Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Major General William T. Sherman to Senator John Sherman, September 22, 1862

Memphis, Sept. 22,1862

Dear Brother:

Troops are moving up through Arkansas for Missouri. It looks as though they want to swap countries with us. It is about time the North understood the truth. That the entire South, man, woman and child are against us, armed and determined. It will call for a million men for several years to put them down. They are more confident than ever, none seem to doubt their independence, but some hope to conquer the northwest. My opinion is there never can be peace and we must fight it out. I guess you now see how, from the very first I argued, that you all underestimated the task. None of you would admit for a moment that after a year's fighting the enemy would still threaten Washington, Cincinnati and St. Louis. We ought to hold fast to the Mississippi as a great base of operation. I should regard the loss of St. Louis as more fatal to our future success than the capture by them of Harrisburg and Philadelphia. Your brigade is now with Buell. I don't understand his move, but now suppose he will cross Green River and fight north of it. Still I don't see exactly his strategy or tactics. The passage of the enemy north of us, leaving us among a hostile population, was a bold and successful movement and will give them great credit in Europe. You doubtless, like most Americans, attribute our want of success to bad generals. I do not. With us you insist the boys, the soldiers, govern. They must have this or that or will cry down their leaders in the newspapers, so no general can achieve much. They fight or run as they please and of course it is the general’s fault. Until this is cured, we must not look for success. But on the whole, things look more favorable than at any former time, as the numbers engaged on both sides are approaching the occasion.

The war is, which race, that of the North or South, shall rule America. The greatest danger North is division and anarchy, but I hope the pressure from the South will keep all united until our armies begin to have some discipline and see how important it is to success.

Our fort here is nearly done, I have 20 heavy guns mounted and about 30 field pieces, 7000 Infantry and 600 Cavalry. Some of my regiments are now in fine drill and discipline and all are doing well. We are all, however, tied down till events elsewhere develop.

Affectionately yours,


SOURCE: Rachel Sherman Thorndike, Editor, The Sherman letters: correspondence between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, p. 161-3

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