“I will endeavor to be back again with an increased force and without the former commander”

I wrote to Adm. Porter to urge him to maintain his presence near Fort Fisher while I organize a new landing expedition.

CITY POINT, VA., December 30, 1864.

Admiral PORTER,

Commanding North Atlantic Blockading Squadron:

Please hold on where you are for a few days and I will endeavor to be black again with an increased force and without the former commander. It is desirable the enemy should be lulled into all the security possible, in hopes he will send back here or against Sherman the re-enforcements sent to defend Wilmington. At the same time it will be necessary to observe that the enemy does not intrench further, and if the attempts it to prevent it. I will suggest whether it may not be made to appear that the ordinary blockading squadron is doing this. You, however, understand this matter much better than I do.

I cannot say what day or troops will be down. Your dispatch to the Secretary of the Navy, which informed me that you were still off Wilmington, and still thought the capture of that place practicable, was only received to-day. I took immediate steps to have transports collected, and am assured they will be ready with the coal and water on board by noon of the 2nd of January. There will be [no] delay in embarking and sending off the troops.

There is not a soul here except my chief of staff, assistant adjutant-general, and myself knows of this intended renewal of our effort against Wilmington. In Washington but two persons know of it, and, I am assured, will not. The commander of the expedition will probably be Major-General Terry. He will not know of it until he gets out to sea. He will go with sealed orders. It will not be necessary for me to let troops or commander know even that they are going any place until the steamers intended to carry them reach Fortress Monroe, as I will have all rations and other stores loaded beforehand.

The same troops that were with the first expedition, re-enforced by a brigade, will maintain themselves until re-enforcements can be sent.

Please answer by bearer and designate when you will have the fleet congregated.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 190-1

O.R., I, xlii, part 3, p 1100-1

Sec. Navy Welles: “A landing can easily be effected upon the beach north of Fort Fisher”

I received the following from Sec. of the Navy, Gideon Welles.  Adm. Porter believes still that Fort Fisher can be taken.  He writes,


Washington, D. C., December 29, 1864-9.30 p.m.

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,

City Point, Va.:

The substance of dispatches and reports from Rear-Admiral Porter, off Wilmington, is briefly this: The ships can approach nearer to the enemy’s works than was anticipated. Their fire can keep the enemy away from their guns. A landing can easily be effected upon the beach north of Fort Fisher, not only of troops, but all their supplies and artillery. This force can have its flanks protected by gun-boats. The navy can assist in the siege of Fort Fisher precisely as it covered the operations which resulted in the capture of Fort Wagner. The winter season is the most favorable for operations against Fort Fisher. The largest naval force ever assembled is ready to lend its co-operation. Rear-Admiral Porter will remain off Fort Fisher, continuing a moderate fire to prevent new works from being erected, and the ironclad have proved that they can maintain themselves in spite of bad weather. Under all these circumstances, I invite to such a military co-operations as will insure the fall of Fort Fisher, the importance of which has already received your careful consideration. This telegram is made at the suggestion of the President, and in hopes that you will be able at this time to give the troops which heretofore were required elsewhere. If it cannot be done, the fleet will have to disperse, whence it cannot again be brought to this coast.


Secretary of the Navy.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 185

O.R., I, xlii, part 3, p 1091

“The Wilmington expedition has proven a gross and culpable failure”

Someone must be held accountable for the failure of the Wilmington expedition.  I wrote President Lincoln,

CITY POINT, VA., December 28, 1864-8.30 p.m.


President of the United States:

The Wilmington expedition has proven a gross and culpable failure. Many of the troops are now back here. Delays and free talk of the object of the expedition enabled the enemy to move troops to Wilmington to defeat it. After the expedition sailed from Fort Monroe three days of fine weather was squandered, during which the enemy was without a force to protect himself. Who is to blame I hope will be known.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 177-8

O.R., I, xlii, part 3, p 1087

Butler: “I withdrew the forces and ordered a re-embarkment”

I have received the following dispatch from Gen. Butler.  He has abandoned the expedition against Fort Fisher despite my direct orders to besiege it if it could not be taken.  He writes,


Fort Monroe, December 27, 1864-8 p.m.

(Receive 10 p.m.)

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,

City Point, Va.:

I have just returned from the expedition. We had a storm from Monday until Friday, which was the earliest hour I could get out of Beaufort, where I had put in for coal, most of the transport fleet having got out coal and water. Without waiting for my return, Admiral Porter exploded the torpedo at 1 o’clock on Friday morning, and commenced his attack at 12.55 in the afternoon, twelve hours afterward. He continued the bombardment of the fort until night.

