that the cares, perplexities, and anxiety of the situation had
unbalanced my judgment and mind. It was, doubtless, an incident
common to all civil wars, to which I could only submit with the
best grace possible, trusting to the future for an opportunity to
redeem my fortune and good name. Of course I could not deny the
fact, and had to submit to all its painful consequences for months;
and, moreover, I could not hide from myself that many of the
officers and soldiers subsequently placed under my command looked
at me askance and with suspicion. Indeed, it was not until the
following April that the battle of Shiloh gave me personally the
chance to redeem my good name.
On reaching St. Louis and reporting to General Halleck, I was
received kindly, and was shortly afterward (viz., November 23d)
sent up to Sedalia to inspect the camp there, and the troops
located along the road back to Jefferson City, and I was ordered to
assume command in a certain contingency. I found General Steels at
Sedalia with his regiments scattered about loosely; and General
Pope at Otterville, twenty miles back, with no concert between
them. The rebel general, Sterling Price, had his forces down about
Osceola and Warsaw. I advised General Halleck to collect the whole
of his men into one camp on the La Mine River, near Georgetown, to
put them into brigades and divisions, so as to be ready to be
handled, and I gave some preliminary orders looking to that end.
But the newspapers kept harping on my insanity and paralyzed my
efforts. In spite of myself, they tortured from me some words and
acts of imprudence. General Halleck telegraphed me on November
26th: "Unless telegraph-lines are interrupted, make no movement of
troops without orders;" and on November 29th: "No forward movement
of troops on Osceola will be made; only strong
reconnoitring-parties will be sent out in the supposed direction of
the enemy; the bulk of the troops being held in position till more
reliable information is obtained."
About the same time I received the following dispatch:
HEADQUARTERS, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
November 28, 1881. Brigadier
General SHERMAN, Sedalia:
Mrs. Sherman is here. General Halleck is satisfied, from reports
of scouts received here, that no attack on Sedalia is intended.
You will therefore return to this city, and report your
observations on the condition of the troops you have examined.
Please telegraph when you will leave.
SCHUYLER HAMILTON, Brigadier-General and Aide-de-Camp.
I accordingly returned to St. Louis, where I found Mrs. Sherman,
naturally and properly distressed at the continued and reiterated
reports of the newspapers of my insanity, and she had come from
Lancaster to see me. This recall from Sedalia simply swelled the
cry. It was alleged that I was recalled by reason of something
foolish I had done at Sedalia, though in fact I had done absolutely
nothing, except to recommend what was done immediately thereafter
on the advice of Colonel McPherson, on a subsequent inspection.
Seeing and realizing that my efforts were useless, I concluded to
ask for a twenty days' leave of absence, to accompany Mrs. Sherman
to our home in Lancaster, and to allow the storm to blow over
somewhat. It also happened to be mid-winter, when, nothing was
doing; so Mrs. Sherman and I returned to Lancaster, where I was
born, and where I supposed I was better known and appreciated.
The newspapers kept up their game as though instigated by malice,
and chief among them was the Cincinnati Comercial, whose editor,
Halsted, was generally believed to be an honorable man. P. B.
Ewing, Esq., being in Cincinnati, saw him and asked him why he, who
certainly knew better, would reiterate such a damaging slander. He
answered, quite cavalierly, that it was one of the news-items of
the day, and he had to keep up with the time; but he would be most
happy to publish any correction I might make, as though I could
deny such a malicious piece of scandal affecting myself. On the
12th of November I had occasion to write to General Halleck, and I
have a copy of his letter in answer:
ST. Louis, December 18, 1881.
Brigadier-General W. T. SHERMAN, Lancaster, Ohio.
My DEAR GENERAL: Yours of the 12th was received a day or two ago,
but was mislaid for the moment among private papers, or I should
have answered it sooner. The newspaper attacks are certainly
shameless and scandalous, but I cannot agree with you, that they
have us in their power "to destroy us as they please." I certainly
get my share of abuse, but it will not disturb me.
Your movement of the troops was not countermanded by me because I
thought it an unwise one in itself, but because I was not then
ready for it. I had better information of Price's movements than
you had, and I had no apprehension of an attack. I intended to
concentrate the forces on that line, but I wished the movement
delayed until I could determine on a better position.
