Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman


By William T. Sherman




Nearly ten years have passed since the close of the civil war in

America, and yet no satisfactory history thereof is accessible to

the public; nor should any be attempted until the Government has

published, and placed within the reach of students, the abundant

materials that are buried in the War Department at Washington.

These are in process of compilation; but, at the rate of progress

for the past ten years, it is probable that a new century will come

before they are published and circulated, with full indexes to

enable the historian to make a judicious selection of materials.

What is now offered is not designed as a history of the war, or

even as a complete account of all the incidents in which the writer

bore a part, but merely his recollection of events, corrected by a

reference to his own memoranda, which may assist the future

historian when he comes to describe the whole, and account for the

motives and reasons which influenced some of the actors in the

grand drama of war.

I trust a perusal of these pages will prove interesting to the

survivors, who have manifested so often their intense love of the

“cause” which moved a nation to vindicate its own authority; and,

equally so, to the rising generation, who therefrom may learn that

a country and government such as ours are worth fighting for, and

dying for, if need be.

If successful in this, I shall feel amply repaid for departing from

the usage of military men, who seldom attempt to publish their own

deeds, but rest content with simply contributing by their acts to

the honor and glory of their country.



St. Louis, Missouri, January 21, 1875.


Another ten years have passed since I ventured to publish my

Memoirs, and, being once more at leisure, I have revised them in

the light of the many criticisms public and private.

My habit has been to note in pencil the suggestions of critics, and

to examine the substance of their differences; for critics must

differ from the author, to manifest their superiority.

Where I have found material error I have corrected; and I have

added two chapters, one at the beginning, another at the end, both

of the most general character, and an appendix.

I wish my friends and enemies to understand that I disclaim the

character of historian, but assume to be a witness on the stand

before the great tribunal of history, to assist some future Napier,

Alison, or Hume to comprehend the feelings and thoughts of the

actors in the grand conflicts of the recent past, and thereby to

lessen his labors in the compilation necessary for the future

benefit of mankind.

In this free country every man is at perfect liberty to publish his

own thoughts and impressions, and any witness who may differ from

me should publish his own version of facts in the truthful

narration of which he is interested. I am publishing my own

memoirs, not theirs, and we all know that no three honest witnesses

of a simple brawl can agree on all the details. How much more

likely will be the difference in a great battle covering a vast

space of broken ground, when each division, brigade, regiment, and

even company, naturally and honestly believes that it was the focus

of the whole affair! Each of them won the battle. None ever lost.

That was the fate of the old man who unhappily commanded.

In this edition I give the best maps which I believe have ever been

prepared, compiled by General O. M. Poe, from personal knowledge

and official surveys, and what I chiefly aim to establish is the

true cause of the results which are already known to the whole

world; and it may be a relief to many to know that I shall publish

no other, but, like the player at cards, will “stand;” not that I

have accomplished perfection, but because I can do no better with

the cards in hand. Of omissions there are plenty, but of wilful

perversion of facts, none.

In the preface to the first edition, in 1875, I used these words:

“Nearly ten years have passed since the close of the civil war in

America, and yet no satisfactory history thereof is accessible to

the public; nor should any be attempted until the Government has

published, and placed within the reach of students, the abundant

materials that are buried in the War Department at Washington.

These are in process of compilation; but, at the rate of progress

for the past ten years, it is probable that a new century will come

before they are published and circulated, with full indexes to

enable the historian to make a judicious selection of materials”

Another decade is past, and I am in possession of all these

publications, my last being Volume XI, Part 3, Series 1, the last

date in which is August 30, 1862. I am afraid that if I assume

again the character of prophet, I must extend the time deep into

the next century, and pray meanwhile that the official records of

the war, Union and Confederate, may approach completion before the

“next war,” or rather that we, as a people, may be spared another

war until the last one is officially recorded. Meantime the rising

generation must be content with memoirs and histories compiled from

the best sources available.

In this sense I offer mine as to the events of which I was an

eye-witness and participant, or for which I was responsible.


General (retired).

St. Louis, Missouri, March 30, 1885.





According to Cothren, in his “History of Ancient Woodbury,

Connecticut,” the Sherman family came from Dedham, Essex County,

England. The first recorded name is of Edmond Sherman, with his

three sons, Edmond, Samuel, and John, who were at Boston before

1636; and farther it is distinctly recorded that Hon. Samuel

Sherman, Rev. John, his brother, and Captain John, his first

cousin, arrived from Dedham, Essex County, England, in 1634.

Samuel afterward married Sarah Mitchell, who had come (in the same

ship) from England, and finally settled at Stratford, Connecticut.

The other two (Johns) located at Watertown, Massachusetts.

From Captain John Sherman are descended Roger Sherman, the signer

of the Declaration of Independence, Hon. William M. Evarts, the

Messrs. Hoar, of Massachusetts, and many others of national fame.

Our own family are descended from the Hon. Samuel Sherman and his

son; the Rev. John, who was born in 1650-’51; then another John,

born in 1687; then Judge Daniel, born in 1721; then Taylor Sherman,

our grandfather, who was born in 1758. Taylor Sherman was a lawyer

and judge in Norwalk, Connecticut, where he resided until his

death, May 4, 1815; leaving a widow, Betsey Stoddard Sherman, and

three children, Charles R. (our father), Daniel, and Betsey.

When the State of Connecticut, in 1786, ceded to the United States

her claim to the western part of her public domain, as defined by

her Royal Charter, she reserved a large district in what is now

northern Ohio, a portion of which (five hundred thousand acres)

composed the “Fire-Land District,” which was set apart to indemnify

the parties who had lost property in Connecticut by the raids of

Generals Arnold, Tryon, and others during the latter part of the

Revolutionary War.

Our grandfather, Judge Taylor Sherman, was one of the commissioners

appointed by the State of Connecticut to quiet the Indian title,

and to survey and subdivide this Fire-Land District, which includes

the present counties of Huron and Erie. In his capacity as

commissioner he made several trips to Ohio in the early part of

this century, and it is supposed that he then contracted the

disease which proved fatal. For his labor and losses he received a

title to two sections of land, which fact was probably the prime

cause of the migration of our family to the West. My father

received a good education, and was admitted to the bar at Norwalk,

Connecticut, where, in 1810, he, at twenty years of age, married

Mary Hoyt, also of Norwalk, and at once migrated to Ohio, leaving

his wife (my mother) for a time. His first purpose was to settle

at Zanesville, Ohio, but he finally chose Lancaster, Fairfield

County, where he at once engaged in the, practice of his

profession. In 1811 he returned to Norwalk, where, meantime, was

born Charles Taylor Sherman, the eldest of the family, who with his

mother was carried to Ohio on horseback.

Judge Taylor Sherman’s family remained in Norwalk till 1815, when

his death led to the emigration of the remainder of the family,

viz., of Uncle Daniel Sherman, who settled at Monroeville, Ohio, as

a farmer, where he lived and died quite recently, leaving children

and grandchildren; and an aunt, Betsey, who married Judge Parker,

of Mansfield, and died in 1851, leaving children and grandchildren;

also Grandmother Elizabeth Stoddard Sherman, who resided with her

daughter, Mrs: Betsey Parker, in Mansfield until her death, August


Thus my father, Charles R. Sherman, became finally established at

Lancaster, Ohio, as a lawyer, with his own family in the year 1811,

and continued there till the time of his death, in 1829. I have no

doubt that he was in the first instance attracted to Lancaster by

the natural beauty of its scenery, and the charms of its already

established society. He continued in the practice of his

profession, which in those days was no sinecure, for the ordinary

circuit was made on horseback, and embraced Marietta, Cincinnati,

and Detroit. Hardly was the family established there when the War

of 1812 caused great alarm and distress in all Ohio. The English

captured Detroit and the shores of Lake Erie down to the Maumee

River; while the Indians still occupied the greater part of the

State. Nearly every man had to be somewhat of a soldier, but I

think my father was only a commissary; still, he seems to have

caught a fancy for the great chief of the Shawnees, “Tecumseh.”

Perry’s victory on Lake Erie was the turning-point of the Western

campaign, and General Harrison’s victory over the British and

Indians at the river Thames in Canada ended the war in the West,

and restored peace and tranquillity to the exposed settlers of

Ohio. My father at once resumed his practice at the bar, and was

soon recognized as an able and successful lawyer. When, in 1816,

my brother James was born, he insisted on engrafting the Indian

name “Tecumseh” on the usual family list. My mother had already

named her first son after her own brother Charles; and insisted on

the second son taking the name of her other brother James, and when

I came along, on the 8th of February, 1820, mother having no more

brothers, my father succeeded in his original purpose, and named me

William Tecumseh.

The family rapidly increased till it embraced six boys and five

girls, all of whom attained maturity and married; of these six are

still living.

In the year 1821 a vacancy occurred in the Supreme Court of Ohio,

and I find this petition:

Somerset, Ohio, July 6, 1821.

May it please your Excellency:

We ask leave to recommend to your Excellency’s favorable notice

Charles R. Sherman, Esq., of Lancaster, as a man possessing in an

eminent degree those qualifications so much to be desired in a

Judge of the Supreme Court.

From a long acquaintance with Mr. Sherman, we are happy to be able

to state to your Excellency that our minds are led to the

conclusion that that gentleman possesses a disposition noble and

generous, a mind discriminating, comprehensive, and combining a

heart pure, benevolent and humane. Manners dignified, mild, and

complaisant, and a firmness not to be shaken and of unquestioned


But Mr. Sherman’s character cannot be unknown to your Excellency,

and on that acquaintance without further comment we might safely

rest his pretensions.

We think we hazard little in assuring your Excellency that his

appointment would give almost universal satisfaction to the

citizens of Perry County.

With great consideration, we have the honor to be

Your Excellency’s most obedient humble servants,














His Excellency ETHAN A. BROWN,

Governor of Ohio, Columbus.

He was soon after appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court, and

served in that capacity to the day of his death.

My memory extends back to about 1827, and I recall him, returning

home on horseback, when all the boys used to run and contend for

the privilege of riding his horse from the front door back to the

stable. On one occasion, I was the first, and being mounted rode

to the stable; but “Old Dick” was impatient because the stable-door

was not opened promptly, so he started for the barn of our neighbor

Mr. King; there, also, no one was in waiting to open the gate, and,

after a reasonable time, “Dick” started back for home somewhat in a

hurry, and threw me among a pile of stones, in front of preacher

Wright’s house, where I was picked up apparently a dead boy; but my

time was not yet, and I recovered, though the scars remain to this


The year 1829 was a sad one to our family. We were then ten

children, my eldest brother Charles absent at the State University,

Athens, Ohio; my next brother, James, in a store at Cincinnati; and

the rest were at home, at school. Father was away on the circuit.

One day Jane Sturgeon came to the school, called us out, and when

we reached home all was lamentation: news had come that father was

ill unto death, at Lebanon, a hundred miles away. Mother started

at once, by coach, but met the news of his death about Washington,

and returned home. He had ridden on horseback from Cincinnati to

Lebanon to hold court, during a hot day in June. On the next day

he took his seat on the bench, opened court in the forenoon, but in

the afternoon, after recess, was seized with a severe chill and had

to adjourn the court. The best medical aid was called in, and for

three days with apparent success, but the fever then assumed a more

dangerous type, and he gradually yielded to it, dying on the sixth

day, viz., June 24, 1829.

My brother James had been summoned from Cincinnati, and was present

at his bedside, as was also Henry Stoddard, Esq., of Dayton, Ohio,

our cousin. Mr. Stoddard once told me that the cause of my

father’s death was cholera; but at that time, 1829, there was no

Asiatic cholera in the United States, and the family, attributed

his death to exposure to the hot sun of June, and a consequent

fever, “typhoid.”

From the resolutions of the bench, bar, and public generally, now

in my possession, his death was universally deplored; more

especially by his neighbors in Lancaster, and by the Society of

Freemasons, of which he was the High-Priest of Arch Chapter No. 11.

His death left the family very poor, but friends rose up with


proffers of generous care and assistance; for all the neighbors

knew that mother could not maintain so large a family without help.

My eldest brother, Charles, had nearly completed his education at

the university at Athens, and concluded to go to his uncle, Judge

Parker, at Mansfield, Ohio, to study law. My, eldest sister,

Elizabeth, soon after married William J. Reese, Esq.; James was

already in a store at Cincinnati; and, with the exception of the

three youngest children, the rest of us were scattered. I fell to

the charge of the Hon. Thomas Ewing, who took me to his family, and

ever after treated me as his own son.

I continued at the Academy in Lancaster, which was the best in the

place; indeed, as good a school as any in Ohio. We studied all the

common branches of knowledge, including Latin, Greek, and French.

At first the school was kept by Mr. Parsons; he was succeeded by

Mr. Brown, and he by two brothers, Samuel and Mark How. These were

all excellent teachers, and we made good progress, first at the old

academy and afterward at a new school-house, built by Samuel How,

in the orchard of Hugh Boyle, Esq.

Time passed with us as with boys generally. Mr. Ewing was in the

United States Senate, and I was notified to prepare for West Point,

of which institution we had little knowledge, except that it was

very strict, and that the army was its natural consequence. In

1834 I was large for my age, and the construction of canals was the

rage in Ohio. A canal was projected to connect with the great Ohio

Canal at Carroll (eight miles above Lancaster), down the valley of

the Hock Hocking to Athens (forty-four miles), and thence to the

Ohio River by slack water.

Preacher Carpenter, of Lancaster, was appointed to make the

preliminary surveys, and selected the necessary working party out

of the boys of the town. From our school were chosen ____Wilson,

Emanuel Geisy, William King, and myself. Geisy and I were the

rod-men. We worked during that fall and next spring, marking two

experimental lines, and for our work we each received a silver

half-dollar for each day’s actual work, the first money any of us

had ever earned.

In June, 1835, one of our school-fellows, William Irvin, was

appointed a cadet to West Point, and, as it required sixteen years

of age for admission, I had to wait another year. During the

autumn of 1835 and spring of 1836 I devoted myself chiefly to

mathematics and French, which were known to be the chief requisites

for admission to West Point.

Some time in the spring of 1836 I received through Mr. Ewing, then

at Washington, from the Secretary of War, Mr. Poinsett, the letter

of appointment as a cadet, with a list of the articles of clothing

necessary to be taken along, all of which were liberally provided

by Mrs. Ewing; and with orders to report to Mr. Ewing, at

Washington, by a certain date, I left Lancaster about the 20th of

May in the stage-coach for Zanesville. There we transferred to the

coaches of the Great National Road, the highway of travel from the

West to the East. The stages generally travelled in gangs of from

one to six coaches, each drawn by four good horses, carrying nine

passengers inside and three or four outside.

In about three days, travelling day and night, we reached

Frederick, Maryland. There we were told that we could take

rail-cars to Baltimore, and thence to Washington; but there was

also a two-horse hack ready to start for Washington direct. Not

having full faith in the novel and dangerous railroad, I stuck to

the coach, and in the night reached Gadsby’s Hotel in Washington


The next morning I hunted up Mr. Ewing, and found him boarding with

a mess of Senators at Mrs. Hill’s, corner of Third and C Streets,

and transferred my trunk to the same place. I spent a week in

Washington, and think I saw more of the place in that time than I

ever have since in the many years of residence there. General

Jackson was President, and was at the zenith of his fame. I recall

looking at him a full hour, one morning, through the wood railing

on Pennsylvania Avenue, as he paced up and down the gravel walk on

the north front of the White House. He wore a cap and an overcoat

so full that his form seemed smaller than I had expected. I also

recall the appearance of Postmaster-General Amos Kendall, of

Vice-President Van Buren, Messrs. Calhoun, Webster, Clay, Cass,

Silas Wright, etc.

In due time I took my departure for West Point with Cadets Belt and

Bronaugh. These were appointed cadets as from Ohio, although

neither had ever seen that State. But in those days there were

fewer applicants from Ohio than now, and near the close of the term

the vacancies unasked for were usually filled from applicants on

the spot. Neither of these parties, however, graduated, so the

State of Ohio lost nothing. We went to Baltimore by rail, there

took a boat up to Havre de Grace, then the rail to Wilmington,

Delaware, and up the Delaware in a boat to Philadelphia. I staid

over in Philadelphia one day at the old Mansion House, to visit the

family of my brother-in-law, Mr. Reese. I found his father a fine

sample of the old merchant gentleman, in a good house in Arch

Street, with his accomplished daughters, who had been to Ohio, and

whom I had seen there. From Philadelphia we took boat to

Bordentown, rail to Amboy, and boat again to New York City,

stopping at the American Hotel. I staid a week in New York City,

visiting my uncle, Charles Hoyt, at his beautiful place on Brooklyn

Heights, and my uncle James, then living in White Street. My

friend William Scott was there, the young husband of my cousin,

Louise Hoyt; a neatly-dressed young fellow, who looked on me as an

untamed animal just caught in the far West–“fit food for

gunpowder,” and good for nothing else.

About June 12th I embarked in the steamer Cornelius Vanderbilt for

West Point; registered in the office of Lieutenant C. F. Smith,

Adjutant of the Military Academy, as a new cadet of the class of

1836, and at once became installed as the “plebe” of my

fellow-townsman, William Irvin, then entering his Third Class.

Colonel R. E. De Russy was Superintendent; Major John Fowle, Sixth

United States Infantry, Commandant. The principal Professors were:

Mahan, Engineering; Bartlett, Natural Philosophy; Bailey,

Chemistry; Church, Mathematics; Weir, Drawing; and Berard, French.

The routine of military training and of instruction was then fully

established, and has remained almost the same ever since. To give

a mere outline would swell this to an inconvenient size, and I

therefore merely state that I went through the regular course of

four years, graduating in June, 1840, number six in a class of

forty-three. These forty-three were all that remained of more than

one hundred which originally constituted the class. At the Academy

I was not considered a good soldier, for at no time was I selected

for any office, but remained a private throughout the whole four

years. Then, as now, neatness in dress and form, with a strict

conformity to the rules, were the qualifications required for

office, and I suppose I was found not to excel in any of these. In

studies I always held a respectable reputation with the professors,

and generally ranked among the best, especially in drawing,

chemistry, mathematics, and natural philosophy. My average

demerits, per annum, were about one hundred and fifty, which.

reduced my final class standing from number four to six.

In June, 1840, after the final examination, the class graduated and

we received our diplomas. Meantime, Major Delafield, United States

Engineers, had become Superintendent; Major C. F. Smith, Commandant

of Cadets; but the corps of professors and assistants remained

almost unchanged during our whole term. We were all granted the

usual furlough of three months, and parted for our homes, there to

await assignment to our respective corps and regiments. In due

season I was appointed and commissioned second-lieutenant, Third

Artillery, and ordered to report at Governor’s Island, New York

Harbor, at the end of September. I spent my furlough mostly at

Lancaster and Mansfield, Ohio; toward the close of September

returned to New York, reported to Major Justin Dimock, commanding

the recruiting rendezvous at Governor’s Island, and was assigned to

command a company of recruits preparing for service in Florida.

Early in October this company was detailed, as one of four, to

embark in a sailing-vessel for Savannah, Georgia, under command of

Captain and Brevet Major Penrose. We embarked and sailed, reaching

Savannah about the middle of October, where we transferred to a

small steamer and proceeded by the inland route to St. Augustine,

Florida. We reached St. Augus

at the same time with the Eighth

Infantry, commanded by Colonel and Brevet Brigadier-General William

J. Worth. At that time General Zachary Taylor was in chief command

in Florida, and had his headquarters at Tampa Bay. My regiment,

the Third Artillery, occupied the posts along the Atlantic coast of

Florida, from St. Augustine south to Key Biscayne, and my own

company, A, was at Fort Pierce, Indian River. At St. Augustine I

was detached from the company of recruits, which was designed for

the Second Infantry, and was ordered to join my proper company at

Fort Pierce. Colonel William Gates commanded the regiment, with

Lieutenant William Austine Brown as adjutant of the regiment.

Lieutenant Bragg commanded the post of St. Augustine with his own

company, E, and G (Garner’s), then commanded by Lieutenant Judd.

In, a few days I embarked in the little steamer William Gaston down

the coast, stopping one day at New Smyrna, held by John R. Vinton’s

company (B), with which was serving Lieutenant William H. Shover.

In due season we arrived off the bar of Indian River and anchored. The boat that sustained a journey so turbulent has been reviewed at in case you’re curious. A whale-boat came off with a crew of four men, steered by a

character of some note, known as the Pilot Ashlock. I transferred

self and baggage to this boat, and, with the mails, was carried

through the surf over the bar, into the mouth of Indian River

Inlet. It was then dark; we transferred to a smaller boat, and the

same crew pulled us up through a channel in the middle of Mangrove

Islands, the roosting-place of thousands of pelicans and birds that

rose in clouds and circled above our heads. The water below was

alive with fish, whose course through it could be seen by the

phosphoric wake; and Ashlock told me many a tale of the Indian war

then in progress, and of his adventures in hunting and fishing,

which he described as the best in the world. About two miles from

the bar, we emerged into the lagoon, a broad expanse of shallow

water that lies parallel with the coast, separated from it by a

narrow strip of sand, backed by a continuous series of islands and

promontories, covered with a dense growth of mangrove and

saw-palmetto. Pulling across this lagoon, in about three more

miles we approached the lights of Fort Pierce. Reaching a small

wharf, we landed, and were met by the officers of the post,

Lieutenants George Taylor and Edward J. Steptoe, and

Assistant-Surgeon James Simons. Taking the mail-bag, we walked up

a steep sand-bluff on which the fort was situated, and across the

parade-ground to the officers’ quarters. These were six or seven

log-houses, thatched with palmetto-leaves, built on high posts,

with a porch in front, facing the water. The men’s quarters were

also of logs forming the two sides of a rectangle, open toward the

water; the intervals and flanks were closed with log stockades. I

was assigned to one of these rooms, and at once began service with

my company, A, then commanded by Lieutenant Taylor.

The season was hardly yet come for active operations against the

Indians, so that the officers were naturally attracted to Ashlock,

who was the best fisherman I ever saw. He soon initiated us into

the mysteries of shark-spearing, trolling for red-fish, and taking

the sheep’s-head and mullet. These abounded so that we could at

any time catch an unlimited quantity at pleasure. The companies

also owned nets for catching green turtles. These nets had meshes

about a foot square, were set across channels in the lagoon, the

ends secured to stakes driven into the mad, the lower line sunk

with lead or stone weights and the upper line floated with cork.

We usually visited these nets twice a day, and found from one to

six green turtles entangled in the meshes. Disengaging them, they

were carried to pens, made with stakes stuck in the mud, where they

were fed with mangrove-leaves, and our cooks had at all times an

ample supply of the best of green turtles. They were so cheap and

common that the soldiers regarded it as an imposition when

compelled to eat green turtle steaks, instead of poor Florida beef,

or the usual barrelled mess-pork. I do not recall in my whole

experience a spot on earth where fish, oysters, and green turtles

so abound as at Fort Pierce, Florida.

In November, Major Childs arrived with Lieutenant Van Vliet and a

detachment of recruits to fill our two companies, and preparations

were at once begun for active operations in the field. At that

time the Indians in the Peninsula of Florida were scattered, and

the war consisted in hunting up and securing the small fragments,

to be sent to join the others of their tribe of Seminoles already

established in the Indian Territory west of Arkansas. Our

expeditions were mostly made in boats in the lagoons extending from

the “Haul-over,” near two hundred miles above the fort, down to

Jupiter Inlet, about fifty miles below, and in the many streams

which emptied therein. Many such expeditions were made during that

winter, with more or less success, in which we succeeded in picking

up small parties of men, women, and children. On one occasion,

near the “Haul-over,” when I was not present, the expedition was

more successful. It struck a party of nearly fifty Indians, killed

several warriors, and captured others. In this expedition my

classmate, lieutenant Van Vliet, who was an excellent shot, killed

a warrior who was running at full speed among trees, and one of the

sergeants of our company (Broderick) was said to have dispatched

three warriors, and it was reported that he took the scalp of one

and brought it in to the fort as a trophy. Broderick was so elated

that, on reaching the post, he had to celebrate his victory by a

big drunk.

There was at the time a poor, weakly soldier of our company whose

wife cooked for our mess. She was somewhat of a flirt, and rather

fond of admiration. Sergeant Broderick was attracted to her, and

hung around the mess-house more than the husband fancied; so he

reported the matter to Lieutenant Taylor, who reproved Broderick

for his behavior. A few days afterward the husband again appealed

to his commanding officer (Taylor), who exclaimed: “Haven’t you got

a musket? Can’t you defend your own family?” Very soon after a

shot was heard down by the mess-house, and it transpired that the


husband had actually shot Broderick, inflicting a wound which

proved mortal. The law and army regulations required that the man

should be sent to the nearest civil court, which was at St.

Augustine; accordingly, the prisoner and necessary witnesses were

sent up by the next monthly steamer. Among the latter were

lieutenant Taylor and the pilot Ashlock.

After they had been gone about a month, the sentinel on the roof-

top of our quarters reported the smoke of a steamer approaching the

bar, and, as I was acting quartermaster, I took a boat and pulled

down to get the mail. I reached the log-but in which the pilots

lived, and saw them start with their boat across the bar, board the

steamer, and then return. Aahlock was at his old post at the

steering-oar, with two ladies, who soon came to the landing, having

passed through a very heavy surf, and I was presented to one as

Mrs. Ashlock, and the other as her sister, a very pretty little

Minorcan girl of about fourteen years of age. Mrs. Ashlock herself

was probably eighteen or twenty years old, and a very handsome

woman. I was hurriedly informed that the murder trial was in

progress at St. Augustine; that Ashlock had given his testimony,

and had availed himself of the chance to take a wife to share with

him the solitude of his desolate hut on the beach at Indian River.

He had brought ashore his wife, her sister, and their chests, with

the mail, and had orders to return immediately to the steamer

(Gaston or Harney) to bring ashore some soldiers belonging to

another company, E (Braggs), which had been ordered from St.

Augustine to Fort Pierce. Ashlock left his wife and her sister

standing on the beach near the pilot-hut, and started back with his

whale-boat across the bar. I also took the mail and started up to

the fort, and had hardly reached the wharf when I observed another

boat following me. As soon as this reached the wharf the men

reported that Ashlock and all his crew, with the exception of one

man, had been drowned a few minutes after I had left the beach.

They said his surf-boat had reached the steamer, had taken on board

a load of soldiers, some eight or ten, and had started back through

the surf, when on the bar a heavy breaker upset the boat, and all

were lost except the boy who pulled the bow-oar, who clung to the

rope or painter, hauled himself to the upset boat, held on, drifted

with it outside the breakers, and was finally beached near a mile

down the coast. They reported also that the steamer had got up

anchor, run in as close to the bar as she could, paused awhile, and

then had started down the coast.

I instantly took a fresh crew of soldiers and returned to the bar;

there sat poor Mrs. Ashlock on her chest of clothes, a weeping

widow, who had seen her husband perish amid sharks and waves; she

clung to the hope that the steamer had picked him up, but, strange

to say, he could not swim, although he had been employed on the

water all his life. 

Her sister was more demonstrative, and wailed as one lost to all

hope and life. She appealed to us all to do miracles to save the

struggling men in the waves, though two hours had already passed,

and to have gone out then among those heavy breakers, with an

inexperienced crew, would have been worse than suicide. All I

could do was to reorganize the guard at the beach, take the two

desolate females up to the fort, and give them the use of my own

quarters. Very soon their anguish was quieted, and they began to

look, for the return of their steamer with Ashlock and his rescued

crew. The next day I went again to the beach with Lieutenant Ord,

and we found that one or two bodies had been washed ashore, torn

all to pieces by the sharks, which literally swarmed the inlet at

every new tide. In a few days the weather moderated, and the

steamer returned from the south, but the surf was so high that she

anchored a mile off. I went out myself, in the whale or surf boat,

over that terrible bar with a crew of, soldiers, boarded the

steamer, and learned that none other of Ashlock’s crew except the

one before mentioned had been saved; but, on the contrary, the

captain of the steamer had sent one of his own boats to their

rescue, which was likewise upset in the surf, and, out of the three

men in her, one had drifted back outside the breakers, clinging to

the upturned boat, and was picked up. This sad and fatal

catastrophe made us all afraid of that bar, and in returning to the

shore I adopted the more prudent course of beaching the boat below

the inlet, which insured us a good ducking, but was attended with

less risk to life.

I had to return to the fort and bear to Mrs. Ashlock the absolute

truth, that her husband was lost forever.

Meantime her sister had entirely recovered her equilibrium, and

being the guest of the officers, who were extremely courteous to

her, she did not lament so loudly the calamity that saved them a

long life of banishment on the beach of Indian River. By the first

opportunity they were sent back to St. Augustine, the possessors of

all of Ashlock’s worldly goods and effects, consisting of a good

rifle, several cast-nets, hand-lines, etc., etc., besides some

three hundred dollars in money, which was due him by the

quartermaster for his services as pilot. I afterward saw these

ladies at St. Augustine, and years afterward the younger one came

to Charleston, South Carolina, the wife of the somewhat famous

Captain Thistle, agent for the United States for live-oak in

Florida, who was noted as the first of the troublesome class of

inventors of modern artillery. He was the inventor of a gun that

“did not recoil at all,” or “if anything it recoiled a little


One day, in the summer of 1841, the sentinel on the housetop at

Fort Pierce called out, “Indians! Indians!” Everybody sprang to

his gun, the companies formed promptly on the parade-ground, and

soon were reported as approaching the post, from the pine-woods in

rear, four Indians on horseback. They rode straight up to the

gateway, dismounted, and came in. They were conducted by the

officer of the day to the commanding officer, Major Childs, who sat

on the porch in front of his own room. After the usual pause, one

of them, a black man named Joe, who spoke English, said they had

been sent in by Coacoochee (Wild Cat), one of the most noted of the

Seminole chiefs, to see the big chief of the post. He gradually

unwrapped a piece of paper, which was passed over to Major Childs,

who read it, and it was in the nature of a “Safe Guard” for “Wild

Cat” to come into Fort Pierce to receive provisions and assistance

while collecting his tribe, with the purpose of emigrating to their

reservation west of Arkansas. The paper was signed by General

Worth, who had succeeded General Taylor, at Tampa Bay, in command

of all the troops in Florida. Major Childs inquired, “Where is

Coacoochee?” and was answered, “Close by,” when Joe explained that

he had been sent in by his chief to see if the paper was all right.

Major Childs said it was “all right,” and that Coacoochee ought to

come in himself. Joe offered to go out and bring him in, when

Major Childs ordered me to take eight or ten mounted men and go out

to escort him in. Detailing ten men to saddle up, and taking Joe

and one Indian boy along on their own ponies, I started out under

their guidance.

We continued to ride five or six miles, when I began to suspect

treachery, of which I had heard so much in former years, and had

been specially cautioned against by the older officers; but Joe

always answered, “Only a little way.” At last we approached one

of those close hammocks, so well known in Florida, standing like an

island in the interminable pine-forest, with a pond of water near

it. On its edge I noticed a few Indians loitering, which Joe

pointed out as the place. Apprehensive of treachery, I halted the

guard, gave orders to the sergeant to watch me closely, and rode

forward alone with the two Indian guides. As we neared the

hammock, about a dozen Indian warriors rose up and waited for us.

When in their midst I inquired for the chief, Coacoochee. He

approached my horse and, slapping his breast, said, “Me

Coacoochee.” He was a very handsome young Indian warrior, not more

than twenty-five years old, but in his then dress could hardly be

distinguished from the rest. I then explained to him, through Joe,

that I had been sent by my “chief” to escort him into the fort. He

wanted me to get down and “talk” I told him that I had no “talk” in

me, but that, on his reaching the post, he could talk as much as he

pleased with the “big chief,” Major Childs. They all seemed to be

indifferent, and in no hurry; and I noticed that all their guns

were leaning against a tree. I beckoned to the sergeant, who

advanced rapidly with his escort, and told him to secure the

rifles, which he proceeded to do. Coacoochee pretended to be very

angry, but I explained to him that his warriors were tired and mine

were not, and that the soldiers would carry the guns on their

horses. I told him I would provide him a horse to ride, and the

sooner he was ready the better for all. He then stripped, washed

himself in the pond, and began to dress in all his Indian finery,

which consisted of buckskin leggins, moccasins, and several shirts.

He then began to put on vests, one after another, and one of them

had the marks of a bullet, just above the pocket, with the stain of

blood. In the pocket was a one-dollar Tallahassee Bank note, and

the rascal had the impudence to ask me to give him silver coin for

that dollar. He had evidently killed the wearer, and was

disappointed because the pocket contained a paper dollar instead of

one in silver. In due time he was dressed with turban and

ostrich-feathers, and mounted the horse reserved for him, and thus

we rode back together to Fort Pierce. Major Childs and all the

officers received him on the porch, and there we had a regular

“talk.” Coacoochee “was tired of the war.” “His people were

scattered and it would take a ‘moon’ to collect them for

emigration,” and he “wanted rations for that time,” etc., etc.

All this was agreed to, and a month was allowed for him to get

ready with his whole band (numbering some one hundred and fifty or

one hundred and sixty) to migrate. The “talk” then ceased, and

Coacoochee and his envoys proceeded to get regularly drunk, which

was easily done by the agency of commissary whiskey. They staid at

Fort Pierce daring the night, and the next day departed. Several

times during the month there came into the post two or more of

these same Indians, always to beg for something to eat or drink,

and after a full month Coacoochee and about twenty of his warriors

came in with several ponies, but with none of their women or

children. Major Childs had not from the beginning the least faith

in his sincerity; had made up his mind to seize the whole party and

compel them to emigrate. He arranged for the usual council, and

instructed Lieutenant Taylor to invite Coacoochee and his uncle

(who was held to be a principal chief) to his room to take some

good brandy, instead of the common commissary whiskey. At a signal

agreed on I was to go to the quarters of Company A, to dispatch the

first-sergeant and another man to Lieutenant Taylor’s room, there

to seize the two chiefs and secure them; and with the company I was

to enter Major Childs’s room and secure the remainder of the party.

Meantime Lieutenant Van Vliet was ordered to go to the quarters of

his company, F, and at the same signal to march rapidly to the rear

of the officers’ quarters, so as to catch any who might attempt to

escape by the open windows to the rear.

All resulted exactly as prearranged, and in a few minutes the whole

party was in irons. At first they claimed that we had acted

treacherously, but very soon they admitted that for a month

Coacoochee had been quietly removing his women and children toward

Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades; and that this visit to our post

was to have been their last. It so happened that almost at the

instant of our seizing these Indians a vessel arrived off the bar

with reenforcements from St. Augustine. These were brought up to

Fort Pierce, and we marched that night and next day rapidly, some

fifty miles, to Lake Okeechobee, in hopes to capture the balance of

the tribe, especially the families, but they had taken the alarm

and escaped. Coacoochee and his warriors were sent by Major Childs

in a schooner to New Orleans en route to their reservation, but

General Worth recalled them to Tampa Bay, and by sending out

Coacoochee himself the women and children came in voluntarily, and

then all were shipped to their destination. This was a heavy loss

to the Seminoles, but there still remained in the Peninsula a few

hundred warriors with their families scattered into very small

parcels, who were concealed in the most inaccessible hammocks and

swamps. These had no difficulty in finding plenty of food anywhere

and everywhere. Deer and wild turkey were abundant, and as for

fish there was no end to them. Indeed, Florida was the Indian’s

paradise, was of little value to us, and it was a great pity to

remove the Seminoles at all, for we could have collected there all

the Choctaws, Creeks, Cherokees, and Chickasaws, in addition to the

Seminoles. They would have thrived in the Peninsula, whereas they

now occupy lands that are very valuable, which are coveted by their

white neighbors on all sides, while the Peninsula, of Florida still

remains with a population less than should make a good State.

During that and preceding years General W. S. Harney had penetrated

and crossed through the Everglades, capturing and hanging Chekika

and his band, and had brought in many prisoners, who were also

shipped West. We at Fort Pierce made several other excursions to

Jupiter, Lake Worth, Lauderdale, and into the Everglades, picking

up here and there a family, so that it was absurd any longer to

call it a “war.” These excursions, however, possessed to us a

peculiar charm, for the fragrance of the air, the abundance of game

and fish, and just enough of adventure, gave to life a relish. I

had just returned to Lauderdale from one of these scouts with

Lieutenants Rankin, Ord, George H. Thomas, Field, Van Vliet, and

others, when I received notice of my promotion to be first

lieutenant of Company G, which occurred November 30, 1841, and I


was ordered to return to Fort Pierce, turn over the public property

for which I was accountable to Lieutenant H. S. Burton, and then to

join my new company at St. Augustine.

I reached St. Augustine before Christmas, and was assigned to

command a detachment of twenty men stationed at Picolata, on the

St. John’s River, eighteen miles distant. At St. Augustine were

still the headquarters of the regiment, Colonel William Gates, with

Company E, Lieutenant Bragg, and Company G, Lieutenant H. B. Judd.

The only buildings at Picolata were the one occupied by my

detachment, which had been built for a hospital, and the dwelling

of a family named Williams, with whom I boarded. On the other

hand, St. Augustine had many pleasant families, among whom was

prominent that of United States Judge Bronson. I was half my time

in St. Augustine or on the road, and remember the old place with

pleasure. In February we received orders transferring the whole

regiment to the Gulf posts, and our company, G, was ordered to

escort Colonel Gates and his family across to the Suwanee River, en

route for Pensacola. The company, with the colonel and his family,

reached Picolata (where my detachment joined), and we embarked in a

steamboat for Pilatka. Here Lieutenant Judd discovered that he had

forgotten something and had to return to St. Augustine, so that I

commanded the company on the march, having with me Second-

Lieutenant George B. Ayres. Our first march was to Fort Russell,

then Micanopy, Wacahoota, and Wacasassee, all which posts were

garrisoned by the Second or Seventh Infantry. At Wacasassee we met

General Worth and his staff, en route for Pilatka. Lieutenant Judd

overtook us about the Suwanee, where we embarked on a small boat

for Cedar Keys, and there took a larger one for Pensacola, where

the colonel and his family landed, and our company proceeded on in

the same vessel to our post–Fort Morgan, Mobile Point.

This fort had not been occupied by troops for many years, was very

dirty, and we found little or no stores there. Major Ogden, of the

engineers, occupied a house outside the fort. I was quartermaster

and commissary, and, taking advantage of one of the engineer

schooners engaged in bringing materials for the fort, I went up to

Mobile city, and, through the agency of Messrs. Deshon, Taylor,

and Myers, merchants, procured all essentials for the troops, and

returned to the post. In the course of a week or ten days arrived

another company, H, commanded by Lieutenant James Ketchum, with

Lieutenants Rankin and Sewall L. Fish, and an assistant surgeon

(Wells.) Ketchum became the commanding officer, and Lieutenant

Rankin quartermaster. We proceeded to put the post in as good

order as possible; had regular guard-mounting and parades, but

little drill. We found magnificent fishing with the seine on the

outer beach, and sometimes in a single haul we would take ten or

fifteen barrels of the best kind of fish, embracing pompinos,

red-fish, snappers, etc.

We remained there till June, when the regiment was ordered to

exchange from the Gulf posts to those on the Atlantic, extending

from Savannah to North Carolina. The brig Wetumpka was chartered,

and our company (G) embarked and sailed to Pensacola, where we took

on board another company (D) (Burke’s), commanded by Lieutenant H.

S. Burton, with Colonel Gates, the regimental headquarters, and

some families. From Pensacola we sailed for Charleston, South

Carolina. The weather was hot, the winds light, and we made a long

passage but at last reached Charleston Harbor, disembarked, and

took post in Fort Moultrie.

Soon after two other companies arrived, Bragg’s (B) and Keyes’s

(K). The two former companies were already quartered inside of

Fort Moultrie, and these latter were placed in gun-sheds, outside,

which were altered into barracks. We remained at Fort Moultrie

nearly five years, until the Mexican War scattered us forever. Our

life there was of strict garrison duty, with plenty of leisure for

hunting and social entertainments. We soon formed many and most

pleasant acquaintances in the city of Charleston; and it so

happened that many of the families resided at Sullivan’s Island in

the summer season, where we could reciprocate the hospitalities

extended to us in the winter.

During the summer of 1843, having been continuously on duty for

three years, I applied for and received a leave of absence for

three months, which I spent mostly in Ohio. In November I started

to return to my post at Charleston by way of New Orleans; took the

stage to Chillicothe, Ohio, November 16th, having Henry Stanberry,

Esq., and wife, as travelling companions, We continued by stage.

next day to Portsmouth, Ohio.

At Portsmouth Mr. Stanberry took a boat up the river, and I one

down to Cincinnati. There I found my brothers Lampson and Hoyt

employed in the “Gazette” printing-office, and spent much time with

them and Charles Anderson, Esq., visiting his brother Larz, Mr.

Longworth, some of his artist friends, and especially Miss Sallie

Carneal, then quite a belle, and noted for her fine voice,

On the 20th I took passage on the steamboat Manhattan for St.

Louis; reached Louisville, where Dr. Conrad, of the army, joined

me, and in the Manhattan we continued on to St. Louis, with a mixed

crowd. We reached the Mississippi at Cairo the 23d, and St. Louis,

Friday, November 24, 1843. At St. Louis we called on Colonel S. W.

Kearney and Major Cooper, his adjutant-general, and found my

classmate, Lieutenant McNutt, of the ordnance, stationed at the

arsenal; also Mr. Deas, an artist, and Pacificus Ord, who was

studying law. I spent a week at St. Louis, visiting the arsenal,

Jefferson Barracks, and most places of interest, and then became

impressed with its great future. It then contained about forty

thousand people, and my notes describe thirty-six good steamboats

receiving and discharging cargo at the levee.

I took passage December 4th in the steamer John Aull for New

Orleans. As we passed Cairo the snow was falling, and the country

was wintery and devoid of verdure. Gradually, however, as we

proceeded south, the green color came; grass and trees showed the

change of latitude, and when in the course of a week we had reached

New Orleans, the roses were in full bloom, the sugar-cane just

ripe, and a tropical air prevalent. We reached New Orleans

December 11, 1843, where I spent about a week visiting the

barracks, then occupied by the Seventh Infantry; the theatres,

hotels, and all the usual places of interest of that day.

On the 16th of December I continued on to Mobile in the steamer

Fashion by way of Lake Pontchartrain; saw there most of my personal

friends, Mr. and Mrs. Bull, Judge Bragg and his brother Dunbar,

Deshon, Taylor, and Myers, etc., and on the 19th of December took

passage in the steamboat Bourbon for Montgomery, Alabama, by way of

the Alabama River. We reached Montgomery at noon, December 23d,

and took cars at 1 p. m. for Franklin, forty miles, which we reached

at 7 p. m., thence stages for Griffin, Georgia, via La Grange and

Greenville. This took the whole night of the 23d and the day of

the 24th. At Griffin we took cars for Macon, and thence to

Savannah, which we reached Christmas-night, finding Lieutenants

Ridgley and Ketchum at tea, where we were soon joined by Rankin and


On the 26th I took the boat for Charleston, reaching my post, and

reported for duty Wednesday morning, December 27, 1843.

I had hardly got back to my post when, on the 21st of January,

1844, I received from Lieutenant R. P. Hammond, at Marietta,

Georgia, an intimation that Colonel Churchill, Inspector-General of

the Army, had applied for me to assist him in taking depositions in

upper Georgia and Alabama; concerning certain losses by volunteers

in Florida of horses and equipments by reason of the failure of the

United States to provide sufficient forage, and for which Congress

had made an appropriation. On the 4th of February the order came

from the Adjutant-General in Washington for me to proceed to

Marietta, Georgia, and report to Inspector-General Churchill. I

was delayed till the 14th of February by reason of being on a

court-martial, when I was duly relieved and started by rail to

Augusta, Georgia, and as far as Madison, where I took the

mail-coach, reaching Marietta on the 17th. There I reported for

duty to Colonel Churchill, who was already engaged on his work,

assisted by Lieutenant R. P. Hammond, Third Artillery, and a

citizen named Stockton. The colonel had his family with him,

consisting of Mrs. Churchill, Mary, now Mrs. Professor Baird, and

Charles Churchill, then a boy of about fifteen years of age.

We all lived in a tavern, and had an office convenient. The duty

consisted in taking individual depositions of the officers and men

who had composed two regiments and a battalion of mounted

volunteers that had served in Florida. An oath was administered to

each man by Colonel Churchill, who then turned the claimant over to

one of us to take down and record his deposition according to

certain forms, which enabled them to be consolidated and tabulated.

We remained in Marietta about six weeks, during which time I

repeatedly rode to Kenesaw Mountain, and over the very ground where

afterward, in 1864, we had some hard battles.

After closing our business at Marietta the colonel ordered us to

transfer our operations to Bellefonte, Alabama. As he proposed to

take his family and party by the stage, Hammond lent me his

riding-horse, which I rode to Allatoona and the Etowah River.

Hearing of certain large Indian mounds near the way, I turned to

one side to visit them, stopping a couple of days with Colonel

Lewis Tumlin, on whose plantation these mounds were. We struck up

such an acquaintance that we corresponded for some years, and as I

passed his plantation during the war, in 1864, I inquired for him,

but he was not at home. From Tumlin’s I rode to Rome, and by way

of Wills Valley over Sand Mountain and the Raccoon Range to the

Tennessee River at Bellefonte, Alabama. We all assembled there in

March, and continued our work for nearly two months, when, having

completed the business, Colonel Churchill, with his family, went

North by way of Nashville; Hammond, Stockton, and I returning South

on horseback, by Rome, Allatoona, Marietta, Atlanta, and Madison,

Georgia. Stockton stopped at Marietta, where he resided. Hammond

took the cars at Madison, and I rode alone to Augusta, Georgia,

where I left the horse and returned to Charleston and Fort Moultrie

by rail.

Thus by a mere accident I was enabled to traverse on horseback the

very ground where in after-years I had to conduct vast armies and

fight great battles. That the knowledge thus acquired was of

infinite use to me, and consequently to the Government, I have

always felt and stated.

During the autumn of 1844, a difficulty arose among the officers of

Company B, Third Artillery (John R. Yinton’s), garrisoning Augusta

Arsenal, and I was sent up from Fort Moultrie as a sort of

peace-maker. After staying there some months, certain transfers of

officers were made, which reconciled the difficulty, and I returned

to my post, Fort Moultrie. During that winter, 1844-’45, I was

visiting at the plantation of Mr. Poyas, on the east branch of the

Cooper, about fifty miles from Fort Moultrie, hunting deer with his

son James, and Lieutenant John F. Reynolds, Third Artillery. We

had taken our stands, and a deer came out of the swamp near that of

Mr. James Poyas, who fired, broke the leg of the deer, which turned

back into the swamp and came out again above mine. I could follow

his course by the cry of the hounds, which were in close pursuit.

Hastily mounting my horse, I struck across the pine-woods to head

the deer off, and when at full career my horse leaped a fallen log

and his fore-foot caught one of those hard, unyielding pineknots

that brought him with violence to the ground. I got up as quick as

possible, and found my right arm out of place at the shoulder,

caused by the weight of the double-barrelled gun.

Seeing Reynolds at some distance, I called out lustily and brought

him to me. He soon mended the bridle and saddle, which had been

broken by the fall, helped me on my horse, and we followed the

coarse of the hounds. At first my arm did not pain me much, but it

soon began to ache so that it was almost unendurable. In about

three miles we came to a negro hut, where I got off and rested till

Reynolds could overtake Poyas and bring him back. They came at

last, but by that time the arm was so swollen and painful that I

could not ride. They rigged up an old gig belonging to the negro,

in which I was carried six miles to the plantation of Mr. Poyas,

Sr. A neighboring physician was sent for, who tried the usual

methods of setting the arm, but without success; each time making

the operation more painful. At last he sent off, got a set of

double pulleys and cords, with which he succeeded in extending the

muscles and in getting the bone into place. I then returned to

Fort Moultrie, but being disabled, applied for a short leave and

went North.

I started January 25,1845; went to Washington, Baltimore, and

Lancaster, Ohio, whence I went to Mansfield, and thence back by

Newark to Wheeling, Cumberland, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New

York, whence I sailed back for Charleston on the ship Sullivan,

reaching Fort Moultrie March 9, 1845.

About that time (March 1, 1845) Congress had, by a joint

resolution, provided for the annexation of Texas, then an

independent Republic, subject to certain conditions requiring the

acceptance of the Republic of Texas to be final and conclusive. We

all expected war as a matter of course. At that time General

Zachary Taylor had assembled a couple of regiments of infantry and

one of dragoons at Fort Jessup, Louisiana, and had orders to extend

military protection to Texas against the Indians, or a “foreign

enemy,” the moment the terms of annexation were accepted. He

received notice of such acceptance July 7th, and forthwith

proceeded to remove his troops to Corpus Christi, Texas, where,

during the summer and fall of 1845, was assembled that force with

which, in the spring of 1846, was begun the Mexican War.

Some time during that summer came to Fort Moultrie orders for

sending Company E, Third Artillery, Lieutenant Bragg, to New

Orleans, there to receive a battery of field-guns, and thence to

the camp of General Taylor at Corpus Christi. This was the first

company of our regiment sent to the seat of war, and it embarked on

the brig Hayne. This was the only company that left Fort Moultrie

till after I was detached for recruiting service on the 1st of May,


Inasmuch as Charleston afterward became famous, as the spot where

began our civil war, a general description of it, as it was in

1846, will not be out of place.

The city lies on a long peninsula between the Ashley and Cooper

Rivers–a low, level peninsula, of sand. Meeting Street is its

Broadway, with King Street, next west and parallel, the street of

shops and small stores. These streets are crossed at right angles

by many others, of which Broad Street was the principal; and the


insersection of Meeting and Broad was the heart of the city, marked

by the Guard-House and St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. The

Custom-House, Post-Office, etc., were at the foot of Broad Street,

near the wharves of the Cooper River front. At the extremity of

the peninsula was a drive, open to the bay, and faced by some of

the handsomest houses of the city, called the “Battery.” Looking

down the bay on the right, was James Island, an irregular triangle

of about seven miles, the whole island in cultivation with

sea-island cotton. At the lower end was Fort Johnson, then simply

the station of Captain Bowman, United States Engineers, engaged in

building Fort Sumter. This fort (Sumter) was erected on an

artificial island nearly in mid-channel, made by dumping rocks,

mostly brought as ballast in cotton-ships from the North. As the

rock reached the surface it was levelled, and made the foundation

of Fort Sumter. In 1846 this fort was barely above the water.

Still farther out beyond James Island, and separated from it by a

wide space of salt marsh with crooked channels, was Morris Island,

composed of the sand-dunes thrown up by the wind and the sea,

backed with the salt marsh. On this was the lighthouse, but no


On the left, looking down the bay from the Battery of Charleston,

was, first, Castle Pinckney, a round brick fort, of two tiers of

guns, one in embrasure, the other in barbette, built on a marsh

island, which was not garrisoned. Farther down the bay a point of

the mainland reached the bay, where there was a group of houses,

called Mount Pleasant; and at the extremity of the bay, distant six

miles, was Sullivan’s Island, presenting a smooth sand-beach to the

sea, with the line of sand-hills or dunes thrown up by the waves

and winds, and the usual backing of marsh and crooked salt-water


At the shoulder of this island was Fort Moultrie, an irregular

fort, without ditch or counterscarp, with a brick scarp wall about

twelve feet high, which could be scaled anywhere, and this was

surmounted by an earth parapet capable of mounting about forty

twenty-four and thirty-two pounder smooth-bore iron guns. Inside

the fort were three two-story brick barracks, sufficient to quarter

the officers and men of two companies of artillery.

At sea was the usual “bar,” changing slightly from year to year,

but generally the main ship-channel came from the south, parallel

to Morris Island, till it was well up to Fort Moultrie, where it

curved, passing close to Fort Sumter and up to the wharves of the

city, which were built mostly along the Cooper River front.

Charleston was then a proud, aristocratic city, and assumed a

leadership in the public opinion of the South far out of proportion

to her population, wealth, or commerce. On more than one occasion

previously, the inhabitants had almost inaugurated civil war, by

their assertion and professed belief that each State had, in the

original compact of government, reserved to itself the right to

withdraw from the Union at its own option, whenever the people

supposed they had sufficient cause. We used to discuss these

things at our own mess-tables, vehemently and sometimes quite

angrily; but I am sure that I never feared it would go further than

it had already gone in the winter of 1832-’33, when the attempt at

“nullification” was promptly suppressed by President Jackson’s

famous declaration, “The Union must and shall be preserved!” and by

the judicious management of General Scott.

Still, civil war was to be; and, now that it has come and gone, we

can rest secure in the knowledge that as the chief cause, slavery,

has been eradicated forever, it is not likely to come again.




In the spring of 1846 I was a first lieutenant of Company C,1,

Third Artillery, stationed at Fort Moultrie, South Carolina. The

company was commanded by Captain Robert Anderson; Henry B. Judd was

the senior first-lieutenant, and I was the junior first-lieutenant,

and George B. Ayres the second-lieutenant. Colonel William Gates

commanded the post and regiment, with First-Lieutenant William

Austine as his adjutant. Two other companies were at the post,

viz., Martin Burke’s and E. D. Keyes’s, and among the officers were

T. W. Sherman, Morris Miller, H. B. Field, William Churchill,

Joseph Stewart, and Surgeon McLaren.

The country now known as Texas had been recently acquired, and war

with Mexico was threatening. One of our companies (Bragg’s), with

George H. Thomas, John F. Reynolds, and Frank Thomas, had gone the

year previous and was at that time with General Taylor’s army at

Corpus Christi, Texas.

In that year (1846) I received the regular detail for recruiting

service, with orders to report to the general superintendent at

Governor’s Island, New York; and accordingly left Fort Moultrie in

the latter part of April, and reported to the superintendent,

Colonel R. B. Mason, First Dragoons, at New York, on the 1st day of

May. I was assigned to the Pittsburg rendezvous, whither I

proceeded and relieved Lieutenant Scott. Early in May I took up my

quarters at the St. Charles Hotel, and entered upon the discharge

of my duties. There was a regular recruiting-station already

established, with a sergeant, corporal, and two or three men, with

a citizen physician, Dr. McDowell, to examine the recruits. The

threatening war with Mexico made a demand for recruits, and I

received authority to open another sub-rendezvous at Zanesville,

Ohio, whither I took the sergeant and established him. This was

very handy to me, as my home was at Lancaster, Ohio, only

thirty-six miles off, so that I was thus enabled to visit my

friends there quite often.

In the latter part of May, when at Wheeling, Virginia, on my way

back from Zanesville to Pittsburg, I heard the first news of the

battle of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, which occurred on the

8th and 9th of May, and, in common with everybody else, felt

intensely excited. That I should be on recruiting service, when my

comrades were actually fighting, was intolerable, and I hurried on

to my post, Pittsburg. At that time the railroad did not extend

west of the Alleghanies, and all journeys were made by

stage-coaches. In this instance I traveled from Zanesville to

Wheeling, thence to Washington (Pennsylvania), and thence to

Pittsburg by stage-coach. On reaching Pittsburg I found many

private letters; one from Ord, then a first-lieutenant in Company

F, Third Artillery, at Fort McHenry, Baltimore, saying that his

company had just received orders for California, and asking me to

apply for it. Without committing myself to that project, I wrote

to the Adjutant-General, R. Jones, at Washington, D. C., asking him

to consider me as an applicant for any active service, and saying

that I would willingly forego the recruiting detail, which I well

knew plenty of others would jump at. Impatient to approach the

scene of active operations, without authority (and I suppose

wrongfully), I left my corporal in charge of the rendezvous, and

took all the recruits I had made, about twenty-five, in a steamboat

to Cincinnati, and turned them over to Major N. C. McCrea,

commanding at Newport Barracks. I then reported in Cincinnati, to

the superintendent of the Western recruiting service, Colonel

Fanning, an old officer with one arm, who inquired by what

authority I had come away from my post. I argued that I took it

for granted he wanted all the recruits he could get to forward to

the army at Brownsville, Texas; and did not know but that he might

want me to go along. Instead of appreciating my volunteer zeal, he

cursed and swore at me for leaving my post without orders, and told

me to go back to Pittsburg. I then asked for an order that would

entitle me to transportation back, which at first he emphatically

refused, but at last he gave the order, and I returned to

Pittsburg, all the way by stage, stopping again at Lancaster, where

I attended the wedding of my schoolmate Mike Effinger, and also

visited my sub-rendezvous at Zanesville. R. S. Ewell, of my class,

arrived to open a cavalry rendezvous, but, finding my depot there,

he went on to Columbus, Ohio. Tom Jordan afterward was ordered to

Zanesville, to take charge of that rendezvous, under the general

War Department orders increasing the number of recruiting-

stations. I reached Pittsburg late in June, and found the order

relieving me from recruiting service, and detailing my classmate H.

B. Field to my place. I was assigned to Company F, then under

orders for California. By private letters from Lieutenant Ord, I

heard that the company had already started from Fort McHenry for

Governor’s Island, New York Harbor, to take passage for California

in a naval transport. I worked all that night, made up my accounts

current, and turned over the balance of cash to the citizen

physician, Dr. McDowell; and also closed my clothing and property

returns, leaving blank receipts with the same gentleman for Field’s

signature, when he should get there, to be forwarded to the

Department at Washington, and the duplicates to me. These I did

not receive for more than a year. I remember that I got my orders

about 8 p. m. one night, and took passage in the boat for

Brownsville, the next morning traveled by stage from Brownsville to

Cumberland, Maryland, and thence by cars to Baltimore,

Philadelphia, and New York, in a great hurry lest the ship might

sail without me. I found Company F at Governor’s Island, Captain

C. Q. Tompkins in command, Lieutenant E. O. C. Ord senior

first-lieutenant, myself junior first-lieutenant, Lucien Loeser and

Charles Minor the second-lieutenants.

The company had been filled up to one hundred privates, twelve

non-commissioned officers, and one ordnance sergeant (Layton),

making one hundred and thirteen enlisted men and five officers.

Dr. James L. Ord had been employed as acting assistant surgeon to

accompany the expedition, and Lieutenant H. W. Halleck, of the

engineers, was also to go along. The United States store-ship

Lexington was then preparing at the Navy-Yard, Brooklyn, to carry

us around Cape Horn to California. She was receiving on board the

necessary stores for the long voyage, and for service after our

arrival there. Lieutenant-Commander Theodorus Bailey was in

command of the vessel, Lieutenant William H. Macomb executive

officer, and Passed-Midshipmen Muse, Spotts, and J. W. A.

Nicholson, were the watch-officers; Wilson purser, and Abernethy

surgeon. The latter was caterer of the mess, and we all made an

advance of cash for him to lay in the necessary mess-stores. To

enable us to prepare for so long a voyage and for an indefinite

sojourn in that far-off country, the War Department had authorized

us to draw six months’ pay in advance, which sum of money we

invested in surplus clothing and such other things as seemed to us

necessary. At last the ship was ready, and was towed down abreast

of Fort Columbus, where we were conveyed on board, and on the 14th

of July, 1846, we were towed to sea by a steam-tug, and cast off:

Colonel R. B. Mason, still superintendent of the general recruiting

service, accompanied us down the bay and out to sea, returning with

the tug. A few other friends were of the party, but at last they

left us, and we were alone upon the sea, and the sailors were busy

with the sails and ropes. The Lexington was an old ship, changed

from a sloop-of-war to a store-ship, with an aftercabin, a

“ward-room,” and “between-decks.” In the cabin were Captains

Bailey and Tompkins, with whom messed the purser, Wilson. In the

ward-room were all the other officers, two in each state-room; and

Minor, being an extra lieutenant, had to sleep in a hammock slung

in the ward-room. Ord and I roomed together; Halleck and Loeser

and the others were scattered about. The men were arranged in

bunks “between-decks,” one set along the sides of the ship, and

another, double tier, amidships. The crew were slung in hammocks

well forward. Of these there were about fifty. We at once

subdivided the company into four squads, under the four lieutenants

of the company, and arranged with the naval officers that our men

should serve on deck by squads, after the manner of their watches;

that the sailors should do all the work aloft, and the soldiers on


On fair days we drilled our men at the manual, and generally kept

them employed as much as possible, giving great attention to the

police and cleanliness of their dress and bunks; and so successful

were we in this, that, though the voyage lasted nearly two hundred

days, every man was able to leave the ship and march up the hill to

the fort at Monterey, California, carrying his own knapsack and


The voyage from New York to Rio Janeiro was without accident or any

thing to vary the usual monotony. We soon settled down to the

humdrum of a long voyage, reading some, not much; playing games,

but never gambling; and chiefly engaged in eating our meals

regularly. In crossing the equator we had the usual visit of

Neptune and his wife, who, with a large razor and a bucket of

soapsuds, came over the sides and shaved some of the greenhorns;

but naval etiquette exempted the officers, and Neptune was not

permitted to come aft of the mizzen-mast. At last, after sixty

days of absolute monotony, the island of Raza, off Rio Janeiro, was

descried, and we slowly entered the harbor, passing a fort on our

right hand, from which came a hail, in the Portuguese language,

from a huge speaking-trumpet, and our officer of the deck answered

back in gibberish, according to a well-understood custom of the

place. Sugar-loaf Mountain, on the south of the entrance, is very

remarkable and well named; is almost conical, with a slight lean.

The man-of-war anchorage is about five miles inside the heads,

directly in front of the city of Rio Janeiro. Words will not

describe the beauty of this perfect harbor, nor the delightful

feeling after a long voyage of its fragrant airs, and the entire

contrast between all things there and what we had left in New York.

We found the United Staten frigate Columbia anchored there, and

after the Lexington was properly moored, nearly all the officers

went on shore for sight-seeing and enjoyment. We landed at a wharf

opposite which was a famous French restaurant, Farroux, and after

ordering supper we all proceeded to the Rua da Ouvador, where most

of the shops were, especially those for making feather flowers, as

much to see the pretty girls as the flowers which they so

skillfully made; thence we went to the theatre, where, besides some

opera, we witnessed the audience and saw the Emperor Dom Pedro, and

his Empress, the daughter of the King of Sicily. After the

theatre, we went back to the restaurant, where we had an excellent

supper, with fruits of every variety and excellence, such as we had

never seen before, or even knew the names of. Supper being over,

we called for the bill, and it was rendered in French, with

Brazilian currency. It footed up some twenty-six thousand reis.

