HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
AT SEA, April 8, 1865. Steamer Russia.
We are now running in from Cape Henry Light and expect to reach Old Point by ten o'clock to-night. The ship vibrates so I can hardly write, but I must give you a few items. I have been to Savannah, Charleston, Wilmington, and Morehead City, closing up certain matters, whilst my army is marching up from Raleigh to Richmond. I will look for the advance at City Point by the 11th, and hope we will be ordered on to Washington to be mustered out. The South is whipped and submissive, and if any statesmanship is displayed will be the last part of our country to rebel again. Thirty thousand surrendered at Goldsboro, and other scattered bands are surrendering at Tallahassee, Macon, Augusta, and different posts, that will swell the number to 50,000. We might as well have had Taylor's army in Alabama, and Smith's in Texas, but of that hereafter. On my way up the coast I met the New York papers of the 24th and 28th, which were dead against me. Of course I expected that, but I did not expect Halleck and Stanton. They suppressed everything, save parts that by context with matters I never saw made a plausible case, but when I make my official report of the whole you will appreciate the game they have attempted. I met Mr. Chase at Morehead City, and even he was surprised to learn what I knew and told him, and I have from him the clue to the whole, which I must suppress for the time being.
Grant at Raleigh got his eyes opened also. I expect to spend the summer in Ohio, and we can discuss everything with my books and records before you; but in the meantime do not commit yourself to any plan of reconstruction, but let Stanton try his hand and watch the consequences. My belief is that to force the enfranchised negroes, as “loyal” voters at the South, will produce new riot and war, and I fear Sumner, Wilson, and men of that school will force it on the Government or prolong the war ad infinitum. My army won't fight in that war. The slaves are free, but are not yet voters. The time has not yet come. Such a course will alienate a strength your party cannot spare. Don't fear me turning politician. Nothing changes my unalterable resolution, and you may so announce it. . . .
W. T. SHERMAN
SOURCE: Rachel Sherman Thorndike, Editor, The Sherman Letters: Correspondence Between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, p. 247-8