The Union--esto perpetua."
Recent events foreshadow a great change, and it becomes all men to
choose. If Louisiana withdraw from the Federal Union, I prefer to
maintain my allegiance to the Constitution as long as a fragment of
it survives; and my longer stay here would be wrong in every sense
of the word.
In that event, I beg you will send or appoint some authorized agent
to take charge of the arms and munitions of war belonging to the
State, or advise me what disposition to make of them.
And furthermore, as president of the Board of Supervisors, I beg
you to take immediate steps to relieve me as superintendent, the
moment the State determines to secede, for on no earthly account
will I do any act or think any thought hostile to or in defiance of
the old Government of the United States.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Superintendent.[PRIVATE.]
January 18, 1861.
To Governor Moore:
My Dear Sir: I take it for granted that you have been expecting for
some days the accompanying paper from me (the above official
letter). I have repeatedly and again made known to General Graham
and Dr. Smith that, in the event of a severance of the relations
hitherto existing between the Confederated States of this Union, I
would be forced to choose the old Union. It is barely possible all
the States may secede, South and North, that new combinations may
result, but this process will be one of time and uncertainty, and I
cannot with my opinions await the subsequent development.
I have never been a politician, and therefore undervalue the
excited feelings and opinions of present rulers, but I do think, if
this people cannot execute a form of government like the present,
that a worse one will result.
I will keep the cadets as quiet as possible. They are nervous, but
I think the interest of the State requires them here, guarding this
property, and acquiring a knowledge which will be useful to your
State in after-times.
When I leave, which I now regard as certain, the present professors
can manage well enough, to afford you leisure time to find a
suitable successor to me. You might order Major Smith to receipt
for the arms, and to exercise military command, while the academic
exercises could go on under the board. In time, some gentleman
will turn up, better qualified than I am, to carry on the seminary
to its ultimate point of success. I entertain the kindest feelings
toward all, and would leave the State with much regret; only in
great events we must choose, one way or the other.
Truly, your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN
January 19, 1881--Saturday.
Dr. S. A. Smith, President Board of Supervisors, Baton Rouge,
Dear Sir: I have just finished my quarterly reports to the parents
of all the cadets here, or who have been here. All my books of
account are written up to date. All bills for the houses, fences,
etc., are settled, and nothing now remains but the daily tontine of
recitations and drills. I have written officially and unofficially
to Governor Moore, that with my opinions of the claimed right of
accession, of the seizure of public forts, arsenals, etc., and the
ignominious capture of a United States garrison, stationed in your
midst, as a guard to the arsenal and for the protection of your own
people, it would be highly improper for me longer to remain. No
great inconvenience can result to the seminary. I will be the
chief loser. I came down two months before my pay commenced. I
made sacrifices in Kansas to enable me thus to obey the call of
Governor Wickliffe, and you know that last winter I declined a most
advantageous offer of employment abroad; and thus far I have
received nothing as superintendent of the arsenal, though I went to
Washington and New York (at my own expense) on the faith of the
five hundred dollars salary promised.
These are all small matters in comparison with those involved in
the present state of the country, which will cause sacrifices by
millions, instead of by hundreds. The more I think of it, the more
I think I should be away, the sooner the better; and therefore I
hope you will join with Governor Moors in authorizing me to turn
over to Major Smith the military command here, and to the academic
board the control of the daily exercises and recitations.
There will be no necessity of your coming up. You can let Major
Smith receive the few hundreds of cash I have on hand, and I can
meet you on a day certain in New Orleans, when we can settle the
bank account. Before I leave, I can pay the steward Jarrean his
account for the month, and there would be no necessity for other
payments till about the close of March, by which time the board can
meet, and elect a treasurer and superintendent also.