The figures alarmed us, so we all put on the waiters’ plate various

coins in gold, which he took to the counter and returned the

change, making the total about sixteen dollars. The millreis is


about a dollar, but being a paper-money was at a discount, so as

only to be worth about fifty-six cents in coin.

The Lexington remained in Rio about a week, during which we visited

the Palace, a few miles in the country, also the Botanic Gardens, a

place of infinite interest, with its specimens of tropical fruits,

spices; etc., etc., and indeed every place of note. The thing I

best recall is a visit Halleck and I made to the Corcovado, a high

mountain whence the water is conveyed for the supply of the city.

We started to take a walk, and passed along the aqueduct, which

approaches the city by a aeries of arches; thence up the point of

the hill to a place known as the Madre, or fountain, to which all

the water that drips from the leaves is conducted by tile gutters,

and is carried to the city by an open stone aqueduct.

Here we found Mr. Henry A. Wise, of Virginia, the United States

minister to Brazil, and a Dr. Garnett, United States Navy, his

intended son-in-law. We had a very interesting conversation, in

which Mr. Wise enlarged on the fact that Rio was supplied from the

“dews of heaven,” for in the dry season the water comes from the

mists and fogs which hang around the Corcovado, drips from the

leaves of the trees, and is conducted to the Madre fountain by

miles of tile gutters. Halleck and I continued our ascent of the

mountain, catching from points of the way magnificent views of the

scenery round about Rio Janeiro. We reached near the summit what

was called the emperor’s coffee-plantation, where we saw

coffee-berries in their various stages, and the scaffolds on which

the berries were dried before being cleaned. The coffee-tree

reminded me of the red haw-tree of Ohio, and the berries were

somewhat like those of the same tree, two grains of coffee being

inclosed in one berry. These were dried and cleaned of the husk by

hand or by machinery. A short, steep ascent from this place

carried us to the summit, from which is beheld one of the most

picturesque views on earth. The Organ Mountains to the west and

north, the ocean to the east, the city of Rio with its red-tiled

houses at our feet, and the entire harbor like a map spread out,

with innumerable bright valleys, make up a landscape that cannot be

described by mere words. This spot is universally visited by

strangers, and has often been described. After enjoying it

immeasurably, we returned to the city by another route, tired but

amply repaid by our long walk.

In due time all had been done that was requisite, and the Lexington

put to sea and resumed her voyage. In October we approached Cape

Horn, the first land descried was Staten Island, white with snow,

and the ship seemed to be aiming for the channel to its west,

straits of Le Maire, but her course was changed and we passed

around to the east. In time we saw Cape Horn; an island rounded

like an oven, after which it takes its name (Ornos) oven. Here we

experienced very rough weather, buffeting about under storm

stay-sails, and spending nearly a month before the wind favored our

passage and enabled the course of the ship to be changed for

Valparaiso. One day we sailed parallel with a French sloop-of-war,

and it was sublime to watch the two ships rising and falling in

those long deep swells of the ocean. All the time we were followed

by the usual large flocks of Cape-pigeons and albatrosses of every

color. The former resembled the common barn-pigeon exactly, but

are in fact gulls of beautiful and varied colors, mostly

dove-color. We caught many with fishing-lines baited with pork.

We also took in the same way many albatrosses. The white ones are

very large, and their down is equal to that of the swan. At last

Cape Horn and its swelling seas were left behind, and we reached

Valparaiso in about sixty days from Rio. We anchored in the open

roadstead, and spent there about ten days, visiting all the usual

places of interest, its foretop, main-top, mizzen-top, etc.

Halleck and Ord went up to Santiago, the capital of Chili, some

sixty miles inland, but I did not go. Valparaiso did not impress

me favorably at all. Seen from the sea, it looked like a long

string of houses along the narrow beach, surmounted with red banks

of earth, with little verdure, and no trees at all. Northward the

space widened out somewhat, and gave room for a plaza, but the mass

of houses in that quarter were poor. We were there in November,

corresponding to our early spring, and we enjoyed the large

strawberries which abounded. The Independence frigate, Commodore

Shubrick, came in while we were there, having overtaken us, bound

also for California. We met there also the sloop-of-war levant,

from California, and from the officers heard of many of the events

that had transpired about the time the navy, under Commodore Sloat,

had taken possession of the country.

All the necessary supplies being renewed in Valparaiso, the voyage

was resumed. For nearly forty days we had uninterrupted favorable

winds, being in the “trades,” and, having settled down to sailor

habits, time passed without notice. We had brought with us all the

books we could find in New York about California, and had read them

over and over again: Wilkes’s “Exploring Expedition;” Dana’s “Two

Years before the Mast;” and Forbes’s “Account of the Missions.” It

was generally understood we were bound for Monterey, then the

capital of Upper California. We knew, of course, that General

Kearney was enroute for the same country overland; that Fremont was

therewith his exploring party; that the navy had already taken

possession, and that a regiment of volunteers, Stevenson’s, was

to follow us from New York; but nevertheless we were impatient to

reach our destination. About the middle of January the ship began

to approach the California coast, of which the captain was duly

cautious, because the English and Spanish charts differed some

fifteen miles in the longitude, and on all the charts a current of

two miles an hour was indicated northward along the coast. At last

land was made one morning, and here occurred one of those accidents

so provoking after a long and tedious voyage. Macomb, the master

and regular navigator, had made the correct observations, but

Nicholson during the night, by an observation on the north star,

put the ship some twenty miles farther south than was the case by

the regular reckoning, so that Captain Bailey gave directions to

alter the course of the ship more to the north, and to follow the

coast up, and to keep a good lookout for Point Pinos that marks the

location of Monterey Bay. The usual north wind slackened, so that

when noon allowed Macomb to get a good observation, it was found

that we were north of Ano Nuevo, the northern headland of Monterey

Bay. The ship was put about, but little by little arose one of

those southeast storms so common on the coast in winter, and we

buffeted about for several days, cursing that unfortunate

observation on the north star, for, on first sighting the coast,

had we turned for Monterey, instead of away to the north, we would

have been snugly anchored before the storm. But the southeaster

abated, and the usual northwest wind came out again, and we sailed

steadily down into the roadstead of Monterey Bay. This is shaped

somewhat like a fish hook, the barb being the harbor, the point

being Point Pinos, the southern headland. Slowly the land came out

of the water, the high mountains about Santa Cruz, the low beach of

the Saunas, and the strongly-marked ridge terminating in the sea in

a point of dark pine-trees. Then the line of whitewashed houses of

adobe, backed by the groves of dark oaks, resembling old

apple-trees; and then we saw two vessels anchored close to the

town. One was a small merchant-brig and another a large ship

apparently dismasted. At last we saw a boat coming out to meet us,

and when it came alongside, we were surprised to find Lieutenant

Henry Wise, master of the Independence frigate, that we had left at

Valparaiso. Wise had come off to pilot us to our anchorage. While

giving orders to the man at the wheel, he, in his peculiar fluent

style, told to us, gathered about him, that the Independence had

sailed from Valparaiso a week after us and had been in Monterey a

week; that the Californians had broken out into an insurrection;

that the naval fleet under Commodore Stockton was all down the

coast about San Diego; that General Kearney had reached the

country, but had had a severe battle at San Pascual, and had been

worsted, losing several officers and men, himself and others

wounded; that war was then going on at Los Angeles; that the whole

country was full of guerrillas, and that recently at Yerba Buena

the alcalde, Lieutenant Bartlett, United States Navy, while out

after cattle, had been lassoed, etc., etc. Indeed, in the short

space of time that Wise was piloting our ship in, he told us more

news than we could have learned on shore in a week, and, being

unfamiliar with the great distances, we imagined that we should

have to debark and begin fighting at once. Swords were brought

out, guns oiled and made ready, and every thing was in a bustle

when the old Lexington dropped her anchor on January 26, 1847, in

Monterey Bay, after a voyage of one hundred and ninety-eight days

from New York. Every thing on shore looked bright and beautiful,

the hills covered with grass and flowers, the live-oaks so serene

and homelike, and the low adobe houses, with red-tiled roofs and

whitened walls, contrasted well with the dark pine-trees behind,

making a decidedly good impression upon us who had come so far to

spy out the land. Nothing could be more peaceful in its looks than

Monterey in January, 1847. We had already made the acquaintance of

Commodore Shubrick and the officers of the Independence in

Valparaiso, so that we again met as old friends. Immediate

preparations were made for landing, and, as I was quartermaster and

commissary, I had plenty to do. There was a small wharf and an

adobe custom-house in possession of the navy; also a barrack of two

stories, occupied by some marines, commanded by Lieutenant Maddox;

and on a hill to the west of the town had been built a two-story

block-house of hewed logs occupied by a guard of sailors under

command of Lieutenant Baldwin, United States Navy. Not a single

modern wagon or cart was to be had in Monterey, nothing but the old

Mexican cart with wooden wheels, drawn by two or three pairs of

oxen, yoked by the horns. A man named Tom Cole had two or more of

these, and he came into immediate requisition. The United States

consul, and most prominent man there at the time, was Thomas O.

Larkin, who had a store and a pretty good two-story house occupied

by his family. It was soon determined that our company was to land

and encamp on the hill at the block-house, and we were also to have

possession of the warehouse, or custom-house, for storage. The

company was landed on the wharf, and we all marched in full dress

with knapsacks and arms, to the hill and relieved the guard under

Lieutenant Baldwin. Tents and camp-equipage were hauled up, and

soon the camp was established. I remained in a room at the

customhouse, where I could superintend the landing of the stores

and their proper distribution. I had brought out from New York

twenty thousand dollars commissary funds, and eight thousand

dollars quartermaster funds, and as the ship contained about six

months’ supply of provisions, also a saw-mill, grist-mill, and

almost every thing needed, we were soon established comfortably.

We found the people of Monterey a mixed set of Americans, native

Mexicans, and Indians, about one thousand all told. They were kind

and pleasant, and seemed to have nothing to do, except such as

owned ranches in the country for the rearing of horses and cattle.

Horses could be bought at any price from four dollars up to

sixteen, but no horse was ever valued above a doubloon or Mexican

ounce (sixteen dollars). Cattle cost eight dollars fifty cents for

the best, and this made beef net about two cents a pound, but at

that time nobody bought beef by the pound, but by the carcass.

Game of all kinds–elk, deer, wild geese, and ducks–was abundant;

but coffee, sugar, and small stores, were rare and costly.

There were some half-dozen shops or stores, but their shelves were

empty. The people were very fond of riding, dancing, and of shows

of any kind. The young fellows took great delight in showing off

their horsemanship, and would dash along, picking up a half-dollar

from the ground, stop their horses in full career and turn about on

the space of a bullock’s hide, and their skill with the lasso was

certainly wonderful. At full speed they could cast their lasso

about the horns of a bull, or so throw it as to catch any

particular foot. These fellows would work all day on horseback in

driving cattle or catching wildhorses for a mere nothing, but all

the money offered would not have hired one of them to walk a mile.

The girls were very fond of dancing, and they did dance gracefully

and well. Every Sunday, regularly, we had a baile, or dance, and

sometimes interspersed through the week.

I remember very well, soon after our arrival, that we were all

invited to witness a play called “Adam and Eve.” Eve was

personated by a pretty young girl known as Dolores Gomez, who,

however, was dressed very unlike Eve, for she was covered with a

petticoat and spangles. Adam was personated by her brother–the

same who has since become somewhat famous as the person on whom is

founded the McGarrahan claim. God Almighty was personated, and

heaven’s occupants seemed very human. Yet the play was pretty,

interesting, and elicited universal applause. All the month of

February we were by day preparing for our long stay in the country,

and at night making the most of the balls and parties of the most

primitive kind, picking up a smattering of Spanish, and extending

our acquaintance with the people and the costumbrea del pais. I

can well recall that Ord and I, impatient to look inland, got

permission and started for the Mission of San Juan Bautista.

Mounted on horses, and with our carbines, we took the road by El

Toro, quite a prominent hill, around which passes the road to the

south, following the Saunas or Monterey River. After about twenty

miles over a sandy country covered with oak-bushes and scrub, we

entered quite a pretty valley in which there was a ranch at the

foot of the Toro. Resting there a while and getting some

information, we again started in the direction of a mountain to the

north of the Saunas, called the Gavillano. It was quite dark when

we reached the Saunas River, which we attempted to pass at several

points, but found it full of water, and the quicksands were bad.

Hearing the bark of a dog, we changed our course in that direction,


and, on hailing, were answered by voices which directed us where to

cross. Our knowledge of the language was limited, but we managed

to understand, and to founder through the sand and water, and

reached a small adobe-house on the banks of the Salinas, where we

spent the night: The house was a single room, without floor or

glass; only a rude door, and window with bars. Not a particle of

food but meat, yet the man and woman entertained us with the

language of lords put themselves, their house, and every thing, at

our “disposition,” and made little barefoot children dance for our

entertainment. We made our supper of beef, and slept on a

bullock’s hide on the dirt-floor. In the morning we crossed the

Salinas Plain, about fifteen miles of level ground, taking a shot

occasionally at wild-geese, which abounded there, and entering the

well-wooded valley that comes out from the foot of the Gavillano.

We had cruised about all day, and it was almost dark when we

reached the house of a Senor Gomez, father of those who at Monterey

had performed the parts of Adam and Eve. His house was a two-story

adobe, and had a fence in front. It was situated well up among the

foot-hills of the Gavillano, and could not be seen until within a

few yards. We hitched our horses to the fence and went in just as

Gomez was about to sit down to a tempting supper of stewed hare and

tortillas. We were officers and caballeros and could not be

ignored. After turning our horses to grass, at his invitation we

joined him at supper. The allowance, though ample for one, was

rather short for three, and I thought the Spanish grandiloquent

politeness of Gomez, who was fat and old, was not over-cordial.

However, down we sat, and I was helped to a dish of rabbit, with

what I thought to be an abundant sauce of tomato. Taking a good

mouthful, I felt as though I had taken liquid fire; the tomato was

chile colorado, or red pepper, of the purest kind. It nearly

killed me, and I saw Gomez’s eyes twinkle, for he saw that his

share of supper was increased.–I contented myself with bits of

the meat, and an abundant supply of tortillas. Ord was better

case-hardened, and stood it better. We staid at Gomez’s that

night, sleeping, as all did, on the ground, and the next morning we

crossed the hill by the bridle-path to the old Mission of San Juan

Bautista. The Mission was in a beautiful valley, very level, and

bounded on all sides by hills. The plain was covered with

wild-grasses and mustard, and had abundant water. Cattle and

horses were seen in all directions, and it was manifest that the

priests who first occupied the country were good judges of land.

It was Sunday, and all the people, about, a hundred, had come to

church from the country round about. Ord was somewhat of a

Catholic, and entered the church with his clanking spars and

kneeled down, attracting the attention of all, for he had on the

uniform of an American officer. As soon as church was out, all

rushed to the various sports. I saw the priest, with his gray

robes tucked up, playing at billiards, others were cock fighting,

and some at horse-racing. My horse had become lame, and I resolved

to buy another. As soon as it was known that I wanted a horse,

several came for me, and displayed their horses by dashing past and

hauling them up short. There was a fine black stallion that

attracted my notice, and, after trying him myself, I concluded a

purchase. I left with the seller my own lame horse, which he was

to bring to me at Monterey, when I was to pay him ten dollars for

the other. The Mission of San Juan bore the marks of high

prosperity at a former period, and had a good pear-orchard just

under the plateau where stood the church. After spending the day,

Ord and I returned to Monterey, about thirty-five miles, by a

shorter route, Thus passed the month of February, and, though there

were no mails or regular expresses, we heard occasionally from

Yerba Buena and Sutter’s Fort to the north, and from the army and

navy about Los Angeles at the south. We also knew that a quarrel

had grown up at Los Angeles, between General Kearney, Colonel

Fremont, and Commodore Stockton, as to the right to control affairs

in California. Kearney had with him only the fragments of the two

companies of dragoons, which had come across from New Mexico with

him, and had been handled very roughly by Don Andreas Pico, at San

Pascual, in which engagement Captains Moore and Johnson, and

Lieutenant Hammond, were killed, and Kearney himself wounded.

There remained with him Colonel Swords, quartermaster; Captain H.

S. Turner, First Dragoons; Captains Emory and Warner, Topographical

Engineers; Assistant Surgeon Griffin, and Lieutenant J. W.

Davidson. Fremont had marched down from the north with a battalion

of volunteers; Commodore Stockton had marched up from San Diego to

Los Angeles, with General Kearney, his dragoons, and a battalion of

sailors and marines, and was soon joined there by Fremont, and they

jointly received the surrender of the insurgents under Andreas

Pico. We also knew that General R. B. Mason had been ordered to

California; that Colonel John D. Stevenson was coming out to

California with a regiment of New York Volunteers; that Commodore

Shubrick had orders also from the Navy Department to control

matters afloat; that General Kearney, by virtue of his rank, had

the right to control all the land-forces in the service of the

United States; and that Fremont claimed the same right by virtue of

a letter he had received from Colonel Benton, then a Senator, and a

man of great influence with Polk’s Administration. So that among

the younger officers the query was very natural, “Who the devil is

Governor of California?” One day I was on board the Independence

frigate, dining with the ward-room officers, when a war-vessel was

reported in the offing, which in due time was made out to be the

Cyane, Captain DuPont. After dinner, we were all on deck, to watch

the new arrival, the ships meanwhile exchanging signals, which were

interpreted that General Kearney was on board. As the Cyane

approached, a boat was sent to meet her, with Commodore Shubrick’s

flag-officer, Lieutenant Lewis, to carry the usual messages, and to

invite General Kearney to come on board the Independence as the

guest of Commodore Shubrick. Quite a number of officers were on

deck, among them Lieutenants Wise, Montgomery Lewis, William

Chapman, and others, noted wits and wags of the navy. In due time

the Cyane anchored close by, and our boat was seen returning with a

stranger in the stern-sheets, clothed in army blue. As the boat

came nearer, we saw that it was General Kearney with an old dragoon

coat on, and an army-cap, to which the general had added the broad

vizor, cut from a full-dress hat, to shade his face and eyes

against the glaring sun of the Gila region. Chapman exclaimed:

“Fellows, the problem is solved; there is the grand-vizier (visor)

by G-d! He is Governor of California.”

All hands received the general with great heartiness, and he soon

passed out of our sight into the commodore’s cabin. Between

Commodore Shubrick and General Kearney existed from that time

forward the greatest harmony and good feeling, and no further

trouble existed as to the controlling power on the Pacific coast.

General Kearney had dispatched from San Diego his quartermaster,

Colonel Swords, to the Sandwich Islands, to purchase clothing and

stores for his men, and had come up to Monterey, bringing with him

Turner and Warner, leaving Emory and the company of dragoons below.

He was delighted to find a full strong company of artillery,

subject to his orders, well supplied with clothing and money in all

respects, and, much to the disgust of our Captain Tompkins, he took

half of his company clothing and part of the money held by me for

the relief of his worn-out and almost naked dragoons left behind at

Los Angeles. In a few days he moved on shore, took up his quarters

at Larkin’s house, and established his headquarters, with Captain

Turner as his adjutant general. One day Turner and Warner were at

my tent, and, seeing a store-bag full of socks, drawers, and calico

shirts, of which I had laid in a three years’ supply, and of which

they had none, made known to me their wants, and I told them to

help themselves, which Turner and Warner did. The latter, however,

insisted on paying me the cost, and from that date to this Turner

and I have been close friends. Warner, poor fellow, was afterward

killed by Indians. Things gradually came into shape, a semi-

monthly courier line was established from Yerba Buena to San Diego,

and we were thus enabled to keep pace with events throughout the

country. In March Stevenson’s regiment arrived. Colonel Mason

also arrived by sea from Callao in the store-ship Erie, and P. St.

George Cooke’s battalion of Mormons reached San Luis Rey. A. J.

Smith and George Stoneman were with him, and were assigned to the

company of dragoons at Los Angeles. All these troops and the navy

regarded General Kearney as the rightful commander, though Fremont

still remained at Los Angeles, styling himself as Governor, issuing

orders and holding his battalion of California Volunteers in

apparent defiance of General Kearney. Colonel Mason and Major

Turner were sent down by sea with a paymaster, with muster-rolls

and orders to muster this battalion into the service of the United

States, to pay and then to muster them out; but on their reaching

Los Angeles Fremont would not consent to it, and the controversy

became so angry that a challenge was believed to have passed

between Mason and Fremont, but the duel never came about. Turner

rode up by land in four or five days, and Fremont, becoming

alarmed, followed him, as we supposed, to overtake him, but he did

not succeed. On Fremont’s arrival at Monterey, he camped in a tent

about a mile out of town and called on General Kearney, and it was

reported that the latter threatened him very severely and ordered

him back to Los Angeles immediately, to disband his volunteers, and

to cease the exercise of authority of any kind in the country.

Feeling a natural curiosity to see Fremont, who was then quite

famous by reason of his recent explorations and the still more

recent conflicts with Kearney and Mason, I rode out to his camp,

and found him in a conical tent with one Captain Owens, who was a

mountaineer, trapper, etc., but originally from Zanesville, Ohio.

I spent an hour or so with Fremont in his tent, took some tea with

him, and left, without being much impressed with him. In due time

Colonel Swords returned from the Sandwich Islands and relieved me

as quartermaster. Captain William G. Marcy, son of the Secretary

of War, had also come out in one of Stevenson’s ships as an

assistant commissary of subsistence, and was stationed at Monterey

and relieved me as commissary, so that I reverted to the condition

of a company-officer. While acting as a staff officer I had lived

at the custom-house in Monterey, but when relieved I took a tent

in line with the other company-officers on the hill, where we had a


Stevenson’a regiment reached San Francisco Bay early in March,

1847. Three companies were stationed at the Presidio under Major

James A. Hardier one company (Brackett’s) at Sonoma; three, under

Colonel Stevenson, at Monterey; and three, under Lieutenant-Colonel

Burton, at Santa Barbara. One day I was down at the headquarters

at Larkin’s horse, when General Kearney remarked to me that he was

going down to Los Angeles in the ship Lexington, and wanted me to

go along as his aide. Of course this was most agreeable to me.

Two of Stevenson’s companies, with the headquarters and the

colonel, were to go also. They embarked, and early in May we

sailed for San Pedro. Before embarking, the United States

line-of-battle-ship Columbus had reached the coast from China with

Commodore Biddle, whose rank gave him the supreme command of the

navy on the coast. He was busy in calling in–“lassooing “–from

the land-service the various naval officers who under Stockton had

been doing all sorts of military and civil service on shore.

Knowing that I was to go down the coast with General Kearney, he

sent for me and handed me two unsealed parcels addressed to

Lieutenant Wilson, United States Navy, and Major Gillespie, United

States Marines, at Los Angeles. These were written orders pretty

much in these words: “On receipt of this order you will repair at

once on board the United States ship Lexington at San Pedro, and on

reaching Monterey you will report to the undersigned.-JAMES

BIDDLE.” Of course, I executed my part to the letter, and these

officers were duly “lassooed.” We sailed down the coast with a

fair wind, and anchored inside the kelp, abreast of Johnson’s

house. Messages were forthwith dispatched up to Los Angeles,

twenty miles off, and preparations for horses made for us to ride

up. We landed, and, as Kearney held to my arm in ascending the

steep path up the bluff, he remarked to himself, rather than to me,

that it was strange that Fremont did not want to return north by

the Lexington on account of sea-sickness, but preferred to go by

land over five hundred miles. The younger officers had been

discussing what the general would do with Fremont, who was supposed

to be in a state of mutiny. Some, thought he would be tried and

shot, some that he would be carried back in irons; and all agreed

that if any one else than Fremont had put on such airs, and had

acted as he had done, Kearney would have shown him no mercy, for he

was regarded as the strictest sort of a disciplinarian. We had a

pleasant ride across the plain which lies between the seashore and

Los Angeles, which we reached in about three hours, the infantry

following on foot. We found Colonel P. St. George Cooke living at

the house of a Mr. Pryor, and the company of dragoons, with A. J.

Smith, Davidson, Stoneman, and Dr. Griffin, quartered in an

adobe-house close by. Fremont held his court in the only two-story

frame-house in the place. After sometime spent at Pryor’s house,

General Kearney ordered me to call on Fremont to notify him of his

arrival, and that he desired to see him. I walked round to the

house which had been pointed out to me as his, inquired of a man at

the door if the colonel was in, was answered “Yea,” and was

conducted to a large room on the second floor, where very soon

Fremont came in, and I delivered my message. As I was on the point

of leaving, he inquired where I was going to, and I answered that I

was going back to Pryor’s house, where the general was, when he

remarked that if I would wait a moment he would go along. Of

course I waited, and he soon joined me, dressed much as a

Californian, with the peculiar high, broad-brimmed hat, with a

fancy cord, and we walked together back to Pryor’s, where I left


him with General Kearney. We spent several days very pleasantly at

Los Angeles, then, as now, the chief pueblo of the south, famous

for its grapes, fruits, and wines. There was a hill close to the

town, from which we had a perfect view of the place. The

surrounding country is level, utterly devoid of trees, except the

willows and cotton-woods that line the Los Angeles Creek and the

acequias, or ditches, which lead from it. The space of ground

cultivated in vineyards seemed about five miles by one, embracing

the town. Every house had its inclosure of vineyard, which

resembled a miniature orchard, the vines being very old, ranged in

rows, trimmed very close, with irrigating ditches so arranged that

a stream of water could be diverted between each row of vines. The

Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers are fed by melting snows from a

range of mountains to the east, and the quantity of cultivated land

depends upon the amount of water. This did not seem to be very

large; but the San Gabriel River, close by, was represented to

contain a larger volume of water, affording the means of greatly

enlarging the space for cultivation. The climate was so moderate

that oranges, figs, pomegranates, etc…. were generally to be

found in every yard or inclosure.

At the time of our visit, General Kearney was making his

preparations to return overland to the United States, and he

arranged to secure a volunteer escort out of the battalion of

Mormons that was then stationed at San Luis Rey, under Colonel

Cooke and a Major Hunt. This battalion was only enlisted for one

year, and the time for their discharge was approaching, and it was

generally understood that the majority of the men wanted to be

discharged so as to join the Mormons who had halted at Salt Lake,

but a lieutenant and about forty men volunteered to return to

Missouri as the escort of General Kearney. These were mounted on

mules and horses, and I was appointed to conduct them to Monterey

by land. Leaving the party at Los Angeles to follow by sea in the

Lexington, I started with the Mormon detachment and traveled by

land. We averaged about thirty miles a day, stopped one day at

Santa Barbara, where I saw Colonel Burton, and so on by the usually

traveled road to Monterey, reaching it in about fifteen days,

arriving some days in advance of the Lexington. This gave me the

best kind of an opportunity for seeing the country, which was very

sparsely populated indeed, except by a few families at the various

Missions. We had no wheeled vehicles, but packed our food and

clothing on mules driven ahead, and we slept on the ground in the

open air, the rainy season having passed. Fremont followed me by

land in a few days, and, by the end of May, General Kearney was all

ready at Monterey to take his departure, leaving to succeed him in

command Colonel R. B. Mason, First Dragoons. Our Captain

(Tompkins), too, had become discontented at his separation from his

family, tendered his resignation to General Kearney, and availed

himself of a sailing-vessel bound for Callao to reach the East.

Colonel Mason selected me as his adjutant-general; and on the very

last day of May General Kearney, with his Mormon escort, with

Colonel Cooke, Colonel Swords (quartermaster), Captain Turner, and

a naval officer, Captain Radford, took his departure for the East

overland, leaving us in full possession of California and its fate.

Fremont also left California with General Kearney, and with him

departed all cause of confusion and disorder in the country. From

that time forth no one could dispute the authority of Colonel Mason

as in command of all the United States forces on shore, while the

senior naval officer had a like control afloat. This was Commodore

James Biddle, who had reached the station from China in the

Columbus, and he in turn was succeeded by Commodore T. Ap Catesby

Jones in the line-of-battle-ship Ohio. At that time Monterey was

our headquarters, and the naval commander for a time remained

there, but subsequently San Francisco Bay became the chief naval


Colonel R. B. Mason, First Dragoons, was an officer of great

experience, of stern character, deemed by some harsh and severe,

but in all my intercourse with him he was kind and agreeable. He

had a large fund of good sense, and, during our long period of

service together, I enjoyed his unlimited confidence. He had been

in his day a splendid shot and hunter, and often entertained me

with characteristic anecdotes of Taylor, Twiggs, Worth, Harvey,

Martin Scott, etc., etc, who were then in Mexico, gaining a

national fame. California had settled down to a condition of

absolute repose, and we naturally repined at our fate in being so

remote from the war in Mexico, where our comrades were reaping

large honors. Mason dwelt in a house not far from the Custom-

House, with Captain Lanman, United States Navy; I had a small

adobe-house back of Larkin’s. Halleck and Dr. Murray had a small

log-house not far off. The company of artillery was still on the

hill, under the command of Lieutenant Ord, engaged in building a

fort whereon to mount the guns we had brought out in the Lexington,

and also in constructing quarters out of hewn pine-logs for the

men. Lieutenant Minor, a very clever young officer, had taken

violently sick and died about the time I got back from Los Angeles,

leaving Lieutenants Ord and Loeser alone with the company, with

Assistant-Surgeon Robert Murray. Captain William G. Marcy was the

quartermaster and commissary. Naglee’s company of Stevenson’s

regiment had been mounted and was sent out against the Indians in

the San Joaquin Valley, and Shannon’s company occupied the

barracks. Shortly after General Kearney had gone East, we found an

order of his on record, removing one Mr. Nash, the Alcalde of

Sonoma, and appointing to his place ex-Governor L. W. Boggs. A

letter came to Colonel and Governor Mason from Boggs, whom he had

personally known in Missouri, complaining that, though he had been

appointed alcalde, the then incumbent (Nash) utterly denied

Kearney’s right to remove him, because he had been elected by the

people under the proclamation of Commodore Sloat, and refused to

surrender his office or to account for his acts as alcalde. Such a

proclamation had been made by Commodore Sloat shortly after the

first occupation of California, announcing that the people were

free and enlightened American citizens, entitled to all the rights

and privileges as such, and among them the right to elect their own

officers, etc. The people of Sonoma town and valley, some forty or

fifty immigrants from the United States, and very few native

Californians, had elected Mr. Nash, and, as stated, he refused to

recognize the right of a mere military commander to eject him and

to appoint another to his place. Neither General Kearney nor Mason

had much respect for this land of “buncombe,” but assumed the true

doctrine that California was yet a Mexican province, held by right

of conquest, that the military commander was held responsible to

the country, and that the province should be held in statu quo

until a treaty of peace. This letter of Boggs was therefore

referred to Captain Brackett, whose company was stationed at

Sonoma, with orders to notify Nash that Boggs was the rightful

alcalde; that he must quietly surrender his office, with the books

and records thereof, and that he must account for any moneys

received from the sale of town-lots, etc., etc.; and in the event

of refusal he (Captain Brackett) must compel him by the use of

force. In due time we got Brackett’s answer, saying that the

little community of Sonoma was in a dangerous state of

effervescence caused by his orders; that Nash was backed by most of

the Americans there who had come across from Missouri with American

ideas; that as he (Brackett) was a volunteer officer, likely to be

soon discharged, and as he designed to settle there, he asked in

consequence to be excused from the execution of this (to him)

unpleasant duty. Such a request, coming to an old soldier like

Colonel Mason, aroused his wrath, and he would have proceeded

rough-shod against Brackett, who, by-the-way, was a West Point

graduate, and ought to have known better; but I suggested to the

colonel that, the case being a test one, he had better send me up

to Sonoma, and I would settle it quick enough. He then gave me an

order to go to Sonoma to carry out the instructions already given

to Brackett.

I took one soldier with me, Private Barnes, with four horses, two

of which we rode, and the other two we drove ahead. The first day

we reached Gilroy’s and camped by a stream near three or four

adobe-huts known as Gilroy’s ranch. The next day we passed

Murphy’s, San Jose, and Santa Clara Mission, camping some four

miles beyond, where a kind of hole had been dug in the ground for

water. The whole of this distance, now so beautifully improved and

settled, was then scarcely occupied, except by poor ranches

producing horses and cattle. The pueblo of San Jose was a string

of low adobe-houses festooned with red peppers and garlic; and the

Mission of Santa Clara was a dilapidated concern, with its church

and orchard. The long line of poplar-trees lining the road from

San Jose to Santa Clara bespoke a former period when the priests

had ruled the land. Just about dark I was lying on the ground near

the well, and my soldier Barnes had watered our horses and picketed

them to grass, when we heard a horse crushing his way through the

high mustard-bushes which filled the plain, and soon a man came to

us to inquire if we had seen a saddle-horse pass up the road. We

explained to him what we had heard, and he went off in pursuit of

his horse. Before dark he came back unsuccessful, and gave his

name as Bidwell, the same gentleman who has since been a member of

Congress, who is married to Miss Kennedy, of Washington City, and

now lives in princely style at Chico, California.

He explained that he was a surveyor, and had been in the lower

country engaged in surveying land; that the horse had escaped him

with his saddle-bags containing all his notes and papers, and some

six hundred dollars in money, all the money he had earned. He

spent the night with us on the ground, and the next morning we left

him there to continue the search for his horse, and I afterward

heard that he had found his saddle-bags all right, but never

recovered the horse. The next day toward night we approached the

Mission of San Francisco, and the village of Yerba Buena, tired and

weary–the wind as usual blowing a perfect hurricane, and a more

desolate region it was impossible to conceive of. Leaving Barnes

to work his way into the town as best he could with the tired

animals, I took the freshest horse and rode forward. I fell in

with Lieutenant Fabius Stanley, United States Navy, and we rode

into Yerba Buena together about an hour before sundown, there being

nothing but a path from the Mission into the town, deep and heavy

with drift-sand. My horse could hardly drag one foot after the

other when we reached the old Hudson Bay Company’s house, which was

then the store of Howard and Mellus. There I learned where Captain

Folsom, the quartermaster, was to be found. He was staying with a

family of the name of Grimes, who had a small horse back of

Howard’s store, which must have been near where Sacramento Street

now crosses Kearney. Folsom was a classmate of mine, had come out

with Stevenson’s regiment as quartermaster, and was at the time the

chief-quartermaster of the department. His office was in the old

custom-horse standing at the northwest corner of the Plaza. He had

hired two warehouses, the only ones there at the time, of one

Liedsdorff, the principal man of Yerba Buena, who also owned the

only public-house, or tavern, called the City Hotel, on Kearney

Street, at the southeast corner of the Plaza. I stopped with

Folsom at Mrs. Grimes’s, and he sent my horse, as also the other

three when Barnes had got in after dark, to a coral where he had a

little barley, but no hay. At that time nobody fed a horse, but he

was usually turned out to pick such scanty grass as he could find

on the side-hills. The few government horses used in town were

usually sent out to the Presidio, where the grass was somewhat

better. At that time (July, 1847), what is now called San

Francisco was called Yerba Buena. A naval officer, Lieutenant

Washington A. Bartlett, its first alcalde, had caused it to be

surveyed and laid out into blocks and lots, which were being sold

at sixteen dollars a lot of fifty vuras square; the understanding

being that no single person could purchase of the alcalde more than

one in-lot of fifty varas, and one out-lot of a hundred varas.

Folsom, however, had got his clerks, orderlies, etc., to buy lots,

and they, for a small consideration, conveyed them to him, so that

he was nominally the owner of a good many lots. Lieutenant Halleck

had bought one of each kind, and so had Warner. Many naval

officers had also invested, and Captain Folsom advised me to buy

some, but I felt actually insulted that he should think me such a

fool as to pay money for property in such a horrid place as Yerba

Buena, especially ridiculing his quarter of the city, then called

Happy Valley. At that day Montgomery Street was, as now, the

business street, extending from Jackson to Sacramento, the water of

the bay leaving barely room for a few houses on its east side, and

the public warehouses were on a sandy beach about where the Bank of

California now stands, viz., near the intersection of Sansome and

California, Streets. Along Montgomery Street were the stores of

Howard & Mellus, Frank Ward, Sherman & Ruckel, Ross & Co., and it

may be one or two others. Around the Plaza were a few houses,

among them the City Hotel and the Custom-House, single-story adobes

with tiled roofs, and they were by far the most substantial and

best houses in the place. The population was estimated at about

four hundred, of whom Kanakas (natives of the Sandwich Islands)

formed the bulk.

At the foot of Clay Street was a small wharf which small boats

could reach at high tide; but the principal landing-place was where

some stones had fallen into the water, about where Broadway now

intersects Battery Street. On the steep bluff above had been

excavated, by the navy, during the year before, a bench, wherein

were mounted a couple of navy-guns, styled the battery, which, I

suppose, gave name to the street. I explained to Folsom the object

of my visit, and learned from him that he had no boat in which to

send me to Sonoma, and that the only, chance to get there was to

borrow a boat from the navy. The line-of-battle-ship Columbus was

then lying at anchor off the town, and he said if I would get up

early the next morning I could go off to her in one of the



Accordingly, I was up bright and early, down at the wharf, found a

boat, and went off to the Columbus to see Commodore Biddle. On

reaching the ship and stating to the officer of the deck my

business, I was shown into the commodore’s cabin, and soon made

known to him my object. Biddle was a small-sized man, but

vivacious in the extreme. He had a perfect contempt for all

humbug, and at once entered into the business with extreme

alacrity. I was somewhat amused at the importance he attached to

the step. He had a chaplain, and a private secretary, in a small

room latticed off from his cabin, and he first called on them to go

out, and, when we were alone, he enlarged on the folly of Sloat’s

proclamation, giving the people the right to elect their own

officers, and commended Kearney and Mason for nipping that idea in

the bud, and keeping the power in their own hands. He then sent

for the first lieutenant (Drayton), and inquired if there were

among the officers on board any who had ever been in the Upper Bay,

and learning that there was a midshipman (Whittaker) he was sent

for. It so happened that this midshipman had been on a frolic on

shore a few nights before, and was accordingly much frightened when

summoned into the commodore’s presence, but as soon as he was

questioned as to his knowledge of the bay, he was sensibly

relieved, and professed to know every thing about it.

Accordingly, the long boat was ordered with this midshipman and

eight sailors, prepared with water and provisions for several days

absence. Biddle then asked me if I knew any of his own officers,

and which one of them I would prefer to accompany me. I knew most

of them, and we settled down on Louis McLane. He was sent for, and

it was settled that McLane and I were to conduct this important

mission, and the commodore enjoined on us complete secrecy, so as

to insure success, and he especially cautioned us against being

pumped by his ward-room officers, Chapman, Lewis, Wise, etc., while

on board his ship. With this injunction I was dismissed to the

wardroom, where I found Chapman, Lewis, and Wise, dreadfully

exercised at our profound secrecy. The fact that McLane and I had

been closeted with the commodore for an hour, that orders for the

boat and stores had been made, that the chaplain and clerk had been

sent out of the cabin, etc., etc., all excited their curiosity; but

McLane and I kept our secret well. The general impression was,

that we had some knowledge about the fate of Captain Montgomery’s

two sons and the crew that had been lost the year before. In 1846

Captain Montgomery commanded at Yerba Buena, on board the St. Mary

sloop-of-war, and he had a detachment of men stationed up at

Sonoma. Occasionally a boat was sent up with provisions or

intelligence to them. Montgomery had two sons on board his ship,

one a midshipman, the other his secretary. Having occasion to send

some money up to Sonoma, he sent his two sons with a good boat and

crew. The boat started with a strong breeze and a very large sail,

was watched from the deck until she was out of sight, and has never

been heard of since. There was, of coarse, much speculation as to

their fate, some contending that the boat must have been capsized

in San Pablo Bay, and that all were lost; others contending that

the crew had murdered the officers for the money, and then escaped;

but, so far as I know, not a man of that crew has ever been seen or

heard of since. When at last the boat was ready for us, we

started, leaving all hands, save the commodore, impressed with the

belief that we were going on some errand connected with the loss of

the missing boat and crew of the St. Mary. We sailed directly

north, up the bay and across San Pablo, reached the month of Sonoma

Creek about dark, and during the night worked up the creek some

twelve miles by means of the tide, to a landing called the

Embarcadero. To maintain the secrecy which the commodore had

enjoined on us, McLane and I agreed to keep up the delusion by

pretending to be on a marketing expedition to pick up chickens,

pigs, etc., for the mess of the Columbus, soon to depart for home.

Leaving the midshipman and four sailors to guard the boat, we

started on foot with the other four for Sonoma Town, which we soon

reached. It was a simple open square, around which were some

adobe-houses, that of General Vallejo occupying one side. On

another was an unfinished two-story adobe building, occupied as a

barrack by Bracken’s company. We soon found Captain Brackett, and

I told him that I intended to take Nash a prisoner and convey him

back to Monterey to answer for his mutinous behavior. I got an old

sergeant of his company, whom I had known in the Third Artillery,

quietly to ascertain the whereabouts of Nash, who was a bachelor,

stopping with the family of a lawyer named Green. The sergeant

soon returned, saying that Nash had gone over to Napa, but would be

back that evening; so McLane and I went up to a farm of some

pretensions, occupied by one Andreas Hoepner, with a pretty Sitka

wife, who lived a couple of miles above Sonoma, and we bought of

him some chickens, pigs, etc. We then visited Governor Boggs’s

family and that of General Vallejo, who was then, as now, one of

the most prominent and influential natives of California. About

dark I learned that Nash had come back, and then, giving Brackett

orders to have a cart ready at the corner of the plaza, McLane and

I went to the house of Green. Posting an armed sailor on each side

of the house, we knocked at the door and walked in. We found

Green, Nash, and two women, at supper. I inquired if Nash were in,

and was first answered “No,” but one of the women soon pointed to

him, and he rose. We were armed with pistols, and the family was

evidently alarmed. I walked up to him and took his arm, and told

him to come along with me. He asked me, “Where?” and I said,

“Monterey.” “Why?” I would explain that more at leisure. Green

put himself between me and the door, and demanded, in theatrical

style, why I dared arrest a peaceable citizen in his house. I

simply pointed to my pistol, and told him to get out of the way,

which he did. Nash asked to get some clothing, but I told him he

should want for nothing. We passed out, Green following us with

loud words, which brought the four sailors to the front-door, when

I told him to hush up or I would take him prisoner also. About

that time one of the sailors, handling his pistol carelessly,

discharged it, and Green disappeared very suddenly. We took Nash

to the cart, put him in, and proceeded back to our boat. The next

morning we were gone.

Nash being out of the way, Boggs entered on his office, and the

right to appoint or remove from civil office was never again

questioned in California during the military regime. Nash was an

old man, and was very much alarmed for his personal safety. He had

come across the Plains, and had never yet seen the sea. While on

our way down the bay, I explained fully to him the state of things

in California, and he admitted he had never looked on it in that

light before, and professed a willingness to surrender his office;

but, having gone so far, I thought it best to take him to Monterey.

On our way down the bay the wind was so strong, as we approached

the Columbus, that we had to take refuge behind Yerba Buena Island,

then called Goat Island, where we landed, and I killed a gray seal.

The next morning, the wind being comparatively light, we got out

and worked our way up to the Columbus, where I left my prisoner on

board, and went on shore to find Commodore Biddle, who had gone to

dine with Frank Ward. I found him there, and committed Nash to his

charge, with the request that he would send him down to Monterey,

which he did in the sloop-of-war Dale, Captain Selfridge

commanding. I then returned to Monterey by land, and, when the

Dale arrived, Colonel Mason and I went on board, found poor old Mr.

Nash half dead with sea-sickness and fear, lest Colonel Mason would

treat him with extreme military rigor. But, on the contrary, the

colonel spoke to him kindly, released him as a prisoner on his

promise to go back to Sonoma. surrender his office to Boggs, and

account to him for his acts while in office. He afterward came on

shore, was provided with clothing and a horse, returned to Sonoma,

and I never have seen him since.

Matters and things settled down in Upper California, and all moved

along with peace and harmony. The war still continued in Mexico,

and the navy authorities resolved to employ their time with the

capture of Mazatlan and Guaymas. Lower California had already been

occupied by two companies of Stevenson’s regiment, under

Lieutenant-Colonel Burton, who had taken post at La Paz, and a

small party of sailors was on shore at San Josef, near Cape San

Lucas, detached from the Lexington, Lieutenant-Commander Bailey.

The orders for this occupation were made by General Kearney before

he left, in pursuance of instructions from the War Department,

merely to subserve a political end, for there were few or no people

in Lower California, which is a miserable, wretched, dried-up

peninsula. I remember the proclamation made by Burton and Captain

Bailey, in taking possession, which was in the usual florid style.

Bailey signed his name as the senior naval officer at the station,

but, as it was necessary to put it into Spanish to reach the

inhabitants of the newly-acquired country, it was interpreted, “El

mas antiguo de todos los oficiales de la marina,” etc., which,

literally, is “the most ancient of all the naval officers,” etc.,

a translation at which we made some fun.

The expedition to Mazatlan was, however, for a different purpose,

viz., to get possession of the ports of Mazatlan and Guaymas, as a

part of the war against Mexico, and not for permanent conquest.

Commodore Shubrick commanded this expedition, and took Halleck

along as his engineer-officer. They captured Mazatlan and Guaymas,

and then called on Colonel Mason to send soldiers down to hold

possession, but he had none to spare, and it was found impossible

to raise other volunteers either in California or Oregon, and the

navy held these places by detachments of sailors and marines till

the end of the war. Burton also called for reenforcements, and

Naglee’a company was sent to him from Monterey, and these three

companies occupied Lower California at the end of the Mexican War.

Major Hardie still commanded at San Francisco and above; Company F,

Third Artillery, and Shannon’s company of volunteers, were at

Monterey; Lippett’s company at Santa Barbara; Colonel Stevenson,

with one company of his regiment, and the company of the First

Dragoons, was at Los Angeles; and a company of Mormons, reenlisted

out of the Mormon Battalion, garrisoned San Diego–and thus matters

went along throughout 1847 into 1848. I had occasion to make

several trips to Yerba Buena and back, and in the spring of 1848

Colonel Mason and I went down to Santa Barbara in the sloop-of-war


I spent much time in hunting deer and bear in the mountains back of

the Carmel Mission, and ducks and geese in the plains of the

Salinas. As soon as the fall rains set in, the young oats would

sprout up, and myriads of ducks, brant, and geese, made their

appearance. In a single day, or rather in the evening of one day

and the morning of the next, I could load a pack-mule with geese

and ducks. They had grown somewhat wild from the increased number

of hunters, yet, by marking well the place where a flock lighted, I

could, by taking advantage of gullies or the shape of the ground,,

creep up within range; and, giving one barrel on the ground, and

the other as they rose, I have secured as many as nine at one

discharge. Colonel Mason on one occasion killed eleven geese by

one discharge of small shot. The seasons in California are well

marked. About October and November the rains begin, and the whole

country, plains and mountains, becomes covered with a bright-green

grass, with endless flowers. The intervals between the rains give

the finest weather possible. These rains are less frequent in

March, and cease altogether in April and May, when gradually the

grass dies and the whole aspect of things changes, first to yellow,

then to brown, and by midsummer all is burnt up and dry as an


When General Kearney first departed we took his office at Larkin’s;

but shortly afterward we had a broad stairway constructed to lead

from the outside to the upper front porch of the barracks. By

cutting a large door through the adobe-wall, we made the upper room

in the centre our office; and another side-room, connected with it

by a door, was Colonel Mason’s private office.

I had a single clerk, a soldier named Baden; and William E. P.

Hartnell, citizen, also had a table in the same room. He was the

government interpreter, and had charge of the civil archives.

After Halleck’s return from Mazatlan, he was, by Colonel Mason,

made Secretary of State; and he then had charge of the civil

archives, including the land-titles, of which Fremont first had

possession, but which had reverted to us when he left the country.

I remember one day, in the spring of 1848, that two men, Americans,

came into the office and inquired for the Governor. I asked their

business, and one answered that they had just come down from

Captain Sutter on special business, and they wanted to see Governor

Mason in person. I took them in to the colonel, and left them

together. After some time the colonel came to his door and called

to me. I went in, and my attention was directed to a series of

papers unfolded on his table, in which lay about half an ounce of

placer gold. Mason said to me, “What is that?” I touched it and

examined one or two of the larger pieces, and asked, “Is it gold?”

Mason asked me if I had ever seen native gold. I answered that, in

1844, I was in Upper Georgia, and there saw some native gold, but

it was much finer than this, and that it was in phials, or in

transparent quills; but I said that, if this were gold, it could be

easily tested, first, by its malleability, and next by acids. I

took a piece in my teeth, and the metallic lustre was perfect. I

then called to the clerk, Baden, to bring an axe and hatchet from

the backyard. When these were brought, I took the largest piece

and beat it out flat, and beyond doubt it was metal, and a pure

metal. Still, we attached little importance to the fact, for gold


was known to exist at San Fernando, at the south, and yet was not

considered of much value. Colonel Mason then handed me a letter

from Captain Sutter, addressed to him, stating that he (Sutter) was

engaged in erecting a saw-mill at Coloma, about forty miles up the

American Fork, above his fort at New Helvetia, for the general

benefit of the settlers in that vicinity; that he had incurred

considerable expense, and wanted a “preemption” to the quarter-

section of land on which the mill was located, embracing the

tail-race in which this particular gold had been found. Mason

instructed me to prepare a letter, in answer, for his signature. I

wrote off a letter, reciting that California was yet a Mexican

province, simply held by us as a conquest; that no laws of the

United States yet applied to it, much less the land laws or

preemption laws, which could only apply after a public survey.

Therefore it was impossible for the Governor to promise him

(Sutter) a title to the land; yet, as there were no settlements

within forty miles, he was not likely to be disturbed by

trespassers. Colonel Mason signed the letter, handed it to one of

the gentlemen who had brought the sample of gold, and they

departed. That gold was the first discovered in the Sierra Nevada,

which soon revolutionized the whole country, and actually moved the

whole civilized world. About this time (May and June, 1848), far

more importance was attached to quicksilver. One mine, the New

Almaden, twelve miles south of San Jose, was well known, and was in

possession of the agent of a Scotch gentleman named Forties, who

at the time was British consul at Tepic, Mexico. Mr. Forties came

up from San Blas in a small brig, which proved to be a Mexican

vessel; the vessel was seized, condemned, and actually sold, but

Forties was wealthy, and bought her in. His title to the

quicksilver-mine was, however, never disputed, as he had bought it

regularly, before our conquest of the country, from another British

subject, also named Forties, a resident of Santa Clara Mission, who

had purchased it of the discoverer, a priest; but the boundaries of

the land attached to the mine were even then in dispute. Other men

were in search of quicksilver; and the whole range of mountains

near the New Almaden mine was stained with the brilliant red of the

snlphuret of mercury (cinnabar). A company composed of T. O.

Larkin, J. R. Snyder, and others, among them one John Ricord (who

was quite a character), also claimed a valuable mine near by.

Ricord was a lawyer from about Buffalo, and by some means had got

to the Sandwich Islands, where he became a great favorite of the

king, Kamehameha; was his attorney-general, and got into a

difficulty with the Rev. Mr. Judd, who was a kind of prime-minister

to his majesty. One or the other had to go, and Ricord left for

San Francisco, where he arrived while Colonel Mason and I were

there on some business connected with the customs. Ricord at once

made a dead set at Mason with flattery, and all sorts of spurious

arguments, to convince him that our military government was too

simple in its forms for the new state of facts, and that he was the

man to remodel it. I had heard a good deal to his prejudice, and

did all I could to prevent Mason taking him, into his confidence.

We then started back for Monterey. Ricord was along, and night and

day he was harping on his scheme; but he disgusted Colonel Mason

with his flattery, and, on reaching Monterey, he opened what he

called a law-office, but there were neither courts nor clients, so

necessity forced him to turn his thoughts to something else, and

quicksilver became his hobby. In the spring of 1848 an appeal came

to our office from San Jose, which compelled the Governor to go up

in person. Lieutenant Loeser and I, with a couple of soldiers,

went along. At San Jose the Governor held some kind of a court, in

which Ricord and the alcalde had a warm dispute about a certain

mine which Ricord, as a member of the Larkin Company, had opened

within the limits claimed by the New Almaden Company. On our way

up we had visited the ground, and were therefore better prepared to

understand the controversy. We had found at New Almaden Mr.

Walkinshaw, a fine Scotch gentleman, the resident agent of Mr.

Forbes. He had built in the valley, near a small stream, a few

board-houses, and some four or five furnaces for the distillation

of the mercury. These were very simple in their structure, being

composed of whalers’ kettles, set in masonry. These kettles were

filled with broken ore about the size of McAdam-stone, mingled with

lime. Another kettle, reversed, formed the lid, and the seam was

luted with clay. On applying heat, the mercury was volatilized and

carried into a chimney-stack, where it condensed and flowed back

into a reservoir, and then was led in pipes into another kettle

outside. After witnessing this process, we visited the mine

itself, which outcropped near the apex of the hill, about a

thousand feet above the furnaces. We found wagons hauling the

mineral down the hill and returning empty, and in the mines quite a

number of Sonora miners were blasting and driving for the beautiful

ore (cinnabar). It was then, and is now, a most valuable mine.

The adit of the mine was at the apex of the hill, which drooped off

to the north. We rode along this hill, and saw where many openings

had been begun, but these, proving of little or no value, had been

abandoned. Three miles beyond, on the west face of the bill, we

came to the opening of the “Larkin Company.” There was evidence of

a good deal of work, but the mine itself was filled up by what

seemed a land-slide. The question involved in the lawsuit before

the alcalde at San Jose was, first, whether the mine was or was not

on the land belonging to the New Almaden property; and, next,

whether the company had complied with all the conditions of the

mite laws of Mexico, which were construed to be still in force in


These laws required that any one who discovered a valuable mine on

private land should first file with the alcalde, or judge of the

district, a notice and claim for the benefits of such discovery;

then the mine was to be opened and followed for a distance of at

least one hundred feet within a specified time, and the claimants

must take out samples of the mineral and deposit the same with the

alcalde, who was then required to inspect personally the mine, to

see that it fulfilled all. the conditions of the law, before he

could give a written title. In this case the alcalde had been to

the mine and had possession of samples of the ore; but, as the

mouth of the mine was closed up, as alleged, from the act of God,

by a land-slide, it was contended by Ricord and his associates that

it was competent to prove by good witnesses that the mine had been

opened into the hill one hundred feet, and that, by no negligence

of theirs, it had caved in. It was generally understood that

Robert J. Walker, United States Secretary of the Treasury, was then

a partner in this mining company; and a vessel, the bark Gray

Eagle, was ready at San Francisco to sail for New York with the

title-papers on which to base a joint-stock company for speculative

uses. I think the alcalde was satisfied that the law had been

complied with, that he had given the necessary papers, and, as at

that time there was nothing developed to show fraud, the Governor

(Mason) did not interfere. At that date there was no public house

or tavern in San Jose where we could stop, so we started toward

Santa Cruz and encamped about ten miles out, to the west of the

town, where we fell in with another party of explorers, of whom

Ruckel, of San Francisco, was the head; and after supper, as we sat

around the camp-fire, the conversation turned on quicksilver in

general, and the result of the contest in San Jose in particular.

Mason was relating to Ruckel the points and the arguments of

Ricord, that the company should not suffer from an act of God,

viz., the caving in of the mouth of the mine, when a man named

Cash, a fellow who had once been in the quartermaster’s employ as a

teamster, spoke up: “Governor Mason, did Judge Ricord say that?”

“Yes,” said the Governor; and then Cash related how he and another

man, whose name he gave, had been employed by Ricord to undermine a

heavy rock that rested above the mouth of the mine, so that it

tumbled down, carrying with it a large quantity of earth, and

completely filled it up, as we had seen; “and,” said Cash, “it took

us three days of the hardest kind of work.” This was the act of

God, and on the papers procured from the alcalde at that time, I

understand, was built a huge speculation, by which thousands of

dollars changed hands in the United States and were lost. This

happened long before the celebrated McGarrahan claim, which has

produced so much noise, and which still is being prosecuted in the

courts and in Congress.

On the next day we crossed over the Santa Cruz Mountains, from

which we had sublime views of the scenery, first looking east

toward the lower Bay of San Francisco, with the bright plains of

Santa Clara and San Jose, and then to the west upon the ocean, the

town of Monterey being visible sixty miles off. If my memory is

correct, we beheld from that mountain the firing of a salute from

the battery at Monterey, and counted the number of guns from the

white puffs of smoke, but could not hear the sound. That night we

slept on piles of wheat in a mill at Soquel, near Santa Cruz, and,

our supplies being short, I advised that we should make an early

start next morning, so as to reach the ranch of Don Juan Antonio

Vallejo, a particular friend, who had a large and valuable

cattle-ranch on the Pajaro River, about twenty miles on our way to

Monterey. Accordingly, we were off by the first light of day, and

by nine o’clock we had reached the ranch. It was on a high point

of the plateau, overlooking the plain of the Pajaro, on which were

grazing numbers of horses and cattle. The house was of adobe, with

a long range of adobe-huts occupied by the semi-civilized Indians,

who at that time did all the labor of a ranch, the herding and

marking of cattle, breaking of horses, and cultivating the little

patches of wheat and vegetables which constituted all the farming

of that day. Every thing about the house looked deserted, and,

seeing a small Indian boy leaning up against a post, I approached

him and asked him in Spanish, “Where is the master?” “Gone to the

Presidio” (Monterey). “Is anybody in the house?” “No.” “Is it

locked up?” “Yes.” “Is no one about who can get in?” “No.”

“Have you any meat?” “No.” “Any flour or grain?” “No.” “Any

chickens?” “No.” “Any eggs?” “No.” “What do you live on?”

“Nada” (nothing). The utter indifference of this boy, and the

tone of his answer “Nada,” attracted the attention of Colonel

Mason, who had been listening to our conversation, and who

knew enough of Spanish to catch the meaning, and he exclaimed

with some feeling, “So we get nada for our breakfast.” I felt

mortified, for I had held out the prospect of a splendid

breakfast of meat and tortillas with rice, chickens, eggs, etc., at

the ranch of my friend Josh Antonio, as a justification for

taking the Governor, a man of sixty years of age, more than

twenty miles at a full canter for his breakfast. But there was

no help for it, and we accordingly went a short distance to a

pond, where we unpacked our mules and made a slim breakfast; on

some scraps of hard bread and a bone of pork that remained in our

alforjas. This was no uncommon thing in those days, when many a

ranchero with his eleven leagues of land, his hundreds of horses

and thousands of cattle, would receive us with all the

grandiloquence of a Spanish lord, and confess that he had nothing

in his house to eat except the carcass of a beef hung up, from

which the stranger might cut and cook, without money or price, what

he needed. That night we slept on Salinas Plain, and the next

morning reached Monterey. All the missions and houses at that

period were alive with fleas, which the natives looked on as

pleasant titillators, but they so tortured me that I always gave

them a wide berth, and slept on a saddle-blanket, with the saddle

for a pillow and the serape, or blanket, for a cover. We never

feared rain except in winter. As the spring and summer of 1848

advanced, the reports came faster and faster from the gold-mines at

Sutter’s saw-mill. Stories reached us of fabulous discoveries, and

spread throughout the land. Everybody was talking of “Gold!

gold!” until it assumed the character of a fever. Some of our

soldiers began to desert; citizens were fitting out trains of

wagons and packmules to go to the mines. We heard of men earning

fifty, five hundred, and thousands of dollars per day, and for a

time it seemed as though somebody would reach solid gold. Some of

this gold began to come to Yerba Buena in trade, and to disturb the

value of merchandise, particularly of mules, horses, tin pans, and

articles used in mining: I of course could not escape the

infection, and at last convinced Colonel Mason that it was our duty

to go up and see with our own eyes, that we might report the truth

to our Government. As yet we had no regular mail to any part of

the United States, but mails had come to us at long intervals,

around Cape Horn, and one or two overland. I well remember the

first overland mail. It was brought by Kit Carson in saddle-bags

from Taos in New Mexico. We heard of his arrival at Los Angeles,

and waited patiently for his arrival at headquarters. His fame

then was at its height, from the publication of Fremont’s books,

and I was very anxious to see a man who had achieved such feats of

daring among the wild animals of the Rocky Mountains, and still

wilder Indians of the Plains. At last his arrival was reported at

the tavern at Monterey, and I hurried to hunt him up. I cannot

express my surprise at beholding a small, stoop-shouldered man,

with reddish hair, freckled face, soft blue eyes, and nothing to

indicate extraordinary courage or daring. He spoke but little, and

answered questions in monosyllables. I asked for his mail, and he

picked up his light saddle-bags containing the great overland mail,

and we walked together to headquarters, where he delivered his

parcel into Colonel Mason’s own hands. He spent some days in

Monterey, during which time we extracted with difficulty some items


of his personal history. He was then by commission a lieutenant in

the regiment of Mounted Rifles serving in Mexico under Colonel

Sumner, and, as he could not reach his regiment from California,

Colonel Mason ordered that for a time he should be assigned to duty

with A. J. Smith’s company, First Dragoons, at Los Angeles. He

remained at Los Angeles some months, and was then sent back to the

United Staten with dispatches, traveling two thousand miles almost

alone, in preference to being encumbered by a large party.

Toward the close of June, 1848, the gold-fever being at its height,

by Colonel Mason’s orders I made preparations for his trip to the

newly-discovered gold-mines at Sutter’s Fort. I selected four good

soldiers, with Aaron, Colonel Mason’s black servant, and a good

outfit of horses and pack-mules, we started by the usually traveled

route for Yerba Buena. There Captain Fulsom and two citizens

joined our party. The first difficulty was to cross the bay to

Saucelito. Folsom, as quartermaster, had a sort of scow with a

large sail, with which to discharge the cargoes of ships, that

could not come within a mile of the shore. It took nearly the

whole day to get the old scow up to the only wharf there, and then

the water was so shallow that the scow, with its load of horses,

would not float at the first high tide, but by infinite labor on

the next tide she was got off and safely crossed over to Saucelito.

