IN THE FIELD, RIO SHANTY, Geo.,
June 12, 1864.
. . . That it should have devolved on me to guide one of the two great armies on which may depend the fate of our people for the next hundred years I somewhat regret. Yet you know I have been drawn into it by a slow and gradual progress which I could not avoid. Grant was forced into his position, and I likewise. I think thus far I have played my game well. Had my plans been executed with the vim I contemplated I should have forced Johnston to fight the decisive battle in the Oostenaula Valley between Dalton and Resaca; but McPherson was a little over-cautious, and we cannot move vast armies of this size with the rapidity of thought or of small bodies.
For the past ten days, our movements have been vastly retarded by rains. It has rained hard all the time and to-day harder than ever, a steady cold rain. I am in an old house with a fire burning, which is not uncomfortable. Johnston was 60,000 Infantry, 15,000 Cavalry and a good deal of militia. We must have a terrific battle, and he wants to choose and fortify his ground. He also aims to break my road to the rear. I wish we could make an accumulation of stores somewhere near, but the railroad is taxed to its utmost to supply our daily wants.
The country is stripped of cattle, horses, hogs, and grain, but there are large fine fields of growing oats, wheat and corn, which our horses and mules devour as we advance. Thus far we have been well supplied, and I hope it will continue, though I expect to hear every day of Forrest breaking into Tennessee from some quarter. Jno. Morgan is in Kentucky, but I attach little importance to him or his raid, as we don't draw anything from Kentucky, and there are plenty of troops there to capture and destroy him. Forrest is a more dangerous man. I am in hopes that an expedition sent out from Memphis on Tupelo about the 1st of June will give him full employment. I have also ordered A. J. Smith with the force he brought out of Red River to move against Mobile by way of diversion. Johnston is now between me and Marietta. As soon as these clouds and storms clear away I will study his position and determine to assault his line or turn it and force him back of the Chattahoochee. As long as I press him close and prevent his sending anything to Lee I fulfill my part of the Grand Plan. In the meantime Grant will give Lee all the fighting he wants until he is sick of the word. Every man in America should now be armed, and all who will not help should be put in petticoats and deprived of the right to vote in the affairs of the after nation. . . .
SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 296-7. 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