WASHINGTON, January 2d, 1863.
My Dear Brother:
We are watching with the most eager interest the progress of your expedition. We all hope its success will brighten the gloom cast by operations here. If the Mississippi can only be opened and Texas and Arkansas detached it will be a gleam of hope by which I can see the end of the war. Without an outlet to the South and West and with such a blockade as we can easily keep up, the Southern Confederacy cannot exist. This will settle the cotton question, for Texas and Arkansas can with the free labor that can easily be thrown there grow enough cotton for the world — another ground of hope. Banks and yourself I regard as the best officers we have. . . .
I have always believed in you even when you were under a cloud: If you and Banks can act harmoniously and actively together you are able to do more than any two men in the continent.
By the way, Banks is a reserved man, not from pride or over self-confidence, but from the defects of a limited education and from a sensitiveness this unnecessarily gives him. The more you know him the better you will like him. He and I are warm friends. We became early attached in his famous contest for speaker when I first entered Congress. Although new in political life, I stuck to him when his prospects were dark, and ever since then there has been a sincere friendship between us, although we have not often met. This feeling I know will warm him towards you, and his abilities will excite your respect. I write this in anticipation of your meeting and having to co-operate with him. . . .
This Government has to be maintained and I now look to you and Banks as the “men of promise.” I do not favor the Bankrupt Law as you suppose, and I can’t conceive how you got that idea unless because I presented petitions. I am occasionally asked for letters to you. I generally decline, except where refusal would wound a valued friend.
SOURCE: Rachel Sherman Thorndike, Editor, The Sherman letters: correspondence between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, p. 177-8