Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

I fear it will not amount to much. Mr. Seward's speech at Auburn,

again prophesying, for the twentieth time, that the rebellion would

be crushed in a few months, and saying that there would be no

draft, as we now had enough soldiers to end the war, etc., has done

much harm, in a military point of view. I have seen enough of

politics here to last me for life. You are right in avoiding them.

McClellan may possibly reach the White House, but he will lose the

respect of all honest, high-minded patriots, by his affiliation

with such traitors and Copperheads as B---, V---, W---, S---, & Co.

He would not stand upon the traitorous Chicago platform, but he had

not the manliness to oppose it. A major-general in the United

States Army, and yet not one word to utter against rebels or the

rebellion! I had much respect for McClellan before he became a

politician, but very little after reading his letter accepting the


Hooker certainly made a mistake in leaving before the capture of

Atlanta. I understand that, when here, he said that you would

fail; your army was discouraged and dissatisfied, etc., etc. He is

most unmeasured in his abuse of me. I inclose you a specimen of

what he publishes in Northern papers, wherever he goes. They are

dictated by himself and written by W. B. and such worthies. The

funny part of the business is, that I had nothing whatever to do

with his being relieved on either occasion. Moreover, I have never

said any thing to the President or Secretary of War to injure him

in the slightest degree, and he knows that perfectly well. His

animosity arises from another source. He is aware that I know some

things about his character and conduct in California, and, fearing

that I may use that information against him, he seeks to ward off

its effect by making it appear that I am his personal enemy, am

jealous of him, etc. I know of no other reason for his hostility

to me. He is welcome to abuse me as much as he pleases; I don't

think it will do him much good, or me much harm. I know very

little of General Howard, but believe him to be a true, honorable

man. Thomas is also a noble old war-horse. It is true, as you

say, that he is slow, but he is always sure.

I have not seen General Grant since the fall of Atlanta, and do not

know what instructions he has sent you. I fear that Canby has not

the means to do much by way of Mobile. The military effects of

Banks's disaster are now showing themselves by the threatened

operations of Price & Co. toward Missouri, thus keeping in check

our armies west of the Mississippi.

With many thanks for your kind letter, and wishes for your future

success, yours truly,



ATLANTA, GEORGIA, September 20, 1864.

Major General HALLECK, Chief of Staff, Washington D.C.

GENERAL: I have the honor herewith to submit copies of a

correspondence between General Hood, of the Confederate Army, the

Mayor of Atlanta, and myself, touching the removal of the

inhabitants of Atlanta.

In explanation of the tone which marks some of these letters, I

will only call your attention to the fact that, after I had

announced my determination, General Hood took upon himself to

question my motives. I could not tamely submit to such

impertinence; and I have also seen that, in violation of all

official usage, he has published in the Macon newspapers such parts

of the correspondence as suited his purpose. This could have had

no other object than to create a feeling on the part of the people;

but if he expects to resort to such artifices, I think I can meet

him there too.

It is sufficient for my Government to know that the removal of the

inhabitants has been made with liberality and fairness, that it has

been attended with no force, and that no women or children have

suffered, unless for want of provisions by their natural protectors

and friends.

My real reasons for this step were:

We want all the houses of Atlanta for military storage and


We want to contract the lines of defense, so as to diminish the

garrison to the limit necessary to defend its narrow and vital

parts, instead of embracing, as the lines now do, the vast suburbs.

This contraction of the lines, with the necessary citadels and

redoubts, will make it necessary to destroy the very houses used by

families as residences.

Atlanta is a fortified town, was stubbornly defended, and fairly

captured. As captors, we have a right to it.

The residence here of a poor population would compel us, sooner or

later, to feed them or to see them starve under our eyes.

The residence here of the families of our enemies would be a

temptation and a means to keep up a correspondence dangerous and

hurtful to our cause; a civil population calls for provost-guards,

and absorbs the attention of officers in listening to everlasting

complaints and special grievances that are not military.

