Saturday, November 23, 2013

Major General William T. Sherman to Ellen Ewing Sherman, March 12, 1864

MEMPHIS, March 12, 1864.

. . . Of all the expeditions sent out this spring mine has been best conducted and most successful simply because of the secrecy and expedition with which it was planned and executed. Had the enemy been informed of these in advance by our prying correspondents I might have shared the fate of Seymour.2 He did not go forty miles from his base, whereas I went one hundred and eighty-two miles. I have written Grant a long letter and begged him to adhere to his resolution not to stay at Washington. He would not stand the intrigues of politicians a week. He now occupies a dazzling height and it will require more courage to withstand the pressure than a dozen battles. I wonder if you kept a certain despatch Halleck made me from Corinth in June 1862 and my answer from Moscow. I foretold to Halleck his loss, and the fact that the man who won the Mississippi would be the man. I wish you would hunt it up — I know I saw it among your papers — and show it to Phil to satisfy him, however extravagant my early assertions may have seemed, how they are verified by time. I feel that whilst my mind naturally slights the events actually transpiring in my presence it sees as clear as any one's the results to be evolved by time. Now Halleck has more reserve book-learning and knowledge of men than Grant, and is therefore better qualified for his present post; whereas the latter by his honesty, simplicity, candor and reliance on friends, is better suited to act with soldiers. I would rather occupy my present relation to the military world than any other command and therefore must serve out this campaign which is to be the test. All that has gone before is mere skirmishing. The war now begins, and with heavy well-disciplined masses the issue must be settled in hard fought battles. I think we can whip them in Alabama and it may be Georgia. . . . No amount of poverty or adversity seems to shake their faith: niggers gone, wealth and luxury gone, money worthless, starvation in view within a period of two or three years, and causes enough to make the bravest tremble. Yet I see no signs of let up — some few deserters, plenty tired of war, but the masses determined to fight it out. . . .

2 In the previous month General Truman Seymour had met defeat in Florida.

SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 286-8.  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 2/12

No comments: