prosperity, it will require a close calculation to determine
whether England, her laws and history, claim for a home the
Continent of America or the Isle of Britain. Therefore, finding us
in a death-struggle for existence, she seems to seek a quarrel to
destroy both parts in detail.
Southern people know this full well, and will only accept the
alliance of England in order to get arms and manufactures in
exchange for their cotton. The Southern Confederacy will accept no
other mediation, because she knows full well that in Old England
her slaves and slavery will receive no more encouragement than in
France certainly does not need our cotton enough to disturb her
equilibrium, and her mediation would be entitled to a more respect
consideration than on the part of her present ally. But I feel
assured the French will not encourage rebellion and secession
anywhere as a political doctrine. Certainly all the German states
must be our ardent friends; and, in case of European intervention;
they could not be kept down.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
HEADQUARTERS FIFTH DIVISION, ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE, Memphis, July
Dr. E. S. PLUMMER and others, Physician in Memphis, Signers to a
GENTLEMEN: I have this moment received your communication, and
assure you that it grieves my heart thus to be the instrument of
adding to the seeming cruelty and hardship of this unnatural war.
On my arrival here, I found my predecessor (General Hovey) had
issued an order permitting the departure south of all persons
subject to the conscript law of the Southern Confederacy. Many
applications have been made to me to modify this order, but I
regarded it as a condition precedent by which I was bound in honor,
and therefore I have made no changes or modifications; nor shall I
determine what action I shall adopt in relation to persons
unfriendly to our cause who remain after the time limited by
General Hovey's order had expired. It is now sunset, and all who
have not availed themselves of General Hovey's authority, and who
remain in Memphis, are supposed to be loyal and true men.
I will only say that I cannot allow the personal convenience of
even a large class of ladies to influence me in my determination to
make Memphis a safe place of operations for an army, and all people
who are unfriendly should forthwith prepare to depart in such
direction as I may hereafter indicate.
Surgeons are not liable to be made prisoners of war, but they
should not reside within the lines of an army which they regard as
hostile. The situation would be too delicate.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
HEADQUARTERS, MEMPHIS, July 24, 1862
SAMUEL SAWYER, Esq., Editor Union Appeal, Memphis.
DEAR SIR: It is well I should come to an understanding at once
with the press as well as the people of Memphis, which I am ordered
to command; which means, to control for the interest, welfare; and
glory of the whole Government of the United States.
Personalities in a newspaper are wrong and criminal. Thus, though
you meant to be complimentary in your sketch of my career, you make
more than a dozen mistakes of fact, which I need not correct, as I
don't desire my biography to be written till I am dead. It is
enough for the world to know that I live and am a soldier, bound to
obey the orders of my superiors, the laws of my country, and to
venerate its Constitution; and that, when discretion is given me, I
shall exercise it wisely and account to my superiors.
I regard your article headed "City Council--General Sherman and
Colonel Slack," as highly indiscreet. Of course, no person who can
jeopardize the safety of Memphis can remain here, much less
exercise public authority; but I must take time, and be satisfied
that injustice be not done.
If the parties named be the men you describe, the fact should not
be published, to put them on their guard and thus to encourage
their escape. The evidence should be carefully collected,
authenticated, and then placed in my hands. But your statement of
facts is entirely qualified; in my mind, and loses its force by
your negligence of the very simple facts within your reach as to
myself: I had been in the army six years in 1846; am not related by
blood to any member of Lucas, Turner & Co.; was associated with
them in business six years (instead of two); am not colonel of the
Fifteenth Infantry, but of the Thirteenth. Your correction, this
morning, of the acknowledged error as to General Denver and others,
is still erroneous. General Morgan L. Smith did not belong to my
command at the battle of Shiloh at all, but he was transferred to
my division just before reaching Corinth. I mention these facts in
kindness, to show you how wrong it is to speak of persons.
I will attend to the judge, mayor, Boards of Aldermen, and
policemen, all in good time.
Use your influence to reestablish system, order, government. You
may rest easy that no military commander is going to neglect
internal safety, or to guard against external danger; but to do
right requires time, and more patience than I usually possess. If
I find the press of Memphis actuated by high principle and a sole
devotion to their country, I will be their best friend; but, if I
find them personal, abusive, dealing in innuendoes and hints at a
blind venture, and looking to their own selfish aggrandizement and
fame, then they had better look out; for I regard such persons as
greater enemies to their country and to mankind than the men who,
from a mistaken sense of State pride, have taken up muskets, and
fight us about as hard as we care about. In haste, but in
kindness, yours, etc.,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
HEADQUARTERS FIFTH DIVISION,
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, July 27, 1882.
JOHN PARK, Mayor of Memphis, present.
Sir: Yours of July 24th is before me, and has received, as all
similar papers ever will, my careful and most respectful
consideration. I have the most unbounded respect for the civil
law, courts, and authorities, and shall do all in my power to
restore them to their proper use, viz., the protection of life,
liberty, and property.
Unfortunately, at this time, civil war prevails in the land, and
necessarily the military, for the time being, must be superior to
the civil authority, but it does not therefore destroy it. Civil
courts and executive officers should still exist and perform
duties, without which civil or municipal bodies would soon pass
into disrespect--an end to be avoided. I am glad to find in
Memphis a mayor and municipal authorities not only in existence,
but in the co-exercise of important functions, and I shall endeavor
to restore one or more civil tribunals for the arbitration of
contracts and punishment of crimes, which the military have neither
time nor inclination to interfere with. Among these, first in
importance is the maintenance of order, peace, and quiet, within
the jurisdiction of Memphis. To insure this, I will keep a strong
provost guard in the city, but will limit their duty to guarding
public property held or claimed by the United States, and for the
arrest and confinement of State prisoners and soldiers who are
disorderly or improperly away from their regiments. This guard
ought not to arrest citizens for disorder or minor crimes. This
should be done by the city police. I understand that the city
police is too weak in numbers to accomplish this perfectly, and I
therefore recommend that the City Council at once take steps to
increase this force to a number which, in their judgment, day and
night can enforce your ordinances as to peace, quiet, and order; so
that any change in our military dispositions will not have a
tendency to leave your people unguarded. I am willing to instruct
the provost guard to assist the police force when any combination
is made too strong for them to overcome; but the city police should
be strong enough for any probable contingency. The cost of
maintaining this police force must necessarily fall upon all
citizens equitably. I am not willing, nor do I think it good
policy, for the city authorities to collect the taxes belonging to
the State and County, as you recommend; for these would have to be
refunded. Better meet the expenses at once by a new tax on all
interested. Therefore, if you, on consultation with the proper
municipal body, will frame a good bill for the increase of your
police force, and for raising the necessary means for their support
and maintenance, I will approve it and aid you in the collection of
the tax. Of course, I cannot suggest how this tax should be laid,
but I think that it should be made uniform on all interests, real
estate, and personal property, including money, and merchandise.
All who are protected should share the expenses in proportion to
the interests involved. I am, with respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.
HEADQUARTERS FIFTH DIVISION,
MEMPHIS, August 7, 1862.
Captain FITCH, Assistant Quartermaster, Memphis, Tennessee.
SIR: The duties devolving on the quartermaster of this post, in
addition to his legitimate functions, are very important and
onerous, and I am fully aware that the task is more than should
devolve on one man. I will endeavor to get you help in the person
of some commissioned officer, and, if possible, one under bond, as
he must handle large amounts of money in trust; but, for the
present, we most execute the duties falling to our share as well as
possible. On the subject of vacant houses, General Grant's orders
are: "Take possession of all vacant stores and houses in the city,
and have them rented at reasonable rates; rent to be paid monthly
in advance. These buildings, with their tenants, can be turned
over to proprietors on proof of loyalty; also take charge of such
as have been leased out by disloyal owners."