These are my reasons; and, if satisfactory to the Government of the

United States, it makes no difference whether it pleases General

Hood and his people or not. I am, with respect, your obedient


W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.


IN THE FIELD, ATLANTA, GEORGIA, September 7, 1864.

General HOOD, commanding Confederate Army.

GENERAL: I have deemed it to the interest of the United States that

the citizens now residing in Atlanta should remove, those who

prefer it to go south, and the rest north. For the latter I can

provide food and transportation to points of their election in

Tennessee, Kentucky, or farther north. For the former I can

provide transportation by cars as far as Rough and Ready, and also

wagons; but, that their removal may be made with as little

discomfort as possible, it will be necessary for you to help the

familes from Rough and Ready to the care at Lovejoy's. If you

consent, I will undertake to remove all the families in Atlanta who

prefer to go south to Rough and Ready, with all their movable

effects, viz., clothing, trunks, reasonable furniture, bedding,

etc., with their servants, white and black, with the proviso that

no force shall be used toward the blacks, one way or the other. If

they want to go with their masters or mistresses, they may do so;

otherwise they will be sent away, unless they be men, when they may

be employed by our quartermaster. Atlanta is no place for families

or non-combatants, and I have no desire to send them north if you

will assist in conveying them south. If this proposition meets

your views, I will consent to a truce in the neighborhood of Rough

and Ready, stipulating that any wagons, horses, animals, or persons

sent there for the purposes herein stated, shall in no manner be

harmed or molested; you in your turn agreeing that any care,

wagons, or carriages, persons or animals sent to the same point,

shall not be interfered with. Each of us might send a guard of,

say, one hundred men, to maintain order, and limit the truce to,

say, two days after a certain time appointed.

I have authorized the mayor to choose two citizens to convey to you

this letter, with such documents as the mayor may forward in

explanation, and shall await your reply. I have the honor to be

your obedient servant.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.

Major General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding United States Forces in


GENERAL: Your letter of yesterday's date, borne by James M. Ball

and James R. Crew, citizens of Atlanta, is received. You say

therein, "I deem it to be to the interest of the United States that

the citizens now residing in Atlanta should remove," etc. I do not

consider that I have any alternative in this matter. I therefore

accept your proposition to declare a truce of two days, or such

time as may be necessary to accomplish the purpose mentioned, and

shall render all assistance in my power to expedite the

transportation of citizens in this direction. I suggest that a

staff-officer be appointed by you to superintend the removal from

the city to Rough and Ready, while I appoint a like officer to

control their removal farther south; that a guard of one hundred

men be sent by either party as you propose, to maintain order at

that place, and that the removal begin on Monday next.

And now, sir, permit me to say that the unprecedented measure you

propose transcends, in studied and ingenious cruelty, all acts ever

before brought to my attention in the dark history of war.

In the name of God and humanity, I protest, believing that you will

find that you are expelling from their homes and firesides the

wives and children of a brave people. I am, general, very

respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. B. HOOD, General.


IN THE FIELD, ATLANTA, GEORGIA, September 10, 1864.

General J. B. HOOD, commanding Army of Tennessee, Confederate Army.

GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter

of this date, at the hands of Messrs. Ball and Crew, consenting to

the arrangements I had proposed to facilitate the removal south of

the people of Atlanta, who prefer to go in that direction. I

inclose you a copy of my orders, which will, I am satisfied,

accomplish my purpose perfectly.

