Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

newspaper, hardly hear from our families, or stop long enough to

draw our pay. I envy not the task of "reconstruction," and am

delighted that the Secretary of War has relieved me of it.

As you did not undertake to assume the management of the affairs of

this army, I infer that, on personal inspection, your mind arrived

at a different conclusion from that of the Secretary of War. I

will therefore go on to execute your orders to the conclusion, and,

when done, will with intense satisfaction leave to the civil

authorities the execution of the task of which they seem so

jealous. But, as an honest man and soldier, I invite them to go

back to Nashville and follow my path, for they will see some things

and hear some things that may disturb their philosophy.

With sincere respect,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.

P. S.--As Mr. Stanton's most singular paper has been published, I

demand that this also be made public, though I am in no manner

responsible to the press, but to the law, and my proper superiors.

W. T. S., Major-General.

On the 28th I summoned all the army and corps commanders together

at my quarters in the Governor's mansion at Raleigh, where every

thing was explained to them, and all orders for the future were

completed. Generals Schofield, Terry, and Kilpatrick, were to

remain on duty in the Department of North Carolina, already

commanded by General Schofield, and the right and left wings were

ordered to march under their respective commanding generals North

by easy stages to Richmond, Virginia, there to await my return

from the South.

On the 29th of April, with a part of my personal staff, I proceeded

by rail to Wilmington, North Carolina, where I found Generals

Hawley and Potter, and the little steamer Russia, Captain Smith,

awaiting me. After a short pause in Wilmington, we embarked, and

proceeded down the coast to Port Royal and the Savannah River,

which we reached on the 1st of May. There Captain Hoses, who had

just come from General Wilson at Macon, met us, bearing letters for

me and General Grant, in which General Wilson gave a brief summary

of his operations up to date. He had marched from Eastport,

Mississippi, five hundred miles in thirty days, took six thousand

three hundred prisoners, twenty-three colors, and one hundred and

fifty-six guns, defeating Forrest, scattering the militia, and

destroying every railroad, iron establishment, and factory, in

North Alabama and Georgia.

He spoke in the highest terms of his cavalry, as "cavalry,"

claiming that it could not be excelled, and he regarded his corps

as a model for modern cavalry in organization, armament, and

discipline. Its strength was given at thirteen thousand five

hundred men and horses on reaching Macon. Of course I was

extremely gratified at his just confidence, and saw that all he

wanted for efficient action was a sure base of supply, so that he

need no longer depend for clothing, ammunition, food, and forage,

on the country, which, now that war had ceased, it was our solemn

duty to protect, instead of plunder. I accordingly ordered the

captured steamer Jeff. Davis to be loaded with stores, to proceed

at once up the Savannah River to Augusta, with a small detachment

of troops to occupy the arsenal, and to open communication with

General Wilson at Macon; and on the next day, May 2d, this steamer

was followed by another with a fall cargo of clothing, sugar,

coffee, and bread, sent from Hilton Head by the department

commander, General Gillmore, with a stronger guard commanded by

General Molineux. Leaving to General Gillmore, who was present,

and in whose department General Wilson was, to keep up the supplies

at Augusta, and to facilitate as far as possible General Wilson's

operations inland, I began my return on the 2d of May. We went

into Charleston Harbor, passing the ruins of old Forts Moultrie and

Sumter without landing. We reached the city of Charleston, which

was held by part of the division of General John P. Hatch, the

same that we had left at Pocotaligo. We walked the old familiar

streets--Broad, King, Meeting, etc.--but desolation and ruin were

everywhere. The heart of the city had been burned during the

bombardment, and the rebel garrison at the time of its final

evacuation had fired the railroad-depots, which fire had spread,

and was only subdued by our troops after they had reached the city.

I inquired for many of my old friends, but they were dead or gone,

and of them all I only saw a part of the family of Mrs. Pettigru.

I doubt whether any city was ever more terribly punished than

Charleston, but, as her people had for years been agitating for war

and discord, and had finally inaugurated the civil war by an attack

on the small and devoted garrison of Major Anderson, sent there by

the General Government to defend them, the judgment of the world

will be, that Charleston deserved the fate that befell her.

Resuming our voyage, we passed into Cape Fear River by its mouth at

Fort Caswell and Smithville, and out by the new channel at Fort

Fisher, and reached Morehead City on the 4th of May. We found

there the revenue-cutter Wayanda, on board of which were the Chief-

Justice, Mr. Chase, and his daughter Nettie, now Mrs. Hoyt. The

Chief-Justice at that moment was absent on a visit to Newbern, but

came back the next day. Meantime, by means of the telegraph, I was

again in correspondence with General Schofield at Raleigh. He had

made great progress in parolling the officers and men of Johnston's

army at Greensboro', but was embarrassed by the utter confusion and

anarchy that had resulted from a want of understanding on many

minor points, and on the political questions that had to be met at

the instant. In order to facilitate the return to their homes of

the Confederate officers and men, he had been forced to make with

General Johnston the following supplemental terms, which were of

course ratified and approved:



1. The field transportation to be loaned to the troops for their

march to their homes, and for subsequent use in their industrial

pursuits. Artillery-horses may be used in field-transportation, if


2. Each brigade or separate body to retain a number of arms equal

to one-seventh of its effective strength, which, when the troops

reach the capitals of their states, will be disposed of as the

general commanding the department may direct.

3. Private horses, and other private property of both officers and

men, to be retained by them.

4. The commanding general of the Military Division of West

Mississippi, Major-General Canby, will be requested to give

transportation by water, from Mobile or New Orleans, to the troops

from Arkansas and Texas.

5. The obligations of officers and soldiers to be signed by their

immediate commanders.

6. Naval forces within the limits of General Johnston's command to

be included in the terms of this convention.

J. M. SCHOFIELD, Major-General,

Commanding United States Forces in North Carolina.

J. E. JOHNSTON, General,

Commanding Confederate States Forces in North Carolina.

The total number of prisoners of war parolled by

General Schofield, at Greensboro', North Carolina,

as afterward officially reported, amounted to ........ 38,817

And the total number who surrendered in Georgia

and Florida, as reported by General J. H. Wilson,

was .................................................. 52,458

Aggregate surrendered under the capitulation of

General J. E. Johnston ............................... 89,270

On the morning of the 5th I also received from General Schofield

this dispatch:


To Major-General W: T. SHERMAN, Morehead City:

When General Grant was here, as you doubtless recollect, he said

the lines (for trade and intercourse) had been extended to embrace

this and other States south. The order, it seems, has been

modified so as to include only Virginia and Tennessee. I think it

would be an act of wisdom to open this State to trade at once.

I hope the Government will make known its policy as to the organs

of State government without delay. Affairs must necessarily be in

a very unsettled state until that is done. The people are now in a

mood to accept almost anything which promises a definite

settlement. "What is to be done with the freedmen?" is the

question of all, and it is the all important question. It requires

prompt and wise notion to prevent the negroes from becoming a huge

elephant on our hands. If I am to govern this State, it is

important for me to know it at once. If another is to be sent

here, it cannot be done too soon, for he probably will undo the

most that I shall have done. I shall be glad to hear from you

fully, when you have time to write. I will send your message to

General Wilson at once.

J. M. SCHOFIELD, Major-General.

I was utterly without instructions from any source on the points of

General Schofield's inquiry, and under the existing state of facts

could not even advise him, for by this time I was in possession of

the second bulletin of Mr. Stanton, published in all the Northern

papers, with comments that assumed that I was a common traitor and

a public enemy; and high officials had even instructed my own

subordinates to disobey my lawful orders. General Halleck, who had

so long been in Washington as the chief of staff, had been sent on

the 21st of April to Richmond, to command the armies of the Potomac

and James, in place of General Grant, who had transferred his

headquarters to the national capital, and he (General Halleck) was

therefore in supreme command in Virginia, while my command over

North Carolina had never been revoked or modified.

[Second Bulletin.]


To Major-General DIX:

The department has received the following dispatch from Major-

General Halleck, commanding the Military Division of the James.

Generals Canby and Thomas were instructed some days ago that

Sherman's arrangements with Johnston were disapproved by the

President, and they were ordered to disregard it and push the enemy

in every direction.

