Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Major General William T. Sherman to Ellen Ewing Sherman, May 8, 1865

Monday, May 8, 1865.

We are now approaching Cape Henry and by nine o'clock to-night will be at Old Point, where I expect to stop an hour or so to communicate with Grant and then go on up to City Point and Petersburg to meet my Army. I have been to Savannah, Charleston, and Wilmington on business connected with past affairs, and now I am free to join my army proper. I have seen the New York papers of April 24 and 28, but don't mind them much, for it is manifest that some deviltry is on foot. The telegram of Halleck endorsed by Stanton is the worst,1 but its falsity and baseness puts them at my mercy, and in a few days look out for breakers. This cause may delay me east a few days and I will likely accompany my Army up to Washington. At all events from this time forth I can hear from you and write to you. My latest letter is April 11, received at Raleigh. I want you to go right along, attend the Fair, and I will join you wherever you may be as soon as I can leave. We will probably all spend the summer together at Lancaster. At Savannah, Charleston, Wilmington, and Morehead City, officers, soldiers, sailors, and citizens paid me every sort of honor and respect, especially my old soldiers, more especially when they heard they were down on me at Washington. Now that the war is over, how brave and fierce have become the men that thousand-dollar bounties, patriotism, the appeal of generals and others would not bring out! How terribly energetic all at once Halleck became, to break my truce, cut off “Johnston's Retreat” when he knew Johnston was halted anxious to surrender and was only making excuses to keep his own men from scattering, a thing I did not want, and a reason I reported to Halleck and Stanton before my “Memorandum” went to Washington. Worst of all, his advice that my subordinates, Thomas, Wilson, and Stoneman, should not obey my orders. Under my orders, those Generals have done all they ever did in their lives, and it sounds funny to us to have Halleck better my plans and orders. But of all this hereafter. Go along as comfortably as you can. I am not dead yet, by a long sight, and those matters give me new life, for I see the cause. A breach must be made between Grant and Sherman, or certain cliques in Washington, who have a nice thing, are gone up. I am glad Grant came to Raleigh, for he saw at a glance the whole thing and went away more than satisfied. But heaven and earth will be moved to kill us. . . . Washington is as corrupt as Hell, made so by the looseness and extravagance of war. I will avoid it as a pest house. . .

The Gates of the Press can't prevail with my old army against me, and in them I put my faith.

1 This telegram, sent out at the height of the dissatisfaction with the terms between Sherman and Johnston, directed generals, subordinate to Sherman, to disregard his orders.

SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 350-2.  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 2/24

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