Thursday, December 12, 2013

Major General William T. Sherman to Ellen Ewing Sherman, October 27, 1864

GAYLESVILLE, Ala., October 27, 1864.

. . . I expect very soon now to attempt another feat in which I think I shall succeed, but it is hazardous and you will not hear from me for months. The War Department will know my whereabouts, and the Rebels, and you will be able to guess. . .

You ask my opinion of McClellan. I have been much amused at similar inquiries of John and others in answer to a news paragraph that I pledged ninety-nine votes of the hundred to McClellan. Of course this is the invention of some knave. I never said such thing. I will vote for nobody, because I am not entitled to vote. Of the two, with the inferences to be drawn at home and abroad, I would prefer Lincoln, though I know that McClellan, Vallandigham or even Jeff Davis if President of the U. S. would prosecute the war, and no one with more vigor than the latter. But at the time the howl was raised against McClellan I knew it was in a measure unjust, for he was charged with delinquencies that the American people are chargeable for. Thus, how unjust to blame me for any misfortune now when all the authorities and people are conspiring to break up the Army till the election is over. Our armies vanish before our eyes and it is useless to complain because the election is more important than the war. Our armies are merely paper armies. I have 40,000 Cavalry on paper but less than 5,000 in fact.  A like measure runs through the whole, and so it was with McClellan. He had to fight partly with figures. Still I admit he never manifested the simple courage and manliness of Grant, and he had too much staff, too many toadies, and looked too much to No. 1. When I was in Kentucky he would not heed my counsels, and never wrote me once, but since I have gained some notoriety at Atlanta and the papers announced, as usually falsely, that I was for him, he has written me twice and that has depreciated him more in my estimation than all else. He cannot be elected. Mr. Lincoln will be, but I hope it will be done quick, that voters may come to their regiments and not give the Rebels the advantage they know so well to take. I believe McClellan to be an honest man as to money, of good habits, descent, and of far more than average intelligence, and therefore I never have joined in the hue and cry against him. In revolutions men fall and rise. Long before this war is over, much as you hear me praised now, you may hear me cursed and insulted. Read history, read Coriolanus, and you will see the true measure of popular applause. Grant, Sheridan and I are now the popular favorites, but neither of us will survive this war. Some other must rise greater than either of us, and he has not yet manifested himself. . . .

SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 314-6.  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 2/18

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