Thursday, December 26, 2013

Major General William T. Sherman to Ellen Ewing Sherman, April 9, 1865

April 9, 1865.

. . . To-morrow we move straight against Joe Johnston wherever he may be. Grant's magnificent victories about Petersburg, and his rapid pursuit of Lee's army, makes it unnecessary for me to move further north, and I expect my course will be to Raleigh and Greensboro. I will fix up the railroad to Raleigh, but then shall cast off as my custom has been and depend on the contents of our wagons and on the resources of the country. Poor North Carolina will have a hard time, for we sweep the country like a swarm of locusts. Thousands of people may perish, but they now realise that war means something else than vain glory and boasting. If Peace ever falls to their lot they will never again invite War. But there is a class of young men who will never live at peace. Long after Lee's and Johnston's armies are beaten and scattered they will band together as highwaymen and keep the country in a fever, begetting a Guerilla War. It may be that the Government may give us who have now been working four years a rest and let younger men follow up the sequel. I feel confident we can whip Joe Johnston quick if he stops, but he may travel back towards Georgia, and I don't want to follow him again over that long road. I wish Grant had been a few days later or I a few days sooner, but on the whole our campaigns have been good. The weather now seems settled, and if I have good roads think I can travel pretty fast. The sun is warm, the leaves are all coming out, and flowers are in bloom, about as you will have it a month hence. The entire army has new clothing, and with soap and water have made a wonderful change in our appearance. The fellows who passed in review before me with smokeblack faces, dirty and ragged, many with feet bare or wrapped in cloth, now strut about as proud as young chicken cocks, with their clean faces and bright blue clothes. All are ready to plunge again into the labor and toil and uncertainty of war. You doubtless have heard all you can stand of these matters. My health is good. . . . I send to Tommy today a hundred dollars, and now enclose you $200, which is all I can raise and I got it of the quarter-master. I think, however, you will not suffer, but as a rule don't borrow. “’Tis more honest to steal.”

SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 342-3.  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 2/23

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