Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

not want to cripple Thomas, because I regard his operations as

all-important, and I have ordered him to pursue Hood down into

Alabama, trusting to the country for supplies.

I reviewed one of my corps to-day, and shall continue to review the

whole army. I do not like to boast, but believe this army has a

confidence in itself that makes it almost invincible. I wish you

could run down and see us; it would have a good effect, and show to

both armies that they are acting on a common plan. The weather is

now cool and pleasant, and the general health very good. Your true


W. T. SHERMAN Major-General.



Major-General H. W. HALLECK, Chief-of-Staff; Washington, D. C.

GENERAL: I had the pleasure of receiving your two letters of the

16th and 18th instant to-day, and feel more than usually flattered

by the high encomiums you have passed on our recent campaign, which

is now complete by the occupation of Savannah.

I am also very glad that General Grant has changed his mind about

embarking my troops for James River, leaving me free to make the

broad swath you describe through South and North Carolina; and

still more gratified at the news from Thomas, in Tennessee, because

it fulfills my plans, which contemplated his being able to dispose

of Hood, in case he ventured north of the Tennessee River. So, I

think, on the whole, I can chuckle over Jeff. Davis's

disappointment in not turning my Atlanta campaign into a "Moscow


I have just finished a long letter to General Grant, and have

explained to him that we are engaged in shifting our base from the

Ogeeohee to the Savannah River, dismantling all the forts made by

the enemy to bear upon the salt-water channels, transferring the

heavy ordnance, etc., to Fort Pulaski and Hilton Head, and in

remodeling the enemy's interior lines to suit our future plans and

purposes. I have also laid down the programme for a campaign which

I can make this winter, and which will put me in the spring on the

Roanoke, in direct communication with General Grant on James River.

In general terms, my plan is to turn over to General Foster the

city of Savannah, to sally forth with my army resupplied, cross the

Savannah, feign on Charleston and Augusta, but strike between,

breaking en route the Charleston & Augusta Railroad, also a large

part of that from Branchville and Camden toward North Carolina, and

then rapidly to move for some point of the railroad from Charleston

to Wilmington, between the Santee and Cape Fear Rivers; then,

communicating with the fleet in the neighborhood of Georgetown, I

would turn upon Wilmington or Charleston, according to the

importance of either. I rather prefer Wilmington, as a live place,

over Charleston, which is dead and unimportant when its railroad

communications are broken. I take it for granted that the present

movement on Wilmington will fail. If I should determine to take

Charleston, I would turn across the country (which I have hunted

over many a time) from Santee to Mount Pleasant, throwing one wing

on the peninsula between the Ashley and Cooper. After

accomplishing one or other of these ends, I would make a bee-line

for Raleigh or Weldon, when Lee world be forced to come out of

Richmond, or acknowledge himself beaten. He would, I think, by the

use of the Danville Railroad, throw himself rapidly between me and

Grant, leaving Richmond in the hands of the latter. This would not

alarm me, for I have an army which I think can maneuver, and I

world force him to attack me at a disadvantage, always under the

supposition that Grant would be on his heels; and, if the worst

come to the worst, I can fight my way down to Albermarle Sound, or


I think the time has come now when we should attempt the boldest

moves, and my experience is, that they are easier of execution than

more timid ones, because the enemy is disconcerted by them--as, for

instance, my recent campaign.

I also doubt the wisdom of concentration beyond a certain extent,

for the roads of this country limit the amount of men that can be

brought to bear in any one battle, and I do not believe that any

one general can handle more than sixty thousand men in battle.

I think our campaign of the last month, as well as every step I

take from this point northward, is as much a direct attack upon

Lee's army as though we were operating within the sound of his


I am very anxious that Thomas should follow up his success to the

very utmost point. My orders to him before I left Kingston were,

after beating Hood, to follow him as far as Columbus, Mississippi,

or Selma, Alabama, both of which lie in districts of country which

are rich in corn and meat.

