Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

War, the Hon. R. T. Lincoln, my last annual report, embracing among

other valuable matters the most interesting and condensed report of

Colonel O. M. Poe, A. D. C., of the "original conception, progress,

and completion" of the four great transcontinental railways, which

have in my judgment done more for the subjugation and civilization

of the Indians than all other causes combined, and have made

possible the utilization of the vast area of pasture lands and

mineral regions which before were almost inaccessible, for my

agency in which I feel as much pride as for my share in any of the

battles in which I took part.

Promptly on the 1st of November were made the following general

orders, and the command of the Army of the United States passed

from me to Lieutenant-General P. H. Sheridan, with as little

ceremony as would attend the succession of the lieutenant-colonel

of a regiment to his colonel about to take a leave of absence:


WASHINGTON, November 1, 1885.

General Orders No. 77:

By and with the consent of the President, as contained in General

Orders No. 71, of October 13, 1883, the undersigned relinquishes

command of the Army of the United States.

In thus severing relations which have hitherto existed between us,

he thanks all officers and men for their fidelity to the high trust

imposed on them during his official life, and will, in his

retirement, watch with parental solicitude their progress upward in

the noble profession to which they have devoted their lives.

W. T. SHERMAN, General.

Official: R. C. DRUM, Adjutant-General.


WASHINGTON, November 1, 1885.

General Orders No. 78:

In obedience to orders of the President, promulgated in General

Orders No. 71, October 13, 1883, from these headquarters, the

undersigned hereby assumes command of the Army of the United


P. H. SHERIDAN, Lieutenant-General.

Official: R. C. DRUM, adjutant-General.

After a few days in which to complete my social visits, and after a

short visit to my daughter, Mrs. A. M. Thackara, at Philadelphia, I

quietly departed for St. Louis; and, as I hope, for "good and all,"

the family was again reunited in the same place from which we were

driven by a cruel, unnecessary civil war initiated in Charleston

Harbor in April, 1861.

On the 8th day of February, 1884; I was sixty-four years of age,

and therefore retired by the operation of the act of Congress,

approved June 30, 1882; but the fact was gracefully noticed by

President Arthur in the following general orders:


WASHINGTON, February 8, 1984.

The following order of the President is published to the army:

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 8, 1884.

General William T. Sherman, General of the Army, having this day

reached the age of sixty-four years, is, in accordance with the

law, placed upon the retired list of the army, without reduction in

his current pay and allowances.

The announcement of the severance from the command of the army of

one who has been for so many years its distinguished chief, can but

awaken in the minds, not only of the army, but of the people of the

United States, mingled emotions of regret and gratitude--regret at

the withdrawal from active military service of an officer whose

lofty sense of duty has been a model for all soldiers since he

first entered the army in July, 1840; and gratitude, freshly

awakened, for the services of incalculable value rendered by him in

the war for the Union, which his great military genius and daring

did so much to end.

The President deems this a fitting occasion to give expression, in

this manner, to the gratitude felt toward General Sherman by his

fellow-citizens, and to the hope that Providence may grant him many

years of health and happiness in the relief from the active duties

of his profession.

By order of the Secretary of War:


R. C. DRUM, Adjutant-General.

To which I replied:

St. Louis, February 9, 1884.

His Excellency CHESTER A. ARTHUR,

President of the United States.

DEAR SIR: Permit me with a soldier's frankness to thank you

personally for the handsome compliment bestowed in general orders

of yesterday, which are reported in the journals of the day. To me

it was a surprise and a most agreeable one. I had supposed the

actual date of my retirement would form a short paragraph in the

common series of special orders of the War Department; but as the

honored Executive of our country has made it the occasion for his

own hand to pen a tribute of respect and affection to an officer

passing from the active stage of life to one of ease and rest, I

can only say I feel highly honored, and congratulate myself in thus

rounding out my record of service in a manner most gratifying to my

family and friends. Not only this, but I feel sure, when the

orders of yesterday are read on parade to the regiments and

garrisons of the United States, many a young hero will tighten his

belt, and resolve anew to be brave and true to the starry flag,

which we of our day have carried safely through one epoch of

danger, but which may yet be subjected to other trials, which may

demand similar sacrifices, equal fidelity and courage, and a larger

measure of intelligence. Again thanking you for so marked a

compliment, and reciprocating the kind wishes for the future,

I am, with profound respect, your friend and servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, General.

This I construe as the end of my military career. In looking back

upon the past I can only say, with millions of others, that I have

done many things I should not have done, and have left undone still

more which ought to have been done; that I can see where hundreds

of opportunities have been neglected, but on the whole am content;

and feel sure that I can travel this broad country of ours, and be

each night the welcome guest in palace or cabin; and, as

"all the world's stage,

And all the men and women merely players,"

I claim the privilege to ring down the curtain.

W. T. SHERMAN, General.


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