Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

them, and that they were then undecided as to the measures

indispensably necessary to prevent anarchy at the South.

On the 7th of May the storm subsided, and we put to sea, Mr. Chase

to the south, on his proposed tour as far as New Orleans, and I for

James River. I reached Fortress Monroe on the 8th, and thence

telegraphed my arrival to General Grant, asking for orders. I

found at Fortress Monroe a dispatch from General Halleck,

professing great friendship, and inviting me to accept his

hospitality at Richmond. I answered by a cipher-dispatch that I

had seen his dispatch to Mr. Stanton, of April 26th, embraced in

the second bulletin, which I regarded as insulting, declined his

hospitality, and added that I preferred we should not meet as I

passed through Richmond. I thence proceeded to City Point in the

Russia, and on to Manchester, opposite Richmond, via Petersburg, by

rail. I found that both wings of the army had arrived from

Raleigh, and were in camp in and around Manchester, whence I again

telegraphed General Grant, an the 9th of May, for orders, and also

reported my arrival to General Halleck by letter. I found that

General Halleck had ordered General Davis's corps (the Fourteenth)

for review by himself. This I forbade. All the army knew of the

insult that had been made me by the Secretary of War and General

Halleck, and watched me closely to see if I would tamely submit.

During the 9th I made a full and complete report of all these

events, from the last report made at Goldsboro' up to date, and the

next day received orders to continue the march to Alexandria, near


On the morning of the 11th we crossed the pontoon-bridge at

Richmond, marched through that city, and out on the Han over

Court House road, General Slocum's left wing leading. The right wing

(General Logan) followed the next day, viz., the 12th. Meantime,

General O. O. Howard had been summoned to Washington to take charge

of the new Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, and,

from that time till the army was finally disbanded, General John A.

Logan was in command of the right wing, and of the Army of the

Tennessee. The left wing marched through Hanover Court House, and

thence took roads well to the left by Chilesburg; the Fourteenth

Corps by New Market and Culpepper, Manassas, etc.; the Twentieth

Corps by Spotsylvania Court-House and Chancellorsville. The right

wing followed the more direct road by Fredericksburg. On my way

north I endeavored to see as much of the battle-fields of the Army

of the Potomac as I could, and therefore shifted from one column to

the other, visiting en route Hanover Court-House, Spotsylvania,

Fredericksburg, Dumfries, etc., reaching Alexandria during the

afternoon of May 19th, and pitched my camp by the road side, about

half-way between Alexandria and the Long Bridge. During the same

and next day the whole army reached Alexandria, and camped round

about it; General Meade's Army of the Potomac had possession of the

camps above, opposite Washington and Georgetown. The next day (by

invitation) I went over to Washington and met many friends--among

them General Grant and President Johnson. The latter occupied

rooms in the house on the corner of Fifteenth and H Streets,

belonging to Mr. Hooper. He was extremely cordial to me, and

knowing that I was chafing under the censures of the War

Department, especially of the two war bulletins of Mr. Stanton, he

volunteered to say that he knew of neither of them till seen in the

newspapers, and that Mr. Stanton had shown neither to him nor to

any of his associates in the cabinet till they were published.

Nearly all the members of the cabinet made similar assurances to me

afterward, and, as Mr. Stanton made no friendly advances, and

offered no word of explanation or apology, I declined General

Grant's friendly offices for a reconciliation, but, on the

contrary, resolved to resent what I considered an insult, as

publicly as it was made. My brother, Senator Sherman, who was Mr.

Stanton's neighbor, always insisted that Mr. Stanton had been

frightened by the intended assassination of himself, and had become

embittered thereby. At all events, I found strong military guards

around his house, as well as all the houses occupied by the cabinet

and by the principal officers of Government; and a sense of

insecurity pervaded Washington, for which no reason existed.

On the 19th I received a copy of War Department Special Order No.

239, Adjutant-General's office, of May 18th, ordering a grand

review, by the President and cabinet, of all the armies then near

Washington; General Meade's to occur on Tuesday, May 23d, mine on

Wednesday, the 24th; and on the 20th I made the necessary orders

for my part. Meantime I had also arranged (with General Grant's

approval) to remove after the review, my armies from the south side

of the Potomac to the north; both for convenience and because our

men had found that the grounds assigned them had been used so long

for camps that they were foul and unfit.

