Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Major General William T. Sherman to Ellen Ewing Sherman, May 10, 1865


I wrote you on arrival from Savannah at Old Point. I got here yesterday and found my Army all in. Have seen Charley,1 who is very well. We march tomorrow for Alexandria, whither I have sent my office papers. We will march slowly and leisurely and should reach Alexandria in ten or twelve days. I may have chance to write you meantime. I want you to go and attend your Fair, and say little of me, save that I regard my presence with my Army so important that I will not leave it till it is discharged or sent on new duties. I shall surely spend the summer with you, preferably at Lancaster, but will come to Chicago or wherever you may be when I can leave with propriety. This Army has stood by me in public and private dangers, and I must maintain my hold on it till it ceases to exist. All the officers and men have been to see me in camp to-day and they received with shouts my public denial of a review for Halleck.2  He had ordered Slocum's wing to pass him in review to-day. I forbade it. Tomorrow I march through Richmond with colors flying and drums beating as a matter of right and not by Halleck's favor, and no notice will be taken of him personally or officially. I dare him to oppose my march. He will think twice before he again undertakes to stand between me and my subordinates. Unless Grant interposes from his yielding and good nature I shall get some equally good opportunity to insult Stanton. . . .

Stanton wants to kill me because I do not favor the scheme of declaring the negroes of the South, now free, to be loyal voters, whereby politicians may manufacture just so much more pliable electioneering material. The Negroes don't want to vote. They want to work and enjoy property, and they are no friends of the Negro who seek to complicate him with new prejudices. As to the people of the South they are subjugated, but of course do not love us any more than the Irish or Scotch love the English, but that is no reason why we should assume all the expenses of their state governments. Our power is now so firmly established that we need not fear again their internal disturbances. I have papers and statistics which I will show your father in time. I showed some to Charley to-day and he perfectly agreed with me; so do all my officers. . . .

We cannot kill disarmed men. All this clamor after Jeff Davis, Thompson and others is all bosh. Any young man with a musket is now a more dangerous object than Jeff Davis. He is old, infirm, a fugitive hunted by his own people, and none so poor as do him reverence. It will be well in June before I can expect to leave my army. Don't attempt to come to Alexandria for I will be in a common tent, and overwhelmed with papers and business. Ord, Merritt, Crook, and all the big men of Halleck's army have been to see me, and share with me the disgust occasioned by their base betrayal of my confidence. . . .

1 General Charles Ewing.

2 See Memoirs, II, 374. Sherman's refusal to accept Halleck's hospitality in Richmond is recorded on the same page

SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 352-4.  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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