At present I have no class, and there will be none ready till about
the month of May, when there will be a class in "surveying." Even
if you do not elect a superintendent in the mean time, Major Smith
could easily teach this class, as he is very familiar with the
subject-matter: Indeed, I think you will do well to leave the
subject of a new superintendent until one perfectly satisfactory
There is only one favor I would ask. The seminary has plenty of
money in bank. The Legislature will surely appropriate for my
salary as superintendent of this arsenal. Would you not let me
make my drafts on the State Treasury, send them to you, let the
Treasurer note them for payment when the appropriation is made, and
then pay them out of the seminary fund? The drafts will be paid in
March, and the seminary will lose nothing. This would be just to
me; for I actually spent two hundred dollars and more in going to
Washington and New York, thereby securing from the United States,
in advance, three thousand dollars' worth of the very best arms;
and clothing and books, at a clear profit to the seminary of over
eight hundred dollars. I may be some time in finding new
employment, and will stand in need of this money (five hundred
dollars); otherwise I would abandon it.
I will not ask you to put the Board of Supervisors to the trouble
of meeting, unless you can get a quorum at Baton Rouge.
With great respect, your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN.
By course of mail, I received the following answer from Governor
Moore, the original of which I still possess. It is all in General
Braggs handwriting, with which I am familiar
BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA, January 23, 1861
MY DEAR SIR: It is with the deepest regret I acknowledge receipt of
your communication of the 18th inst. In the pressure of official
business, I can now only request you to transfer to Prof. Smith the
arms, munitions, and funds in your hands, whenever you conclude to
withdraw from the position you have filled with so much
distinction. You cannot regret more than I do the necessity which
deprives us of your services, and you will bear with you the
respect, confidence, and admiration, of all who have been
associated with you. Very truly, your friend,
Thomas O. Moore.
Colonel W. T. SHERMAN, Superintendent Military Academy, Alexandria.
I must have received several letters from Bragg, about this time,
which have not been preserved; for I find that, on the 1st of
February, 1861, I wrote him thus:
Seminary of Learning
Alexandria, LOUISIANA, February 1, 1881.
Colonel Braxton BRAGG, Baton, Rouge, Louisiana.
Dear Sir: Yours of January 23d and 27th are received. I thank you
most kindly, and Governor Moors through you, for the kind manner in
which you have met my wishes.
Now that I cannot be compromised by political events, I will so
shape my course as best to serve the institution, which has a
strong hold on my affections and respect.
The Board of Supervisors will be called for the 9th instant, and I
will cooperate with them in their measures to place matters here on
a safe and secure basis. I expect to be here two weeks, and will
make you full returns of money and property belonging to the State
Central Arsenal. All the arms and ammunition are safely stored
here. Then I will write you more at length. With sincere respect,
W. T. SHERMAN.
Major Smith's receipt to me, for the arms and property belonging
both to the seminary and to the arsenal, is dated February 19,
1861. I subjoin also, in this connection, copies of one or two
papers that may prove of interest
BATON ROUGE, January 28, 1881.
To Major SHERMAN, Superintendent, Alexandria.
My DEAR SIR: Your letter was duly receive, and would have been
answered ere this time could I have arranged sooner the matter of
the five hundred dollars. I shall go from here to New Orleans
to-day or tomorrow, and will remain there till Saturday after next,
perhaps. I shall expect to meet you there, as indicated in your
note to me.
I need not tell you that it is with no ordinary regret that I view
your determination to leave us, for really I believe that the
success of our institution, now almost assured, is jeopardized
thereby. I am sore that we will never have a superintendent with
whom I shall have more pleasant relations than those which have
existed between yourself and me.
I fully appreciate the motives which have induced you to give up a
position presenting so many advantages to yourself, and sincerely
hope that you may, in any future enterprise, enjoy the success
which your character and ability merit and deserve.
Should you come down on the Rapides (steamer), please look after my
wife, who will, I hope, accompany you on said boat, or some other
Colonel Bragg informs me that the necessary orders have been given
for the transfer and receipt by Major Smith of the public property.
