Sunday, November 25, 2012

Major General William T. Sherman to Senator John Sherman, November 24, 1862

MEMPHIS, Nov. 24, 1862.

Dear Brother:

I am just back from Columbus, Ky., where I went to meet Gen. Grant. I start on Wednesday, with all the troops that can be spared from Memphis, to co-operate with Grant against the enemy now enforced behind the Tallahatchee, about 60 miles S.E. of Memphis. Grant may have about 35,000 and I shall take 17,000. Our old regiments are very small, and I am sorry to learn that no recruits are ready to fill them up. So much clamor was raised about the draft that I really was led to believe there was something in it, but now I suppose it was one of those delusions of which the papers are so full. Your letter of the 16th is before me. I could write a good deal on the points that you make, but hardly have time to do them justice. The late election doesn't disturb me a particle. The people have so long been accustomed to think they could accomplish anything by a vote, that they still think so; but now a vote is nothing more than a change and will produce no effect. The war might have been staved off a few years, or the issue might have been made up more clearly, or the first enthusiasm of the country might have been better taken advantage of; but these are now all past, and fault-finding will do no good. We are involved in a war that will try the sincerity of all our professions of endurance, courage and patriotism. Leaders will of course be killed off by the score. Thousands will perish by the bullet or sickness; but war must go on — it can't be stopped. The North must rule or submit to degradation and insult forevermore. The war must now be fought out. The President, Congress, no earthly power can stop it without absolute submission. . . .

Of course I foresaw all these complications at the outset, and was amused at the apathy of the country after the South had begun the war by the seizure of arsenals, forts, mints and public property, and still more at the call for 75,000 volunteers, when a million was the least that any man who had ever been South would have dreamed of. These half-way measures at the start only add labor in the end. . . .

McClernand is announced as forming a grand army to sweep the Mississippi, when, the truth is, he is in Springfield, Ill., trying to be elected to the U. S. Senate. I believe at this moment we have more men under pay at home than in the field, and suppose there is no help for it. If you want to make a good law, make a simple one, “No work, no pay.” No pay unless on duty at the place where the army is. That would save tens of millions per annum.

I leave here the day after to-morrow for Tehullahoma, to communicate with Grant at Holly Springs. Our joint forces should reach near 50,000 men, but sickness and other causes will keep us down to about 40,000.

Yours affectionately,


SOURCE: Rachel Sherman Thorndike, Editor, The Sherman letters: correspondence between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, p. 168-70

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