Thursday, November 28, 2013

Major General William T. Sherman to Ellen Ewing Sherman, June 9, 1864

ACWORTH, Geo., June 9, 1864.

I don't know that you can find this place on your map, but it is on the main road from Chattanooga into Georgia, 7 miles in front of Allatoona, 12 from Marietta and 30 from Atlanta. The army lies about the place, extending east, north and south. We are replenishing our wagons with ammunition, forage and provisions. The railroad to our rear is all in good order except the bridge across Etowah burned by the enemy, which will soon be done. I am forced to move with due deliberation to give time for other combinations from Memphis and New Orleans, in Mobile, etc. But we will soon move forward to the Chattahoochee eleven miles beyond Marietta. Johnston may fight us at the ridge of hills just this side of Marietta, but I think I can dislodge him and this will leave the great battle on or near the Chattahoochee, the passage of which he must dispute. He has a strong, well-disciplined army, but I think we can lick him on any thing like fair terms. So I will not run hot-headed against any works prepared for us. He thinks he checked us at Dallas. I went there to avoid the Allatoona pass, and as soon as I had drawn his army there I slipped my cavalry into Allatoona pass and round the main army in its front, a perfect success. I never designed to attack his hastily prepared works at Dallas and New Hope Church, and as soon as he saw I was making for the railroad around his flank he abandoned his works and we occupied them for a moment and moved by the best road to our present position. We have captured several of their mails and it is wonderful to see how the soldiers talk of driving me back to the Ohio, and then returning to their loving families in Tennessee and Kentucky. I fear they count without their host, as they will have an awful reckoning if they attempt to pass over or around this army.

The paucity of news from the army at this time in Northern papers is most satisfactory to me. My circular was exactly right. Every officer and soldier should keep his friends and family advised of his own adventures and situation, whilst the busy and mischievous scribblers for newspapers are discountenanced. I know my course is right and meets the unqualified approval of all good soldiers. The press is angry at my term, the 'cheap' flattery of the press. We all know that Generals and aspirants bribe these fellows by the loan of government horses and other conveniences not at their individual cost but at the cost of the United States, and in return receive the cheap flattery of the press. The press caused the war, the press gives it point and bitterness, and as long as the press, both North and South, is allowed to fan the flames of discord and hostility, so long must the war last. The Southern press is just the same, and as long as people look to the press for truth and counsel so long will war and anarchy prevail. The liberty of the press, like that of individuals, must be restrained to just limits consistent with the good of the whole, and every fool must not be allowed to print and publish falsehood and slander as he pleases. . . .

SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 294-6.  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 2/15

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