I understand that General Grant takes the rents and profits of this
class of real property under the rules and laws of war, and not
under the confiscation act of Congress; therefore the question of
title is not involved simply the possession, and the rents and
profits of houses belonging to our enemies, which are not vacant,
we hold in trust for them or the Government, according to the
future decisions of the proper tribunals.
Mr. McDonald, your chief agent in renting and managing this
business, called on me last evening and left with me written
questions, which it would take a volume to answer and a Webster to
elucidate; but as we can only attempt plain, substantial justice, I
will answer these questions as well as I can, briefly and to the
First. When ground is owned by parties who have gone south, and
have leased the ground to parties now in the city who own the
improvements on the ground?
Answer. The United States takes the rents due the owner of the
land; does not disturb the owner of the improvements.
Second. When parties owning houses have gone south, and the tenant
has given his notes for the rent in advance?
Answer. Notes are mere evidence of the debt due landlord. The
tenant pays the rent to the quartermaster, who gives a bond of
indemnity against the notes representing the debt for the
Third. When the tenant has expended several months' rent in
repairs on the house?
Answer. Of course, allow all such credits on reasonable proof and
Fourth. When the owner has gone south, and parties here hold liens
on the property and are collecting the rents to satisfy their
Answer. The rent of a house can only be mortgaged to a person in
possession. If a loyal tenant be in possession and claim the rent
from himself as due to himself on some other debt, allow it; but,
if not in actual possession of the property, rents are not good
liens for a debt, but must be paid to the quartermaster.
Fifth. Of parties claiming foreign protection?
Answer. Many claim foreign protection who are not entitled to it.
If they are foreign subjects residing for business in this,
country, they are entitled to consideration and protection so long
as they obey the laws of the country. If they occupy houses
belonging to absent rebels, they must pay rent to the quarter-
master. If they own property, they must occupy it by themselves,
tenants, or servants.
Eighth. When houses are occupied and the owner has gone south,
leaving an agent to collect rent for his benefit?
Answer. Rent must be paid to the quartermaster. No agent can
collect and remit money south without subjecting himself to arrest
and trial for aiding and abetting the public enemy.
Ninth.. When houses are owned by loyal citizens, but are
Answer. Such should not be disturbed, but it would be well to
advise them to have some servant at the house to occupy it.
Tenth. When parties who occupy the house are creditors of the
owner, who has gone south? Answer. You only look to collection of
rents. Any person who transmits money south is liable to arrest
and trial for aiding and abetting the enemy; but I do not think it
our business to collect debts other than rents.
Eleventh. When the parties who own the property have left the city
under General Hovey's Order No. 1, but are in the immediate
neighborhood, on their plantations?
Answer. It makes no difference where they are, so they are absent.
Twelfth. When movable property is found in stores that are closed?
Answer. The goods are security for the rent. If the owner of the
goods prefers to remove the goods to paying rent, he can do so.
Thirteenth. When the owner lives in town, and refuses to take the
oath of allegiance?
Answer. If the house be occupied, it does not fall under the
order. If the house be vacant, it does. The owner can recover his
property by taking the oath.
All persons in Memphis residing within our military lines are
presumed to be loyal, good citizens, and may at any moment be
called to serve on juries, posses comitatua, or other civil service
required by the Constitution and laws of our country. Should they
be called upon to do such duty, which would require them to
acknowledge their allegiance and subordination to the Constitution
of the United States, it would then be too late to refuse. So long
as they remain quiet and conform to these laws, they are entitled
to protection in their property and lives.
We have nothing to do with confiscation. We only deal with
possession, and therefore the necessity of a strict accountability,
because the United States assumes the place of trustee, and must
account to the rightful owner for his property, rents, and profits.
In due season courts will be established to execute the laws, the
confiscation act included, when we will be relieved of this duty
and trust. Until that time, every opportunity should be given to
the wavering and disloyal to return to their allegiance to the
Constitution of their birth or adoption. I am, etc.,
W. T. SHERMAN.
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