We followed in a more comfortable schooner. Having safely landed

our horses and mules, we picked up and rode to San Rafael Mission,

stopping with Don Timoteo Murphy. The next day’s journey took us

to Bodega, where lived a man named Stephen Smith, who had the only

steam saw-mill in California. He had a Peruvian wife, and employed

a number of absolutely naked Indians in making adobes. We spent a

day very pleasantly with him, and learned that he had come to

California some years before, at the personal advice of Daniel

Webster, who had informed him that sooner or later the United

States would be in possession of California, and that in

consequence it would become a great country. From Bodega we

traveled to Sonoma, by way of Petaluma, and spent a day with

General Vallejo. I had been there before, as related, in the

business of the alcalde Nash. From Sonoma we crossed over by way

of Napa, Suisun, and Vaca’s ranch, to the Puta. In the rainy

season, the plain between the Puta and Sacramento Rivers is

impassable, but in July the waters dry up; and we passed without

trouble, by the trail for Sutter’s Embarcadero. We reached the

Sacramento River, then full of water, with a deep, clear current.

The only means of crossing over was by an Indian dugout canoe. We

began by carrying across our packs and saddles, and then our

people. When all things were ready, the horses were driven into

the water, one being guided ahead by a man in the canoe. Of

course, the horses and mules at first refused to take to the water,

and it was nearly a day’s work to get them across, and even then

some of our animals after crossing escaped into the woods and

undergrowth that lined the river, but we secured enough of them to

reach Sutter’s Fort, three miles back from the embcarcadero, where

we encamped at the old slough, or pond, near the fort. On

application, Captain Butter sent some Indians back into the bushes,

who recovered and brought in all our animals. At that time there

was not the sign of a habitation there or thereabouts, except the

fort, and an old adobe-house, east of the fort, known as the

hospital. The fort itself was one of adobe-walls, about twenty

feet high, rectangular in form, with two-story block houses at

diagonal corners. The entrance was by a large gate, open by day

and closed at night, with two iron ship’s guns near at hand.

Inside there was a large house, with a good shingle-roof, used as a

storehouse, and all round the walls were ranged rooms, the fort

wall being the outer wall of the house. The inner wall also was of

adobe. These rooms were used by Captain Sutter himself and by his

people. He had a blacksmith’s shop, carpenter’s shop, etc., and

other rooms where the women made blankets. Sutter was monarch of

all he surveyed, and had authority to inflict punishment even unto

death, a power he did not fail to use. He had horses, cattle, and

sheep, and of these he gave liberally and without price to all in

need. He caused to be driven into our camp a beef and some sheep,

which were slaughtered for our use. Already the goldmines were

beginning to be felt. Many people were then encamped, some going

and some coming, all full of gold-stories, and each surpassing the

other. We found preparations in progress for celebrating the

Fourth of July, then close at hand, and we agreed to remain over to

assist on the occasion; of course, being the high officials, we

were the honored guests. People came from a great distance to

attend this celebration of the Fourth of July, and the tables were

laid in the large room inside the storehouse of the fort. A man of

some note, named Sinclair, presided, and after a substantial meal

and a reasonable supply of aguardiente we began the toasts. All

that I remember is that Folsom and I spoke for our party; others,

Captain Sutter included, made speeches, and before the celebration

was over Sutter was enthusiastic, and many others showed the

effects of the aguardiente. The next day (namely, July 5, 1848) we

resumed our journey toward the mines, and, in twenty-five miles of

as hot and dusty a ride as possible, we reached Mormon Island. I

have heretofore stated that the gold was first found in the

tail-race of the stew-mill at Coloma, forty miles above Sutter’s

Fort, or fifteen above Mormon Island, in the bed of the American

Fork of the Sacramento River. It seems that Sutter had employed an

American named Marshall, a sort of millwright, to do this work for

him, but Marshall afterward claimed that in the matter of the

saw-mill they were copartners. At all events, Marshall and the

family of Mr. Wimmer were living at Coloma, where the pine-trees

afforded the best material for lumber. He had under him four white

men, Mormons, who had been discharged from Cooke’s battalion, and

some Indians. These were engaged in hewing logs, building a

mill-dam, and putting up a saw-mill. Marshall, as the architect,

had made the “tub-wheel,” and had set it in motion, and had also

furnished some of the rude parts of machinery necessary for an

ordinary up-and-down saw-mill.

Labor was very scarce, expensive, and had to be economized. The

mill was built over a dry channel of the river which was calculated

to be the tail-race. After arranging his head-race, dam and

tub-wheel, he let on the water to test the goodness of his

machinery. It worked very well until it was found that the

tail-race did not carry off the water fast enough, so he put his

men to work in a rude way to clear out the tail-race. They

scratched a kind of ditch down the middle of the dry channel,

throwing the coarser stones to one side; then, letting on the water

again, it would run with velocity down the channel, washing away

the dirt, thus saving labor. This course of action was repeated

several times, acting exactly like the long Tom afterward resorted

to by the miners. As Marshall himself was working in this ditch,

he observed particles of yellow metal which he gathered up in his

hand, when it seemed to have suddenly flashed across his mind that

it was gold. After picking up about an ounce, he hurried down to

the fort to report to Captain Sutter his discovery. Captain Sutter

himself related to me Marshall’s account, saying that, as he sat in

his room at the fort one day in February or March, 1848, a knock

was heard at his door, and he called out, “Come in.” In walked

Marshall, who was a half-crazy man at best, but then looked

strangely wild. “What is the matter, Marshall!” Marshall

inquired if any one was within hearing, and began to peer about the

room, and look under the bed, when Sutter, fearing that some

calamity had befallen the party up at the saw-mill, and that

Marshall was really crazy, began to make his way to the door,

demanding of Marshall to explain what was the matter. At last he

revealed his discovery, and laid before Captain Sutter the

pellicles of gold he had picked up in the ditch. At first, Sutter

attached little or no importance to the discovery, and told

Marshall to go back to the mill, and say nothing of what he had

seen to Mr. Wimmer, or any one else. Yet, as it might add value to

the location, he dispatched to our headquarters at Monterey, as I

have already related, the two men with a written application for a

preemption to the quarter-section of land at Coloma. Marshall

returned to the mill, but could not keep out of his wonderful

ditch, and by some means the other men employed there learned his

secret. They then wanted to gather the gold, and Marshall

threatened to shoot them if they attempted it; but these men had

sense enough to know that if “placer”-gold existed at Coloma, it

would also be found farther down-stream, and they gradually

“prospected” until they reached Mormon Island, fifteen miles below,

where they discovered one of the richest placers on earth. These

men revealed the fact to some other Mormons who were employed by

Captain Sutter at a grist-mill he was building still lower down the

American Fork, and six miles above his fort. All of them struck

for higher wages, to which Sutter yielded, until they asked ten

dollars a day, which he refused, and the two mills on which he had

spent so much money were never built, and fell into decay.

In my opinion, when the Mormons were driven from Nauvoo, Illinois,

in 1844, they cast about for a land where they would not be

disturbed again, and fixed on California. In the year 1845 a ship,

the Brooklyn, sailed from New York for California, with a colony of

Mormons, of which Sam Brannan was the leader, and we found them

there on our arrival in Jannary, 1847. When General Kearney, at

Fort Leavenworth, was collecting volunteers early in 1846, for the

Mexican War, he, through the instrumentality of Captain James

Allen, brother to our quartermaster, General Robert Allen, raised

the battalion of Mormons at Kanesville, Iowa, now Council Bluffs,

on the express understanding that it would facilitate their

migration to California. But when the Mormons reached Salt Lake,

in 1846, they learned that they had been forestalled by the United

States forces in California, and they then determined to settle

down where they were. Therefore, when this battalion of five

companies of Mormons (raised by Allen, who died on the way, and was

succeeded by Cooke) was discharged at Los Angeles, California, in

the early summer of 1847, most of the men went to their people at

Salt Lake, with all the money received, as pay from the United

States, invested in cattle and breeding-horses; one company

reenlisted for another year, and the remainder sought work in the

country. As soon as the fame of the gold discovery spread through

California, the Mormons naturally turned to Mormon Island, so that

in July, 1848, we found about three hundred of them there at work.

Sam Brannan was on hand as the high-priest, collecting the tithes.

Clark, of Clark’s Point, an early pioneer, was there also, and

nearly all the Mormons who had come out in the Brooklyn, or who had

staid in California after the discharge of their battalion, had

collected there. I recall the scene as perfectly to-day as though

it were yesterday. In the midst of a broken country, all parched

and dried by the hot sun of July, sparsely wooded with live-oaks

and straggling pines, lay the valley of the American River, with

its bold mountain-stream coming out of the Snowy Mountains to the

east. In this valley is a fiat, or gravel-bed, which in high water

is an island, or is overflown, but at the time of our visit was

simply a level gravel-bed of the river. On its edges men were

digging, and filling buckets with the finer earth and gravel, which

was carried to a machine made like a baby’s cradle, open at the

foot, and at the head a plate of sheet-iron or zinc, punctured full

of holes. On this metallic plate was emptied the earth, and water

was then poured on it from buckets, while one man shook the cradle

with violent rocking by a handle. On the bottom were nailed cleats

of wood. With this rude machine four men could earn from forty to

one hundred dollars a day, averaging sixteen dollars, or a gold

ounce, per man per day. While the’ sun blazed down on the heads of

the miners with tropical heat, the water was bitter cold, and all

hands were either standing in the water or had their clothes wet

all the time; yet there were no complaints of rheumatism or cold.

We made our camp on a small knoll, a little below the island, and

from it could overlook the busy scene. A few bush-huts near by

served as stores, boardinghouses, and for sleeping; but all hands

slept on the ground, with pine-leaves and blankets for bedding. As

soon as the news spread that the Governor was there, persons came

to see us, and volunteered all kinds of information, illustrating

it by samples of the gold, which was of a uniform kind, “scale-

gold,” bright and beautiful. A large variety, of every conceivable

shape and form, was found in the smaller gulches round about, but

the gold in the river-bed was uniformly “scale-gold.” I remember

that Mr. Clark was in camp, talking to Colonel Mason about matters

and things generally, when he inquired, “Governor, what business

has Sam Brannan to collect the tithes here?” Clark admitted that

Brannan was the head of the Mormon church in California, and he was

simply questioning as to Brannan’s right, as high-priest, to compel

the Mormons to pay him the regular tithes. Colonel Mason answered,

“Brannan has a perfect right to collect the tax, if you Mormons are

fools enough to pay it.” “Then,” said Clark, “I for one won’t pay

it any longer.” Colonel Mason added: “This is public land, and the

gold is the property of the United States; all of you here are

trespassers, but, as the Government is benefited by your getting

out the gold, I do not intend to interfere.” I understood,

afterward, that from that time the payment of the tithes ceased,

but Brannan had already collected enough money wherewith to hire

Sutter’s hospital, and to open a store there, in which he made more

money than any merchant in California, during that summer and fall.

The understanding was, that the money collected by him as tithes

was the foundation of his fortune, which is still very large in San

Francisco. That evening we all mingled freely with the miners, and


witnessed the process of cleaning up and “panning” out, which is

the last process for separating the pure gold from the fine dirt

and black sand.

The next day we continued our journey up the valley of the American

Fork, stopping at various camps, where mining was in progress; and

about noon we reached Coloma, the place where gold had been first

discovered. The hills were higher, and the timber of better

quality. The river was narrower and bolder, and but few miners

were at work there, by reason of Marshall’s and Sutter’s claim to

the site. There stood the sawmill unfinished, the dam and

tail-race just as they were left when the Mormons ceased work.

Marshall and Wimmer’s family of wife and half a dozen children were

there, guarding their supposed treasure; living in a house made of

clapboards. Here also we were shown many specimens of gold, of a

coarser grain than that found at Mormon Island. The next day we

crossed the American River to its north side, and visited many

small camps of men, in what were called the “dry diggings.” Little

pools of water stood in the beds of the streams, and these were

used to wash the dirt; and there the gold was in every conceivable

shape and size, some of the specimens weighing several ounces.

Some of these “diggings” were extremely rich, but as a whole they

were more precarious in results than at the river. Sometimes a

lucky fellow would hit on a “pocket,” and collect several thousand

dollars in a few days, and then again he would be shifting about

from place to place, “prospecting,” and spending all he had made.

Little stores were being opened at every point, where flour, bacon,

etc., were sold; every thing being a dollar a pound, and a meal

usually costing three dollars. Nobody paid for a bed, for he slept

on the ground, without fear of cold or rain. We spent nearly a

week in that region, and were quite bewildered by the fabulous

tales of recent discoveries, which at the time were confined to the

several forks of the American and Yuba Rivers.’ All this time our

horses had nothing to eat but the sparse grass in that region, and

we were forced to work our way down toward the Sacramento Valley,

or to see our animals perish. Still we contemplated a visit to the

Yuba and Feather Rivers, from which we had heard of more wonderful

“diggings;” but met a courier, who announced the arrival of a ship

at Monterey, with dispatches of great importance from Mazatlan. We

accordingly turned our horses back to Sutter’s Fort. Crossing the

Sacramento again by swimming our horses, and ferrying their loads

in that solitary canoe, we took our back track as far as the Napa,

and then turned to Benicia, on Carquinez Straits. We found there a

solitary adobe-house, occupied by Mr. Hastings and his family,

embracing Dr. Semple, the proprietor of the ferry. This ferry was

a ship’s-boat, with a latteen-sail, which could carry across at one

time six or eight horses.

It took us several days to cross over, and during that time we got

well acquainted with the doctor, who was quite a character. He had

come to California from Illinois, and was brother to Senator

Semple. He was about seven feet high, and very intelligent. When

we first reached Monterey, he had a printing-press, which belonged

to the United States, having been captured at the custom-house, and

had been used to print custom-house blanks. With this Dr. Semple,

as editor, published the Californian, a small sheet of news, once a

week; and it was a curiosity in its line, using two v’s for a w,

and other combinations of letters, made necessary by want of type.

After some time he removed to Yerba Buena with his paper, and it

grew up to be the Alta California of today. Foreseeing, as he

thought, the growth of a great city somewhere on the Bay of San

Francisco, he selected Carquinez Straits as its location, and

obtained from General Vallejo a title to a league of land, on

condition of building up a city thereon to bear the name of

Vallejo’s wife. This was Francisca Benicia; accordingly, the new

city was named “Francisca.” At this time, the town near the mouth

of the bay was known universally as Yerba Buena; but that name was

not known abroad, although San Francisco was familiar to the whole

civilized world. Now, some of the chief men of Yerba Buena,

Folsom, Howard, Leidesdorf, and others, knowing the importance of a

name, saw their danger, and, by some action of the ayuntamiento, or

town council, changed the name of Yerba Buena to “San Francisco.”

Dr. Semple was outraged at their changing the name to one so like

his of Francisca, and he in turn changed his town to the other name

of Mrs. Vallejo, viz., “Benicia;” and Benicia it has remained to

this day. I am convinced that this little circumstance was big

with consequences. That Benicia has the best natural site for a

commercial city, I am, satisfied; and had half the money and half

the labor since bestowed upon San Francisco been expended at

Benicia, we should have at this day a city of palaces on the

Carquinez Straits. The name of “San Francisco,” however, fixed the

city where it now is; for every ship in 1848-’49, which cleared

from any part of the world, knew the name of San Francisco, but not

Yerba Buena or Benicia; and, accordingly, ships consigned to

California came pouring in with their contents, and were anchored

in front of Yerba Buena, the first town. Captains and crews

deserted for the gold-mines, and now half the city in front of

Montgomery Street is built over the hulks thus abandoned. But Dr.

Semple, at that time, was all there was of Benicia; he was captain

and crew of his ferry boat, and managed to pass our party to the

south side of Carquinez Straits in about two days.

Thence we proceeded up Amador Valley to Alameda Creek, and so on to

the old mission of San Jose; thence to the pueblo of San Jose,

where Folsom and those belonging in Yerba Buena went in that

direction, and we continued on to Monterey, our party all the way

giving official sanction to the news from the gold-mines, and

adding new force to the “fever.”

On reaching Monterey, we found dispatches from Commodore Shubrick,

at Mazatlan, which gave almost positive assurance that the war with

Mexico was over; that hostilities had ceased, and commissioners

were arranging the terms of peace at Guadalupe Hidalgo. It was

well that this news reached California at that critical time; for

so contagious had become the “gold-fever “that everybody was bound

to go and try his fortune, and the volunteer regiment of

Stevenson’s would have deserted en masse, had the men not been

assured that they would very soon be entitled to an honorable


Many of our regulars did desert, among them the very men who had

escorted us faithfully to the mines and back. Our servants also

left us, and nothing less than three hundred dollars a month would

hire a man in California; Colonel Mason’s black boy, Aaron, alone

of all our then servants proving faithful. We were forced to

resort to all manner of shifts to live. First, we had a mess with

a black fellow we called Bustamente as cook; but he got the fever,

and had to go. We next took a soldier, but he deserted, and

carried off my double-barreled shot-gun, which I prized very

highly. To meet this condition of facts, Colonel Mason ordered

that liberal furloughs should be given to the soldiers, and

promises to all in turn, and he allowed all the officers to draw

their rations in kind. As the actual valve of the ration was very

large, this enabled us to live. Halleck, Murray, Ord, and I,

boarded with Dona Augustias, and turned in our rations as pay for

our board.

Some time in September, 1848, the official news of the treaty of

peace reached us, and the Mexican War was over. This treaty was

signed in May, and came to us all the way by land by a courier from

Lower California, sent from La Paz by Lieutenant-Colonel Burton.

On its receipt, orders were at once made for the muster-out of all

of Stevenson’s regiment, and our military forces were thus reduced

to the single company of dragoons at Los Angeles, and the one

company of artillery at Monterey. Nearly all business had ceased,

except that connected with gold; and, during that fall, Colonel

Mason, Captain Warner, and I, made another trip up to Sutter’s

Fort, going also to the newly-discovered mines on the Stanislaus,

called “Sonora,” named from the miners of Sonora, Mexico, who had

first discovered them. We found there pretty much the same state

of facts as before existed at Mormon Island and Coloma, and we

daily received intelligence of the opening of still other mines

north and south.

But I have passed over a very interesting fact. As soon as we had

returned from our first visit to the gold-mines, it became

important to send home positive knowledge of this valuable

discovery. The means of communication with the United States were

very precarious, and I suggested to Colonel Mason that a special

courier ought to be sent; that Second-Lieutenant Loeser had been

promoted to first-lieutenant, and was entitled to go home. He was

accordingly detailed to carry the news. I prepared with great care

the letter to the adjutant-general of August 17, 1848, which

Colonel Mason modified in a few Particulars; and, as it was

important to send not only the specimens which had been presented

to us along our route of travel, I advised the colonel to allow

Captain Folsom to purchase and send to Washington a large sample of

the commercial gold in general use, and to pay for the same out of

the money in his hands known as the “civil fund,” arising from

duties collected at the several ports in California. He consented

to this, and Captain Folsom bought an oyster-can full at ten

dollars the ounce, which was the rate of value at which it was then

received at the custom house. Folsom was instructed further to

contract with some vessel to carry the messenger to South America,

where he could take the English steamers as far east as Jamaica,

with a conditional charter giving increased payment if the vessel

could catch the October steamer. Folsom chartered the bark La

Lambayecana, owned and navigated by Henry D. Cooke, who has since

been the Governor of the District of Columbia. In due time this

vessel reached Monterey, and Lieutenant Loeser, with his report and

specimens of gold, embarked and sailed. He reached the South

American Continent at Payta, Peru, in time; took the English

steamer of October to Panama, and thence went on to Kingston,

Jamaica, where he found a sailing vessel bound for New Orleans. On

reaching New Orleans, he telegraphed to the War Department his

arrival; but so many delays had occurred that he did not reach

Washington in time to have the matter embraced in the President’s

regular message of 1848, as we had calculated. Still, the

President made it the subject of a special message, and thus became

“official” what had before only reached the world in a very

indefinite shape. Then began that wonderful development, and the

great emigration to California, by land and by sea, of 1849 and


As before narrated, Mason, Warner, and I, made a second visit to

the mines in September and October, 1848. As the winter season

approached, Colonel Mason returned to Monterey, and I remained for

a time at Sutter’s Fort. In order to share somewhat in the riches

of the land, we formed a partnership in a store at Coloma, in

charge of Norman S. Bestor, who had been Warner’s clerk. We

supplied the necessary money, fifteen hundred dollars (five hundred

dollars each), and Bestor carried on the store at Coloma for his

share. Out of this investment, each of us realized a profit of

about fifteen hundred dollars. Warner also got a regular leave of

absence, and contracted with Captain Sutter for surveying and

locating the town of Sacramento. He received for this sixteen

dollars per day for his services as surveyor; and Sutter paid all

the hands engaged in the work. The town was laid off mostly up

about the fort, but a few streets were staked off along the river

bank, and one or two leading to it. Captain Sutter always

contended, however, that no town could possibly exist on the

immediate bank of the river, because the spring freshets rose over

the bank, and frequently it was necessary to swim a horse to reach

the boat-landing. Nevertheless, from the very beginning the town

began to be built on the very river-bank, viz., First, Second, and

Third Streets, with J and K Streets leading back. Among the

principal merchants and traders of that winter, at Sacramento, were

Sam Brannan and Hensley, Reading & Co. For several years the site

was annually flooded; but the people have persevered in building

the levees, and afterward in raising all the streets, so that

Sacramento is now a fine city, the capital of the State, and stands

where, in 1848, was nothing but a dense mass of bushes, vines, and

submerged land. The old fort has disappeared altogether.

During the fall of 1848, Warner, Ord, and I, camped on the bank of

the American River, abreast of the fort, at what was known as the

“Old Tan-Yard.” I was cook, Ord cleaned up the dishes, and Warner

looked after the horses; but Ord was deposed as scullion because he

would only wipe the tin plates with a tuft of grass, according to

the custom of the country, whereas Warner insisted on having them

washed after each meal with hot water. Warner was in consequence

promoted to scullion, and Ord became the hostler. We drew our

rations in kind from the commissary at San Francisco, who sent them

up to us by a boat; and we were thus enabled to dispense a generous

hospitality to many a poor devil who otherwise would have had

nothing to eat.

The winter of 1848 ’49 was a period of intense activity throughout

California. The rainy season was unfavorable to the operations of

gold-mining, and was very hard upon the thousands of houseless men

and women who dwelt in the mountains, and even in the towns. Most

of the natives and old inhabitants had returned to their ranches

and houses; yet there were not roofs enough in the country to

shelter the thousands who had arrived by sea and by land. The news

had gone forth to the whole civilized world that gold in fabulous

quantities was to be had for the mere digging, and adventurers came

pouring in blindly to seek their fortunes, without a thought of

house or food. Yerba Buena had been converted into San Francisco.

Sacramento City had been laid out, lots were being rapidly sold,

and the town was being built up as an entrepot to the mines.

Stockton also had been chosen as a convenient point for trading

with the lower or southern mines. Captain Sutter was the sole

proprietor of the former, and Captain Charles Weber was the owner

of the site of Stockton, which was as yet known as “French Camp.”





The department headquarters still remained at Monterey, but, with

the few soldiers, we had next to nothing to do. In midwinter we

heard of the approach of a battalion of the Second Dragoons, under

Major Lawrence Pike Graham, with Captains Rucker, Coutts, Campbell,

and others, along. So exhausted were they by their long march from

Upper Mexico that we had to send relief to meet them as they

approached. When this command reached Los Angeles, it was left

there as the garrison, and Captain A. J. Smith’s company of the

First Dragoons was brought up to San Francisco. We were also

advised that the Second Infantry, Colonel B. Riley, would be sent

out around Cape Horn in sailing-ships; that the Mounted Rifles,

under Lieutenant-Colonel Loring, would march overland to Oregon;

and that Brigadier-General Persifer F. Smith would come out in

chief command on the Pacific coast. It was also known that a

contract had been entered into with parties in New York and New

Orleans for a monthly line of steamers from those cities to

California, via Panama. Lieutenant-Colonel Burton had come up from

Lower California, and, as captain of the Third Artillery, he was

assigned to command Company F, Third Artillery, at Monterey.

Captain Warner remained at Sacramento, surveying; and Halleck,

Murray, Ord, and I, boarded with Dona Augustias. The season was

unusually rainy and severe, but we passed the time with the usual

round of dances and parties. The time fixed for the arrival of the

mail-steamer was understood to be about January 1, 1849, but the

day came and went without any tidings of her. Orders were given to

Captain Burton to announce her arrival by firing a national

salute, and each morning we listened for the guns from the fort.

The month of January passed, and the greater part of February, too.

As was usual, the army officers celebrated the 22d of February with

a grand ball, given in the new stone school-house, which Alcalde

Walter Colton had built. It was the largest and best hall then in

California. The ball was really a handsome affair, and we kept it

up nearly all night. The next morning we were at breakfast:

present, Dona Augustias, and Manuelita, Halleck, Murray, and

myself. We were dull and stupid enough until a gun from the fort

aroused us, then another and another. “The steamer” exclaimed all,

and, without waiting for hats or any thing, off we dashed. I

reached the wharf hatless, but the dona sent my cap after me by a

servant. The white puffs of smoke hung around the fort, mingled

with the dense fog, which hid all the water of the bay, and well

out to sea could be seen the black spars of some unknown vessel.

At the wharf I found a group of soldiers and a small row-boat,

which belonged to a brig at anchor in the bay. Hastily ordering a

couple of willing soldiers to get in and take the oars, and Mr.

Larkin and Mr. Hartnell asking to go along, we jumped in and pushed

off. Steering our boat toward the spars, which loomed up above the

fog clear and distinct, in about a mile we came to the black hull

of the strange monster, the long-expected and most welcome steamer

California. Her wheels were barely moving, for her pilot could not

see the shore-line distinctly, though the hills and Point of Pines

could be clearly made out over the fog, and occasionally a glimpse

of some white walls showed where the town lay. A “Jacob’s ladder”

was lowered for us from the steamer, and in a minute I scrambled up

on deck, followed by Larkin and Hartnell, and we found ourselves in

the midst of many old friends. There was Canby, the adjutant-

general, who was to take my place; Charley Hoyt, my cousin; General

Persifer F. Smith and wife; Gibbs, his aide-de-camp; Major Ogden,

of the Engineers, and wife; and, indeed, many old Californians,

among them Alfred Robinson, and Frank Ward with his pretty bride.

By the time the ship was fairly at anchor we had answered a million

of questions about gold and the state of the country; and, learning

that the ship was out of fuel, had informed the captain (Marshall)

that there was abundance of pine-wood, but no willing hands to cut

it; that no man could be hired at less than an ounce of gold a day,

unless the soldiers would volunteer to do it for some agreed-upon

price. As for coal, there was not a pound in Monterey, or anywhere

else in California. Vessels with coal were known to be en route

around Cape Horn, but none had yet reached California.

The arrival of this steamer was the beginning of a new epoch on the

Pacific coast; yet there she lay, helpless, without coal or fuel.

The native Californians, who had never seen a steamship, stood for

days on the beach looking at her, with the universal exclamation,

“Tan feo!”–how ugly!–and she was truly ugly when compared with

the clean, well-sparred frigates and sloops-of-war that had

hitherto been seen on the North Pacific coast. It was first

supposed it would take ten days to get wood enough to prosecute her

voyage, and therefore all the passengers who could took up their

quarters on shore. Major Canby relieved me, and took the place I

had held so long as adjutant-general of the Department of

California. The time seemed most opportune for me to leave the

service, as I had several splendid offers of employment and of

partnership, and, accordingly, I made my written resignation; but

General Smith put his veto upon it, saying that he was to command

the Division of the Pacific, while General Riley was to have the

Department of California, and Colonel Loring that of Oregon. He

wanted me as his adjutant-general, because of my familiarity with

the country, and knowledge of its then condition: At the time, he

had on his staff Gibbs as aide-de-camp, and Fitzgerald as

quartermaster. He also had along with him quite a retinue of

servants, hired with a clear contract to serve him for a whole year

after reaching California, every one of whom deserted, except a

young black fellow named Isaac. Mrs. Smith, a pleasant but

delicate Louisiana lady, had a white maid-servant, in whose

fidelity she had unbounded confidence; but this girl was married to

a perfect stranger, and off before she had even landed in San

Francisco. It was, therefore, finally arranged that, on the

California, I was to accompany General Smith to San Francisco as

his adjutant-general. I accordingly sold some of my horses, and

arranged for others to go up by land; and from that time I became

fairly enlisted in the military family of General Persifer F.


I parted with my old commander, Colonel Mason, with sincere regret.

To me he had ever been kind and considerate, and, while stern,

honest to a fault, he was the very embodiment of the principle of

fidelity to the interests of the General Government. He possessed

a native strong intellect, and far more knowledge of the principles

of civil government and law than he got credit for. In private and

public expenditures he was extremely economical, but not penurious.

In cases where the officers had to contribute money for parties and

entertainments, he always gave a double share, because of his

allowance of double rations. During our frequent journeys, I was

always caterer, and paid all the bills. In settling with him he

required a written statement of the items of account, but never

disputed one of them. During our time, California was, as now,

full of a bold, enterprising, and speculative set of men, who were

engaged in every sort of game to make money. I know that Colonel-

Mason was beset by them to use his position to make a fortune for

himself and his friends; but he never bought land or town-lots,

because, he said, it was his place to hold the public estate for

the Government as free and unencumbered by claims as possible; and

when I wanted him to stop the public-land sales in San Francisco,

San Jose, etc., he would not; for, although he did not believe the

titles given by the alcaldes worth a cent, yet they aided to settle

the towns and public lands, and he thought, on the whole, the

Government would be benefited thereby. The same thing occurred as

to the gold-mines. He never took a title to a town lot, unless it

was one, of no real value, from Alcalde Colton, in Monterey, of

which I have never heard since. He did take a share in the store

which Warner, Beator, and I, opened at Coloma, paid his share of

the capital, five hundred dollars, and received his share of the

profits, fifteen hundred dollars. I think also he took a share in

a venture to China with Larkin and others; but, on leaving

California, he was glad to sell out without profit or loss. In the

stern discharge of his duty he made some bitter enemies, among them

Henry M. Naglee, who, in the newspapers of the day, endeavored to

damage his fair name. But, knowing him intimately, I am certain

that he is entitled to all praise for having so controlled the

affairs of the country that, when his successor arrived, all things

were so disposed that a civil form of government was an easy matter

of adjustment. Colonel Mason was relieved by General Riley some

time in April, and left California in the steamer of the 1st May

for Washington and St. Louis, where he died of cholera in the

summer of 1850, and his body is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery.

His widow afterward married Major (since General) Don Carlos Buell,

and is now living in Kentucky.

In overhauling the hold of the steamer California, as she lay at

anchor in Monterey Bay, a considerable amount of coal was found

under some heavy duplicate machinery. With this, and such wood as

had been gathered, she was able to renew her voyage. The usual

signal was made, and we all went on board. About the 1st of March

we entered the Heads, and anchored off San Francisco, near the

United States line-of-battle-ship Ohio, Commodore T. Catesby Jones.

As was the universal custom of the day, the crew of the California

deserted her; and she lay for months unable to make a trip back to

Panama, as was expected of her. As soon as we reached San

Francisco, the first thing was to secure an office and a house to

live in. The weather was rainy and stormy, and snow even lay on

the hills back of the Mission. Captain Folsom, the quartermaster,

agreed to surrender for our office the old adobe custom house, on

the upper corner of the plaza, as soon as he could remove his

papers and effects down to one of his warehouses on the beach; and

he also rented for us as quarters the old Hudson Bay Company house

on Montgomery Street, which had been used by Howard & Mellua as a

store, and at that very time they were moving their goods into a

larger brick building just completed for them. As these changes

would take some time, General Smith and Colonel Ogden, with their

wives, accepted the hospitality offered by Commodore Jones on board

the Ohio. I opened the office at the custom house, and Gibbs,

Fitzgerald, and some others of us, slept in the loft of the Hudson

Bay Company house until the lower part was cleared of Howard’s

store, after which General Smith and the ladies moved in. There we

had a general mess, and the efforts at house-keeping were simply

ludicrous. One servant after another, whom General Smith had

brought from New Orleans, with a solemn promise to stand by him for

one whole year, deserted without a word of notice or explanation,

and in a few days none remained but little Isaac. The ladies had

no maid or attendants; and the general, commanding all the mighty

forces of the United States on the Pacific coast, had to scratch to

get one good meal a day for his family! He was a gentleman of fine

social qualities, genial and gentle, and joked at every thing.

Poor Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Ogden did not bear it so philosophically.

Gibbs, Fitzgerald, and I, could cruise around and find a meal,

which cost three dollars, at some of the many restaurants which had

sprung up out of red-wood boards and cotton lining; but the general

and ladies could not go out, for ladies were rara aves at that day

in California. Isaac was cook, chamber-maid, and everything,

thoughtless of himself, and struggling, out of the slimmest means,

to compound a breakfast for a large and hungry family. Breakfast

would be announced any time between ten and twelve, and dinner

according to circumstances. Many a time have I seen General Smith,

with a can of preserved meat in his hands, going toward the house,

take off his hat on meeting a negro, and, on being asked the reason

of his politeness, he would answer that they were the only real

gentlemen in California. I confess that the fidelity of Colonel

Mason’s boy “Aaron,” and of General Smith’s boy “Isaac,” at a time

when every white man laughed at promises as something made to be

broken, has given me a kindly feeling of respect for the negroes,

and makes me hope that they will find an honorable “status” in the

jumble of affairs in which we now live.

That was a dull hard winter in San Francisco; the rains were heavy,

and the mud fearful. I have seen mules stumble in the street, and

drown in the liquid mud! Montgomery Street had been filled up with

brush and clay, and I always dreaded to ride on horseback along it,

because the mud was so deep that a horse’s legs would become

entangled in the bushes below, and the rider was likely to be

thrown and drowned in the mud. The only sidewalks were made of

stepping-stones of empty boxes, and here and there a few planks

with barrel-staves nailed on. All the town lay along Montgomery

Street, from Sacramento to Jackson, and about the plaza. Gambling

was the chief occupation of the people. While they were waiting

for the cessation of the rainy season, and for the beginning of

spring, all sorts of houses were being put up, but of the most

flimsy kind, and all were stores, restaurants, or gambling

-saloons. Any room twenty by sixty feet would rent for a thousand

dollars a month. I had, as my pay, seventy dollars a month, and no

one would even try to hire a servant under three hundred dollars.

Had it not been for the fifteen hundred dollars I had made in the

store at Coloma, I could not have lived through the winter. About

the 1st of April arrived the steamer Oregon; but her captain

(Pearson) knew what was the state of affairs on shore, and ran his

steamer alongside the line-of-battle-ship Ohio at Saucelito, and

obtained the privilege of leaving his crew on board as “prisoners”

until he was ready to return to sea. Then, discharging his

passengers and getting coal out of some of the ships which had

arrived, he retook his crew out of limbo and carried the first

regular mail back to Panama early in April. In regular order


arrived the third steamer, the Panama; and, as the vessels were

arriving with coal, The California was enabled to hire a crew and

get off. From that time forward these three ships constituted the

regular line of mail-steamers, which has been kept up ever since.

By the steamer Oregon arrived out Major R. P. Hammond, J. M.

Williams, James Blair, and others; also the gentlemen who, with

Major Ogden, were to compose a joint commission to select the sites

for the permanent forts and navyyard of California. This

commission was composed of Majors Ogden, Smith, and Leadbetter, of,

the army, and Captains Goldsborough, Van Brunt, and Blunt, of the

navy. These officers, after a most careful study of the whole

subject, selected Mare Island for the navy-yard, and “Benicia” for

the storehouses and arsenals of the army. The Pacific Mail

Steamship Company also selected Benicia as their depot. Thus was

again revived the old struggle for supremacy of these two points

as the site of the future city of the Pacific. Meantime, however,

San Francisco had secured the name. About six hundred ships were

anchored there without crews, and could not get away; and there the

city was, and had to be.

Nevertheless, General Smith, being disinterested and unprejudiced,

decided on Benicia as the point where the city ought to be, and

where the army headquarters should be. By the Oregon there arrived

at San Francisco a man who deserves mention here–Baron

Steinberger. He had been a great cattle-dealer in the United

States, and boasted that he had helped to break the United States

Bank, by being indebted to it five million dollars! At all events,

he was a splendid looking fellow, and brought with him from

Washington a letter to General Smith and another for Commodore

Jones, to the effect that he was a man of enlarged experience in

beef; that the authorities in Washington knew that there existed in

California large herds of cattle, which were only valuable for

their hides and tallow; that it was of great importance to the

Government that this beef should be cured and salted so as to be of

use to the army and navy, obviating the necessity of shipping salt-

beef around Cape Horn. I know he had such a letter from the

Secretary of War, Marcy, to General Smith, for it passed into my

custody, and I happened to be in Commodore Jones’s cabin when the

baron presented the one for him from the Secretary of the Navy.

The baron was anxious to pitch in at once, and said that all he

needed to start with were salt and barrels. After some inquiries

of his purser, the commodore promised to let him have the barrels

with their salt, as fast as they were emptied by the crew. Then

the baron explained that he could get a nice lot of cattle from Don

Timoteo Murphy, at the Mission of San Rafael, on the north aide of

the bay, but he could not get a boat and crew to handle them.

Under the authority from the Secretary of the Navy, the commodore

then promised him the use of a boat and crew, until he (the baron)

could find and purchase a suitable one for himself. Then the baron

opened the first regular butcher-shop in San Francisco, on the

wharf about the foot of Broadway or Pacific Street, where we could

buy at twenty-five or fifty cents a pound the best roasts, steaks,

and cuts of beef, which had cost him nothing, for he never paid

anybody if he could help it, and he soon cleaned poor Don Timoteo

out. At first, every boat of his, in coming down from the San

Rafael, touched at the Ohio, and left the best beefsteaks and

roasts for the commodore, but soon the baron had enough money to

dispense with the borrowed boat, and set up for himself, and from

this small beginning, step by step, he rose in a few months to be

one of the richest and most influential men in San Francisco; but

in his wild speculations he was at last caught, and became

helplessly bankrupt. He followed General Fremont to St. Louis in

1861, where I saw him, but soon afterward he died a pauper in one

of the hospitals. When General Smith had his headquarters in San

Francisco, in the spring of 1849, Steinberger gave dinners worthy

any baron of old; and when, in after-years, I was a banker there,

he used to borrow of me small sums of money in repayment for my

share of these feasts; and somewhere among my old packages I hold

one of his confidential notes for two hundred dollars, but on the

whole I got off easily. I have no doubt that, if this man’s

history could be written out, it would present phases as wonderful

as any of romance; but in my judgment he was a dangerous man,

without any true-sense of honor or honesty.

Little by little the rains of that season grew less and less, and

the hills once more became green and covered with flowers. It

became perfectly evident that no family could live in San Francisco

on such a salary as Uncle Sam allowed his most favored officials;

so General Smith and Major Ogden concluded to send their families

back to the United States, and afterward we men-folks could take to

camp and live on our rations. The Second Infantry had arrived, and

had been distributed, four companies to Monterey, and the rest

somewhat as Stevenson’s regiment had been. A. J. Smith’s company

of dragoons was sent up to Sonoma, whither General Smith had

resolved to move our headquarters. On the steamer which sailed

about May 1st (I think the California), we embarked, the ladies for

home and we for Monterey. At Monterey we went on shore, and

Colonel Mason, who meantime had been relieved by General Riley,

went on board, and the steamer departed for Panama. Of all that

party I alone am alive.

General Riley had, with his family, taken the house which Colonel

Mason had formerly used, and Major Canby and wife had secured rooms

at Alvarado’s. Captain Bane was quartermaster, and had his family

in the house of a man named Garner, near the redoubt. Burton and

Company F were still at the fort; the four companies of the Second

Infantry were quartered in the barracks, the same building in which

we had had our headquarters; and the company officers were

quartered in hired buildings near by. General Smith and his aide,

Captain Gibbs, went to Larkin’s house, and I was at my old rooms at

Dona Augustias. As we intended to go back to San Francisco by land

and afterward to travel a good deal, General Smith gave me the

necessary authority to fit out the party. There happened to be

several trains of horses and mules in town, so I purchased about a

dozen horses and mules at two hundred dollars a head, on account of

the Quartermaster’s Department, and we had them kept under guard in

the quartermaster’s corral.

I remember one night being in the quarters of Lieutenant Alfred

Sully, where nearly all the officers of the garrison were

assembled, listening to Sully’s stories. Lieutenant Derby,

“Squibob,” was one of the number, as also Fred Steele, “Neighbor”

Jones, and others, when, just after “tattoo,” the orderly-sergeants

came to report the result of “tattoo” roll-call; one reported five

men absent, another eight, and so on, until it became certain that

twenty-eight men had deserted; and they were so bold and open in

their behavior that it amounted to defiance. They had deliberately

slung their knapsacks and started for the gold-mines. Dr. Murray

and I were the only ones present who were familiar with the

country, and I explained how easy they could all be taken by a

party going out at once to Salinas Plain, where the country was so

open and level that a rabbit could not cross without being seen;

that the deserters could not go to the mines without crossing that

plain, and could not reach it before daylight. All agreed that the

whole regiment would desert if these men were not brought back.

Several officers volunteered on the spot to go after them; and, as

the soldiers could not be trusted, it was useless to send any but

officers in pursuit. Some one went to report the affair to the

adjutant-general, Canby, and he to General Riley. I waited some

time, and, as the thing grew cold, I thought it was given up, and

went to my room and to bed.

About midnight I was called up and informed that there were seven

officers willing to go, but the difficulty was to get horses and

saddles. I went down to Larkin’s house and got General Smith to

consent that we might take the horses I had bought for our trip.

It was nearly three o’clock a.m. before we were all mounted and

ready. I had a musket which I used for hunting. With this I led

off at a canter, followed by the others. About six miles out, by

the faint moon, I saw ahead of us in the sandy road some blue

coats, and, fearing lest they might resist or escape into the dense

bushes which lined the road, I halted and found with me Paymaster

Hill, Captain N. H. Davis, and Lieutenant John Hamilton. We waited

some time for the others, viz., Canby, Murray, Gibbs, and Sully, to

come up, but as they were not in sight we made a dash up the road

and captured six of the deserters, who were Germans, with heavy

knapsacks on, trudging along the deep, sandy road. They had not

expected pursuit, had not heard our horses, and were accordingly

easily taken. Finding myself the senior officer present, I ordered

Lieutenant Hamilton to search the men and then to march them back

to Monterey, suspecting, as was the fact, that the rest of our

party had taken a road that branched off a couple of miles back.

Daylight broke as we reached the Saunas River, twelve miles out,

and there the trail was broad and fresh leading directly out on the

Saunas Plain. This plain is about five miles wide, and then the

ground becomes somewhat broken. The trail continued very plain,

and I rode on at a gallop to where there was an old adobe-ranch on

the left of the road, with the head of a lagoon, or pond, close by.

I saw one or two of the soldiers getting water at the pond, and

others up near the house. I had the best horse and was

considerably ahead, but on looking back could see Hill and Davis

coming up behind at a gallop. I motioned to them to hurry forward,

and turned my horse across the head of the pond, knowing the ground

well, as it was a favorite place for shooting geese and ducks.

Approaching the house, I ordered the men who were outside to go in.

They did not know me personally, and exchanged glances, but I had

my musket cocked, and, as the two had seen Davis and Hill coming up

pretty fast, they obeyed. Dismounting, I found the house full of

deserters, and there was no escape for them. They naturally

supposed that I had a strong party with me, and when I ordered them

to “fall in” they obeyed from habit. By the time Hill and Davis

came up I had them formed in two ranks, the front rank facing

about, and I was taking away their bayonets, pistols, etc. We

disarmed them, destroying a musket and several pistols, and, on

counting them, we found that we three had taken eighteen, which,

added to the six first captured, made twenty-four. We made them

sling their knapsacks and begin their homeward march. It was near

night when we got back, so that these deserters had traveled nearly

forty miles since “tattoo” of the night before. The other party

had captured three, so that only one man had escaped. I doubt not

this prevented the desertion of the bulk of the Second Infantry

that spring, for at that time so demoralizing was the effect of the

gold-mines that everybody not in the military service justified

desertion, because a soldier, if free, could earn more money in a

day than he received per month. Not only did soldiers and sailors

desert, but captains and masters of ships actually abandoned their

vessels and cargoes to try their luck at the mines. Preachers and

professors forgot their creeds and took to trade, and even to

keeping gambling-houses. I remember that one of our regular

soldiers, named Reese, in deserting stole a favorite double-

barreled gun of mine, and when the orderly-sergeant of the company,

Carson, was going on furlough, I asked him when he came across

Reese to try and get my gun back. When he returned he told me that

he had found Reese and offered him a hundred dollars for my gun,

but Reese sent me word that he liked the gun, and would not take a

hundred dollars for it. Soldiers or sailors who could reach the

mines were universally shielded by the miners, so that it was next

to useless to attempt their recapture. In due season General

Persifer Smith, Gibbs, and I, with some hired packers, started back

for San Francisco, and soon after we transferred our headquarters

to Sonoma. About this time Major Joseph Hooker arrived from the

East–the regular adjutant-general of the division–relieved me,

and I became thereafter one of General Smith’s regular


As there was very little to do, General Smith encouraged us to go

into any business that would enable us to make money. R. P.

Hammond, James Blair, and I, made a contract to survey for Colonel

J. D. Stevenson his newly-projected city of “New York of the

Pacific,” situated at the month of the San Joaquin River. The

contract embraced, also, the making of soundings and the marking

out of a channel through Suisun Bay. We hired, in San Francisco, a

small metallic boat, with a sail, laid in some stores, and

proceeded to the United States ship Ohio, anchored at Saucelito,

where we borrowed a sailor-boy and lead-lines with which to sound

the channel. We sailed up to Benicia, and, at General Smith’s

request, we surveyed and marked the line dividing the city of

Benicia from the government reserve. We then sounded the bay back

and forth, and staked out the best channel up Suisun Bay, from

which Blair made out sailing directions. We then made the

preliminary surveys of the city of “New York of the Pacific,” all

of which were duly plotted; and for this work we each received from

Stevenson five hundred dollars and ten or fifteen lots. I sold

enough lots to make up another five hundred dollars, and let the

balance go; for the city of “New York of the Pacific” never came to

any thing. Indeed, cities at the time were being projected by

speculators all round the bay and all over the country.

While we were surveying at “New York of the Pacific,” occurred one

of those little events that showed the force of the gold-fever. We

had a sailor-boy with us, about seventeen years old, who cooked our

meals and helped work the boat. Onshore, we had the sail spread so

as to shelter us against the wind and dew. One morning I awoke

about daylight, and looked out to see if our sailor-boy was at work


getting breakfast; but he was not at the fire at all. Getting up,

I discovered that he had converted a tule-bolsa into a sail boat,

and was sailing for the gold-mines. He was astride this bolsa,

with a small parcel of bread and meat done up in a piece of cloth;

another piece of cloth, such as we used for making our signal-

stations, he had fixed into a sail; and with a paddle he was

directing his precarious craft right out into the broad bay, to

follow the general direction of the schooners and boats that he

knew were ascending the Sacramento River. He was about a hundred

yards from the shore. I jerked up my gun, and hailed him to come

back. After a moment’s hesitation, he let go his sheet and began

to paddle back. This bolsa was nothing but a bundle of tule, or

bullrush, bound together with grass-ropes in the shape of a cigar,

about ten feet long and about two feet through the butt. With

these the California Indiana cross streams of considerable size.

When he came ashore, I gave him a good overhauling for attempting

to desert, and put him to work getting breakfast. In due time we

returned him to his ship, the Ohio. Subsequently, I made a bargain

with Mr. Hartnell to survey his ranch at Cosnmnes River, Sacramento

Valley. Ord and a young citizen, named Seton, were associated with

me in this. I bought of Rodman M. Price a surveyor’s compass,

chain, etc., and, in San Francisco, a small wagon and harness.

Availing ourselves of a schooner, chartered to carry Major Miller

and two companies of the Second Infantry from San Francisco to

Stockton, we got up to our destination at little cost. I recall an

occurrence that happened when the schooner was anchored in

Carquinez Straits, opposite the soldiers’ camp on shore. We were

waiting for daylight and a fair wind; the schooner lay anchored at

an ebb-tide, and about daylight Ord and I had gone ashore for

something. Just as we were pulling off from shore, we heard the

loud shouts of the men, and saw them all running down toward the

water. Our attention thus drawn, we saw something swimming in the

water, and pulled toward it, thinking it a coyote; but we soon

recognized a large grizzly bear, swimming directly across the

channel. Not having any weapon, we hurriedly pulled for the

schooner, calling out, as we neared it, “A bear! a bear!” It so

happened that Major Miller was on deck, washing his face and hands.

He ran rapidly to the bow of the vessel, took the musket from the

hands of the sentinel, and fired at the bear, as he passed but a

short distance ahead of the schooner. The bear rose, made a growl

or howl, but continued his course. As we scrambled up the

port-aide to get our guns, the mate, with a crew, happened to have

a boat on the starboard-aide, and, armed only with a hatchet, they

pulled up alongside the bear, and the mate struck him in the head

with the hatchet. The bear turned, tried to get into the boat, but

the mate struck his claws with repeated blows, and made him let go.

After several passes with him, the mate actually killed the bear,

got a rope round him, and towed him alongside the schooner, where

he was hoisted on deck. The carcass weighed over six hundred

pounds. It was found that Major Miller’s shot had struck the bear

in the lower jaw, and thus disabled him. Had it not been for this,

the bear would certainly have upset the boat and drowned all in it.

As it was, however, his meat served us a good turn in our trip up

to Stockton. At Stockton we disembarked our wagon, provisions, and

instruments. There I bought two fine mules at three hundred

dollars each, and we hitched up and started for the Coaumnes River.

About twelve miles off was the Mokelumne, a wide, bold stream, with

a canoe as a ferry-boat. We took our wagon to pieces, and ferried

it and its contents across, and then drove our mules into the

water. In crossing, one mule became entangled in the rope of the

other, and for a time we thought he was a gone mule; but at last he

revived and we hitched up. The mules were both pack-animals;

neither had ever before seen a wagon. Young Seton also was about

as green, and had never handled a mule. We put on the harness, and

began to hitch them in, when one of the mules turned his head, saw

the wagon, and started. We held on tight, but the beast did not

stop until he had shivered the tongue-pole into a dozen fragments.

The fact was, that Seton had hitched the traces before he had put

on the blind-bridle. There was considerable swearing done, but

that would not mend the pole. There was no place nearer than

Sutter’s Fort to repair damages, so we were put to our wits’ end.

We first sent back a mile or so, and bought a raw-hide. Gathering

up the fragments of the pole and cutting the hide into strips, we

finished it in the rudest manner. As long as the hide was green, the

pole was very shaky; but gradually the sun dried the hide,

tightened it, and the pole actually held for about a month. This

cost us nearly a day of delay; but, when damages were repaired, we

harnessed up again, and reached the crossing of the Cosumnes, where

our survey was to begin. The expediente, or title-papers, of the

ranch described it as containing nine or eleven leagues on the

Cosumnes, south side, and between the San Joaquin River and Sierra

Nevada Mountains. We began at the place where the road crosses the

Cosumnes, and laid down a line four miles south, perpendicular to

the general direction of the stream; then, surveying up the stream,

we marked each mile so as to admit of a subdivision of one mile by

four. The land was dry and very poor, with the exception of here

and there some small pieces of bottom land, the great bulk of the

bottom-land occurring on the north side of the stream. We

continued the survey up some twenty miles into the hills above the

mill of Dailor and Sheldon. It took about a month to make this

survey, which, when finished, was duly plotted; and for it we

received one-tenth of the land, or two subdivisions. Ord and I

took the land, and we paid Seton for his labor in cash. By the

sale of my share of the land, subsequently, I realized three

thousand dollars. After finishing Hartnell’s survey, we crossed

over to Dailor’s, and did some work for him at five hundred dollars

a day for the party. Having finished our work on the Cosumnes, we

proceeded to Sacramento, where Captain Sutter employed us to

connect the survey of Sacramento City, made by Lieutenant Warner,

and that of Sutterville, three miles below, which was then being

surveyed by Lieutenant J. W. Davidson, of the First Dragoons. At

Sutterville, the plateau of the Sacramento approached quite near

the river, and it would have made a better site for a town than the

low, submerged land where the city now stands; but it seems to be a

law of growth that all natural advantages are disregarded wherever

once business chooses a location. Old Sutter’s embarcadero became

Sacramento City, simply because it was the first point used for

unloading boats for Sutter’s Fort, just as the site for San

Francisco was fixed by the use of Yerba Buena as the hide-landing

for the Mission of “San Francisco de Asis.”

I invested my earnings in this survey in three lots in Sacramento

City, on which I made a fair profit by a sale to one McNulty, of

Mansfield, Ohio. I only had a two months’ leave of absence, during

which General Smith, his staff, and a retinue of civil friends,

were making a tour of the gold-mines, and hearing that he was en

route back to his headquarters at Sonoma, I knocked off my work,

sold my instruments, and left my wagon and mules with my cousin

Charley Hoyt, who had a store in Sacramento, and was on the point

of moving up to a ranch, for which he had bargained, on Bear Creek,

on which was afterward established Camp “Far West.” He afterward

sold the mules, wagon, etc., for me, and on the whole I think I

cleared, by those two months’ work, about six thousand dollars. I

then returned to headquarters at Sonoma, in time to attend my

fellow aide-de-camp Gibbs through a long and dangerous sickness,

during which he was on board a store-ship, guarded by Captain

George Johnson, who now resides in San Francisco. General Smith

had agreed that on the first good opportunity he would send me to

the United States as a bearer of dispatches, but this he could not

do until he had made the examination of Oregon, which was also in

his command. During the summer of 1849 there continued to pour

into California a perfect stream of people. Steamers came, and a

line was established from San Francisco to Sacramento, of which the

Senator was the pioneer, charging sixteen dollars a passage, and

actually coining money. Other boats were built, out of materials

which had either come around Cape Horn or were brought from the

Sandwich Islands. Wharves were built, houses were. springing up

as if by magic, and the Bay of San Francisco presented as busy a

scene of life as any part of the world. Major Allen, of the

Quartermaster’s Department, who had come out as chief-quartermaster

of the division, was building a large warehouse at Benicia, with a

row of quarters, out of lumber at one hundred dollars per thousand

feet, and the work was done by men at sixteen dollars a day. I

have seen a detailed soldier, who got only his monthly pay of eight

dollars a month, and twenty cents a day for extra duty, nailing on

weather-boards and shingles, alongside a citizen who was paid

sixteen dollars a day. This was a real injustice, made the

soldiers discontented, and it was hardly to be wondered at that so

many deserted.

While the mass of people were busy at gold and in mammoth

speculations, a set of busy politicians were at work to secure the

prizes of civil government. Gwin and Fremont were there, and T.

Butler King, of Georgia, had come out from the East, scheming for

office. He staid with us at Sonoma, and was generally regarded as

the Government candidate for United States Senator. General Riley

as Governor, and Captain Halleck as Secretary of State, had issued

a proclamation for the election of a convention to frame a State

constitution. In due time the elections were held, and the

convention was assembled at Monterey. Dr. Semple was elected

president; and Gwin, Sutter, Halleck, Butler King, Sherwood,

Gilbert, Shannon, and others, were members. General Smith took no

part in this convention, but sent me down to watch the proceedings,

and report to him. The only subject of interest was the slavery

question. There were no slaves then in California, save a few who

had come out as servants, but the Southern people at that time

claimed their share of territory, out of that acquired by the

common labors of all sections of the Union in the war with Mexico.

Still, in California there was little feeling on the subject. I

never heard General Smith, who was a Louisianian, express any

opinion about it. Nor did Butler King, of Georgia, ever manifest

any particular interest in the matter. A committee was named to

draft a constitution, which in due time was reported, with the

usual clause, then known as the Wilmot Proviso, excluding slavery;

and during the debate which ensued very little opposition was made

to this clause, which was finally adopted by a large majority,

although the convention was made up in large part of men from our

Southern States. This matter of California being a free State,

afterward, in the national Congress, gave rise to angry debates,

which at one time threatened civil war. The result of the

convention was the election of State officers, and of the

Legislature which sat in San Jose in October and November, 1849,

and which elected Fremont and Gwin as the first United States

Senators in Congress from the Pacific coast.

Shortly after returning from Monterey, I was sent by General Smith

up to Sacramento City to instruct Lieutenants Warner and

Williamson, of the Engineers, to push their surveys of the Sierra

Nevada Mountains, for the purpose of ascertaining the possibility

of passing that range by a railroad, a subject that then elicited

universal interest. It was generally assumed that such a road

could not be made along any of the immigrant roads then in use, and

Warner’s orders were to look farther north up the Feather River, or

some one of its tributaries. Warner was engaged in this survey

during the summer and fall of 1849, and had explored, to the very

end of Goose Lake, the source of Feather River. Then, leaving

Williamson with the baggage and part of the men, he took about ten

men and a first-rate guide, crossed the summit to the east, and had

turned south, having the range of mountains on his right hand, with

the intention of regaining his camp by another pass in the

mountain. The party was strung out, single file, with wide spaces

between, Warner ahead. He had just crossed a small valley and

ascended one of the spurs covered with sage-brush and rocks, when a

band of Indians rose up and poured in a shower of arrows. The mule

turned and ran back to the valley, where Warner fell off dead,

punctured by five arrows. The mule also died. The guide, who was

near to Warner, was mortally wounded; and one or two men had arrows

in their bodies, but recovered. The party gathered about Warner’s

body, in sight of the Indians, who whooped and yelled, but did not

venture away from their cover of rocks. This party of men remained

there all day without burying the bodies, and at night, by a wide

circuit, passed the mountain, and reached Williamson’s camp. The

news of Warner’s death cast a gloom over all the old Californians,

who knew him well. He was a careful, prudent, and honest officer,

well qualified for his business, and extremely accurate in all his

work. He and I had been intimately associated during our four

years together in California, and I felt his loss deeply. The

season was then too far advanced to attempt to avenge his death,

and it was not until the next spring that a party was sent out to

gather up and bury his scattered bones.

As winter approached, the immigrants overland came pouring into

California, dusty and worn with their two thousand miles of weary

travel across the plains and mountains. Those who arrived in

October and November reported thousands still behind them, with

oxen perishing, and short of food. Appeals were made for help, and

General Smith resolved to attempt relief. Major Rucker, who had

come across with Pike. Graham’s Battalion of Dragoons, had

exchanged with Major Fitzgerald, of the Quartermaster’s Department,

and was detailed to conduct this relief. General Smith ordered him


to be supplied with one hundred thousand dollars out of the civil

fund, subject to his control, and with this to purchase at

Sacramento flour, bacon, etc., and to hire men and mules to send

out and meet the immigrants. Major Rucker fulfilled this duty

perfectly, sending out pack-trains loaded with food by the many

routes by which the immigrants were known to be approaching, went

out himself with one of these trains, and remained in the mountains

until the last immigrant had got in. No doubt this expedition

saved many a life which has since been most useful to the country.

I remained at Sacramento a good part of the fall of 1849,

recognizing among the immigrants many of my old personal friends–

John C. Fall, William King, Sam Stambaugh, Hugh Ewing, Hampton

Denman, etc. I got Rucker to give these last two employment along

with the train for the relief of the immigrants. They had proposed

to begin a ranch on my land on the Cosumnes, but afterward changed

their minds, and went out with Rucker.

While I was at Sacramento General Smith had gone on his

contemplated trip to Oregon, and promised that he would be back in

December, when he would send me home with dispatches. Accordingly,

as the winter and rainy season was at hand, I went to San

Francisco, and spent some time at the Presidio, waiting patiently

for General Smith’s return. About Christmas a vessel arrived from

Oregon with the dispatches, and an order for me to deliver them in

person to General Winfield Scott, in New York City. General Smith

had sent them down, remaining in Oregon for a time. Of course I

was all ready, and others of our set were going home by the same

conveyance, viz., Rucker, Ord, A. J. Smith–some under orders, and

the others on leave. Wanting to see my old friends in Monterey, I

arranged for my passage in the steamer of January 1, 1850, paying

six hundred dollars for passage to New York, and went down to

Monterey by land, Rucker accompanying me. The weather was

unusually rainy, and all the plain about Santa Clara was under

water; but we reached Monterey in time. I again was welcomed by my

friends, Dona Augustias, Manuelita, and the family, and it was

resolved that I should take two of the boys home with me and put

them at Georgetown College for education, viz., Antonio and

Porfirio, thirteen and eleven years old. The dona gave me a bag of

gold-dust to pay for their passage and to deposit at the college.

On the 2d day of January punctually appeared the steamer Oregon.

We were all soon on board and off for home. At that time the

steamers touched at San Diego, Acapulco, and Panama. Our

passage down the coast was unusually pleasant. Arrived at

Panama, we hired mules and rode across to Gorgona, on the

Cruces River, where we hired a boat and paddled down to the

mouth of the river, off which lay the steamer Crescent City. It

usually took four days to cross the isthmus, every passenger taking

care of himself, and it was really funny to watch the efforts of

women and men unaccustomed to mules. It was an old song to us, and

the trip across was easy and interesting. In due time we were rowed

off to the Crescent City, rolling back and forth in the swell, and

we scrambled aboard by a “Jacob’s ladder” from the stern. Some of

the women had to be hoisted aboard by lowering a tub from the end

of a boom; fun to us who looked on, but awkward enough to the poor

women, especially to a very fat one, who attracted much notice.

General Fremont, wife and child (Lillie) were passengers with us

down from San Francisco; but Mrs. Fremont not being well, they

remained over one trip at Panama.

Senator Gwin was one of our passengers, and went through to New

York. We reached New York about the close of January, after a safe

and pleasant trip. Our party, composed of Ord, A. J. Smith, and

Rucker, with the two boys, Antonio and Porfirio, put up at

Delmonico’s, on Bowling Green; and, as soon as we had cleaned up

somewhat, I took a carriage, went to General Scott’s office in

Ninth Street, delivered my dispatches, was ordered to dine with him

next day, and then went forth to hunt up my old friends and

relations, the Scotts, Hoyts, etc., etc.

