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Letter from Major-General J. G. Foster to Bvt. Major-General A. H. Terry, January 21, 1865


Letter from Major-General J. G. Foster to Bvt. Major-General A. H. Terry, January 21, 1865


This correspondence between the Major-General J. G. Foster and the United States Commander of the Forces at Wilmington, Major-General A. H. Terry, touches upon how important Wilmington is to the Union's strategy for ending the war. However, J. G. Foster expresses reservations, suggesting that Wilmington might not be captured by the time that General W. T. Sherman arrives in North Carolina. This might suggest that the United States Army percieved of Wilmington as a target that could have been very difficult to take.


J. G. Foster


The War of Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume 46, Series 1, 0755.




York, Robert




Wilmington, North Carolina
New Berne, North Carolina

Original Format



[Inclosure Numbers 2.] HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH, Hilton Head, S. C., January 21, 1865.

Confidential instructions to Bvt. Major General A. H. Terry, or the commanding officer of the United States forces at Wilmington, N. C.:

General Sherman's plans contemplate a devastating march through South Carolina and into North Carolina. He will draw his supplies from the coast, receiving them by different rivers in South Carolina, and when he arrives in North Carolina from Wilmington and from New Berne. His army has now commenced moving. Full and definite instructions have been given to General Palmer, at New Berne. Less definite instructions are given to you, because it is not certain that Wilmington may be taken at the time General Sherman arrives in North Carolina, and also that you may be prepared to take efficient independent action. What I wish attained by this information is a vigilant watch for General Sherman's appearance in your vicinity about the 15th of February, and as great a preparation on your part for the purpose of aiding him. The supplies for his army will be drawn from here in transports loaded for the purpose. There are many things, however, which you can do to facilitate the transmission of these supplies to his army when it arrives. These preparations should have in view that fact that his army numbers 70,000 men and 40,000 animals. If Wilmington be taken you will occupy as much of the railroad toward Manchester as possible, and guard as many of the bridges in that direction as you can. In fact, the same order holds good in regard to the Goldsborough railroad and the railroad through Lumberton and Rockingham toward Charlotte. If Wilmington be not taken of course you can to nothing of the kind, but must be on the watch and ready to act when required. The utmost secrecy should be observed with regard to this. The enemy may suspect the locality of General Sherman's proposed route, but nothing should transpire to lead them to any conclusion as to his real objects or the points at which he is to get his supplies.

Relying upon your discretion in the matter, I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding.


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J. G. Foster, Letter from Major-General J. G. Foster to Bvt. Major-General A. H. Terry, January 21, 1865, Civil War Era NC, accessed July 17, 2024,