofield's army at Goldsboro, North Carolina. The combined force, he planned, would then march to Richmond, Virginia. Sherman set out from Savannah on February 1, 1865. His quick progress through South Carolina concerned Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston, who concentrated his strength in central North Carolina. Continuing his march through North Carolina on the morning of March 15, Sherman left Fayetteville, North Carolina, writing these orders to Capt. Keyser, which he sends by two carriers. In part:

    "Lest I may not have been sufficiently minute in my request of Captain Young, I will now repeat that I am moving toward Raleigh, but will swing over to Goldsboro. Tonight I will be at Kyle's Landing. Tomorrow near the Bridge across North River . . . after near Bentonville. It may be that the Enemy will attempt to oppose me, in which case it might become of some importance that I should send orders to Wilmington and Weldon. I therefore ask that the Eolus remain as near Fayetteville as possible according to the stage of water, and I think it would be well to have a tug messenger boat. If Capt. Young has none to spare, I wish you would write to General Dodge at Wilmington saying that I want the army tug to keep moving up & down till it is known that I am at Goldsboro or in communication with Schofield. I have no doubt also that a good many of our sick & footsore men will hang about the landing and must not be allowed to suffer, though their officers should have attended to them. If you find any such clustering about the landing have them camp near your boat on this bank and send word to Genl. Dodge Chief Quartermaster to send a boat for them. I ordered him yesterday to keep boats coming up as long as their seemed a chance of their being needed. . . . I send two couriers with this. Please take care of them and send them back to me in the morning with any news, letters, or papers you may have."

    Four days later, Sherman's premonitions were correct: Confederate General Joseph Johnston attacked him at the Battle of Bentonville, hoping to prevent Sherman from linking up with General John Schofield. Badly outnumbered and suffering large numbers of casualties, Johnson withdrew from the battlefield on the night of March 21. Sherman went on to meet Schofield in Goldsboro, twenty-one miles northeast of Bentonville, on March 23. Together they captured Raleigh on April 13, only three days after General Lee surrendered to General Grant. With no hope left to win the war, Johnston surrendered to Sherman on April 26.


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    Auction Dates
    December, 2014
    12th Friday
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