CAMP BEFORE VICKSBURG,
March 13, 1863.
. . . The waters are still rising and Kilby Smith's Brigade is roosting on the levee with bare standing room. McClernand's Corps is at Milliken's Bend, and my Corps strung along the levee for four miles. The levee is about ten feet wide at top with sloping sides and can hold all the men and maybe horses in case of an absolute flood. We have not steamboats enough to float us and if we had there is no dry land to go to. An expedition has entered the Yazoo from above, and when it is heard from we probably will make another dash at Vicksburg or Drumgould's. I see the whole North is again in agonies about the amount of sickness down here. It is not excessively hot, more than should be expected, not more than we had on the Potomac and Tennessee, and our supplies are the best I ever saw. There is a deep laid plan to cripple us laid by Jeff Davis who is smart and knows our people well. By a few thousands of dollars well invested in newspapers he can defeat any plan or undertaking. Many really well disposed men have come from St. Louis, Cincinnati and Washington and have been amazed by the falsehood of these stories. Only one man of the regulars has died since we left Memphis. My old regiments are all in fine health and spirits. Some of the new regiments have passed through the ordeal which afflicts all new troops. . . .
The War Department have not given me any staff, and yet have taken from me the right to appoint any. The truth is now as it always was, that persons at a distance are neglected and those near the seat of power petted. We have made further progress than any army, with less means. In Vicksburg we meet our match and time must solve the difficulty; but so long as our camps are full of newspaper spies revealing each move, exaggerating our trouble and difficulties and giving grounds for discontent, success cannot be expected.
The new Conscript Law is the best act of our government and Mr. Lincoln can no longer complain of want of power. He now is absolute dictator and if he don't use the power some one will. . . .
SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 242-3. 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 2/02.