Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

lands, or any thing you have, but we do want and will have a just

obedience to the laws of the United States. That we will have,

and, if it involves the destruction of your improvements, we cannot

help it.

You have heretofore read public sentiment in your newspapers, that

live by falsehood and excitement; and the quicker you seek for

truth in other quarters, the better. I repeat then that, by the

original compact of Government, the United States had certain

rights in Georgia, which have never been relinquished and never

will be; that the South began war by seizing forts, arsenals,

mints, custom-houses, etc., etc., long before Mr. Lincoln was

installed, and before the South had one jot or tittle of

provocation. I myself have seen in Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee,

and Mississippi, hundreds and thousands of women and children

fleeing from your armies and desperadoes, hungry and with bleeding

feet. In Memphis, Vicksburg, and Mississippi, we fed thousands

upon thousands of the families of rebel soldiers left on our hands,

and whom we could not see starve. Now that war comes home to you;

you feel very different. You deprecate its horrors, but did not

feel them when you sent car-loads of soldiers and ammunition, and

moulded shells and shot, to carry war into Kentucky and Tennessee,

to desolate the homes of hundreds and thousands of good people who

only asked to live in peace at their old homes, and under the

Government of their inheritance. But these comparisons are idle.

I want peace, and believe it can only be reached through union and

war, and I will ever conduct war with a view to perfect and early


But, my dear sirs, when peace does come, you may call on me for any

thing. Then will I share with you the last cracker, and watch with

you to shield your homes and families against danger from every


Now you must go, and take with you the old and feeble, feed and

nurse them, and build for them, in more quiet places, proper

habitations to shield them against the weather until the mad

passions of men cool down, and allow the Union and peace once more

to settle over your old homes at Atlanta. Yours in haste,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.


IN THE FIELD, ATLANTA, GEORGIA, September 14, 1864.

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


GENERAL: Yours of September 12th is received, and has been

carefully perused. I agree with you that this discussion by two

soldiers is out of place, and profitless; but you must admit that

you began the controversy by characterizing an official act of mine

in unfair and improper terms. I reiterate my former answer, and to

the only new matter contained in your rejoinder add: We have no

"negro allies" in this army; not a single negro soldier left

Chattanooga with this army, or is with it now. There are a few

guarding Chattanooga, which General Steedman sent at one time to

drive Wheeler out of Dalton.

I was not bound by the laws of war to give notice of the shelling

of Atlanta, a "fortified town, with magazines, arsenals,

founderies, and public stores;" you were bound to take notice. See

the books.

This is the conclusion of our correspondence, which I did not

begin, and terminate with satisfaction. I am, with respect, your

obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.


WASHINGTON, September 28, 1864,

Major-General SHERMAN, Atlanta, Georgia.

GENERAL: Your communications of the 20th in regard to the removal

of families from Atlanta, and the exchange of prisoners, and also

the official report of your campaign, are just received. I have

not had time as yet to examine your report. The course which you

have pursued in removing rebel families from Atlanta, and in the

exchange of prisoners, is fully approved by the War Department.

Not only are you justified by the laws and usages of war in

removing these people, but I think it was your duty to your own

army to do so. Moreover, I am fully of opinion that the nature of

your position, the character of the war, the conduct of the enemy

(and especially of non-combatants and women of the territory which

we have heretofore conquered and occupied), will justify you in

gathering up all the forage and provisions which your army may

require, both for a siege of Atlanta and for your supply in your

march farther into the enemy's country. Let the disloyal families

of the country, thus stripped, go to their husbands, fathers, and

natural protectors, in the rebel ranks; we have tried three years

of conciliation and kindness without any reciprocation; on the

contrary, those thus treated have acted as spies and guerrillas in

our rear and within our lines. The safety of our armies, and a

proper regard for the lives of our soldiers, require that we apply

to our inexorable foes the severe rules of war. We certainly are

not required to treat the so-called non-combatant rebels better

than they themselves treat each other. Even herein Virginia,

within fifty miles of Washington, they strip their own families of

provisions, leaving them, as our army advances, to be fed by us, or

to starve within our lines. We have fed this class of people long

enough. Let them go with their husbands and fathers in the rebel

ranks; and if they won't go, we must send them to their friends and

natural protectors. I would destroy every mill and factory within

reach which I did not want for my own use. This the rebels have

done, not only in Maryland and Pennsylvania, but also in Virginia

and other rebel States, when compelled to fall back before our

armies. In many sections of the country they have not left a mill

to grind grain for their own suffering families, lest we might use

them to supply our armies. We most do the same.

