HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
NASHVILLE, TENN., April 6, 1864.
. . . . . . . . .
Grant is as good a leader as we can find. He has honesty, simplicity of character, singleness of purpose, and no hope or claim to usurp civil power. His character, more than his genius, will reconcile armies and attach the people. Let him alone. Don't disgust him by flattery or importunity. Let him alone. . . . If bothered, hampered, or embarrassed, he would drop you all in disgust, and let you slide into anarchy. . . . Let us manage the whites and "niggers" and all the physical resources of the country, and apply them where most needed. Let us accomplish great results, leaving small ones to conform in due season. . . .
I have in hand three armies here, and one in Arkansas. All are in harmony, and all are willing to go and come at my bidding. I am also in perfect harmony with the civil authorities. I know their province and my own. I believe also our enemies have more respect for me than they have for Congress, so that I shall be ready with the spring. But I see with regret causes still at work North which should not be. States quarrelling about quotas, when we see their regiments here dwindling to mere squads. Absentees by the hundreds of thousands; and all efforts to get men, who have drawn large bounties and are drawing large pay still lingering at a safe distance, are vain, yet I hope that by the voluntary consent of the men themselves we shall have enough.
As our enemy fills his ranks by conscription, ours dwindle by sickness and furloughs. I am laboring hard to put all on the rolls into position, and still harder to put forward the stores on which they must feed as we advance. The country through which we have marched is cleared of all subsistence and forage, and everything must be sent forward by cars and wagons. It is estimated that there are now the carcasses of thirty thousand animals in the valley of the Tennessee. Not one cavalry soldier in ten has a horse, and on a recent visit to Schofield, out of forty-one thousand men who should have, I find but seven thousand in line of battle, but the furloughed men are returning, and I will see that by May 1st I have on the Tennessee one of the best armies in the world. You may look for the causes of these apparent incongruities not in the army, but among our people.
I shall be here about two weeks, and then to the front. Let me hear from you. I care no more for the squabbles about the Presidency than I do for the causes of the Schleswig-Holstein difficulty, and Grant cares still less. . . .
W. T. SHERMAN
SOURCE: Rachel Sherman Thorndike, Editor, The Sherman Letters: Correspondence Between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, p. 225-7