Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Major General William T. Sherman to Ellen Ewing Sherman, May 20, 1864

KINGSTON, GEO., May 20, 1864.

I have no doubt you will complain of neglect on my part, but you have sense enough to see that my every minute has been taken. According to appointment with General Grant I got everything as far ready as possible on the 5th and started from Chattanooga on the 6th. Troops had to be marched and collected from all parts of the country without attracting attention, and I got McPherson up to Chattanooga and on Johnston's flank before he suspected anything more than a detachment of Thomas' command.

Dalton lies in a valley, but the road passes through a gap which was a most formidable place. I drew Johnston's attention to it whilst I moved the army round through a gap thirty miles further south and appeared on his rear and flank. He hastily evacuated Dalton and succeeded in getting into Resaca, eighteen miles, where he had prepared a strong position. This we attacked at all points, getting closer and closer whilst I got a bridge across the Oostenaula, and again threatened his rear. Again he started and we chased him fighting all the way to Cassville, and to-day the army is pushing him across the Etowah. Having a railroad and familiar with all the byeways he has got off, but at a cost of about 6,000 men. We have a thousand prisoners, have killed and wounded 5,000, and have ourselves lost less than 4,000. We have had no time to count noses. The enemy burned the railroad bridge at Oostenaula, but we have repaired it and now have the telegraph and cars to the very rear of our army. The whole movement has been rapid, skilful and successful, but will be measured by subsequent events. Difficulties increase as we go, for I have to drop men to guard our roads, whereas our enemy gathers up his guards and collects other reinforcements. I will cross the Etowah and Chattahoochee and swing round Atlanta. If I can break up that nest it will be a splendid achievement. Grant's battles in Virginia are fearful but necessary. Immense slaughter is necessary to prove that our Northern armies can and will fight. That once impressed will be an immense moral power. Banks' utter failure is awful, as that force should now be at Mobile. It may be that Canby can straighten out matters. Banks was so intent on civil government that he underrated the military features of his territory. All attempts at civil government in the midst of war are folly.

SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 290-1.  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 2/14

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