I have endeavored to impress these views upon our commanders for

the last two years. You are almost the only one who has properly

applied them. I do not approve of General Hunter's course in

burning private homes or uselessly destroying private property.

That is barbarous. But I approve of taking or destroying whatever

may serve as supplies to us or to the enemy's army.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. W. HALLECK, Major-General, Chief of Staff

In order to effect the exchange of prisoners, to facilitate the

exodus of the people of Atlanta, and to keep open communication

with the South, we established a neutral camp, at and about the

railroad-station next south of Atlanta, known as "Rough and Ready,"

to which point I dispatched Lieutenant-Colonel Willard Warner, of

my staff, with a guard of one hundred men, and General Hood sent

Colonel Clare, of his staff, with a similar guard; these officers

and men harmonized perfectly, and parted good friends when their

work was done. In the mean time I also had reconnoitred the entire

rebel lines about Atlanta, which were well built, but were entirely

too extensive to be held by a single corps or division of troops,

so I instructed Colonel Poe, United States Engineers, on my staff,

to lay off an inner and shorter line, susceptible of defense by a

smaller garrison.

By the middle of September all these matters were in progress, the

reports of the past campaign were written up and dispatched to

Washington, and our thoughts began to turn toward the future.

Admiral Farragut had boldly and successfully run the forts at the

entrance to Mobile Bay, which resulted in the capture of Fort

Morgan, so that General Canby was enabled to begin his regular

operations against Mobile City, with a view to open the Alabama

River to navigation. My first thoughts were to concert operations

with him, either by way of Montgomery, Alabama, or by the

Appalachicula; but so long a line, to be used as a base for further

operations eastward, was not advisable, and I concluded to await

the initiative of the enemy, supposing that he would be forced to

resort to some desperate campaign by the clamor raised at the South

on account of the great loss to them of the city of Atlanta.

General Thomas occupied a house on Marietta Streets which had a

veranda with high pillars. We were sitting there one evening,

talking about things generally, when General Thomas asked leave to

send his trains back to Chattanooga, for the convenience and

economy of forage. I inquired of him if he supposed we would be

allowed much rest at Atlanta, and he said he thought we would, or

that at all events it would not be prudent for us to go much

farther into Georgia because of our already long line of

communication, viz., three hundred miles from Nashville. This was

true; but there we were, and we could not afford to remain on the

defensive, simply holding Atlanta and fighting for the safety of

its railroad. I insisted on his retaining all trains, and on

keeping all his divisions ready to move at a moment's warning. All

the army, officers and men, seemed to relax more or less, and sink

into a condition of idleness. General Schofield was permitted to

go to Knoxville, to look after matters in his Department of the

Ohio; and Generals Blair and Logan went home to look after

politics. Many of the regiments were entitled to, and claimed,

their discharge, by reason of the expiration of their term of

service; so that with victory and success came also many causes of


The rebel General Wheeler was still in Middle Tennessee,

threatening our railroads, and rumors came that Forrest was on his

way from Mississippi to the same theatre, for the avowed purpose of

breaking up our railroads and compelling us to fall back from our

conquest. To prepare for this, or any other emergency, I ordered

Newton's division of the Fourth Corps back to Chattanooga, and

Corse's division of the Seventeenth Corps to Rome, and instructed

General Rousseau at Nashville, Granger at Decatur, and Steadman at

Chattanooga, to adopt the most active measures to protect and

insure the safety of our roads.

