Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

which afterward attended our campaigns; and I have always felt

grateful to Mr. Guthrie, of Louisville, who had sense enough and

patriotism enough to subordinate the interests of his railroad

company to the cause of his country.

About this time, viz., the early part of April, I was much

disturbed by a bold raid made by the rebel General Forrest up

between the Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers. He reached the Ohio

River at Paducah, but was handsomely repulsed by Colonel Hicks. He

then swung down toward Memphis, assaulted and carried Fort Pillow,

massacring a part of its garrison, composed wholly of negro troops.

At first I discredited the story of the massacre, because, in

preparing for the Meridian campaign, I had ordered Fort Pillow to

be evacuated, but it transpired afterward that General Hurlbut had

retained a small garrison at Fort Pillow to encourage the

enlistment of the blacks as soldiers, which was a favorite

political policy at that day. The massacre at Fort Pillow occurred

April 12, 1864, and has been the subject of congressional inquiry.

No doubt Forrest's men acted like a set of barbarians, shooting

down the helpless negro garrison after the fort was in their

possession; but I am told that Forrest personally disclaims any

active participation in the assault, and that he stopped the firing

as soon as he could. I also take it for granted that Forrest did

not lead the assault in person, and consequently that he was to the

rear, out of sight if not of hearing at the time, and I was told by

hundreds of our men, who were at various times prisoners in

Forrest's possession, that he was usually very kind to them. He

had a desperate set of fellows under him, and at that very time

there is no doubt the feeling of the Southern people was fearfully

savage on this very point of our making soldiers out of their late

slaves, and Forrest may have shared the feeling.

I also had another serious cause of disturbance about that time. I

wanted badly the two divisions of troops which had been loaned to

General Banks in the month of March previously, with the express

understanding that their absence was to endure only one month, and

that during April they were to come out of Red River, and be again

within the sphere of my command. I accordingly instructed one of

my inspector-generals, John M. Corse, to take a fleet steamboat at

Nashville, proceed via Cairo, Memphis, and Vicksburg, to General

Banks up the Red River, and to deliver the following letter of

April 3d, as also others, of like tenor, to Generals A. J. Smith

and Fred Steele, who were supposed to be with him:



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


GENERAL: The thirty days for which I loaned you the command of

General A. J. Smith will expire on the 10th instant. I send with

this Brigadier-General J. M. Corse, to carry orders to General A.

J. Smith, and to give directions for a new movement, which is

preliminary to the general campaign. General Corse may see you and

explain in full, but, lest he should not find you in person, I will

simply state that Forrest, availing himself of the absence of our

furloughed men and of the detachment with you, has pushed up

between the Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers, even to the Ohio. He

attacked Paducah, but got the worst of it, and he still lingers

about the place. I hope that he will remain thereabouts till

General A. J. Smith can reach his destined point, but this I can

hardly expect; yet I want him to reach by the Yazoo a position near

Grenada, thence to operate against Forrest, after which to march

across to Decatur, Alabama. You will see that he has a big job,

and therefore should start at once. From all that I can learn, my

troops reached Alexandria, Louisiana, at the time agreed on, viz.,

March 17th, and I hear of them at Natchitoches, but cannot hear of

your troops being above Opelousas.

Steele is also moving. I leave Steele's entire force to cooperate

with you and the navy, but, as I before stated, I must have A. T.

Smith's troops now as soon as possible.

I beg you will expedite their return to Vicksburg, if they have not

already started, and I want them if possible to remain in the same

boats they have used up Red River, as it will save the time

otherwise consumed in transfer to other boats.

All is well in this quarter, and I hope by the time you turn

against Mobile our forces will again act toward the same end,

though from distant points. General Grant, now having lawful

control, will doubtless see that all minor objects are disregarded,

and that all the armies act on a common plan.

Hoping, when this reaches you, that you will be in possession of

Shreveport, I am, with great respect, etc.,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.

Rumors were reaching us thick and fast of defeat and disaster in

that quarter; and I feared then, what afterward actually happened,

that neither General Banks nor Admiral Porter could or would spare

those two divisions. On the 23d of April, General Corse returned,

bringing full answers to my letters, and I saw that we must go on

without them. This was a serious loss to the Army of the

Tennessee, which was also short by two other divisions that were on

their veteran furlough, and were under orders to rendezvous at

Cairo, before embarking for Clifton, on the Tennessee River.

On the 10th of April, 1864, the headquarters of the three Armies of

the Cumberland, Tennessee, and Ohio, were at Chattanooga.,

Huntsville, and Knoxville, and the tables on page 16, et seq., give

their exact condition and strength.