On reaching New York, most of us had rough soldier’s clothing, but

we soon got a new outfit, and I dined with General Scott’s family,

Mrs. Scott being present, and also their son-in-law and daughter

(Colonel and Mrs. H. L. Scott). The general questioned me pretty

closely in regard to things on the Pacific coast, especially the

politics, and startled me with the assertion that “our country was

on the eve of a terrible civil war.” He interested me by anecdotes

of my old army comrades in his recent battles around the city of

Mexico, and I felt deeply the fact that our country had passed

through a foreign war, that my comrades had fought great battles,

and yet I had not heard a hostile shot. Of course, I thought it

the last and only chance in my day, and that my career as a soldier

was at an end. After some four or five days spent in New York, I

was, by an order of General Scott, sent to Washington, to lay

before the Secretary of War (Crawford, of Georgia) the dispatches

which I had brought from California. On reaching Washington, I

found that Mr. Ewing was Secretary of the Interior, and I at once

became a member of his family. The family occupied the house of

Mr. Blair, on Pennsylvania Avenue, directly in front of the War

Department. I immediately repaired to the War Department, and

placed my dispatches in the hands of Mr. Crawford, who questioned

me somewhat about California, but seemed little interested in the

subject, except so far as it related to slavery and the routes

through Texas. I then went to call on the President at the White

House. I found Major Bliss, who had been my teacher in mathematics

at West Point, and was then General Taylor’s son-in-law and private

secretary. He took me into the room, now used by the President’s

private secretaries, where President Taylor was. I had never seen

him before, though I had served under him in Florida in 1840-’41,

and was most agreeably surprised at his fine personal appearance,

and his pleasant, easy manners. He received me with great

kindness, told me that Colonel Mason had mentioned my name with

praise, and that he would be pleased to do me any act of favor. We

were with him nearly an hour, talking about California generally,

and of his personal friends, Persifer Smith, Riley, Canby, and

others: Although General Scott was generally regarded by the army

as the most accomplished soldier of the Mexican War, yet General

Taylor had that blunt, honest, and stern character, that endeared

him to the masses of the people, and made him President. Bliss,

too, had gained a large fame by his marked skill and intelligence

as an adjutant-general and military adviser. His manner was very

unmilitary, and in his talk he stammered and hesitated, so as to

make an unfavorable impression on a stranger; but he was

wonderfully accurate and skillful with his pen, and his orders and

letters form a model of military precision and clearness.




Having returned from California in January, 1850, with dispatches

for the War Department, and having delivered them in person first

to General Scott in New York City, and afterward to the Secretary

of War (Crawford) in Washington City, I applied for and received a

leave of absence for six months. I first visited my mother, then

living at Mansfield, Ohio, and returned to Washington, where, on

the 1st day of May, 1850, I was married to Miss Ellen Boyle Ewing,

daughter of the Hon. Thomas Ewing, Secretary of the Interior. The

marriage ceremony was attended by a large and distinguished

company, embracing Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, T. H. Benton,

President Taylor, and all his cabinet. This occurred at the house

of Mr. Ewing, the same now owned and occupied by Mr. F. P. Blair,

senior, on Pennsylvania Avenue, opposite the War Department. We

made a wedding tour to Baltimore, New York, Niagara, and Ohio, and

returned to Washington by the 1st of July. General Taylor

participated in the celebration of the Fourth of July, a very hot

day, by hearing a long speech from the Hon. Henry S. Foote, at the

base of the Washington Monument. Returning from the celebration

much heated and fatigued, he partook too freely of his favorite

iced milk with cherries, and during that night was seized with a

severe colic, which by morning had quite prostrated him. It was

said that he sent for his son-in-law, Surgeon Wood, United States

Army, stationed in Baltimore, and declined medical assistance from

anybody else. Mr. Ewing visited him several times, and was

manifestly uneasy and anxious, as was also his son-in-law, Major

Bliss, then of the army, and his confidential secretary. He

rapidly grew worse, and died in about four days.

At that time there was a high state of political feeling pervading

the country, on account of the questions growing out of the new

Territories just acquired from Mexico by the war. Congress was in

session, and General Taylor’s sudden death evidently created great

alarm. I was present in the Senate-gallery, and saw the oath of

office administered to the Vice-President, Mr. Fillmore, a man of

splendid physical proportions and commanding appearance; but on the

faces of Senators and people could easily be read the feelings of

doubt and uncertainty that prevailed. All knew that a change in

the cabinet and general policy was likely to result, but at the

time it was supposed that Mr. Fillmore, whose home was in Buffalo,

would be less liberal than General Taylor to the politicians of the

South, who feared, or pretended to fear, a crusade against slavery;

or, as was the political cry of the day, that slavery would be

prohibited in the Territories and in the places exclusively under

the jurisdiction of the United States. Events, however, proved the


I attended General Taylor’s funeral as a sort of aide-decamp, at

the request of the Adjutant-General of the army, Roger Jones, whose

brother, a militia-general, commanded the escort, composed of

militia and some regulars. Among the regulars I recall the names

of Captains John Sedgwick and W. F. Barry.

Hardly was General Taylor decently buried in the Congressional

Cemetery when the political struggle recommenced, and it became

manifest that Mr. Fillmore favored the general compromise then

known as Henry Clay’s “Omnibus Bill,” and that a general change of

cabinet would at once occur: Webster was to succeed Mr. Clayton as

Secretary of State, Corwin to succeed Mr. Meredith as Secretary of

the Treasury, and A. H. H. Stuart to succeed Mr. Ewing as Secretary

of the Interior. Mr. Ewing, however, was immediately appointed by

the Governor of the State to succeed Corwin in the Senate. These

changes made it necessary for Mr. Ewing to discontinue house-

keeping, and Mr. Corwin took his home and furniture off his hands.

I escorted the family out to their home in Lancaster, Ohio; but,

before this had occurred, some most interesting debates took place

in the Senate, which I regularly attended, and heard Clay, Benton,

Foots, King of Alabama, Dayton, and the many real orators of that

day. Mr. Calhoun was in his seat, but he was evidently approaching

his end, for he was pale and feeble in the extreme. I heard Mr.

Webster’s last speech on the floor of the Senate, under

circumstances that warrant a description. It was publicly known

that he was to leave the Senate, and enter the new cabinet of Mr.

Fillmore, as his Secretary of State, and that prior to leaving he

was to make a great speech on the “Omnibus Bill.” Resolved to hear

it, I went up to the Capitol on the day named, an hour or so

earlier than usual. The speech was to be delivered in the old

Senate-chamber, now used by the Supreme Court. The galleries were

much smaller than at present, and I found them full to overflowing,

with a dense crowd about the door, struggling to reach the stairs.

I could not get near, and then tried the reporters’ gallery, but

found it equally crowded; so I feared I should lose the only

possible opportunity to hear Mr. Webster.

I had only a limited personal acquaintance with any of the

Senators, but had met Mr. Corwin quite often at Mr. Ewing’s house,

and I also knew that he had been extremely friendly to my father in

his lifetime; so I ventured to send in to him my card, “W. T. S.,

First-Lieutenant, Third Artillery.” He came to the door promptly,

when I said, “Mr. Corwin, I believe Mr. Webster is to speak

to-day.” His answer was, “Yes, he has the floor at one o’clock.”

I then added that I was extremely anxious to hear him. “Well,”

said he, “why don’t you go into the gallery?” I explained that it

was full, and I had tried every access, but found all jammed with

people. “Well,” said he, “what do you want of me?” I explained

that I would like him to take me on the floor of the Senate; that I

had often seen from the gallery persons on the floor, no better

entitled to it than I. He then asked in his quizzical way, “Are

you a foreign embassador?” “No.” “Are you the Governor of a

State?” “No.” “Are you a member of the other House?” “Certainly

not” “Have you ever had a vote of thanks by name?” “No!” “Well,

these are the only privileged members.” I then told him he knew

well enough who I was, and that if he chose he could take me in.

He then said, “Have you any impudence?” I told him, “A reasonable

amount if occasion called for it.” “Do you think you could become

so interested in my conversation as not to notice the door-keeper?”

(pointing to him). I told him that there was not the least doubt

of it, if he would tell me one of his funny stories. He then took

my arm, and led me a turn in the vestibule, talking about some

indifferent matter, but all the time directing my looks to his left

hand, toward which he was gesticulating with his right; and thus we

approached the door-keeper, who began asking me, “Foreign

ambassador? Governor of a State? Member of Congress?” etc.; but I

caught Corwin’s eye, which said plainly, “Don’t mind him, pay

attention to me,” and in this way we entered the Senate-chamber by

a side-door. Once in, Corwin said, “Now you can take care of

yourself,” and I thanked him cordially.

I found a seat close behind Mr. Webster, and near General Scott,

and heard the whole of the speech. It was heavy in the extreme,

and I confess that I was disappointed and tired long before it was

finished. No doubt the speech was full of fact and argument, but

it had none of the fire of oratory, or intensity of feeling, that

marked all of Mr. Clay’s efforts.

Toward the end of July, as before stated, all the family went home


to Lancaster. Congress was still in session, and the bill adding

four captains to the Commissary Department had not passed, but was

reasonably certain to, and I was equally sure of being one of them.

At that time my name was on the muster-roll of (Light) Company C,

Third Artillery (Bragg’s), stationed at Jefferson Barracks, near

St. Louis. But, as there was cholera at St. Louis, on application,

I was permitted to delay joining my company until September. Early

in that month, I proceeded to Cincinnati, and thence by steamboat

to St. Louis, and then to Jefferson Barracks, where I reported

for duty to Captain and Brevet-Colonel Braxton Bragg, commanding

(Light) Company C, Third Artillery. The other officers of the

company were First-Lieutenant James A. Hardie, and afterward

Haekaliah Brown. New horses had just been purchased for the

battery, and we were preparing for work, when the mail brought the

orders announcing the passage of the bill increasing the Commissary

Department by four captains, to which were promoted Captains

Shiras, Blair, Sherman, and Bowen. I was ordered to take post at

St. Louis, and to relieve Captain A. J. Smith, First Dragoons, who

had been acting in that capacity for some months. My commission

bore date September 27,1850. I proceeded forthwith to the city,

relieved Captain Smith, and entered on the discharge of the duties

of the office.

Colonel N. S. Clarke, Sixth Infantry, commanded the department;

Major D. C. Buell was adjutant-general, and Captain W. S. Hancock

was regimental quartermaster; Colonel Thomas Swords was the depot

quartermaster, and we had our offices in the same building, on the

corner of Washington Avenue and Second. Subsequently Major S. Van

Vliet relieved Colonel Swords. I remained at the Planters’ House

until my family arrived, when we occupied a house on Chouteau

Avenue, near Twelfth.

During the spring and summer of 1851, Mr. Ewing and Mr. Henry

Stoddard, of Dayton, Ohio, a cousin of my father, were much in St.

Louis, on business connected with the estate of Major Amos

Stoddard, who was of the old army, as early as the beginning of

this century. He was stationed at the village of St. Louis at the

time of the Louisiana purchase, and when Lewis and Clarke made

their famous expedition across the continent to the Columbia River.

Major Stoddard at that early day had purchased a small farm back of

the village, of some Spaniard or Frenchman, but, as he was a

bachelor, and was killed at Fort Meigs, Ohio, during the War of

1812, the title was for many years lost sight of, and the farm was

covered over by other claims and by occupants. As St. Louis began

to grow, his brothers and sisters, and their descendants, concluded

to look up the property. After much and fruitless litigation, they

at last retained Mr. Stoddard, of Dayton, who in turn employed Mr.

Ewing, and these, after many years of labor, established the title,

and in the summer of 1851 they were put in possession by the United

States marshal. The ground was laid off, the city survey extended

over it, and the whole was sold in partition. I made some

purchases, and acquired an interest, which I have retained more or

less ever since.

We continued to reside in St. Louis throughout the year 1851, and

in the spring of 1852 I had occasion to visit Fort Leavenworth on

duty, partly to inspect a lot of cattle which a Mr. Gordon, of Cass

County, had contracted to deliver in New Mexico, to enable Colonel

Sumner to attempt his scheme of making the soldiers in New Mexico

self-supporting, by raising their own meat, and in a measure their

own vegetables. I found Fort Leavenworth then, as now, a most

beautiful spot, but in the midst of a wild Indian country. There

were no whites settled in what is now the State of Kansas. Weston,

in Missouri, was the great town, and speculation in town-lots there

and thereabout burnt the fingers of some of the army-officers, who

wanted to plant their scanty dollars in a fruitful soil. I rode on

horseback over to Gordon’s farm, saw the cattle, concluded the

bargain, and returned by way of Independence, Missouri. At

Independence I found F. X. Aubrey, a noted man of that day, who had

just made a celebrated ride of six hundred miles in six days. That

spring the United States quartermaster, Major L. C. Easton, at Fort

Union, New Mexico, had occasion to send some message east by a

certain date, and contracted with Aubrey to carry it to the nearest

post-office (then Independence, Missouri), making his compensation

conditional on the time consumed. He was supplied with a good

horse, and an order on the outgoing trains for an exchange. Though

the whole route was infested with hostile Indians, and not a house

on it, Aubrey started alone with his rifle. He was fortunate in

meeting several outward-bound trains, and there, by made frequent

changes of horses, some four or five, and reached Independence in

six days, having hardly rested or slept the whole way. Of course,

he was extremely fatigued, and said there was an opinion among the

wild Indians that if a man “sleeps out his sleep,” after such

extreme exhaustion, he will never awake; and, accordingly, he

instructed his landlord to wake him up after eight hours of sleep.

When aroused at last, he saw by the clock that he had been asleep

twenty hours, and he was dreadfully angry, threatened to murder his

landlord, who protested he had tried in every way to get him up,

but found it impossible, and had let him “sleep it out” Aubrey, in

describing his sensations to me, said he took it for granted he was

a dead man; but in fact he sustained no ill effects, and was off

again in a few days. I met him afterward often in California, and

always esteemed him one of the best samples of that bold race of

men who had grown up on the Plains, along with the Indians, in the

service of the fur companies. He was afterward, in 1856, killed by

R. C. Weightman, in a bar-room row, at Santa Fe, New Mexico, where

he had just arrived from California.

In going from Independence to Fort Leavenworth, I had to swim Milk

Creek, and sleep all night in a Shawnee camp. The next day I

crossed the Kaw or Kansas River in a ferry boat, maintained by the

blacksmith of the tribe, and reached the fort in the evening. At

that day the whole region was unsettled, where now exist many rich

counties, highly cultivated, embracing several cities of from ten

to forty thousand inhabitants. From Fort Leavenworth I returned by

steamboat to St. Louis.

In the summer of 1852, my family went to Lancaster, Ohio; but I

remained at my post. Late in the season, it was rumored that I was

to be transferred to New Orleans, and in due time I learned the

cause. During a part of the Mexican War, Major Seawell, of the

Seventh Infantry, had been acting commissary of subsistence at New

Orleans, then the great depot of supplies for the troops in Texas,

and of those operating beyond the Rio Grande. Commissaries at that

time were allowed to purchase in open market, and were not

restricted to advertising and awarding contracts to the lowest

bidders. It was reported that Major Seawell had purchased largely

of the house of Perry Seawell & Co., Mr. Seawell being a relative

of his. When he was relieved in his duties by Major Waggman, of

the regular Commissary Department, the latter found Perry Seawell &

Co. so prompt and satisfactory that he continued the patronage;

for which there was a good reason, because stores for the use of

the troops at remote posts had to be packed in a particular way, to

bear transportation in wagons, or even on pack-mules; and this firm

had made extraordinary preparations for this exclusive purpose.

Some time about 1849, a brother of Major Waggaman, who had been

clerk to Captain Casey, commissary of subsistence, at Tampa Bay,

Florida, was thrown out of office by the death of the captain, and

he naturally applied to his brother in New Orleans for employment;

and he, in turn, referred him to his friends, Messrs. Perry

Seawell & Co. These first employed him as a clerk, and afterward

admitted him as a partner. Thus it resulted, in fact, that Major

Waggaman was dealing largely, if not exclusively, with a firm of

which his brother was a partner.

One day, as General Twiggs was coming across Lake Pontchartrain, he

fell in with one of his old cronies, who was an extensive grocer.

This gentleman gradually led the conversation to the downward

tendency of the times since he and Twiggs were young, saying that,

in former years, all the merchants of New Orleans had a chance at

government patronage; but now, in order to sell to the army

commissary, one had to take a brother in as a partner. General

Twiggs resented this, but the merchant again affirmed it, and gave

names. As soon as General Twiggs reached his office, he instructed

his adjutant-general, Colonel Bliss–who told me this–to address a

categorical note of inquiry to Major Waggaman. The major very

frankly stated the facts as they had arisen, and insisted that the

firm of Perry Seawell & Co. had enjoyed a large patronage, but

deserved it richly by reason of their promptness, fairness, and

fidelity. The correspondence was sent to Washington, and the

result was, that Major Waggaman was ordered to St. Louis, and I was

ordered to New Orleans.

I went down to New Orleans in a steamboat in the month of

September, 1852, taking with me a clerk, and, on arrival, assumed

the office, in a bank-building facing Lafayette Square, in which

were the offices of all the army departments. General D. Twiggs

was in command of the department, with Colonel W. W. S. Bliss

(son-in-law of General Taylor) as his adjutant-general. Colonel A.

C. Myers was quartermaster, Captain John F. Reynolds aide-de-camp,

and Colonel A. J. Coffee paymaster. I took rooms at the St. Louis

Hotel, kept by a most excellent gentleman, Colonel Mudge.

Mr. Perry Seawell came to me in person, soliciting a continuance of

the custom which he had theretofore enjoyed; but I told him frankly

that a change was necessary, and I never saw or heard of him

afterward. I simply purchased in open market, arranged for the

proper packing of the stores, and had not the least difficulty in

supplying the troops and satisfying the head of the department in


About Christmas, I had notice that my family, consisting of Mrs.

Sherman, two children, and nurse, with my sister Fanny (now Mrs.

Moulton, of Cincinnati, Ohio), were en route for New Orleans by

steam-packet; so I hired a house on Magazine Street, and furnished

it. Almost at the moment of their arrival, also came from St.

Louis my personal friend Major Turner, with a parcel of documents,

which, on examination, proved to be articles of copartnership for a

bank in California under the title of “Lucas, Turner & Co.,” in

which my name was embraced as a partner. Major Turner was, at the

time, actually en route for New York, to embark for San Francisco,

to inaugurate the bank, in the nature of a branch of the firm

already existing at St. Louis under the name of “Lucas & Symonds.”

We discussed the matter very fully, and he left with me the papers

for reflection, and went on to New York and California.

Shortly after arrived James H. Lucas, Esq., the principal of the

banking-firm in St. Louis, a most honorable and wealthy gentleman.

He further explained the full programme of the branch in

California; that my name had been included at the insistance of

Major Turner, who was a man of family and property in St. Louis,

unwilling to remain long in San Francisco, and who wanted me to

succeed him there. He offered me a very tempting income, with an

interest that would accumulate and grow. He also disclosed to me

that, in establishing a branch in California, he was influenced by

the apparent prosperity of Page, Bacon & Co., and further that he

had received the principal data, on which he had founded the

scheme, from B. R. Nisbet, who was then a teller in the firm of

Page, Bacon & Co., of San Francisco; that he also was to be taken

in as a partner, and was fully competent to manage all the details

of the business; but, as Nisbet was comparatively young, Mr. Lucas

wanted me to reside in San Francisco permanently, as the head of

the firm. All these matters were fully discussed, and I agreed to

apply for a six months’ leave of absence, go to San Francisco, see

for myself, and be governed by appearances there. I accordingly,

with General Twiggs’s approval, applied to the adjutant-general for

a six months’ leave, which was granted; and Captain John F.

Reynolds was named to perform my duties during my absence.

During the stay of my family in New Orleans, we enjoyed the society

of the families of General Twiggs, Colonel Myers, and Colonel

Bliss, as also of many citizens, among whom was the wife of Mr.

Day, sister to my brother-in-law, Judge Bartley. General Twiggs

was then one of the oldest officers of the army. His history

extended back to the War of 1812, and he had served in early days

with General Jackson in Florida and in the Creek campaigns. He had

fine powers of description, and often entertained us, at his

office, with accounts of his experiences in the earlier settlements

of the Southwest. Colonel Bliss had been General Taylor’s adjutant

in the Mexican War, and was universally regarded as one of the most

finished and accomplished scholars in the army, and his wife was a

most agreeable and accomplished lady.

Late in February, I dispatched my family up to Ohio in the

steamboat Tecumseh (Captain Pearce); disposed of my house and

furniture; turned over to Major Reynolds the funds, property, and

records of the office; and took passage in a small steamer for

Nicaragua,, en route for California. We embarked early in March,

and in seven days reached Greytown, where we united with the

passengers from New York, and proceeded, by the Nicaragua River and

Lake, for the Pacific Ocean. The river was low, and the little

steam canal-boats, four in number, grounded often, so that the

passengers had to get into the water, to help them over the bare.

In all there were about six hundred passengers, of whom about sixty

were women and children. In four days we reached Castillo, where

there is a decided fall, passed by a short railway, and above this

fall we were transferred to a larger boat, which carried us up the

rest of the river, and across the beautiful lake Nicaragua, studded

with volcanic islands. Landing at Virgin Bay, we rode on mules

across to San Juan del Sur, where lay at anchor the propeller S. S.

Lewis (Captain Partridge, I think). Passengers were carried

through the surf by natives to small boats, and rowed off to the

Lewis. The weather was very hot, and quite a scramble followed for

state-rooms, especially for those on deck. I succeeded in reaching

the purser’s office, got my ticket for a berth in one of the best

state-rooms on deck, and, just as I was turning from the window, a


lady who was a fellow-passenger from New Orleans, a Mrs. D-, called

to me to secure her and her lady friend berths on deck, saying that

those below were unendurable. I spoke to the purser, who, at the

moment perplexed by the crowd and clamor, answered: “I must put

their names down for the other two berths of your state-room; but,

as soon as the confusion is over, I will make some change whereby

you shall not suffer.” As soon as these two women were assigned to

a state-room, they took possession, and I was left out. Their

names were recorded as “Captain Sherman and ladies.” As soon as

things were quieted down I remonstrated with the purser, who at

last gave me a lower berth in another and larger state-room on

deck, with five others, so that my two ladies had the state-room

all to themselves. At every meal the steward would come to me, and

say, “Captain Sherman, will you bring your ladies to the table?”

and we had the best seats in the ship.

This continued throughout the voyage, and I assert that “my ladies”

were of the most modest and best-behaved in the ship; but some time

after we had reached San Francisco one of our fellow-passengers

came to me and inquired if I personally knew Mrs. D—, with flaxen

tresses, who sang so sweetly for us, and who had come out under my

especial escort. I replied I did not, more than the chance

acquaintance of the voyage, and what she herself had told me, viz.,

that she expected to meet her husband, who lived about Mokelumne

Hill. He then informed me that she was a woman of the town.

Society in California was then decidedly mixed. In due season the

steamship Lewis got under weigh. She was a wooden ship, long and

narrow, bark-rigged, and a propeller; very slow, moving not over

eight miles an hour. We stopped at Acapulco, and, in eighteen

days, passed in sight of Point Pinoa at Monterey, and at the speed

we were traveling expected to reach San Francisco at 4 A. M. the

next day. The cabin passengers, as was usual, bought of the

steward some champagne and cigars, and we had a sort of ovation for

the captain, purser, and surgeon of the ship, who were all very

clever fellows, though they had a slow and poor ship. Late at

night all the passengers went to bed, expecting to enter the port

at daylight. I did not undress, as I thought the captain could and

would run in at night, and I lay down with my clothes on. About 4

A. M. I was awakened by a bump and sort of grating of the vessel,

which I thought was our arrival at the wharf in San Francisco; but

instantly the ship struck heavily; the engines stopped, and the

running to and fro on deck showed that something was wrong. In a

moment I was out of my state-room, at the bulwark, holding fast to

a stanchion, and looking over the side at the white and seething

water caused by her sudden and violent stoppage. The sea was

comparatively smooth, the night pitch-dark, and the fog deep and

impenetrable; the ship would rise with the swell, and come down

with a bump and quiver that was decidedly unpleasant. Soon the

passengers were out of their rooms, undressed, calling for help,

and praying as though the ship were going to sink immediately. Of

course she could not sink, being already on the bottom, and the

only question was as to the strengh of hull to stand the bumping

and straining. Great confusion for a time prevailed, but soon I

realized that the captain had taken all proper precautions to

secure his boats, of which there were six at the davits. These are

the first things that steerage-passengers make for in case of

shipwreck, and right over my head I heard the captain’s voice say

in a low tone, but quite decided: “Let go that falls, or, damn you,

I’ll blow your head off!” This seemingly harsh language gave me

great comfort at the time, and on saying so to the captain

afterward, he explained that it was addressed to a passenger who

attempted to lower one of the boats. Guards, composed of the crew,

were soon posted to prevent any interference with the boats, and

the officers circulated among the passengers the report that there

was no immediate danger; that, fortunately, the sea was smooth;

that we were simply aground, and must quietly await daylight.

They advised the passengers to keep quiet, and the ladies and

children to dress and sit at the doors of their state-rooms, there

to await the advice and action of the officers of the ship, who

were perfectly cool and self-possessed. Meantime the ship was

working over a reef-for a time I feared she would break in two;

but, as the water gradually rose inside to a level with the sea

outside, the ship swung broadside to the swell, and all her keel

seemed to rest on the rock or sand. At no time did the sea break

over the deck–but the water below drove all the people up to the

main-deck and to the promenade-deck, and thus we remained for about

three hours, when daylight came; but there was a fog so thick that

nothing but water could be seen. The captain caused a boat to be

carefully lowered, put in her a trustworthy officer with a

boat-compass, and we saw her depart into the fog. During her

absence the ship’s bell was kept tolling. Then the fires were all

out, the ship full of water, and gradually breaking up, wriggling

with every swell like a willow basket–the sea all round us full of

the floating fragments of her sheeting, twisted and torn into a

spongy condition. In less than an hour the boat returned, saying

that the beach was quite near, not more than a mile away, and had a

good place for landing. All the boats were then carefully lowered,

and manned by crews belonging to the ship; a piece of the gangway,

on the leeward side, was cut away, and all the women, and a few of

the worst-scared men, were lowered into the boats, which pulled for

shore. In a comparatively short time the boats returned, took new

loads, and the debarkation was afterward carried on quietly and

systematically. No baggage was allowed to go on shore except bags

or parcels carried in the hands of passengers. At times the fog

lifted so that we could see from the wreck the tops of the hills,

and the outline of the shore; and I remember sitting on, the upper

or hurricane deck with the captain, who had his maps and compass

before him, and was trying to make out where the ship was. I

thought I recognized the outline of the hills below the mission of

Dolores, and so stated to him; but he called my attention to the

fact that the general line of hills bore northwest, whereas the

coast south of San Francisco bears due north and south. He

therefore concluded that the ship had overrun her reckoning, and

was then to the north of San Francisco. He also explained that,

the passage up being longer than usual, viz., eighteen days, the

coal was short; that at the time the firemen were using some cut-up

spars along with the slack of coal, and that this fuel had made

more than usual steam, so that the ship must have glided along

faster than reckoned. This proved to be the actual case, for, in

fact, the steamship Lewis was wrecked April 9, 1853, on “Duckworth

Reef,” Baulinas Bay, about eighteen miles above the entrance to San


The captain had sent ashore. the purser in the first boat, with

orders to work his way to the city as soon as possible, to report

the loss of his vessel, and to bring back help. I remained on the

wreck till among the last of the passengers, managing to get a can

of crackers and some sardines out of the submerged pantry, a thing

the rest of the passengers did not have, and then I went quietly

ashore in one of the boats. The passengers were all on the beach,

under a steep bluff; had built fires to dry their clothes, but had

seen no human being, and had no idea where they were. Taking along

with me a fellow-passenger, a young chap about eighteen years old,

I scrambled up the bluff, and walked back toward the hills, in

hopes to get a good view of some known object. It was then the

month of April, and the hills were covered with the beautiful

grasses and flowers of that season of the year. We soon found

horse paths and tracks, and following them we came upon a drove of

horses grazing at large, some of which had saddle-marks. At about

two miles from the beach we found a corral; and thence, following

one of the strongest-marked paths, in about a mile more we

descended into a valley, and, on turning a sharp point, reached a

board shanty, with a horse picketed near by. Four men were inside

eating a meal. I inquired if any of the Lewis’s people had been

there; they did not seem to understand what I meant when I

explained to them that about three miles from them, and beyond the

old corral, the steamer Lewis was wrecked, and her passengers were

on the beach. I inquired where we were, and they answered, “At

Baulinas Creek;” that they were employed at a saw-mill just above,

and were engaged in shipping lumber to San Francisco; that a

schooner loaded with lumber was then about two miles down the

creek, waiting for the tide to get out, and doubtless if we would

walk down they would take us on board.

I wrote a few words back to the captain, telling him where he was,

and that I would hurry to the city to send him help. My companion

and I their went on down the creek, and soon descried the schooner

anchored out in the stream. On being hailed, a small boat came in

and took us on board. The “captain” willingly agreed for a small

sum to carry us down to San Francisco; and, as his whole crew

consisted of a small boy about twelve years old, we helped him to

get up his anchor and pole the schooner down the creek and out over

the bar on a high tide. This must have been about 2 P.M. Once over

the bar, the sails were hoisted, and we glided along rapidly with a

strong, fair, northwest wind. The fog had lifted, so we could see

the shores plainly, and the entrance to the bay. In a couple of

hours we were entering the bay, and running “wing-and-wing.”

Outside the wind was simply the usual strong breeze; but, as it

passes through the head of the Golden Gate, it increases, and

there, too, we met a strong ebb-tide.

The schooner was loaded with lumber, much of which was on deck,

lashed down to ring bolts with raw-hide thongs. The captain was

steering, and I was reclining on the lumber, looking at the

familiar shore, as we approached Fort Point, when I heard a sort of

cry, and felt the schooner going over. As we got into the throat

of the “Heads,” the force of the wind, meeting a strong ebb-tide,

drove the nose of the schooner under water; she dove like a duck,

went over on her side, and began, to drift out with the tide. I

found myself in the water, mixed up with pieces of plank and ropes;

struck out, swam round to the stern, got on the keel, and clambered

up on the side. Satisfied that she could not sink, by reason of

her cargo, I was not in the least alarmed, but thought two

shipwrecks in one day not a good beginning for a new, peaceful

career. Nobody was drowned, however; the captain and crew were

busy in securing such articles as were liable to float off, and I

looked out for some passing boat or vessel to pick us up. We were

drifting steadily out to sea, while I was signaling to a boat about

three miles off, toward Saucelito, and saw her tack and stand

toward us. I was busy watching this sail-boat, when I heard a

Yankee’s voice, close behind, saying, “This is a nice mess you’ve

got yourselves into,” and looking about I saw a man in a small

boat, who had seen us upset, and had rowed out to us from a

schooner anchored close under the fort. Some explanations were

made, and when the sail-boat coming from Saucelito was near enough

to be spoken to, and the captain had engaged her to help his

schooner, we bade him good by, and got the man in the small boat-to

carry us ashore, and land us at the foot of the bluff, just below

the fort. Once there, I was at home, and we footed it up to the

Presidio. Of the sentinel I inquired who was in command of the

post, and was answered, “Major Merchant.” He was not then in, but

his adjutant, Lieutenant Gardner, was. I sent my card to him; he

came out, and was much surprised to find me covered with sand, and

dripping with water, a good specimen of a shipwrecked mariner. A

few words of explanation sufficed; horses were provided, and we

rode hastily into the city, reaching the office of the Nicaragua

Steamship Company (C. K. Garrison, agent) about dark, just as the

purser had arrived; by a totally different route. It was too late

to send relief that night, but by daylight next morning two

steamers were en route for and reached the place of wreck in time

to relieve the passengers and bring them, and most of the baggage.

I lost my carpet-bag, but saved my trunk. The Lewis went to pieces

the night after we got off, and, had there been an average sea

during the night of our shipwreck, none of us probably would have

escaped. That evening in San Francisco I hunted up Major Turner,

whom I found boarding, in company with General E. A. Hitchcock, at

a Mrs. Ross’s, on Clay Street, near Powell. I took quarters with

them, and began to make my studies, with a view to a decision

whether it was best to undertake this new and untried scheme of

banking, or to return to New Orleans and hold on to what I then

had, a good army commission.

At the time of my arrival, San Francisco was an the top wave of

speculation and prosperity. Major Turner had rented at six hundred

dollars a month the office formerly used and then owned by Adams &

Co., on the east side of Montgomery Street, between Sacramento and

California Streets. B. R. Nisbet was the active partner, and James

Reilly the teller. Already the bank of Lucas, Turner & Co. was

established, and was engaged in selling bills of exchange,

receiving deposits, and loaning money at three per cent. a month.

Page, Bacon & Co., and Adams & Co., were in full blast across the

street, in Parrott’s new granite building, and other bankers were

doing seemingly a prosperous business, among them Wells, Fargo &

Co.; Drexel, Sather & Church; Burgoyne & Co.; James King of Win.;


Sanders & Brenham; Davidson & Co.; Palmer, Cook & Co., and others.

Turner and I had rooms at Mrs. Ross’s, and took our meals at

restaurants down-town, mostly at a Frenchman’s named Martin, on the

southwest corner of Montgomery and California Streets. General

Hitchcock, of the army, commanding the Department of California,

usually messed with us; also a Captain Mason, and Lieutenant

Whiting, of the Engineer Corps. We soon secured a small share of

business, and became satisfied there was room for profit.

Everybody seemed to be making money fast; the city was being

rapidly extended and improved; people paid their three per cent. a

month interest without fail, and without deeming it excessive.

Turner, Nisbet, and I, daily discussed the prospects, and gradually

settled down to the conviction that with two hundred thousand

dollars capital, and a credit of fifty thousand dollars in New

York, we could build up a business that would help the St. Louis

house, and at the same time pay expenses in California, with a

reasonable profit. Of course, Turner never designed to remain long

in California, and I consented to go back to St. Louis, confer with

Mr. Lucas and Captain Simonds, agree upon further details, and then

return permanently.

I have no memoranda by me now by which to determine the fact, but

think I returned to New York in July, 1853, by the Nicaragua route,

and thence to St. Louis by way of Lancaster, Ohio, where my family

still was. Mr. Lucas promptly agreed to the terms proposed, and

further consented, on the expiration of the lease of the Adams &

Co. office, to erect a new banking-house in San Francisco, to cost

fifty thousand dollars. I then returned to Lancaster, explained to

Mr. Ewing and Mrs. Sherman all the details of our agreement, and,

meeting their approval, I sent to the Adjutant-General of the army

my letter of resignation, to take effect at the end of the six

months’ leave, and the resignation was accepted, to take effect

September 6, 1853. Being then a citizen, I engaged a passage out

to California by the Nicaragua route, in the steamer leaving New

York September 20th, for myself and family, and accordingly

proceeded to New York, where I had a conference with Mr. Meigs,

cashier of the American Exchange Bank, and with Messrs. Wadsworth

& Sheldon, bankers, who were our New York correspondents; and on

the 20th embarked for San Juan del Norte, with the family, composed

of Mrs. Sherman, Lizzie, then less than a year old, and her nurse,

Mary Lynch. Our passage down was uneventful, and, on the boats up

the Nicaragua River, pretty much the same as before. On reaching

Virgin Bay, I engaged a native with three mules to carry us across

to the Pacific, and as usual the trip partook of the ludicrous–

Mrs. Sherman mounted on a donkey about as large as a Newfoundland

dog; Mary Lynch on another, trying to carry Lizzie on a pillow

before her, but her mule had a fashion of lying down, which scared

her, till I exchanged mules, and my California spurs kept that mule

on his legs. I carried Lizzie some time till she was fast asleep,

when I got our native man to carry her awhile. The child woke up,

and, finding herself in the hands of a dark-visaged man, she yelled

most lustily till I got her away. At the summit of the pass, there

was a clear-running brook, where we rested an hour, and bathed

Lizzie in its sweet waters. We then continued to the end of our

journey, and, without going to the tavern at San Juan del Sur, we

passed directly to the vessel, then at anchor about two miles out.

To reach her we engaged a native boat, which had to be kept outside

the surf. Mrs. Sherman was first taken in the arms of two stout

natives; Mary Lynch, carrying Lizzie, was carried by two others;

and I followed, mounted on the back of a strapping fellow, while

fifty or a hundred others were running to and fro, cackling like


Mary Lynch got scared at the surf, and began screaming like a fool,

when Lizzie became convulsed with fear, and one of the natives

rushed to her, caught her out of Mary’s arms, and carried her

swiftly to Mrs. Sherman, who, by that time, was in the boat, but

Lizzie had fainted with fear, and for a long time sobbed as though

permanently injured. For years she showed symptoms that made us

believe she had never entirely recovered from the effects of the

scare. In due time we reached the steamer Sierra Nevada, and got a

good state-room. Our passage up the coast was pleasant enough; we

reached San Francisco; on the 15th of October, and took quarters at

an hotel on Stockton Street, near Broadway.

Major Turner remained till some time in November, when he also

departed for the East, leaving me and Nisbet to manage the bank. I

endeavored to make myself familiar with the business, but of course

Nisbet kept the books, and gave his personal attention to the

loans, discounts, and drafts, which yielded the profits. I soon

saw, however, that the three per cent. charged as premium on bills

of exchange was not all profit, but out of this had to come one and

a fourth to one and a half for freight, one and a third for

insurance, with some indefinite promise of a return premium; then,

the, cost of blanks, boxing of the bullion, etc., etc. Indeed, I

saw no margin for profit at all. Nisbet, however, who had long

been familiar with the business, insisted there was a profit, in

the fact that the gold-dust or bullion shipped was more valuable

than its cost to us. We, of course, had to remit bullion to meet

our bills on New York, and bought crude gold-dust, or bars refined

by Kellogg & Humbert or E. Justh & Co., for at that time the United

States Mint was not in operation. But, as the reports of our

shipments came back from New York, I discovered that I was right,

and Nisbet was wrong; and, although we could not help selling our

checks on New York and St. Louis at the same price as other

bankers, I discovered that, at all events, the exchange business in

San Francisco was rather a losing business than profitable. The

same as to loans. We could loan, at three per cent. a month, all

our own money, say two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and a

part of our deposit account. This latter account in California was

decidedly uncertain. The balance due depositors would run down to

a mere nominal sum on steamer-days, which were the 1st and 15th of

each month, and then would increase till the next steamer-day, so

that we could not make use of any reasonable part of this balance

for loans beyond the next steamer-day; or, in other words, we had

an expensive bank, with expensive clerks, and all the machinery for

taking care of other people’s money for their benefit, without

corresponding profit. I also saw that loans were attended with

risk commensurate with the rate; nevertheless, I could not attempt

to reform the rules and customs established by others before me,

and had to drift along with the rest toward that Niagara that none

foresaw at the time.

Shortly after arriving out in 1853, we looked around for a site for

the new bank, and the only place then available on Montgomery

Street, the Wall Street of San Francisco, was a lot at the corner

of Jackson Street, facing Montgomery, with an alley on the north,

belonging to James Lick. The ground was sixty by sixty-two feet,

and I had to pay for it thirty-two thousand dollars. I then made a

contract with the builders, Keyser, & Brown, to erect a three-story

brick building, with finished basement, for about fifty thousand

dollars. This made eighty-two thousand instead of fifty thousand

dollars, but I thought Mr. Lucas could stand it and would approve,

which he did, though it resulted in loss to him. After the civil

war, he told me he had sold the building for forty thousand

dollars, about half its cost, but luckily gold was then at 250, so

that he could use the forty thousand dollars gold as the equivalent

of one hundred thousand dollars currency. The building was

erected; I gave it my personal supervision, and it was strongly and

thoroughly built, for I saw it two years ago, when several

earthquakes had made no impression on it; still, the choice of site

was unfortunate, for the city drifted in the opposite direction,

viz., toward Market Street. I then thought that all the heavy

business would remain toward the foot of Broadway and Jackson

Street, because there were the deepest water and best wharves, but

in this I made a mistake. Nevertheless, in the spring of 1854, the

new bank was finished, and we removed to it, paying rents

thereafter to our Mr. Lucas instead of to Adams & Co. A man named

Wright, during the same season, built a still finer building just

across the street from us; Pioche, Bayerque & Co. were already

established on another corner of Jackson Street, and the new

Metropolitan Theatre was in progress diagonally opposite us.

During the whole of 1854 our business steadily grew, our average

deposits going up to half a million, and our sales of exchange and

consequent shipment of bullion averaging two hundred thousand

dollars per steamer. I signed all bills of exchange, and insisted

on Nisbet consulting me on loans and discounts. Spite of every

caution, however, we lost occasionally by bad loans, and worse by

the steady depreciation of real estate. The city of San Francisco

was then extending her streets, sewering them, and planking them,

with three-inch lumber. In payment for the lumber and the work of

contractors, the city authorities paid scrip in even sums of one

hundred, five hundred, one thousand, and five thousand dollars.

These formed a favorite collateral for loans at from fifty to sixty

cents on the dollar, and no one doubted their ultimate value,

either by redemption or by being converted into city bonds. The

notes also of H. Meiggs, Neeley Thompson & Co., etc., lumber-

dealers, were favorite notes, for they paid their interest

promptly, and lodged large margins of these street-improvement

warrants as collateral. At that time, Meiggs was a prominent man,

lived in style in a large house on Broadway, was a member of the

City Council, and owned large saw-mills up the coast about

Mendocino. In him Nisbet had unbounded faith, but, for some

reason, I feared or mistrusted him, and remember that I cautioned

Nisbet not to extend his credit, but to gradually contract his

loans. On looking over our bills receivable, then about six

hundred thousand dollars, I found Meiggs, as principal or indorser,

owed us about eighty thousand dollars–all, however, secured by

city warrants; still, he kept bank accounts elsewhere, and was

generally a borrower. I instructed Nisbet to insist on his

reducing his line as the notes matured, and, as he found it

indelicate to speak to Meiggs, I instructed him to refer him to me;

accordingly, when, on the next steamer-day, Meiggs appealed at the

counter for a draft on Philadelphia, of about twenty thousand

dollars, for which he offered his note and collateral, he was

referred to me, and I explained to him that our draft was the same

as money; that he could have it for cash, but that we were already

in advance to him some seventy-five or eighty thousand dollars, and

that instead of increasing the amount I must insist on its

reduction. He inquired if I mistrusted his ability, etc. I

explained, certainly not, but that our duty was to assist those who

did all their business with us, and, as our means were necessarily

limited, I must restrict him to some reasonable sum, say, twenty-

five thousand dollars. Meiggs invited me to go with him to a rich

mercantile house on Clay Street, whose partners belonged in

Hamburg, and there, in the presence of the principals of the house,

he demonstrated, as clearly as a proposition in mathematics, that

his business at Mendocino was based on calculations that could not

fail. The bill of exchange which he wanted, he said would make the

last payment on a propeller already built in Philadelphia, which

would be sent to San Francisco, to tow into and out of port the

schooners and brigs that were bringing his lumber down the coast.

I admitted all he said, but renewed my determination to limit his

credit to twenty-five thousand dollars. The Hamburg firm then

agreed to accept for him the payment of all his debt to us, except

the twenty-five thousand dollars, payable in equal parts for the

next three steamer-days. Accordingly, Meiggs went back with me to

our bank, wrote his note for twenty-five thousand dollars, and

secured it by mortgage on real estate and city warrants, and

substituted the three acceptances of the Hamburg firm for the

overplus. I surrendered to him all his former notes, except one

for which he was indorser. The three acceptances duly matured and

were paid; one morning Meiggs and family were missing, and it was

discovered they had embarked in a sailing-vessel for South America.

This was the beginning of a series of failures in San Francisco,

that extended through the next two years. As soon as it was known

that Meiggs had fled, the town was full of rumors, and everybody

was running to and fro to secure his money. His debts amounted to

nearly a million dollars. The Hamburg house which, had been

humbugged, were heavy losers and failed, I think. I took

possession of Meiggs’s dwelling-house and other property for which

I held his mortgage, and in the city warrants thought I had an

overplus; but it transpired that Meiggs, being in the City Council,

had issued various quantities of street scrip, which was adjudged a

forgery, though, beyond doubt, most of it, if not all, was properly

signed, but fraudulently issued. On this city scrip our bank must

have lost about ten thousand dollars. Meiggs subsequently turned

up in Chili, where again he rose to wealth and has paid much of his

San Francisco debts, but none to us. He is now in Peru, living

like a prince. With Meiggs fell all the lumber-dealers, and many

persons dealing in city scrip. Compared with others, our loss was

a trifle. In a short time things in San Francisco resumed their

wonted course, and we generally laughed at the escapade of Meiggs,

and the cursing of his deluded creditors.

Shortly after our arrival in San Francisco, I rented of a Mr.

Marryat, son of the English Captain Marryat, the author, a small

frame-house on Stockton Street, near Green, buying of him his

furniture, and we removed to it about December 1,1853. Close by,

around on Green Street, a man named Dickey was building two small

brick-houses, on ground which he had leased of Nicholson. I bought

one of these houses, subject to the ground-rent, and moved into it

as soon as finished. Lieutenant T. H. Stevens, of the United

States Navy, with his family, rented the other; we lived in this

house throughout the year 1854, and up to April 17, 1855.




During the winter of 1854-’55, I received frequent intimations in


my letters from the St. Louis house, that the bank of Page, Bacon &

Co. was in trouble, growing out of their relations to the Ohio &

Mississippi Railroad, to the contractors for building which they

had made large advances, to secure which they had been compelled to

take, as it were, an assignment of the contract itself, and finally

to assume all the liabilities of the contractors. Then they had to

borrow money in New York, and raise other money from time to time,

in the purchase of iron and materials for the road, and to pay the

hands. The firm in St. Louis and that in San Francisco were

different, having different partners, and the St. Louis house

naturally pressed the San Francisco firm to ship largely of

“gold-dust,” which gave them a great name; also to keep as large a

balance as possible in New York to sustain their credit. Mr. Page

was a very wealthy man, but his wealth consisted mostly of land and

property in St. Louis. He was an old man, and a good one; had been

a baker, and knew little of banking as a business. This part of

his general business was managed exclusively by his son-in-law,

Henry D. Bacon, who was young, handsome, and generally popular.

How he was drawn into that affair of the Ohio & Mississippi road I

have no means of knowing, except by hearsay. Their business in New

York was done through the American Exchange Bank, and through

Duncan, Sherman & Co. As we were rival houses, the St. Louis

partners removed our account from the American Exchange Bank to the

Metropolitan Bank; and, as Wadsworth & Sheldon had failed, I was

instructed to deal in time bills, and in European exchange, with

Schnchardt & Gebhard, bankers in Nassau Street.

In California the house of Page, Bacon & Co. was composed of the

same partners as in St. Louis, with the addition of Henry Haight,

Judge Chambers, and young Frank Page. The latter had charge of the

“branch” in Sacramento. Haight was the real head-man, but he was

too fond of lager-beer to be in trusted with so large a business.

Beyond all comparison, Page, Bacon & Co. were the most prominent

bankers in California in 1853-’55. Though I had notice of danger

in that quarter, from our partners in St. Louis, nobody in

California doubted their wealth and stability. They must have had,

during that winter, an average deposit account of nearly two

million dollars, of which seven hundred thousand dollars was in

“certificates of deposit,” the most stable of all accounts in a

bank. Thousands of miners invested their earnings in such

certificates, which they converted into drafts on New York, when

they were ready to go home or wanted to send their “pile” to their

families. Adams & Co. were next in order, because of their

numerous offices scattered throughout the mining country. A

gentleman named Haskell had been in charge of Adams & Co. in San

Francisco, but in the winter of 1854-’55 some changes were made,

and the banking department had been transferred to a magnificent

office in Halleck’s new Metropolitan Block. James King of Wm. had

discontinued business on his own account, and been employed by

Adams & Co. as their cashier and banker, and Isaiah C. Wood had

succeeded Haskell in chief control of the express department.

Wells, Fargo & Co. were also bankers as well as expressmen, and

William J. Pardee was the resident partner.

As the mail-steamer came in on February 17, 1855, according to her

custom, she ran close to the Long Wharf (Meiggs’s) on North Beach,

to throw ashore the express-parcels of news for speedy delivery.

Some passenger on deck called to a man of his acquaintance standing

on the wharf, that Page & Bacon had failed in New York. The news

spread like wild-fire, but soon it was met by the newspaper

accounts to the effect that some particular acceptances of Page &

Bacon, of St. Louis, in the hands of Duncan, Sherman & Co., in New

York, had gone to protest. All who had balances at Page, Bacon &

Co.’s, or held certificates of deposit, were more or less alarmed,

wanted to secure their money, and a general excitement pervaded the

whole community. Word was soon passed round that the matter

admitted of explanation, viz., that the two houses were distinct

and separate concerns, that every draft of the California house had

been paid in New York, and would continue to be paid. It was

expected that this assertion would quiet the fears of the

California creditors, but for the next three days there was a

steady “run” on that bank. Page, Bacon & Co. stood the first day’s

run very well, and, as I afterward learned, paid out about six

hundred thousand dollars in gold coin. On the 20th of February

Henry Height came to our bank, to see what help we were willing to

give him; but I was out, and Nisbet could not answer positively for

the firm. Our condition was then very strong. The deposit account

was about six hundred thousand dollars, and we had in our vault

about five hundred thousand dollars in coin and bullion, besides an

equal amount of good bills receivable. Still I did not like to

weaken ourselves to help others; but in a most friendly spirit,

that night after bank-hours, I went down to Page, Bacon & Co., and

entered their office from the rear. I found in the cashier’s room

Folsom, Parrott, Dewey and Payne, Captain Ritchie, Donohue, and

others, citizens and friends of the house, who had been called in

for consultation. Passing into the main office, where all the

book-keepers, tellers, etc., with gas-lights, were busy writing up

the day’s work, I found Mr. Page, Henry Height, and Judge Chambers.

I spoke to Height, saying that I was sorry I had been out when he

called at our bank, and had now come to see him in the most

friendly spirit. Height had evidently been drinking, and said

abruptly that “all the banks would break,” that “no bank could

instantly pay all its obligations,” etc. I answered he could speak

for himself, but not for me; that I had come to offer to buy with

cash a fair proportion of his bullion, notes, and bills; but, if

they were going to fail, I would not be drawn in. Height’s manner

was extremely offensive, but Mr. Page tried to smooth it over,

saying they had had a bad day’s run, and could not answer for the

result till their books were written up.

I passed back again into the room where the before-named gentlemen

were discussing some paper which lay before them, and was going to

pass out, when Captain Folsom, who was an officer of the army, a

class-mate and intimate friend of mine, handed me the paper the

contents of which they were discussing. It was very short, and in

Henry Haight’s handwriting, pretty much in these terms: “We, the

undersigned property-holders of San Francisco, having personally

examined the books, papers, etc., of Page, Bacon & Co., do hereby

certify that the house is solvent and able to pay all its debts,”

etc. Height had drawn up and asked them to sign this paper, with

the intention to publish it in the next morning’s papers, for

effect. While I was talking with Captain Folsom, Height came into

the room to listen. I admitted that the effect of such a

publication would surely be good, and would probably stave off

immediate demand till their assets could be in part converted or

realized; but I naturally inquired of Folsom, “Have you personally

examined the accounts, as herein recited, and the assets, enough to

warrant your signature to this paper?” for, “thereby you in effect

become indorsers.” Folsom said they had not, when Height turned

on me rudely and said, “Do you think the affairs of such a house as

Page, Bacon & Co. can be critically examined in an hour?” I

answered: “These gentlemen can do what they please, but they have

twelve hours before the bank will open on the morrow, and if the

ledger is written up” (as I believed it was or could be by

midnight), “they can (by counting the coin, bullion on hand, and

notes or stocks of immediate realization) approximate near enough

for them to indorse for the remainder.” But Height pooh-poohed me,

and I left. Folsom followed me out, told me he could not afford to

imperil all he had, and asked my advice. I explained to him that

my partner Nisbet had been educated and trained in that very house

of Page, Bacon & Co.; that we kept our books exactly as they did;

that every day the ledger was written up, so that from it one could

see exactly how much actual money was due the depositors and

certificates; and then by counting the money in the vault,

estimating the bullion on hand, which, though not actual money,

could easily be converted into coin, and supplementing these

amounts by “bills receivable,” they ought to arrive at an

approximate-result. After Folsom had left me, John Parrott also

stopped and talked with me to the same effect. Next morning I

looked out for the notice, but no such notice appeared in the

morning papers, and I afterward learned that, on Parrott and Folsom

demanding an actual count of the money in the vault, Haight angrily

refused unless they would accept his word for it, when one after

the other declined to sign his paper.

The run on Page, Bacon & Co. therefore continued throughout the

21st, and I expected all day to get an invitation to close our bank

for the next day, February 22, which we could have made a holiday

by concerted action; but each banker waited for Page, Bacon & Co.

to ask for it, and, no such circular coming, in the then state of

feeling no other banker was willing to take the initiative. On the

morning of February 22, 1855, everybody was startled by receiving a

small slip of paper, delivered at all the houses, on which was

printed a short notice that, for “want of coin,” Page, Bacon & Co.

found it necessary to close their bank for a short time. Of

course, we all knew the consequences, and that every other bank in

San Francisco would be tried. During the 22d we all kept open, and

watched our depositors closely; but the day was generally observed

by the people as a holiday, and the firemen paraded the streets of

San Francisco in unusual strength. But, on writing up our books

that night, we found that our deposit account had diminished about

sixty-five thousand dollars. Still, there was no run on us, or any

other of the banks, that day; yet, observing little knots of men on

the street, discussing the state of the banks generally, and

overhearing Haight’s expression quoted, that, in case of the

failure of Page, Bacon & Co., “all the other banks would break,” I

deemed it prudent to make ready. For some days we had refused all

loans and renewals, and we tried, without, success, some of our

call-loans; but, like Hotspur’s spirits, they would not come.

Our financial condition on that day (February 22, 1855) was: Due

depositors and demand certificates, five hundred and twenty

thousand dollars; to meet which, we had in the vault: coin, three

hundred and eighty thousand dollars; bullion, seventy-five thousand

dollars; and bills receivable, about six hundred thousand dollars.

Of these, at least one hundred thousand dollars were on demand,

with stock collaterals. Therefore, for the extent of our business,

we were stronger than the Bank of England, or any bank in New York


Before daylight next morning, our door-bell was rung, and I was

called down-stairs by E. Casserly, Esq. (an eminent lawyer of the

day, since United States Senator), who informed me he had just come

up from the office of Adams & Co., to tell me that their affairs

were in such condition that they would not open that morning at

all; and that this, added to the suspension of Page, Bacon & Co.,

announced the day before, would surely cause a general run on all

the banks. I informed him that I expected as much, and was

prepared for it.

In going down to the bank that morning, I found Montgomery Street

full; but, punctually to the minute, the bank opened, and in rushed

the crowd. As usual, the most noisy and clamorous were men and

women who held small certificates; still, others with larger

accounts were in the crowd, pushing forward for their balances.

All were promptly met and paid. Several gentlemen of my personal

acquaintance merely asked my word of honor that their money was

safe, and went away; others, who had large balances, and no

immediate use for coin, gladly accepted gold-bars, whereby we paid

out the seventy-five thousand dollars of bullion, relieving the

coin to that amount.

Meantime, rumors from the street came pouring in that Wright & Co.

had failed; then Wells, Fargo & Co.; then Palmer, Cook & Co., and

indeed all, or nearly all, the banks of the city; and I was told

that parties on the street were betting high, first, that we would

close our doors at eleven o’clock; then twelve, and so on; but we

did not, till the usual hour that night. We had paid every demand,

and still had a respectable amount left.

This run on the bank (the only one I ever experienced) presented

all the features, serious and comical, usual to such occasions. At

our counter happened that identical case, narrated of others, of

the Frenchman, who was nearly squeezed to death in getting to the

counter, and, when he received his money, did not know what to do

with it. “If you got the money, I no want him; but if you no got

him, I want it like the devil!”

Toward the close of the day, some of our customers deposited,

rather ostentatiously, small amounts, not aggregating more than

eight or ten thousand dollars. Book-keepers and tellers were kept

at work to write up the books; and these showed:

Due depositors and certificates, about one hundred and twenty

thousand dollars, for which remained of coin about fifty thousand

dollars. I resolved not to sleep until I had collected from those

owing the bank a part of their debts; for I was angry with them

that they had stood back and allowed the panic to fall on the banks

alone. Among these were Captain Folsom, who owed us twenty-five

thousand dollars, secured by a mortgage on the American Theatre and

Tehama Hotel; James Smiley, contractor for building the Custom-

House, who owed us two notes of twenty thousand and sixteen

thousand dollars, for which we held, as collateral, two acceptances

of the collector of the port, Major R. P. Hammond, for twenty

thousand dollars each; besides other private parties that I need

not name. The acceptances given to Smiley were for work done on

the Custom-House, but could not be paid until the work was actually

laid in the walls, and certified by Major Tower, United States

Engineers; but Smiley had an immense amount of granite, brick,

iron, etc., on the ground, in advance of construction, and these

acceptances were given him expressly that he might raise money

thereon for the payment of such materials.

Therefore, as soon as I got my dinner, I took my saddle-horse, and


rode to Captain Folsom’s house, where I found him in great pain and

distress, mental and physical. He was sitting in a chair, and

bathing his head with a sponge. I explained to him the object of

my visit, and he said he had expected it, and had already sent his

agent, Van Winkle, down-town, with instructions to raise what money

he could at any cost; but he did not succeed in raising a cent. So

great was the shock to public confidence, that men slept on their

money, and would not loan it for ten per cent. a week, on any

security whatever–even on mint certificates, which were as good as

gold, and only required about ten days to be paid in coin by the

United States Mint. I then rode up to Hammond’s house, on Rincon

Hill, and found him there. I explained to him exactly Smiley’s

affairs, and only asked him to pay one of his acceptances. He

inquired, “Why not both?” I answered that was so much the better;

it would put me under still greater obligations. He then agreed to

meet me at our bank at 10 P.M. I sent word to others that I

demanded them to pay what they could on their paper, and then

returned to the bank, to meet Hammond. In due time, he came down

with Palmer (of Palmer, Cook & Co.), and there he met Smiley, who

was, of course, very anxious to retire his notes. We there

discussed the matter fully, when Hammond said, “Sherman, give me up

my two acceptances, and I will substitute therefor my check of

forty thousand dollars,” with “the distinct understanding that, if

the money is not needed by you, it shall be returned to me, and the

transaction then to remain statu quo.” To this there was a general

assent. Nisbet handed him his two acceptances, and he handed me

his check, signed as collector of the port, on Major J. R. Snyder,

United States Treasurer, for forty thousand dollars. I afterward

rode out, that night, to Major Snyder’s house on North Beach, saw

him, and he agreed to meet me at 8 a.m. next day, at the United

States Mint, and to pay the check, so that I could have the money

before the bank opened. The next morning, as agreed on, we met,

and he paid me the check in two sealed bags of gold-coin, each

marked twenty thousand dollars, which I had carried to the bank,

but never opened them, or even broke the seals.

That morning our bank opened as usual, but there was no appearance

of a continuation of the “run;” on the contrary, money began to

come back on deposit, so that by night we had a considerable

increase, and this went on from day to day, till nearly the old

condition of things returned. After about three days, finding I

had no use for the money obtained on Hammond’s check, I took the

identical two bags back to the cashier of the Custom-House, and

recovered the two acceptances which had been surrendered as

described; and Smiley’s two notes were afterward paid in their due

course, out of the cash received on those identical acceptances.

But, years afterward, on settling with Hammond for the Custom-House

contract when completed, there was a difference, and Smiley sued

Lucas, Turner & Co. for money had and received for his benefit,

being the identical forty thousand dollars herein explained, but he

lost his case. Hammond, too, was afterward removed from office,

and indicted in part for this transaction. He was tried before the

United States Circuit Court, Judge McAlister presiding, for a

violation of the sub-Treasury Act, but was acquitted. Our bank,

having thus passed so well through the crisis, took at once a first

rank; but these bank failures had caused so many mercantile losses,

and had led to such an utter downfall in the value of real estate,

that everybody lost more or less money by bad debts, by

depreciation of stocks and collaterals, that became unsalable, if

not worthless.

About this time (viz., February, 1855) I had exchanged my house on

Green, street, with Mr. Sloat, for the half of a fifty-vara lot on

Harrison Street, between Fremont and First, on which there was a

small cottage, and I had contracted for the building of a new

frame-house thereon, at six thousand dollars. This house was

finished on the 9th of April, and my family moved into it at once.

For some time Mrs. Sherman had been anxious to go home to

Lancaster, Ohio, where we had left our daughter Minnie, with her

grandparents, and we arranged that S. M. Bowman, Esq., and wife,

should move into our new house and board us, viz., Lizzie, Willie

with the nurse Biddy, and myself, for a fair consideration. It so

happened that two of my personal friends, Messrs. Winters and

Cunningham of Marysville, and a young fellow named Eagan, now a

captain in the Commissary Department, were going East in the

steamer of the middle of April, and that Mr.. William H.

Aspinwall, of New York, and Mr. Chauncey, of Philadelphia, were

also going back; and they all offered to look to the personal

comfort of Mrs. Sherman on the voyage. They took passage in the

steamer Golden Age (Commodore Watkins), which sailed on April 17,

1855. Their passage down the coast was very pleasant till within a

day’s distance of Panama, when one bright moonlit night, April

29th, the ship, running at full speed, between the Islands Quibo

and Quicara, struck on a sunken reef, tore out a streak in her

bottom, and at once began to fill with water. Fortunately she did

not sink fast, but swung off into deep water, and Commodore Watkins

happening to be on deck at the moment, walking with Mr. Aspinwall,

learning that the water was rushing in with great rapidity, gave

orders for a full head of steam, and turned the vessel’s bow

straight for the Island Quicara. The water rose rapidly in the

hold, the passengers were all assembled, fearful of going down, the

fires were out, and the last revolution of the wheels made, when

her bow touched gently on the beach, and the vessel’s stern sank in

deep water. Lines were got out, and the ship held in an upright

position, so that the passengers were safe, and but little

incommoded. I have often heard Mrs. Sherman tell of the boy Eagan,

then about fourteen years old, coming to her state-room, and

telling to her not to be afraid, as he was a good swimmer; but on

coming out into the cabin, partially dressed, she felt more

confidence in the cool manner, bearing, and greater strength of Mr.