I attach more importance to these deep incisions into the enemy's

country, because this war differs from European wars in this

particular: we are not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile

people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard

hand of war, as well as their organized armies. I know that this

recent movement of mine through Georgia has had a wonderful effect

in this respect. Thousands who had been deceived by their lying

newspapers to believe that we were being whipped all the time now

realize the truth, and have no appetite for a repetition of the

same experience. To be sure, Jeff. Davis has his people under

pretty good discipline, but I think faith in him is much shaken in

Georgia, and before we have done with her South Carolina will not

be quite so tempestuous.

I will bear in mind your hint as to Charleston, and do not think

"salt" will be necessary. When I move, the Fifteenth Corps will be

on the right of the right wing, and their position will naturally

bring them into Charleston first; and, if you have watched the

history of that corps, you will have remarked that they generally

do their work pretty well. The truth is, the whole army is burning

with an insatiable desire to wreak vengeance upon South Carolina.

I almost tremble at her fate, but feel that she deserves all that

seems in store for her.

Many and many a person in Georgia asked me why we did not go to

South Carolina; and, when I answered that we were enroute for that

State, the invariable reply was, "Well, if you will make those

people feel the utmost severities of war, we will pardon you for

your desolation of Georgia."

I look upon Colombia as quite as bad as Charleston, and I doubt if

we shall spare the public buildings there as we did at


I have been so busy lately that I have not yet made my official

report, and I think I had better wait until I get my subordinate

reports before attempting it, as I am anxious to explain clearly

not only the reasons for every step, but the amount of execution

done, and this I cannot do until I get the subordinate reports; for

we marched the whole distance in four or more columns, and, of

course, I could only be present with one, and generally that one

engaged in destroying railroads. This work of destruction was

performed better than usual, because I had an engineer-regiment,

provided with claws to twist the bars after being heated. Such

bars can never be used again, and the only way in which a railroad

line can be reconstructed across Georgia is, to make a new road

from Fairbnrn Station (twenty-four miles southwest of Atlanta) to

Madison, a distance of one hundred miles; and, before that can be

done, I propose to be on the road from Augusta to Charleston, which

is a continuation of the same. I felt somewhat disappointed at

Hardee's escape, but really am not to blame. I moved as quickly as

possible to close up the "Union Causeway," but intervening

obstacles were such that, before I could get troops on the road,

Hardee had slipped out. Still, I know that the men that were in

Savannah will be lost in a measure to Jeff. Davis, for the Georgia

troops, under G. W. Smith, declared they would not fight in South

Carolina, and they have gone north, en route for Augusta, and I

have reason to believe the North Carolina troops have gone to

Wilmington; in other words, they are scattered. I have reason to

believe that Beauregard was present in Savannah at the time of its

evacuation, and think that he and Hardee are now in Charleston,

making preparations for what they suppose will be my next step.

Please say to the President that I have received his kind message

(through Colonel Markland), and feel thankful for his high favor.

If I disappoint him in the future, it shall not be from want of

zeal or love to the cause.

From you I expect a full and frank criticism of my plans for the

future, which may enable me to correct errors before it is too

late. I do not wish to be rash, but want to give my rebel friends

no chance to accuse us of want of enterprise or courage.

Assuring you of my high personal respect, I remain, as ever, your


W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

[General Order No. 3.]


WASHINGTON, January 14, 1865.

The following resolution of the Senate and House of Representatives

is published to the army:


Joint resolution tendering the thanks of the people and of Congress

to Major-General William T. Sherman, and the officers and soldiers

of his command, for their gallant conduct in their late brilliant

movement through Georgia.

Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the

United States of America in Congress assembled, That the thanks of

the people and of the Congress of the United States are due and are

hereby tendered to Major-General William T. Sherman, and through

him to the officers and men under his command, for their gallantry

and good conduct in their late campaign from Chattanooga to

Atlanta, and the triumphal march thence through Georgia to

Savannah, terminating in the capture and occupation of that city;

and that the President cause a copy of this joint resolution to be

engrossed and forwarded to Major-General Sherman.

Approved, January 10, 1865.