E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA, April 26-9.30 p.m.

HON. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

Generals Meade, Sheridan, and Wright, are acting under orders to

pay no regard to any truce or orders of General Sherman respecting

hostilities, on the ground that Sherman's agreement could bind his

command only, and no other.

They are directed to push forward, regardless of orders from any

one except from General Grant, and cut off Johnston's retreat.

Beauregard has telegraphed to Danville that a new arrangement has

been made with Sherman, and that the advance of the Sixth Corps was

to be suspended until further orders.

I have telegraphed back to obey no orders of Sherman, but to push

forward as rapidly as possible.

The bankers here have information to-day that Jeff. Davis's specie

is moving south from Goldsboro', in wagons, as fast as possible.

I suggest that orders be telegraphed, through General Thomas, that

Wilson obey no orders from Sherman, and notifying him and Canby,

and all commanders on the Mississippi, to take measures to

intercept the rebel chiefs and their plunder.

The specie taken with them is estimated here at from six to

thirteen million dollars.

H. W. HALLECK, Major-General commanding.

Subsequently, before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, in

Washington, on the 22d of May, I testified fully on this whole

matter, and will abide the judgment of the country on the

patriotism and wisdom of my public conduct in this connection.

General Halleck's measures to capture General Johnston's army,

actually surrendered to me at the time, at Greensboro', on the 26th

of April, simply excited my contempt for a judgment such as he was

supposed to possess. The assertion that Jeff. Davis's specie-

train, of six to thirteen million dollars, was reported to be

moving south from Goldsboro' in wagons as fast as possible, found

plenty of willing ears, though my army of eighty thousand men had

been at Goldsboro' from March 22d to the date of his dispatch,

April 26th; and such a train would have been composed of from

fifteen to thirty-two six-mule teams to have hauled this specie,

even if it all were in gold. I suppose the exact amount of

treasure which Davis had with him is now known to a cent; some of

it was paid to his escort, when it disbanded at and near

Washington, Georgia, and at the time of his capture he had a small

parcel of gold and silver coin, not to exceed ten thousand dollars,

which is now retained in the United States Treasury-vault at

Washington, and shown to the curious.

The thirteen millions of treasure, with which Jeff. Davis was to

corrupt our armies and buy his escape, dwindled down to the

contents of a hand-valise!

To say that I was merely angry at the tone and substance of these

published bulletins of the War Department, would hardly express the

state of my feelings. I was outraged beyond measure, and was

resolved to resent the insult, cost what it might. I went to the

Wayanda and showed them to Mr. Chase, with whom I had a long and

frank conversation, during which he explained to me the confusion

caused in Washington by the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, the

sudden accession to power of Mr. Johnson, who was then supposed to

be bitter and vindictive in his feelings toward the South, and the

wild pressure of every class of politicians to enforce on the new

President their pet schemes. He showed me a letter of his own,

which was in print, dated Baltimore, April 11th, and another of

April 12th, addressed to the President, urging him to recognize the

freedmen as equal in all respects to the whites. He was the first

man, of any authority or station, who ever informed me that the

Government of the United States would insist on extending to the

former slaves of the South the elective franchise, and he gave as a

reason the fact that the slaves, grateful for their freedom, for

which they were indebted to the armies and Government of the North,

would, by their votes, offset the disaffected and rebel element of

the white population of the South. At that time quite a storm was

prevailing at sea, outside, and our two vessels lay snug at the

wharf at Morehead City. I saw a good deal of Mr. Chase, and

several notes passed between us, of which I have the originals yet.

Always claiming that the South had herself freed all her slaves by

rebellion, and that Mr. Lincoln's proclamation of freedom (of

September 22, 1862) was binding on all officers of the General

Government, I doubted the wisdom of at once clothing them with the

elective franchise, without some previous preparation and

qualification; and then realized the national loss in the death at

that critical moment of Mr. Lincoln, who had long pondered over the

difficult questions involved, who, at all events, would have been

honest and frank, and would not have withheld from his army

commanders at least a hint that would have been to them a guide.

It was plain to me, therefore, that the manner of his assassination

had stampeded the civil authorities in Washington, had unnerved

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