Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

troops to the main roads, and would, moreover, pay for all the corn

and food we needed. I also told Mr. Hill that he might, in my

name, invite Governor Brown to visit Atlanta; that I would give him

a safeguard, and that if he wanted to make a speech, I would

guarantee him as full and respectable an audience as any he had

ever spoken to. I believe that Mr. Hill, after reaching his home

at Madison, went to Milledgeville, the capital of the State, and

delivered the message to Governor Brown. I had also sent similar

messages by Judge Wright of Rome, Georgia, and by Mr. King, of

Marietta. On the 15th of September I telegraphed to General

Halleck as follows:

My report is done, and will be forwarded as soon as I get in a few

more of the subordinate reports. I am awaiting a courier from

General Grant. All well; the troops are in good, healthy camps,

and supplies are coming forward finely. Governor Brown has

disbanded his militia, to gather the corn and sorghum of the State.

I have reason to believe that he and Stephens want to visit me, and

have sent them hearty invitation. I will exchange two thousand

prisoners with Hood, but no more.

Governor Brown's action at that time is fully explained by the

following letter, since made public, which was then only known to

us in part by hearsay:


MILLEDGEVILLE, GEORGIA, September 10, 1864

General J. B. HOOD, commanding army of Tennessee.

GENERAL: As the militia of the State were called out for the

defense of Atlanta during the campaign against it, which has

terminated by the fall of the city into the hands of the enemy, and

as many of these left their homes without preparation (expecting to

be gone but a few weeks), who have remained in service over three

months (most of the time in the trenches), justice requires that

they be permitted, while the enemy are preparing for the winter

campaign, to return to their homes, and look for a time after

important interests, and prepare themselves for such service as may

be required when another campaign commences against other important

points in the State. I therefore hereby withdraw said organization

from your command . . . .


This militia had composed a division under command of Major-General

Gustavus W. Smith, and were thus dispersed to their homes, to

gather the corn and sorghum, then ripe and ready for the


On the 17th I received by telegraph from President Lincoln this


WASHINGTON, D.C., September 17, 1864

Major-General SHERMAN:

I feel great interest in the subjects of your dispatch, mentioning

corn and sorghum, and the contemplated visit to you.

A. LINCOLN, President of the United States.

I replied at once:


IN THE FIELD, ATLANTA, GEORGIA, September 17, 1864.

President LINCOLN, Washington., D. C.:

I will keep the department fully advised of all developments

connected with the subject in which you feel interested.

Mr. Wright, former member of Congress from Rome, Georgia, and Mr.

King, of Marietta, are now going between Governor Brown and myself.

I have said to them that some of the people of Georgia are engaged

in rebellion, began in error and perpetuated in pride, but that

Georgia can now save herself from the devastations of war preparing

for her, only by withdrawing her quota out of the Confederate Army,

and aiding me to expel Hood from the borders of the State; in which

event, instead of desolating the land as we progress, I will keep

our men to the high-roads and commons, and pay for the corn and

meat we need and take.

I am fully conscious of the delicate nature of such assertions, but

it would be a magnificent stroke of policy if we could, without

surrendering principle or a foot of ground, arouse the latent

enmity of Georgia against Davis.

The people do not hesitate to say that Mr. Stephens was and is a

Union man at heart; and they say that Davis will not trust him or

let him have a share in his Government.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

I have not the least doubt that Governor Brown, at that time,

seriously entertained the proposition; but he hardly felt ready to

act, and simply gave a furlough to the militia, and called a

special session of the Legislature, to meet at Milledgeville, to

take into consideration the critical condition of affairs in the


On the 20th of September Colonel Horace Porter arrived from General

Grant, at City Point, bringing me the letter of September 12th,

asking my general views as to what should next be done. He staid

several days at Atlanta, and on his return carried back to

Washington my full reports of the past campaign, and my letter of

September 20th to General Grant in answer to his of the 12th.

About this time we detected signs of activity on the part of the

enemy. On the 21st Hood shifted his army across from the Mason

road, at Lovejoy's, to the West Point road, at Palmetto Station,

and his cavalry appeared on the west side of the Chattahoochee,

toward Powder Springs; thus, as it were, stepping aside, and

opening wide the door for us to enter Central Georgia. I inferred,

however, that his real purpose was to assume the offensive against

our railroads, and on the 24th a heavy force of cavalry from

Mississippi, under General Forrest, made its appearance at Athena,

Alabama, and captured its garrison.

