Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

prototype Washington; as unselfish, kind-hearted, and honest, as a

man should be; but the chief characteristic in your nature is the

simple faith in success you have always manifested, which I can

liken to nothing else than the faith a Christian has in his


This faith gave you victory at Shiloh and Vicksburg. Also, when

you have completed your best preparations, you go into battle

without hesitation, as at Chattanooga--no doubts, no reserve; and I

tell you that it was this that made us act with confidence. I knew

wherever I was that you thought of me, and if I got in a tight

place you would come--if alive.

My only points of doubt were as to your knowledge of grand

strategy, and of books of science and history; but I confess your

common-sense seems to have supplied all this.

Now as to the future. Do not stay in Washington. Halleck is

better qualified than you are to stand the buffets of intrigue and

policy. Come out West; take to yourself the whole Mississippi

Valley; let us make it dead-sure, and I tell you the Atlantic slope

and Pacific shores will follow its destiny as sure as the limbs of

a tree live or die with the main trunk! We have done much; still

much remains to be done. Time and time's influences are all with

us; we could almost afford to sit still and let these influences

work. Even in the seceded States your word now would go further

than a President's proclamation, or an act of Congress.

For God's sake and for your country's sake, come out of Washington!

I foretold to General Halleck, before he left Corinth, the

inevitable result to him, and I now exhort you to come out West.

Here lies the seat of the coming empire; and from the West, when

our task is done, we will make short work of Charleston and

Richmond, and the impoverished coast of the Atlantic. Your sincere



We reached Memphis on the 13th, where I remained some days, but on

the 14th of March received from General Grant a dispatch to hurry

to Nashville in person by the 17th, if possible. Disposing of all

matters then pending, I took a steamboat to Cairo, the cars thence

to Louisville and Nashville, reaching that place on the 17th of

March, 1864.

I found General Grant there. He had been to Washington and back,

and was ordered to return East to command all the armies of the

United States, and personally the Army of the Potomac. I was to

succeed him in command of the Military Division of the Mississippi,

embracing the Departments of the Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, and

Arkansas. General Grant was of course very busy in winding up all

matters of business, in transferring his command to me, and in

preparing for what was manifest would be the great and closing

campaign of our civil war. Mrs. Grant and some of their children

were with him, and occupied a large house in Nashville, which was

used as an office, dwelling, and every thing combined.

On the 18th of March I had issued orders assuming command of the

Military Division of the Mississippi, and was seated in the office,

when the general came in and said they were about to present him a

sword, inviting me to come and see the ceremony. I went back into

what was the dining-room of the house; on the table lay a rose-wood

box, containing a sword, sash, spurs, etc., and round about the

table were grouped Mrs. Grant, Nelly, and one or two of the boys.

I was introduced to a large, corpulent gentleman, as the mayor, and

another citizen, who had come down from Galena to make this

presentation of a sword to their fellow-townsman. I think that

Rawlins, Bowers, Badeau, and one or more of General Grant's

personal staff, were present. The mayor rose and in the most

dignified way read a finished speech to General Grant, who stood,

as usual, very awkwardly; and the mayor closed his speech by

handing him the resolutions of the City Council engrossed on

parchment, with a broad ribbon and large seal attached. After the

mayor had fulfilled his office so well, General Grant said: "Mr.

Mayor, as I knew that this ceremony was to occur, and as I am not

used to speaking, I have written something in reply." He then

began to fumble in his pockets, first his breast-coat pocket, then

his pants, vest; etc., and after considerable delay he pulled out a

crumpled piece of common yellow cartridge-paper, which he handed to

the mayor. His whole manner was awkward in the extreme, yet

perfectly characteristic, and in strong contrast with the elegant

parchment and speech of the mayor. When read, however, the

substance of his answer was most excellent, short, concise, and, if

it had been delivered by word of mouth, would have been all that

the occasion required.