I arrived in the evening and commenced landing on the beach the next morning. Got a portion on shore about 2 o’clock. Weitzel moved down upon the works, capturing 300 men and 10 commissioned officers. He brought his picket-line within fifty yards of the work, where he was opened upon by canister and musketry. He found seventeen guns bearing upon the beach, which was only wide enough for an assault of 1,000 men in line, the guns protected by traverses and but one dismounted, notwithstanding the fire of the fleet had been opened upon them for five hours.

In the meanwhile the surf had so arisen as to render further landing nearly impracticable. After a thorough reconnaissance of the work, finding it utterly impracticable for a land assault, and that at least two brigades of Hoke’s division from before Richmond had arrived there and that the rest was on the road, I withdrew the forces and ordered a re-embarkment, and had got on board all of the troops with the exception of about 300, when the surf was so high as to prevent either getting on or off the shore.

I lay by until morning and took measures for their relief as soon as the sea might go down. They were under cover of the gun-boats, and I have no doubt they are all safely off. Our loss when I left was but twelve wounded, ten of whom were by the shells of the navy on our picket-line near the fort. I will be up in the morning.


Major-General, Commanding.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 176

O.R., I, xlii, part 3, p 1085-6

“Your confidence in being able to march up and join this army pleases me, and I believe it can be done”

Gen. Sherman has proposed to march his army north to join the Army of the Potomac and bring all our weight to bear on Lee.  I wrote him,


City Point, Va., December 27, 1864.

Major General W. T. SHERMAN,

Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:

GENERAL: Before writing you definite instructions for the next campaign, I wanted to receive your answer to my letter written from Washington. Your confidence in being able to march up and join this army pleases me, and I believe it can be done. The effect of such a campaign will be to disorganize the South, and prevent the organization of new armies from their broken fragments. Hood is now retreating, with his army broken and demoralized. His loss in men has probably not been far from 20,000, besides, deserters. If time is given the fragments may be collected together and many of the deserters reassemble; if we can we should act to prevent this. Your spare army, as it were, moving as proposed, will do this.

In addition to holding Savannah, it looks me that an intrenched camp ought to be held on the railroad between Savannah and Charleston. Your movement toward Branchville will probably enable Foster to reach this with his own force. This will give us a position in the South from which we can threaten the interior, without marching over long narrow causeways easily defends, as we have heretofore been compelled to do. Could not such a camp be established about Pocotaligo, or Coosawhatchie?

I have thought that Hood being so completely wiped out for present harm, I might bring A. J. Smith here with from 10,000 to 15,000 men. With this increase I could hold my lines and move out with a greater force than Lee has. It would compel Lee to retain all his present force in the defenses of Richmond, or abandon them entirely. This latter contingency is probably the only danger to the easy success of your expedition. In the event you should meet Lee’s army, you would be compelled to beat it, or find the sea-coast.

Of course I shall not let Lee’s army escape if I can help it, and will not let it go without following to the best of my ability.

Without waiting further directions, then, you may make preparations to start on your northern expedition without delay. Break up the railroads in South and North Carolina, and join the armies operating against Richmond as soon as you can.

I will leave out all suggestions about the route you should take, knowing that your information, gained daily in the progress of events, will be better than any that can be obtained now.

It may not be possible for you to march to the rear of Petersburg, but failing is this you could strike either of the sea-coast ports in North Carolina held by us; from there you could take shipping. It would be decidedly preferable, however, if you could march the whole distance.

From the best information I have, you will find no difficulty in supplying your army until you cross the Roanoke. From there here is but a few days’ march, and supplies could be collected south of the river to bring you through. I shall establish communication with you there by steam-boat and gun-boat. By this means your wants can be partially supplied.

I shall hope to hear from you soon, and to hear your plan and about the time and starting.

Please instruct Foster to hold on to all the property captured in Savannah, and especially the cotton. Do not turn it over to citizens or Treasury agents without orders of the War Department.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 168-170

O.R., I, xliv, p 820-1

“Freddy reached here yesterday all well”

My son Fred has arrived to spend the week with me here at City Point.  I wrote Julia to let her know that he arrived safely.

City Point, Va, Dec. 26th 1864,.
Dear Julia,
Freddy reached here yesterday all well. I telegraphed you immediately on his arrival but you may not have received the dispatch. I had just ordered my horse to take a ride when he and Will Smith made their appearance at the head of the steps coming up the river bank. I at once sent for another horse and took Fred, with me. He has gone to-day with Capt. Hudson and two or three other officers to Gen. Meade’s Hd Qrs. To-morrow he and his Uncle Fred go up to see Gen. Ord by special invitation. Altogether I think he will have a good time of it while he stays here. I will start him back promptly on New Years day so that he shall loose no time at, or from, school.

I do not know whether the PayMasters will have any money to pay at the end of this month so I will write to Russell Jones to send you all he has of mine. It must amount to several hundred dollars besides the gold.

