Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Major General William T. Sherman to Thomas Ewing, December 31, 1864

SAVANNAH, Geo., December 31, 1864.

I have received yours of the 18th, and by Christmas day you must have heard that my army had possession of Savannah and all its Forts which have heretofore defied the Navy and the expeditions hitherto sent against it. I ought to have caught its garrison but the swampy ground prevented my reaching the Causeway on the South Carolina shore, but if Hardee had given me two more days I would have closed that also. As it was, however, only his men escaped, and with Savannah I got all the guns, stores and gun-boats which made it formidable. Of course I feel a just pride in the satisfaction you express, and would rather please and gratify you than all the world beside. I know full well that I enjoy the unlimited confidence of the President and Commander in Chief, and better still of my own army. They will march to certain death if I order it, because they know and feel that night and day I labor to the end that not a life shall be lost in vain. I always ignore secondary objects and strike at principals with a foreknowledge that the former follow the latter, nor are my combinations extra hazardous or bold. Every movement I have made in this war has been based on sound military principle, and the result proves the assertion. At Atlanta I was not to be decoyed from the fruits of my summer's work, by Hood's chasséeing to the left, but I sent my oldest lieutenant in whom I had confidence (Thomas) to Tennessee, and give him a liberal part of my veterans and all my recruits, which I knew would enable him to cope with Hood defensively, as also hold the vital parts of former conquests: there again has my judgment been verified by events. Nor was I rash in cutting loose from a base and relying on the country for forage and provisions. I had wagons enough loaded with essentials, and beef cattle enough to feed on for more than a month, and had the Census statistics showing the produce of every county through which I designed to pass. No military expedition was ever based on sounder or surer data.

Besides, my Army has by time and attention acquired too much personal experience and adhesion to disintegrate by foraging or its incident disorganizing tendency. I have just reviewed my four Corps and challenge competition for soldierly bearing and behavior. No city was ever occupied with less disorder or more system than this of Savannah, and it is a subject of universal comment that though an army of 60,000 men lay camped around it, women and children of an hostile people walk its streets with as much security as they do in Philadelphia. I attach much importance to these little matters, as it is all important our armies should not be tainted by that spirit of anarchy that threatened the stability of our government, but on the contrary that when war does end we may safely rest the fabric of government if necessary on the strong and safe base of a well disciplined army of citizens. . . .

SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 320-2

No comments: