CAMP BEFORE VICKSBURG, April 3, '63.
My Dear Brother:
I received your long letter from Mansfield, for which I am much obliged. You certainly have achieved an envious name in the Senate, and I confess I am astonished at your industry and acquirements. I readily understand how, in a revolution of the magnitude that now involves us all, older men should devolve on you and the younger school of men the legislation and experiments necessary to meet a state of facts so different from the common run of events. The Finance Bill and Conscription Acts of the late Congress in my judgment may keep the management of the affairs of the nation in the hands of the Constitutional Government. Anything short of them, the war would have drifted out of the control of President and Congress. Now if Mr. Lincoln will assume the same position that Davis did at the outset, he can unite the fighting North against the fighting South, and numerical force systematized will settle the war. I know the impatience of the people, but this is one of the lessons of war. People must learn that war is a question of physical force and courage. A million of men engaged in peaceful pursuits will be vanquished by a few thousand determined armed men. The justice of the cause has nothing to do with it. It is a question of force. Again we are the assailants, and have to overcome not only an equal number of determined men, however wrongfully engaged, but the natural obstacles of a most difficult country. . . .
They [i.e. newspaper correspondents] are unknown to me, appear in disguise of sutlers' clerks, cotton thieves and that class of vultures that hang around every army. I never saw or heard of Knox till he had published his falsehoods; and when I did send for him, and he admitted how false he had been, he enunciated the sentiment that his trade was to collect news — he must furnish reading matter for sale, true, if possible; otherwise, false. . . .
It is absurd to say these correspondents relieve the anxiety of parents, friends, &c. My soldiers write constantly and receive immense numbers of letters. This is right, and if newspapers will report only local matters and discuss matters within their knowledge, parents and families would not be kept half frantic with the accounts of sickness, death, massacres, &c., of their children and relatives. We have hundreds of visitors from every quarter to examine our camps, because correspondents represented us as all dying, when the truth is no army was ever better provided for and supplied. We are camped on narrow slips of levee and ground, because all else is under water. To get on dry ground we must go back to Memphis or Helena. . . .
McPherson is a splendid officer. Grant is honest and does his best. I will do as ordered. I will suggest little, as others talk of my failing to take Vicksburg and I want them to try a hand. . . .
W. T. SHERMAN.
SOURCE: Rachel Sherman Thorndike, Editor, The Sherman letters: correspondence between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, p. 196-8