Monday, December 2, 2013

Maj. General William T. Sherman to Ellen Ewing Sherman, July 9th, 1864

July 9th, 1864.

. . . We are now on the Chattahoochee in plain view of the City of Atlanta 9 miles off. The enemy and the Chattahoochee lie between us, and intense heat prevails; but I think I shall succeed. At all events you know I never turn back. I see by the papers that too much stress was laid on the repulse of June 27th. I was forced to make the effort and it should have succeeded; but the officers and men have been so used to my avoiding excessive danger and forcing back the enemy by strategy that they hate to assault; but to assault is sometimes necessary for its effect on the enemy. Had this assault succeeded I would have then fought Johnston with the advantage on my side instead of his having all the benefit of forts, ground, creeks, etc. As it was I did not give him rest but forced him across the Chattahoochee, which was the first great object. I have already got Schofield and Garrard across the river and therefore can cross the army when I choose. . . . The army is very large and extends from Roswell factory at the north around to Sandtown, but my centre is directly in front of Atlanta. I will have to manœuver some hereabouts to drive the enemy and to gain time to accumulate stores by rail to enable me to operate beyond reach of the railroad. Thus far our supplies have been ample and the country is high, mountainous, with splendid water and considerable forage in the nature of fields of growing wheat, oats and com, but we sweep across it leaving it as bare as a desert. The people all flee before us. The task of feeding this vast host is a more difficult one than to fight. . . .

SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 300-1.  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 2/16

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