Hd. Qurs., Co. “A”, 129th Ills.
In the fields near Holly Springs, N.C.
April 26th 1865
My Dear Wife
I closed up my last letter on Sunday night [the 23d] to go foraging. We left camp at 6 o’clock & moved in the direction of Cape Fear River. The country is much finer than any we have passed through lately. When we were 23 miles from the city, we recd. orders to return to camp immediately as our corps was to march early next morning.1 It was then 4 o’clock. We fed the train & started back, arriving in camp about 2 o’clock yesterday morning after 46 miles travel. We had 4 officers & 200 men of the Regt.
Early yesterday morning we broke camp & marched to this place. It is 13 miles from Raleigh & near Holly Springs. I have not seen the Springs yet. We will remain in camp to-day, but how much longer, I do not know.2
The rumors are so numerous & so vague that we have no idea of the condition of affairs. Genl. Grant is in Raleigh. We hear one hour that Johnson has surrendered which is discredited the next. Our movement in such haste rather implies an effort to intercept him if he attempts to turn our flank. We are marching light prepared for fight & are on half rations for 30 days. The boys are out foraging to-day to make up the deficiency.3 There has been a rumor afloat for the last two days that Genl. Sherman is relieved for halting at Raleigh & capitulating with Johnson instead of pressing forward. It will be a sad hour for this Army if it prove true.4
We met a great many of Lee’s army on their way home while we were out foraging Monday. I begin to think we have accomplished much more than we ever anticipated in this war, i.e., the subjugation of the South. Their spirit is certainly broken.
We are all in good health. This is a splendid country much resembling Northern Georgia. Large fine oak timber. It is a relief from the pine forests that have lined our march all the way through from Atlanta.
I recd. your letters of the 14th & 15th on my return Tuesday morning. I am happy to hear that your health is improving. Your letter of the 15th is the first intelligence I have recd. of Leander’s [Utley] success in his suit. Is he satisfied with the amount or does he value the mare at more; if so, find out the amount & I will pay it.
Father’s estate was settled April 1st, & the money should reach you by the 15th or 20th, yet it might be delayed a couple of weeks longer. Bro. John Miller will doubtless inform you when he pays over the money.5 If we stay here a few days & get fixed up a little, I will write again. Remember me kindly to our friends. Kiss Howard for me. May Our Father in Heaven bless you. Good Bye.
Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver
- General Grant, who hand carried the message from the government that the agreement Sherman had negotiated with Johnston and Breckinridge was unacceptable, had reached Raleigh on the morning of the 24th. Word was immediately sent by Sherman to Johnston, notifying him that “the truce or suspension of hostilities agreed to between us will in forty-eight hours cease after this is received at your lines.” Sherman at the same time notified his army commanders of the situation and alerted them to have their troops ready to resume the offensive at noon on the 26th. The movement against the foe would be governed by “the plan laid down in Special Field Order, No. 55, of date of April 14, 1865.” To facilitate operations, the army commanders on the 25th would marshal their corps ready to cross the truce line at the time indicated. O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. III, pp. 208-09, 293, 295.
- The XX Corps, with the First Division in the lead, had marched at 7 A.M. to Jones’ Cross-Roads. This was on the road to Avens’ Ferry, where it was to cross the Cape Fear River at noon on the 26th. Ibid., pp. 297-98.
- On the evening of the 25th, Sherman had received a message from General Johnston, announcing receipt of Sherman’s dispatch of the 24th, reading “I am instructed to limit my operations to your [Johnston's] immediate command and not to attempt civil negotiations, I, therefore, demand the surrender of your army on the same terms as were given General Lee at Appomattox.” It and a dispatch received the next morning indicated that Johnston was agreeable to an agreement for surrender on the terms drawn up by Sherman on the 18th for “disbanding this army, and a further armistice and conference to arrange these terms.” Sherman accordingly agreed to return to the Bennett House at noon on the 26th for another meeting with Johnston. This resulted in orders for the army commanders to suspend their advance across the truce line and for the troops to remain in camp until receipt of further orders. Ibid., pp. 294, 303-306.
- Although General Grant did not do so, he was under orders to supersede Sherman in command. Grant did not have the heart to tell his friend this, nor of the instructions from the War Department directing the troops in the South not to obey Sherman’s orders. Barrett, Sherman ‘s March through the Carolinas, pp. 267-68.
- For additional information about John Miller, see J.F.C.’s letter of February 10, 1865.