By invitation I was on the reviewing-stand, and witnessed the

review of the Army of the Potomac (on the 23d), commanded by

General Meade in person. The day was beautiful, and the pageant

was superb. Washington was full of strangers, who filled the

streets in holiday-dress, and every house was decorated with flags.

The army marched by divisions in close column around the Capitol,

down Pennsylvania Avenue, past the President and cabinet, who

occupied a large stand prepared for the occasion, directly in front

of the White House.

I had telegraphed to Lancaster for Mrs. Sherman, who arrived that

day, accompanied by her father, the Hon. Thomas Ewing, and my son

Tom, then eight years old.

During the afternoon and night of the 23d, the Fifteenth, Seventeenth,

and Twentieth Corps, crossed Long Bridge, bivouacked in the

streets about the Capitol, and the Fourteenth Corps closed up to

the bridge. The morning of the 24th was extremely beautiful, and

the ground was in splendid order for our review. The streets were

filled with people to see the pageant, armed with bouquets of

flowers for their favorite regiments or heroes, and every thing was

propitious. Punctually at 9 A.M. the signal-gun was fired, when in

person, attended by General Howard and all my staff, I rode slowly

down Pennsylvania Avenue, the crowds of men, women, and children,

densely lining the sidewalks, and almost obstructing the way. We

were followed close by General Logan and the head of the Fifteenth

Corps. When I reached the Treasury-building, and looked back, the

sight was simply magnificent. The column was compact, and the

glittering muskets looked like a solid mass of steel, moving with

the regularity of a pendulum. We passed the Treasury building, in

front of which and of the White House was an immense throng of

people, for whom extensive stands had been prepared on both sides

of the avenue. As I neared the brick-house opposite the lower

corner of Lafayette Square, some one asked me to notice Mr. Seward,

who, still feeble and bandaged for his wounds, had been removed

there that he might behold the troops. I moved in that direction

and took off my hat to Mr. Seward, who sat at an upper window. He

recognized the salute, returned it, and then we rode on steadily

past the President, saluting with our swords. All on his stand

arose and acknowledged the salute. Then, turning into the gate of

the presidential grounds, we left our horses with orderlies, and

went upon the stand, where I found Mrs. Sherman, with her father

and son. Passing them, I shook hands with the President, General

Grant, and each member of the cabinet. As I approached Mr.

Stanton, he offered me his hand, but I declined it publicly, and

the fact was universally noticed. I then took my post on the left

of the President, and for six hours and a half stood, while the

army passed in the order of the Fifteenth, Seventeenth, Twentieth,

and Fourteenth Corps. It was, in my judgment, the most magnificent

army in existence--sixty-five thousand men, in splendid physique,

who had just completed a march of nearly two thousand miles in a

hostile country, in good drill, and who realized that they were

being closely scrutinized by thousands of their fellow-countrymen

and by foreigners. Division after division passed, each commander

of an army corps or division coming on the stand during the passage

of his command, to be presented to the President, cabinet, and

spectators. The steadiness and firmness of the tread, the careful

dress on the guides, the uniform intervals between the companies,

all eyes directly to the front, and the tattered and bullet-riden

flags, festooned with flowers, all attracted universal notice.

Many good people, up to that time, had looked upon our Western army

as a sort of mob; but the world then saw, and recognized the fact,

that it was an army in the proper sense, well organized, well

commanded and disciplined; and there was no wonder that it had

swept through the South like a tornado. For six hours and a half

that strong tread of the Army of the West resounded along

Pennsylvania Avenue; not a soul of that vast crowd of spectators

left his place; and, when the rear of the column had passed by,

thousands of the spectators still lingered to express their sense

of confidence in the strength of a Government which could claim

such an army.

Some little scenes enlivened the day, and called for the laughter

and cheers of the crowd. Each division was followed by six

ambulances, as a representative of its baggage-train. Some of the

division commanders had added, by way of variety, goats, milch-

cows, and pack-mules, whose loads consisted of game-cocks, poultry,

hams, etc., and some of them had the families of freed slaves

along, with the women leading their children. Each division was

preceded by its corps of black pioneers, armed with picks and

spades. These marched abreast in double ranks, keeping perfect

dress and step, and added much to the interest of the occasion. On

the whole, the grand review was a splendid success, and was a

fitting conclusion to the campaign and the war.

