Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

there remained not one cent of balance in my hands. I charged in

my account current for my salary up to the end of February, at the

rate of four thousand dollars a year, and for the five hundred

dollars due me as superintendent of the Central Arsenal, all of

which was due and had been fairly earned, and then I stood free and

discharged of any and every obligation, honorary or business, that

was due by me to the State of Louisiana, or to any corporation or

individual in that State.

This business occupied two or three days, during which I staid at

the St. Louis Hotel. I usually sat at table with Colonel and Mrs.

Bragg, and an officer who wore the uniform of the State of

Louisiana, and was addressed as captain. Bragg wore a colonel's

uniform, and explained to me that he was a colonel in the State

service, a colonel of artillery, and that some companies of his

regiment garrisoned Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and the arsenal

at Baton Rouge.

Beauregard at the time had two sons at the Seminary of Learning. I

had given them some of my personal care at the father's request,

and, wanting to tell him of their condition and progress, I went to

his usual office in the Custom-House Building, and found him in the

act of starting for Montgomery, Alabama. Bragg said afterward that

Beauregard had been sent for by Jefferson Davis, and that it was

rumored that he had been made a brigadier-general, of which fact he

seemed jealous, because in the old army Bragg was the senior.

Davis and Stephens had been inaugurated President and

Vice-President of the Confederate States of America, February 18,

1860, at Montgomery, and those States only embraced the seven

cotton States. I recall a conversation at the tea-table, one

evening, at the St. Louis Hotel. When Bragg was speaking of

Beauregard's promotion, Mrs. Bragg, turning to me, said, "You know

that my husband is not a favorite with the new President." My mind

was resting on Mr. Lincoln as the new President, and I said I did

not know that Bragg had ever met Mr. Lincoln, when Mrs. Bragg said,

quite pointedly, "I didn't mean your President, but our President."

I knew that Bragg hated Davis bitterly, and that he had resigned

from the army in 1855, or 1856, because Davis, as Secretary of War,

had ordered him, with his battery, from Jefferson Barracks,

Missouri, to Fort Smith or Fort Washita, in the Indian country, as

Bragg expressed it, "to chase Indians with six-pounders."

I visited the quartermaster, Colonel A. C. Myers, who had resigned

from the army, January 28, 1861, and had accepted service under the

new regime. His office was in the same old room in the Lafayette

Square building, which he had in 1853, when I was there a

commissary, with the same pictures on the wall, and the letters "U.

S." on every thing, including his desk, papers, etc. I asked him

if he did not feel funny. "No, not at all. The thing was

inevitable, secession was a complete success; there would be no

war, but the two Governments would settle all matters of business

in a friendly spirit, and each would go on in its allotted sphere,

without further confusion." About this date, February 16th,

General Twiggs, Myers's father-in-law, had surrendered his entire

command, in the Department of Texas, to some State troops, with all

the Government property, thus consummating the first serious step

in the drama of the conspiracy, which was to form a confederacy of

the cotton States, before working upon the other slave or border

States, and before the 4th of March, the day for the inauguration

of President Lincoln.

I walked the streets of New Orleans, and found business going along

as usual. Ships were strung for miles along the lower levee, and

steamboats above, all discharging or receiving cargo. The Pelican

flag of Louisiana was flying over the Custom House, Mint, City

Hall, and everywhere. At the levee ships carried every flag on

earth except that of the United States, and I was told that during

a procession on the 22d of February, celebrating their emancipation

from the despotism of the United States Government, only one

national flag was shown from a house, and that the houses of

Cuthbert Bullitt, on Lafayette Square. He was commanded to take it

down, but he refused, and defended it with his pistol.

The only officer of the army that I can recall, as being there at

the time, who was faithful, was Colonel C. L. Kilburn, of the

Commissary Department, and he was preparing to escape North.

Everybody regarded the change of Government as final; that

Louisiana, by a mere declaration, was a free and independent State,

and could enter into any new alliance or combination she chose.

Men were being enlisted and armed, to defend the State, and there

was not the least evidence that the national Administration

designed to make any effort, by force, to vindicate the national

authority. I therefore bade adieu to all my friends, and about the

25th of February took my departure by railroad, for Lancaster, via

Cairo and Cincinnati.

