Saturday, December 28, 2013

Major General William T. Sherman to Ellen Ewing Sherman, April 22, 1865

RALEIGH, N. C., April 22, 1865.

I wrote you a hasty letter by Major Hitchcock and promised to write more at length as soon as matters settled away somewhat. I am now living in the Palace1 and the Army lies around about the city on beautiful rolling hills of clear ground with plenty of water, and a budding spring. We await a reply from Washington which finishes all the war by one process or forces us to push the fragments of the Confederate Army to the wall.

Hitchcock should be back the day after to-morrow and then I will know. I can start in pursuit of Johnston — who is about Greensboro, on short notice; but I would prefer not to follow him back to Georgia. A pursuing army cannot travel as fast as a fleeing one in its own country. Your letters have come to me in driblets and mine will miss you, as all from Goldsboro were directed to South Bend.

I also sent you then the Columbia flag and a Revolutionary seal for your fair. I have the circulars and have sent them out to parties to collect trophies for you, but it is embarrasing for me to engage in the business, as trophies of all lands belong to Government, and I ought not to be privy to their conversion. Others do it, I know, but it shows the rapid decline in honesty of our people. Pillow, in the Mexican War, tried to send home as trophies a brass gun and other things such as swords and lances, and it was paraded all over the land as evidence of his dishonesty. . . .

The present armies should all be mustered out and the Regular Army increased to 100,000 men and these would suffice to maintain and enforce order at the South. There is great danger of the Confederate armies breaking up into guerillas, and that is what I most fear. Such men as Wade Hampton, Forrest, Wirt Adams, etc., never will work and nothing is left for them but death or highway robbery. They will not work and their negroes are all gone, their plantations destroyed, etc. I will be glad if I can open a way for them abroad. Davis, Breckenridge, etc., will go abroad or get killed in pursuit. My terms do not embrace them but apply solely to the Confederate armies. All not in regular muster rolls will be outlaws. The people of Raleigh are quiet and submissive enough, and also the North Carolinians are subjugated, but the young men, after they get over the effects of recent disasters and wake up to the realization that nothing is left them but to work, will be sure to stir up trouble, but I hope we can soon fix them off. Raleigh is a very old city with a large stone Capitol and governor's mansion called the Palace, now occupied by me and staff. They are distant about half a mile apart with a street connecting, somewhat in the nature of Washington. This street is the business street and some very handsome houses and gardens make up the town. It is full of fine people who were secesh but now are willing to encourage the visits of handsome young men. I find here the family of Mr. Badger who was with your father in Taylor's Cabinet.2 He is paralyzed so as to be hardly able to walk and sits all day. He has his mind and is glad to have visitors. I have called twice. Though a moderate man he voted to go out and actually drafted one of the resolutions of Secession. His wife must be much younger than he and is a lively, interesting lady, chuck full of Washington. She was dying for some news, and Harper's Magazine. I could tell you much that might interest you, but will now merely say that if Mr. Johnson will ratify the terms I will leave Schofield here to complete the business, will start five corps for the Potomac, to march, and in person will go to Charleston and Savannah to give some necessary orders, and then go to the Potomac to receive the troops as they arrive. I may bring you and the children there to see the last final Grand Review of my Army before disbanding it. That is the dream and is possible. It will take all May to march and June to muster out and pay so that the 4th of July may witness a perfect peace. My new sphere will I suppose be down the Mississippi. How would Memphis suit you as a home? The Mississippi valley is my hobby, and if I remain in the Army there is the place Grant will put me; Memphis or Nashville. But I am counting the chickens before they are hatched and must wait to see this thing out. When the war ends our labors begin, for we must organize the permanent army for the future. . . .

1 Sherman occupied the Governor's mansion at Raleigh.

2 Thomas Ewing was a member both of Harrison's and of Taylor's Cabinet. It was in Harrison's Cabinet that George E. Badger was at the same time Secretary of the Navy.

SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 345-8.  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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