Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Major General William T. Sherman to Ellen Ewing Sherman, October 14, 1863

CORINTH, MISS., October 14, 1863.

I was much relieved at the receipt of your two letters from Cairo and Cincinnati, both of which came out last night. I shew your message to Dr. Roler, who was affected to tears. Poor Doctor, although I have poured out my feelings of gratitude to him, he seems to fear we may have a lingering thought that he failed somehow in saving poor Willy. Your loving message may have dispelled the thought, and I shall never fail to manifest to him my heartfelt thanks for the unsleeping care he took of the boy. I believe hundreds would have freely died could they have saved his life. I know I would, and occasionally indulged the wish that some of those bullets that searched for my life at Vicksburg had been successful, that it might have removed the necessity for that fatal visit. . . .

Everybody in Memphis manifested for me a respect and affection that I never experienced North. I am told that when the report went into Memphis that my train was surely captured at Collierville, the utmost excitement prevailed at Memphis, and a manifest joy displayed when they heard the truth, that we were not only safe, but that we had saved Collierville and the railroad. At Lagrange, east of Collierville, Gen. Sweeny, the one-armed officer you may remember at St. Louis Arsenal, hearing that I was captured started south with his whole force, determined to rescue Gen. Sherman. As soon as I learned the fact I sent a courier to overtake him, advising him of my safety, but advising him to push on and drive Chalmers far to the south. He is still out. I have this moment received a despatch from Gen. Grant at Memphis. He is en route to Cairo to communicate by telegraph with Washington. I know there is a project to give him command of the Great Centre, the same idea I foreshadowed in my days of depression and insult. I advise him by all means to assent, to go to Nashville and command Burnside on the Right, Rosecrans Centre, and Sherman Left. That will be an Army, and if our ranks were full I would have hopes of great and decisive results. I have stood by Grant in his days of sorrow. Not six miles from here1 he sat in his tent almost weeping at the accumulated charges against him by such villains as Stanton of Ohio, Wade and others. He had made up his mind to leave for good. I begged him, and he yielded. I could see his good points and his weak points better than I could my own, and he now feels that I stood by him in his days of dejection and he is my sworn friend. Corinth brings back to me the memory of those events and bids me heed my own counsels to others. Oh! that poor Willy could live to reap the fruits of whatever is good in me, and avoid the evil. If it so be that he can see our hearts from above he will read in mine a love for him such as would not taint the purest heaven that you ever dreamed of. God spare us the children that are left, and if I am pardoned for exposing them wrongfully I will never again. . . .

1 See p. 228

SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 277-9.  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 2/07.

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