Monday, August 19, 2013

Major General William T. Sherman to Senator John Sherman, April 11, 1864

[NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, April 11, 1864]

Of course I have enough to do, but more to think about. We have now been two years and more at war, and have reached a period when we should consider the war as fairly begun. Don't you delude yourself that it is even approaching an end. For a shrewd people we have less sense even than the Mexicans, paying fabulous bounties for a parcel of boys and old men, and swelling our muster-rolls, but adding nothing to our real fighting strength. Instead of enlarging, we are all cutting down our organizations. I shall have the fragments of seven corps on the Tennessee, but over thirty thousand animals have died, and it is going to be a terrible job to replace them, and to accumulate to the front the necessary food for mules and men in time; but though assured that the country for a long distance into Georgia and Alabama is stripped as it is on this side, yet at the right time I shall go ahead, and, if necessary, feed on anything. I shall not be behindhand when the grand beginning is announced. I can tell you nothing more.

. . . I expect soon to have a new howl against me. The pressure to go in our cars to the front was so great and the difficulty of getting to Chattanooga so momentous, that I ordered absolutely no citizen, private freight, or anything but freight purely military to be taken till the wants of the troops were supplied. . . .

It will require the conjoined energies of the whole nation to meet the shock this spring, and it may be the end will be made certain, but still the long, persistent struggle with half a million of men far more desperate than our old Indians is yet to come. . . .

I enclose you a letter of instructions I made to my adjutant Sawyer, who remained at my headquarters, Huntsville, when I went to Meridian. I should not object to have this letter printed, as it is something new and is true. Sawyer tells me it had a powerful effect on the people of Huntsville. As the letter is equally applicable to large districts still to be gone over, its publication would do no harm except to turn the Richmond press against me, as the prince of barbarians.

Yours in haste,

SOURCE: Rachel Sherman Thorndike, Editor, The Sherman Letters: Correspondence Between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, p. 227-8

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