Before leaving this subject, I will simply record the fate of some

of my associates. The seminary was dispersed by the war, and all

the professors and cadets took service in the Confederacy, except

Yallas, St. Ange, and Cadet Taliaferro. The latter joined a Union

regiment, as a lieutenant, after New Orleans was retaken by the

United States fleet under Farragut. I think that both Yallas and

St. Ange have died in poverty since the war. Major Smith joined

the rebel army in Virginia, and was killed in April, 1865, as he

was withdrawing his garrison, by night, from the batteries at

Drury's Bluff, at the time General Lee began his final retreat from

Richmond. Boyd became a captain of engineers on the staff of

General Richard Taylor, was captured, and was in jail at Natchez,

Mississippi, when I was on my Meridian expedition. He succeeded in

getting a letter to me on my arrival at Vicksburg, and, on my way

down to New Orleans, I stopped at Natchez, took him along, and

enabled him to effect an exchange through General Banks. As soon

as the war was over, he returned to Alexandria, and reorganized the

old institution, where I visited him in 1867; but, the next winter,

the building took fire end burned to the ground. The students,

library, apparatus, etc., were transferred to Baton Rouge, where

the same institution now is, under the title of the Louisiana

University. I have been able to do them many acts of kindness, and

am still in correspondence, with Colonel Boyd, its president.

General G. Mason Graham is still living on his plantation, on Bayou

Rapides, old and much respected.

Dr. S. A. Smith became a surgeon in the rebel army, and at the

close of the war was medical director of the trans-Mississippi

Department, with General Kirby Smith. I have seen him since the

war, at New Orleans, where he died about a year ago.

Dr. Clark was in Washington recently, applying for a place as

United States consul abroad. I assisted him, but with no success,

and he is now at Baltimore, Maryland.

After the battle of Shiloh, I found among the prisoners Cadet

Barrow, fitted him out with some clean clothing, of which he was in

need, and from him learned that Cadet Workman was killed in that


Governor Moore's plantation was devastated by General Banks's

troops. After the war he appealed to me, and through the

Attorney-General, Henry Stanbery, I aided in having his

land restored to him, and I think he is now living there.

Bragg, Beauregard, and Taylor, enacted high parts in the succeeding

war, and now reside in Louisiana or Texas




During the time of these events in Louisiana, I was in constant

correspondence with my brother, John Sherman, at Washington; Mr.

Ewing, at Lancaster, Ohio; and Major H. S. Turner, at St. Louis. I

had managed to maintain my family comfortably at Lancaster, but was

extremely anxious about the future. It looked like the end of my

career, for I did not suppose that "civil war" could give me an

employment that would provide for the family. I thought, and may

have said, that the national crisis had been brought about by the

politicians, and, as it was upon us, they "might fight it out"

Therefore, when I turned North from New Orleans, I felt more

disposed to look to St. Louis for a home, and to Major. Turner to

find me employment, than to the public service.

I left New Orleans about the 1st of March, 1861, by rail to Jackson

and Clinton, Mississippi, Jackson, Tennessee, and Columbus,

Kentucky, where we took a boat to Cairo, and thence, by rail, to

Cincinnati and Lancaster. All the way, I heard, in the cars and

boats, warm discussions about polities; to the effect that, if Mr.

Lincoln should attempt coercion of the seceded States, the other

slave or border States would make common cause, when, it was

believed, it would be madness to attempt to reduce them to

subjection. In the South, the people were earnest, fierce and

angry, and were evidently organizing for action; whereas, in

Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, I saw not the least sign of

preparation. It certainly looked to me as though the people of the

North would tamely submit to a disruption of the Union, and the

orators of the South used, openly and constantly, the expressions

that there would be no war, and that a lady's thimble would hold

all the blood to be shed. On reaching Lancaster, I found letters

from my brother John, inviting me to come to Washington, as he

wanted to see me; and from Major Tamer, at St. Louis, that he was

trying to secure for me the office of president of the Fifth Street

Railroad, with a salary of twenty-five hundred dollars; that Mr.

Lucas and D. A. January held a controlling interest of stock, would

vote for me, and the election would occur in March. This suited me

exactly, and I answered Turner that I would accept, with thanks.

