SENATE CHAMBER, WASHINGTON CITY,
April 20, 1862.
Dear Brother: I heartily and with great pride in you congratulate you on your escape and for the high honors you won in the battle of the 7th and the 8th. Cecilia and I have watched with the most anxious interest your course and have read every word that was accessible in regard to the battle. I need not say that it has been with the highest satisfaction. The official report of Generals Halleck and Grant leave nothing to desire except that the information as to your wound in the hand is indefinite. From your subsequent operations I infer it is not so serious as to disable you. It is a fearful battle, and I cannot yet conceive how a general rout was avoided. The first accounts gave an exaggerated account of the surprise, of whole regiments killed or captured in their tents, and of inexcusable carelessness in guarding against surprise. More recent accounts modify the extent of the surprise, but still there is an impression that sufficient care was not taken. That pickets were not far enough advanced or of sufficient force, and that General Grant should have been nearer his command. I sincerely hope he will be relieved from all blame. I enclose you a note to General Patterson.
The general tone of public sentiment is very hopeful.
This arises partly from the changed tone of our foreign news, and perhaps from the comparative ease of money matters under our enormous expenditures.
The great drawback is on account of McClellan's position. Military men of the highest character as well as all civilians think he is in a position from which he cannot retreat, and where he must fight under very great disadvantage. Still the general feeling is hopeful of the success of our arms and the preservation of the Union.
I still adhere to my conviction that we will demonstrate the strength, unity and prosperity of a Republican Government for fifty years to come. Notwithstanding your reluctance to mingle in the stirring events of the time, it will be your fate to do so and I have entire confidence that it will be with success and distinction.
SOURCE: Rachel Sherman Thorndike, Editor, The Sherman letters: correspondence between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, p. 142-3