Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Major General William T. Sherman to Ellen Ewing Sherman, April 29, 1863

BEFORE VICKSBURG, April 29th, 1863.

. . . He [Grant] is down at Carthage, the fleet is below Vicksburg, and I was on the point of following when the order was countermanded; then I got an order that he would like to have a feint made on Haines' Bluff, provided I did not fear the people might style it a repulse. I wrote him to make his plans founded on as much good sense as possible and let the people mind their own business. He had ordered me to attack Vicksburg and I had done so. Now to divert attention from his movement against Grand Gulf he wants another demonstration up Yazoo. Of course I will make it and let the people find out when they can if it be a repulse or no. I suppose we must ask the people in the press, i. e. some half-dozen little whipsnappers who represent the press, but are in fact spies in our camp, too lazy, idle, and cowardly to be soldiers. These must be consulted before I can make a simulated attack on Haines' Bluff in aid to Grant and Porter that I know are in a tight place at Grand Gulf. Therefore prepare yourself for another blast against Sherman blundering and being repulsed at Haines' whilst McClernand charges gallantly ashore and carries Grand Gulf, etc. But when they take Grand Gulf they have the elephant by the tail. I say the whole plan is hazardous in the extreme, but I will do all I can to aid Grant. Should, as the papers now intimate, Grant be relieved and McClernand left in command you may expect to hear of me at St. Louis, for I will not serve under McClernand. . . . I start in an hour to make the demonstration up the Yazoo. I shall have ten regiments of infantry, two ironclads, the Mohawk and De Kalb, and a parcel of mosquitoes. I don't expect a fight, but a devil of noise to make believe and attract any troops in motion from Vicksburg towards Grand Gulf back. I think Grant will make a safe lodgment at Grand Gulf, but the real trouble is and will be the maintenance of the army there. If the capture of Holly Springs made him leave the Tallahatchie, how much more precarious is his position now below Vicksburg with every pound of provision, forage and ammunition to float past the seven miles of batteries at Vicksburg or be hauled thirty-seven miles along a narrow boggy road. I will be up Yazoo about three days. . . . I am not concerned about the Cincinnati Gazette. The correspondent's insinuations against Grant and myself about cotton are ridiculous. Grant is honest as old Jack Taylor, and I am a cotton-burner. I have even forbidden all dealing in cotton and not an officer of my command ever owned a bale. As to myself, I would burn every parcel of it as the bone of contention and apple of discord. Now that Mr. Chase has undertaken to manage cotton as well as finance I wish him a good time with it. . . .

SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 256-8.  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 2/03.

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