But I also thought it right and proper that I should first go to

Washington, to talk with my brother, Senator Sherman.

Mr. Lincoln had just been installed, and the newspapers were filled

with rumors of every kind indicative of war; the chief act of

interest was that Major Robert Anderson had taken by night into

Fort Sumter all the troops garrisoning Charleston Harbor, and that

he was determined to defend it against the demands of the State of

South Carolina and of the Confederate States. I must have reached

Washington about the 10th of March. I found my brother there, just

appointed Senator, in place of Mr. Chase, who was in the cabinet,

and I have no doubt my opinions, thoughts, and feelings, wrought up

by the events in Louisiana; seemed to him gloomy and extravagant.

About Washington I saw but few signs of preparation, though the

Southern Senators and Representatives were daily sounding their

threats on the floors of Congress, and were publicly withdrawing to

join the Confederate Congress at Montgomery. Even in the War

Department and about the public offices there was open, unconcealed

talk, amounting to high-treason.

One day, John Sherman took me with him to see Mr. Lincoln. He

walked into the room where the secretary to the President now sits,

we found the room full of people, and Mr. Lincoln sat at the end of

the table, talking with three or four gentlemen, who soon left.

John walked up, shook hands, and took a chair near him, holding in

his hand some papers referring to, minor appointments in the State

of Ohio, which formed the subject of conversation. Mr. Lincoln

took the papers, said he would refer them to the proper heads of

departments, and would be glad to make the appointments asked for,

if not already promised. John then turned to me, and said, "Mr.

President, this is my brother, Colonel Sherman, who is just up from

Louisiana, he may give you some information you want." "Ah!" said

Mr. Lincoln, "how are they getting along down there?" I said, "They

think they are getting along swimmingly--they are preparing for

war." "Oh, well!" said he, "I guess we'll manage to keep house."

I was silenced, said no more to him, and we soon left. I was sadly

disappointed, and remember that I broke out on John, d--ning the

politicians generally, saying, "You have got things in a hell of a

fig, and you may get them out as you best can," adding that the

country was sleeping on a volcano that might burst forth at any

minute, but that I was going to St. Louis to take care of my

family, and would have no more to do with it. John begged me to be

more patient, but I said I would not; that I had no time to wait,

that I was off for St. Louis; and off I went. At Lancaster I found

letters from Major Turner, inviting me to St. Louis, as the place

in the Fifth Street Railroad was a sure thing, and that Mr. Lucas

would rent me a good house on Locust Street, suitable for my

family, for six hundred dollars a year.

Mrs. Sherman and I gathered our family and effects together,

started for St. Louis March 27th, where we rented of Mr. Lucas the

house on Locust Street, between Tenth and Eleventh, and occupied it

on the 1st of April. Charles Ewing and John Hunter had formed a

law-partnership in St. Louis, and agreed to board with us, taking

rooms on the third floor In the latter part of March, I was duly

elected president of the Fifth Street Railroad, and entered on the

discharge of my duties April 1, 1861. We had a central office on

the corner of Fifth and Locust, and also another up at the stables

in Bremen. The road was well stocked and in full operation, and

all I had to do was to watch the economical administration of

existing affairs, which I endeavored to do with fidelity and zeal.

But the whole air was full of wars and rumors of wars. The

struggle was going on politically for the border States. Even in

Missouri, which was a slave State, it was manifest that the

Governor of the State, Claiborne Jackson, and all the leading

politicians, were for the South in case of a war. The house on the

northwest corner of Fifth and Pine was the rebel headquarters,

where the rebel flag was hung publicly, and the crowds about the

Planters' House were all more or less rebel. There was also a camp

in Lindell's Grove, at the end of Olive, Street, under command of

General D. M. Frost, a Northern man, a graduate of West Point, in

open sympathy with the Southern leaders. This camp was nominally a

State camp of instruction, but, beyond doubt, was in the interest

of the Southern cause, designed to be used against the national

authority in the event of the General Government's attempting to

coerce the Southern Confederacy. General William S. Harvey was in

command of the Department of Missouri, and resided in his own

house, on Fourth Street, below Market; and there were five or six

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