General Newton's division (of the Fourth Corps), and Corse's (of

the Seventeenth), were sent back by rail, the former to

Chattanooga, and the latter to Rome. On the 25th I telegraphed to

General Halleck:

Hood seems to be moving, as it were, to the Alabama line, leaving

open the road to Mason, as also to Augusta; but his cavalry is busy

on all our roads. A force, number estimated as high as eight

thousand, are reported to have captured Athena, Alabama; and a

regiment of three hundred and fifty men sent to its relief. I have

sent Newton's division up to Chattanooga in cars, and will send

another division to Rome. If I were sure that Savannah would soon

be in our possession, I should be tempted to march for

Milledgeville and Augusta; but I must first secure what I have.

Jeff. Davis is at Macon.

On the next day I telegraphed further that Jeff. Davis was with

Hood at Palmetto Station. One of our spies was there at the time,

who came in the next night, and reported to me the substance of his

speech to the soldiers. It was a repetition of those he had made

at Colombia, South Carolina, and Mason, Georgia, on his way out,

which I had seen in the newspapers. Davis seemed to be perfectly

upset by the fall of Atlanta, and to have lost all sense and

reason. He denounced General Jos. Johnston and Governor Brown as

little better than traitors; attributed to them personally the many

misfortunes which had befallen their cause, and informed the

soldiers that now the tables were to be turned; that General

Forrest was already on our roads in Middle Tennessee; and that

Hood's army would soon be there. He asserted that the Yankee army

would have to retreat or starve, and that the retreat would prove

more disastrous than was that of Napoleon from Moscow. He promised

his Tennessee and Kentucky soldiers that their feet should soon

tread their "native soil," etc., etc. He made no concealment of

these vainglorious boasts, and thus gave us the full key to his

future designs. To be forewarned was to be forearmed, and I think

we took full advantage of the occasion.

On the 26th I received this dispatch.

CITY POINT, VIRGINIA,September 26,1864-10 a.m.

Major-General SHERMAN, Atlanta

It will be better to drive Forrest out of Middle Tennessee as a

first step, and do any thing else you may feel your force

sufficient for. When a movement is made on any part of the

sea-coast, I will advise you. If Hood goes to the Alabama line,

will it not be impossible for him to subsist his army?

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.



IN THE FIELD, ATLANTA, GEORGIA, September 26, 1864.

GENERAL: I have your dispatch of to-day. I have already sent one

division (Newton's) to Chattanooga, and another (Corse's) to Rome.

Our armies are much reduced, and if I send back any more, I will

not be able to threaten Georgia much. There are men enough to the

rear to whip Forrest, but they are necessarily scattered to defend

the roads.

Can you expedite the sending to Nashville of the recruits that are

in Indiana and Ohio? They could occupy the forts.

Hood is now on the West Point road, twenty-four miles south of

this, and draws his supplies by that road. Jefferson Davis is

there to-day, and superhuman efforts will be made to break my road.

Forrest is now lieutenant-general, and commands all the enemy's


W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

General Grant first thought I was in error in supposing that Jeff.

Davis was at Macon and Palmetto, but on the 27th I received a

printed copy of his speech made at Macon on the 22d, which was so

significant that I ordered it to be telegraphed entire as far as

Louisville, to be sent thence by mail to Washington, and on the

same day received this dispatch:

WASHINGTON, D. C., September 27, 1864-9 a.m.

Major-General SHERMAN, Atlanta:

You say Jeff Davis is on a visit to General Hood. I judge that

Brown and Stephens are the objects of his visit.

A. LINCOLN, President of the United States.

To which I replied:


IN THE FIELD, ATLANTA, GEORGIA, September 28, 1864.

President LINCOLN, Washington, D. C.:

I have positive knowledge that Mr. Davis made a speech at Macon, on

the 22d, which I mailed to General Halleck yesterday. It was

bitter against General Jos. Johnston and Governor Brown. The

militia are on furlough. Brown is at Milledgeville, trying to get

a Legislature to meet next month, but he is afraid to act unless in

concert with other Governors, Judge Wright, of Rome, has been here,

and Messrs. Hill and Nelson, former members of Congress, are here

now, and will go to meet Wright at Rome, and then go back to

Madison and Milledgeville.