Hood still remained about Lovejoy's Station, and, up to the 15th of

September, had given no signs of his future plans; so that with

this date I close the campaign of Atlanta, with the following

review of our relative losses during the months of August and

September, with a summary of those for the whole campaign,

beginning May 6 and ending September 15, 1864. The losses for

August and September are added together, so as to include those

about Jonesboro:

Killed and Missing Wounded Total

Grand Aggregate..... 1,408 3,731 5,139

Hood's losses, as reported for the same period, page 577,

Johnston's "Narrative:"

Killed Wounded Total

482 3,223 3,705

To which should be added:

Prisoners captured by us:............ 3,738

Giving his total loss ............... 7,440

On recapitulating the entire losses of each army during the entire

campaign, from May to September, inclusive, we have, in the Union

army, as per table appended:

Killed ........................ 4,423

Wounded ....................... 22,822

Missing........................ 4,442

Aggregate Loss ......... 31,627

In the Southern army, according to the reports of Surgeon Foard

(pp. 576, 577, Johnston's "Narrative ")

Total killed ................ 3,044

Total killed and wounded..... 21,996

Prisoners captured by us .... 12,983

Aggregate loss to the

Southern Army .......... 34,979

The foregoing figures are official, and are very nearly correct. I

see no room for error save in the cavalry, which was very much

scattered, and whose reports are much less reliable than of the

infantry and artillery; but as Surgeon Foard's tables do not

embrace Wheeler's, Jackson's, and Martin's divisions of cavalry, I

infer that the comparison, as to cavalry losses, is a "stand-off."

I have no doubt that the Southern officers flattered themselves

that they had filled and crippled of us two and even six to one, as

stated by Johnston; but they were simply mistaken, and I herewith

submit official tabular statements made up from the archives of the

War Department, in proof thereof.

I have also had a careful tabular statement compiled from official

records in the adjutant-general's office, giving the "effective

strength" of the army under my command for each of the months of

May, June, July, August, and September, 1864, which enumerate every

man (infantry, artillery, and cavalry) for duty. The

recapitulation clearly exhibits the actual truth. We opened the

campaign with 98,797 (ninety-eight thousand seven hundred and

ninety-seven) men. Blair's two divisions joined us early in June,

giving 112,819 (one hundred and twelve thousand eight hundred and

nineteen), which number gradually became reduced to 106,070 (one

hundred and six thousand and seventy men), 91,675 (ninety-one

thousand six hundred and seventy-five), and 81,758 (eighty-one

thousand seven hundred and fifty-eight) at the end of the campaign.

This gradual reduction was not altogether owing to death and

wounds, but to the expiration of service, or by detachments sent to

points at the rear.




By the middle of September, matters and things had settled down in

Atlanta, so that we felt perfectly at home. The telegraph and

railroads were repaired, and we had uninterrupted communication to

the rear. The trains arrived with regularity and dispatch, and

brought us ample supplies. General Wheeler had been driven out of

Middle Tennessee, escaping south across the Tennessee River at

Bainbridge; and things looked as though we were to have a period of


One day, two citizens, Messrs. Hill and Foster, came into our lines

at Decatur, and were sent to my headquarters. They represented

themselves as former members of Congress, and particular friends of

my brother John Sherman; that Mr. Hill had a son killed in the

rebel army as it fell back before us somewhere near Cassville, and

they wanted to obtain the body, having learned from a comrade where

it was buried. I gave them permission to go by rail to the rear,

with a note to the commanding officer, General John E. Smith, at

Cartersville, requiring him to furnish them an escort and an

ambulance for the purpose. I invited them to take dinner with our

mess, and we naturally ran into a general conversation about

politics and the devastation and ruin caused by the war. They had

seen a part of the country over which the army had passed, and

could easily apply its measure of desolation to the remainder of

the State, if necessity should compel us to go ahead.

Mr. Hill resided at Madison, on the main road to Augusta, and

seemed to realize fully the danger; said that further resistance on

the part of the South was madness, that he hoped Governor Brown, of

Georgia, would so proclaim it, and withdraw his people from the

rebellion, in pursuance of what was known as the policy of

"separate State action." I told him, if he saw Governor Brown, to

describe to him fully what he had seen, and to say that if he

remained inert, I would be compelled to go ahead, devastating the

State in its whole length and breadth; that there was no adequate

force to stop us, etc.; but if he would issue his proclamation

withdrawing his State troops from the armies of the Confederacy, I

would spare the State, and in our passage across it confine the

«- 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 -»