Saturday, December 7, 2013

Major General William T. Sherman to Ellen Ewing Sherman, September 17, 1864

September 17, 1864

I have had some sharp correspondence with Hood1 about expelling the poor families of a brave people, which correspondence in due time will become public, and I take the ground that Atlanta is a conquered place and I propose to use it purely for our own military purposes which are inconsistent with its habitation by the families of a brave people. I am shipping them all, and by next Wednesday the town will be a real military town with no women boring me every order I give. Hood no doubt thought he would make capital out of the barbarity, etc., but I rather think he will change his mind before he is done.

1 In this correspondence, Sherman wrote: “You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it.” (Memoirs, II, 126.) Before Sherman's death in 1891, the more familiar saying, “War is hell,” began to be ascribed to him. He could not recall having uttered it, and caused a search of newspapers and other reports to be made, in vain. It may have been dropped in conversation, or in one of his informal talks to military gatherings; this he did not deny. Indeed, W. F. Hinman's Story of the Sherman Brigade (1897) records (p. 333) his having spoken the words at a reunion of his brother's Brigade at Caldwell, O. Inquiry at that place has confirmed the report through the recollection of a veteran. Yet on the completion of St. Gaudens's equestrian statue in New York, Sherman's coining of the phrase was not thought to be so clearly established as to permit the sculptor's use of the following admirable quatrain by Dr. Henry van Dyke:

This is the soldier brave enough to tell
The glory-dazzled world that War is hell:
Lover of peace, he looks beyond the strife,
And rides through hell to save his country's life.

(Atlantic Monthly, July, 1904.)

SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 309.  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 2/17

No comments: