Thursday, November 15, 2012

Major General William T. Sherman to Senator John Sherman, [May 31, 1862]

[May 31, 1862]

Dear Brother:

Of course the telegraph has announced the evacuation of Corinth. I have sent to General Thomas commanding Right Wing my report. You ask for a copy. This is wrong, as official reports are the property of the War Department. I have sent Ellen the rough draft to keep and I have instructed her to make and send you a copy. We have had no battle and I cannot imagine why Beauregard has declined battle. I was on the extreme right and yesterday pushed into the town and beyond it, but their army had gone off and I was ordered back to this camp.

Pope and Buell are in pursuit, I understand, around by the left, but you will have the result long before you can receive this letter.

I send you a copy of my Division Order which is public, inasmuch as it is issued to my own command. Its publication would interest no one, but lest you should print it on the supposition that it would interest people, I express the wish that it be not published until Halleck's announcement of the abandonment of Corinth be first made public.

I cannot imagine what turn things will now take, but I do not think Halleck will attempt to pursue far. I think that Beauregard cannot now subsist his army or hold it together long.

It must divide to live, and the greatest danger is that they will scatter and constitute guerilla bands. The people are as bitter against us as ever, but the leaders must admit now that they have been defeated. I hope all this army with some exceptions will be marched forthwith to Memphis. A part could be spared for Huntsville, Ala., and Nashville, but as to pursuing overland it would be absurd. We want the Mississippi now in its whole length and a moment should not be lost. I am glad the President has called for more men. He cannot have too many, and the more men the sooner the work will be done. All is not yet accomplished, although certainly great strides have been made. If McClellan succeeds at Richmond and we can take Memphis, we could afford to pause and let events work. Banks’ repulse was certain. Three converging armies whose point was in possession of the enemy was worse generalship than they tried to force on me in Kentucky of diverging lines with a superior enemy between. Our people must respect the well-established principles of the art of war, else successful fighting will produce no results. I am glad you are pleased at my report at Shiloh. It possesses the merit of truth and you may safely rely on it, for I make no points but what I can sustain. Your speech was timely and proper for you. You could explain, whereas I had to report actual facts without fear or favor. I will write when more at leisure. The enemies’ works are very extensive. They must have had 100,000 men.

Your brother,


SOURCE: Rachel Sherman Thorndike, Editor, The Sherman letters: correspondence between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, p. 154-5

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