APPROACHING MEMPHIS, March 10, 1864.
Again I am approaching you. I have done all I undertook, and am now en route for Huntsville, but must stop it may be a week at Memphis to complete certain matters made necessary by General Grant's orders received yesterday, when I expect to come to Cairo and Louisville and Huntsville. I do not think I can come to Cincinnati, for too much rests with me now, and however disposed, I must go on for the spring campaign which I judge will be the most sanguinary of all. . . .
I have just received from General Grant a letter in which he gives me and McPherson credit for having won for him his present high position. . . .
I have no doubt you were amused at the thousand and one stories about my Meridian trip. It certainly baffled the sharp ones of the press and stampeded all Alabama, but in fact was a pleasant excursion. Weather was beautiful, roads good and plenty to eat, what fighting we had was all on one side. Our aggregate loss is 21 killed, 68 wounded, and 81 missing, 170 all told. But in a day or two I will send you my report which will be clear and explicit. I have sent 10,000 men up Red River under General A. J. Smith with Admiral Porter to co-operate with General Banks. They are to be gone only thirty days when they come around to me at Huntsville. I want to make up my army there to 40,000 men. So when we cross the Tennessee look out. Grant in command, Thomas the Centre, Schofield the Left and Sherman Right—if we can't whip Joe Johnston, we will know the reason why; Banks in the meantime to come out of Red River and swing against Mobile. If he had been smart he could have walked into Mobile when I was in Meridian. I am down on Wm. Sooy Smith. He could have come to me, I know it, and had he, I would have captured Polk's army; but the enemy had too much cavalry for me to attempt it with men afoot. As it was I scared the Bishop out of his senses. He made a clean run and I could not get within a day's march of him. He had railroads to help him, but these are now gone. Had I tolerated a corps of newspaper men how could I have made that march a success? Am I not right? And does not the world now see it? ...
On my way down I picked up at Natchez a prisoner of war, Professor Boyd, my favorite among the officers of the academy at Alexandria. I never saw a man evince more gratitude. He clung to me till I came away. Stone promised to be kind to him and to exchange him the first opportunity. He told me all about the people up river and said they talked about me a great deal, some with marked respect and others with bitter hatred. . . .
Many of the negroes are gone and the present trip up Red River will clean out the balance. Boyd tells me the motto over the door of the Seminary is chiselled out. You remember it in my letter of resignation: 'By the liberality of the General Government of the United States. The Union, Esto perpetua.' The fools! Though obliterated it lives in the memory of thousands and it may be restored in a few days. I wanted to go up Red River, but as Banks was to command in person I thought best not to go. Grant wanted me to command, but I reported my reason as before stated. Banks ranks Grant and myself. But now Grant will be Lieutenant-General and will command all he pleases. Of course I can get anything I want, but as soon as the spring campaign is over I want to come here and look after the Mississippi. Like the story of Gil Blas, Here lies my soul.' Though Willy died here his pure and holy spirit will hover over this the grand artery of America. I want to live out here and die here also, and don't care if my grave be like De Soto's in its muddy waters.1 . . .
1 It was at General Sherman's own request that he was buried, in 1891, at St. Louis by the side of his son.
SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 284-6. 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 2/12