Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Colonel William T. Sherman to Ellen Ewing Sherman, July 24, 1861

FORT CORCORAN, July 24, 1861.

On my arrival back here, carried by the shameless flight of the armed mob we led into Virginia, I tried to stay the crowd, and held them in check to show at least some front to the pursuing force. Yesterday the President and Mr. Seward visited me, and I slipped over for a few minutes last night to see your father. John S. and Tom1 have seen me and promise to write you. The battle was nothing to the absolute rout that followed and yet exists. With shameless conduct the volunteers continue to flee. A regiment, the New York 79th, Scots, were forming to march over to Washington, and I have commanded them to remain. If they go, in spite of all I can do, there will remain here but one company of artillery, 90 strong, and a Wisconsin regiment ready to run, and Beauregard is close at hand. So it seems to be true that the North is after all pure bluster. Washington is in greater danger now than ever.

I will stand by my post, an illustration of what we all knew, that when real danger came, the politicians would clear out. The proud army characterized as the most extraordinary on earth has turned out the most ordinary.

Well, as I am sufficiently disgraced now, I suppose soon I can sneak into some quiet corner. I was under heavy fire for hours, touched on the knee and shoulder, my horse shot through the leg, and was every way exposed, and cannot imagine how I escaped except to experience the mortification of retreat, rout, confusion, and now abandonment by whole regiments. I am much pressed with business regulating the flight of all, save the few to remain on this side of the river.

Last night I received several letters from you, and took time to read them, and now trust to Tom and others to tell you of the famous deed of Bull Run.

Courage our people have, but no government.

1 Thomas Ewing, Jr.

SOURCE: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman,  p. 203-4.  A full copy of this letter can be found in the William T Sherman Family papers (SHR), University of Notre Dame Archives (UNDA), Notre Dame, IN 46556, Folder CSHR 1/138.

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