Winters. There must have been nearly a thousand souls on board at

the time, few of whom could have been saved had the steamer gone

down in mid-channel, which surely would have resulted, had not

Commodore Watkins been on deck, or had he been less prompt in his

determination to beach his ship. A sailboat was dispatched toward

Panama, which luckily met the steamer John T. Stephens, just coming

out of the bay, loaded with about a thousand passengers bound for

San Francisco, and she at once proceeded to the relief of the

Golden Age. Her passengers were transferred in small boats to the

Stephens, which vessel, with her two thousand people crowded

together with hardly standing-room, returned to Panama, whence the

passengers for the East proceeded to their destination without

further delay. Luckily for Mrs. Sherman, Purser Goddard, an old

Ohio friend of ours, was on the Stephens, and most kindly gave up

his own room to her, and such lady friends as she included in her

party. The Golden Age was afterward partially repaired at Quicara,

pumped out, and steamed to Panama, when, after further repairs, she

resumed her place in the line. I think she is still in existence,

but Commodore Watkins afterward lost his life in China, by falling

down a hatchway.

Mrs. Sherman returned in the latter part of November of the same

year, when Mr. and Mrs. Bowman, who meantime had bought a lot next

to us and erected a house thereon, removed to it, and we thus

continued close neighbors and friends until we left the country for

good in 1857.

During the summer of 1856, in San Francisco, occurred one of those

unhappy events, too common to new countries, in which I became

involved in spite of myself.

William Neely Johnson was Governor of California, and resided at

Sacramento City; General John E. Wool commanded the Department of

California, having succeeded General Hitchcock, and had his

headquarters at Benicia; and a Mr. Van Ness was mayor of the city.

Politics had become a regular and profitable business, and

politicians were more than suspected of being corrupt. It was

reported and currently believed that the sheriff (Scannell) had

been required to pay the Democratic Central Committee a hundred

thousand dollars for his nomination, which was equivalent to an

election, for an office of the nominal salary of twelve thousand

dollars a year for four years. In the election all sorts of

dishonesty were charged and believed, especially of “ballot-box

stuffing,” and too generally the better classes avoided the

elections and dodged jury-duty, so that the affairs of the city

government necessarily passed into the hands of a low set of

professional politicians. Among them was a man named James Casey,

who edited a small paper, the printing office of which was in a

room on the third floor of our banking office. I hardly knew him

by sight, and rarely if ever saw his paper; but one day Mr. Sather,

of the excellent banking firm of Drexel, Sather & Church, came to

me, and called my attention to an article in Casey’s paper so full

of falsehood and malice, that we construed it as an effort to

black-mail the banks generally. At that time we were all laboring

to restore confidence, which had been so rudely shaken by the

panic, and I went up-stairs, found Casey, and pointed out to him

the objectionable nature of his article, told him plainly that I

could not tolerate his attempt to print and circulate slanders in

our building, and, if he repeated it, I would cause him and his

press to be thrown out of the windows. He took the hint and moved

to more friendly quarters. I mention this fact, to show my

estimate of the man, who became a figure in the drama I am about to

describe. James King of Wm., as before explained, was in 1853 a

banker on his own account, but some time in 1854 he had closed out

his business, and engaged with Adams & Co. as cashier. When this

firm failed, he, in common with all the employees, was thrown out

of employment, and had to look around for something else. He

settled down to the publication of an evening paper, called the

Bulletin, and, being a man of fine manners and address, he at once

constituted himself the champion of society against the public and

private characters whom he saw fit to arraign.

As might have been expected, this soon brought him into the usual

newspaper war with other editors, and especially with Casey, and

epithets a la “Eatanswill” were soon bandying back and forth

between them. One evening of May, 1856, King published, in the

Bulletin, copies of papers procured from New York, to show that

Casey had once been sentenced to the State penitentiary at Sing

Sing. Casey took mortal offense, and called at the Bulletin

office, on the corner of Montgomery and Merchant Streets, where he

found King, and violent words passed between them, resulting in

Casey giving King notice that he would shoot him on sight. King

remained in his office till about 5 or 6 p.m., when he started

toward his home on Stockton Street, and, as he neared the corner of

Washington, Casey approached him from the opposite direction,

called to him, and began firing. King had on a short cloak, and in

his breast-pocket a small pistol, which he did not use. One of

Casey’s shots struck him high up in the breast, from which he

reeled, was caught by some passing friend, and carried into the

express-office on the corner, where he was laid on the counter; and

a surgeon sent for. Casey escaped up Washington Street, went to

the City Hall, and delivered himself to the sheriff (Scannell), who

conveyed him to jail and locked him in a cell. Meantime, the news

spread like wildfire, and all the city was in commotion, for grog

was very popular. Nisbet, who boarded with us on Harrison Street,

had been delayed at the bank later than usual, so that he happened

to be near at the time, and, when he came out to dinner, he brought

me the news of this affair, and said that there was every

appearance of a riot down-town that night. This occurred toward

the evening of May 14, 1856.

It so happened that, on the urgent solicitation of Van Winkle and

of Governor Johnson; I had only a few days before agreed to accept

the commission of major-general of the Second Division of Militia,

embracing San Francisco. I had received the commission, but had

not as yet formally accepted it, or even put myself in

communication with the volunteer companies of the city. Of these,

at that moment of time, there was a company of artillery with four

guns, commanded by a Captain Johns, formerly of the army, and two

or three uniformed companies of infantry. After dinner I went down

town to see what was going on; found that King had been removed to

a room in the Metropolitan Block; that his life was in great peril;

that Casey was safe in jail, and the sheriff had called to his

assistance a posse of the city police, some citizens, and one of

the militia companies. The people were gathered in groups on the

streets, and the words “Vigilance Committee” were freely spoken,

but I saw no signs of immediate violence. The next morning, I

again went to the jail, and found all things quiet, but the militia

had withdrawn. I then went to the City Hall, saw the mayor, Van

Ness, and some of the city officials, agreed to do what I could to

maintain order with such militia as were on hand, and then formally

accepted the commission, and took the “oath.”

In 1851 (when I was not in California) there had been a Vigilance

Committee, and it was understood that its organization still

existed. All the newspapers took ground in favor of the Vigilance

Committee, except the Herald (John Nugent, editor), and nearly all

the best people favored that means of redress. I could see they

were organizing, hiring rendezvous, collecting arms, etc., without

concealment. It was soon manifest that the companies of volunteers

would go with the “committee,” and that the public authorities

could not rely on them for aid or defense. Still, there were a

good many citizens who contended that, if the civil authorities

were properly sustained by the people at large, they could and

would execute the law. But the papers inflamed the public mind,

and the controversy spread to the country. About the third day

after the shooting of King, Governor Johnson telegraphed me that he

would be down in the evening boat, and asked me to meet him on


arrival for consultation. I got C. H. Garrison to go with me, and

we met the Governor and his brother on the wharf, and walked up to

the International Hotel on Jackson Street, above Montgomery. We

discussed the state of affairs fully; and Johnson, on learning that

his particular friend, William T. Coleman, was the president of the

Vigilance Committee, proposed to go and see him. En route we

stopped at King’s room, ascertained that he was slowly sinking, and

could not live long; and then near midnight we walked to the

Turnverein Hall, where the committee was known to be sitting in

consultation. This hall was on Bush Street, at about the

intersection of Stockton. It was all lighted up within, but the

door was locked. The Governor knocked at the door, and on inquiry

from inside “Who’s there?”–gave his name. After some delay we

were admitted into a sort of vestibule, beyond which was a large

hall, and we could hear the suppressed voices of a multitude. We

were shown into a bar-room to the right, when the Governor asked to

see Coleman. The man left us, went into the main hall, and soon

returned with Coleman, who was pale and agitated. After shaking

hands all round, the Governor said, “Coleman, what the devil is the

matter here?” Coleman said, “Governor, it is time this shooting on

our streets should stop.” The Governor replied, “I agree with you

perfectly, and have come down, from Sacramento to assist.” Coleman

rejoined that “the people were tired of it, and had no faith in the

officers of the law.” A general conversation then followed, in

which it was admitted that King would die, and that Casey must be

executed; but the manner of execution was the thing to be settled,

Coleman contending that the people would do it without trusting the

courts or the sheriff. It so happened that at that time Judge

Norton was on the bench of the court having jurisdiction, and he

was universally recognized as an able and upright man, whom no one

could or did mistrust; and it also happened that a grand-jury was

then in session. Johnson argued that the time had passed in

California for mobs and vigilance committees, and said if Coleman

and associates would use their influence to support the law, he

(the Governor) would undertake that, as soon as King died, the

grand-jury should indict, that Judge Norton would try the murderer,

and the whole proceeding should be as speedy as decency would

allow. Then Coleman said “the people had no confidence in

Scannell, the sheriff,” who was, he said, in collusion with the

rowdy element of San Francisco. Johnson then offered to be

personally responsible that Casey should be safely guarded, and

should be forthcoming for trial and execution at the proper time.

I remember very well Johnson’s assertion that he had no right to

make these stipulations, and maybe no power to fulfill them; but he

did it to save the city and state from the disgrace of a mob.

Coleman disclaimed that the vigilance organization was a “mob,”

admitted that the proposition of the Governor was fair, and all he

or any one should ask; and added, if we would wait awhile, he would

submit it to the council, and bring back an answer.

We waited nearly an hour, and could hear the hum of voices

in the hall, but no words, when Coleman came back, accompanied by a

committee, of which I think the two brothers Arrington, Thomas

Smiley the auctioneer, Seymour, Truett, and others, were members.

The whole conversation was gone over again, and the Governor’s

proposition was positively agreed to, with this further condition,

that the Vigilance Committee should send into the jail a small

force of their own men, to make certain that Casey should not be

carried off or allowed to escape.

The Governor, his brother William, Garrison, and I, then went up to

the jail, where we found the sheriff and his posse comitatus of

police and citizens. These were styled the “Law-and-Order party,”

and some of them took offense that the Governor should have held

communication with the “damned rebels,” and several of them left

the jail; but the sheriff seemed to agree with the Governor that

what he had done was right and best; and, while we were there, some

eight or ten armed men arrived from the Vigilance Committee, and

were received by the sheriff (Scannell) as a part of his regular


The Governor then, near daylight, went to his hotel, and I to my

house for a short sleep. Next day I was at the bank, as usual,

when, about noon the Governor called, and asked me to walk with him

down-street He said he had just received a message from the

Vigilance Committee to the effect that they were not bound by

Coleman’s promise not to do any thing till the regular trial by

jury should be had, etc. He was with reason furious, and asked me

to go with him to Truett’s store, over which the Executive

Committee was said to be in session. We were admitted to a

front-room up-stairs, and heard voices in the back-room. The

Governor inquired for Coleman, but he was not forthcoming. Another

of the committee, Seymour, met us, denied in toto the promise of

the night before, and the Governor openly accused him of treachery

and falsehood.

The quarrel became public, and the newspapers took it up, both

parties turning on the Governor; one, the Vigilantes, denying the

promise made by Coleman, their president; and the other, the

“Law-and-Order party,” refusing any farther assistance, because

Johnson had stooped to make terms with rebels. At all events, he

was powerless, and had to let matters drift to a conclusion.

King died about Friday, May 20th, and the funeral was appointed for

the next Sunday. Early on that day the Governor sent for me at my

house. I found him on the roof of the International, from which we

looked down on the whole city, and more especially the face of

Telegraph Hill, which was already covered with a crowd of people,

while others were moving toward the jail on Broadway. Parties of

armed men, in good order, were marching by platoons in the same

direction; and formed in line along Broadway, facing the jail-door.

Soon a small party was seen to advance to this door, and knock; a

parley ensued, the doors were opened, and Casey was led out. In a

few minutes another prisoner was brought out, who, proved to be

Cora, a man who had once been tried for killing Richardson, the

United States Marshal, when the jury disagreed, and he was awaiting

a new trial. These prisoners were placed in carriages, and

escorted by the armed force down to the rooms of the Vigilance

Committee, through the principal streets of the city. The day was

exceedingly beautiful, and the whole proceeding was orderly in the

extreme. I was under the impression that Casey and Cora were

hanged that same Sunday, but was probably in error; but in a very

few days they were hanged by the neck–dead–suspended from beams

projecting from the windows of the committee’s rooms, without other

trial than could be given in secret, and by night.

We all thought the matter had ended there, and accordingly the

Governor returned to Sacramento in disgust, and I went about my

business. But it soon became manifest that the Vigilance Committee

had no intention to surrender the power thus usurped. They took a

building on Clay Street, near Front, fortified it, employed guards

and armed sentinels, sat in midnight council, issued writs of

arrest and banishment, and utterly ignored all authority but their

own. A good many men were banished and forced to leave the

country, but they were of that class we could well spare. Yankee

Sullivan, a prisoner in their custody, committed suicide, and a

feeling of general insecurity pervaded the city. Business was

deranged; and the Bulletin, then under control of Tom King, a

brother of James, poured out its abuse on some of our best men, as

well as the worst. Governor Johnson, being again appealed to,

concluded to go to work regularly, and telegraphed me about the 1st

of June to meet him at General Wool’s headquarters at Benicia that

night. I went up, and we met at the hotel where General Wool was

boarding. Johnson had with him his Secretary of State. We

discussed the state of the country generally, and I had agreed that

if Wool would give us arms and ammunition out of the United States

Arsenal at Benicia, and if Commodore Farragat, of the navy,

commanding the navy-yard on Mare Island, would give us a ship, I

would call out volunteers, and, when a sufficient number had

responded, I would have the arms come down from Benicia in the

ship, arm my men, take possession of a thirty-two-pound-gun battery

at the Marine Hospital on Rincon Point, thence command a dispersion

of the unlawfully-armed force of the Vigilance Committee, and

arrest some of the leaders.

We played cards that night, carrying on a conversation, in which

Wool insisted on a proclamation commanding the Vigilance Committee

to disperse, etc., and he told us how he had on some occasion, as

far back as 1814, suppressed a mutiny on the Northern frontier. I

did not understand him to make any distinct promise of assistance

that night, but he invited us to accompany him on an inspection of

the arsenal the next day, which we did. On handling some rifled

muskets in the arsenal storehouse he asked me how they would answer

our purpose. I said they were the very things, and that we did not

want cartridge boxes or belts, but that I would have the cartridges

carried in the breeches-pockets, and the caps in the vestpockets.

I knew that there were stored in that arsenal four thousand

muskets, for I recognized the boxes which we had carried out in the

Lexington around Cape Horn in 1846. Afterward we all met at the

quarters of Captain D. R. Jones of the army, and I saw the

Secretary of State, D. F. Douglass, Esq., walk out with General

Wool in earnest conversation, and this Secretary of State afterward

asserted that Wool there and then promised us the arms and

ammunition, provided the Governor would make his proclamation for

the committee to disperse, and that I should afterward call out the

militia, etc. On the way back to the hotel at Benicia, General

Wool, Captain Callendar of the arsenal, and I, were walking side by

side, and I was telling him (General Wool) that I would also need

some ammunition for the thirty-two-pound guns then in position at

Rineon Point, when Wool turned to Callendar and inquired, “Did I

not order those guns to be brought away?” Callendar said “Yes,

general. I made a requisition on the quartermaster for

transportation, but his schooner has been so busy that the guns are

still there.” Then said Wool: “Let them remain; we may have use for

them.” I therefrom inferred, of course, that it was all agreed to

so far as he was concerned.

Soon after we had reached the hotel, we ordered a buggy, and

Governor Johnson and I drove to Vallejo, six miles, crossed over to

Mare Island, and walked up to the commandant’s house, where we

found Commodore Farragut and his family. We stated our business

fairly, but the commodore answered very frankly that he had no

authority, without orders from his department, to take any part in

civil broils; he doubted the wisdom of the attempt; said he had no

ship available except the John Adams, Captain Boutwell, and that

she needed repairs. But he assented at last, to the proposition to

let the sloop John Adams drop down abreast of the city after

certain repairs, to lie off there for moral effect, which afterward

actually occurred.

We then returned to Benicia, and Wool’s first question was, “What

luck?” We answered, “Not much,” and explained what Commodore

Farragut could and would do, and that, instead of having a naval

vessel, we would seize and use one of the Pacific Mail Company’s

steamers, lying at their dock in Benicia, to carry down to San

Francisco the arms and munitions when the time came.

As the time was then near at hand for the arrival of the evening

boats, we all walked down to the wharf together, where I told

Johnson that he could not be too careful; that I had not heard

General Wool make a positive promise of assistance.

Upon this, Johnson called General Wool to one side, and we three

drew together. Johnson said: “General Wool, General Sherman is

very particular, and wants to know exactly what you propose to do.”

Wool answered: “I understand, Governor, that in the first place a

writ of Habeas corpus will be issued commanding the jailers of the

Vigilance Committee to produce the body of some one of the

prisoners held by them (which, of course, will be refused); that

you then issue your proclamation commanding them to disperse, and,

failing this, you will call out the militia, and command General

Sherman with it to suppress the Vigilance Committee as an unlawful

body;” to which the Governor responded, “Yes.” “Then,” said Wool,

“on General Sherman’s making his requisition, approved by you, I

will order the issue of the necessary arms and ammunition.” I

remember well that I said, emphatically: “That is all I want.–

Now, Governor, you may go ahead.” We soon parted; Johnson and

Douglas taking the boat to Sacramento, and I to San Francisco.

The Chief-Justice, Terry, came to San Francisco the next day,

issued a writ of habeas corpus for the body of one Maloney, which

writ was resisted, as we expected. The Governor then issued his

proclamation, and I published my orders, dated June 4, 1855. The

Quartermaster-General of the State, General Kibbe, also came to San

Francisco, took an office in the City Hall, engaged several rooms

for armories, and soon the men began to enroll into companies. In

my general orders calling out the militia, I used the expression,

“When a sufficient number of men are enrolled, arms and ammunition

will be supplied.” Some of the best men of the “Vigilantes” came

to me and remonstrated, saying that collision would surely result;

that it would be terrible, etc. All I could say in reply was, that

it was for them to get out of the way.” Remove your fort; cease

your midnight councils; and prevent your armed bodies from

patrolling the streets.” They inquired where I was to get arms,

and I answered that I had them certain. But personally I went

right along with my business at the bank, conscious that at any

moment we might have trouble. Another committee of citizens, a

conciliatory body, was formed to prevent collision if possible, and

the newspapers boiled over with vehement vituperation. This second

committee was composed of such men as Crockett, Ritchie, Thornton,

Bailey Peyton, Foote, Donohue, Kelly, and others, a class of the

most intelligent and wealthy men of the city, who earnestly and

honestly desired to prevent bloodshed. They also came to me, and I

told them that our men were enrolling very fast, and that, when I

deemed the right moment had come, the Vigilance Committee must

disperse, else bloodshed and destruction of property would

inevitably follow. They also had discovered that the better men of


the Vigilance Committee itself were getting tired of the business,

and thought that in the execution of Casey and Cora, and the

banishment of a dozen or more rowdies, they had done enough, and

were then willing to stop. It was suggested that, if our

Law-and-Order party would not arm, by a certain day near at hand

the committee would disperse, and some of their leaders would

submit to an indictment and trial by a jury of citizens, which they

knew would acquit them of crime. One day in the bank a man called

me to the counter and said, “If you expect to get arms of General

Wool, you will be mistaken, for I was at Benicia yesterday, and

heard him say he would not give them.” This person was known to me

to be a man of truth, and I immediately wrote to General Wool a

letter telling him what I had heard, and how any hesitation on his

part would compromise me as a man of truth and honor; adding that I

did not believe we should ever need the arms, but only the promise

of them, for “the committee was letting down, and would soon

disperse and submit to the law,” etc. I further asked him to

answer me categorically that very night, by the Stockton boat,

which would pass Benicia on its way down about midnight, and I

would sit up and wait for his answer. I did wait for his letter,

but it did not come, and the next day I got a telegraphic dispatch

from Governor Johnson, who, at Sacramento, had also heard of

General Wool’s “back-down,” asking me to meet him again at Benicia

that night.

I went up in the evening boat, and found General Wool’s aide-de-

camp, Captain Arnold, of the army, on the wharf, with a letter in

his hand, which he said was for me. I asked for it, but he said he

knew its importance, and preferred we should go to General Wool’s

room together, and the general could hand it to me in person. We

did go right up to General Wool’s, who took the sealed parcel and

laid it aside, saying that it was literally a copy of one he had

sent to Governor Johnson, who would doubtless give me a copy; but I

insisted that I had made a written communication, and was entitled

to a written answer.

At that moment several gentlemen of the “Conciliation party,” who

had come up in the same steamer with me, asked for admission and

came in. I recall the names of Crockett, Foote, Bailey Peyton,

Judge Thornton, Donohue, etc., and the conversation became general,

Wool trying to explain away the effect of our misunderstanding,

taking good pains not to deny his promise made to me personally on

the wharf. I renewed my application for the letter addressed to

me, then lying on his table. On my statement of the case, Bailey

Peyton said, “General Wool, I think General Sherman has a right to

a written answer from you, for he is surely compromised.” Upon

this Wool handed me the letter. I opened and read it, and it

denied any promise of arms, but otherwise was extremely evasive and

non-committal. I had heard of the arrival at the wharf of the

Governor and party, and was expecting them at Wool’s room, but,

instead of stopping at the hotel where we were, they passed to

another hotel on the block above. I went up and found there, in a

room on the second floor over the bar-room, Governor Johnson,

Chief-Justice Terry, Jones, of Palmer, Cooke & Co., E. D. Baker,

Volney E. Howard, and one or two others. All were talking

furiously against Wool, denouncing him as a d—d liar, and not

sparing the severest terms. I showed the Governor General Wool’s

letter to me, which he said was in effect the same as the one

addressed to and received by him at Sacramento. He was so offended

that he would not even call on General Wool, and said he would

never again recognize him as an officer or gentleman. We discussed

matters generally, and Judge Terry said that the Vigilance

Committee were a set of d—d pork-merchants; that they were

getting scared, and that General Wool was in collusion with them to

bring the State into contempt, etc. I explained that there were no

arms in the State except what General Wool had, or what were in the

hands of the Vigilance Committee of San Francisco, and that the

part of wisdom for us was to be patient and cautious. About that

time Crockett and his associates sent up their cards, but Terry and

the more violent of the Governor’s followers denounced them as no

better than “Vigilantes,” and wanted the Governor to refuse even to

receive them. I explained that they were not “Vigilantes,” that

Judge Thornton was a “Law-and-Order” man, was one of the first to

respond to the call of the sheriff, and that he went actually to

the jail with his one arm the night we expected the first attempt

at rescue, etc. Johnson then sent word for them to reduce their

business to writing. They simply sent in a written request for an

audience, and they were then promptly admitted. After some general

conversation, the Governor said he was prepared to hear them, when

Mr. Crockett rose and made a prepared speech embracing a clear and

fair statement of the condition of things in San Francisco,

concluding with the assertion of the willingness of the committee

to disband and submit to trial after a certain date not very

remote. All the time Crockett was speaking, Terry sat with his hat

on, drawn over his eyes, and with his feet on a table. As soon as

Crockett was through, they were dismissed, and Johnson began to

prepare a written answer. This was scratched, altered, and

amended, to suit the notions of his counselors, and at last was

copied and sent. This answer amounted to little or nothing.

Seeing that we were powerless for good, and that violent counsels

would prevail under the influence of Terry and others, I sat down

at the table, and wrote my resignation, which Johnson accepted in a

complimentary note on the spot, and at the same time he appointed

to my place General Volney E. Howard, then present, a lawyer who

had once been a member of Congress from Texas, and who was expected

to drive the d—d pork-merchants into the bay at short notice. I

went soon after to General Wool’s room, where I found Crockett and

the rest of his party; told them that I was out of the fight,

having resigned my commission; that I had neglected business that

had been intrusted to me by my St. Louis partners; and that I would

thenceforward mind my own business, and leave public affairs

severely alone. We all returned to San Francisco that night by the

Stockton boat, and I never after-ward had any thing to do with

politics in California, perfectly satisfied with that short

experience. Johnson and Wool fought out their quarrel of veracity

in the newspapers and on paper. But, in my opinion, there is not a

shadow of doubt that General Wool did deliberately deceive us; that

he had authority to issue arms, and that, had he adhered to his

promise, we could have checked the committee before it became a

fixed institution, and a part of the common law of California.

Major-General Volney E. Howard came to San Francisco soon after;

continued the organization of militia which I had begun; succeeded

in getting a few arms from the country; but one day the Vigilance

Committee sallied from their armories, captured the arms of the

“Law-and-Order party,” put some of their men into prison, while

General Howard, with others, escaped to the country; after which

the Vigilance Committee had it all their own way. Subsequently, in

July, 1856, they arrested Chief-Justice Terry, and tried him for

stabbing one of their constables, but he managed to escape at

night, and took refuge on the John Adams. In August, they hanged

Hetherington and Brace in broad daylight, without any jury-trial;

and, soon after, they quietly disbanded. As they controlled the

press, they wrote their own history, and the world generally gives

them the credit of having purged San Francisco of rowdies and

roughs; but their success has given great stimulus to a dangerous

principle, that would at any time justify the mob in seizing all

the power of government; and who is to say that the Vigilance

Committee may not be composed of the worst, instead of the best,

elements of a community? Indeed, in San Francisco, as soon as it

was demonstrated that the real power had passed from the City Hall

to the committee room, the same set of bailiffs, constables, and

rowdies that had infested the City Hall were found in the

employment of the “Vigilantes;” and, after three months

experience, the better class of people became tired of the midnight

sessions and left the business and power of the committee in the

hands of a court, of which a Sydney man was reported to be the head

or chief-justice.

During the winter of 1855-’56, and indeed throughout the year 1856,

all kinds of business became unsettled in California. The mines

continued to yield about fifty millions of gold a year; but little

attention was paid to agriculture or to any business other than

that of “mining,” and, as the placer-gold was becoming worked out,

the miners were restless and uneasy, and were shifting about from

place to place, impelled by rumors put afloat for speculative

purposes. A great many extensive enterprises by joint-stock

companies had been begun, in the way of water-ditches, to bring

water from the head of the mountain-streams down to the richer

alluvial deposits, and nearly all of these companies became

embarrassed or bankrupt. Foreign capital, also, which had been

attracted to California by reason of the high rates of interest,

was being withdrawn, or was tied up in property which could not be

sold; and, although our bank’s having withstood the panic gave us

great credit, still the community itself was shaken, and loans of

money were risky in the extreme. A great many merchants, of the

highest name, availed themselves of the extremely liberal bankrupt

law to get discharged of their old debts, without sacrificing much,

if any, of their stocks of goods on hand, except a lawyer’s fee;

thus realizing Martin Burke’s saying that “many a clever fellow had

been ruined by paying his debts.” The merchants and business-men

of San Francisco did not intend to be ruined by such a course. I

raised the rate of exchange from three to three and a half, while

others kept on at the old rate; and I labored hard to collect old

debts, and strove, in making new loans, to be on the safe side.

The State and city both denied much of their public debt; in fact,

repudiated it; and real estate, which the year before had been

first-class security, became utterly unsalable.

The office labor and confinement, and the anxiety attending the

business, aggravated my asthma to such an extent that at times it

deprived me of sleep, and threatened to become chronic and serious;

and I was also conscious that the first and original cause which

had induced Mr. Lucas to establish the bank in California had

ceased. I so reported to him, and that I really believed that he

could use his money more safely and to better advantage in St.

Louis. This met his prompt approval, and he instructed me

gradually to draw out, preparatory to a removal to New York City.

Accordingly, early in April, 1857, I published an advertisement in

the San Francisco papers, notifying our customers that, on the 1st

day of May, we would discontinue business and remove East,

requiring all to withdraw their accounts, and declaring that,

if any remained on that day of May, their balances would be

transferred to the banking-house of Parrott & Co. Punctually to the

day, this was done, and the business of Lucas, Turner & Co., of San

Francisco, was discontinued, except the more difficult and

disagreeable part of collecting their own moneys and selling the

real estate, to which the firm had succeeded by purchase or

foreclosure. One of the partners, B. R. Nisbet, assisted by our

attorney, S. M. Bowman, Esq., remained behind to close up the

business of the bank.




Having closed the bank at San Francisco on the 1st day of May,

1857, accompanied by my family I embarked in the steamer Sonora for

Panama, crossed the isthmus, and sailed to New York, whence we

proceeded to Lancaster, Ohio, where Mrs. Sherman and the family

stopped, and I went on to St. Louis. I found there that some

changes had been made in the parent, house, that Mr. Lucas had

bought out his partner, Captain Symonds, and that the firm’s name

had been changed to that of James H. Lucas & Co.

It had also been arranged that an office or branch was to be

established in New York City, of which I was to have charge, on

pretty much the same terms and conditions as in the previous San

Francisco firm.

Mr. Lucas, Major Turner, and I, agreed to meet in New York, soon

after the 4th of July. We met accordingly at the Metropolitan

Hotel, selected an office, No. 12 Pall Street, purchased the

necessary furniture, and engaged a teller, bookkeeper, and porter.

The new firm was to bear the same title of Lucas, Turner & Co.,

with about the same partners in interest, but the nature of the

business was totally different. We opened our office on the 21st

of July, 1857, and at once began to receive accounts from the West

and from California, but our chief business was as the resident

agents of the St. Louis firm of James H. Lucas & Co. Personally I

took rooms at No. 100 Prince Street, in which house were also

quartered Major J. G. Barnard, and Lieutenant J. B. McPherson,

United States Engineers, both of whom afterward attained great fame

in the civil war.

My business relations in New York were with the Metropolitan Bank

and Bank of America; and with the very wealthy and most respectable

firm of Schuchhardt & Gebhard, of Nassau Street. Every thing went

along swimmingly till the 21st of August, when all Wall Street was

thrown into a spasm by the failure of the Ohio Life and Trust

Company, and the panic so resembled that in San Francisco, that,

having nothing seemingly at stake, I felt amused. But it soon

became a serious matter even to me. Western stocks and securities

tumbled to such a figure, that all Western banks that held such

securities, and had procured advances thereon, were compelled to

pay up or substitute increased collaterals. Our own house was not

a borrower in New York at all, but many of our Western

correspondents were, and it taxed my tune to watch their interests.

In September, the panic extended so as to threaten the safety of

even some of the New York banks not connected with the West; and

the alarm became general, and at last universal.

In the very midst of this panic came the news that the steamer

Central America, formerly the George Law, with six hundred


passengers and about sixteen hundred thousand dollars of treasure,

coming from Aspinwall, had foundered at sea, off the coast of

Georgia, and that about sixty of the passengers had been

providentially picked up by a Swedish bark, and brought into

Savannah. The absolute loss of this treasure went to swell the

confusion and panic of the day.

A few days after, I was standing in the vestibule of the

Metropolitan Hotel, and heard the captain of the Swedish bark tell

his singular story of the rescue of these passengers. He was a

short, sailor-like-looking man, with a strong German or Swedish

accent. He said that he was sailing from some port in Honduras for

Sweden, running down the Gulf Stream off Savannah. The weather had

been heavy for some days, and, about nightfall, as he paced his

deck, he observed a man-of-war hawk circle about his vessel,

gradually lowering, until the bird was as it were aiming at him.

He jerked out a belaying-pin, struck at the bird, missed it, when

the hawk again rose high in the air, and a second time began to

descend, contract his circle, and make at him again. The second

time he hit the bird, and struck it to the deck…. This strange

fact made him uneasy, and he thought it betokened danger; he went

to the binnacle, saw the course he was steering, and without any

particular reason he ordered the steersman to alter the course one

point to the east.

After this it became quite dark, and he continued to promenade the

deck, and had settled into a drowsy state, when as in a dream he

thought he heard voices all round his ship. Waking up, he ran to

the side of the ship, saw something struggling in the water, and

heard clearly cries for help. Instantly heaving his ship to, and

lowering all his boats, he managed to pick up sixty or more persons

who were floating about on skylights, doors, spare, and whatever

fragments remained of the Central America. Had he not changed the

course of his vessel by reason of the mysterious conduct of that

man-of-war hawk, not a soul would probably have survived the night.

It was stated by the rescued passengers, among whom was Billy

Birch, that the Central America had sailed from Aspinwall with the

passengers and freight which left San Francisco on the 1st of

September, and encountered the gale in the Gulf Stream somewhere

off Savannah, in which she sprung a leak, filled rapidly, and went

down. The passengers who were saved had clung to doors, skylights,

and such floating objects as they could reach, and were thus

rescued; all the rest, some five hundred in number, had gone down

with the ship.

The panic grew worse and worse, and about the end of September

there was a general suspension of the banks of New York, and a

money crisis extended all over the country. In New York, Lucas,

Turner & Co. had nothing at risk. We had large cash balances in

the Metropolitan Bank and in the Bank of America, all safe, and we

held, for the account of the St. Louis house, at least two hundred

thousand dollars, of St. Louis city and county bonds, and of

acceptances falling due right along, none extending beyond ninety

days. I was advised from St. Louis that money matters were

extremely tight; but I did not dream of any danger in that quarter.

I knew well that Mr. Lucas was worth two or three million dollars

in the best real estate, and inferred from the large balances to

their credit with me that no mere panic could shake his credit;

but, early on the morning of October 7th, my cousin, James M. Hoyt,

came to me in bed, and read me a paragraph in the morning paper, to

the effect that James H. Lucas & Co., of St. Louis, had suspended.

I was, of course, surprised, but not sorry; for I had always

contended that a man of so much visible wealth as Mr. Lucas should

not be engaged in a business subject to such vicissitudes. I

hurried down to the office, where I received the same information

officially, by telegraph, with instructions to make proper

disposition of the affairs of the bank, and to come out to St.

Louis, with such assets as would be available there. I transferred

the funds belonging to all our correspondents, with lists of

outstanding checks, to one or other of our bankers, and with the

cash balance of the St. Louis house and their available assets

started for St. Louis. I may say with confidence that no man lost

a cent by either of the banking firms of Lucas, Turner & Co., of

San Francisco or New York; but, as usual, those who owed us were

not always as just. I reached St. Louis October 17th, and found

the partners engaged in liquidating the balances due depositors as

fast as collections could be forced; and, as the panic began to

subside, this process became quite rapid, and Mr. Lucas, by making

a loan in Philadelphia, was enabled to close out all accounts

without having made any serious sacrifices, Of course, no person

ever lost a cent by him: he has recently died, leaving an estate of

eight million dollars. During his lifetime, I had opportunities to

know him well, and take much pleasure in bearing testimony to his

great worth and personal kindness. On the failure of his bank, he

assumed personally all the liabilities, released his partners of

all responsibility, and offered to assist me to engage in business,

which he supposed was due to me because I had resigned my army

commission. I remained in St. Louis till the 17th of December,

1857, assisting in collecting for the bank, and in controlling all

matters which came from the New York and San Francisco branches.

B. R. Nisbet was still in San Francisco, but had married a Miss

Thornton, and was coming home. There still remained in California

a good deal of real estate, and notes, valued at about two hundred

thousand dollars in the aggregate; so that, at Mr. Lucas’s request,

I agreed to go out again, to bring matters, if possible, nearer a

final settlement. I accordingly left St. Louis, reached Lancaster,

where my family was, on the 10th, staid there till after Christmas,

and then went to New York, where I remained till January 5th, when

I embarked on the steamer Moles Taylor (Captain McGowan) for

Aspinwall; caught the Golden Gate (Captain Whiting) at Panama,

January 15, 1858; and reached San Francisco on the 28th of January.

I found that Nisbet and wife had gone to St. Louis, and that we had

passed each other at sea. He had carried the ledger and books to

St. Louis, but left a schedule, notes, etc., in the hands of S. M.

Bowman, Esq., who passed them over to me.

On the 30th of January I published a notice of the dissolution of

the partnership, and called on all who were still indebted to the

firm of Lucas, Turner & Co. to pay up, or the notes would be sold

at auction. I also advertised that all the real property, was for


Business had somewhat changed since 1857. Parrott & Co.; Garrison,

Fritz & Ralston; Wells, Fargo & Co.; Drexel, Sather & Church, and

Tallant & Wilde, were the principal bankers. Property continued

almost unsalable, and prices were less than a half of what they

had been in 1853-’54. William Blending, Esq., had rented my house

on Harrison Street; so I occupied a room in the bank, No. 11, and

boarded at the Meiggs House, corner of Broadway and Montgomery,

which we owned. Having reduced expenses to a minimum, I proceeded,

with all possible dispatch, to collect outstanding debts, in some

instances making sacrifices and compromises. I made some few

sales, and generally aimed to put matters in such a shape that time

would bring the best result. Some of our heaviest creditors were

John M. Rhodes & Co., of Sacramento and Shasta; Langton & Co., of

Downieville; and E. M. Stranger of Murphy’s. In trying to put

these debts in course of settlement, I made some arrangement in

Downieville with the law-firm of Spears & Thornton, to collect, by

suit, a certain note of Green & Purdy for twelve thousand dollars.

Early in April, I learned that Spears had collected three thousand

seven hundred dollars in money, had appropriated it to his own use,

and had pledged another good note taken in part payment of three

thousand and fifty-three dollars. He pretended to be insane. I

had to make two visits to Downieville on this business, and there,

made the acquaintance of Mr. Stewart, now a Senator from Nevada.

He was married to a daughter of Governor Foote; was living in a

small framehouse on the bar just below the town; and his little

daughter was playing about the door in the sand. Stewart was then

a lawyer in Downieville, in good practice; afterward, by some lucky

stroke, became part owner of a valuable silver-mine in Nevada, and

is now accounted a millionaire. I managed to save something out of

Spears, and more out of his partner Thornton. This affair of

Spears ruined him, because his insanity was manifestly feigned.

I remained in San Francisco till July 3d, when, having collected

and remitted every cent that I could raise, and got all the

property in the best shape possible, hearing from St. Louis that

business had revived, and that there was no need of further

sacrifice; I put all the papers, with a full letter of

instructions, and power of attorney, in the hands of William

Blending, Esq., and took passage on the good steamer Golden Gate,

Captain Whiting, for Panama and home. I reached Lancaster on July

28, 1858, and found all the family well. I was then perfectly

unhampered, but the serious and greater question remained, what was

I to do to support my family, consisting of a wife and four

children, all accustomed to more than the average comforts of life?

I remained at Lancaster all of August, 1858, during which time I

was discussing with Mr. Ewing and others what to do next. Major

Turner and Mr. Lucas, in St. Louis, were willing to do any thing to

aid me, but I thought best to keep independent. Mr. Ewing had

property at Chauncey, consisting of salt-wells and coal-mines, but

for that part of Ohio I had no fancy. Two of his sons, Hugh and T.

E., Jr., had established themselves at Leavenworth, Kansas, where

they and their father had bought a good deal of land, some near the

town, and some back in the country. Mr. Ewing offered to confide

to me the general management of his share of interest, and Hugh and

T. E., Jr., offered me an equal copartnership in their law-firm.

Accordingly, about the 1st of September, I started for Kansas,

stopping a couple of weeks in St. Louis, and reached Leavenworth.

I found about two miles below the fort, on the river-bank, where in

1851 was a tangled thicket, quite a handsome and thriving city,

growing rapidly in rivalry with Kansas City, and St. Joseph,

Missouri. After looking about and consulting with friends, among

them my classmate Major Stewart Van Vliet, quartermaster at the

fort, I concluded to accept the proposition of Mr. Ewing, and

accordingly the firm of Sherman & Ewing was duly announced, and our

services to the public offered as attorneys-at-law. We had an

office on Main Street, between Shawnee and Delaware, on the second

floor, over the office of Hampton Denman, Esq., mayor of the city.

This building was a mere shell, and our office was reached by a

stairway on the outside. Although in the course of my military

reading I had studied a few of the ordinary law-books, such as

Blackstone, Kent, Starkie, etc., I did not presume to be a lawyer;

but our agreement was that Thomas Ewing, Jr., a good and thorough

lawyer, should manage all business in the courts, while I gave

attention to collections, agencies for houses and lands, and such

business as my experience in banking had qualified me for. Yet, as

my name was embraced in a law-firm, it seemed to me proper to take

out a license. Accordingly, one day when United States Judge

Lecompte was in our office, I mentioned the matter to him; he told

me to go down to the clerk of his court, and he would give me the

license. I inquired what examination I would have to submit to,

and he replied, “None at all;” he would admit me on the ground of

general intelligence.

During that summer we got our share of the business of the

profession, then represented by several eminent law-firms,

embracing names that have since flourished in the Senate, and in

the higher courts of the country. But the most lucrative single

case was given me by my friend Major Van Vliet, who employed me to

go to Fort Riley, one hundred and thirty-six miles west of Fort

Leavenworth, to superintend the repairs to the military road. For

this purpose he supplied me with a four-mule ambulance and driver.

The country was then sparsely settled, and quite as many Indians

were along the road as white people; still there were embryo towns

all along the route, and a few farms sprinkled over the beautiful

prairies. On reaching Indianola, near Topeka, I found everybody

down with the chills and fever. My own driver became so shaky that

I had to act as driver and cook. But in due season I reconnoitred

the road, and made contracts for repairing some bridges, and for

cutting such parts of the road as needed it. I then returned to

Fort Leavenworth, and reported, receiving a fair compensation. On

my way up I met Colonel Sumner’s column, returning from their

summer scout on the plains, and spent the night with the officers,

among whom were Captains Sackett, Sturgis, etc. Also at Fort Riley

I was cordially received and entertained by some old army-friends,

among them Major Sedgwick, Captains Totted, Eli Long, etc.

Mrs. Sherman and children arrived out in November, and we spent the

winter very comfortably in the house of Thomas Ewing, Jr., on the

corner of Third and Pottawottamie Streets. On the 1st of January,

1859, Daniel McCook, Esq., was admitted to membership in our firm,

which became Sherman, Ewing & McCook. Our business continued to

grow, but, as the income hardly sufficed for three such expensive

personages, I continued to look about for something more certain

and profitable, and during that spring undertook for the Hon.

Thomas Ewing, of Ohio, to open a farm on a large tract of land he

owned on Indian Creek, forty miles west of Leavenworth, for the

benefit of his grand-nephew, Henry Clark, and his grand-niece, Mrs.

Walker. These arrived out in the spring, by which time I had

caused to be erected a small frame dwelling-house, a barn, and

fencing for a hundred acres. This helped to pass away time, but

afforded little profit; and on the 11th of June, 1859, I wrote to

Major D. C. Buel, assistant adjutant-general, on duty in the War

Department with Secretary of War Floyd, inquiring if there was a

vacancy among the army paymasters, or any thing in his line that I

could obtain. He replied promptly, and sent me the printed

programme for a military college about to be organized in


Louisiana, and advised me to apply for the superintendent’s place,

saying that General G. Mason Graham, the half-brother of my old

commanding-general, R. B. Mason, was very influential in this

matter, and would doubtless befriend me on account of the relations

that had existed between General Mason and myself in California.

Accordingly, I addressed a letter of application to the Hon. R. C.

Wickliffe, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, asking the answer to be sent to

me at Lancaster, Ohio, where I proposed to leave my family. But,

before leaving this branch of the subject, I must explain a little

matter of which I have seen an account in print, complimentary or

otherwise of the firm of Sherman, Ewing & McCook, more especially

of the senior partner.

One day, as I sat in our office, an Irishman came in and said he

had a case and wanted a lawyer. I asked him to sit down and give

me the points of his case, all the other members of the firm being

out. Our client stated that he had rented a lot of an Irish

landlord for five dollars a month; that he had erected thereon a

small frame shanty, which was occupied by his family; that he had,

paid his rent regularly up to a recent period, but to his house he

had appended a shed which extended over a part of an adjoining

vacant lot belonging to the same landlord, for which he was charged

two and a half dollars a month, which he refused to pay. The

consequence was, that his landlord had for a few months declined

even his five dollars monthly rent until the arrears amounted to

about seventeen dollars, for which he was sued. I told him we

would undertake his case, of which I took notes, and a fee of five

dollars in advance, and in due order I placed the notes in the

hands of McCook, and thought no more of it.

A month or so after, our client rushed into the office and said his

case had been called at Judge Gardner’s (I think), and he wanted

his lawyer right away. I sent him up to the Circuit Court, Judge

Pettit’s, for McCook, but he soon returned, saying he could not

find McCook, and accordingly I hurried with him up to Judge

Gardner’s office, intending to ask a continuance, but I found our

antagonist there, with his lawyer and witnesses, and Judge Gardner

would not grant a continuance, so of necessity I had to act, hoping

that at every minute McCook would come. But the trial proceeded

regularly to its end; we were beaten, and judgment was entered

against our client for the amount claimed, and costs. As soon as

the matter was explained to McCook, he said “execution” could not

be taken for ten days, and, as our client was poor, and had nothing

on which the landlord could levy but his house, McCook advised him

to get his neighbors together, to pick up the house, and carry it

on to another vacant lot, belonging to a non-resident, so that even

the house could not be taken in execution. Thus the grasping

landlord, though successful in his judgment, failed in the

execution, and our client was abundantly satisfied.

In due time I closed up my business at Leavenworth, and went to

Lancaster, Ohio, where, in July, 1859, I received notice from

Governor Wickliffe that I had been elected superintendent of the

proposed college, and inviting me to come down to Louisiana as

early as possible, because they were anxious to put the college

into operation by the 1st of January following. For this honorable

position I was indebted to Major D. C. Buell and General G. Mason

Graham, to whom I have made full and due acknowledgment. During

the civil war, it was reported and charged that I owed my position

to the personal friendship of Generals Bragg and Beauregard, and

that, in taking up arms against the South, I had been guilty of a

breach of hospitality and friendship. I was not indebted to

General Bragg, because he himself told me that he was not even

aware that I was an applicant, and had favored the selection of

Major Jenkins, another West Point graduate. General Beauregard had

nothing whatever to do with the matter.




In the autumn of 1859, having made arrangements for my family to

remain in Lancaster, I proceeded, via Columbus, Cincinnati, and

Louisville, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where I reported for duty to

Governor Wickliffe, who, by virtue of his office, was the president

of the Board of Supervisors of the new institution over which I was

called to preside. He explained to me the act of the Legislature

under which the institution was founded; told me that the building

was situated near Alexandria, in the parish of Rapides, and was

substantially finished; that the future management would rest with

a Board of Supervisors, mostly citizens of Rapides Parish, where

also resided the Governor-elect, T. O. Moore, who would soon

succeed him in his office as Governor and president ex officio; and

advised me to go at once to Alexandria, and put myself in

communication with Moore and the supervisors. Accordingly I took a

boat at Baton Rouge, for the mouth of Red River.

The river being low, and its navigation precarious, I there took

the regular mail-coach, as the more certain conveyance, and

continued on toward Alexandria. I found, as a fellow-passenger in

the coach, Judge Henry Boyce, of the United States District Court,

with whom I had made acquaintance years before, at St. Louis, and,

as we neared Alexandria, he proposed that we should stop at

Governor Moore’s and spend the night. Moore’s house and plantation

were on Bayou Robert, about eight miles from Alexandria. We found

him at home, with his wife and a married daughter, and spent the

night there. He sent us forward to Alexandria the next morning, in

his own carriage. On arriving at Alexandria, I put up at an inn,

or boarding-house, and almost immediately thereafter went about ten

miles farther up Bayou Rapides, to the plantation and house of

General G. Mason Graham, to whom I looked as the principal man with

whom I had to deal. He was a high-toned gentleman, and his whole

heart was in the enterprise. He at once put me at ease. We acted

together most cordially from that time forth, and it was at his

house that all the details of the seminary were arranged. We first

visited the college-building together. It was located on an old

country place of four hundred acres of pineland, with numerous

springs, and the building was very large and handsome. A

carpenter, named James, resided there, and had the general charge

of the property; but, as there was not a table, chair, black-board,

or any thing on hand, necessary for a beginning, I concluded to

quarter myself in one of the rooms of the seminary, and board with

an old black woman who cooked for James, so that I might personally

push forward the necessary preparations. There was an old

rail-fence about the place, and a large pile of boards in front. I

immediately engaged four carpenters, and set them at work to make

out of these boards mess-tables, benches, black-boards, etc. I

also opened a correspondence with the professors-elect, and with

all parties of influence in the State, who were interested in our

work: At the meeting of the Board of Supervisors, held at

Alexandria, August 2, 1859, five professors had been elected:

1. W. T. Sherman, Superintendent, and Professor of Engineering, etc.;

2. Anthony Vallas, Professor of Mathematics, Philosophy, etc.;

3. Francis W. Smith, Professor of Chemistry, etc.;

4. David F. Boyd, Professor of Languages, English and Ancient;

5. E. Berti St. Ange, Professor of French and Modern Languages.

These constituted the Academic Board, while the general supervision

remained in the Board of Supervisors, composed of the Governor of

the State, the Superintendent of Public Education, and twelve

members, nominated by the Governor, and confirmed by the Senate.

The institution was bound to educate sixteen beneficiary students,

free of any charge for tuition. These had only to pay for their

clothing and books, while all others had to pay their entire

expenses, including tuition.

Early in November, Profs. Smith, Yallas, St. Ange, and I, met a

committee of the Board of Supervisors, composed of T. C. Manning,

G. Mason Graham, and W. W. Whittington, at General Graham’s house,

and resolved to open the institution to pupils on the 1st day of

January, 1860. We adopted a series of bylaws for the government of

the institution, which was styled the “Louisiana Seminary of

Learning and Military Academy.” This title grew out of the

original grant, by the Congress of the United States, of a certain

township of public land, to be sold by the State, and dedicated to

the use of a “seminary of learning.” I do not suppose that

Congress designed thereby to fix the name or title; but the subject

had so long been debated in Louisiana that the name, though

awkward, had become familiar. We appended to it “Military

Academy,” as explanatory of its general design.

On the 17th of November, 1859, the Governor of the State,

Wickliffe, issued officially a general circular, prepared by us,

giving public notice that the “Seminary of Learning” would open on

the 1st day of January, 1860; containing a description of the

locality, and the general regulations for the proposed institution;

and authorizing parties to apply for further information to the

“Superintendent,” at Alexandria, Louisiana.

The Legislature had appropriated for the sixteen beneficiaries at

the rate of two hundred and eighty-three dollars per annum, to

which we added sixty dollars as tuition for pay cadets; and, though

the price was low, we undertook to manage for the first year on

that basis.

Promptly to the day, we opened, with about sixty cadets present.

Major Smith was the commandant of cadets, and I the superintendent.

I had been to New Orleans, where I had bought a supply of

mattresses, books, and every thing requisite, and we started very

much on the basis of West Point and of the Virginia Military

Institute, but without uniforms or muskets; yet with roll-calls,

sections, and recitations, we kept as near the standard of West

Point as possible. I kept all the money accounts, and gave general

directions to the steward, professors, and cadets. The other

professors had their regular classes and recitations. We all lived

in rooms in the college building, except Vallas, who had a family,

and rented a house near by. A Creole gentleman, B. Jarrean, Esq.,

had been elected steward, and he also had his family in a house not

far off. The other professors had a mess in a room adjoining the

mess-hall. A few more cadets joined in the course of the winter,

so that we had in all, during the first term, seventy-three cadets,

of whom fifty-nine passed the examination on the 30th of July,

1860. During our first term many defects in the original act of

the Legislature were demonstrated, and, by the advice of the Board

of Supervisors, I went down to Baton Rouge during the session of

the Legislature, to advocate and urge the passage of a new bill,

putting the institution on a better footing. Thomas O. Moors was

then Governor, Bragg was a member of the Board of Public Works, and

Richard Taylor was a Senator. I got well acquainted with all of

these, and with some of the leading men of the State, and was

always treated with the greatest courtesy and kindness. In

conjunction with the proper committee of the Legislature, we

prepared a new bill, which was passed and approved on the 7th of

March, 1860, by which we were to have a beneficiary cadet for each

parish, in all fifty-six, and fifteen thousand dollars annually for

their maintenance; also twenty thousand dollars for the general use

of the college. During that session we got an appropriation of

fifteen thousand dollars for building two professors’ houses, for

the purchase of philosophical and chemical apparatus, and for the

beginning of a college library. The seminary was made a State

Arsenal, under the title of State Central Arsenal, and I was

allowed five hundred dollars a year as its superintendent. These

matters took me several times to Baton Rouge that winter, and I

recall an event of some interest, which most have happened in

February. At that time my brother, John Sherman, was a candidate,

in the national House of Representatives, for Speaker, against

Bocock, of Virginia. In the South he was regarded as an

“abolitionist,” the most horrible of all monsters; and many people

of Louisiana looked at me with suspicion, as the brother of the

abolitionist, John Sherman, and doubted the propriety of having me

at the head of an important State institution. By this time I was

pretty well acquainted with many of their prominent men, was

generally esteemed by all in authority, and by the people of

Rapides Parish especially, who saw that I was devoted to my

particular business, and that I gave no heed to the political

excitement of the day. But the members of the State Senate and

House did not know me so well, and it was natural that they should

be suspicions of a Northern man, and the brother of him who was the

“abolition” candidate for Speaker of the House.

One evening, at a large dinner-party at Governor Moore’s, at which

were present several members of the Louisiana Legislature, Taylor,

Bragg, and the Attorney-General Hyams, after the ladies had left

the table, I noticed at Governor Moore’s end quite a lively

discussion going on, in which my name was frequently used; at

length the Governor called to me, saying: “Colonel Sherman, you can

readily understand that, with your brother the abolitionist

candidate for Speaker, some of our people wonder that you should be

here at the head of an important State institution. Now, you are

at my table, and I assure you of my confidence. Won’t you speak

your mind freely on this question of slavery, that so agitates the

land? You are under my roof, and, whatever you say, you have my


I answered: “Governor Moors, you mistake in calling my brother,

John Sherman, an abolitionist. We have been separated since

childhood–I in the army, and he pursuing his profession of law in

Northern Ohio; and it is possible we may differ in general

sentiment, but I deny that he is considered at home an

abolitionist; and, although he prefers the free institutions under

which he lives to those of slavery which prevail here, he would not

of himself take from you by law or force any property whatever,

even slaves.”

Then said Moore: “Give us your own views of slavery as you see it

here and throughout the South.”

I answered in effect that “the people of Louisiana were hardly

responsible for slavery, as they had inherited it; that I found two

distinct conditions of slavery, domestic and field hands. The

domestic slaves, employed by the families, were probably better

treated than any slaves on earth; but the condition of the

field-hands was different, depending more on the temper and

disposition of their masters and overseers than were those employed

about the house;” and I went on to say that, “were I a citizen of

Louisiana, and a member of the Legislature, I would deem it wise to


bring the legal condition of the slaves more near the status of

human beings under all Christian and civilized governments. In the

first place, I argued that, in sales of slaves made by the State, I

would forbid the separation of families, letting the father,

mother, and children, be sold together to one person, instead of

each to the highest bidder. And, again, I would advise the repeal

of the statute which enacted a severe penalty for even the owner to

teach his slave to read and write, because that actually qualified

property and took away a part of its value; illustrating the

assertion by the case of Henry Sampson, who had been the slave of

Colonel Chambers, of Rapides Parish, who had gone to California as

the servant of an officer of the army, and who was afterward

employed by me in the bank at San Francisco. At first he could not

write or read, and I could only afford to pay him one hundred

dollars a month; but he was taught to read and write by Reilley,

our bank-teller, when his services became worth two hundred and

fifty dollars a month, which enabled him to buy his own freedom and

that of his brother and his family.”

What I said was listened to by all with the most profound

attention; and, when I was through, some one (I think it was Mr.

Hyams) struck the table with his fist, making the glasses jingle,

and said, “By God, he is right!” and at once he took up the debate,

which went on, for an hour or more, on both sides with ability and

fairness. Of course, I was glad to be thus relieved, because at

the time all men in Louisiana were dreadfully excited on questions

affecting their slaves, who constituted the bulk of their wealth,

and without whom they honestly believed that sugar, cotton, and

rice, could not possibly be cultivated.

On the 30th and 31st of July, 1860, we had an examination at the

seminary, winding up with a ball, and as much publicity as possible

to attract general notice; and immediately thereafter we all

scattered–the cadets to their homes, and the professors wherever

they pleased–all to meet again on the 1st day of the next

November. Major Smith and I agreed to meet in New York on a

certain day in August, to purchase books, models, etc. I went

directly to my family in Lancaster, and after a few days proceeded

to Washington, to endeavor to procure from the General Government

the necessary muskets and equipments for our cadets by the

beginning of the next term. I was in Washington on the 17th day of

August, and hunted up my friend Major Buell, of the Adjutant-

General’s Department, who was on duty with the Secretary of War,

Floyd. I had with me a letter of Governor Moore’s, authorizing me

to act in his name. Major Buell took me into Floyd’s room at the

War Department, to whom I explained my business, and I was

agreeably surprised to meet with such easy success. Although the

State of Louisiana had already drawn her full quota of arms, Floyd

promptly promised to order my requisition to be filled, and I

procured the necessary blanks at the Ordnance-Office, filled them

with two hundred cadet muskets, and all equipments complete, and

was assured that all these articles would be shipped to Louisiana

in season for our use that fall. These assurances were faithfully

carried out.

I then went on to New York, there met Major Smith according to

appointment, and together we selected and purchased a good supply

of uniforms, clothing, and text books, as well as a fair number of

books of history and fiction, to commence a library.

When this business was completed, I returned to Lancaster, and

remained with my family till the time approached for me to return

to Louisiana. I again left my family at Lancaster, until assured

of the completion of the two buildings designed for the married

professors for which I had contracted that spring with Mr. Mills,

of Alexandria, and which were well under progress when I left in

August. One of these was designed for me and the other for Vallas.

Mr. Ewing presented me with a horse, which I took down the river

with me, and en route I ordered from Grimsley & Co. a full

equipment of saddle, bridle, etc., the same that I used in the war,

and which I lost with my horse, shot under me at Shiloh.

Reaching Alexandria early in October, I pushed forward the

construction of the two buildings, some fences, gates, and all

other work, with the object of a more perfect start at the opening

of the regular term November 1, 1860.

About this time Dr. Powhatan Clark was elected Assistant Professor

of Chemistry, etc., and acted as secretary of the Board of

Supervisors, but no other changes were made in our small circle of


November came, and with it nearly if not quite all our first set of

cadets, and others, to the number of about one hundred and thirty.

We divided them into two companies, issued arms and clothing, and

began a regular system of drills and instruction, as well as the

regular recitations. I had moved into my new house, but prudently

had not sent for my family, nominally on the ground of waiting

until the season was further advanced, but really because of the

storm that was lowering heavy on the political horizon. The

presidential election was to occur in November, and the nominations

had already been made in stormy debates by the usual conventions.

Lincoln and Hamlin (to the South utterly unknown) were the nominees

of the Republican party, and for the first time both these

candidates were from Northern States. The Democratic party

divided–one set nominating a ticket at Charleston, and the other

at Baltimore. Breckenridge and Lane were the nominees of the

Southern or Democratic party; and Bell and Everett, a kind of

compromise, mostly in favor in Louisiana. Political excitement was

at its very height, and it was constantly asserted that Mr.

Lincoln’s election would imperil the Union. I purposely kept aloof

from politics, would take no part, and remember that on the day of

the election in November I was notified that it would be advisable

for me to vote for Bell and Everett, but I openly said I would not,

and I did not. The election of Mr. Lincoln fell upon us all like a

clap of thunder. People saw and felt that the South had threatened

so long that, if she quietly submitted, the question of slavery in

the Territories was at an end forever. I mingled freely with the

members of the Board of Supervisors, and with the people of Rapides

Parish generally, keeping aloof from all cliques and parties, and I

certainly hoped that the threatened storm would blow over, as had

so often occurred before, after similar threats. At our seminary

the order of exercises went along with the regularity of the

seasons. Once a week, I had the older cadets to practise reading,

reciting, and elocution, and noticed that their selections were

from Calhoun, Yancey, and other Southern speakers, all treating of

the defense of their slaves and their home institutions as the very

highest duty of the patriot. Among boys this was to be expected;

and among the members of our board, though most of them declaimed

against politicians generally, and especially abolitionists, as

pests, yet there was a growing feeling that danger was in the wind.

I recall the visit of a young gentleman who had been sent from

Jackson, by the Governor of Mississippi, to confer with Governor

Moore, then on his plantation at Bayou Robert, and who had come

over to see our college. He spoke to me openly of secession as a

fixed fact, and that its details were only left open for

discussion. I also recall the visit of some man who was said to be

a high officer in the order of “Knights of the Golden Circle,” of

the existence of which order I was even ignorant, until explained

to me by Major Smith and Dr. Clark. But in November, 1860, no man

ever approached me offensively, to ascertain my views, or my

proposed course of action in case of secession, and no man in or

out of authority ever tried to induce me to take part in steps

designed to lead toward disunion. I think my general opinions were

well known and understood, viz., that “secession was treason, was

war;” and that in no event would the North and West permit the

Mississippi River to pass out of their control. But some men at

the South actually supposed at the time that the Northwestern

States, in case of a disruption of the General Government, would be

drawn in self-interest to an alliance with the South. What I now

write I do not offer as any thing like a history of the important

events of that time, but rather as my memory of them, the effect

they had on me personally, and to what extent they influenced my

personal conduct.

South Carolina seceded December 20, 1860, and Mississippi soon

after. Emissaries came to Louisiana to influence the Governor,

Legislature, and people, and it was the common assertion that, if

all the Cotton States would follow the lead of South Carolina, it

would diminish the chances of civil war, because a bold and

determined front would deter the General Government from any

measures of coercion. About this time also, viz., early in

December, we received Mr. Buchanan’s annual message to Congress, in

which he publicly announced that the General Government had no

constitutional power to “coerce a State.” I confess this staggered

me, and I feared that the prophecies and assertions of Alison and

other European commentators on our form of government were right,

and that our Constitution was a mere rope of sand, that would break

with the first pressure.