I could not help laughing at a scene so characteristic of the man

who then stood prominent before the country; and to whom all had

turned as the only one qualified to guide the nation in a war that

had become painfully critical. With copies of the few letters

referred to, and which seem necessary to illustrate the

subject-matter, I close this chapter:



Major-General N. P. BANKS, commanding Department of the Gulf, New


GENERAL: I had the honor to receive your letter of the 2d instant

yesterday at New Orleans, but was unable to answer, except

verbally, and I now reduce it to writing.

I will arrive at Vicksburg the 6th instant, and I expect to meet

there my command from Canton, out of which I will select two

divisions of about ten thousand men, embark them under a good

commander, and order him:

1st. To rendezvous at the mouth of Red River, and, in concert with

Admiral Porter (if he agree), to strike Harrisonburg a hard blow.

2d. To return to Red River and ascend it, aiming to reach

Alexandria on the 17th of March, to report to you.

3d. That, as this command is designed to operate by water, it will

not be encumbered with much land transportation, say two wagons to

a regiment, but with an ample supply of stores, including mortars

and heavy rifled guns, to be used against fortified places.

4th. That I have calculated, and so reported to General Grant,

that this detachment of his forces in no event is to go beyond

Shreveport, and that you will spare them the moment you can, trying

to get them back to the Mississippi River in thirty days from the

time they actually enter Red River.

The year is wearing away fast, and I would like to carry to General

Grant at Huntsville, Alabama, every man of his military division,

as early in April as possible, for I am sure we ought to move from

the base of the Tennessee River to the south before the season is

too far advanced, say as early as April 15th next.

I feel certain of your complete success, provided you make the

concentration in time, to assure which I will see in person to the

embarkation and dispatch of my quota, and I will write to General

Steele, conveying to him my personal and professional opinion that

the present opportunity is the most perfect one that will ever

offer itself to him to clean out his enemies in Arkansas.

Wishing you all honor and success, I am, with respect, your friend

and servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.


VICKSBURG, March 6, 1864

Brigadier-General A. J. SMITH, commanding Expedition up Red River,

Vicksburg, Mississippi.

GENERAL: By an order this day issued, you are to command a strong,

well-appointed detachment of the Army of the Tennessee, sent to

reinforce a movement up Red River, but more especially against the

fortified position at Shreveport.

You will embark your command as soon as possible, little encumbered

with wagons or wheeled vehicles, but well supplied with fuel,

provisions, and ammunition. Take with you the twelve mortars, with

their ammunition, and all the thirty-pound Parrotts the ordnance-

officer will supply. Proceed to the mouth of Red River and confer

with Admiral Porter. Consult with him, and in all the expedition

rely on him implicitly, as he is the approved friend of the Army of

the Tennessee, and has been associated with us from the beginning.

I have undertaken with General Banks that you will be at

Alexandria, Louisiana, on or before the 17th day of March; and you

will, if time allows, cooperate with the navy in destroying

Harrisonburg, up Black River; but as I passed Red River yesterday I

saw Admiral Porter, and he told me he had already sent an

expedition to Harrisonburg, so that I suppose that part of the plan

will be accomplished before you reach Red River; but, in any event,

be careful to reach Alexandria about the 17th of March.

General Banks will start by land from Franklin, in the Teche

country, either the 6th or 7th, and will march via Opelousas to

Alexandria. You will meet him there, report to him, and act under

his orders. My understanding with him is that his forces will move

by land, via Natchitoches, to Shreveport, while the gunboat-fleet

is to ascend the river with your transports in company. Red River

is very low for the season, and I doubt if any of the boats can

pass the falls or rapids at Alexandria. What General Banks

proposes to do in that event I do not know; but my own judgment is

that Shreveport ought not to be attacked until the gunboats can

reach it. Not that a force marching by land cannot do it alone,

but it would be bad economy in war to invest the place with an army

so far from heavy guns, mortars, ammunition, and provisions, which

can alone reach Shreveport by water. Still, I do not know about

General Banks's plans in that event; and whatever they may be, your

duty will be to conform, in the most hearty manner.