I herewith transmit a request to the secretary to convene the Board
of Supervisors, that they may act as seems best to them in the
In the mean time, Major Smith will command by seniority the cadets,
and the Academic Board will be able to conduct the scientific
exercises of the institution until the Board of Supervisors can
have time to act. Hoping to meet you soon at the St. Charles, I
Most truly, your friend and servant, S. A. Smith
P. S. Governor Moors desires me to express his profound regret that
the State is about to lose one who we all fondly hoped had cast his
destinies for weal or for woe among us; and that he is sensible
that we lose thereby an officer whom it will be difficult, if not
impossible, to replace.
S. A. S.
BATON ROUGE, February 11, 1881.
To Major Sherman, Alexandria.
Dear Sir: I have been in New Orleans for ten days, and on returning
here find two letters from you, also your prompt answer to the
resolution of the House of Representatives, for which I am much
The resolution passed the last day before adjournment. I was
purposing to respond, when your welcome reports came to hand. I
have arranged to pay you your five hundred dollars.
I will say nothing of general politics, except to give my opinion
that there is not to be any war.
In that event, would it not be possible for you to become a citizen
of our State? Everyone deplores your determination to leave us. At
the same time, your friends feel that you are abandoning a position
that might become an object of desire to any one.
I will try to meet you in New Orleans at any time you may indicate;
but it would be best for you to stop here, when, if possible, I
will accompany you. Should you do so, you will find me just above
the State-House, and facing it.
Bring with you a few copies of the "Rules of the Seminary."
S. A. Smith
Colonel W. T. SHERMAN.
Sir: I am instructed by the Board of Supervisors of this
institution to present a copy of the resolutions adopted by them at
their last meeting
"Resolved, That the thanks of the Board of Supervisors are due, and
are hereby tendered, to Colonel William T. Sherman for the able and
efficient manner in which he has conducted the affairs of the
seminary during the time the institution has been under his
control--a period attended with unusual difficulties, requiring on
the part of the superintendent to successfully overcome them a high
order of administrative talent. And the board further bear willing
testimony to the valuable services that Colonel Sherman has
rendered them in their efforts to establish an institution of
learning in accordance with the beneficent design of the State and
Federal Governments; evincing at all times a readiness to adapt
himself to the ever-varying requirements of an institution of
learning in its infancy, struggling to attain a position of honor
"Resolved, further, That, in accepting the resignation of Colonel
Sherman as Superintendent of the State Seminary of Learning and
Military Academy, we tender to him assurances of our high personal
regard, and our sincere regret at the occurrence of causes that
render it necessary to part with so esteemed and valued a friend,
as well as co-laborer in the cause of education."
Powhatan Clarke, Secretary of the Board.
A copy of the resolution of the Academic Board, passed at their
session of April 1,1861:
"Resolved, That in the resignation of the late superintendent,
Colonel W. T. Sherman, the Academic Board deem it not improper to
express their deep conviction of the loss the institution has
sustained in being thus deprived of an able head. They cannot fail
to appreciate the manliness of character which has always marked
the actions of Colonel Sherman. While he is personally endeared to
many of them as a friend, they consider it their high pleasure to
tender to him in this resolution their regret on his separation,
and their sincere wish for his future welfare."
I have given the above at some length, because, during the civil
war, it was in Southern circles asserted that I was guilty of a
breach of hospitality in taking up arms against the South. They
were manifestly the aggressors, and we could only defend our own by
assailing them. Yet, without any knowledge of what the future had
in store for me, I took unusual precautions that the institution
should not be damaged by my withdrawal. About the 20th of
February, having turned over all property, records, and money, on
hand, to Major Smith, and taking with me the necessary documents to
make the final settlement with Dr. S. A. Smith, at the bank in New
Orleans, where the funds of the institution were deposited to my
credit, I took passage from Alexandria for that city, and arrived
there, I think, on the 23d. Dr. Smith met me, and we went to the
bank, where I turned over to him the balance, got him to audit all
my accounts, certify that they were correct and just, and that
«- Previous | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 | View All | Next -»