Great efforts are being made to reenforce Hood's army, and to break

up my railroads, and I should have at once a good reserve force at

Nashville. It would have a bad effect, if I were forced to send

back any considerable part of my army to guard roads, so as to

weaken me to an extent that I could not act offensively if the

occasion calls for it.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

All this time Hood and I were carrying on the foregoing

correspondence relating to the exchange of prisoners, the removal

of the people from Atlanta, and the relief of our prisoners of war

at Andersonville. Notwithstanding the severity of their

imprisonment, some of these men escaped from Andersonville, and got

to me at Atlanta. They described their sad condition: more than

twenty-five thousand prisoners confined in a stockade designed for

only ten thousand; debarred the privilege of gathering wood out of

which to make huts; deprived of sufficient healthy food, and the

little stream that ran through their prison pen poisoned and

polluted by the offal from their cooking and butchering houses

above. On the 22d of September I wrote to General Hood, describing

the condition of our men at Andersonville, purposely refraining

from casting odium on him or his associates for the treatment of

these men, but asking his consent for me to procure from our

generous friends at the North the articles of clothing and comfort

which they wanted, viz., under-clothing, soap, combs, scissors,

etc.--all needed to keep them in health--and to send these stores

with a train, and an officer to issue them. General Hood, on the

24th, promptly consented, and I telegraphed to my friend Mr. James

E. Yeatman, Vice-President of the Sanitary Commission at St. Louis,

to send us all the under-clothing and soap he could spare,

specifying twelve hundred fine-tooth combs, and four hundred pairs

of shears to cut hair. These articles indicate the plague that

most afflicted our prisoners at Andersonville.

Mr. Yeatman promptly responded to my request, expressed the

articles, but they did not reach Andersonville in time, for the

prisoners were soon after removed; these supplies did, however,

finally overtake them at Jacksonville, Florida, just before the war


On the 28th I received from General Grant two dispatches

CITY POINT, VIRGINIA; September 27, 1864-8.30 a.m.

Major-General SHERMAN:

It is evident, from the tone of the Richmond press and from other

sources of information, that the enemy intend making a desperate

effort to drive you from where you are. I have directed all new

troops from the West, and from the East too, if necessary, in case

none are ready in the West, to be sent to you. If General

Burbridge is not too far on his way to Abingdon, I think he had

better be recalled and his surplus troops sent into Tennessee.

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.

CITY POINT, VIRGINIA; September 27, 1864-10.30 a.m.

Major-General SHERMAN:

I have directed all recruits and new troops from all the Western

States to be sent to Nashville, to receive their further orders

from you. I was mistaken about Jeff. Davis being in Richmond on

Thursday last. He was then on his way to Macon.

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.

Forrest having already made his appearance in Middle Tennessee, and

Hood evidently edging off in that direction, satisfied me that the

general movement against our roads had begun. I therefore

determined to send General Thomas back to Chattanooga, with another

division (Morgan's, of the Fourteenth Corps), to meet the danger in

Tennessee. General Thomas went up on the 29th, and Morgan's

division followed the same day, also by rail. And I telegraphed to

General Halleck

I take it for granted that Forrest will cut our road, but think we

can prevent him from making a serious lodgment. His cavalry will

travel a hundred miles where ours will ten. I have sent two

divisions up to Chattanooga and one to Rome, and General Thomas

started to-day to drive Forrest out of Tennessee. Our roads should

be watched from the rear, and I am glad that General Grant has

ordered reserves to Nashville. I prefer for the future to make the

movement on Milledgeville, Millen, and Savannah. Hood now rests

twenty-four miles south, on the Chattahoochee, with his right on

the West Point road. He is removing the iron of the Macon road. I

can whip his infantry, but his cavalry is to be feared.

There was great difficulty in obtaining correct information about

Hood's movements from Palmetto Station. I could not get spies to

penetrate his camps, but on the 1st of October I was satisfied that

the bulk of his infantry was at and across the Chattahoochee River,

near Campbellton, and that his cavalry was on the west side, at

Powder Springs. On that day I telegraphed to General Grant:

Hood is evidently across the Chattahoochee, below Sweetwater. If

he tries to get on our road, this side of the Etowah, I shall

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