By order of the Secretary of War,

W. A. NICHOLS, Assistant Adjutant-General.




The city of Savannah was an old place, and usually accounted a

handsome one. Its houses were of brick or frame, with large yards,

ornamented with shrubbery and flowers; its streets perfectly

regular, crossing each other at right angles; and at many of the

intersections were small inclosures in the nature of parks. These

streets and parks were lined with the handsomest shade-trees of

which I have knowledge, viz., the Willow-leaf live-oak, evergreens

of exquisite beauty; and these certainly entitled Savannah to its

reputation as a handsome town more than the houses, which, though

comfortable, would hardly make a display on Fifth Avenue or the

Boulevard Haussmann of Paris. The city was built on a plateau of

sand about forty feet above the level of the sea, abutting against

the river, leaving room along its margin for a street of stores and

warehouses. The customhouse, court-house, post-office, etc., were

on the plateau above. In rear of Savannah was a large park, with a

fountain, and between it and the court-house was a handsome

monument, erected to the memory of Count Pulaski, who fell in 1779

in the assault made on the city at the time it was held by the

English during the Revolutionary War. Outside of Savannah there

was very little to interest a stranger, except the cemetery of

Bonaventura, and the ride along the Wilmington Channel by way of

Thunderbolt, where might be seen some groves of the majestic

live-oak trees, covered with gray and funereal moss, which were

truly sublime in grandeur, but gloomy after a few days' camping

under them:

Within an hour of taking up my quarters in Mr. Green's house, Mr.

A. G. Browne, of Salem, Massachusetts, United States Treasury agent

for the Department of the South, made his appearance to claim

possession, in the name of the Treasury Department, of all captured

cotton, rice, buildings, etc. Having use for these articles

ourselves, and having fairly earned them, I did not feel inclined

to surrender possession, and explained to him that the

quartermaster and commissary could manage them more to my liking

than he; but I agreed, after the proper inventories had been

prepared, if there remained any thing for which we had no special

use, I would turn it over to him. It was then known that in the

warehouses were stored at least twenty-five thousand bales of

cotton, and in the forts one hundred and fifty large, heavy

sea-coast guns: although afterward, on a more careful count, there

proved to be more than two hundred and fifty sea-coast or siege

guns, and thirty-one thousand bales of cotton. At that interview

Mr. Browne, who was a shrewd, clever Yankee, told me that a vessel

was on the point of starting for Old Point Comfort, and, if she had

good weather off Cape Hatteras, would reach Fortress Monroe by

Christmas-day, and he suggested that I might make it the occasion

of sending a welcome Christmas gift to the President, Mr. Lincoln,

who peculiarly enjoyed such pleasantry. I accordingly sat down and

wrote on a slip of paper, to be left at the telegraph-office at

Fortress Monroe for transmission, the following:

SAVANNAH GEORGIA, December 22, 1884.

To His Excellency President Lincoln, Washington, D. C.:

I beg to present you as a Christmas-gift the city of Savannah, with

one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, also

about twenty five thousand bales of cotton.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

This message actually reached him on Christmas-eve, was extensively

published in the newspapers, and made many a household unusually

happy on that festive day; and it was in the answer to this

dispatch that Mr. Lincoln wrote me the letter of December 28th,

already given, beginning with the words, "many, many thanks," etc.,

which he sent at the hands of General John A. Logan, who happened

to be in Washington, and was coming to Savannah, to rejoin his


On the 23d of December were made the following general orders for

the disposition of the troops in and about Savannah:

[Special Field Order No. 139.]



Savannah, being now in our possession, the river partially cleared

out, and measures having been taken to remove all obstructions,

will at once be made a grand depot for future operations:

1. The chief-quartermaster, General Euston, will, after giving the

necessary orders touching the transports in Ogeechee River and

Oasabaw Sound, come in person to Savannah, and take possession of

all public buildings, vacant storerooms, warehouses, etc., that may

be now or hereafter needed for any department of the army. No

rents will be paid by the Government of the United States during

the war, and all buildings must be distributed according to the

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