Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Major General William T. Sherman to Ellen Ewing Sherman, August 20, 1862

MEMPHIS, August 20, 1862.

. . . I see the Cincinnati papers are finding fault with me again. Well, thank God, I don't owe Cincinnati anything, or she me. If they want to believe reporters they may. Eliza Gillespie can tell you whether I take an interest in the sick or no. I never said I did not want cowards from the hospital. I said the Sanitary Committee had carried off thousands who were not sick, except of the war, and for my part I did not want such to return. Men who ran off at Shiloh and escaped in boats to Ohio and remain absent as deserters will be of no use to us here. This is true and those deserters should know it; but the real sick receive from me all possible care. I keep my sick with their regiments, with their comrades, and don't send them to strange hospitals. Our surgeon has a very bad way of getting rid of sick instead of taking care of them in their regiments, and once in the general hospitals they rarely return. This cause nearly defeated us at Shiloh, when 57,000 men were absent from their regiment without leave. McClellan has 70,000 absent from his army. This abuse has led to many catastrophes, and you can't pick up a paper without some order of the President and Secretary of War on the subject.

If the doctors want to do charity let them come here, where the sick are, and not ask us to send the sick to them. As to opening the liquor saloons here, it was done by the city authorities to prevent the sale of whiskey by the smugglers. We have as little drunkenness and as good order here as in any part of the volunteer army.

Cincinnati furnishes more contraband goods than Charleston, and has done more to prolong the war than the State of South Carolina. Not a merchant there but would sell salt, bacon, powder and lead, if they can make money by it. I have partially stopped this and hear their complaints. I hope Bragg will bring war home to them. The cause of war is not alone in the nigger, but in the mercenary spirit of our countrymen.

SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 231-2.  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 1/147.

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