After receiving Lieutenant-Colonel McPherson's report, I made
precisely the location you had ordered. I was desirous at the time
not to prevent the advance of Price by any movement on our part,
hoping that he would move on Lexington; but finding that he had
determined to remain at Osceola for some time at least, I made the
movement you proposed. As you could not know my plans, you and
others may have misconstrued the reason of my countermanding your
I hope to see you well enough for duty soon. Our organization goes
on slowly, but we will effect it in time. Yours truly,
H. W. HALLECK.
And subsequently, in a letter to Hon. Thomas Ewing, in answer to
some inquiries involving the same general subject, General Halleck
wrote as follows:
Hon. THOMAS EWING, Lancaster, Ohio.
DEAR SIR: Your note of the 13th, and one of this date, from Mr.
Sherman, in relation to Brigadier-General Sherman's having being
relieved from command in Sedalia, in November last, are just
received. General Sherman was not put in command at Sedalia; he
was authorized to assume it, and did so for a day or two. He did
not know my plans, and his movement of troops did not accord with
them. I therefore directed him to leave them as they were, and
report here the result of his inspection, for which purpose be had
been ordered there.
No telegram or dispatch of any kind was sent by me, or by any one
with my knowledge or authority, in relation to it. After his
return here, I gave him a leave of absence of twenty days, for the
benefit of his health. As I was then pressing General McClellan
for more officers, I deemed it necessary to explain why I did so.
I used these words: "I am satisfied that General Sherman's physical
and mental system is so completely broken by labor and care as to
render him, for the present, unfit for duty; perhaps a few weeks'
rest may restore him." This was the only communication I made on
the subject. On no occasion have I ever expressed an opinion that
his mind was affected otherwise than by over-exertion; to have said
so would have done him the greatest injustice.
After General Sherman returned from his short leave, I found that
his health was nearly restored, and I placed him temporarily in
command of the camp of instruction, numbering over fifteen thousand
men. I then wrote to General McClellan that he would soon be able
to again take the field. I gave General Sherman a copy of my
letter. This is the total of my correspondence on the subject. As
evidence that I have every confidence in General Sherman, I have
placed him in command of Western Kentucky--a command only second in
importance in this department. As soon as divisions and columns
can be organized, I propose to send him into the field where he can
render most efficient service. I have seen newspaper squibs,
charging him with being "crazy," etc. This is the grossest
injustice; I do not, however, consider such attacks worthy of
notice. The best answer is General Sherman's present position, and
the valuable services he is rendering to the country. I have the
fullest confidence in him.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK, Major-General.
On returning to St. Louis, on the expiration of my leave of
absence, I found that General Halleck was beginning to move his
troops: one part, under General U. S. Grant, up the Tennessee
River; and another part, under General S. R. Curtis, in the
direction of Springfield, Missouri. General Grant was then at
Paducah, and General Curtis was under orders for Rolls. I was
ordered to take Curtis's place in command of the camp of
instruction, at Benton Barracks, on the ground back of North St.
Louis, now used as the Fair Grounds, by the following order:[Special Order No. 87].
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI
St. Louis, December 23, 1861[EXTRACT.]
Brigadier-General W. T. Sherman, United States Volunteers, is
hereby assigned to the command of the camp of instruction and post
of Benton Barracks. He will have every armed regiment and company
in his command ready for service at a moment's warning, and will
notify all concerned that, when marching orders are received, it is
expected that they will be instantly obeyed; no excuses for delay
will be admitted. General Sherman will immediately report to these
headquarters what regiments and companies, at Benton Barracks, are
ready for the field.
By order of Major-General Halleck,
J. C. KELTEN, Assistant Adjutant-General.
I immediately assumed command, and found, in the building
constructed for the commanding officer, Brigadier-General Strong,
and the family of a captain of Iowa cavalry, with whom we boarded.
Major Curtis, son of General Curtis, was the adjutant-general, but
was soon relieved by Captain J. H. Hammond, who was appointed
assistant adjutant-general, and assigned to duty with me.
Brigadier-General Hurlbut was also there, and about a dozen
regiments of infantry and cavalry. I at once gave all matters
pertaining to the post my personal attention, got the regiments in
as good order as possible, kept up communication with General
Halleck's headquarters by telegraph, and, when orders came for the
movement of any regiment or detachment, it moved instantly. The
winter was very wet, and the ground badly drained. The quarters
had been erected by General Fremont, under contract; they were mere
shells, but well arranged for a camp, embracing the Fair Grounds,
and some forty acres of flat ground west of it. I instituted
drills, and was specially ordered by General Halleck to watch
Generals Hurlbut and Strong, and report as to their fitness for
their commissions as brigadier-generals. I had known Hurlbut as a
young lawyer, in Charleston, South Carolina, before the Mexican
War, at which time he took a special interest in military matters,
and I found him far above the average in the knowledge of
regimental and brigade drill, and so reported. General Strong had
been a merchant, and he told me that he never professed to be a
soldier, but had been urged on the Secretary of War for the
commission of a brigadier-general, with the expectation of be
coming quartermaster or commissary-general. He was a good,
kind-hearted gentleman, boiling over with patriotism and zeal. I
advised him what to read and study, was considerably amused at his
receiving instruction from a young lieutenant who knew the company
and battalion drill, and could hear him practise in his room the
words of command, and tone of voice, "Break from the right, to
march to the left!" "Battalion, halt!" "Forward into line!" etc.
Of course I made a favorable report in his case. Among the
infantry and cavalry colonels were some who afterward rose to
distinction--David Stuart, Gordon Granger, Bussey, etc., etc.
Though it was mid-winter, General Halleck was pushing his
preparations most vigorously, and surely he brought order out of
chaos in St. Louis with commendable energy. I remember, one night,
sitting in his room, on the second floor of the Planters' House,
with him and General Cullum, his chief of staff, talking
of things generally, and the subject then was of the much-talked-of
"advance," as soon as the season would permit. Most people urged
the movement down the Mississippi River; but Generals Polk and
Pillow had a large rebel force, with heavy guns in a very strong
position, at Columbus, Kentucky, about eighteen miles below Cairo.
Commodore Foote had his gunboat fleet at Cairo; and General U. S.
Grant, who commanded the district, was collecting a large force at
Paducah, Cairo, and Bird's Point. General Halleck had a map on his
table, with a large pencil in his hand, and asked, "where is the
rebel line?" Cullum drew the pencil through Bowling Green, Forts
Donelson and Henry, and Columbus, Kentucky. "That is their line,"
said Halleck. "Now, where is the proper place to break it?" And
either Cullum or I said, "Naturally the centre." Halleck drew a
line perpendicular to the other, near its middle, and it coincided
nearly with the general course of the Tennessee River; and he said,
"That's the true line of operations." This occurred more than a
month before General Grant began the movement, and, as he was
subject to General Halleck's orders, I have always given Halleck
the full credit for that movement, which was skillful, successful,
and extremely rich in military results; indeed, it was the first
real success on our side in the civil war. The movement up the
Tennessee began about the 1st of February, and Fort Henry was
captured by the joint action of the navy under Commodore Foote, and
the land forces under General Grant, on the 6th of February, 1862.
About the same time, General S. R. Curtis had moved forward from
Rolls, and, on the 8th of March, defeated the rebels under
McCulloch, Van Dom, and Price, at Pea Ridge.
As soon as Fort Henry fell, General Grant marched straight across
to Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland River, invested the place, and,
as soon as the gunboats had come round from the Tennessee, and had
bombarded the water-front, he assaulted; whereupon Buckner
surrendered the garrison of twelve thousand men; Pillow and
ex-Secretary of War General Floyd having personally escaped across
the river at night, occasioning a good deal of fun and criticism at
Before the fall of Donelson, but after that of Henry, I received,
at Benton Barracks, the following orders:
HEADQUARTERS THE DEPARTMENT OF MISSOURI
St. Louis, February,13, 1862
Brigadier-General SHERMAN, Benton Barracks:
You will immediately repair to Paducah, Kentucky, and assume
command of that post. Brigadier-General Hurlbut will accompany
you. The command of Benton Barracks will be turned over to General
H. W. HALECK, Major-General.
I started for Paducah the same day, and think that General Cullum
went with me to Cairo; General Halleck's purpose being to push
forward the operations up the Tennessee River with unusual vigor.
On reaching Paducah, I found this dispatch:
HEADQUARTERS THE DEPARTMENT OF MISSOURI
St. Louis, February 15, 1862
Brigadier-General SHERMAN, Paducah, Kentucky:
Send General Grant every thing you can spare from Paducah and Smith
and also General Hurlbut.
Bowling Green has been evacuated entirely.
H. W. HALLECK, Major-General.
The next day brought us news of the surrender of Buckner, and
probably at no time during the war did we all feel so heavy a
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