Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman


Text to Speech

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

herewith given:

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

Mueller.

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,

Colonel Byrd.

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

Starkweather.

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

Haskins, Somerset.

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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