I will now conclude by a copy of my general orders taking leave of

the army, which ended my connection with the war, though I

afterward visited and took a more formal leave of the officers and

men on July 4, 1865, at Louisville, Kentucky:




The general commanding announces to the Armies of the Tennessee and

Georgia that the time has come for us to part. Our work is done,

and armed enemies no longer defy us. Some of you will go to your

homes, and others will be retained in military service till further


And now that we are all about to separate, to mingle with the civil

world, it becomes a pleasing duty to recall to mind the situation

of national affairs when, but little more than a year ago, we were

gathered about the cliffs of Lookout Mountain, and all the future

was wrapped in doubt and uncertainty.

Three armies had come together from distant fields, with separate

histories, yet bound by one common cause--the union of our country,

and the perpetuation of the Government of our inheritance. There

is no need to recall to your memories Tunnel Hill, with Rocky-Face

Mountain and Buzzard-Roost Gap, and the ugly forts of Dalton


We were in earnest, and paused not for danger and diffculty, but

dashed through Snake-Creek Gap and fell on Resaca; then on to the

Etowah, to Dallas, Kenesaw; and the heats of summer found us on the

banks of the Chattahoochee, far from home, and dependent on a

single road for supplies. Again we were not to be held back by any

obstacle, and crossed over and fought four hard battles for the

possession of the citadel of Atlanta. That was the crisis of our

history. A doubt still clouded our future, but we solved the

problem, destroyed Atlanta, struck boldly across the State of

Georgia, severed all the main arteries of life to our enemy, and

Christmas found us at Savannah.

Waiting there only long enough to fill our wagons, we again began a

march which, for peril, labor, and results, will compare with any

ever made by an organized army. The floods of the Savannah, the

swamps of the Combahee and Edisto, the "high hills" and rocks of

the Santee, the flat quagmires of the Pedee and Cape Fear Rivers,

were all passed in midwinter, with its floods and rains, in the

face of an accumulating enemy; and, after the battles of

Averysboro' and Bentonsville, we once more came out of the

wilderness, to meet our friends at Goldsboro'. Even then we paused

only long enough to get new clothing, to reload our wagons, again

pushed on to Raleigh and beyond, until we met our enemy suing for

peace, instead of war, and offering to submit to the injured laws

of his and our country. As long as that enemy was defiant, nor

mountains nor rivers, nor swamps, nor hunger, nor cold, had checked

us; but when he, who had fought us hard and persistently, offered

submission, your general thought it wrong to pursue him farther,

and negotiations followed, which resulted, as you all know, in his


How far the operations of this army contributed to the final

overthrow of the Confederacy and the peace which now dawns upon us,

must be judged by others, not by us; but that you have done all

that men could do has been admitted by those in authority, and we

have a right to join in the universal joy that fills our land

because the war is over, and our Government stands vindicated

before the world by the joint action of the volunteer armies and

navy of the United States.

To such as remain in the service, your general need only remind you

that success in the past was due to hard work and discipline, and

that the same work and discipline are equally important in the

future. To such as go home, he will only say that our favored

country is so grand, so extensive, so diversified in climate, soil,

and productions, that every man may find a home and occupation

suited to his taste; none should yield to the natural impatience

sure to result from our past life of excitement and adventure. You

will be invited to seek new adventures abroad; do not yield to the

temptation, for it will lead only to death and disappointment.

Your general now bids you farewell, with the full belief that, as

in war you have been good soldiers, so in peace you will make good

citizens; and if, unfortunately, new war should arise in our

country, "Sherman's army" will be the first to buckle on its old

armor, and come forth to defend and maintain the Government of our


By order of Major-General W. T. Sherman,

L. M. DAYTON, Assistant Adjutant-General.

List of the Average Number of Miles marched by the Different Army

Corps of the United States Forces under Command of Major-General W.

T. SHERMAN, United States Army, during his Campaigns: 1863-'64-'65.

4th 14th 15th 16th 17th 20th

Corps. Corps. Corps. Corps Corps. Corps.

Miles: 110 1,586 2,289 508 2,076 1,525

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