All well here now. The good news received from Sherman is worth a great deal at this time. The rebels are very despondent and say, some of them, their cause is already lost. Love and kisses for you and the children.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 166-7

“I have just received General Foster’s dispatch announcing the capture of Savannah”

I have just received the following letter, sent on the 22nd.

Savannah River, December 22, 1864-7 a. m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT:

I have the honor to report that I have just returned from General Sherman’s headquarters in Savannah. I send Major Gray, of my staff, as bearer of dispatches from General Sherman to you, and also a message to the President. The city of Savannah was occupied on the morning of the 21st. General Hardee, anticipating the contemplated assault, escaped with the main body of his infantry and light artillery on the afternoon and night of the 20th by crossing the river to the Union Causeway opposite the city. The rebel ironclads were blown up and the navy-yard burned. All the rest of the city is intact and contains 20,000 citizens quiet and well disposed. The captures include 800 prisoners, 150 guns, 13 locomotives in good order, 190 cars, a large supply of ammunition and material of war, 3 steamers, and 32,000 bales of cotton safely stored in warehouses. All these valuable fruits of an almost bloodless victory have been, like Atlanta, fairly won. I opened communication with the city with my steamers to-day, taking up what torpedoes we could see, and passing safely over others. Arrangements are made to clear the channel of all obstructions.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding Department of the South.


I wrote Sec. Stanton,

CITY POINT, VA., December 25, 1864-8 p. m.



I have just received General Foster’s dispatch announcing the capture of Savannah, with artillery, munitions of war, railroad cars, and cotton. I wish Hardee’s 15,000 to 18,000 of a garrison could have been added to the other captures. It is a good thing the way it stands, and the country may well rejoice over it.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 163-4

O.R., I, xliv, 786, 809

“I have great hope this will be the last Winter of the War”

I wrote Julia,

City Point, Va, Dec. 24th 1864.
Dear Julia,
Your dispatch to Fred, expressing your fears for our Freddy
was received and answered the moment it come to hand. Gen. Augur will not let his children leave Washington if there is any danger and Fred will not start without them. I think you need give yourself no fear.—I am getting quite well. To-day is the first time I have been out to dinner for three days. I know how much there is dependent on me and will prove myself equal to the task. I believe determination can do a great deal to sustain one and I have that quality certainly to its fullest extent.
The Richmond papers of to-day are very blue over the situation of Military affairs. They say all they can to encourage their people of course but still show a very great weakness in the South. To add to their calamities they have had a great fire in Richmond, burning up all their forage, which they attribute to the work of an incendiary. Every thing seems to be working well and I have great hope this will be the last Winter of the War.

—Kisses for you and the children.


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 163

“You have the congratulations of the public for the energy with which you are pushing Hood”

Latest reports are that Gen. Thomas is aggressively following up his victory against Hood.  I wrote him,

CITY POINT, VA., December 22, 1864.

Major-General THOMAS,

Nashville, Tenn.:

You have the congratulations of the public for the energy with which you are pushing Hood. I hope you will succeed in reaching his pontoon bridge at Tuscumbia before he gets there. Should you do it, it looks to me that Hood is cut off. If you succeed in destroying Hood’s army, there will be but one army left to the so-called Confederacy capable of doing us harm. I will take care of that and try to draw the sting from it, so that in the spring we shall have easy sailing. You now have a big opportunity, which I know you are availing yourself of. Let us push and do all we can before the enemy can derive benefit either from the raising of negro troops or the concentration of white troops now in field.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 151

O.R., I, xlv, part 2, p 307

“Sherman has now demonstrated his great Capacity as a Soldier by his unequaled campaign through Georgia”

I wrote to my Father,


Headquarters Armies of the U. S.
City Point Va. Dec 20. 1864,
Dear Father—
Sherman has now demonstrated his great Capacity as a Soldier by his unequaled campaign through Georgia. I know him well as one of the greatest purest and best of men. He is poor and always will be, but he is great and magnanimous—an Ohian, and I think entitled to their greatest esteem and even benevolence. Now what I Started to write about is this, I am not acquainted sufficiently in Cincinnati to select the right person to write to, to inaugurate a Subscription to present Mrs Sherman a comfortable furnished house—Cincinnati will always be proud of Sherman as a citizen of that city and Ohio may well be proud of him. If you can get this thing up, put down for me $500, and for Genl R. Ingalls $250 more. I have been the recipient of many favors from the public & will be but too happy if I can call their attention to one of our nobles, greatest best men. I hope you will see some of the leading Union men of Cincinnati all of whom you are acquainted with, and have this thing put on foot without noise or parade. Sherman would not approve of what I am doing in this matter, but still he would feel Complimented & would appreciate such recognition of his Services.
U. S. Grant Lt Gn


The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 13, p 148-9