The Department of the Arkansas was then subject to my command, but

General Fred Steele, its commander, was at Little Rock, remote from

me, acting in cooperation with General Banks, and had full

employment for every soldier of his command; so that I never

depended on him for any men, or for any participation in the

Georgia campaign. Soon after, viz., May 8th, that department was

transferred to the Military Division of "the Gulf," or "Southwest,"

Major-General E. R. S. Canby commanding, and General Steele served

with him in the subsequent movement against Mobile.

In Generals Thomas, McPherson, and Schofield, I had three generals

of education and experience, admirably qualified for the work

before us. Each has made a history of his own, and I need not here

dwell on their respective merits as men, or as commanders of

armies, except that each possessed special qualities of mind and of

character which fitted them in the highest degree for the work then

in contemplation.

By the returns of April 10, 1864, it will be seen that the

Army of the Cumberland had on its muster-rolls--


Present and absent...................171,450

Present for duty..................... 88,883

The Army of the Tennessee--

Present and absent....................134,763

Present for duty...................... 64,957

The Army of the Ohio--

Present and absent ................... 46,052

Present for duty ..................... 26,242

The department and army commanders had to maintain strong garrisons

in their respective departments, and also to guard their respective

lines of supply. I therefore, in my mind, aimed to prepare out of

these three armies, by the 1st of May, 1864, a compact army for

active operations in Georgia, of about the following numbers:

Army of the Cumberland................ 50,000

Army of the Tennessee................. 35,000

Army of the Ohio ..................... 15,000

Total ............................... 100,000

and, to make these troops as mobile as possible, I made the

strictest possible orders in relation to wagons and all species of

incumbrances and impedimenta whatever. Each officer and soldier

was required to carry on his horse or person food and clothing

enough for five days. To each regiment was allowed but one wagon

and one ambulance, and to the officers of each company one pack

horse or mule.

Each division and brigade was provided a fair proportion of wagons

for a supply train, and these were limited in their loads to carry

food, ammunition, and clothing. Tents were forbidden to all save

the sick and wounded, and one tent only was allowed to each

headquarters for use as an office. These orders were not

absolutely enforced, though in person I set the example, and did

not have a tent, nor did any officer about me have one; but we had

wall tent-flies, without poles, and no tent-furniture of any kind.

We usually spread our flies over saplings, or on fence-rails or

posts improvised on the spot. Most of the general officers, except

Thomas, followed my example strictly; but he had a regular

headquarters-camp. I frequently called his attention to the orders

on this subject, rather jestingly than seriously. He would break

out against his officers for having such luxuries, but, needing a

tent himself, and being good-natured and slow to act, he never

enforced my orders perfectly. In addition to his regular

wagon-train, he had a big wagon which could be converted into an

office, and this we used to call "Thomas's circus." Several times

during the campaign I found quartermasters hid away in some

comfortable nook to the rear, with tents and mess-fixtures which

were the envy of the passing soldiers; and I frequently broke them

up, and distributed the tents to the surgeons of brigades. Yet my

orders actually reduced the transportation, so that I doubt if any

army ever went forth to battle with fewer impedimenta, and where

the regular and necessary supplies of food, ammunition, and

clothing, were issued, as called for, so regularly and so well.

My personal staff was then composed of Captain J. C. McCoy,

aide-de-camp; Captain L. M. Dayton, aide-de-camp; Captain J. C.

Audenried, aide-de-camp; Brigadier-General J. D. Webster, chief of

staff; Major R. M. Sawyer, assistant adjutant-general; Captain

Montgomery Rochester, assistant adjutant-general. These last three

were left at Nashville in charge of the office, and were empowered

to give orders in my name, communication being generally kept up by


Subsequently were added to my staff, and accompanied me in the

field, Brigadier-General W. F. Barry, chief of artillery; Colonel

O. M. Poe, chief of engineers; Colonel L. C. Easton, chief

quartermaster; Colonel Amos Beckwith, chief commissary; Captain

Thos. G. Baylor, chief of ordnance; Surgeon E. D. Kittoe, medical

director; Brigadier-General J. M. Corse, inspector-general;

Lieutenant-Colonel C. Ewing, inspector-general; and Lieutenant-

Colonel Willard Warner, inspector-general.

