IN THE FIELD, NEAR MARIETTA,
June 30, 1864.
. . . It is enough to make the whole world start at the awful amount of death and destruction that now stalks abroad. Daily for the past two months has the work progressed and I see no signs of a remission till one or both and all the armies are destroyed, when I suppose the balance of the people will tear each other up, as Grant says, re-enacting the story of the Kilkenny cats. I begin to regard the death and mangling of a couple thousand men as a small affair, a kind of morning dash — and it may be well that we become so hardened. Each day is killed or wounded some valuable officers and men, the bullets coming from a concealed foe. I suppose the people are impatient why I don't push on more rapidly to Atlanta, but those who are here are satisfied with the progress. It is as much as our railroad can do to supply us bread, meat and corn, and I cannot leave the railroad to swing on Johnston's flank or rear without giving him the railroad, which I cannot do without having a good supply on hand. I am moving heaven and earth to accomplish this, in which event I shall leave the railroad and move to the Chattahoochee, threatening to cross, which will I think force him to do that very thing, when I will swing round on the road again. In that event he may be all ready and attempt to hold both road and river, but my opinion is he has not force enough to do both. In that event you will be without news of us for ten days. I think we can whip his army in fair battle, but behind the hills and trunks our loss of life and limb on the first assault would reduce us too much; in other words, at this distance from home we cannot afford the losses of such terrible assaults as Grant has made. I have only one source of supply. Grant had several in succession. One of my chief objects was to prevent Joe Johnston from detaching against Grant till he got below Richmond, and that I have done. I have no idea of besieging Atlanta, but may cross the Chattahoochee and circle round Atlanta breaking up its roads. . . .
The worst of the war is not yet begun. The civil strife at the North has to come yet, and the tendency to anarchy to be cured. Look at matters in Kentucky and Missouri and down the Mississippi and Arkansas where shallow people have been taught to believe the war is over, and you will see trouble enough to convince you I was right in my view of the case from the first. . . .
I hardly think Johnston will give me a chance to fight a decisive battle, unless at such a disadvantage that I ought not to accept, and he is so situated that when threatened or pressed too hard he draws off leaving us a barren victory. He will thus act all summer, unless he gains a great advantage in position or succeeds in breaking our roads. . . .
SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 299-300. 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