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1865 March 18: News from Sheridan, Sherman, Schofield, and Grant

March 19, 2015

The following comes from the March 18, 1865, issues of The Polk County Press.

Telegraphic Dispatches—

FROM SHERIDAN.

WASHINGTON, March 13.

To Maj. General Dix [John Dix] :

The following report of Sheridan’s [Philip H. Sheridan] operations has been received by this Department.     E. M. STANTON [Edwin M. Stanton]

HEADQUARTERS, Middle Military }
Division, COLUMBIA, Va., Mar. 10 }

Lieut. General Grant [Ulysses S. Grant] :

In my last, dated Waynesboro, I gave you a brief account of the defeat of Early [Jubal A. Early] by Custar’s [sic: George Armstrong Custer] Division.  The same night this Division was pushed across the Blue Ridge and entered Charlottsville [sic] at two P. M.— The next day the Mayor and principal inhabitants came and delivered op the keys of the public buildings.

I had to remain at Charlottsville [sic] two days.  The time was consumed in bringing over from Waynesboro our ammunition and pontoon trains.  The weather was horrible ; rain incessant.

The second division were during this time occupied in destroying two large iron bridges, one over the Ravenna river and the other over Morris Creek, near Charlottsville [sic], and the railroad for a distance of eighteen miles in the direction of Lynchburg.

On the 6th of March I sent the 1st division, Gen. Devon commanding, to Scottsville on James River, with directions to send out light parties through the country and destroy all merchandise, mills, factories, and bridges on the Ravenna river, the parties to join the division at Scottsville.

The division then proceeded along the canal to Dugansville, fifteen miles from Lynchburg ;  destroying every lock and in many places the banks of the canal.  At Dugansville we hoped to secure the bridge to cross the river as our pontoons were useless on account of the high water.  In this we were foiled, as both this bridge and the bridge at Hardswicksville were burned by the enemy upon our approach.  Merritt accompanied this division.

The 3d division started at the same time from Charlottsville [sic], and proceeded down the Lynchburg railroad to Amherst C. H. [Court House], destroying every bridge on the road, and in many places miles of road.  The bridges on this road, are numerous and some of them are 500 feet in length.

We here found great abundance in this country for our men and animals in fact, the canal had been the great feeder of Richmond.

At the Rockfish river the bank of the canal was cut, and at New Canton where the dam is across the guard lock, was destroyed, and the James River let into the canal, carrying away the bank, and washing out the bottom.  The canal dam across the James at this point, was also partially destroyed.

I have had no opposition.  Everybody is bewildered by our movements.  I have had no news of any kind since.  I omitted to mention that the bridges on the railroad from Sweep’s Depot, on the other side of Staunton, to Charlottsville [sic], were utterly destroyed also bridges for a distance of ten miles on the Gordonsville Railroad.

Up to the present time we have captured fourteen pieces of artilery [sic]— eleven at Waynesboro and three at Charlottsville [sic].  The part I sent back from Waynesboro started with six pieces, but they were obliged to destroy two of the six, for want of animals.  The remainder of the pieces, but they were thoroughly destroyed.  I have also captured twelve canal boats laden with supplies, ammunition, rations, and medical stores.

Commodore Hollins¹ of the rebel navy was shot near Gordonsville while attempting to escape from our advance in that directing.

P. H. SHERDAN

NEW YORK, March 10.

The Herald’s correspondent says Early was found near Waynesboro on a range of hills, with 5 pieces of artillery in position.  Gen. Custar [sic] dismounted two regiments of skirmishers.  In the rear on both sides of the road were two solid regiments.  The movement upon enemy’s works was made at once.  The rebels fired one volley and the fled like sheep.  Their attempt to escape was fruitless, as Custar [sic] closed his lines upon and surrounded nearly the entire force.

Gen. Early did not attempt to rally his men but rode off on a fleet horse attended by an orderly.  The victory was almost a bloodless one as we lost only 10 or 15 killed and wounded.

LATER.

WASHINGTON, March 14.

To Maj. General Dix:

Dispatches direct from Sherman [William T. Sherman] and Schofield [John M. Schofield] have been received this morning.  Sherman’s dispatch is dated March 8th, at Laurel Hill, N. C.  He says all are well and have done finely.  Details are for obvious reasons omitted.

Gen. Schofield, in a dispatch dated Newbern [sic], March 12, states that on the night of the 10th, near Southwest creek, Bragg was fairly beaten, and during the night retreated across Nesse river, at Kingston, and now holds the back of the river at that place.

E. M. STANTON

NEW YORK, March 14.— The Times Army of the Potomac correspondent 11th, says rebel deserters report that Sheridan captured Lynchburg after a short battle.

Troops to the number of 1, 500 daily leave here for the front.

NEW YORK, March 14.— The Herald’s Washington special, dated 13th, says the military situation to-night is understood to be more promising than at any period during the war.

Richmond papers of to-day are filled with doleful comments on the condition of affairs, which they represent as being desperate.

Sheridan, they admit, has played the mischief with their avenue of supplies and fears are expressed that he will reach Burke’s station at junction of Petersburg and Lynchburg, and Richmond and Danville roads, and gone to Sherman or Grant.  This saves Grant the trouble of cutting the south side road, and leaves to Gen. Lee [Robert E. Lee] the alternative of starving or driving has already depleted force to open Richmond to a pomenade from Grant.

The steamer Virginia arrived at Fortress Monroe last evening from Wilmington.  The base of supplies for Sherman’s army, in view of his rapid movements northward, is to be established at Wilmington.  Sherman’s Chief Quartermaster had arrived there, and all the transports and other vessels laden with supplies have been ordered from both Charleston and Savannah, with orders to rendezvous at New Inlet, N. C.

1.  George Nichols Hollins (1799-1878) entered the U.S. Navy as a midshipman in 1814. He served in the War of 1812 on the Erie in her attempt to break the British blockade of Chesapeake bay, and then on the President, where he served under Stephen Decatur until captured at Bermuda. In the Algerian War of 1815 he served under Decatur with such merit as to be presented a sword in recognition of his gallantry. He was promoted lieutenant in 1828, commander in 1841, and captain U. S. N. in 1855. In 1861 Captain Hollins resigned his commission. The War Department refused to accept the resignation and ordered his arrest, but he eluded capture and in March, 1861, was at the Confederate capital—Montgomery at that time—where he met other naval officers and the committees of the Confederate Congress to consult on the means to provide a navy for the new government. Hollins became a commander in the navy of the Confederate States, and quickly attracted attention by his capture (June 29, 1861) of the steamer St. Nicholas in the Potomac river. On July 10th the naval defenses of the James river were placed under his command, and on July 31st he was put in charge of the naval station at New Orleans, where he defeated the Federal blockading squadron in the following October. Being appointed flag officer, in December he took a fleet up the Mississippi river to assist in the defense of the works at Columbus, Ky. In April, 1862, he was called back to New Orleans by the appearance of the enemy in force, but before the fall of the city he was appointed to the court of inquiry on the destruction of the Virginia. After the War he resided at Baltimore.

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