The Legislature of Louisiana met on the 10th of December, and

passed an act calling a convention of delegates from the people, to

meet at Baton Rouge, on the 8th of January, to take into

consideration the state of the Union; and, although it was

universally admitted that a large majority of the voters of the

State were opposed to secession, disunion, and all the steps of the

South Carolinians, yet we saw that they were powerless, and that

the politicians would sweep them along rapidly to the end,

prearranged by their leaders in Washington. Before the ordinance

of secession was passed, or the convention had assembled, on the

faith of a telegraphic dispatch sent by the two Senators, Benjamin

and Slidell, from their seats in the United States Senate at

Washington, Governor Moore ordered the seizure of all the United

States forts at the mouth of the Mississippi and Lake

Pontchartrain, and of the United States arsenal at Baton Rouge.

The forts had no garrisons, but the arsenal was held by a small

company of artillery, commanded by Major Haskins, a most worthy and

excellent officer, who had lost an arm in Mexico. I remember well

that I was strongly and bitterly impressed by the seizure of the

arsenal, which occurred on January 10, 1861.

When I went first to Baton Rouge, in 1859, en route to Alexandria,

I found Captain Rickett’s company of artillery stationed in the

arsenal, but soon after there was somewhat of a clamor on the Texas

frontier about Brownsville, which induced the War Department to

order Rickett’s company to that frontier. I remember that Governor

Moore remonstrated with the Secretary of War because so much

dangerous property, composed of muskets, powder, etc., had been

left by the United States unguarded, in a parish where the slave

population was as five or six to one of whites; and it was on his

official demand that the United States Government ordered Haskinss

company to replace Rickett’s. This company did not number forty

men. In the night of January 9th, about five hundred New Orleans

militia, under command of a Colonel Wheat, went up from New Orleans

by boat, landed, surrounded the arsenal, and demanded its

surrender. Haskins was of course unprepared for such a step, yet

he at first resolved to defend the post as he best could with his

small force. But Bragg, who was an old army acquaintance of his,

had a parley with him, exhibited to him the vastly superior force

of his assailants, embracing two field-batteries, and offered to

procure for him honorable terms, to march out with drums and

colors, and to take unmolested passage in a boat up to St. Louis;

alleging, further, that the old Union was at an end, and that a

just settlement would be made between the two new fragments for all

the property stored in the arsenal. Of course it was Haskins’s

duty to have defended his post to the death; but up to that time

the national authorities in Washington had shown such

pusillanimity, that the officers of the army knew not what to do.

The result, anyhow, was that Haskins surrendered his post, and at

once embarked for St. Louis. The arms and munitions stored in the

arsenal were scattered–some to Mississippi, some to New Orleans,

some to Shreveport; and to me, at the Central Arsenal, were

consigned two thousand muskets, three hundred Jager rifles, and a

large amount of cartridges and ammunition. The invoices were

signed by the former ordnance-sergeant, Olodowski, as a captain of

ordnance, and I think he continued such on General Bragg’s staff

through the whole of the subsequent civil war. These arms, etc.,

came up to me at Alexandria, with orders from Governor Moore to

receipt for and account for them. Thus I was made the receiver of

stolen goods, and these goods the property of the United States.

This grated hard on my feelings as an ex-army-officer, and on

counting the arms I noticed that they were packed in the old

familiar boxes, with the “U. S.” simply scratched off. General G.

Mason Graham had resigned as the chairman of the Executive

Committee, and Dr. S. A. Smith, of Alexandria, then a member of the

State Senate, had succeeded him as chairman, and acted as head of

the Board of Supervisors. At the time I was in most intimate

correspondence with all of these parties, and our letters must have

been full of politics, but I have only retained copies of a few of

the letters, which I will embody in this connection, as they will

show, better than by any thing I can now recall, the feelings of

parties at that critical period. The seizure of the arsenal at

Baton Rouge occurred January 10, 1861, and the secession ordinance

was not passed until about the 25th or 26th of the same month. At

all events, after the seizure of the arsenal, and before the

passage of the ordinance of secession, viz., on the 18th of

January, I wrote as follows:

Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy

January 18, 1861

Governor THOMAS O. MOORE, Baton, Rouge, Louisiana.

Sir: As I occupy a quasi-military position under the laws of the

State, I deem it proper to acquaint you that I accepted such

position when Louisiana was a State in the Union, and when the

motto of this seminary was inserted in marble over the main door:

“By the liberality of the General Government of the United States.


The Union–esto perpetua.”

Recent events foreshadow a great change, and it becomes all men to

choose. If Louisiana withdraw from the Federal Union, I prefer to

maintain my allegiance to the Constitution as long as a fragment of

it survives; and my longer stay here would be wrong in every sense

of the word.

In that event, I beg you will send or appoint some authorized agent

to take charge of the arms and munitions of war belonging to the

State, or advise me what disposition to make of them.

And furthermore, as president of the Board of Supervisors, I beg

you to take immediate steps to relieve me as superintendent, the

moment the State determines to secede, for on no earthly account

will I do any act or think any thought hostile to or in defiance of

the old Government of the United States.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Superintendent.


January 18, 1861.

To Governor Moore:

My Dear Sir: I take it for granted that you have been expecting for

some days the accompanying paper from me (the above official

letter). I have repeatedly and again made known to General Graham

and Dr. Smith that, in the event of a severance of the relations

hitherto existing between the Confederated States of this Union, I

would be forced to choose the old Union. It is barely possible all

the States may secede, South and North, that new combinations may

result, but this process will be one of time and uncertainty, and I

cannot with my opinions await the subsequent development.

I have never been a politician, and therefore undervalue the

excited feelings and opinions of present rulers, but I do think, if

this people cannot execute a form of government like the present,

that a worse one will result.

I will keep the cadets as quiet as possible. They are nervous, but

I think the interest of the State requires them here, guarding this

property, and acquiring a knowledge which will be useful to your

State in after-times.

When I leave, which I now regard as certain, the present professors

can manage well enough, to afford you leisure time to find a

suitable successor to me. You might order Major Smith to receipt

for the arms, and to exercise military command, while the academic

exercises could go on under the board. In time, some gentleman

will turn up, better qualified than I am, to carry on the seminary

to its ultimate point of success. I entertain the kindest feelings

toward all, and would leave the State with much regret; only in

great events we must choose, one way or the other.

Truly, your friend,


January 19, 1881–Saturday.

Dr. S. A. Smith, President Board of Supervisors, Baton Rouge,


Dear Sir: I have just finished my quarterly reports to the parents

of all the cadets here, or who have been here. All my books of

account are written up to date. All bills for the houses, fences,

etc., are settled, and nothing now remains but the daily tontine of

recitations and drills. I have written officially and unofficially

to Governor Moore, that with my opinions of the claimed right of

accession, of the seizure of public forts, arsenals, etc., and the

ignominious capture of a United States garrison, stationed in your

midst, as a guard to the arsenal and for the protection of your own

people, it would be highly improper for me longer to remain. No

great inconvenience can result to the seminary. I will be the

chief loser. I came down two months before my pay commenced. I

made sacrifices in Kansas to enable me thus to obey the call of

Governor Wickliffe, and you know that last winter I declined a most

advantageous offer of employment abroad; and thus far I have

received nothing as superintendent of the arsenal, though I went to

Washington and New York (at my own expense) on the faith of the

five hundred dollars salary promised.

These are all small matters in comparison with those involved in

the present state of the country, which will cause sacrifices by

millions, instead of by hundreds. The more I think of it, the more

I think I should be away, the sooner the better; and therefore I

hope you will join with Governor Moors in authorizing me to turn

over to Major Smith the military command here, and to the academic

board the control of the daily exercises and recitations.

There will be no necessity of your coming up. You can let Major

Smith receive the few hundreds of cash I have on hand, and I can

meet you on a day certain in New Orleans, when we can settle the

bank account. Before I leave, I can pay the steward Jarrean his

account for the month, and there would be no necessity for other

payments till about the close of March, by which time the board can

meet, and elect a treasurer and superintendent also.

At present I have no class, and there will be none ready till about

the month of May, when there will be a class in “surveying.” Even

if you do not elect a superintendent in the mean time, Major Smith

could easily teach this class, as he is very familiar with the

subject-matter: Indeed, I think you will do well to leave the

subject of a new superintendent until one perfectly satisfactory

turns up.

There is only one favor I would ask. The seminary has plenty of

money in bank. The Legislature will surely appropriate for my

salary as superintendent of this arsenal. Would you not let me

make my drafts on the State Treasury, send them to you, let the

Treasurer note them for payment when the appropriation is made, and

then pay them out of the seminary fund? The drafts will be paid in

March, and the seminary will lose nothing. This would be just to

me; for I actually spent two hundred dollars and more in going to

Washington and New York, thereby securing from the United States,

in advance, three thousand dollars’ worth of the very best arms;

and clothing and books, at a clear profit to the seminary of over

eight hundred dollars. I may be some time in finding new

employment, and will stand in need of this money (five hundred

dollars); otherwise I would abandon it.

I will not ask you to put the Board of Supervisors to the trouble

of meeting, unless you can get a quorum at Baton Rouge.

With great respect, your friend,


By course of mail, I received the following answer from Governor

Moore, the original of which I still possess. It is all in General

Braggs handwriting, with which I am familiar

Executive Office,

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA, January 23, 1861

MY DEAR SIR: It is with the deepest regret I acknowledge receipt of

your communication of the 18th inst. In the pressure of official

business, I can now only request you to transfer to Prof. Smith the

arms, munitions, and funds in your hands, whenever you conclude to

withdraw from the position you have filled with so much

distinction. You cannot regret more than I do the necessity which

deprives us of your services, and you will bear with you the

respect, confidence, and admiration, of all who have been

associated with you. Very truly, your friend,

Thomas O. Moore.

Colonel W. T. SHERMAN, Superintendent Military Academy, Alexandria.

I must have received several letters from Bragg, about this time,

which have not been preserved; for I find that, on the 1st of

February, 1861, I wrote him thus:

Seminary of Learning

Alexandria, LOUISIANA, February 1, 1881.

Colonel Braxton BRAGG, Baton, Rouge, Louisiana.

Dear Sir: Yours of January 23d and 27th are received. I thank you

most kindly, and Governor Moors through you, for the kind manner in

which you have met my wishes.

Now that I cannot be compromised by political events, I will so

shape my course as best to serve the institution, which has a

strong hold on my affections and respect.

The Board of Supervisors will be called for the 9th instant, and I

will cooperate with them in their measures to place matters here on

a safe and secure basis. I expect to be here two weeks, and will

make you full returns of money and property belonging to the State

Central Arsenal. All the arms and ammunition are safely stored

here. Then I will write you more at length. With sincere respect,

your friend,


Major Smith’s receipt to me, for the arms and property belonging

both to the seminary and to the arsenal, is dated February 19,

1861. I subjoin also, in this connection, copies of one or two

papers that may prove of interest

BATON ROUGE, January 28, 1881.

To Major SHERMAN, Superintendent, Alexandria.

My DEAR SIR: Your letter was duly receive, and would have been

answered ere this time could I have arranged sooner the matter of

the five hundred dollars. I shall go from here to New Orleans

to-day or tomorrow, and will remain there till Saturday after next,

perhaps. I shall expect to meet you there, as indicated in your

note to me.

I need not tell you that it is with no ordinary regret that I view

your determination to leave us, for really I believe that the

success of our institution, now almost assured, is jeopardized

thereby. I am sore that we will never have a superintendent with

whom I shall have more pleasant relations than those which have

existed between yourself and me.

I fully appreciate the motives which have induced you to give up a

position presenting so many advantages to yourself, and sincerely

hope that you may, in any future enterprise, enjoy the success

which your character and ability merit and deserve.

Should you come down on the Rapides (steamer), please look after my

wife, who will, I hope, accompany you on said boat, or some other

good one.

Colonel Bragg informs me that the necessary orders have been given

for the transfer and receipt by Major Smith of the public property.

I herewith transmit a request to the secretary to convene the Board

of Supervisors, that they may act as seems best to them in the


In the mean time, Major Smith will command by seniority the cadets,

and the Academic Board will be able to conduct the scientific

exercises of the institution until the Board of Supervisors can

have time to act. Hoping to meet you soon at the St. Charles, I


Most truly, your friend and servant, S. A. Smith

P. S. Governor Moors desires me to express his profound regret that

the State is about to lose one who we all fondly hoped had cast his

destinies for weal or for woe among us; and that he is sensible

that we lose thereby an officer whom it will be difficult, if not

impossible, to replace.

S. A. S.

BATON ROUGE, February 11, 1881.

To Major Sherman, Alexandria.

Dear Sir: I have been in New Orleans for ten days, and on returning

here find two letters from you, also your prompt answer to the

resolution of the House of Representatives, for which I am much


The resolution passed the last day before adjournment. I was

purposing to respond, when your welcome reports came to hand. I

have arranged to pay you your five hundred dollars.

I will say nothing of general politics, except to give my opinion

that there is not to be any war.

In that event, would it not be possible for you to become a citizen

of our State? Everyone deplores your determination to leave us. At

the same time, your friends feel that you are abandoning a position

that might become an object of desire to any one.

I will try to meet you in New Orleans at any time you may indicate;

but it would be best for you to stop here, when, if possible, I

will accompany you. Should you do so, you will find me just above

the State-House, and facing it.

Bring with you a few copies of the “Rules of the Seminary.”

Yours truly,

S. A. Smith

Colonel W. T. SHERMAN.

Sir: I am instructed by the Board of Supervisors of this

institution to present a copy of the resolutions adopted by them at

their last meeting

“Resolved, That the thanks of the Board of Supervisors are due, and

are hereby tendered, to Colonel William T. Sherman for the able and

efficient manner in which he has conducted the affairs of the

seminary during the time the institution has been under his

control–a period attended with unusual difficulties, requiring on

the part of the superintendent to successfully overcome them a high

order of administrative talent. And the board further bear willing

testimony to the valuable services that Colonel Sherman has

rendered them in their efforts to establish an institution of

learning in accordance with the beneficent design of the State and

Federal Governments; evincing at all times a readiness to adapt

himself to the ever-varying requirements of an institution of

learning in its infancy, struggling to attain a position of honor

and usefulness.

“Resolved, further, That, in accepting the resignation of Colonel

Sherman as Superintendent of the State Seminary of Learning and

Military Academy, we tender to him assurances of our high personal

regard, and our sincere regret at the occurrence of causes that

render it necessary to part with so esteemed and valued a friend,

as well as co-laborer in the cause of education.”

Powhatan Clarke, Secretary of the Board.

A copy of the resolution of the Academic Board, passed at their

session of April 1,1861:

“Resolved, That in the resignation of the late superintendent,

Colonel W. T. Sherman, the Academic Board deem it not improper to

express their deep conviction of the loss the institution has

sustained in being thus deprived of an able head. They cannot fail

to appreciate the manliness of character which has always marked

the actions of Colonel Sherman. While he is personally endeared to

many of them as a friend, they consider it their high pleasure to

tender to him in this resolution their regret on his separation,

and their sincere wish for his future welfare.”

I have given the above at some length, because, during the civil

war, it was in Southern circles asserted that I was guilty of a

breach of hospitality in taking up arms against the South. They

were manifestly the aggressors, and we could only defend our own by

assailing them. Yet, without any knowledge of what the future had

in store for me, I took unusual precautions that the institution

should not be damaged by my withdrawal. About the 20th of

February, having turned over all property, records, and money, on

hand, to Major Smith, and taking with me the necessary documents to

make the final settlement with Dr. S. A. Smith, at the bank in New

Orleans, where the funds of the institution were deposited to my

credit, I took passage from Alexandria for that city, and arrived

there, I think, on the 23d. Dr. Smith met me, and we went to the

bank, where I turned over to him the balance, got him to audit all

my accounts, certify that they were correct and just, and that


there remained not one cent of balance in my hands. I charged in

my account current for my salary up to the end of February, at the

rate of four thousand dollars a year, and for the five hundred

dollars due me as superintendent of the Central Arsenal, all of

which was due and had been fairly earned, and then I stood free and

discharged of any and every obligation, honorary or business, that

was due by me to the State of Louisiana, or to any corporation or

individual in that State.

This business occupied two or three days, during which I staid at

the St. Louis Hotel. I usually sat at table with Colonel and Mrs.

Bragg, and an officer who wore the uniform of the State of

Louisiana, and was addressed as captain. Bragg wore a colonel’s

uniform, and explained to me that he was a colonel in the State

service, a colonel of artillery, and that some companies of his

regiment garrisoned Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and the arsenal

at Baton Rouge.

Beauregard at the time had two sons at the Seminary of Learning. I

had given them some of my personal care at the father’s request,

and, wanting to tell him of their condition and progress, I went to

his usual office in the Custom-House Building, and found him in the

act of starting for Montgomery, Alabama. Bragg said afterward that

Beauregard had been sent for by Jefferson Davis, and that it was

rumored that he had been made a brigadier-general, of which fact he

seemed jealous, because in the old army Bragg was the senior.

Davis and Stephens had been inaugurated President and

Vice-President of the Confederate States of America, February 18,

1860, at Montgomery, and those States only embraced the seven

cotton States. I recall a conversation at the tea-table, one

evening, at the St. Louis Hotel. When Bragg was speaking of

Beauregard’s promotion, Mrs. Bragg, turning to me, said, “You know

that my husband is not a favorite with the new President.” My mind

was resting on Mr. Lincoln as the new President, and I said I did

not know that Bragg had ever met Mr. Lincoln, when Mrs. Bragg said,

quite pointedly, “I didn’t mean your President, but our President.”

I knew that Bragg hated Davis bitterly, and that he had resigned

from the army in 1855, or 1856, because Davis, as Secretary of War,

had ordered him, with his battery, from Jefferson Barracks,

Missouri, to Fort Smith or Fort Washita, in the Indian country, as

Bragg expressed it, “to chase Indians with six-pounders.”

I visited the quartermaster, Colonel A. C. Myers, who had resigned

from the army, January 28, 1861, and had accepted service under the

new regime. His office was in the same old room in the Lafayette

Square building, which he had in 1853, when I was there a

commissary, with the same pictures on the wall, and the letters “U.

S.” on every thing, including his desk, papers, etc. I asked him

if he did not feel funny. “No, not at all. The thing was

inevitable, secession was a complete success; there would be no

war, but the two Governments would settle all matters of business

in a friendly spirit, and each would go on in its allotted sphere,

without further confusion.” About this date, February 16th,

General Twiggs, Myers’s father-in-law, had surrendered his entire

command, in the Department of Texas, to some State troops, with all

the Government property, thus consummating the first serious step

in the drama of the conspiracy, which was to form a confederacy of

the cotton States, before working upon the other slave or border

States, and before the 4th of March, the day for the inauguration

of President Lincoln.

I walked the streets of New Orleans, and found business going along

as usual. Ships were strung for miles along the lower levee, and

steamboats above, all discharging or receiving cargo. The Pelican

flag of Louisiana was flying over the Custom House, Mint, City

Hall, and everywhere. At the levee ships carried every flag on

earth except that of the United States, and I was told that during

a procession on the 22d of February, celebrating their emancipation

from the despotism of the United States Government, only one

national flag was shown from a house, and that the houses of

Cuthbert Bullitt, on Lafayette Square. He was commanded to take it

down, but he refused, and defended it with his pistol.

The only officer of the army that I can recall, as being there at

the time, who was faithful, was Colonel C. L. Kilburn, of the

Commissary Department, and he was preparing to escape North.

Everybody regarded the change of Government as final; that

Louisiana, by a mere declaration, was a free and independent State,

and could enter into any new alliance or combination she chose.

Men were being enlisted and armed, to defend the State, and there

was not the least evidence that the national Administration

designed to make any effort, by force, to vindicate the national

authority. I therefore bade adieu to all my friends, and about the

25th of February took my departure by railroad, for Lancaster, via

Cairo and Cincinnati.

Before leaving this subject, I will simply record the fate of some

of my associates. The seminary was dispersed by the war, and all

the professors and cadets took service in the Confederacy, except

Yallas, St. Ange, and Cadet Taliaferro. The latter joined a Union

regiment, as a lieutenant, after New Orleans was retaken by the

United States fleet under Farragut. I think that both Yallas and

St. Ange have died in poverty since the war. Major Smith joined

the rebel army in Virginia, and was killed in April, 1865, as he

was withdrawing his garrison, by night, from the batteries at

Drury’s Bluff, at the time General Lee began his final retreat from

Richmond. Boyd became a captain of engineers on the staff of

General Richard Taylor, was captured, and was in jail at Natchez,

Mississippi, when I was on my Meridian expedition. He succeeded in

getting a letter to me on my arrival at Vicksburg, and, on my way

down to New Orleans, I stopped at Natchez, took him along, and

enabled him to effect an exchange through General Banks. As soon

as the war was over, he returned to Alexandria, and reorganized the

old institution, where I visited him in 1867; but, the next winter,

the building took fire end burned to the ground. The students,

library, apparatus, etc., were transferred to Baton Rouge, where

the same institution now is, under the title of the Louisiana

University. I have been able to do them many acts of kindness, and

am still in correspondence, with Colonel Boyd, its president.

General G. Mason Graham is still living on his plantation, on Bayou

Rapides, old and much respected.

Dr. S. A. Smith became a surgeon in the rebel army, and at the

close of the war was medical director of the trans-Mississippi

Department, with General Kirby Smith. I have seen him since the

war, at New Orleans, where he died about a year ago.

Dr. Clark was in Washington recently, applying for a place as

United States consul abroad. I assisted him, but with no success,

and he is now at Baltimore, Maryland.

After the battle of Shiloh, I found among the prisoners Cadet

Barrow, fitted him out with some clean clothing, of which he was in

need, and from him learned that Cadet Workman was killed in that


Governor Moore’s plantation was devastated by General Banks’s

troops. After the war he appealed to me, and through the

Attorney-General, Henry Stanbery, I aided in having his

land restored to him, and I think he is now living there.

Bragg, Beauregard, and Taylor, enacted high parts in the succeeding

war, and now reside in Louisiana or Texas




During the time of these events in Louisiana, I was in constant

correspondence with my brother, John Sherman, at Washington; Mr.

Ewing, at Lancaster, Ohio; and Major H. S. Turner, at St. Louis. I

had managed to maintain my family comfortably at Lancaster, but was

extremely anxious about the future. It looked like the end of my

career, for I did not suppose that “civil war” could give me an

employment that would provide for the family. I thought, and may

have said, that the national crisis had been brought about by the

politicians, and, as it was upon us, they “might fight it out”

Therefore, when I turned North from New Orleans, I felt more

disposed to look to St. Louis for a home, and to Major. Turner to

find me employment, than to the public service.

I left New Orleans about the 1st of March, 1861, by rail to Jackson

and Clinton, Mississippi, Jackson, Tennessee, and Columbus,

Kentucky, where we took a boat to Cairo, and thence, by rail, to

Cincinnati and Lancaster. All the way, I heard, in the cars and

boats, warm discussions about polities; to the effect that, if Mr.

Lincoln should attempt coercion of the seceded States, the other

slave or border States would make common cause, when, it was

believed, it would be madness to attempt to reduce them to

subjection. In the South, the people were earnest, fierce and

angry, and were evidently organizing for action; whereas, in

Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, I saw not the least sign of

preparation. It certainly looked to me as though the people of the

North would tamely submit to a disruption of the Union, and the

orators of the South used, openly and constantly, the expressions

that there would be no war, and that a lady’s thimble would hold

all the blood to be shed. On reaching Lancaster, I found letters

from my brother John, inviting me to come to Washington, as he

wanted to see me; and from Major Tamer, at St. Louis, that he was

trying to secure for me the office of president of the Fifth Street

Railroad, with a salary of twenty-five hundred dollars; that Mr.

Lucas and D. A. January held a controlling interest of stock, would

vote for me, and the election would occur in March. This suited me

exactly, and I answered Turner that I would accept, with thanks.

But I also thought it right and proper that I should first go to

Washington, to talk with my brother, Senator Sherman.

Mr. Lincoln had just been installed, and the newspapers were filled

with rumors of every kind indicative of war; the chief act of

interest was that Major Robert Anderson had taken by night into

Fort Sumter all the troops garrisoning Charleston Harbor, and that

he was determined to defend it against the demands of the State of

South Carolina and of the Confederate States. I must have reached

Washington about the 10th of March. I found my brother there, just

appointed Senator, in place of Mr. Chase, who was in the cabinet,

and I have no doubt my opinions, thoughts, and feelings, wrought up

by the events in Louisiana; seemed to him gloomy and extravagant.

About Washington I saw but few signs of preparation, though the

Southern Senators and Representatives were daily sounding their

threats on the floors of Congress, and were publicly withdrawing to

join the Confederate Congress at Montgomery. Even in the War

Department and about the public offices there was open, unconcealed

talk, amounting to high-treason.

One day, John Sherman took me with him to see Mr. Lincoln. He

walked into the room where the secretary to the President now sits,

we found the room full of people, and Mr. Lincoln sat at the end of

the table, talking with three or four gentlemen, who soon left.

John walked up, shook hands, and took a chair near him, holding in

his hand some papers referring to, minor appointments in the State

of Ohio, which formed the subject of conversation. Mr. Lincoln

took the papers, said he would refer them to the proper heads of

departments, and would be glad to make the appointments asked for,

if not already promised. John then turned to me, and said, “Mr.

President, this is my brother, Colonel Sherman, who is just up from

Louisiana, he may give you some information you want.” “Ah!” said

Mr. Lincoln, “how are they getting along down there?” I said, “They

think they are getting along swimmingly–they are preparing for

war.” “Oh, well!” said he, “I guess we’ll manage to keep house.”

I was silenced, said no more to him, and we soon left. I was sadly

disappointed, and remember that I broke out on John, d–ning the

politicians generally, saying, “You have got things in a hell of a

fig, and you may get them out as you best can,” adding that the

country was sleeping on a volcano that might burst forth at any

minute, but that I was going to St. Louis to take care of my

family, and would have no more to do with it. John begged me to be

more patient, but I said I would not; that I had no time to wait,

that I was off for St. Louis; and off I went. At Lancaster I found

letters from Major Turner, inviting me to St. Louis, as the place

in the Fifth Street Railroad was a sure thing, and that Mr. Lucas

would rent me a good house on Locust Street, suitable for my

family, for six hundred dollars a year.

Mrs. Sherman and I gathered our family and effects together,

started for St. Louis March 27th, where we rented of Mr. Lucas the

house on Locust Street, between Tenth and Eleventh, and occupied it

on the 1st of April. Charles Ewing and John Hunter had formed a

law-partnership in St. Louis, and agreed to board with us, taking

rooms on the third floor In the latter part of March, I was duly

elected president of the Fifth Street Railroad, and entered on the

discharge of my duties April 1, 1861. We had a central office on

the corner of Fifth and Locust, and also another up at the stables

in Bremen. The road was well stocked and in full operation, and

all I had to do was to watch the economical administration of

existing affairs, which I endeavored to do with fidelity and zeal.

But the whole air was full of wars and rumors of wars. The

struggle was going on politically for the border States. Even in

Missouri, which was a slave State, it was manifest that the

Governor of the State, Claiborne Jackson, and all the leading

politicians, were for the South in case of a war. The house on the

northwest corner of Fifth and Pine was the rebel headquarters,

where the rebel flag was hung publicly, and the crowds about the

Planters’ House were all more or less rebel. There was also a camp

in Lindell’s Grove, at the end of Olive, Street, under command of

General D. M. Frost, a Northern man, a graduate of West Point, in

open sympathy with the Southern leaders. This camp was nominally a

State camp of instruction, but, beyond doubt, was in the interest

of the Southern cause, designed to be used against the national

authority in the event of the General Government’s attempting to

coerce the Southern Confederacy. General William S. Harvey was in

command of the Department of Missouri, and resided in his own

house, on Fourth Street, below Market; and there were five or six


companies of United States troops in the arsenal, commanded by

Captain N. Lyon; throughout the city, there had been organized,

almost exclusively out of the German part of the population, four

or five regiments of “Home Guards,” with which movement Frank

Blair, B. Gratz Brown, John M. Schofield, Clinton B. Fisk, and

others, were most active on the part of the national authorities.

Frank Blair’s brother Montgomery was in the cabinet of Mr. Lincoln

at Washington, and to him seemed committed the general management

of affairs in Missouri.

The newspapers fanned the public excitement to the highest pitch,

and threats of attacking the arsenal on the one hand, and the mob

of d–d rebels in Camp Jackson on the other, were bandied about. I

tried my best to keep out of the current, and only talked freely

with a few men; among them Colonel John O’Fallon, a wealthy

gentleman who resided above St. Louis. He daily came down to my

office in Bremen, and we walked up and down the pavement by the

hour, deploring the sad condition of our country, and the seeming

drift toward dissolution and anarchy. I used also to go down to

the arsenal occasionally to see Lyon, Totten, and other of my army

acquaintance, and was glad to see them making preparations to

defend their post, if not to assume the offensive.

The bombardment of Fort Sumter, which was announced by telegraph,

began April 12th, and ended on the 14th. We then knew that the war

was actually begun, and though the South was openly, manifestly the

aggressor, yet her friends and apologists insisted that she was

simply acting on a justifiable defensive, and that in the forcible

seizure of, the public forts within her limits the people were

acting with reasonable prudence and foresight. Yet neither party

seemed willing to invade, or cross the border. Davis, who ordered

the bombardment of Sumter, knew the temper of his people well, and

foresaw that it would precipitate the action of the border States;

for almost immediately Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and

Tennessee, followed the lead of the cotton States, and conventions

were deliberating in Kentucky and Missouri.

On the night of Saturday, April 6th, I received the following,


Washington, April 6,1861.

Major W. T. Sherman:

Will you accept the chief clerkship of the War Department? We will

make you assistant Secretary of War when Congress meets.

M. Blair, Postmaster-General.

To which I replied by telegraph, Monday morning; “I cannot accept;”

and by mail as follows:

Monday, Apil 8, 1861.

Office of the St. Louis Railroad Company

Hon. M. Blair, Washington, D. C.

I received, about nine o’clock Saturday night, your telegraph

dispatch, which I have this moment answered, “I cannot accept.”

I have quite a large family, and when I resigned my place in

Louisiana, on account of secession, I had no time to lose; and,

therefore, after my hasty visit to Washington, where I saw no

chance of employment, I came to St. Louis, have accepted a place in

this company, have rented a house, and incurred other obligations,

so that I am not at liberty to change.

I thank you for the compliment contained in your offer, and assure

you that I wish the Administration all success in its almost

impossible task of governing this distracted and anarchical people.

Yours truly,


I was afterward told that this letter gave offense, and that some

of Mr. Lincoln’s cabinet concluded that I too would prove false to

the country.

Later in that month, after the capture of Fort Sumter by the

Confederate authorities, a Dr. Cornyn came to our house on Locust

Street, one night after I had gone to bed, and told me he had been

sent by Frank Blair, who was not well, and wanted to see me that

night at his house. I dressed and walked over to his house on

Washington Avenue, near Fourteenth, and found there, in the

front-room, several gentlemen, among whom I recall Henry T. Blow.

Blair was in the back-room, closeted with some gentleman, who soon

left, and I was called in. He there told me that the Government

was mistrustful of General Harvey, that a change in the command of

the department was to be made; that he held it in his power to

appoint a brigadier-general, and put him in command of the

department, and he offered me the place. I told him I had once

offered my services, and they were declined; that I had made

business engagements in St. Louis, which I could not throw off at

pleasure; that I had long deliberated on my course of action, and

must decline his offer, however tempting and complimentary. He

reasoned with me, but I persisted. He told me, in that event, he

should appoint Lyon, and he did so.

Finding that even my best friends were uneasy as to my political

status, on the 8th of May I addressed the following official letter

to the Secretary of War:

Office of the St. Louis Railroad Company,

May 8,1881.

Hon. S. Cameron, Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.

Dear Sir: I hold myself now, as always, prepared to serve my

country in the capacity for which I was trained. I did not and

will not volunteer for three months, because I cannot throw my

family on the cold charity of the world. But for the three-years

call, made by the President, an officer can prepare his command and

do good service.

I will not volunteer as a soldier, because rightfully or wrongfully

I feel unwilling to take a mere private’s place, and, having for

many years lived in California and Louisiana, the men are not well

enough acquainted with me to elect me to my appropriate place.

Should my services be needed, the records of the War Department

will enable you to designate the station in which I can render most


Yours truly, W. T. SHERMAN.

To this I do not think I received a direct answer; but, on the 10th

of the same month, I was appointed colonel of the Thirteenth

Regular Infantry.

I remember going to the arsenal on the 9th of May, taking my

children with me in the street-cars. Within the arsenal wall were

drawn up in parallel lines four regiments of the “Home Guards,” and

I saw men distributing cartridges to the boxes. I also saw General

Lyon running about with his hair in the wind, his pockets full of

papers, wild and irregular, but I knew him to be a man of vehement

purpose and of determined action. I saw of course that it meant

business, but whether for defense or offense I did not know. The

next morning I went up to the railroad-office in Bremen, as usual,

and heard at every corner of the streets that the “Dutch” were

moving on Camp Jackson. People were barricading their houses, and

men were running in that direction. I hurried through my business

as quickly as I could, and got back to my house on Locust Street by

twelve o’clock. Charles Ewing and Hunter were there, and insisted

on going out to the camp to see “the fun.” I tried to dissuade

them, saying that in case of conflict the bystanders were more

likely to be killed than the men engaged, but they would go. I

felt as much interest as anybody else, but staid at home, took my

little son Willie, who was about seven years old, and walked up and

down the pavement in front of our house, listening for the sound of

musketry or cannon in the direction of Camp Jackson. While so

engaged Miss Eliza Dean, who lived opposite us, called me across

the street, told me that her brother-in-law, Dr. Scott, was a

surgeon in Frost’s camp, and she was dreadfully afraid he would be

killed. I reasoned with her that General Lyon was a regular

officer; that if he had gone out, as reported, to Camp Jackson, he

would take with him such a force as would make resistance

impossible; but she would not be comforted, saying that the camp

was made up of the young men from the first and best families of

St. Louis, and that they were proud, and would fight. I explained

that young men of the best families did not like to be killed

better than ordinary people. Edging gradually up the street, I was

in Olive Street just about Twelfth, when I saw a man running from

the direction of Camp Jackson at full speed, calling, as he went,

“They’ve surrendered, they’ve surrendered!” So I turned back and

rang the bell at Mrs. Dean’s. Eliza came to the door, and I

explained what I had heard; but she angrily slammed the door in my

face! Evidently she was disappointed to find she was mistaken in

her estimate of the rash courage of the best families.

I again turned in the direction of Camp Jackson, my boy Willie with

me still. At the head of Olive Street, abreast of Lindell’s Grove,

I found Frank Blair’s regiment in the street, with ranks opened,

and the Camp Jackson prisoners inside. A crowd of people was

gathered around, calling to the prisoners by name, some hurrahing

for Jeff Davis, and others encouraging the troops. Men, women, and

children, were in the crowd. I passed along till I found myself

inside the grove, where I met Charles Ewing and John Hunter, and we

stood looking at the troops on the road, heading toward the city.

A band of music was playing at the head, and the column made one or

two ineffectual starts, but for some reason was halted. The

battalion of regulars was abreast of me, of which Major Rufus

Saxton was in command, and I gave him an evening paper, which I had

bought of the newsboy on my way out. He was reading from it some

piece of news, sitting on his horse, when the column again began to

move forward, and he resumed his place at the head of his command.

At that part of the road, or street, was an embankment about eight

feet high, and a drunken fellow tried to pass over it to the people


One of the regular sergeant file-closers ordered him back, but he

attempted to pass through the ranks, when the sergeant barred his

progress with his musket “a-port.” The drunken man seized his

musket, when the sergeant threw him off with violence, and he

rolled over and over down the bank. By the time this man had

picked himself up and got his hat, which had fallen off, and had

again mounted the embankment, the regulars had passed, and the head

of Osterhaus’s regiment of Home Guards had come up. The man had in

his hand a small pistol, which he fired off, and I heard that the

ball had struck the leg of one of Osterhaus’s staff; the regiment

stopped; there was a moment of confusion, when the soldiers of that

regiment began to fire over our heads in the grove. I heard the

balls cutting the leaves above our heads, and saw several men and

women running in all directions, some of whom were wounded. Of

course there was a general stampede. Charles Ewing threw Willie on

the ground and covered him with his body. Hunter ran behind the

hill, and I also threw myself on the ground. The fire ran back

from the head of the regiment toward its rear, and as I saw the men

reloading their pieces, I jerked Willie up, ran back with him into

a gully which covered us, lay there until I saw that the fire had

ceased, and that the column was again moving on, when I took up

Willie and started back for home round by way of Market Street. A

woman and child were killed outright; two or three men were also

killed, and several others were wounded. The great mass of the

people on that occasion were simply curious spectators, though men

were sprinkled through the crowd calling out, “Hurrah for Jeff

Davis!” and others were particularly abusive of the “damned Dutch”

Lyon posted a guard in charge of the vacant camp, and marched his

prisoners down to the arsenal; some were paroled, and others held,

till afterward they were regularly exchanged.

A very few days after this event, May 14th, I received a dispatch

from my brother Charles in Washington, telling me to come on at

once; that I had been appointed a colonel of the Thirteenth Regular

Infantry, and that I was wanted at Washington immediately.

Of course I could no longer defer action. I saw Mr. Lucas, Major

Turner, and other friends and parties connected with the road, who

agreed that I should go on. I left my family, because I was under

the impression that I would be allowed to enlist my own regiment,

which would take some time, and I expected to raise the regiment

and organize it at Jefferson Barracks. I repaired to Washington,

and there found that the Government was trying to rise to a level

with the occasion. Mr. Lincoln had, without the sanction of law,

authorized the raising of ten new regiments of regulars, each

infantry regiment to be composed of three battalions of eight

companies each; and had called for seventy-five thousand State

volunteers. Even this call seemed to me utterly inadequate; still

it was none of my business. I took the oath of office, and was

furnished with a list of officers, appointed to my regiment, which

was still, incomplete. I reported in person to General Scott, at

his office on Seventeenth Street, opposite the War Department, and

applied for authority to return West, and raise my regiment at

Jefferson Barracks, but the general said my lieutenant-colonel,

Burbank, was fully qualified to superintend the enlistment, and

that he wanted me there; and he at once dictated an order for me to

report to him in person for inspection duty.

Satisfied that I would not be permitted to return to St. Louis, I

instructed Mrs. Sherman to pack up, return to Lancaster, and trust

to the fate of war.

I also resigned my place as president of the Fifth Street Railroad,

to take effect at the end of May, so that in fact I received pay

from that road for only two months’ service, and then began my new

army career.




And now that, in these notes, I have fairly reached the period of

the civil war, which ravaged our country from 1861 to 1865–an

event involving a conflict of passion, of prejudice, and of arms,

that has developed results which, for better or worse, have left

their mark on the world’s history–I feel that I tread on delicate


I have again and again been invited to write a history of the war,

or to record for publication my personal recollections of it, with

large offers of money therefor; all of which I have heretofore

declined, because the truth is not always palatable, and should not

always be told. Many of the actors in the grand drama still live,

and they and their friends are quick to controversy, which should

be avoided. The great end of peace has been attained, with little

or no change in our form of government, and the duty of all good

men is to allow the passions of that period to subside, that we may


direct our physical and mental labor to repair the waste of war,

and to engage in the greater task of continuing our hitherto

wonderful national development.

What I now propose to do is merely to group some of my personal

recollections about the historic persons and events of the day,

prepared not with any view to their publication, but rather for

preservation till I am gone; and then to be allowed to follow into

oblivion the cords of similar papers, or to be used by some

historian who may need them by way of illustration.

I have heretofore recorded how I again came into the military

service of the United States as a colonel of the Thirteenth Regular

Infantry, a regiment that had no existence at the time, and that,

instead of being allowed to enlist the men and instruct them, as

expected, I was assigned in Washington City, by an order of

Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott, to inspection duty near him on

the 20th of June, 1861.

At that time Lieutenant-General Scott commanded the army in chief,

with Colonel E. D. Townsend as his adjutant-general,

Major G. W. Cullum, United States Engineers, and Major Schuyler

Hamilton, as aides.-de-camp. The general had an office up stairs

on Seventeenth Street, opposite the War Department, and resided in

a house close by, on Pennsylvania Avenue. All fears for the

immediate safety of the capital had ceased, and quite a large force

of regulars and volunteers had been collected in and about

Washington. Brigadier-General J. K. Mansfield commanded in the

city, and Brigadier-General Irvin McDowell on the other side of the

Potomac, with his headquarters at Arlington House. His troops

extended in a semicircle from Alexandria to above Georgetown.

Several forts and redoubts were either built or in progress, and

the people were already clamorous for a general forward movement.

Another considerable army had also been collected in Pennsylvania

under General Patterson, and, at the time I speak of, had moved

forward to Hagerstown and Williamsport, on the Potomac River. My

brother, John Sherman, was a volunteer aide-de-camp to General

Patterson, and, toward the end of June, I went up to Hagerstown to

see him. I found that army in the very act of moving, and we rode

down to Williamsport in a buggy, and were present when the leading

division crossed the Potomac River by fording it waist-deep. My

friend and classmate, George H. Thomas, was there, in command of a

brigade in the leading division. I talked with him a good deal,

also with General Cadwalader, and with the staff-officers of

General Patterson, viz., Fitz-John Porter, Belger, Beckwith, and

others, all of whom seemed encouraged to think that the war was to

be short and decisive, and that, as soon as it was demonstrated

that the General Government meant in earnest to defend its rights

and property, some general compromise would result.

Patterson’s army crossed the Potomac River on the 1st or 2d of

July, and, as John Sherman was to take his seat as a Senator in the

called session of Congress, to meet July 4th, he resigned his place

as aide-de-camp, presented me his two horses and equipment, and we

returned to Washington together.

The Congress assembled punctually on the 4th of July, and the

message of Mr. Lincoln was strong and good: it recognized the fact

that civil war was upon us, that compromise of any kind was at an

end; and he asked for four hundred thousand men, and four hundred

million dollars, wherewith to vindicate the national authority, and

to regain possession of the captured forts and other property of

the United States.

It was also immediately demonstrated that the tone and temper of

Congress had changed since the Southern Senators and members had

withdrawn, and that we, the military, could now go to work with

some definite plans and ideas.

The appearance of the troops about Washington was good, but it was

manifest they were far from being soldiers. Their uniforms were as

various as the States and cities from which they came; their arms

were also of every pattern and calibre; and they were so loaded

down with overcoats, haversacks, knapsacks, tents, and baggage,

that it took from twenty-five to fifty wagons to move the camp of a

regiment from one place to another, and some of the camps had

bakeries and cooking establishments that would have done credit to


While I was on duty with General Scott, viz., from June 20th to

about June 30th, the general frequently communicated to those about

him his opinions and proposed plans. He seemed vexed with the

clamors of the press for immediate action, and the continued

interference in details by the President, Secretary of War, and

Congress. He spoke of organizing a grand army of invasion, of

which the regulars were to constitute the “iron column,” and seemed

to intimate that he himself would take the field in person, though

he was at the time very old, very heavy, and very unwieldy. His

age must have been about seventy-five years.

At that date, July 4, 1861, the rebels had two armies in front of

Washington; the one at Manassas Junction, commanded by General

Beauregard, with his advance guard at Fairfax Court House, and

indeed almost in sight of Washington. The other, commanded by

General Joe Johnston, was at Winchester, with its advance at

Martinsburg and Harper’s Ferry; but the advance had fallen back

before Patterson, who then occupied Martinsburg and the line of the

Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.

The temper of Congress and the people would not permit the slow and

methodical preparation desired by General Scott; and the cry of “On

to Richmond!” which was shared by the volunteers, most of whom had

only engaged for ninety days, forced General Scott to hasten his

preparations, and to order a general advance about the middle of

July. McDowell was to move from the defenses of Washington, and

Patterson from Martinsburg. In the organization of McDowell’s army

into divisions and brigades, Colonel David Hunter was assigned to

command the Second Division, and I was ordered to take command of

his former brigade, which was composed of five regiments in

position in and about Fort Corcoran, and on the ground opposite

Georgetown. I assumed command on the 30th of June, and proceeded

at once to prepare it for the general advance. My command

constituted the Third Brigade of the First Division, which division

was commanded by Brigadier-General Daniel Tyler, a graduate of West

Point, but who had seen little or no actual service. I applied to

General McDowell for home staff-officers, and he gave me, as

adjutant-general, Lieutenant Piper, of the Third Artillery, and, as

aide-de-camp, Lieutenant McQuesten, a fine young cavalry-officer,

fresh from West Point.

I selected for the field the Thirteenth New York, Colonel Quinby;

the Sixty-ninth New York, Colonel Corcoran; the Seventy-ninth New

York, Colonel Cameron; and the Second Wisconsin, Lieutenant–

Colonel Peck. These were all good, strong, volunteer regiments,

pretty well commanded; and I had reason to believe that I had one

of the best brigades in the whole army. Captain Ayres’s battery of

the Third Regular Artillery was also attached to my brigade. The

other regiment, the Twenty-ninth New York, Colonel Bennett, was

destined to be left behind in charge of the forts and camps during

our absence, which was expected to be short. Soon after I had

assumed the command, a difficulty arose in the Sixty-ninth, an

Irish regiment. This regiment had volunteered in New York, early

in April, for ninety days; but, by reason of the difficulty of

passing through Baltimore, they had come via Annapolis, had been

held for duty on the railroad as a guard for nearly a month before

they actually reached Washington, and were then mustered in about a

month after enrollment. Some of the men claimed that they were

entitled to their discharge in ninety days from the time of

enrollment, whereas the muster-roll read ninety days from the date

of muster-in. One day, Colonel Corcoran explained this matter to

me. I advised him to reduce the facts to writing, and that I would

submit it to the War Department for an authoritative decision. He

did so, and the War Department decided that the muster-roll was the

only contract of service, that it would be construed literally; and

that the regiment would be held till the expiration of three months

from the date of muster-in, viz., to about August 1, 1861. General

Scott at the same time wrote one of his characteristic letters to

Corcoran, telling him that we were about to engage in battle, and

he knew his Irish friends would not leave him in such a crisis.

Corcoran and the officers generally wanted to go to the expected

battle, but a good many of the men were not so anxious. In the

Second Wisconsin, also, was developed a personal difficulty. The

actual colonel was S. P. Coon, a good-hearted gentleman, who knew

no more of the military art than a child; whereas his lieutenant-

colonel, Peck, had been to West Point, and knew the drill.

Preferring that the latter should remain in command of the

regiment, I put Colonel Coon on my personal staff, which reconciled

the difficulty.

In due season, about July 15th, our division moved forward

leaving our camps standing; Keyes’s brigade in the lead, then

Schenck’s, then mine, and Richardson’s last. We marched via

Vienna, Germantown, and Centreville, where all the army, composed

of five divisions, seemed to converge. The march demonstrated

little save the general laxity of discipline; for with all my

personal efforts I could not prevent the men from straggling for

water, blackberries, or any thing on the way they fancied.

At Centreville, on the 18th, Richardson’s brigade was sent by

General Tyler to reconnoitre Blackburn’s Ford across Bull Run, and

he found it strongly guarded. From our camp, at Centreville, we

heard the cannonading, and then a sharp musketry-fire. I received

orders from General Tyler to send forward Ayres’s battery, and very

soon after another order came for me to advance with my whole

brigade. We marched the three miles at the double-quick, arrived

in time to relieve Richardson’s brigade, which was just drawing

back from the ford, worsted, and stood for half an hour or so under

a fire of artillery, which killed four or five of my men. General

Tyler was there in person, giving directions, and soon after he

ordered us all back to our camp in Centreville. This

reconnoissance had developed a strong force, and had been made

without the orders of General McDowell; however, it satisfied us

that the enemy was in force on the other side of Bull Run, and had

no intention to leave without a serious battle. We lay in camp at

Centreville all of the 19th and 20th, and during that night began

the movement which resulted in the battle of Bull Run, on July

21st. Of this so much has been written that more would be

superfluous; and the reports of the opposing commanders, McDowell

and Johnston, are fair and correct. It is now generally admitted

that it was one of the best-planned battles of the war, but one of

the worst-fought. Our men had been told so often at home that all

they had to do was to make a bold appearance, and the rebels would

run; and nearly all of us for the first time then heard the sound

of cannon and muskets in anger, and saw the bloody scenes common to

all battles, with which we were soon to be familiar. We had good

organization, good men, but no cohesion, no real discipline, no

respect for authority, no real knowledge of war. Both armies were

fairly defeated, and, whichever had stood fast, the other would

have run. Though the North was overwhelmed with mortification and

shame, the South really had not much to boast of, for in the three

or four hours of fighting their organization was so broken up that

they did not and could not follow our army, when it was known to be

in a state of disgraceful and causeless flight. It is easy to

criticise a battle after it is over, but all now admit that none

others, equally raw in war, could have done better than we did at

Bull Run; and the lesson of that battle should not be lost on a

people like ours.

I insert my official report, as a condensed statement of my share

in the battle:


FORT CORCORAN, July 25, 1861

To Captain A. BAIRD, Assistant Adjutant-General, First Division

(General Tyler’s).

Sir: I have the honor to submit this my report of the operations of

my brigade during the action of the 21st instant. The brigade is

composed of the Thirteenth New York Volunteers, Colonel Quinby’s

Sixty-ninth New York, Colonel Corcoran; Seventy-ninth New York,

Colonel Cameron; Second Wisconsin, Lieutenant-Colonel Peck; and

Company E, Third Artillery, under command of Captain R. B. Ayres,

Fifth Artillery.

We left our camp near Centreville, pursuant to orders, at half-past

2 A. M., taking place in your column, next to the brigade of

General Schenck, and proceeded as far as the halt, before the

enemy’s position, near the stone bridge across Bull Run. Here the

brigade was deployed in line along the skirt of timber to the right

of the Warrenton road, and remained quietly in position till after

10 a.m. The enemy remained very quiet, but about that time we saw

a rebel regiment leave its cover in our front, and proceed in

double-quick time on the road toward Sudley Springs, by which we

knew the columns of Colonels Hunter and Heintzelman were

approaching. About the same time we observed in motion a large

mass of the enemy, below and on the other side of the stone bridge.

I directed Captain Ayres to take position with his battery near our

right, and to open fire on this mass; but you had previously

detached the two rifle-guns belonging to this battery, and, finding

that the smooth-bore guns did not reach the enemy’s position, we

ceased firing, and I sent a request that you would send to me the

thirty-pounder rifle-gun attached to Captain Carlisle’s battery.

At the same time I shifted the New York Sixty-ninth to the extreme

right of the brigade. Thus we remained till we heard the musketry-

fire across Ball Run, showing that the head of Colonel Hunter’s

column was engaged. This firing was brisk, and showed that Hunter

was driving before him the enemy, till about noon, when it became

certain the enemy had come to a stand, and that our forces on the

other side of Ball Run were all engaged, artillery and infantry.

Here you sent me the order to cross over with the whole brigade, to

the assistance of Colonel Hunter. Early in the day, when

reconnoitring the ground, I had seen a horseman descend from a

bluff in our front, cross the stream, and show himself in the open

field on this aide; and, inferring that we could cross over at the

same point, I sent forward a company as skirmishers, and followed

with the whole brigade, the New York Sixty-ninth leading.

We found no difficulty in crossing over, and met with no opposition

in ascending the steep bluff opposite with our infantry, but it was

impassable to the artillery, and I sent word back to Captain Ayres

to follow if possible, otherwise to use his discretion. Captain

Ayres did not cross Bull Run, but remained on that side, with the


rest of your division. His report herewith describes his

operations during the remainder of the day. Advancing slowly and

cautiously with the head of the column, to give time for the

regiments in succession to close up their ranks, we first

encountered a party of the enemy retreating along a cluster of

pines; Lieutenant-Colonel Haggerty, of the Sixty-ninth, without

orders, rode out alone, and endeavored to intercept their retreat.

One of the enemy, in full view, at short range, shot Haggerty, and

he fell dead from his horse. The Sixty-ninth opened fire on this

party, which was returned; but, determined to effect our junction

with Hunter’s division, I ordered this fire to cease, and we

proceeded with caution toward the field where we then plainly saw

our forces engaged. Displaying our colors conspicuously at the

head of our column, we succeeded in attracting the attention of our

friends, and soon formed the brigade in rear of Colonel Porter’s.

Here I learned that Colonel Hunter was disabled by a severe wound,

and that General McDowell was on the field. I sought him out, and

received his orders to join in pursuit of the enemy, who was

falling back to the left of the road by which the army had

approached from Sndley Springs. Placing Colonel Quinby’s regiment

of rifles in front, in column, by division, I directed the other

regiments to follow in line of battle, in the order of the

Wisconsin Second, New York Seventy-ninth, and New York Sixty-ninth.

Quinby’s regiment advanced steadily down the hill and up the ridge,

from which he opened fire upon the enemy, who had made another

stand on ground very favorable to him, and the regiment continued

advancing as the enemy gave way, till the head of the column

reached the point near which Rickett’s battery was so severely cut

up. The other regiments descended the hill in line of battle,

under a severe cannonade; and, the ground affording comparative

shelter from the enemy’s artillery, they changed direction, by the

right flank, and followed the road before mentioned. At the point

where this road crosses the ridge to our left front, the ground was

swept by a most severe fire of artillery, rifles, and musketry, and

we saw, in succession, several regiments driven from it; among them

the Zouaves and battalion of marines. Before reaching the crest of

this hill, the roadway was worn deep enough to afford shelter, and

I kept the several regiments in it as long as possible; but when

the Wisconsin Second was abreast of the enemy, by order of Major

Wadsworth, of General McDowell’s staff, I ordered it to leave the

roadway, by the left flank, and to attack the enemy.

This regiment ascended to the brow of the hill steadily, received

the severe fire of the enemy, returned it with spirit, and

advanced, delivering its fire. This regiment is uniformed in gray

cloth, almost identical with that of the great bulk of the

secession army; and, when the regiment fell into confusion and

retreated toward the road, there was a universal cry that they were

being fired on by our own men. The regiment rallied again, passed

the brow of the hill a second time, but was again repulsed in

disorder. By this time the New York Seventy-ninth had closed up,

and in like manner it was ordered to cross the brow of, the hill,

and drive the enemy from cover. It was impossible to get a good

view of this ground. In it there was one battery of artillery,

which poured an incessant fire upon our advancing column, and the

ground was very irregular with small clusters of pines, affording

shelter, of which the enemy took good advantage. The fire of

rifles and musketry was very severe. The Seventy-ninth, headed by

its colonel, Cameron, charged across the hill, and for a short time

the contest was severe; they rallied several times under fire, but

finally broke, and gained the cover of the hill.

This left the field open to the New York Sixty-ninth, Colonel

Corcoran, who, in his turn, led his regiment over the crest; and

had in full, open view the ground so severely contested; the fire

was very severe, and the roar of cannon, musketry, and rifles,

incessant; it was manifest the enemy was here in great force, far

superior to us at that point. The Sixty-ninth held the ground for

some time, but finally fell back in disorder.

All this time Quinby’s regiment occupied another ridge, to our

left, overlooking the same field of action, and similarly engaged.

Here, about half-past 3 p.m., began the scene of confusion and

disorder that characterized the remainder of the day. Up to that

time, all had kept their places, and seemed perfectly cool, and

used to the shell and shot that fell, comparatively harmless, all

around us; but the short exposure to an intense fire of small-arms,

at close range, had killed many, wounded more, and had produced

disorder in all of the battalions that had attempted to encounter

it. Men fell away from their ranks, talking, and in great

confusion. Colonel Cameron had been mortally wounded, was carried

to an ambulance, and reported dying. Many other officers were

reported dead or missing, and many of the wounded were making their

way, with more or less assistance, to the buildings used as

hospitals, on the ridge to the west. We succeeded in partially

reforming the regiments, but it was manifest that they would not

stand, and I directed Colonel Corcoran to move along the ridge to

the rear, near the position where we had first formed the brigade.

General McDowell was there in person, and need all possible efforts

to reassure the men. By the active exertions of Colonel Corcoran,

we formed an irregular square against the cavalry which were then

seen to issue from the position from which we had been driven, and

we began our retreat toward the same ford of Bull Run by which we

had approached the field of battle. There was no positive order to

retreat, although for an hour it had been going on by the operation

of the men themselves. The ranks were thin and irregular, and we

found a stream of people strung from the hospital across Bull Run,

and far toward Centreville. After putting in motion the irregular

square in person, I pushed forward to find Captain Ayres’s battery

at the crossing of Bull Run. I sought it at its last position,

before the brigade had crossed over, but it was not there; then

passing through the woods, where, in the morning, we had first

formed line, we approached the blacksmith’s shop, but there found a

detachment of the secession cavalry and thence made a circuit,

avoiding Cub Run Bridge, into Centreville, where I found General

McDowell, and from him understood that it was his purpose to rally

the forces, and make a stand at Centreville.

But, about nine o’clock at night, I received from General Tyler, in

person, the order to continue the retreat to the Potomac. This

retreat was by night, and disorderly in the extreme. The men of

different regiments mingled together, and some reached the river at

Arlington, some at Long Bridge, and the greater part returned to

their former camp, at or near Fort Corcoran. I reached this point

at noon the next day, and found a miscellaneous crowd crossing over

the aqueduct and ferries.. Conceiving this to be demoralizing, I

at once commanded the guard to be increased, and all persons

attempting to pass over to be stopped. This soon produced its

effect; men sought their proper companies and regiments.

Comparative order was restored, and all were posted to the best


I herewith inclose the official report of Captain Belly, commanding

officer of the New York Sixty-ninth; also, fall lists of the

killed, wounded, and missing.

Our loss was heavy, and occurred chiefly at the point near where

Rickett’s battery was destroyed. Lieutenant-Colonel Haggerty was

killed about noon, before we had effected a junction with Colonel

Hunter’s division. Colonel Cameron was mortally wounded leading

his regiment in the charge, and Colonel Corcoran has been missing

since the cavalry-charge near the building used as a hospital.

For names, rank, etc., of the above, I refer to the lists herewith.

Lieutenants Piper and McQuesten, of my personal staff, were under

fire all day, and carried orders to and fro with as much coolness

as on parade. Lieutenant Bagley, of the New York Sixty-ninth, a

volunteer aide, asked leave to serve with his company, during the

action, and is among those reported missing. I have intelligence

that he is a prisoner, and slightly wounded.

Colonel Coon, of Wisconsin, a volunteer aide, also rendered good

service during the day.

W. T. SHERMAN, Colonel commanding Brigade.

This report, which I had not read probably since its date till now,

recalls to me vividly the whole scene of the affair at Blackburn’s

Ford, when for the first time in my life I saw cannonballs strike

men and crash through the trees and saplings above and around us,

and realized the always sickening confusion as one approaches a

fight from the rear; then the night-march from Centreville, on the

Warrenton road, standing for hours wondering what was meant; the

deployment along the edge of the field that sloped down to

Bull-Run, and waiting for Hunter’s approach on the other aide from

the direction of Sudley Springs, away off to our right; the

terrible scare of a poor negro who was caught between our lines;

the crossing of Bull Run, and the fear lest we should be fired on

by our own men; the killing of Lieutenant-Colonel Haggerty, which

occurred in plain sight; and the first scenes of a field strewed

with dead men and horses. Yet, at that period of the battle, we

were the victors and felt jubilant. At that moment, also, my

brigade passed Hunter’s division; but Heintzelman’a was still ahead

of us, and we followed its lead along the road toward Manassas

Junction, crossing a small stream and ascending a long hill, at the

summit of which the battle was going on. Here my regiments came

into action well, but successively, and were driven back, each in

its turn. For two hours we continued to dash at the woods on our

left front, which were full of rebels; but I was convinced their

organization was broken, and that they had simply halted there and

taken advantage of these woods as a cover, to reach which we had to

pass over the intervening fields about the Henry House, which were

clear, open, and gave them a decided advantage. After I had put in

each of my regiments, and had them driven back to the cover of the

road, I had no idea that we were beaten, but reformed the regiments

in line in their proper order, and only wanted a little rest, when

I found that my brigade was almost alone, except Syke’s regulars,

who had formed square against cavalry and were coming back. I then

realized that the whole army was “in retreat,” and that my own men

were individually making back for the stone bridge. Corcoran and I

formed the brigade into an irregular square, but it fell to pieces;

and, along with a crowd, disorganized but not much scared, the

brigade got back to Centreville to our former camps. Corcoran was

captured, and held a prisoner for some time; but I got safe to

Centreville. I saw General McDowell in Centreville, and understood

that several of his divisions had not been engaged at all, that he

would reorganize them at Centreville, and there await the enemy. I

got my four regiments in parallel lines in a field, the same in

which we had camped before the battle, and had lain down to sleep

under a tree, when I heard some one asking for me. I called out

where I was, when General Tyler in person gave me orders to march

back to our camps at Fort Corcoran. I aroused my aides, gave them

orders to call up the sleeping men, have each regiment to leave the

field by a flank and to take the same road back by which we had

come. It was near midnight, and the road was full of troops,

wagons, and batteries. We tried to keep our regiments separate,

but all became inextricably mixed. Toward morning we reached

Vienna, where I slept some hours, and the next day, about noon, we

reached Fort Corcoran.

A slow, mizzling rain had set in, and probably a more gloomy day

never presented itself. All organization seemed to be at an end;

but I and my staff labored hard to collect our men into their

proper companies and into their former camps, and, on the 23d of

July, I moved the Second Wisconsin and Seventy-ninth New York

closer in to Fort Corcoran, and got things in better order than I

had expected. Of course, we took it for granted that the rebels

would be on our heels, and we accordingly prepared to defend our

posts. By the 25th I had collected all the materials, made my

report, and had my brigade about as well governed as any in that

army; although most of the ninety-day men, especially the

Sixty-ninth, had become extremely tired of the war, and wanted to

go home. Some of them were so mutinous, at one time, that I had

the battery to unlimber, threatening, if they dared to leave camp

without orders, I would open fire on them. Drills and the daily

exercises were resumed, and I ordered that at the three principal

roll-calls the men should form ranks with belts and muskets, and

that they should keep their ranks until I in person had received

the reports and had dismissed them. The Sixty-ninth still occupied

Fort Corcoran, and one morning, after reveille, when I had just

received the report, had dismissed the regiment, and was leaving, I

found myself in a crowd of men crossing the drawbridge on their way

to a barn close by, where they had their sinks; among them was an

officer, who said: “Colonel, I am going to New York today. What

can I do for you?” I answered: “How can you go to New York? I do

not remember to have signed a leave for you.” He said, “No; he did

not want a leave. He had engaged to serve three months, and had

already served more than that time. If the Government did not

intend to pay him, he could afford to lose the money; that he was a

lawyer, and had neglected his business long enough, and was then

going home.” I noticed that a good many of the soldiers had paused

about us to listen, and knew that, if this officer could defy me,

they also would. So I turned on him sharp, and said: “Captain,

this question of your term of service has been submitted to the

rightful authority, and the decision has been published in orders.

