Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Major General William T. Sherman to Ellen Ewing Sherman, October 24, 1863

IUKA, Miss., October 24, 1863.

. . . I have had a pretty bad cold for the past two days and am delayed here by bad breaks on the Railroad ahead. The Tennessee is also swollen, and I expect all sorts of trouble in getting over, unless boats are sent up the Tennessee. We have had some fighting ahead with the enemy's cavalry, a pretty formidable body sent ahead from Mississippi, the same division that was in my front at Big Black and all of Wheeler's cavalry that escaped from Tennessee; but I can engage their attention and then divert their minds from the road which supplies Rosecrans' army. Grant I suppose now is at Nashville, and will by his presence unite the army more in feeling than it seems hitherto to have been. He is so unpretending and honest that a man must be base who will not yield to him. The only possible danger is that some may claim his successes hitherto have been the result of accident, but there too I hope they will find themselves mistaken. I have telegraphic notice from Memphis that he has assumed command of the Armies of the Cumberland, Ohio and Tennessee, and that I am to command the latter. My desire has always been to have a distinct compact command, as a Corps, but spite of my efforts I am pushed into complicated places that others aspire to and which I wish they had. But with Grant I will undertake anything in reason. . . .

I see your thoughts as mine dwell with poor Willy in his grave. I do not, and you should not, reproach yourself a moment for any neglect of him. He knew and felt every moment of his life our deep, earnest love for him. The day he came on board the Atlantic1 I think I observed that usual suppressed feeling of pride at having secured that gun. I know I joked him about it and think he received it in his usual manner, and yet at that moment he must have felt the seed of that disorder which proved so fatal. He did not know it then, and we could not so quickly detect the symptoms. . . . God knows and he knows that either of us, and hundreds of others, would have died to save him. . . .

1 The boat from Vicksburg to Memphis. See Memoirs, I, 376.

SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 279-80.  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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