You style the measures proposed "unprecedented," and appeal to the

dark history of war for a parallel, as an act of "studied and

ingenious cruelty." It is not unprecedented; for General Johnston

himself very wisely and properly removed the families all the way

from Dalton down, and I see no reason why Atlanta should be

excepted. Nor is it necessary to appeal to the dark history of

war, when recent and modern examples are so handy. You yourself

burned dwelling-houses along your parapet, and I have seen to-day

fifty houses that you have rendered uninhabitable because they

stood in the way of your forts and men. You defended Atlanta on a

line so close to town that every cannon-shot and many musket-shots

from our line of investment, that overshot their mark, went into

the habitations of women and children. General Hardee did the same

at Jonesboro, and General Johnston did the same, last summer, at

Jackson, Mississippi. I have not accused you of heartless cruelty,

but merely instance these cases of very recent occurrence, and

could go on and enumerate hundreds of others, and challenge any

fair man to judge which of us has the heart of pity for the

families of a "brave people."

I say that it is kindness to these families of Atlanta to remove

them now, at once, from scenes that women and children should not

be exposed to, and the "brave people" should scorn to commit their

wives and children to the rude barbarians who thus, as you say,

violate the laws of war, as illustrated in the pages of its dark


In the name of common-sense, I ask you not to appeal to a just God

in such a sacrilegious manner. You who, in the midst of peace and

prosperity, have plunged a nation into war--dark and cruel war--who

dared and badgered us to battle, insulted our flag, seized our

arsenals and forts that were left in the honorable custody of

peaceful ordnance-sergeants, seized and made "prisoners of war" the

very garrisons sent to protect your people against negroes and

Indians, long before any overt act was committed by the (to you)

hated Lincoln Government; tried to force Kentucky and Missouri into

rebellion, spite of themselves; falsified the vote of Louisiana;

turned loose your privateers to plunder unarmed ships; expelled

Union families by the thousands, burned their houses, and declared,

by an act of your Congress, the confiscation of all debts due

Northern men for goods had and received! Talk thus to the marines,

but not to me, who have seen these things, and who will this day

make as much sacrifice for the peace and honor of the South as the

best-born Southerner among you! If we must be enemies, let us be

men, and fight it out as we propose to do, and not deal in arch

hypocritical appeals to God and humanity. God will judge us in due

time, and he will pronounce whether it be more humane to fight with

a town full of women and the families of a brave people at our back

or to remove them in time to places of safety among their own

friends and people.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.


September 12, 1864

Major-General W. T, SHERMAN, commanding Military Division of the


GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter

of the 9th inst., with its inclosure in reference to the women,

children, and others, whom you have thought proper to expel from

their homes in the city of Atlanta. Had you seen proper to let the

matter rest there, I would gladly have allowed your letter to close

this correspondence, and, without your expressing it in words,

would have been willing to believe that, while "the interests of

the United States," in your opinion, compelled you to an act of

barbarous cruelty, you regretted the necessity, and we would have

dropped the subject; but you have chosen to indulge in statements

which I feel compelled to notice, at least so far as to signify my

dissent, and not allow silence in regard to them to be construed as


I see nothing in your communication which induces me to modify the

language of condemnation with which I characterized your order. It

but strengthens me in the opinion that it stands "preeminent in the

dark history of war for studied and ingenious cruelty." Your

original order was stripped of all pretenses; you announced the

edict for the sole reason that it was "to the interest of the

United States." This alone you offered to us and the civilized

world as an all-sufficient reason for disregarding the laws of God

and man. You say that "General Johnston himself very wisely and

properly removed the families all the way from Dalton down." It is

due to that gallant soldier and gentleman to say that no act of his

distinguished career gives the least color to your unfounded

aspersions upon his conduct. He depopulated no villages, nor

towns, nor cities, either friendly or hostile. He offered and

extended friendly aid to his unfortunate fellow-citizens who

desired to flee from your fraternal embraces. You are equally

unfortunate in your attempt to find a justification for this act of

cruelty, either in the defense of Jonesboro, by General Hardee, or

of Atlanta, by myself. General Hardee defended his position in

front of Jonesboro at the expense of injury to the houses; an

ordinary, proper, and justifiable act of war. I defended Atlanta

at the same risk and cost. If there was any fault in either case,

it was your own, in not giving notice, especially in the case of

Atlanta, of your purpose to shell the town, which is usual in war

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