You are a soldier, and must submit to orders till you are properly

discharged. If you attempt to leave without orders, it will be

mutiny, and I will shoot you like a dog! Go back into the fort

now, instantly, and don’t dare to leave without my consent.” I had

on an overcoat, and may have had my hand about the breast, for he

looked at me hard, paused a moment, and then turned back into the

fort. The men scattered, and I returned to the house where I was


quartered, close by.

That same day, which must have been about July 26th, I was near the

river-bank, looking at a block-house which had been built for the

defense of the aqueduct, when I saw a carriage coming by the road

that crossed the Potomac River at Georgetown by a ferry. I thought

I recognized in the carriage the person of President Lincoln. I

hurried across a bend, so as to stand by the road-side as the

carriage passed. I was in uniform, with a sword on, and was

recognized by Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Seward, who rode side by side in

an open hack. I inquired if they were going to my camps, and Mr.

Lincoln said: “Yes; we heard that you had got over the big scare,

and we thought we would come over and see the ‘boys.'” The roads

had been much changed and were rough. I asked if I might give

directions to his coachman, he promptly invited me to jump in and

to tell the coachman which way to drive. Intending to begin on the

right and follow round to the left, I turned the driver into a

side-road which led up a very steep hill, and, seeing a soldier,

called to him and sent him up hurriedly to announce to the colonel

(Bennett, I think) that the President was coming: As we slowly

ascended the hill, I discovered that Mr. Lincoln was full of

feeling, and wanted to encourage our men. I asked if he intended

to speak to them, and he said he would like to. I asked him then

to please discourage all cheering, noise, or any sort of confusion;

that we had had enough of it before Bull Run to ruin any set of

men, and that what we needed were cool, thoughtful, hard-fighting

soldiers–no more hurrahing, no more humbug. He took my remarks in

the most perfect good-nature. Before we had reached the first

camp, I heard the drum beating the “assembly,” saw the men running

for their tents, and in a few minutes the regiment was in line,

arms presented, and then brought to an order and “parade rest!”

Mr. Lincoln stood up in the carriage, and made one of the neatest,

best, and most feeling addresses I ever listened to, referring to

our late disaster at Bull Run, the high duties that still devolved

on us, and the brighter days yet to come. At one or two points the

soldiers began to cheer, but he promptly checked them, saying:

“Don’t cheer, boys. I confess I rather like it myself, but Colonel

Sherman here says it is not military; and I guess we had better

defer to his opinion.” In winding up, he explained that, as

President, he was commander-in-chief; that he was resolved that the

soldiers should have every thing that the law allowed; and he

called on one and all to appeal to him personally in case they were

wronged. The effect of this speech was excellent.

We passed along in the same manner to all the camps of my brigade;

and Mr. Lincoln complimented me highly for the order, cleanliness,

and discipline, that he observed. Indeed, he and Mr. Seward both

assured me that it was the first bright moment they had experienced

since the battle.

At last we reached Fort Corcoran. The carriage could not enter, so

I ordered the regiment, without arms, to come outside, and gather

about Mr. Lincoln, who would speak to them. He made to them the

same feeling address, with more personal allusions, because of

their special gallantry in the battle under Corcoran, who was still

a prisoner in the hands of the enemy; and he concluded with the

same general offer of redress in case of grievances. In the crowd I

saw the officer with whom I had had the passage at reveille that

morning. His face was pale, and lips compressed. I foresaw a

scene, but sat on the front seat of the carriage as quiet as a

lamb. This officer forced his way through the crowd to the

carriage, and said: “Mr. President, I have a cause of grievance.

This morning I went to speak to Colonel Sherman, and he threatened

to shoot me.” Mr. Lincoln, who was still standing, said,

“Threatened to shoot you?” “Yes, sir, he threatened to shoot me.”

Mr. Lincoln looked at him, then at me, and stooping his tall, spare

form toward the officer, said to him in a loud stage-whisper,

easily heard for some yards around: “Well, if I were you, and he

threatened to shoot, I would not trust him, for I believe he would

do it.” The officer turned about and disappeared, and the men

laughed at him. Soon the carriage drove on, and, as we descended

the hill, I explained the facts to the President, who answered, “Of

course I didn’t know any thing about it, but I thought you knew

your own business best.” I thanked him for his confidence, and

assured him that what he had done would go far to enable me to

maintain good discipline, and it did.

By this time the day was well spent. I asked to take my leave, and

the President and Mr. Seward drove back to Washington. This spirit

of mutiny was common to the whole army, and was not subdued till

several regiments or parts of regiments had been ordered to Fort

Jefferson, Florida, as punishment.

General McDowell had resumed his headquarters at the Arlington

House, and was busily engaged in restoring order to his army,

sending off the ninety-days men, and replacing them by regiments

which had come under the three-years call. We were all trembling

lest we should be held personally accountable for the disastrous

result of the battle. General McClellan had been summoned from the

West to Washington, and changes in the subordinate commands were

announced almost daily. I remember, as a group of officers were

talking in the large room of the Arlington House, used as the

adjutant-general’s office, one evening, some young officer came in

with a list of the new brigadiers just announced at the War

Department, which-embraced the names of Heintzehvan, Keyes,

Franklin, Andrew Porter, W. T. Sherman, and others, who had been

colonels in the battle, and all of whom had shared the common

stampede. Of course, we discredited the truth of the list; and

Heintzehvan broke out in his nasal voice, “Boys, it’s all a lie!

every mother’s son of you will be cashiered.” We all felt he was

right, but, nevertheless, it was true; and we were all announced in

general orders as brigadier-generals of volunteers.

General McClellan arrived, and, on assuming command, confirmed

McDowell’s organization. Instead of coming over the river, as we

expected, he took a house in Washington, and only came over from

time to time to have a review or inspection.

I had received several new regiments, and had begun two new forts

on the hill or plateau, above and farther out than Fort Corcoran;

and I organized a system of drills, embracing the evolutions of the

line, all of which was new to me, and I had to learn the tactics

from books; but I was convinced that we had a long, hard war before

us, and made up my mind to begin at the very beginning to prepare

for it.

August was passing, and troops were pouring in from all quarters;

General McClellan told me he intended to organize an army of a

hundred thousand men, with one hundred field-batteries, and I still

hoped he would come on our side of the Potomac, pitch his tent, and

prepare for real hard work, but his headquarters still remained in

a house in Washington City. I then thought, and still think, that

was a fatal mistake. His choice as general-in-chief at the time

was fully justified by his high reputation in the army and country,

and, if he then had any political views or ambition, I surely did

not suspect it.

About the middle of August I got a note from Brigadier-General

Robert Anderson, asking me to come and see him at his room at

Willard’s Hotel. I rode over and found him in conversation with

several gentlemen, and he explained to me that events in Kentucky

were approaching a crisis; that the Legislature was in session, and

ready, as soon as properly backed by the General Government, to

take open sides for the Union cause; that he was offered the

command of the Department of the Cumberland, to embrace Kentucky,

Tennessee, etc., and that he wanted help, and that the President

had offered to allow him to select out of the new brigadiers four

of his own choice. I had been a lieutenant in Captain Anderson’s

company, at Fort Moultrie, from 1843 to 1846, and he explained that

he wanted me as his right hand. He also indicated George H.

Thomas, D. C. Buell, and Burnside, as the other three. Of course,

I always wanted to go West, and was perfectly willing to go with

Anderson, especially in a subordinate capacity: We agreed to call

on the President on a subsequent day, to talk with him about it,

and we did. It hardly seems probable that Mr. Lincoln should have

come to Willard’s Hotel to meet us, but my impression is that he

did, and that General Anderson had some difficulty in prevailing on

him to appoint George H. Thomas, a native of Virginia, to be

brigadier-general, because so many Southern officers, had already

played false; but I was still more emphatic in my indorsement of

him by reason of my talk with him at the time he crossed the

Potomac with Patterson’s army, when Mr. Lincoln promised to appoint

him and to assign him to duty with General Anderson. In this

interview with Mr. Lincoln, I also explained to him my extreme

desire to serve in a subordinate capacity, and in no event to be

left in a superior command. He promised me this with promptness,

making the jocular remark that his chief trouble was to find places

for the too many generals who wanted to be at the head of affairs,

to command armies, etc.

The official order is dated:

[Special Order No. 114.]


Washington, August 24, 1881.

The following assignment is made of the general officers of the

volunteer service, whose appointment was announced in General

Orders No. 82, from the War Department

To the Department of the Cumberland, Brigadier-General Robert

Anderson commanding:

Brigadier-General W. T. Sherman,

Brigadier-General George H. Thomas.

By command of Lieutenant-General Scott:

E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant adjutant-General.

After some days, I was relieved in command of my brigade and post

by Brigadier General Fitz-John Porter, and at once took my

departure for Cincinnati, Ohio, via Cresson, Pennsylvania, where

General Anderson was with his family; and he, Thomas, and I, met by

appointment at the house of his brother, Larz Anderson, Esq., in

Cincinnati. We were there on the 1st and 2d of September, when

several prominent gentlemen of Kentucky met us, to discuss the

situation, among whom were Jackson, Harlan, Speed, and others. At

that time, William Nelson, an officer of the navy, had been

commissioned a brigadier-general of volunteers, and had his camp at

Dick Robinson, a few miles beyond the Kentucky River, south of

Nicholasville; and Brigadier-General L. H. Rousseau had another

camp at Jeffersonville, opposite Louisville. The State Legislature

was in session at Frankfort, and was ready to take definite action

as soon as General Anderson was prepared, for the State was

threatened with invasion from Tennessee, by two forces: one from

the direction of Nashville, commanded by Generals Albert Sidney

Johnston and Buckner; and the other from the direction of

Cumberland Gap, commanded by Generals Crittenden and Zollicoffer.

General Anderson saw that he had not force enough to resist these

two columns, and concluded to send me in person for help to

Indianapolis and Springfield, to confer with the Governors of

Indiana, and Illinois, and to General Fremont, who commanded in St.


McClellan and Fremont were the two men toward whom the country

looked as the great Union leaders, and toward them were streaming

the newly-raised regiments of infantry and cavalry, and batteries

of artillery; nobody seeming to think of the intervening link

covered by Kentucky. While I was to make this tour, Generals

Anderson and Thomas were to go to Louisville and initiate the

department. None of us had a staff, or any of the machinery for

organizing an army, and, indeed, we had no army to organize.

Anderson was empowered to raise regiments in Kentucky, and to

commission a few brigadier-generals.

At Indianapolis I found Governor Morton and all the State officials

busy in equipping and providing for the new regiments, and my

object was to divert some of them toward Kentucky; but they were

called for as fast as they were mustered in, either for the army of

McClellan or Fremont. At Springfield also I found the same general

activity and zeal, Governor Yates busy in providing for his men;

but these men also had been promised to Fremont. I then went on to

St. Louis, where all was seeming activity, bustle, and preparation.

Meeting R. M. Renick at the Planters’ House (where I stopped), I

inquired where I could find General Fremont. Renick said, “What do

you want with General Fremont?” I said I had come to see him on

business; and he added, “You don’t suppose that he will see such as

you?” and went on to retail all the scandal of the day: that Fremont

was a great potentate, surrounded by sentries and guards; that he

had a more showy court than any real king; that he kept senators,

governors, and the first citizens, dancing attendance for days and

weeks before granting an audience, etc.; that if I expected to see

him on business, I would have to make my application in writing,

and submit to a close scrutiny by his chief of staff and by his

civil surroundings. Of course I laughed at all this, and renewed

my simple inquiry as to where was his office, and was informed that

he resided and had his office at Major Brant’s new house on

Chouteau Avenue. It was then late in the afternoon, and I

concluded to wait till the next morning; but that night I received

a dispatch from General Anderson in Louisville to hurry back, as

events were pressing, and he needed me.

Accordingly, I rose early next morning before daybreak, got

breakfast with the early railroad-passengers, and about sunrise was

at the gate of General Fremont’s headquarters. A sentinel with

drawn sabre paraded up and down in front of the house. I had on my

undress uniform indicating my rank, and inquired of the sentinel,

“Is General Fremont up?” He answered, “I don’t know.” Seeing that

he was a soldier by his bearing, I spoke in a sharp, emphatic

voice, “Then find out.” He called for the corporal of the guard,

and soon a fine-looking German sergeant came, to whom I addressed

the same inquiry. He in turn did not know, and I bade him find

out, as I had immediate and important business with the general.

The sergeant entered the house by the front-basement door, and

after ten or fifteen minutes the main front-door above was slowly

opened from the inside, and who should appear but my old San

Francisco acquaintance Isaiah C. Woods, whom I had not seen or

heard of since his flight to Australia, at the time of the failure


of Adams & Co. in 1851! He ushered me in hastily, closed the door,

and conducted me into the office on the right of the hall. We were

glad to meet, after so long and eventful an interval, and mutually

inquired after our respective families and special acquaintances.

I found that he was a commissioned officer, a major on duty with

Fremont, and Major Eaton, now of the paymaster’s Department, was in

the same office with him. I explained to them that I had come from

General Anderson, and wanted to confer with General Fremont in

person. Woods left me, but soon returned, said the general would

see me in a very few minutes, and within ten minutes I was shown

across the hall into the large parlor, where General Fremont

received me very politely. We had met before, as early as 1847, in

California, and I had also seen him several times when he was

senator. I then in a rapid manner ran over all the points of

interest in General Anderson’s new sphere of action, hoped he would

spare us from the new levies what troops he could, and generally

act in concert with us. He told me that his first business would

be to drive the rebel General Price and his army out of Missouri,

when he would turn his attention down the Mississippi. He asked my

opinion about the various kinds of field-artillery which

manufacturers were thrusting on him, especially the then newly-

invented James gun, and afterward our conversation took a wide turn

about the character of the principal citizens of St. Louis, with

whom I was well acquainted.

Telling General Fremont that I had been summoned to Louisville and

that I should leave in the first train, viz., at 3 p.m., I took my

leave of him. Returning to Wood’s office, I found there two more

Californians, viz., Messrs. Palmer and Haskell, so I felt that,

while Fremont might be suspicious of others, he allowed free

ingress to his old California acquaintances.

Returning to the Planters’ House, I heard of Beard, another

Californian, a Mormon, who had the contract for the line of

redoubts which Fremont had ordered to be constructed around the

city, before he would take his departure for the interior of the

State; and while I stood near the office-counter, I saw old Baron

Steinberger, a prince among our early California adventurers, come

in and look over the register. I avoided him on purpose, but his

presence in St. Louis recalled the maxim, “Where the vultures are,

there is a carcass close by;” and I suspected that the profitable

contracts of the quartermaster, McKinstry, had drawn to St. Louis

some of the most enterprising men of California. I suspect they

can account for the fact that, in a very short time, Fremont fell

from his high estate in Missouri, by reason of frauds, or supposed

frauds, in the administration of the affairs of his command.

I left St. Louis that afternoon and reached Louisville the next

morning. I found General Anderson quartered at the Louisville

Hotel, and he had taken a dwelling homes on _____ Street as an

office. Captain O. D. Greens was his adjutant-general, Lieutenant

Throckmorton his aide, and Captain Prime, of the Engineer Corps,

was on duty with him. General George H. Thomas had been dispatched

to camp Dick Robinson, to relieve Nelson.

The city was full of all sorts of rumors. The Legislature, moved

by considerations purely of a political nature, had taken the step,

whatever it was, that amounted to an adherence to the Union,

instead of joining the already-seceded States. This was

universally known to be the signal for action. For it we were

utterly unprepared, whereas the rebels were fully prepared.

General Sidney Johnston immediately crossed into Kentucky, and

advanced as far as Bowling Green, which he began to fortify, and

thence dispatched General Buckner with a division forward toward

Louisville; General Zollicoffer, in like manner, entered the State

and advanced as far as Somerset. On the day I reached Louisville

the excitement ran high. It was known that Columbus, Kentucky, had

been occupied, September 7th, by a strong rebel force, under

Generals Pillow and Polk, and that General Grant had moved from

Cairo and occupied Paducah in force on the 6th. Many of the rebel

families expected Buckner to reach Louisville at any moment. That

night, General Anderson sent for me, and I found with him Mr.

Guthrie, president of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, who had

in his hands a dispatch to the effect that the bridge across the

Rolling Fork of Salt Creek, less than thirty miles out, had been

burned, and that Buckner’s force, en route for Louisville, had been

detained beyond Green River by a train thrown from the track. We

learned afterward that a man named Bird had displaced a rail on

purpose to throw the train off the track, and thereby give us time.

Mr. Guthrie explained that in the ravine just beyond Salt Creek

were several high and important trestles which, if destroyed, would

take months to replace, and General Anderson thought it well.

worth the effort to save them. Also, on Muldraugh’s Hill beyond,

was a strong position, which had in former years been used as the

site for the State “Camp of Instruction,” and we all supposed that

General Buckner, who was familiar with the ground, was aiming for a

position there, from which to operate on Louisville.

All the troops we had to counteract Buckner were Rousseau’s Legion,

and a few Home Guards in Louisville. The former were still

encamped across the river at Jeffersonville; so General Anderson

ordered me to go over, and with them, and such Home Guards as we

could collect, make the effort to secure possession of Muldraugh’s

Hill before Buckner could reach it. I took Captain Prime with me;

and crossed over to Rousseau’s camp. The long-roll was beaten, and

within an hour the men, to the number of about one thousand, were

marching for the ferry-boat and for the Nashville depot. Meantime

General Anderson had sent to collect some Home Guards, and Mr.

Guthrie to get the trains ready. It was after midnight before we

began to move. The trains proceeded slowly, and it was daybreak

when we reached Lebanon Junction, twenty-six miles out, where we

disembarked, and marched to the bridge over Salt River, which we

found had been burnt; whether to prevent Buckner coming into

Louisville, or us from going out, was not clear. Rousseau’s Legion

forded the stream and marched up to the State Camp of Instruction,

finding the high trestles all secure. The railroad hands went to

work at once to rebuild the bridge. I remained a couple of days at

Lebanon Junction, during which General Anderson forwarded two

regiments of volunteers that had come to him. Before the bridge

was done we advanced the whole camp to the summit of Muldraugh’s

Hill, just back of Elizabethtown. There I learned definitely that

General Buckner had not crossed Green River at all, that General

Sidney Johnston was fortifying Bowling Green, and preparing for a

systematic advance into Kentucky, of which he was a native, and

with whose people and geography he must have been familiar. As

fast as fresh troops reached Louisville, they were sent out to me

at Muldraugh’s Hill, where I was endeavoring to put them into shape

for service, and by the 1st of October I had the equivalent of a

division of two brigades preparing to move forward toward Green

River. The daily correspondence between General Anderson and

myself satisfied me that the worry and harassment at Louisville

were exhausting his strength and health, and that he would soon

leave. On a telegraphic summons from him, about the 5th of

October, I went down to Louisville, when General Anderson said he

could not stand the mental torture of his command any longer, and

that he must go away, or it would kill him. On the 8th of October

he actually published an order relinquishing the command, and, by

reason of my seniority, I had no alternative but to assume command,

though much against the grain, and in direct violation of Mr.

Lincoln’s promise to me. I am certain that, in my earliest

communication to the War Department, I renewed the expression of my

wish to remain in a subordinate position, and that I received the

assurance that Brigadier-General Buell would soon arrive from

California, and would be sent to relieve me. By that time I had

become pretty familiar with the geography and the general resources

of Kentucky. We had parties all over the State raising regiments

and companies; but it was manifest that the young men were

generally inclined to the cause of the South, while the older men

of property wanted to be let alone–i.e., to remain neutral. As to

a forward movement that fall, it was simply impracticable; for we

were forced to use divergent lines, leading our columns farther and

farther apart; and all I could attempt was to go on and collect

force and material at the two points already chosen, viz., Dick

Robinson and Elizabethtown. General George H. Thomas still

continued to command the former, and on the 12th of October I

dispatched Brigadier-General A. McD. McCook to command the latter,

which had been moved forward to Nolin Creek, fifty-two miles out of

Louisville, toward Bowling Green. Staff-officers began to arrive

to relieve us of the constant drudgery which, up to that time, had

been forced on General Anderson and myself; and these were all good

men. Colonel Thomas Swords, quartermaster, arrived on the 13th;

Paymaster Larned on the 14th; and Lieutenant Smyzer, Fifth

Artillery, acting ordnance-officer, on the 20th; Captain Symonds

was already on duty as the commissary of subsistence; Captain O.

D. Greene was the adjutant-general, and completed a good working


The everlasting worry of citizens complaining of every petty

delinquency of a soldier, and forcing themselves forward to discuss

politics, made the position of a commanding general no sinecure. I

continued to strengthen the two corps forward and their routes of

supply; all the time expecting that Sidney Johnston, who was a real

general, and who had as correct information of our situation as I

had, would unite his force with Zollicoffer, and fall on Thomas at

Dick Robinson, or McCook at Nolin: Had he done so in October, 1861,

he could have walked into Louisville, and the vital part of the

population would have hailed him as a deliverer. Why he did not,

was to me a mystery then and is now; for I know that he saw the

move; and had his wagons loaded up at one time for a start toward

Frankfort, passing between our two camps. Conscious of our

weakness, I was unnecessarily unhappy, and doubtless exhibited it

too much to those near me; but it did seem to me that the

Government at Washington, intent on the larger preparations of

Fremont in Missouri and McClellan in Washington, actually ignored

us in Kentucky.

About this time, say the middle of October, I received notice, by

telegraph, that the Secretary of War, Mr. Cameron (then in St.

Louis), would visit me at Louisville, on his way back to

Washington. I was delighted to have an opportunity to properly

represent the actual state of affairs, and got Mr. Guthrie to go

with me across to Jeffersonville, to meet the Secretary of War and

escort him to Louisville. The train was behind time, but Mr.

Guthrie and I waited till it actually arrived. Mr. Cameron was

attended by Adjutant-General Lorenzo Thomas, and six or seven

gentlemen who turned out to be newspaper reporters. Mr. Cameron’s

first inquiry was, when he could start for Cincinnati, saying that,

as he had been detained at St. Louis so long, it was important he

should hurry on to Washington. I explained that the regular

mail-boat would leave very soon–viz., at 12 M.–but I begged him

to come over to Louisville; that I wanted to see him on business as

important as any in Washington, and hoped he would come and spend

at least a day with us. He asked if every thing was not well with

us, and I told him far from it; that things were actually bad, as

bad as bad could be. This seemed to surprise him, and Mr. Guthrie

added his persuasion to mine; when Mr. Cameron, learning that he

could leave Louisville by rail via Frankfort next morning early,

and make the same connections at Cincinnati, consented to go with

us to Louisville, with the distinct understanding that he must

leave early the next morning for Washington.

We accordingly all took hacks, crossed the river by the ferry, and

drove to the Galt House, where I was then staying. Brigadier-

General T. J. Wood had come down from Indianapolis by the same

train, and was one of the party. We all proceeded to my room on

the first floor of the Galt House, where our excellent landlord,

Silas Miller, Esq., sent us a good lunch and something to drink.

Mr. Cameron was not well, and lay on my bed, but joined in the

general conversation. He and his party seemed to be full of the

particulars of the developments in St. Louis of some of Fremont’s

extravagant contracts and expenses, which were the occasion of

Cameron’s trip to St. Louis, and which finally resulted in

Fremont’s being relieved, first by General Hunter, and after by

General H. W. Halleck.

After some general conversation, Mr. Cameron called to me, “Now,

General Sherman, tell us of your troubles.” I said I preferred not

to discuss business with so many strangers present. He said,

“They are all friends, all members of my family, and you may speak

your mind freely and without restraint.” I am sure I stepped to

the door, locked it to prevent intrusion, and then fully and fairly

represented the state of affairs in Kentucky, especially the

situation and numbers of my troops. I complained that the new

levies of Ohio and Indiana were diverted East and West, and we got

scarcely any thing; that our forces at Nolin and Dick Robinson were

powerless for invasion, and only tempting to a general such as we

believed Sidney Johnston to be; that, if Johnston chose, he could

march to Louisville any day. Cameron exclaimed: “You astonish me!

Our informants, the Kentucky Senators and members of Congress,

claim that they have in Kentucky plenty of men, and all they want

are arms and money.” I then said it was not true; for the young

men were arming and going out openly in broad daylight to the rebel

camps, provided with good horses and guns by their fathers, who

were at best “neutral;” and as to arms, he had, in Washington,

promised General Anderson forty thousand of the best Springfield

muskets, instead of which we had received only about twelve

thousand Belgian muskets, which the Governor of Pennsylvania had

refused, as had also the Governor of Ohio, but which had been

adjudged good enough for Kentucky. I asserted that volunteer

colonels raising regiments in various parts of the State had come

to Louisville for arms, and when they saw what I had to offer had

scorned to receive them–to confirm the truth of which I appealed

to Mr. Guthrie, who said that every word I had spoken was true, and

he repeated what I had often heard him say, that no man who owned a

slave or a mule in Kentucky could be trusted.

Mr. Cameron appeared alarmed at what was said, and turned to


Adjutant-General L. Thomas, to inquire if he knew of any troops

available, that had not been already assigned. He mentioned

Negley’s Pennsylvania Brigade, at Pittsburg, and a couple of other

regiments that were then en route for St. Louis. Mr. Cameron

ordered him to divert these to Louisville, and Thomas made the

telegraphic orders on the spot. He further promised, on reaching

Washington, to give us more of his time and assistance.

In the general conversation which followed, I remember taking a

large map of the United States, and assuming the people of the

whole South to be in rebellion, that our task was to subdue them,

showed that McClellan was on the left, having a frontage of less

than a hundred miles, and Fremont the right, about the same;

whereas I, the centre, had from the Big Sandy to Paducah, over

three hundred miles of frontier; that McClellan had a hundred

thousand men, Fremont sixty thousand, whereas to me had only been

allotted about eighteen thousand. I argued that, for the purpose

of defense we should have sixty thousand men at once, and for

offense, would need two hundred thousand, before we were done. Mr.

Cameron, who still lay on the bed, threw up his hands and

exclaimed, “Great God! where are they to come from?” I asserted

that there were plenty of men at the North, ready and willing to

come, if he would only accept their services; for it was notorious

that regiments had been formed in all the Northwestern States,

whose services had been refused by the War Department, on the

ground that they would not be needed. We discussed all these

matters fully, in the most friendly spirit, and I thought I had

aroused Mr. Cameron to a realization of the great war that was

before us, and was in fact upon us. I heard him tell General

Thomas to make a note of our conversation, that he might attend to

my requests on reaching Washington. We all spent the evening

together agreeably in conversation, many Union citizens calling to

pay their respects, and the next morning early we took the train

for Frankfort; Mr. Cameron and party going on to Cincinnati and

Washington, and I to Camp Dick Robinson to see General Thomas and

the troops there.

I found General Thomas in a tavern, with most of his regiments

camped about him. He had sent a small force some miles in advance

toward Cumberland Gap, under Brigadier-General Schoepf. Remaining

there a couple of days, I returned to Louisville; on the 22d of

October, General Negley’s brigade arrived in boats from Pittsburg,

was sent out to Camp Nolin; and the Thirty-seventh Indiana.,

Colonel Hazzard, and Second Minnesota, Colonel Van Cleve, also

reached Louisville by rail, and were posted at Elizabethtown and

Lebanon Junction. These were the same troops which had been

ordered by Mr. Cameron when at Louisville, and they were all that I

received thereafter, prior to my leaving Kentucky. On reaching

Washington, Mr. Cameron called on General Thomas, as he himself

afterward told me, to submit his memorandum of events during his

absence, and in that memorandum was mentioned my insane request for

two hundred thousand men. By some newspaper man this was seen and

published, and, before I had the least conception of it, I was

universally published throughout the country as “insane, crazy,”

etc. Without any knowledge, however, of this fact, I had

previously addressed to the Adjutant-General of the army at

Washington this letter:


October 22, 1881.

To General L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General, Washington, D. C.

Sir: On my arrival at Camp Dick Robinson, I found General Thomas

had stationed a Kentucky regiment at Rock Castle Hill, beyond a

river of the same name, and had sent an Ohio and an Indiana

regiment forward in support. He was embarrassed for

transportation, and I authorized him to hire teams, and to move his

whole force nearer to his advance-guard, so as to support it, as he

had information of the approach of Zollicoffer toward London. I

have just heard from him, that he had sent forward General Schoepf

with Colonel Wolford’s cavalry, Colonel Steadman’s Ohio regiment,

and a battery of artillery, followed on a succeeding day by a

Tennessee brigade. He had still two Kentucky regiments, the

Thirty-eighth Ohio and another battery of artillery, with which he

was to follow yesterday. This force, if concentrated, should be

strong enough for the purpose; at all events, it is all he had or I

could give him.

I explained to you fully, when here, the supposed position of our

adversaries, among which was a force in the valley of Big Sandy,

supposed to be advancing on Paris, Kentucky. General Nelson at

Maysville was instructed to collect all the men he could, and

Colonel Gill’s regiment of Ohio Volnnteers. Colonel Harris was

already in position at Olympian Springs, and a regiment lay at

Lexington, which I ordered to his support. This leaves the line of

Thomas’s operations exposed, but I cannot help it. I explained so

fully to yourself and the Secretary of War the condition of things,

that I can add nothing new until further developements, You know my

views that this great centre of our field is too weak, far too

weak, and I have begged and implored till I dare not say more.

Buckner still is beyond Green River. He sent a detachment of his

men, variously estimated at from two to four thousand toward

Greensburg. General Ward, with about one thousand men, retreated

to Campbellsburg, where he called to his assistance some

partially-formed regiments to the number of about two thousand.

The enemy did not advance, and General Ward was at last dates at

Campbellsburg. The officers charged with raising regiments must of

necessity be near their homes to collect men, and for this reason

are out of position; but at or near Greensburg and Lebanon, I

desire to assemble as large a force of the Kentucky Volunteers as

possible. This organization is necessarily irregular, but the

necessity is so great that I must have them, and therefore have

issued to them arms and clothing during the process of formation.

This has facilitated their enlistment; but inasmuch as the

Legislature has provided money for organizing the Kentucky

Volunteers, and intrusted its disbursement to a board of loyal

gentlemen, I have endeavored to cooperate with them to hasten the

formation of these corps.

The great difficulty is, and has been, that as volunteers offer, we

have not arms and clothing to give them. The arms sent us are, as

you already know, European muskets of uncouth pattern, which the

volunteers will not touch.

General McCook has now three brigades–Johnson’s, Wood’s, and

Rousseau’s. Negley’s brigade arrived to-day, and will be sent out

at once. The Minnesota regiment has also arrived, and will be sent

forward. Hazzard’s regiment of Indiana troops I have ordered to

the month of Salt Creek, an important point on the turnpike-road

leading to Elizabethtown.

I again repeat that our force here is out of all proportion to the

importance of the position. Our defeat would be disastrous to the

nation; and to expect of new men, who never bore arms, to do

miracles, is not right.

I am, with much respect, yours truly,

W. T. SHERMAN, Brigadier-General commanding.

About this time my attention was drawn to the publication in all

the Eastern papers, which of course was copied at the West, of the

report that I was “crazy, insane, and mad,” that “I had demanded

two hundred thousand men for the defense of Kentucky;” and the

authority given for this report was stated to be the Secretary of

War himself, Mr. Cameron, who never, to my knowledge, took pains to

affirm or deny it. My position was therefore simply unbearable,

and it is probable I resented the cruel insult with language of

intense feeling. Still I received no orders, no reenforcements,

not a word of encouragement or relief. About November 1st, General

McClellan was appointed commander-in-chief of all the armies in the

field, and by telegraph called for a report from me. It is

herewith given:


Kentucky, November 4, 1861

General L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General, Washington, D. C.

Sir: In compliance with the telegraphic orders of General

McClellan, received late last night, I submit this report of the

forces in Kentucky, and of their condition.

The tabular statement shows the position of the several regiments.

The camp at Nolin is at the present extremity of the Nashville

Railroad. This force was thrown forward to meet the advance of

Buckner’s army, which then fell back to Green River, twenty-three

miles beyond. These regiments were substantially without means of

transportation, other than the railroad, which is guarded at all

dangerous points, yet is liable to interruption at any moment, by

the tearing up of a rail by the disaffected inhabitants or a hired

enemy. These regiments are composed of good materials, but devoid

of company officers of experience, and have been put under thorough

drill since being in camp. They are generally well clad, and

provided for. Beyond Green River, the enemy has masked his forces,

and it is very difficult to ascertain even the approximate numbers.

No pains have been spared to ascertain them, but without success,

and it is well known that they far outnumber us. Depending,

however, on the railroads to their rear for transportation, they

have not thus far advanced this side of Green River, except in

marauding parties. This is the proper line of advance, but will

require a very large force, certainly fifty thousand men, as their

railroad facilities south enable them to concentrate at

Munfordsville the entire strength of the South. General McCook’s

command is divided into four brigades, under Generals Wood, R. W.

Johnson, Rousseau, and Negley.

General Thomas’s line of operations is from Lexington, toward

Cumberland Gap and Ford, which are occupied by a force of rebel

Tennesseeans, under the command of Zollicoffer. Thomas occupies

the position at London, in front of two roads which lead to the

fertile part of Kentucky, the one by Richmond, and the other by

Crab Orchard, with his reserve at Camp Dick Robinson, eight miles

south of the Kentucky River. His provisions and stores go by

railroad from Cincinnati to Nicholasville, and thence in wagons to

his several regiments. He is forced to hire transportation.

Brigadier-General Nelson is operating by the line from Olympian

Springs, east of Paris, on the Covington & Lexington Railroad,

toward Prestonburg, in the valley of the Big Sandy where is

assembled a force of from twenty-five to thirty-five hundred rebel

Kentuckians waiting reenforcements from Virginia. My last report

from him was to October 28th, at which time he had Colonel Harris’s

Ohio Second, nine hundred strong; Colonel Norton’s Twenty-first

Ohio, one thousand; and Colonel Sill’s Thirty-third Ohio, seven

hundred and fifty strong; with two irregular Kentucky regiments,

Colonels Marshall and Metcalf. These troops were on the road near

Hazel Green and West Liberty, advancing toward Prestonburg.

Upon an inspection of the map, you will observe these are all

divergent lines, but rendered necessary, from the fact that our

enemies choose them as places of refuge from pursuit, where they

can receive assistance from neighboring States. Our lines are all

too weak, probably with the exception of that to Prestonburg. To

strengthen these, I am thrown on the raw levies of Ohio and

Indiana, who arrive in detachments, perfectly fresh from the

country, and loaded down with baggage, also upon the Kentuckians,

who are slowly forming regiments all over the State, at points

remote from danger, and whom it will be almost impossible to

assemble together. The organization of this latter force is, by

the laws of Kentucky, under the control of a military board of

citizens, at the capital, Frankfort, and they think they will be

enabled to have fifteen regiments toward the middle of this month,

but I doubt it, and deem it unsafe to rely on them: There are four

regiments forming in the neighborhood of Owensboro, near the mouth

of Green River, who are doing good service, also in the

neighborhood of Campbellsville, but it is unsafe to rely on troops

so suddenly armed and equipped. They are not yet clothed or

uniformed. I know well you will think our force too widely

distributed, but we are forced to it by the attitude of our

enemies, whose force and numbers the country never has and probably

never will comprehend.

I am told that my estimate of troops needed for this line, viz.,

two hundred thousand, has been construed to my prejudice, and

therefore leave it for the future. This is the great centre on

which our enemies can concentrate whatever force is not employed

elsewhere. Detailed statement of present force inclosed with this.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Brigadier-General commanding.



First Brigade (General ROUSSEAU).-Third Kentucky, Colonel Bulkley;

Fourth Kentucky, Colonel Whittaker; First Cavalry, Colonel Board;

Stone’s battery; two companies Nineteenth United States Infantry,

and two companies Fifteenth United States Infantry, Captain Gilman.

Second Brigade (General T. J. WOOD).-Thirty-eighth Indiana, Colonel

Scribner; Thirty-ninth Indiana, Colonel Harrison; Thirtieth

Indiana, Colonel Bass; Twenty-ninth Indiana, Colonel Miller.

Third Brigade (General JOHNSON).-Forty-ninth Ohio, Colonel Gibson;

Fifteenth Ohio, Colonel Dickey; Thirty-fourth Illinois, Colonel

King; Thirty-second Indiana, Colonel Willach.

Fourth Brigade (General NEGLEY).-Seventy-seventh Pennsylvania,

Colonel Hambright; Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania, Colonel Sinnell;

Seventy-ninth Pennsylvania, Colonel Stambaugh; Battery, Captain


Camp Dick Robinson (General G. H. THOMAS).—Kentucky, Colonel

Bramlette;–Kentucky, Colonel Fry;–Kentucky Cavalry, Colonel

Woolford; Fourteenth Ohio, Colonel Steadman; First Artillery,

Colonel Barnett; Third Ohio, Colonel Carter;–East Tennessee,

Colonel Byrd.

Bardstown, Kentucky.-Tenth Indiana, Colonel Manson.

Crab Orchard.-Thirty-third Indiana, Colonel Coburn.

Jeffersonville, Indiana.-Thirty-fourth Indiana, Colonel Steele;

Thirty-sixth Indiana, Colonel Gross; First Wisconsin, Colonel


Mouth of Salt River.-Ninth Michigan, Colonel Duffield; Thirty-

seventh Indiana, Colonel Hazzard.

Lebanon Junction..-Second Minnesota, Colonel Van Cleve.

Olympian Springs.-Second Ohio, Colonel Harris.

Cynthiana, Kentucky.-Thirty-fifth Ohio, Colonel Vandever.

Nicholasville, Kentucky.-Twenty-first Ohio, Colonel Norton; Thirty-

eighth Ohio, Colonel Bradley.

Big Hill.-Seventeenth Ohio, Colonel Connell.

Colesburg.-Twenty-fourth Illinois, Colonel Hecker.

Elizabethtown, Kentucky.-Nineteenth Illinois, Colonel Turchin.

Owensboro’ or Henderson.-Thirty-first Indiana, Colonel Cruft;

Colonel Edwards, forming Rock Castle; Colonel Boyle, Harrodsburg;

Colonel Barney, Irvine; Colonel Hazzard, Burksville; Colonel

Haskins, Somerset.

And, in order to conclude this subject, I also add copies of two

telegraphic dispatches, sent for General McClellan’s use about the

same time, which are all the official letters received at his

headquarters, as certified by the Adjutant-General, L. Thomas, in a

letter of February 1, 1862; in answer to an application of my

brother, Senator John Sherman, and on which I was adjudged insane:

Louisville, November 3, 10 p.m.

To General McLELLAN, Washington, D. C.:

Dispatch just received. We are forced to operate on three lines,

all dependent on railroads of doubtful safety, requiring strong

guards. From Paris to Prestonbnrg, three Ohio regiments and some

militia–enemy variously reported from thirty-five hundred to seven

thousand. From Lexington toward Cumberland Gap, Brigadier-General

Thomas, one Indiana and five Ohio regiments, two Kentucky and two

Tennessee; hired wagons and badly clad. Zollicoffer, at Cumberland

Ford, about seven thousand. Lee reported on the way with Virginia

reenforcements. In front of Louisville, fifty-two miles, McCook,

with four brigades of about thirteen thousand, with four regiments

to guard the railroad, at all times in danger. Enemy along the

railroad from Green River to Bowling Green, Nashville, and

Clarksville. Buckner, Hardee, Sidney Johnston, Folk, and Pillow,


the two former in immediate command, the force as large as they

want or can subsist, from twenty-five to thirty thousand. Bowling

Green strongly fortified. Our forces too small to do good, and too

large to sacrifice.

W. T. SHERMAN, Brigadier-General.


Kentucky, November 6, 1861

General L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General.

Sir: General McClellan telegraphs me to report to him daily the

situation of affairs here. The country is so large that it is

impossible to give clear and definite views. Our enemies have a

terrible advantage in the fact that in our midst, in our camps, and

along our avenues of travel, they have active partisans, farmers

and business-men, who seemingly pursue their usual calling, but are

in fact spies. They report all our movements and strength, while

we can procure information only by circuitous and unreliable means.

I inclose you the copy of an intercepted letter, which is but the

type of others. Many men from every part of the State are now

enrolled under Buckner–have gone to him–while ours have to be

raised in neighborhoods, and cannot be called together except at

long notice. These volunteers are being organized under the laws

of the State, and the 10th of November is fixed for the time of

consolidating them into companies and regiments. Many of them are

armed by the United States as home guards, and many by General

Anderson and myself, because of the necessity of being armed to

guard their camps against internal enemies. Should we be

overwhelmed, they would scatter, and their arms and clothing will

go to the enemy, furnishing the very material they so much need.

We should have here a very large force, sufficient to give

confidence to the Union men of the ability to do what should be

done–possess ourselves of all the State. But all see and feel we

are brought to a stand-still, and this produces doubt and alarm.

With our present force it would be simple madness to cross Green

River, and yet hesitation may be as fatal. In like manner the

other columns are in peril, not so much in front as rear, the

railroads over which our stores must pass being much exposed. I

have the Nashville Railroad guarded by three regiments, yet it is

far from being safe; and, the moment actual hostilities commence,

these roads will be interrupted, and we will be in a dilemma. To

meet this in part I have put a cargo of provisions at the mouth of

Salt River, guarded by two regiments. All these detachments weaken

the main force, and endanger the whole. Do not conclude, as

before, that I exaggerate the facts. They are as stated, and the

future looks as dark as possible. It would be better if some man

of sanguine mind were here, for I am forced to order according to

my convictions.

Yours truly,

W. T. SHERMAN, Brigadier-General commanding.

After the war was over, General Thomas J. Wood, then in command of

the district of Vicksburg, prepared a statement addressed to the

public, describing the interview with the Secretary of War, which

he calls a “Council of War.” I did not then deem it necessary to

renew a matter which had been swept into oblivion by the war

itself; but, as it is evidence by an eyewitness, it is worthy of

insertion here.


On the 11th of October, 1861, the writer, who had been personally

on mustering duty in Indiana, was appointed a brigadier-general of

volunteers, and ordered to report to General Sherman, then in

command of the Department of the Cumberland, with his headquarters

at Louisville, having succeeded General Robert Anderson. When the

writer was about leaving Indianapolis to proceed to Louisville, Mr.

Cameron, returning from his famous visit of inspection to General

Fremont’s department, at St. Louis, Missouri, arrived at

Indianapolis, and announced his intention to visit General Sherman.

The writer was invited to accompany the party to Louisville.

Taking the early morning train from Indianapolis to Louisville on

the 16th of October, 1861, the party arrived in Jeffersonville

shortly after mid-day. General Sherman met the party in

Jeffersonville, and accompanied it to the Galt House, in

Louisville, the hotel at which he was stopping.

During the afternoon General Sherman informed the writer that a

council of war was to be held immediately in his private room in

the hotel, and desired him to be present at the council. General

Sherman and the writer proceeded directly to the room. The writer

entered the room first, and observed in it Mr. Cameron, Adjutant-

General L. Thomas, and some other persons, all of whose names he

did not know, but whom he recognized as being of Mr. Cameron’s

party. The name of one of the party the writer had learned, which

he remembers as Wilkinson, or Wilkerson, and who he understood was

a writer for the New York Tribune newspaper. The Hon. James

Guthrie was also in the room, having been invited, on account of

his eminent position as a citizen of Kentucky, his high civic

reputation, and his well-known devotion to the Union, to meet the

Secretary of War in the council. When General Sherman entered the

room he closed the door, and turned the key in the lock.

Before entering on the business of the meeting, General Sherman

remarked substantially: “Mr. Cameron, we have met here to discuss

matters and interchange views which should be known only by persons

high in the confidence of the Government. There are persons

present whom I do not know, and I desire to know, before opening

the business of the council, whether they are persons who may be

properly allowed to hear the views which I have to submit to you.”

Mr. Cameron replied, with some little testiness of manner, that the

persons referred to belonged to his party, and there was no

objection to their knowing whatever might be communicated to him.

Certainly the legitimate and natural conclusion from this remark of

Mr. Cameron’s was that whatever views might be submitted by General

Sherman would be considered under the protection of the seal of

secrecy, and would not be divulged to the public till all

apprehension of injurious consequences from such disclosure had

passed. And it may be remarked, further, that justice to General

Sherman required that if, at any future time, his conclusions as to

the amount of force necessary to conduct the operations committed

to his charge should be made public, the grounds on which his

conclusions were based should be made public at the same time.

Mr. Cameron then asked General Sherman what his plans were. To

this General Sherman replied that he had no plans; that no

sufficient force had been placed at his disposition with which to

devise any plan of operations; that, before a commanding general

could project a plan of campaign, he must know what amount of force

he would have to operate with.

The general added that he had views which he would be happy to

submit for the consideration of the Secretary. Mr. Cameron desired

to hear General Sherman’s views.

General Sherman began by giving his opinion of the people of

Kentucky, and the then condition of the State. He remarked that he

believed a very large majority of the people of Kentucky were

thoroughly devoted to the Union, and loyal to the Government, and

that the Unionists embraced almost all the older and more

substantial men in the State; but, unfortunately, there was no

organization nor arms among the Union men; that the rebel minority,

thoroughly vindictive in its sentiments, was organized and armed

(this having been done in advance by their leaders), and, beyond

the reach of the Federal forces, overawed and prevented the Union

men from organizing; that, in his opinion, if Federal protection

were extended throughout the State to the Union men, a large force

could be raised for the service of the Government.

General Sherman next presented a resume of the information in his

possession as to the number of the rebel troops in Kentucky.

Commencing with the force at Columbus, Kentucky, the reports

varied, giving the strength from ten to twenty thousand. It was

commanded by Lieutenant-General Polk. General Sherman fixed it at

the lowest estimate; say, ten thousand. The force at Bowling

Green, commanded by General. A. S. Johnston, supported by Hardee,

Buckner, and others, was variously estimated at from eighteen to

thirty thousand. General Sherman estimated this force at the

lowest figures given to it by his information–eighteen thousand.

He explained that, for purposes of defense, these two forces ought,

owing to the facility with which troops might be transported from

one to the other, by the net-work of railroads in Middle and West

Tennessee, to be considered almost as one. General Sherman

remarked, also, on the facility with which reinforcements could be

transported by railroad to Bowling Green, from the other rebellions


The third organized body of rebel troops was in Eastern Kentucky,

under General Zollicoffer, estimated, according to the most

reliable information, at six thousand men. This force threatened a

descent, if unrestrained, on the blue-grass region of Kentucky,

including the cities of Lexington, and Frankfort, the capital of

the State; and if successful in its primary movements, as it would

gather head as it advanced, might endanger the safety of


General Sherman said that the information in his possession

indicated an intention, on the part of the rebels, of a general and

grand advance toward the Ohio River. He further expressed the

opinion that, if such advance should be made, and not checked, the

rebel force would be swollen by at least twenty thousand recruits

from the disloyalists in Kentucky. His low computation of the

organized rebel soldiers then in Kentucky fixed the strength at

about thirty-five thousand. Add twenty thousand for reenforcements

gained in Kentucky, to say nothing of troops drawn from other rebel

States, and the effective rebel force in the State, at a low

estimate, would be fifty-five thousand men.

General Sherman explained forcibly how largely the difficulties of

suppressing the rebellion would be enhanced, if the rebels should

be allowed to plant themselves firmly, with strong fortifications,

at commanding points on the Ohio River. It would be facile for

them to carry the war thence into the loyal States north of the


To resist an advance of the rebels, General Sherman stated that he

did not have at that time in Kentucky more than some twelve to

fourteen thousand effective men. The bulk of this force was posted

at camp Nolin, on the Louisville & Nashville Railway, fifty miles

south of Louisville. A part of it was in Eastern Kentucky, under

General George H. Thomas, and a very small force was in the lower

valley of Green River.

This disposition of the force had been made for the double purpose

of watching and checking the rebels, and protecting the raising and

organization of troops among the Union men of Kentucky.

Having explained the situation from the defensive point of view,

General Sherman proceeded to consider it from the offensive

stand-point. The Government had undertaken to suppress the

rebellion; the onus faciendi, therefore, rested on the Government.

The rebellion could never be put down, the authority of the

paramount Government asserted, and the union of the States declared

perpetual, by force of arms, by maintaining the defensive; to

accomplish these grand desiderata, it was absolutely necessary the

Government should adopt, and maintain until the rebellion was

crushed, the offensive.

For the purpose of expelling the rebels from Kentucky, General

Sherman said that at least sixty thousand soldiers were necessary.

Considering that the means of accomplishment must always be

proportioned to the end to be achieved, and bearing in mind the

array of rebel force then in Kentucky, every sensible man must

admit that the estimate of the force given by General Sherman, for

driving the rebels out of the State, and reestablishing and

maintaining the authority of the Government, was a very low one.

The truth is that, before the rebels were driven from Kentucky,

many more than sixty thousand soldiers were sent into the State.

Ascending from the consideration of the narrow question of the

political and military situation in Kentucky, and the extent of

force necessary to redeem the State from rebel thraldom,

forecasting in his sagacious intellect the grand and daring

operations which, three years afterward, he realized in a campaign,

taken in its entirety, without a parallel in modern times, General

Sherman expressed the opinion that, to carry the war to the Gulf of

Mexico, and destroy all armed opposition to the Goverment, in the

entire Mississippi Valley, at least two hundred thousand troops

were absolutely requisite.

So soon as General Sherman had concluded the expression of his

views, Mr. Cameron asked, with much warmth and apparent irritation,

“Where do you suppose, General Sherman, all this force is to come

from.” General Sherman replied that he did not know; that it was

not his duty to raise, organize, and put the necessary military

force into the field; that duty pertained to the War Department.

His duty was to organize campaigns and command the troops after

they had been put into the field.

At this point of the proceedings, General Sherman suggested that it

might be agreeable to the Secretary to hear the views of Mr.

Guthrie. Thus appealed to, Mr. Guthrie said he did not consider

himself, being a civilian, competent to give an opinion as to the

extent of force necessary to parry the war to the Gulf of Mexico;

but, being well informed of the condition of things in Kentucky, he

indorsed fully General Sherman’e opinion of the force required to

drive the rebels out of the State.

The foregoing is a circumstantial account of the deliberations of

the council that were of any importance.

A good deal of desultory conversation followed, on immaterial

matters; and some orders were issued by telegraph, by the Secretary

of War, for some small reenforcements to be sent to Kentucky

immediately, from Pennsylvania and Indiana.

A short time after the council was held–the exact time is not now

remembered by the writer–an imperfect narrative of it appeared in

the New York Tribune. This account announced to the public the

conclusions uttered by General Sherman in the council, without

giving the reasons on which his conclusions were based. The

unfairness of this course to General Sherman needs no comment. All

military men were shocked by the gross breach of faith which had

been committed

TH. J. WOOD, Major-General Volunteeers

Vicksburg, Mississippi, August 24, 1886.

Brigadier-General Don Carlos Buell arrived at Louisville about the

middle of November, with orders to relieve me, and I was

transferred for duty to the Department of the Missouri, and ordered

to report in person to Major-General H. W. Halleck at St. Louis. I

accompanied General Buell to the camp at Nolin, where he reviewed

and inspected the camp and troops under the command of General A.

McD. McCook, and on our way back General Buell inspected the

regiment of Hazzard at Elizabethtown. I then turned over my

command to him, and took my departure for St. Louis.

At the time I was so relieved I thought, of course, it was done in

fulfillment of Mr. Lincoln’s promise to me, and as a necessary

result of my repeated demand for the fulfillment of that promise;

but I saw and felt, and was of course deeply moved to observe, the

manifest belief that there was more or less of truth in the rumor


that the cares, perplexities, and anxiety of the situation had

unbalanced my judgment and mind. It was, doubtless, an incident

common to all civil wars, to which I could only submit with the

best grace possible, trusting to the future for an opportunity to

redeem my fortune and good name. Of course I could not deny the

fact, and had to submit to all its painful consequences for months;

and, moreover, I could not hide from myself that many of the

officers and soldiers subsequently placed under my command looked

at me askance and with suspicion. Indeed, it was not until the

following April that the battle of Shiloh gave me personally the

chance to redeem my good name.

On reaching St. Louis and reporting to General Halleck, I was

received kindly, and was shortly afterward (viz., November 23d)

sent up to Sedalia to inspect the camp there, and the troops

located along the road back to Jefferson City, and I was ordered to

assume command in a certain contingency. I found General Steels at

Sedalia with his regiments scattered about loosely; and General

Pope at Otterville, twenty miles back, with no concert between

them. The rebel general, Sterling Price, had his forces down about

Osceola and Warsaw. I advised General Halleck to collect the whole

of his men into one camp on the La Mine River, near Georgetown, to

put them into brigades and divisions, so as to be ready to be

handled, and I gave some preliminary orders looking to that end.

But the newspapers kept harping on my insanity and paralyzed my

efforts. In spite of myself, they tortured from me some words and

acts of imprudence. General Halleck telegraphed me on November

26th: “Unless telegraph-lines are interrupted, make no movement of

troops without orders;” and on November 29th: “No forward movement

of troops on Osceola will be made; only strong

reconnoitring-parties will be sent out in the supposed direction of

the enemy; the bulk of the troops being held in position till more

reliable information is obtained.”

About the same time I received the following dispatch:


November 28, 1881. Brigadier

General SHERMAN, Sedalia:

Mrs. Sherman is here. General Halleck is satisfied, from reports

of scouts received here, that no attack on Sedalia is intended.

You will therefore return to this city, and report your

observations on the condition of the troops you have examined.

Please telegraph when you will leave.

SCHUYLER HAMILTON, Brigadier-General and Aide-de-Camp.

I accordingly returned to St. Louis, where I found Mrs. Sherman,

naturally and properly distressed at the continued and reiterated

reports of the newspapers of my insanity, and she had come from

Lancaster to see me. This recall from Sedalia simply swelled the

cry. It was alleged that I was recalled by reason of something

foolish I had done at Sedalia, though in fact I had done absolutely

nothing, except to recommend what was done immediately thereafter

on the advice of Colonel McPherson, on a subsequent inspection.

Seeing and realizing that my efforts were useless, I concluded to

ask for a twenty days’ leave of absence, to accompany Mrs. Sherman

to our home in Lancaster, and to allow the storm to blow over

somewhat. It also happened to be mid-winter, when, nothing was

doing; so Mrs. Sherman and I returned to Lancaster, where I was

born, and where I supposed I was better known and appreciated.

The newspapers kept up their game as though instigated by malice,

and chief among them was the Cincinnati Comercial, whose editor,

Halsted, was generally believed to be an honorable man. P. B.

Ewing, Esq., being in Cincinnati, saw him and asked him why he, who

certainly knew better, would reiterate such a damaging slander. He

answered, quite cavalierly, that it was one of the news-items of

the day, and he had to keep up with the time; but he would be most

happy to publish any correction I might make, as though I could

deny such a malicious piece of scandal affecting myself. On the

12th of November I had occasion to write to General Halleck, and I

have a copy of his letter in answer:

ST. Louis, December 18, 1881.

Brigadier-General W. T. SHERMAN, Lancaster, Ohio.

My DEAR GENERAL: Yours of the 12th was received a day or two ago,

but was mislaid for the moment among private papers, or I should

have answered it sooner. The newspaper attacks are certainly

shameless and scandalous, but I cannot agree with you, that they

have us in their power “to destroy us as they please.” I certainly

get my share of abuse, but it will not disturb me.

Your movement of the troops was not countermanded by me because I

thought it an unwise one in itself, but because I was not then

ready for it. I had better information of Price’s movements than

you had, and I had no apprehension of an attack. I intended to

concentrate the forces on that line, but I wished the movement

delayed until I could determine on a better position.

After receiving Lieutenant-Colonel McPherson’s report, I made

precisely the location you had ordered. I was desirous at the time

not to prevent the advance of Price by any movement on our part,

hoping that he would move on Lexington; but finding that he had

determined to remain at Osceola for some time at least, I made the

movement you proposed. As you could not know my plans, you and

others may have misconstrued the reason of my countermanding your


I hope to see you well enough for duty soon. Our organization goes

on slowly, but we will effect it in time. Yours truly,


And subsequently, in a letter to Hon. Thomas Ewing, in answer to

some inquiries involving the same general subject, General Halleck

wrote as follows:

Hon. THOMAS EWING, Lancaster, Ohio.

DEAR SIR: Your note of the 13th, and one of this date, from Mr.

Sherman, in relation to Brigadier-General Sherman’s having being

relieved from command in Sedalia, in November last, are just

received. General Sherman was not put in command at Sedalia; he

was authorized to assume it, and did so for a day or two. He did

not know my plans, and his movement of troops did not accord with

them. I therefore directed him to leave them as they were, and

report here the result of his inspection, for which purpose be had

been ordered there.

No telegram or dispatch of any kind was sent by me, or by any one

with my knowledge or authority, in relation to it. After his

return here, I gave him a leave of absence of twenty days, for the

benefit of his health. As I was then pressing General McClellan

for more officers, I deemed it necessary to explain why I did so.

I used these words: “I am satisfied that General Sherman’s physical

and mental system is so completely broken by labor and care as to

render him, for the present, unfit for duty; perhaps a few weeks’

rest may restore him.” This was the only communication I made on

the subject. On no occasion have I ever expressed an opinion that

his mind was affected otherwise than by over-exertion; to have said

so would have done him the greatest injustice.

After General Sherman returned from his short leave, I found that

his health was nearly restored, and I placed him temporarily in

command of the camp of instruction, numbering over fifteen thousand

men. I then wrote to General McClellan that he would soon be able

to again take the field. I gave General Sherman a copy of my

letter. This is the total of my correspondence on the subject. As

evidence that I have every confidence in General Sherman, I have

placed him in command of Western Kentucky–a command only second in

importance in this department. As soon as divisions and columns

can be organized, I propose to send him into the field where he can

render most efficient service. I have seen newspaper squibs,

charging him with being “crazy,” etc. This is the grossest

injustice; I do not, however, consider such attacks worthy of

notice. The best answer is General Sherman’s present position, and

the valuable services he is rendering to the country. I have the

fullest confidence in him.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. W. HALLECK, Major-General.

On returning to St. Louis, on the expiration of my leave of

absence, I found that General Halleck was beginning to move his

troops: one part, under General U. S. Grant, up the Tennessee

River; and another part, under General S. R. Curtis, in the

direction of Springfield, Missouri. General Grant was then at

Paducah, and General Curtis was under orders for Rolls. I was

ordered to take Curtis’s place in command of the camp of

instruction, at Benton Barracks, on the ground back of North St.

Louis, now used as the Fair Grounds, by the following order:

[Special Order No. 87].


St. Louis, December 23, 1861


Brigadier-General W. T. Sherman, United States Volunteers, is

hereby assigned to the command of the camp of instruction and post

of Benton Barracks. He will have every armed regiment and company

in his command ready for service at a moment’s warning, and will

notify all concerned that, when marching orders are received, it is

expected that they will be instantly obeyed; no excuses for delay

will be admitted. General Sherman will immediately report to these

headquarters what regiments and companies, at Benton Barracks, are

ready for the field.

By order of Major-General Halleck,

J. C. KELTEN, Assistant Adjutant-General.

I immediately assumed command, and found, in the building

constructed for the commanding officer, Brigadier-General Strong,

and the family of a captain of Iowa cavalry, with whom we boarded.

Major Curtis, son of General Curtis, was the adjutant-general, but

was soon relieved by Captain J. H. Hammond, who was appointed

assistant adjutant-general, and assigned to duty with me.

Brigadier-General Hurlbut was also there, and about a dozen

regiments of infantry and cavalry. I at once gave all matters

pertaining to the post my personal attention, got the regiments in

as good order as possible, kept up communication with General

Halleck’s headquarters by telegraph, and, when orders came for the

movement of any regiment or detachment, it moved instantly. The

winter was very wet, and the ground badly drained. The quarters

had been erected by General Fremont, under contract; they were mere

shells, but well arranged for a camp, embracing the Fair Grounds,

and some forty acres of flat ground west of it. I instituted

drills, and was specially ordered by General Halleck to watch

Generals Hurlbut and Strong, and report as to their fitness for

their commissions as brigadier-generals. I had known Hurlbut as a

young lawyer, in Charleston, South Carolina, before the Mexican

War, at which time he took a special interest in military matters,

and I found him far above the average in the knowledge of

regimental and brigade drill, and so reported. General Strong had

been a merchant, and he told me that he never professed to be a

soldier, but had been urged on the Secretary of War for the

commission of a brigadier-general, with the expectation of be

coming quartermaster or commissary-general. He was a good,

kind-hearted gentleman, boiling over with patriotism and zeal. I

advised him what to read and study, was considerably amused at his

receiving instruction from a young lieutenant who knew the company

and battalion drill, and could hear him practise in his room the

words of command, and tone of voice, “Break from the right, to

march to the left!” “Battalion, halt!” “Forward into line!” etc.

Of course I made a favorable report in his case. Among the

infantry and cavalry colonels were some who afterward rose to

distinction–David Stuart, Gordon Granger, Bussey, etc., etc.

Though it was mid-winter, General Halleck was pushing his

preparations most vigorously, and surely he brought order out of

chaos in St. Louis with commendable energy. I remember, one night,

sitting in his room, on the second floor of the Planters’ House,

with him and General Cullum, his chief of staff, talking

of things generally, and the subject then was of the much-talked-of

“advance,” as soon as the season would permit. Most people urged

the movement down the Mississippi River; but Generals Polk and

Pillow had a large rebel force, with heavy guns in a very strong

position, at Columbus, Kentucky, about eighteen miles below Cairo.

Commodore Foote had his gunboat fleet at Cairo; and General U. S.

