Adjutant-General L. Thomas, to inquire if he knew of any troops
available, that had not been already assigned. He mentioned
Negley's Pennsylvania Brigade, at Pittsburg, and a couple of other
regiments that were then en route for St. Louis. Mr. Cameron
ordered him to divert these to Louisville, and Thomas made the
telegraphic orders on the spot. He further promised, on reaching
Washington, to give us more of his time and assistance.
In the general conversation which followed, I remember taking a
large map of the United States, and assuming the people of the
whole South to be in rebellion, that our task was to subdue them,
showed that McClellan was on the left, having a frontage of less
than a hundred miles, and Fremont the right, about the same;
whereas I, the centre, had from the Big Sandy to Paducah, over
three hundred miles of frontier; that McClellan had a hundred
thousand men, Fremont sixty thousand, whereas to me had only been
allotted about eighteen thousand. I argued that, for the purpose
of defense we should have sixty thousand men at once, and for
offense, would need two hundred thousand, before we were done. Mr.
Cameron, who still lay on the bed, threw up his hands and
exclaimed, "Great God! where are they to come from?" I asserted
that there were plenty of men at the North, ready and willing to
come, if he would only accept their services; for it was notorious
that regiments had been formed in all the Northwestern States,
whose services had been refused by the War Department, on the
ground that they would not be needed. We discussed all these
matters fully, in the most friendly spirit, and I thought I had
aroused Mr. Cameron to a realization of the great war that was
before us, and was in fact upon us. I heard him tell General
Thomas to make a note of our conversation, that he might attend to
my requests on reaching Washington. We all spent the evening
together agreeably in conversation, many Union citizens calling to
pay their respects, and the next morning early we took the train
for Frankfort; Mr. Cameron and party going on to Cincinnati and
Washington, and I to Camp Dick Robinson to see General Thomas and
the troops there.
I found General Thomas in a tavern, with most of his regiments
camped about him. He had sent a small force some miles in advance
toward Cumberland Gap, under Brigadier-General Schoepf. Remaining
there a couple of days, I returned to Louisville; on the 22d of
October, General Negley's brigade arrived in boats from Pittsburg,
was sent out to Camp Nolin; and the Thirty-seventh Indiana.,
Colonel Hazzard, and Second Minnesota, Colonel Van Cleve, also
reached Louisville by rail, and were posted at Elizabethtown and
Lebanon Junction. These were the same troops which had been
ordered by Mr. Cameron when at Louisville, and they were all that I
received thereafter, prior to my leaving Kentucky. On reaching
Washington, Mr. Cameron called on General Thomas, as he himself
afterward told me, to submit his memorandum of events during his
absence, and in that memorandum was mentioned my insane request for
two hundred thousand men. By some newspaper man this was seen and
published, and, before I had the least conception of it, I was
universally published throughout the country as "insane, crazy,"
etc. Without any knowledge, however, of this fact, I had
previously addressed to the Adjutant-General of the army at
Washington this letter:
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OP THE CUMBERLAND, LOUISVILLE, KENTUKY,
October 22, 1881.
To General L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General, Washington, D. C.
Sir: On my arrival at Camp Dick Robinson, I found General Thomas
had stationed a Kentucky regiment at Rock Castle Hill, beyond a
river of the same name, and had sent an Ohio and an Indiana
regiment forward in support. He was embarrassed for
transportation, and I authorized him to hire teams, and to move his
whole force nearer to his advance-guard, so as to support it, as he
had information of the approach of Zollicoffer toward London. I
have just heard from him, that he had sent forward General Schoepf
with Colonel Wolford's cavalry, Colonel Steadman's Ohio regiment,
and a battery of artillery, followed on a succeeding day by a
Tennessee brigade. He had still two Kentucky regiments, the
Thirty-eighth Ohio and another battery of artillery, with which he
was to follow yesterday. This force, if concentrated, should be
strong enough for the purpose; at all events, it is all he had or I
could give him.
I explained to you fully, when here, the supposed position of our
adversaries, among which was a force in the valley of Big Sandy,
supposed to be advancing on Paris, Kentucky. General Nelson at
Maysville was instructed to collect all the men he could, and
Colonel Gill's regiment of Ohio Volnnteers. Colonel Harris was
already in position at Olympian Springs, and a regiment lay at
Lexington, which I ordered to his support. This leaves the line of
Thomas's operations exposed, but I cannot help it. I explained so
fully to yourself and the Secretary of War the condition of things,
that I can add nothing new until further developements, You know my
views that this great centre of our field is too weak, far too
weak, and I have begged and implored till I dare not say more.
Buckner still is beyond Green River. He sent a detachment of his
men, variously estimated at from two to four thousand toward
Greensburg. General Ward, with about one thousand men, retreated
to Campbellsburg, where he called to his assistance some
partially-formed regiments to the number of about two thousand.
The enemy did not advance, and General Ward was at last dates at
Campbellsburg. The officers charged with raising regiments must of
necessity be near their homes to collect men, and for this reason
are out of position; but at or near Greensburg and Lebanon, I
desire to assemble as large a force of the Kentucky Volunteers as
possible. This organization is necessarily irregular, but the
necessity is so great that I must have them, and therefore have
issued to them arms and clothing during the process of formation.