These officers constituted my staff proper at the beginning of the

campaign, which remained substantially the same till the close of

the war, with very few exceptions; viz.: Surgeon John Moore, United

States Army, relieved Surgeon Kittoe of the volunteers (about

Atlanta) as medical director; Major Henry Hitchcock joined as

judge-advocate, and Captain G. Ward Nichols reported as an extra

aide-de-camp (after the fall of Atlanta) at Gaylesville, just

before we started for Savannah.

During the whole month of April the preparations for active war

were going on with extreme vigor, and my letter-book shows an

active correspondence with Generals Grant, Halleck, Thomas,

McPherson, and Schofield on thousands of matters of detail and

arrangement, most of which are embraced in my testimony before the

Committee on the Conduct of the War, vol. i., Appendix.

When the time for action approached, viz., May 1,1864, the actual

armies prepared to move into Georgia resulted as follows, present

for battle:


Army of the Cumberland, Major-General THOMAS.

Infantry ....................... 54,568

Artillery ...................... 2,377

Cavalry......................... 3,828

Aggregate............... 60,773

Number of field-guns, 130.

Army of the Tennessee, Major-General McPHERSON.

Infantry ....................... 22,437

Artillery ...................... 1,404

Cavalry ........................ 624

Aggregate ............. 24,465

Guns, 96

Army of the Ohio, Major-General SCHOFIELD.

Infantry ....................... 11,183

Artillery....................... 679

Cavalry......................... 1,697

Aggregate .............. 13,559

Guns, 28.

Grand aggregate, 98,797 men and 254 guns

These figures do not embrace the cavalry divisions which were still

incomplete, viz., of General Stoneman, at Lexington, Kentucky, and

of General Garrard, at Columbia, Tennessee, who were then rapidly

collecting horses, and joined us in the early stage of the

campaign. General Stoneman, having a division of about four

thousand men and horses, was attached to Schofield's Army of the

Ohio. General Garrard's division, of about four thousand five

hundred men and horses, was attached to General Thomas's command;

and he had another irregular division of cavalry, commanded by

Brigadier-General E. McCook. There was also a small brigade of

cavalry, belonging to the Army of the Cumberland, attached

temporarily to the Army of the Tennessee, which was commanded by

Brigadier-General Judson Kilpatrick. These cavalry commands

changed constantly in strength and numbers, and were generally used

on the extreme flanks, or for some special detached service, as

will be herein-after related. The Army of the Tennessee was still

short by the two divisions detached with General Banks, up Red

River, and two other divisions on furlough in Illinois, Indiana,

and Ohio, but which were rendezvousing at Cairo, under Generals

Leggett and Crocker, to form a part of the Seventeenth Corps, which

corps was to be commanded by Major-General Frank P. Blair, then a

member of Congress, in Washington. On the 2d of April I notified

him by letter that I wanted him to join and to command these two

divisions, which ought to be ready by the 1st of May. General

Blair, with these two divisions, constituting the Seventeenth Army

Corps, did not actually overtake us until we reached Acworth and

Big Shanty, in Georgia, about the 9th of June, 1864.

In my letter of April 4th to General John A. Rawains, chief of

staff to General Grant at Washington, I described at length all the

preparations that were in progress for the active campaign thus

contemplated, and therein estimated Schofield at twelve thousand,

Thomas at forty-five thousand, and McPherson at thirty thousand.

At first I intended to open the campaign about May 1st, by moving

Schofield on Dalton from Cleveland, Thomas on the same objective

from Chattanooga, and McPherson on Rome and Kingston from Gunter's

Landing. My intention was merely to threaten Dalton in front, and

to direct McPherson to act vigorously against the railroad below

Resaca, far to the rear of the enemy. But by reason of his being

short of his estimated strength by the four divisions before

referred to, and thus being reduced to about twenty-four thousand

men, I did not feel justified in placing him so far away from the

support of the main body of the army, and therefore subsequently

changed the plan of campaign, so far as to bring that army up to

Chattanooga, and to direct it thence through Ship's Gap against the

railroad to Johnston's rear, at or near Resaca, distant from Dalton

only eighteen miles, and in full communication with the other

armies by roads behind Rocky face Ridge, of about the same length.

On the 10th of April I received General Grant's letter of April 4th

from Washington, which formed the basis of all the campaigns of the

year 1864, and subsequently received another of April 19th, written

from Culpepper, Virginia, both of which are now in my possession,

in his own handwriting, and are here given entire. These letters

embrace substantially all the orders he ever made on this

particular subject, and these, it will be seen, devolved on me the

details both as to the plan and execution of the campaign by the

armies under my immediate command. These armies were to be

«- Previous | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 | View All | Next -»