Griersons's Cavalry Expedition
Bvt. Maj. Gen. Benjamin H. Grierson, U.S. Army, commanding Cavalry Forces, of operations April 17-May 29.
HDQRS CAVALRY FORCES, MIL. DIV. OF WEST MISSISSIPPI
Eufaula, Ala., May 1, 1865
COLONEL: I have the honor to report that in obedience to instructions from the general commanding I moved from Blakely on the 17th of April, reaching Greenville on the morning of the 22d, where I overtook the Sixteenth Corps. at this place I heard of the capture of Columbus by the forces of General Wilson. Accordingly I swept east to this point, intending to co-operate with him if necessary in the capture of Macon and Augusta. Upon arrival here I received through General Wilson official notice of the existence of an armistice between Generals Sherman and Johnston, since which time my command has been quietly encamped near Georgetown, Ga., except Lucas' brigade, which is in the vicinity of Union Springs, Ala. All Confederate officers and soldiers captured by my command have been paroled. I have just received from General Wilson official copies of dispatches from General Sherman, announcing the termination of the war east of the Chattahoochee River, official copies of which are here with inclosed.* I shall move from here to Montgomery, which point I expect to reach about the 7th, and where I will await further orders. The command is in good condition and ready for movement in any direction.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. H. Grierson
Lieut. Col. C.T. Christensen
HDQRS. CAVALRY FORCES, MIL. DIV. OF WEST MISSISSIPPI
New Orleans, La., June 4, 1865.
COLONEL: I have the honor to report that in obedience to instructions from the major-general commanding, I moved from Blakely, Ala., on the afternoon of the 17th of April, 1865, with the brigades of Brig. Gen. T.J. Lucas and Col. Joseph Karge, in all about 4,000 effective men in two columns northeast to Greenville, Ala.; thence with one brigade, via Troy, Louisville, Clayton, and Eufaula, Ala., to Georgetown, Ga., and with the other Union Springs, Ala. Upon arriving at Eufaula, April 29, I learned of the existence of an armistice between Generals Sherman and Johnston. Accordingly I encamped Colonel Karge's brigade near Georgetown, Ga., to await further developments, and communicating with General Lucas at Union springs directed him to report to me with his command at Eufaula, Ala., that I might have my entire force in a good position should hostilities be renewed. Before his arrival, and upon receipt of the information of the surrender of all forces east of the Chattahoochee, I im mediately communicated with him and moved with my entire command by parallel roads to Montgomery, Ala. Upon arrival at this point, I received your communication directing me to report for duty to Maj. Gen. A.J. Smith. Accordingly, on the 10th of May, in obedience to his orders, I sent the Second New York Cavalry to Talladega, Ala., and on the 11th I moved with the balance of the command northwest, via Kingston, Centerville, Marion, Greensborough, Eutaw, and Pickensville, to Columbus, Miss., reporting my arrival at that point on the 20th of May by telegraph to you. On the road from Montgomery, at a point near Marion, I sent the Second Illinois to Tuscaloosa, and with numerous detachments scoured the country and watched the crossings of the Black Warrior and Tombigbee Rivers, with a view of capturing Jeff. Davis, who was reported to be trying to reach the Trans-Mississippi Department through Alabama. Upon reaching Columbus I sent one regiment (Thirteenth Indiana) south along the Mob ile and Ohio Railroad to Macon for the purpose of collecting and guarding all Government property at and near that point. On the 27th of May, in obedience to telegraphic instructions, I ordered Brig. Gen. T.J. Lucas to move with his brigade by the most practicable route to Vicksburg, Miss., with my staff I proceeded with all dispatch by rail via Mobile to this point, arriving on the 29th.
During the entire march of my command on this expedition, private property, except where it was necessary for the sustenance of men and horses, was respected; and immediately upon the receipt of the news of an armistice between Sherman and Johnston, as also of the suspension of hostilities pending the surrender of General Dick Taylor, the most stringent orders were issued and enforced forbidding the impressment of stock, and vouchers were given for all subsistence stores taken. The utmost good order prevailed, as was testified to by the inhabitants along the entire line of march, and I take pleasure in expressing my thanks to the officers of the command, without reference to rank, for their hearty support in enforcing orders. Almost the entire line of march was through country which had never been visited by Federal troops since the commencement of the war, and much of it was the richest portions of the State. The march of the various columns had a good effect upon the people. The entire distance marched was about 700 miles, and over 10,000 Confederate officers and soldiers were paroled. On the line of march we passed at least 300,000 bales bales of cotton, much of it Government property; also, considerable quantities of commissary and quartermaster's stores. Not deeming it good policy to destroy property when the close of the war was becoming so apparent, no cotton was burned, believing it would find its way to market and come under the control of the Government. Such Confederate commissary and quartermaster's stores as could not be made use of by the command, together with the unserviceable animals, were, by my directions, believing it would meet with approval, distributed to the poor, many of whom were suffering and entirely destitute. The country is filled with bands of armed marauders, composed mostly of deserters from the late rebel armies, who have returned to find their families suffering from the neglect and persecution of the wealthy leaders, at whose instigation they joined the rebel ranks. The poor people, including the returned Confederate private soldiers, are, as a general thing, now loyal; but the far greater portion of the wealthy classes are still very bitter in their sentiments against the Government, and clutch on to slavery with a lingering hope to save at least a relic of their favorite yet barbarous institution for the future. The former class I most earnestly commend to the forbearance and generosity of the Government, but the spirit of resistance still manifest in the latter should by some means be entirely broken down, and the false pride built upon the institution of slavery must be completely humbled before they can become a truly peaceful and contented people.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. H. GRIERSON
Brevet Major-General Lieut. Col. C. T. Christensen,
SOURCE: United States War Department. THE WAR OF THE REBELLION: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.