This has facilitated their enlistment; but inasmuch as the
Legislature has provided money for organizing the Kentucky
Volunteers, and intrusted its disbursement to a board of loyal
gentlemen, I have endeavored to cooperate with them to hasten the
formation of these corps.
The great difficulty is, and has been, that as volunteers offer, we
have not arms and clothing to give them. The arms sent us are, as
you already know, European muskets of uncouth pattern, which the
volunteers will not touch.
General McCook has now three brigades--Johnson's, Wood's, and
Rousseau's. Negley's brigade arrived to-day, and will be sent out
at once. The Minnesota regiment has also arrived, and will be sent
forward. Hazzard's regiment of Indiana troops I have ordered to
the month of Salt Creek, an important point on the turnpike-road
leading to Elizabethtown.
I again repeat that our force here is out of all proportion to the
importance of the position. Our defeat would be disastrous to the
nation; and to expect of new men, who never bore arms, to do
miracles, is not right.
I am, with much respect, yours truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Brigadier-General commanding.
About this time my attention was drawn to the publication in all
the Eastern papers, which of course was copied at the West, of the
report that I was "crazy, insane, and mad," that "I had demanded
two hundred thousand men for the defense of Kentucky;" and the
authority given for this report was stated to be the Secretary of
War himself, Mr. Cameron, who never, to my knowledge, took pains to
affirm or deny it. My position was therefore simply unbearable,
and it is probable I resented the cruel insult with language of
intense feeling. Still I received no orders, no reenforcements,
not a word of encouragement or relief. About November 1st, General
McClellan was appointed commander-in-chief of all the armies in the
field, and by telegraph called for a report from me. It is
HEADQUARTERS THE DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Louisville,
Kentucky, November 4, 1861
General L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General, Washington, D. C.
Sir: In compliance with the telegraphic orders of General
McClellan, received late last night, I submit this report of the
forces in Kentucky, and of their condition.
The tabular statement shows the position of the several regiments.
The camp at Nolin is at the present extremity of the Nashville
Railroad. This force was thrown forward to meet the advance of
Buckner's army, which then fell back to Green River, twenty-three
miles beyond. These regiments were substantially without means of
transportation, other than the railroad, which is guarded at all
dangerous points, yet is liable to interruption at any moment, by
the tearing up of a rail by the disaffected inhabitants or a hired
enemy. These regiments are composed of good materials, but devoid
of company officers of experience, and have been put under thorough
drill since being in camp. They are generally well clad, and
provided for. Beyond Green River, the enemy has masked his forces,
and it is very difficult to ascertain even the approximate numbers.
No pains have been spared to ascertain them, but without success,
and it is well known that they far outnumber us. Depending,
however, on the railroads to their rear for transportation, they
have not thus far advanced this side of Green River, except in
marauding parties. This is the proper line of advance, but will
require a very large force, certainly fifty thousand men, as their
railroad facilities south enable them to concentrate at
Munfordsville the entire strength of the South. General McCook's
command is divided into four brigades, under Generals Wood, R. W.
Johnson, Rousseau, and Negley.
General Thomas's line of operations is from Lexington, toward
Cumberland Gap and Ford, which are occupied by a force of rebel
Tennesseeans, under the command of Zollicoffer. Thomas occupies
the position at London, in front of two roads which lead to the
fertile part of Kentucky, the one by Richmond, and the other by
Crab Orchard, with his reserve at Camp Dick Robinson, eight miles
south of the Kentucky River. His provisions and stores go by
railroad from Cincinnati to Nicholasville, and thence in wagons to
his several regiments. He is forced to hire transportation.
Brigadier-General Nelson is operating by the line from Olympian
Springs, east of Paris, on the Covington & Lexington Railroad,
toward Prestonburg, in the valley of the Big Sandy where is
assembled a force of from twenty-five to thirty-five hundred rebel
Kentuckians waiting reenforcements from Virginia. My last report
from him was to October 28th, at which time he had Colonel Harris's
Ohio Second, nine hundred strong; Colonel Norton's Twenty-first
Ohio, one thousand; and Colonel Sill's Thirty-third Ohio, seven
hundred and fifty strong; with two irregular Kentucky regiments,
Colonels Marshall and Metcalf. These troops were on the road near
Hazel Green and West Liberty, advancing toward Prestonburg.