My understanding with General Banks is that he will not need the

cooperation of your force beyoud thirty days from the date you

reach Red River. As soon as he has taken Shreveport, or as soon as

be can spare you, return to Vicksburg with all dispatch, gather up

your detachments, wagons, tents, transportation, and all property

pertaining to so much of the command as belongs to the Sixteenth

Army Corps, and conduct it to Memphis, where orders will await you.

My present belief is your division, entire, will be needed with the

Army of the Tennessee, about Huntsville or Bridgeport. Still, I

will leave orders with General, Hurlbut, at Memphis, for you on

your return.

I believe if water will enable the gunboats to cross the rapids at

Alexandria, you will be able to make a quick, strong, and effective

blow at our enemy in the West, thus widening the belt of our

territory, and making the breach between the Confederate Government

and its outlying trans-Mississippi Department more perfect.

It is understood that General Steele makes a simultaneous move from

Little Rock, on Shreveport or Natchitoches, with a force of about

ten thousand men. Banks will have seventeen thousand, and you ten

thousand. If these can act concentrically and simultaneously, you

will make short work of it, and then General Banks will have enough

force to hold as much of the Red River country as he deems wise,

leaving you to bring to General Grant's main army the seven

thousand five hundred men of the Sixteenth Corps now with you.

Having faith in your sound judgment and experience, I confide this

important and delicate command to you, with certainty that you will

harmonize perfectly with Admiral Porter and General Banks, with

whom you are to act, and thereby insure success.

I am, with respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.


MEMPHIS, March 14, 1864

Major General McPHERSON, commanding, etc, Vicksburg, Mississippi

DEAR GENERAL: I wrote you at length on the 11th, by a special

bearer of dispatches, and now make special orders to cover the

movements therein indicated. It was my purpose to await your

answer, but I am summoned by General Grant to be in Nashville on

the 17th, and it will keep me moving night and day to get there by

that date. I must rely on you, for you understand that we must

reenforce the great army at the centre (Chattanooga) as much as

possible, at the same time not risking the safety of any point on

the Mississippi which is fortified and armed with heavy guns. I

want you to push matters as rapidly as possible, and to do all you

can to put two handsome divisions of your own corps at Cairo, ready

to embark up the Tennessee River by the 20th or 30th of April at

the very furthest. I wish it could be done quicker; but the

promise of those thirty-days furloughs in the States of enlistment,

though politic, is very unmilitary. It deprives us of our ability

to calculate as to time; but do the best you can. Hurlbut can do

nothing till A. J. Smith returns from Red River. I will then order

him to occupy Grenada temporarily, and to try and get those

locomotives that we need here. I may also order him with cavalry

and infantry to march toward Tuscaloosa, at the same time that we

move from the Tennessee River about Chattanooga.

I don't know as yet the grand strategy of the next campaign, but on

arrival at Nashville I will soon catch the main points, and will

advise you of them..

Steal a furlough and run to Baltimore incog.; but get back in time

to take part in the next grand move.

Write me fully and frequently of your progress. I have ordered the

quartermaster to send down as many boats as he can get, to

facilitate your movements. Mules, wagons, etc., can come up

afterward by transient boats. I am truly your friend,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.

[Special Field Order No. 28.]


MEMPHIS, March 14, 1864

1. Major-General McPherson will organize two good divisions of his

corps (Seventeenth) of about five thousand men, each embracing in

part the reenlisted veterans of his corps whose furloughs will

expire in April, which he will command in person, and will

rendezvous at Cairo, Illinois, and report by telegraph and letter

to the general commanding at department headquarters, wherever they

may be. These divisions will be provided with new arms and

accoutrements, and land transportation (wagons and mules) out of

the supplies now at Vicksburg, which will be conveyed to Cairo by

or before April 15th.

4. During the absence of General McPherson from the district of

Vicksburg, Major-General Hurlbut will exercise command over all the

troops in the Department of the Tennessee from Cairo to Natchez,

inclusive, and will receive special instructions from department


By order of Major-General W. T. Sherman:

L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp.



Report of Brigadier-General G. W. Morgan.



January 8, 1868.

Major J. H. HAMMOND, Chief of Staff:

SIR: On the 1st instant, while pressed by many arduous duties, I

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