Near Thibodaux, La., November 13, 1859.
My Dear Sherman: It was a great pleasure to receive your note from Baton Rouge, and I sincerely hope that we may soon meet. I should have written to you at once on seeing your election to the important position you are to fill, but did not know where to find you. The announcement gave me very great pleasure, though my influence to some extent was given against you, never dreaming you could be an aspirant. I had united with many gentlemen in New Orleans to recommend Professor Sears, with whom I have no acquaintance, but simply on the ground of his being a graduate of West Point. Indeed, my letter was general, and might have applied to any graduate. Had I known your application I should have attended personally to forward your wishes. But as it is all is well.
Since seeing your appointment I have taken pains to try and advance the institution, and several friends speak of sending their sons. Whatever is in my power will be most cheerfully done for your personal interest, and for the institution generally. We must meet, but it is impossible for me to leave home now. Until nearly Christmas I shall be overrun with business, or rather confined by it. We are in the midst of [sugar] manufacturing, and a cold spell is now on us which inflicts a heavy loss every day lost. I even work on Sunday from this time to the end.
At home I have leisure, and am most happy to see friends. Kilburn,14 who is stationed in the city, [is] coming tomorrow to spend a few days. Why can't you do so? You can take dinner with me after breakfast in the city. Kilburn can put you in the way, should you have time to come down. I heard something of your misfortunes,15 and sympathised most deeply with you, but it is not too late for a man of your energy and ability to repair such a disaster.
Your institution I hope will prove a success. It is fairly endowed and has strong and enthusiastic friends. Among them you will find the master spirit my friend, General G. Mason Graham. My acquaintance with him was very short, but very agreeable. Friendships formed under the enemy's guns ought to last.16 I knew he liked me, and I admired his gallantry and devotion. Present my regards to him. You may safely trust to his friendship. Our new governor17 will be your friend, too. He is a plain man, but of excellent character, business habits and very large fortune, placing him above temptation and demagogery. Your professor of mathematics, a foreigner,18 is very highly spoken of; the others I do not know.
Mrs. Sherman and the little ones are not with you I suppose from your not mentioning them. We should be most happy to see them when they come to join you. In the meantime, when you can see enough to form any plan, let me hear from you again, and when and where we may meet. About January 1, I expect to be in Baton Rouge.
Accept my cordial wishes for your success, and happiness.
14 An officer in the commissary department, United States Army. — Ed.
15 The failure of the banking firms with which Sherman had been connected. — Ed.
16 Bragg and Graham had served together in the Mexican War. — Ed.
17 Thomas O. Moore who was to take office in January, 1860. — Ed.
18 Dr. Anthony Vallas, an Hungarian. — Ed.
SOURCE: Walter L. Fleming, Editor, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 52-4