CAMP EIGHT MILES FRONT OF CORINTH,
May 7, 1862.
My Dear Brother:
. . . . . . . . . .
The scoundrels who fled their ranks and left about half their number to do their work have succeeded in establishing their story of surprise, stuck with bayonets and swords in their tents and all that stuff.
They were surprised, astonished and disgusted at the utter want of respect for life on the part of the confederates, whom they have been taught to regard as inferior to them, and were surprised to see them approach with banners fluttering, bayonets glistening and lines dressed on the centre. It was a beautiful and dreadful sight and I was prepared for and have freely overlooked the fact that many wilted and fled, but gradually recovering, rejoined our ranks. But those who did not recover, their astonishment has to cast about for a legitimate excuse; and the cheapest one was to accuse their officers, and strange to say, this story is believed before ours who fought two whole days. . . .
In this instance the scamps will soon learn their mistake. Those who ran and cried “surprise,” “cut up,” &c., expected all who stood to their work to be killed, but all were not killed and enough remained as witnesses, after the public are satisfied with the horrid stories of men butchered, &c. . . .
For two days they hung about the river bank filling the ears of newspaper reporters with their tales of horrid surprise. Regiments all cut up, they the only survivors and to our utter amazement we find it settling down as history. . . .
Every battery (three) was harnessed up in position before called on to fire and cavalry (only 250 in my whole division) was in the saddle at daylight, and the attack did not begin until the sun was two hours high. . . .
Prentiss was not surprised, for I sent him word an hour before the enemie’' infantry began to appear, and he was not made prisoner until after 3 P.M. . . .
I confess I did not think Beauregard would abandon his railroads to attack us on our base (when he knew that by waiting a short time we should be forced to advance) where he would most assuredly have been beaten.
I am on the extreme right and we are in contact with the enemies’ pickets. Some fierce struggle must soon follow, but that the war is ended or even fairly begun I do not believe.
Affectionately your brother,
W. T. SHERMAN.
SOURCE: Rachel Sherman Thorndike, Editor, The Sherman letters: correspondence between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, p. 145-6