Upon an inspection of the map, you will observe these are all
divergent lines, but rendered necessary, from the fact that our
enemies choose them as places of refuge from pursuit, where they
can receive assistance from neighboring States. Our lines are all
too weak, probably with the exception of that to Prestonburg. To
strengthen these, I am thrown on the raw levies of Ohio and
Indiana, who arrive in detachments, perfectly fresh from the
country, and loaded down with baggage, also upon the Kentuckians,
who are slowly forming regiments all over the State, at points
remote from danger, and whom it will be almost impossible to
assemble together. The organization of this latter force is, by
the laws of Kentucky, under the control of a military board of
citizens, at the capital, Frankfort, and they think they will be
enabled to have fifteen regiments toward the middle of this month,
but I doubt it, and deem it unsafe to rely on them: There are four
regiments forming in the neighborhood of Owensboro, near the mouth
of Green River, who are doing good service, also in the
neighborhood of Campbellsville, but it is unsafe to rely on troops
so suddenly armed and equipped. They are not yet clothed or
uniformed. I know well you will think our force too widely
distributed, but we are forced to it by the attitude of our
enemies, whose force and numbers the country never has and probably
never will comprehend.
I am told that my estimate of troops needed for this line, viz.,
two hundred thousand, has been construed to my prejudice, and
therefore leave it for the future. This is the great centre on
which our enemies can concentrate whatever force is not employed
elsewhere. Detailed statement of present force inclosed with this.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Brigadier-General commanding.
BRIGADIER-GENERAL McCOOK'S CAMP, AT NOLIN, FIFTY-TWO MILES FROM
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY, NOVEMBER 4, 1861.
First Brigade (General ROUSSEAU).-Third Kentucky, Colonel Bulkley;
Fourth Kentucky, Colonel Whittaker; First Cavalry, Colonel Board;
Stone's battery; two companies Nineteenth United States Infantry,
and two companies Fifteenth United States Infantry, Captain Gilman.
Second Brigade (General T. J. WOOD).-Thirty-eighth Indiana, Colonel
Scribner; Thirty-ninth Indiana, Colonel Harrison; Thirtieth
Indiana, Colonel Bass; Twenty-ninth Indiana, Colonel Miller.
Third Brigade (General JOHNSON).-Forty-ninth Ohio, Colonel Gibson;
Fifteenth Ohio, Colonel Dickey; Thirty-fourth Illinois, Colonel
King; Thirty-second Indiana, Colonel Willach.
Fourth Brigade (General NEGLEY).-Seventy-seventh Pennsylvania,
Colonel Hambright; Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania, Colonel Sinnell;
Seventy-ninth Pennsylvania, Colonel Stambaugh; Battery, Captain
Camp Dick Robinson (General G. H. THOMAS).---Kentucky, Colonel
Bramlette;--Kentucky, Colonel Fry;--Kentucky Cavalry, Colonel
Woolford; Fourteenth Ohio, Colonel Steadman; First Artillery,
Colonel Barnett; Third Ohio, Colonel Carter;--East Tennessee,
Bardstown, Kentucky.-Tenth Indiana, Colonel Manson.
Crab Orchard.-Thirty-third Indiana, Colonel Coburn.
Jeffersonville, Indiana.-Thirty-fourth Indiana, Colonel Steele;
Thirty-sixth Indiana, Colonel Gross; First Wisconsin, Colonel
Mouth of Salt River.-Ninth Michigan, Colonel Duffield; Thirty-
seventh Indiana, Colonel Hazzard.
Lebanon Junction..-Second Minnesota, Colonel Van Cleve.
Olympian Springs.-Second Ohio, Colonel Harris.
Cynthiana, Kentucky.-Thirty-fifth Ohio, Colonel Vandever.
Nicholasville, Kentucky.-Twenty-first Ohio, Colonel Norton; Thirty-
eighth Ohio, Colonel Bradley.
Big Hill.-Seventeenth Ohio, Colonel Connell.
Colesburg.-Twenty-fourth Illinois, Colonel Hecker.
Elizabethtown, Kentucky.-Nineteenth Illinois, Colonel Turchin.
Owensboro' or Henderson.-Thirty-first Indiana, Colonel Cruft;
Colonel Edwards, forming Rock Castle; Colonel Boyle, Harrodsburg;
Colonel Barney, Irvine; Colonel Hazzard, Burksville; Colonel
And, in order to conclude this subject, I also add copies of two
telegraphic dispatches, sent for General McClellan's use about the
same time, which are all the official letters received at his
headquarters, as certified by the Adjutant-General, L. Thomas, in a
letter of February 1, 1862; in answer to an application of my
brother, Senator John Sherman, and on which I was adjudged insane:
Louisville, November 3, 10 p.m.
To General McLELLAN, Washington, D. C.:
Dispatch just received. We are forced to operate on three lines,
all dependent on railroads of doubtful safety, requiring strong
guards. From Paris to Prestonbnrg, three Ohio regiments and some
militia--enemy variously reported from thirty-five hundred to seven
thousand. From Lexington toward Cumberland Gap, Brigadier-General
Thomas, one Indiana and five Ohio regiments, two Kentucky and two
Tennessee; hired wagons and badly clad. Zollicoffer, at Cumberland
Ford, about seven thousand. Lee reported on the way with Virginia
reenforcements. In front of Louisville, fifty-two miles, McCook,
with four brigades of about thirteen thousand, with four regiments
to guard the railroad, at all times in danger. Enemy along the
railroad from Green River to Bowling Green, Nashville, and
Clarksville. Buckner, Hardee, Sidney Johnston, Folk, and Pillow,
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