Grant, who commanded the district, was collecting a large force at

Paducah, Cairo, and Bird’s Point. General Halleck had a map on his

table, with a large pencil in his hand, and asked, “where is the

rebel line?” Cullum drew the pencil through Bowling Green, Forts

Donelson and Henry, and Columbus, Kentucky. “That is their line,”

said Halleck. “Now, where is the proper place to break it?” And

either Cullum or I said, “Naturally the centre.” Halleck drew a

line perpendicular to the other, near its middle, and it coincided

nearly with the general course of the Tennessee River; and he said,

“That’s the true line of operations.” This occurred more than a

month before General Grant began the movement, and, as he was

subject to General Halleck’s orders, I have always given Halleck

the full credit for that movement, which was skillful, successful,

and extremely rich in military results; indeed, it was the first

real success on our side in the civil war. The movement up the

Tennessee began about the 1st of February, and Fort Henry was

captured by the joint action of the navy under Commodore Foote, and

the land forces under General Grant, on the 6th of February, 1862.

About the same time, General S. R. Curtis had moved forward from

Rolls, and, on the 8th of March, defeated the rebels under

McCulloch, Van Dom, and Price, at Pea Ridge.

As soon as Fort Henry fell, General Grant marched straight across

to Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland River, invested the place, and,

as soon as the gunboats had come round from the Tennessee, and had

bombarded the water-front, he assaulted; whereupon Buckner

surrendered the garrison of twelve thousand men; Pillow and

ex-Secretary of War General Floyd having personally escaped across

the river at night, occasioning a good deal of fun and criticism at

their expense.

Before the fall of Donelson, but after that of Henry, I received,

at Benton Barracks, the following orders:


St. Louis, February,13, 1862

Brigadier-General SHERMAN, Benton Barracks:

You will immediately repair to Paducah, Kentucky, and assume

command of that post. Brigadier-General Hurlbut will accompany

you. The command of Benton Barracks will be turned over to General


H. W. HALECK, Major-General.

I started for Paducah the same day, and think that General Cullum

went with me to Cairo; General Halleck’s purpose being to push

forward the operations up the Tennessee River with unusual vigor.

On reaching Paducah, I found this dispatch:


St. Louis, February 15, 1862

Brigadier-General SHERMAN, Paducah, Kentucky:

Send General Grant every thing you can spare from Paducah and Smith

and also General Hurlbut.

Bowling Green has been evacuated entirely.

H. W. HALLECK, Major-General.

The next day brought us news of the surrender of Buckner, and

probably at no time during the war did we all feel so heavy a


weight raised from our breasts, or so thankful for a most fruitful

series of victories. They at once gave Generals Halleck, Grant,

and C. F. Smith, great fame. Of course, the rebels let go their

whole line, and fell back on Nashville and Island No. Ten, and to

the Memphis & Charleston Railroad. Everybody was anxious to help.

Boats passed up and down constantly, and very soon arrived the

rebel prisoners from Donelson. I saw General Buckner on the boat,

he seemed self-sufficient, and thought their loss was not really so

serious to their cause as we did.

About this time another force of twenty or twenty-five thousand men

was collected on the west bank of the Mississippi, above Cairo,

under the command of Major-General John Pope, designed to become

the “Army of the Mississippi,” and to operate, in conjunction with

the navy, down the river against the enemy’s left flank, which had

held the strong post of Columbus, Kentucky, but which, on the fall

of Fort Donelson, had fallen back to New Madrid and Island No. 10.




By the end of February, 1862, Major-General Halleck commanded all

the armies in the valley of the Mississippi, from his headquarters

in St: Louis. These were, the Army of the Ohio, Major-General

Buell, in Kentucky; the Army of the Tennessee, Major-General Grant,

at Forts Henry and Donelson; the Army of the Mississippi,

Major-General Pope; and that of General S. R. Curtis, in Southwest

Missouri. He posted his chief of staff, General Cullum, at Cairo,

and me at Paducah, chiefly to expedite and facilitate the important

operations then in progress up the Tennessee, and Cumberland


Fort Donelson had surrendered to General Grant on the 16th of

February, and there must have been a good deal of confusion

resulting from the necessary care of the wounded, and disposition

of prisoners, common to all such occasions, and there was a real

difficulty in communicating between St. Louis and Fort Donelson.

General Buell had also followed up the rebel army, which had

retreated hastily from Bowling Green to and through Nashville, a

city of so much importance to the South, that it was at one time

proposed as its capital. Both Generals Grant and Buell looked to

its capture as an event of great importance. On the 21st General

Grant sent General Smith with his division to Clarksville, fifty

miles above Donelson, toward Nashville, and on the 27th went

himself to Nashville to meet and confer with General Buell, but

returned to Donelson the next day.

Meantime, General Halleek at St. Louis must have felt that his

armies were getting away from him, and began to send dispatches to

me at Paducah, to be forwarded by boat, or by a rickety

telegraph-line up to Fort Henry, which lay entirely in a hostile

country, and was consequently always out of repair. On the 1st of

March I received the following dispatch, and forwarded it to

General Grant, both by the telegraph and boat:

To General GRANT, Fort Henry

Transports will be sent you as soon as possible, to move your

column up the Tennessee River. The main object of this expedition

will be to destroy the railroad-bridge over Bear Creek, near

Eastport, Mississippi; and also the railroad connections at

Corinth, Jackson, and Humboldt. It is thought best that these

objects be attempted in the order named. Strong detachments of

cavalry and light artillery, supported by infantry, may by rapid

movements reach these points from the river, without any serious


Avoid any general engagements with strong forces. It will be

better to retreat than to risk a general battle. This should be

strongly impressed on the officers sent with expeditions from the

river. General C. F. Smith or some very discreet officer should be

selected for such commands. Having accomplished these objects, or

such of them as may be practicable, you will return to Danville,

and move on Paris.

Perhaps the troops sent to Jackson and Humbolt can reach Paris by

land as easily as to return to the transports. This must depend on

the character of the roads and the position of the enemy. All

telegraphic lines which can be reached must be cut. The gunboats

will accompany the transports for their protection. Any loyal

Tenneaseeans who desire it, may be enlisted and supplied with arms.

Competent officers should be left to command Forts Henry and

Donelson in your absence. I have indicated in general terms the

object of this.

H. W. HALLECK, Major-General.

Again on the 2d:

Cairo, March 1, 1862

To General GRANT:

General Halleck, February 25th, telegraphs me: “General Grant will

send no more forces to Clarksville. General Smith’s division will

come to Fort Henry, or a point higher up on the Tennessee River;

transports will also be collected at Paducah. Two gunboats in

Tennessee River with Grant. General Grant will immediately have

small garrisons detailed for Forts Henry and Donelson, and all

other forces made ready for the field”

From your letter of the 28th, I learn you were at Fort Donelson,

and General Smith at Nashville, from which I infer you could not

have received orders. Halleck’s telegram of last night says: “Who

sent Smith’s division to Nashville? I ordered it across to the

Tennessee, where they are wanted immediately. Order them back.

Send all spare transports up Tennessee to General Grant.”

Evidently the general supposes you to be on the Tennessee. I am

sending all the transports I can find for you, reporting to General

Sherman for orders to go up the Cumberland for you, or, if you

march accross to Fort Henry, then to send them up the Tennessee.

G. W. CULLUM, Brigadier-General.

On the 4th came this dispatch:

To Major-General U. S. GRANT

You will place Major-General C. F. Smith in command of expedition,

and remain yourself at Fort Henry. Why do you not obey my orders

to report strength and positions of your command?

H. W. HALLECK, Major-General.

Halleck was evidently working himself into a passion, but he was

too far from the seat of war to make due allowance for the actual

state of facts. General Grant had done so much, that General

Halleck should have been patient. Meantime, at Paducah, I was busy

sending boats in every direction–some under the orders of General

Halleck, others of General Cullum; others for General Grant, and

still others for General Buell at Nashville; and at the same time I

was organizing out of the new troops that were arriving at Paducah

a division for myself when allowed to take the field, which I had

been promised by General Halleck. His purpose was evidently to

operate up the Tennessee River, to break up Bear Creek Bridge and

the railroad communications between the Mississippi and Tennessee

Rivers, and no doubt he was provoked that Generals Grant and Smith

had turned aside to Nashville. In the mean time several of the

gunboats, under Captain Phelps, United States Navy, had gone up the

Tennessee as far as Florence, and on their return had reported a

strong Union feeling among the people along the river. On the 10th

of March, having received the necessary orders from General

Halleck, I embarked my division at Paducah. It was composed of

four brigades. The First, commanded by Colonel S. G. Hicks, was

composed of the Fortieth Illinois, Forty-sixth Ohio, and Morton’s

Indiana Battery, on the boats Sallie List, Golden Gate, J. B.

Adams, and Lancaster.

The Second Brigade, Colonel D. Stuart, was composed of the

Fifty-fifth Illinois, Seventy-first Ohio, and Fifty-fourth Ohio;

embarked on the Hannibal, Universe, Hazel Dell, Cheeseman, and

Prairie Rose.

The Third Brigade, Colonel Hildebrand, was composed of the

Seventy-seventh Ohio, Fifty-seventh Ohio, and Fifty-third Ohio;

embarked on the Poland, Anglo-Saxon, Ohio No. Three, and


The Fourth Brigade, Colonel Buckland, was composed of the

Seventy-second Ohio, Forty-eighth Ohio, and Seventieth Ohio;

embarked on the Empress, Baltic, Shenango, and Marrengo.

We steamed up to Fort Henry, the river being high and in splendid

order. There I reported in person to General C. F. Smith, and by

him was ordered a few miles above, to the remains of the burned

railroad bridge, to await the rendezvous of the rest of his army.

I had my headquarters on the Continental.

Among my colonels I had a strange character–Thomas Worthington,

colonel of the Forty-sixth Ohio. He was a graduate of West Point,

of the class of 1827; was, therefore, older than General Halleck,

General Grant, or myself, and claimed to know more of war than all

of us put together. In ascending the river he did not keep his

place in the column, but pushed on and reached Savannah a day

before the rest of my division. When I reached that place, I found

that Worthington had landed his regiment, and was flying about

giving orders, as though he were commander-in-chief. I made him

get back to his boat, and gave him to understand that he must

thereafter keep his place. General C. F. Smith arrived about the

13th of March, with a large fleet of boats, containing Hurlbut’s

division, Lew. Wallace’s division, and that of himself, then

commanded by Brigadier-General W. H. L. Wallace.

General Smith sent for me to meet him on his boat, and ordered me

to push on under escort of the two gunboats, Lexington and Tyler,

commanded by Captains Gwin and Shirk, United States Navy. I was to

land at some point below Eastport, and make a break of the Memphis

& Charleston Railroad, between Tuscumbia and Corinth. General

Smith was quite unwell, and was suffering from his leg, which was

swollen and very sore, from a mere abrasion in stepping

into a small boat. This actually mortified, and resulted in his

death about a month after, viz., April 25, 1862. He was ad-

jutant of the Military Academy during the early part of my

career there, and afterward commandant of cadets. He was a very

handsome and soldierly man, of great experience, and at Donelson

had acted with so much personal bravery that to him many attributed

the success of the assault.

I immediately steamed up the Tennessee River, following the two

gunboats, and, in passing Pittsburg Landing, was told by Captain

Gwin that, on his former trip up the river, he had found a rebel

regiment of cavalry posted there, and that it was the usual

landing-place for the people about Corinth, distant thirty miles.

I sent word back to General Smith that, if we were detained up the

river, he ought to post some troops at Pittsburg Landing. We went

on up the river cautiously, till we saw Eastport and Chickasaw,

both of which were occupied by rebel batteries and a small rebel

force of infantry.

We then dropped back quietly to the mouth of Yellow River, a few

miles below, whence led a road to Burnsville, a place on the

Memphis & Charleston road, where were the company’s repair-shops.

We at once commenced disembarking the command: first the cavalry,

which started at once for Burnsville, with orders to tear up the

railroad-track, and burn the depots, shops, etc; and I followed

with the infantry and artillery as fast as they were disembarked.

It was raining very hard at the time. Daylight found us about six

miles out, where we met the cavalry returning. They had made

numerous attempts to cross the streams, which had become so swollen

that mere brooks covered the whole bottom; and my aide-de-camp,

Sanger, whom I had dispatched with the cavalry, reported the loss,

by drowning, of several of the men. The rain was pouring in

torrents, and reports from the rear came that the river was rising

very fast, and that, unless we got back to our boats soon, the

bottom would be simply impassable. There was no alternative but to

regain our boats; and even this was so difficult, that we had to

unharness the artillery-horses, and drag the guns under water

through the bayous, to reach the bank of the river. Once more

embarked, I concluded to drop down to Pittsburg Landing, and to

make the attempt from there. During the night of the 14th, we

dropped down to Pittsburg Landing, where I found Hurlbut’s division

in boats. Leaving my command there, I steamed down to Savannah,

and reported to General Smith in person, who saw in the flooded

Tennessee the full truth of my report; and he then instructed me to

disembark my own division, and that of General Hurlbut, at

Pittsburg Landing; to take positions well back, and to leave room

for his whole army; telling me that he would soon come up in

person, and move out in force to make the lodgment on the railroad,

contemplated by General Halleck’s orders.

Lieutenant-Colonel McPherson, of General C. F. Smith’s, or rather

General Halleck’s, staff, returned with me, and on the 16th of

March we disembarked and marched out about ten miles toward

Corinth, to a place called Monterey or Pea Ridge, where the rebels

had a cavalry regiment, which of course decamped on our approach,

but from the people we learned that trains were bringing large

masses of men from every direction into Corinth. McPherson and I

reconnoitred the ground well, and then returned to our boats. On

the 18th, Hurlbut disembarked his division and took post about a

mile and a half out, near where the roads branched, one leading to

Corinth and the other toward Hamburg. On the 19th I disembarked my

division, and took post about three miles back, three of the

brigades covering the roads to Purdy and Corinth, and the other

brigade (Stuart’s) temporarily at a place on the Hamburg Road, near

Lick Creek Ford, where the Bark Road came into the Hamburg Road.

Within a few days, Prentiss’s division arrived and camped on my

left, and afterward McClernand’s and W. H. L. Wallace’s divisions,

which formed a line to our rear. Lew Wallace’s division remained

on the north side of Snake Creek, on a road leading from Savannah

or Cramp’s Landing to Purdy.

General C. F. Smith remained back at Savannah, in chief command,

and I was only responsible for my own division. I kept pickets

well out on the roads, and made myself familiar with all the ground

inside and outside my lines. My personal staff was composed of

Captain J. H. Hammond, assistant adjutant-general; Surgeons

Hartshorn and L’Hommedieu; Lieutenant Colonels Hascall and Sanger,

inspector-generals; Lieutenants McCoy and John Taylor,

aides-de-camp. We were all conscious that the enemy was collecting

at Corinth, but in what force we could not know, nor did we know

what was going on behind us. On the 17th of March, General U. S.

Grant was restored to the command of all the troops up the

Tennessee River, by reason of General Smith’s extreme illness, and

because he had explained to General Halleck satisfactorily his

conduct after Donelson; and he too made his headquarters at

Savannah, but frequently visited our camps. I always acted on the

supposition that we were an invading army; that our purpose was to

move forward in force, make a lodgment on the Memphis & Charleston

road, and thus repeat the grand tactics of Fort Donelson, by

separating the rebels in the interior from those at Memphis and on

the Mississippi River. We did not fortify our camps against an

attack, because we had no orders to do so, and because such a

course would have made our raw men timid. The position was


naturally strong, with Snake Creek on our right, a deep, bold

stream, with a confluent (Owl Creek) to our right front; and Lick

Creek, with a similar confluent, on our left, thus narrowing the

space over which we could be attacked to about a mile and a half or

two miles.

At a later period of the war, we could have rendered this position

impregnable in one night, but at this time we did not do it, and it

may be it is well we did not. From about the 1st of April we were

conscious that the rebel cavalry in our front was getting bolder

and more saucy; and on Friday, the 4th of April, it dashed down and

carried off one of our picket-guards, composed of an officer and

seven men, posted a couple of miles out on the Corinth road.

Colonel Buckland sent a company to its relief, then followed

himself with a regiment, and, fearing lest he might be worsted, I

called out his whole brigade and followed some four or five miles,

when the cavalry in advance encountered artillery. I then, after

dark, drew back to our lines, and reported the fact by letter to

General Grant, at Savannah; but thus far we had not positively

detected the presence of infantry, for cavalry regiments generally

had a couple of guns along, and I supposed the guns that opened on

the on the evening of Friday, April 4th, belonged to the cavalry

that was hovering along our whole front.

Saturday passed in our camps without any unusual event, the weather

being wet and mild, and the roads back to the steamboat landing

being heavy with mud; but on Sunday morning, the 6th, early, there

was a good deal of picket-firing, and I got breakfast, rode out

along my lines, and, about four hundred yards to the front of

Appler’s regiment, received from some bushes in a ravine to the

left front a volley which killed my orderly, Holliday. About the

same time I saw the rebel lines of battle in front coming down on

us as far as the eye could reach. All my troops were in line of

battle, ready, and the ground was favorable to us. I gave the

necessary orders to the battery (Waterhouse’s) attached to

Hildebrand’s brigade, and cautioned the men to reserve their fire

till the rebels had crossed the ravine of Owl Creek, and had begun

the ascent; also, sent staff-officers to notify Generals McClernand

and Prentiss of the coming blow. Indeed, McClernand had already

sent three regiments to the support of my left flank, and they were

in position when the onset came.

In a few minutes the battle of “Shiloh” began with extreme fury,

and lasted two days. Its history has been well given, and it has

been made the subject of a great deal of controversy. Hildebrand’s

brigade was soon knocked to pieces, but Buckland’s and McDowell’s

kept their organization throughout. Stuart’s was driven back to

the river, and did not join me in person till the second day of the

battle. I think my several reports of that battle are condensed

and good, made on the spot, when all the names and facts were fresh

in my memory, and are herewith given entire:



Captain Wm. McMICHAEL, Assistant Adjutant-General to General C. F

SMITH, Savannah, Tennessee.

SIR: Last night I dispatched a party of cavalry, at 6 p.m., under

the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Heath, Fifth Ohio Cavalry, for a

strong reconnoissance, if possible, to be converted into an attack

upon the Memphis road. The command got off punctually, followed at

twelve o’clock at night by the First Brigade of my division,

commanded by Colonel McDowell, the other brigades to follow in


About one at night the cavalry returned, reporting the road

occupied in force by the enemy, with whose advance-guard they

skirmished, driving them back–about a mile, taking two prisoners,

and having their chief guide, Thomas Maxwell, Esq., and three men

of the Fourth Illinois wounded.

Inclosed please find the report of Lieutenant-Colonel Heath; also a

copy of his instructions, and tile order of march. As soon as the

cavalry returned, I saw that an attempt on the road was frustrated,

and accordingly have placed McDowell’s brigade to our right front,

guarding the pass of Snake Creek; Stuart’s brigade to the left

front, to watch the pass of Lick Creek; and I shall this morning

move directly out on the Corinth road, about eight miles to or

toward Pea Ridge, which is a key-point to the southwest.

General Hurlbut’s division will be landed to-day, and the artillery

and infantry disposed so as to defend Pittsburg, leaving my

division entire for any movement by land or water.

As near as I can learn, there are five regiments of rebel infantry

at Purdy; at Corinth, and distributed along the railroad to Inca,

are probably thirty thousand men; but my information from prisoners

is very indistinct. Every road and path is occupied by the enemy’s

cavalry, whose, orders seem to be, to fire a volley, retire, again

fire and retire. The force on the Purdy road attacked and driven

by Major Bowman yesterday, was about sixty strong. That

encountered last night on the Corinth road was about five companies

of Tennessee cavalry, sent from Purdy about 2 p.m. yesterday.

I hear there is a force of two regiments on Pea Ridge, at the point

where the Purdy and Corinth roads come together.

I am satisfied we cannot reach the Memphis & Charleston road

without a considerable engagement, which is prohibited by General

Halleck’s instructions, so that I will be governed by your orders

of yesterday, to occupy Pittsburg strongly, extend the pickets so

as to include a semicircle of three miles, and push a strong

reconnoissance as far out as Lick Creek and Pea Ridge.

I will send down a good many boats to-day, to be employed as you

may direct; and would be obliged if you would send a couple of

thousand sacks of corn, as much hay as you can possibly spare, and,

if possible, a barge of coal.

I will send a steamboat under care of the gunboat, to collect corn

from cribs on the river-bank

I have the honor to be your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, commanding First Division.


Pittsburg, March 18, 1882.

Captain RAWLINS, Assistant Adjutant-General

to General GRANT.

SIR: The division surgeon having placed some one hundred or more

sick on board the Fanny Bullitt, I have permitted her to take them

to Savannah. There is neither house nor building of any kind that

can be used for a hospital here.

I hope to receive an order to establish floating hospitals, but in

the mean time, by the advise of the surgeon, allow these sick men

to leave. Let me hope that it will meet your approbation.

The order for debarkation came while General Sherman was absent

with three brigades, and no men are left to move the effects of

these brigades.

The landing, too, is small, with scarcely any chance to increase

it; therefore there is a great accumulation of boats. Colonel

McArthur has arrived, and is now cutting a landing for himself.

General Sherman will return this evening. I am obliged to

transgress, and write myself in the mean time,

Respectfully your obedient servant,

J. H. HAMMOND, Assistant Adjutant-General.

P. S–4 p.m.–Just back; have been half-way to Corinth and to

Purdy. All right. Have just read this letter, and approve all but

floating hospitals; regimental surgeons can take care of all sick,

except chronic cases, which can always be sent down to Paducah.

Magnificent plain for camping and drilling, and a military point of

great strength. The enemy has felt us twice, at great loss and

demoralization; will report at length this evening; am now much

worn out.

W. T. SHERMAN, Brigadier-General.


Pittsburg Landing, March 19, 1862.

Captain RAWLINS, Assistant Adjutant-General

to General GRANT, Savannah, Tennessee.

SIR: I have just returned from an extensive reconnoissance toward

Corinth and Purdy, and am strongly impressed with the importance of

this position, both for its land advantages and its strategic

position. The ground itself admits of easy defense by a small

command, and yet affords admirable camping-ground for a hundred

thousand men. I will as soon as possible make or cause to be made

a topographical sketch of the position. The only drawback is that,

at this stage of water, the space for landing is contracted too

much for the immense fleet now here discharging.

I will push the loading and unloading of boats, but suggest that

you send at once (Captain Dodd, if possible) the best quartermaster

you can, that he may control and organize this whole matter. I

have a good commissary, and will keep as few provisions afloat as

possible. Yours, etc.,

W. T. SHERMAN, Brigadier-General commanding.


Camp Shiloh, near Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, April 2, 1862

Captain J. A. RAWLINS, Assistant Adjutant-General

to General GRANT.

SIR: In obedience to General Grant’s instructions of March 31st,

with one section of Captain Muench’s Minnesota Battery, two

twelve-pound howitzers, a detachment of Fifth Ohio Cavalry of one

hundred and fifty men, under Major Ricker, and two battalions of

infantry from the Fifty-seventh and Seventy-seventh Ohio, under the

command of Colonels Hildebrand and Mungen, I marched to the river,

and embarked on the steamers Empress and Tecumseh. The gunboat

Cairo did not arrive at Pittsburg, until after midnight, and at 6

p.m. Captain Bryant, commanding the gunboat, notified me that he

was ready to proceed up the river. I followed, keeping the

transports within about three hundred yards of the gunboat. About

1 p.m., the Cairo commenced shelling the battery above the mouth of

Indian Creek, but elicited no reply. She proceeded up the river

steadily and cautiously, followed close by the Tyler and Lexington,

all throwing shells at the points where, on former visits of the

gunboats, enemy’s batteries were found. In this order all

followed, till it was demonstrated that all the enemy’s batteries,

including that at Chickasaw, were abandoned.

I ordered the battalion of infantry under Colonel Hildebrand to

disembark at Eastport, and with the other battalion proceeded to

Chickasaw and landed. The battery at this point had evidently been

abandoned some time, and consisted of the remains of an old Indian

mound, partly washed away by the river, which had been fashioned

into a two-gun battery, with a small magazine. The ground to its

rear had evidently been overflowed during the late freshet, and led

to the removal of the guns to Eastport, where the batteries were on

high, elevated ground, accessible at all seasons from the country

to the rear.

Upon personal inspection, I attach little importance to Chickasaw

as a military position. The people, who had fled during the

approach of the gunboats, returned to the village, and said the

place had been occupied by one Tennessee regiment and a battery of

artillery from Pensacola. After remaining. at Chickasaw some

hours, all the boats dropped back to Eastport, not more than a mile

below, and landed there. Eastport Landing during the late freshet

must have been about twelve feet under water, but at the present

stage the landing is the best I have seen on the Tennessee River.

The levee is clear of trees or snags, and a hundred boats could

land there without confusion.

The soil is of sand and gravel, and very firm. The road back is

hard, and at a distance of about four hundred yards from the water

begin the gravel hills of the country. The infantry scouts sent

out by Colonel Hildebrand found the enemy’s cavalry mounted, and

watching the Inca road, about two miles back of Eastport. The

distance to Inca is only eight miles, and Inca is the nearest point

and has the best road by which the Charleston & Memphis Railroad

can be reached. I could obtain no certain information as to the

strength of the enemy there, but am satisfied that it would have

been folly to have attempted it with my command. Our object being

to dislodge the enemy from the batteries recently erected near

Eastport, and this being attained, I have returned, and report the

river to be clear to and beyond Chickasaw.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General commanding Division.


CAMP SHILOH, April 5, 1862.

Captain J. A. RAWLINS, Assistant Adjutant-General, District of

Western Tennessee.

SIR: I have the honor to report that yesterday, about 3 p.m., the

lieutenant commanding and seven men of the advance pickets

imprudently advanced from their posts and were captured. I ordered

Major Ricker, of the Fifth Ohio Cavalry, to proceed rapidly to the

picket-station, ascertain the truth, and act according to

circumstances. He reached the station, found the pickets had been

captured as reported, and that a company of infantry sent by the

brigade commander had gone forward in pursuit of some cavalry. He

rapidly advanced some two miles, and found them engaged, charged

the enemy, and drove them along the Ridge road, till he

met and received three discharges of artillery, when he very

properly wheeled under cover, and returned till he met me.

As soon as I heard artillery, I advanced with two regiments of

infantry, and took position, and remained until the scattered

companies of infantry and cavalry had returned. This was after


I infer that the enemy is in some considerable force at Pea Ridge,

that yesterday morning they crossed a brigade of two regiments of

infantry, one regiment of cavalry, and one battery of

field-artillery, to the ridge on which the Corinth road lies. They

halted the infantry and artillery at a point abort five miles in my

front, sent a detachment to the lane of General Meeks, on the north

of Owl Creek, and the cavalry down toward our camp. This cavalry

captured a part of our advance pickets, and afterward engaged the

two companies of Colonel Buckland’s regiment, as described by him

in his report herewith inclosed. Our cavalry drove them back upon

their artillery and Infantry, killing many, and bringing off ten

prisoners, all of the First Alabama Cavalry, whom I send to you.

We lost of the pickets one first-lieutenant and seven men of the

Ohio Seventieth Infantry (list inclosed); one major, one

lieutenant, and one private of the Seventy-second Ohio, taken

prisoners; eight privates wounded (names in full, embraced in

report of Colonel Buckland, inclosed herewith).

We took ten prisoners, and left two rebels wounded and many killed

on the field.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, commanding Division.


Camp Shiloh, April 10, 1862.

Captain J. A. RAWLINS, Assistant Adjutant-General

to General GRANT.

SIR: I had the honor to report that, on Friday the 4th inst., the

enemy’s cavalry drove in our pickets, posted about a mile and a

half in advance of my centre, on the main Corinth road, capturing

one first-lieutenant and seven men;, that I caused a pursuit by the

cavalry of my division, driving them back about five miles, and

killing many. On Saturday the enemy’s cavalry was again very bold,

coming well down to our front; yet I did not believe they designed

any thing but a strong demonstration. On Sunday morning early, the

6th inst., the enemy drove our advance-guard back on the main body,

when I ordered under arms all my division, and sent word to General


McClernand, asking him to support my left; to General Prentiss,

giving him notice that the enemy was in our front in force, and to

General Hurlbut, asking him to support General Prentiss. At that

time–7 a.m.–my division was arranged as follows:

First Brigade, composed of the Sixth Iowa, Colonel J. A. McDowell;

Fortieth Illinois, Colonel Hicks; Forty-sixth Ohio, Colonel

Worthington; and the Morton battery, Captain Behr, on the extreme

right, guarding the bridge on the Purdy road over Owl Creek.

Second Brigade, composed of the Fifty-fifth Illinois, Colonel D.

Stuart; the Fifty-fourth Ohio, Colonel T. Kilby Smith; and the

Seventy-first Ohio, Colonel Mason, on the extreme left, guarding

the ford over Lick Creek.

Third Brigade, composed of the Seventy-seventh Ohio, Colonel

Hildebrand; the Fifty-third Ohio, Colonel Appler; and the

Fifty-seventh Ohio, Colonel Mungen, on the left of the Corinth

road, its right resting on Shiloh meeting-house.

Fourth Brigade, composed of the Seventy-second Ohio, Colonel

Buckland; the Forty-eighth Ohio, Colonel Sullivan; and the

Seventieth Ohio, Colonel Cookerill, on the right of the Corinth

road, its left resting on Shiloh meeting-house.

Two batteries of artillery–Taylor’s and Waterhouse’s–were posted,

the former at Shiloh, and the latter on a ridge to the left, with a

front-fire over open ground between Mungen’s and Appler’s

regiments. The cavalry, eight companies of the Fourth Illinois,

under Colonel Dickey, were posted in a large open field to the left

and rear of Shiloh meeting-house, which I regarded as the centre of

my position.

Shortly after 7 a.m., with my entire staff, I rode along a portion

of our front, and when in the open field before Appler’s regiment,

the enemy’s pickets opened a brisk fire upon my party, killing my

orderly, Thomas D. Holliday, of Company H, Second Illinois Cavalry.

The fire came from the bushes which line a small stream that rises

in the field in front of Appler’s camp, and flows to the north

along my whole front.

This valley afforded the enemy partial cover; but our men were so

posted as to have a good fire at them as they crossed the valley

and ascended the rising ground on our side.

About 8 a.m. I saw the glistening bayonets of heavy masses of

infantry to our left front in the woods beyond the small stream

alluded to, and became satisfied for the first time that the enemy

designed a determined attack on our whole camp.

All the regiments of my division were then in line of battle at

their proper posts. I rode to Colonel Appler, and ordered him to

hold his ground at all hazards, as he held the left flank of our

first line of battle, and I informed him that he had a good battery

on his right, and strong support to his rear. General McClernand

had promptly and energetically responded to my request, and had

sent me three regiments which were posted to protect Waterhouse’s

battery and the left flank of my line.

The battle opened by the enemy’s battery, in the woods to our

front, throwing shells into our camp. Taylor’s and Waterhouse’s

batteries promptly responded, and I then observed heavy battalions

of infantry passing obliquely to the left, across the open field in

Appler’s front; also, other columns advancing directly upon my

division. Our infantry and artillery opened along the whole line,

and the battle became general. Other heavy masses of the enemy’s

forces kept passing across the field to our left, and directing

their course on General Prentiss. I saw at once that the enemy

designed to pass my left flank, and fall upon Generals McClernand

and Prentiss, whose line of camps was almost parallel with the

Tennessee River, and about two miles back from it. Very soon the

sound of artillery and musketry announced that General Prentiss was

engaged; and about 9 A. M. I judged that he was falling back.

About this time Appler’s regiment broke in disorder, followed by

Mungen’s regiment, and the enemy pressed forward on Waterhouse’s

battery thereby exposed.

The three Illinois regiments in immediate support of this battery

stood for some time; but the enemy’s advance was so vigorous, and

the fire so severe, that when Colonel Raith, of the Forty-third

Illinois, received a severe wound and fell from his horse, his

regiment and the others manifested disorder, and the enemy got

possession of three guns of this (Waterhouse’s) battery. Although

our left was thus turned, and the enemy was pressing our whole

line, I deemed Shiloh so important, that I remained by it and

renewed my orders to Colonels McDowell and Buckland to hold their

ground; and we did hold these positions until about 10 a.m., when

the enemy had got his artillery to the rear of our left flank and

some change became absolutely necessary. Two regiments of

Hildebrand’s brigade–Appler’s and Mungen’s–had already

disappeared to the rear, and Hildebrand’s own regiment was in

disorder. I therefore gave orders for Taylor’s battery–still at

Shiloh–to fall back as far as the Purdy and Hamburg road, and for

McDowell and Buckland to adopt that road as their new line. I rode

across the angle and met Behr’s battery at the cross-roads, and

ordered it immediately to come into battery, action right. Captain

Behr gave the order, but he was almost immediately shot from his

horse, when drivers and gunners fled in disorder, carrying off the

caissons, and abandoning five out of six guns, without firing a

shot. The enemy pressed on, gaining this battery, and we were

again forced to choose a new line of defense. Hildebrand’s brigade

had substantially disappeared from the field, though he himself

bravely remained. McDowell’s and Buckland’s brigades maintained

their organizations, and were conducted by my aides, so as to join

on General McClernand’s right, thus abandoning my original camps

and line. This was about 10 1/2 a.m., at which time the enemy had

made a furious attack on General McClernand’s whole front. He

straggled most determinedly, but, finding him pressed, I moved

McDowell’s brigade directly against the left flank of the enemy,

forced him back some distance, and then directed the men to avail

themselves of every cover-trees, fallen timber, and a wooded valley

to our right. We held this position for four long hours, sometimes

gaining and at others losing ground; General McClernand and myself

acting in perfect concert, and struggling to maintain this line.

While we were so hard pressed, two Iowa regiments approached from

the rear, but could not be brought up to the severe fire that was

raging in our front, and General Grant, who visited us on that

ground, will remember our situation about 3 p.m.; but about 4 p.m.

it was evident that Hurlbut’s line had been driven back to the

river; and knowing that General Lew Wallace was coming with

reinforcements from Cramp’s Landing, General McClernand and I, on

consultation, selected a new line of defense, with its right

covering a bridge by which General Wallace had to approach. We

fell back as well as we could, gathering in addition to our own

such scattered forces as we could find, and formed the new line.

During this change the enemy’s cavalry charged us, but were

handsomely repulsed by the Twenty-ninth Illinois Regiment. The

Fifth Ohio Battery, which had come up, rendered good service in

holding the enemy in check for some time, and Major Taylor also

came up with another battery and got into position, just in time to

get a good flank-fire upon the enemy’s column, as he pressed on

General McClernand’s right, checking his advance; when General

McClernand’s division made a fine charge on the enemy and drove him

back into the ravines to our front and right. I had a clear field,

about two hundred yards wide, in my immediate front, and contented

myself with keeping the enemy’s infantry at that distance during

the rest of the day. In this position we rested for the night.

My command had become decidedly of a mixed character. Buckland’s

brigade was the only one that retained its organization. Colonel

Hildebrand was personally there, but his brigade was not. Colonel

McDowell had been severely injured by a fall off his horse, and had

gone to the river, and the three regiments of his brigade were not

in line. The Thirteenth Missouri, Colonel Crafts J. Wright, had

reported to me on the field, and fought well, retaining its

regimental organization; and it formed a part of my line during

Sunday night and all Monday. Other fragments of regiments and

companies had also fallen into my division, and acted with it

during the remainder of the battle. General Grant and Buell

visited me in our bivouac that evening, and from them I learned the

situation of affairs on other parts of the field. General Wallace

arrived from Crump’s Landing shortly after dark, and formed his

line to my right rear. It rained hard during the night, but our

men were in good spirits, lay on their arms, being satisfied with

such bread and meat as could be gathered at the neighboring camps,

and determined to redeem on Monday the losses of Sunday.

At daylight of Monday I received General Grant’s orders to advance

and recapture our original camps. I dispatched several members of

my staff to bring up all the men they could find, especially the

brigade of Colonel Stuart, which had been separated from the

division all the day before; and at the appointed time the

division, or rather what remained of it, with the Thirteenth

Missouri and other fragments, moved forward and reoccupied the

ground on the extreme right of General McClernand’s camp, where we

attracted the fire of a battery located near Colonel McDowell’s

former headquarters. Here I remained, patiently waiting for the

sound of General Buell’s advance upon the main Corinth road. About

10 a.m. the heavy firing in that direction, and its steady

approach, satisfied me; and General Wallace being on our right

flank with his well-conducted division, I led the head of my column

to General McClernand’s right, formed line of battle, facing south,

with Backland’a brigade directly across the ridge, and Stuart’s

brigade on its right in the woods; and thus advanced, steadily and

slowly, under a heavy fire of musketry and artillery. Taylor had

just got to me from the rear, where he had gone for ammunition, and

brought up three guns, which I ordered into position, to advance by

hand firing. These guns belonged to Company A, Chicago Light

Artillery, commanded by Lieutenant P. P. Wood, and did most

excellent service. Under cover of their fire, we advanced till we

reached the point where the Corinth road crosses the line of

McClernand’s camp, and here I saw for the first time the

well-ordered and compact columns of General Buell’s Kentucky

forces, whose soldierly movements at once gave confidence to our

newer and less disciplined men. Here I saw Willich’s regiment

advance upon a point of water-oaks and thicket, behind which I knew

the enemy was in great strength, and enter it in beautiful style.

Then arose the severest musketry-fire I ever heard, and lasted some

twenty minutes, when this splendid regiment had to fall back. This

green point of timber is about five hundred yards east of Shiloh

meeting-home, and it was evident here was to be the struggle. The

enemy could also be seen forming his lines to the south. General

McClernand sending to me for artillery, I detached to him the three

guns of Wood’s battery, with which he speedily drove them back,

and, seeing some others to the rear, I sent one of my staff to

bring them forward, when, by almost providential decree, they

proved to be two twenty-four pound howitzers belonging to

McAlister’s battery, and served as well as guns ever could be.

This was about 2 p.m. The enemy had one battery close by Shiloh,

and another near the Hamburg road, both pouring grape and canister

upon any column of troops that advanced upon the green point of

water-oaks. Willich’s regiment had been repulsed, but a whole

brigade of McCook’s division advanced beautifully, deployed, and

entered this dreaded wood. I ordered my second brigade (then

commanded by Colonel T. Kilby Smith, Colonel Smart being wounded)

to form on its right, and my fourth brigade, Colonel Bnekland, on

its right; all to advance abreast with this Kentucky brigade before

mentioned, which I afterward found to be Rousseau’s brigade of

McCook’s division. I gave personal direction to the twenty-four

pounder guns, whose well-directed fire first silenced the enemy’s

guns to the left, and afterward at the Shiloh meeting-house.

Rousseau’s brigade moved in splendid order steadily to the front,

sweeping every thing before it, and at 4 p.m. we stood upon the

ground of our original front line; and the enemy was in full

retreat. I directed my several brigades to resume at once their

original camps.

Several times during the battle, cartridges gave out; but General

Grant had thoughtfully kept a supply coming from the rear. When I

appealed to regiments to stand fast, although out of cartridges, I

did so because, to retire a regiment for any cause, has a bad

effect on others. I commend the Fortieth Illinois and Thirteenth

Missouri for thus holding their ground under heavy fire, although

their cartridge-boxes were empty.

I am ordered by General Grant to give personal credit where I think

it is due, and censure where I think it merited. I concede that

General McCook’s splendid division from Kentucky drove back the

enemy along the Corinth road, which was the great centre of this

field of battle, where Beauregard commanded in person, supported by

Bragg’s, Polk’s, and Breckenridge’s divisions. I think Johnston

was killed by exposing himself in front of his troops, at the time

of their attack on Buckland’s brigade on Sunday morning; although

in this I may be mistaken.

My division was made up of regiments perfectly new, nearly all

having received their muskets for the first time at Paducah. None

of them had ever been under fire or beheld heavy columns of an

enemy bearing down on them as they did on last Sunday.

To expect of them the coolness and steadiness of older troops would

be wrong. They knew not the value of combination and organization.

When individual fears seized them, the first impulse was to get

away. My third brigade did break much too soon, and I am not yet

advised where they were during Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.

Colonel Hildebrand, its commander, was as cool as any man I ever

saw, and no one could have made stronger efforts to hold his men to

their places than he did. He kept his own regiment with individual

exceptions in hand, an hour after Appler’s and Mungen’s regiments

had left their proper field of action. Colonel Buckland managed

his brigade well. I commend him to your notice as a cool,

intelligent, and judicious gentleman, needing only confidence and

experience, to make a good commander. His subordinates, Colonels

Sullivan and Cockerill, behaved with great gallantry; the former

receiving a severe wound on Sunday, and yet commanding and holding

his regiment well in hand all day, and on Monday, until his right

arm was broken by a shot. Colonel Cookerill held a larger

proportion of his men than any colonel in my division, and was with

me from first to last.

Colonel J. A. McDowell, commanding the first brigade, held his

ground on Sunday, till I ordered him to fall back, which he did in

line of battle; and when ordered, he conducted the attack on the


enemy’s left in good style. In falling back to the next position,

he was thrown from his horse and injured, and his brigade was not

in position on Monday morning. His subordinates, Colonels Hicks

and Worthington, displayed great personal courage. Colonel Hicks

led his regiment in the attack on Sunday, and received a wound,

which it is feared may prove mortal. He is a brave and gallant

gentleman, and deserves well of his country. Lieutenant-Colonel

Walcutt, of the Ohio Forty-sixth, was severely wounded on Sunday,

and has been disabled ever since. My second brigade, Colonel

Stuart, was detached nearly two miles from my headquarters. He had

to fight his own battle on Sunday, against superior numbers, as the

enemy interposed between him and General Prentiss early in the day.

Colonel Stuart was wounded severely, and yet reported for duty on

Monday morning, but was compelled to leave during the day, when the

command devolved on Colonel T. Kilby Smith, who was always in the

thickest of the, fight, and led the brigade handsomely.

I have not yet received Colonel Stuart’s report of the operations

of his brigade during the time he was detached, and must therefore

forbear to mention names. Lieutenant-Colonel Kyle, of the

Seventy-first, was mortally wounded on Sunday, but the regiment

itself I did not see, as only a small fragment of it was with the

brigade when it joined the division on Monday morning. Great

credit is due the fragments of men of the disordered regiments who

kept in the advance. I observed and noticed them, but until the

brigadiers and colonels make their reports, I cannot venture to

name individuals, but will in due season notice all who kept in our

front line, as well as those who preferred to keep back near the

steamboat-landing. I will also send a full list of the killed,

wounded, and missing, by name, rank, company, and regiment. At

present I submit the result in figures:

[Summary of General Sherman’s detailed table:]

Killed …………………… 318

Wounded ………………….. 1275

Missing ………………….. 441

Aggregate loss in the division: 2034

The enemy captured seven of our guns on Sunday, but on Monday we

recovered seven; not the identical guns we had lost, but enough in

number to balance the account. At the time of recovering our camps

our men were so fatigued that we could not follow the retreating

masses of the enemy; but on the following day I followed up with

Buckland’s and Hildebrand’s brigade for six miles, the result of

which I have already reported.

Of my personal staff, I can only speak with praise and thanks. I

think they smelled as much gunpowder and heard as many cannon-balls

and bullets as must satisfy their ambition. Captain Hammond, my

chief of staff, though in feeble health, was very active in

rallying broken troops, encouraging the steadfast and aiding to

form the lines of defense and attack. I recommend him to your

notice. Major Sanger’s intelligence, quick perception, and rapid

execution, were of very great value to me, especially in bringing

into line the batteries that cooperated so efficiently in our

movements. Captains McCoy and Dayton, aides-de-camp, were with me

all the time, carrying orders, and acting with coolness, spirit,

and courage. To Surgeon Hartshorne and Dr. L’Hommedieu hundreds of

wounded men are indebted for the kind and excellent treatment

received on the field of battle and in the various temporary

hospitals created along the line of our operations. They worked

day and night, and did not rest till all the wounded of our own

troops as well as of the enemy were in safe and comfortable

shelter. To Major Taylor, chief of artillery, I feel under deep

obligations, for his good sense and judgment in managing the

batteries, on which so much depended. I inclose his report and

indorse his recommendations. The cavalry of my command kept to the

rear, and took little part in the action; but it would have been

madness to have exposed horses to the musketry-fire under which we

were compelled to remain from Sunday at 8 a.m. till Monday at

4 p.m. Captain Kossack, of the engineers, was with me all the time,

and was of great assistance. I inclose his sketch of the battle-

field, which is the best I have seen, and which will enable you to

see the various positions occupied by my division, as well as of

the others that participated in the battle. I will also send in,

during the day, the detailed reports of my brigadiers and colonels,

and will indorse them with such remarks as I deem proper.

I am, with much respect, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General commanding Fifth Division.


Tuesday, April 8,1862

Sir: With the cavalry placed at my command and two brigades of my

fatigued troops, I went this morning out on the Corinth road. One

after another of the abandoned camps of the enemy lined the roads,

with hospital flags for their protection; at all we found more or

less wounded and dead men. At the forks of the road I found the

head of General T. J. Wood’s division of Buell’s Army. I ordered

cavalry to examine both roads leading toward Corinth, and found the

enemy on both. Colonel Dickey, of the Fourth Illinois Cavalry,

asking for reenforcements, I ordered General Wood to advance the

head of his column cautiously on the left-hand road, while I

conducted the head of the third brigade of my division up the

right-hand road. About half a mile from the forks was a clear

field, through which the road passed, and, immediately beyond, a

space of some two hundred yards of fallen timber, and beyond that

an extensive rebel camp. The enemy’s cavalry could be seen in this

camp; after reconnoiesance, I ordered the two advance companies of

the Ohio Seventy-seventh, Colonel Hildebrand, to deploy forward as

skirmishers, and the regiment itself forward into line, with an

interval of one hundred yards. In this order we advanced

cautiously until the skirmishers were engaged. Taking it for

granted this disposition would clear the camp, I held Colonel

Dickey’s Fourth Illinois Cavalry ready for the charge. The enemy’s

cavalry came down boldly at a charge, led by General Forrest in

person, breaking through our line of skirmishers; when the regiment

of infantry, without cause, broke, threw away their muskets, and

fled. The ground was admirably adapted for a defense of infantry

against cavalry, being miry and covered with fallen timber.

As the regiment of infantry broke, Dickey’s Cavalry began to

discharge their carbines, and fell into disorder. I instantly sent

orders to the rear for the brigade to form line of battle, which

was promptly executed. The broken infantry and cavalry rallied on

this line, and, as the enemy’s cavalry came to it, our cavalry in

turn charged and drove them from the field. I advanced the entire

brigade over the same ground and sent Colonel Dickey’s cavalry a

mile farther on the road. On examining the ground which had been

occupied by the Seventy-seventh Ohio, we found fifteen of our men

dead and about twenty-five wounded. I sent for wagons and had all

the wounded carried back to camp, and caused the dead to be buried,

also the whole rebel camp to be destroyed.

Here we found much ammunition for field-pieces, which was

destroyed; also two caissons, and a general hospital, with about

two hundred and eighty Confederate wounded, and about fifty of our

own wounded men. Not having the means of bringing them off,

Colonel Dickey, by my orders, took a surrender, signed by the

medical director (Lyle) and by all the attending surgeons, and a

pledge to report themselves to you as prisoners of war; also a

pledge that our wounded should be carefully attended to, and

surrendered to us to-morrow as soon as ambulances could go out. I

inclose this written document, and request that you cause wagons or

ambulances for our wounded to be sent to-morrow, and that wagons’

be sent to bring in the many tents belonging to us which are

pitched along the road for four miles out. I did not destroy them,

because I knew the enemy could not move them. The roads are very

bad, and are strewed with abandoned wagons, ambulances, and

limber-boxes. The enemy has succeeded in carrying off the guns,

but has crippled his batteries by abandoning the hind limber-boxes

of at least twenty caissons. I am satisfied the enemy’s infantry

and artillery passed Lick Creek this morning, traveling all of last

night, and that he left to his rear all his cavalry, which has

protected his retreat; but signs of confusion and disorder mark the

whole road. The check sustained by us at the fallen timber delayed

our advance, so that night came upon us before the wounded were

provided for and the dead buried, and our troops being fagged out

by three days’ hard fighting, exposure, and privation, I ordered

them back to their camps, where they now are.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General commanding Division.

General Grant did not make an official report of the battle of

Shiloh, but all its incidents and events were covered by the

reports of division commanders and Subordinates. Probably no

single battle of the war gave rise to such wild and damaging

reports. It was publicly asserted at the North that our army was

taken completely by surprise; that the rebels caught us in our

tents; bayoneted the men in their beds; that General Grant was

drunk; that Buell’s opportune arrival saved the Army of the

Tennessee from utter annihilation, etc. These reports were in a

measure sustained by the published opinions of Generals Buell,

Nelson, and others, who had reached the steamboat-landing from the

east, just before nightfall of the 6th, when there was a large

crowd of frightened, stampeded men, who clamored and declared that

our army was all destroyed and beaten. Personally I saw General

Grant, who with his staff visited me about 10 a.m. of the 6th,

when we were desperately engaged. But we had checked the headlong

assault of our enemy, and then held our ground. This gave him

great satisfaction, and he told me that things did not look as well

over on the left. He also told me that on his way up from Savannah

that morning he had stopped at Crump’s Landing, and had ordered Lew

Wallace’s division to cross over Snake Creek, so as to come up on

my right, telling me to look out for him. He came again just

before dark, and described the last assault made by the rebels at

the ravine, near the steamboat-landing, which he had repelled by a

heavy battery collected under Colonel J. D. Webster and other

officers, and he was convinced that the battle was over for that

day. He ordered me to be ready to assume the offensive in the

morning, saying that, as he had observed at Fort Donelson at the

crisis of the battle, both sides seemed defeated, and whoever

assumed the offensive was sure to win. General Grant also

explained to me that General Buell had reached the bank of the

Tennessee River opposite Pittsburg Landing, and was in the act of

ferrying his troops across at the time he was speaking to me.

About half an hour afterward General Buell himself rode up to where

I was, accompanied by Colonels Fry, Michler, and others of his

staff. I was dismounted at the time, and General Buell made of me

a good many significant inquiries about matters and things

generally. By the aid of a manuscript map made by myself, I

pointed out to him our positions as they had been in the morning,

and our then positions; I also explained that my right then covered

the bridge over Snake Creek by which we had all day been expecting

Lew Wallace; that McClernand was on my left, Hurlbut on his left,

and so on. But Buell said he had come up from the landing, and had

not seen our men, of whose existence in fact he seemed to doubt. I

insisted that I had five thousand good men still left in line, and

thought that McClernand had as many more, and that with what was

left of Hurlbut’s, W. H. L. Wallace’s, and Prentiss’s divisions, we

ought to have eighteen thousand men fit for battle. I reckoned

that ten thousand of our men were dead, wounded, or prisoners, and

that the enemy’s loss could not be much less. Buell said that

Nelson’s, McCook’s, and Crittendens divisions of his army,

containing eighteen thousand men, had arrived and could cross over

in the night, and be ready for the next day’s battle. I argued

that with these reenforcements we could sweep the field. Buell

seemed to mistrust us, and repeatedly said that he did not like the

looks of things, especially about the boat-landing,–and I really

feared he would not cross over his army that night, lest he should

become involved in our general disaster. He did not, of course,

understand the shape of the ground, and asked me for the use of my

map, which I lent him on the promise that he would return it. He

handed it to Major Michler to have it copied, and the original

returned to me, which Michler did two or three days after the

battle. Buell did cross over that night, and the next day we

assumed the offensive and swept the field, thus gaining the battle

decisively. Nevertheless, the controversy was started and kept up,

mostly to the personal prejudice of General Grant, who as usual

maintained an imperturbable silence.

After the battle, a constant stream of civilian surgeons, and

sanitary commission agents, men and women, came up the Tennessee to

bring relief to the thousands of maimed and wounded soldiers for

whom we had imperfect means of shelter and care. These people

caught up the camp-stories, which on their return home they

retailed through their local papers, usually elevating their own

neighbors into heroes, but decrying all others: Among them was

Lieutenant-Governor Stanton, of Ohio, who published in Belfontaine,

Ohio, a most abusive article about General Grant and his

subordinate generals. As General Grant did not and would not take

up the cudgels, I did so. My letter in reply to Stanton, dated

June 10, 1862, was published in the Cincinnati Commercial soon

after its date. To this Lieutenant-Governor Stanton replied, and I

further rejoined in a letter dated July 12, 1862. These letters

are too personal to be revived. By this time the good people of

the North had begun to have their eyes opened, and to give us in

the field more faith and support. Stanton was never again elected

to any public office, and was commonly spoken of as “the late Mr.

Stanton.” He is now dead, and I doubt not in life he often

regretted his mistake in attempting to gain popular fame by abusing

the army-leaders, then as now an easy and favorite mode of gaining

notoriety, if not popularity. Of course, subsequent events gave

General Grant and most of the other actors in that battle their

appropriate place in history, but the danger of sudden popular

clamors is well illustrated by this case.

Tho battle of Shiloh, or Pittsburg Landing, was one of the most

fiercely contested of the war. On the morning of April 6, 1862,

the five divisions of McClernand, Prentiss, Hurlbut, W. H. L.

Wallace, and Sherman, aggregated about thirty-two thousand men. We


had no intrenchments of any sort, on the theory that as soon as

Buell arrived we would march to Corinth to attack the enemy. The

rebel army, commanded by General Albert Sidney Johnston, was,

according to their own reports and admissions, forty-five thousand

strong, had the momentum of attack, and beyond all question fought

skillfully from early morning till about 2 a.m., when their

commander-in-chief was killed by a Mini-ball in the calf of his

leg, which penetrated the boot and severed the main artery. There

was then a perceptible lull for a couple of hours, when the attack

was renewed, but with much less vehemence, and continued up to

dark. Early at night the division of Lew Wallace arrived from the

other side of Snake Creek, not having fired a shot. A very small

part of General Buell’s army was on our side of the Tennessee River

that evening, and their loss was trivial.

During that night, the three divisions of McCook, Nelson, and

Crittenden, were ferried across the Tennessee, and fought with us

the next day (7th). During that night, also, the two wooden

gunboats, Tyler, commanded by Lieutenant Groin, and Lexington,

Lieutenant Shirk, both of the regular navy, caused shells to be

thrown toward that part of the field of battle known to be occupied

by the enemy. Beauregard afterward reported his entire loss as ten

thousand six hundred and ninety-nine. Our aggregate loss, made up

from official statements, shows seventeen hundred killed, seven

thousand four hundred and ninety-five wounded, and three thousand

and twenty-two prisoners; aggregate, twelve thousand two hundred

and seventeen, of which twenty-one hundred and sixty-seven were in

Buell’s army, leaving for that of Grant ten thousand and fifty.

This result is a fair measure of the amount of fighting done by

each army.




While, the “Army of the Tennessee,” under Generals Grant and C. F.

Smith, was operating up the Tennessee River, another force, styled

the “Army of the Mississippi,” commanded by Major-General John

Pope, was moving directly down the Mississippi River, against that

portion of the rebel line which, under Generals Polk and Pillow,

had fallen back from Columbus, Kentucky, to Island Number Ten and

New Madrid. This army had the full cooperation of the gunboat

fleet, commanded by Admiral Foote, and was assisted by the high

flood of that season, which enabled General Pope, by great skill

and industry, to open a canal from a point above Island Number Ten

to New Madrid below, by which he interposed between the rebel army

and its available line of supply and retreat. At the very time

that we were fighting the bloody battle on the Tennessee River,

General Pope and Admiral Foote were bombarding the batteries on

Island Number Ten, and the Kentucky shore abreast of it; and

General Pope having crossed over by steamers a part of his army to

the east bank, captured a large part of this rebel army, at and

near Tiptonville.

General Halleck still remained at St. Louis, whence he gave general

directions to the armies of General Curtis, Generals Grant, Buell,

and Pope; and instead of following up his most important and

brilliant successes directly down the Mississippi, he concluded to

bring General Pope’s army around to the Tennessee, and to come in

person to command there. The gunboat fleet pushed on down the

Mississippi, but was brought up again all standing by the heavy

batteries at Fort Pillow, about fifty miles above Memphis. About

this time Admiral Farragut, with another large sea-going fleet, and

with the cooperating army of General Butler, was entering the

Mississippi River by the Passes, and preparing to reduce Forts

Jackson and St, Philip in order to reach New Orleans; so that all

minds were turned to the conquest of the Mississippi River, and

surely adequate means were provided for the undertaking.

The battle of Shiloh had been fought, as described, on the 6th and

7th of April; and when the movement of the 8th had revealed that

our enemy was gone, in full retreat, leaving killed, wounded, and

much property by the way, we all experienced a feeling of relief.

The struggle had been so long, so desperate and bloody, that the

survivors seemed exhausted and nerveless; we appreciated the value

of the victory, but realized also its great cost of life. The

close of the battle had left the Army of the Tennessee on the

right, and the Army of the Ohio on the left; but I believe neither

General Grant nor Buell exercised command, the one over the other;

each of them having his hands full in repairing damages. All the

division, brigade, and regimental commanders were busy in

collecting stragglers, regaining lost property, in burying dead men

and horses, and in providing for their wounded. Some few new

regiments came forward, and some changes of organization became

necessary. Then, or very soon after, I consolidated my font

brigades into three, which were commanded: First, Brigadier-General

Morgan L: Smith; Second, Colonel John A. McDowell; Third,

Brigadier-General J. W. Denver. About the same time I was promoted

to major-general volunteers.

The Seventy-first Ohio was detached to Clarksville, Tennessee, and

the Sixth and Eighth Missouri were transferred to my division.

In a few days after the battle, General Halleck arrived by

steamboat from St. Louis, pitched his camp near the steamboat-

landing, and assumed personal command of all the armies. He was

attended by his staff, composed of General G. W. Cullum, U. S.

Engineers, as his chief of staff; Colonel George Thom, U. S.

Engineers; and Colonels Kelton and Kemper, adjutants-general. It

soon became manifest that his mind had been prejudiced by the

rumors which had gone forth to the detriment of General Grant; for

in a few days he issued an order, reorganizing and rearranging the

whole army. General Buell’s Army of the Ohio constituted the

centre; General Pope’s army, then arriving at Hamburg Landing, was

the left; the right was made up of mine and Hurlbut’s divisions,

belonging to the old Army of the Tennessee, and two new ones, made

up from the fragments of the divisions of Prentiss and C. F. Smith,

and of troops transferred thereto, commanded by Generals T. W.

Sherman and Davies. General George H. Thomas was taken from Buell,

to command the right. McClernand’s and Lew Wallace’s divisions

were styled the reserve, to be commanded by McClernand. General

Grant was substantially left out, and was named “second in

command,” according to some French notion, with no clear,

well-defined command or authority. He still retained his old

staff, composed of Rawlins, adjutant-general; Riggin, Lagow, and

Hilyer, aides; and he had a small company of the Fourth Illinois

Cavalry as an escort. For more than a month he thus remained,

without any apparent authority, frequently visiting me and others,

and rarely complaining; but I could see that he felt deeply the

indignity, if not insult, heaped upon him.

General Thomas at once assumed command of the right wing, and,

until we reached Corinth, I served immediately under his command.

We were classmates, intimately acquainted, had served together

before in the old army, and in Kentucky, and it made to us little

difference who commanded the other, provided the good cause


Corinth was about thirty miles distant, and we all knew that we

should find there the same army with which we had so fiercely

grappled at Shiloh, reorganized, reenforced, and commanded in chief

by General Beauregard in place of Johnston, who had fallen at

Shiloh. But we were also reenforced by Buell’s and Pope’s armies;

so that before the end of April our army extended from Snake Creek

on the right to the Tennessee River, at Hamburg, on the left, and

must have numbered nearly one hundred thousand men.

Ample supplies of all kinds reached us by the Tennessee River,

which had a good stage of water; but our wagon transportation was

limited, and much confusion occurred in hauling supplies to the

several camps. By the end of Aril, the several armies seemed to be

ready, and the general forward movement on Corinth began. My

division was on the extreme right of the right wing, and marched

out by the “White House,” leaving Monterey or Pea Ridge to the

south. Crossing Lick Creek, we came into the main road about a

mile south of Monterey, where we turned square to the right, and

came into the Purdy road, near “Elams.” Thence we followed the

Purdy road to Corinth, my skirmishers reaching at all times the

Mobile & Ohio Railroad. Of course our marches were governed by the

main centre, which followed the direct road from Pittsburg Landing

to Corinth; and this movement was provokingly slow. We fortified

almost every camp at night, though we had encountered no serious

opposition, except from cavalry, which gave ground easily as we

advanced. The opposition increased as we neared Corinth, and at a

place called Russell’s we had a sharp affair of one brigade, under

the. immediate direction of Brigadier-General Morgan L. Smith,

assisted by the brigade of General Denver. This affair occurred on

the 19th of May, and our line was then within about two miles of

the northern intrenchments of Corinth.

On the 27th I received orders from General Halleck “to send a force

the next day to drive the rebels from the house in our front, on

the Corinth road, to drive in their pickets as far as possible, and

to make a strong demonstration on Corinth itself;” authorizing me

to call on any adjacent division for assistance.

I reconnoitred the ground carefully, and found that the main road

led forward along the fence of a large cotton-field to our right

front, and ascended a wooded hill, occupied in some force by the

enemy, on which was the farm-house referred to in General Halleck’s

orders. At the farther end of the field was a double log-house,

whose chinking had been removed; so that

it formed a good block house from which the enemy could fire

on any person approaching from our quarter.

General Hurlbut’s division was on my immediate left, and General

McClernand’s reserve on our right rear. I asked of each the

assistance of a brigade. The former sent General Veatch’s, and the

latter General John A. Logan’s brigade. I asked the former to

support our left flank, and the latter our right flank. The next

morning early, Morgan L. Smith’s brigade was deployed under cover

on the left, and Denver’s on the right, ready to move forward

rapidly at a signal. I had a battery of four twenty-pound Parrott

guns, commanded by Captain Silversparre. Colonel Ezra Taylor,

chief of artillery, had two of these guns moved up silently by hand

behind a small knoll, from the crest of which the enemy’s

block-house and position could be distinctly seen; when all were

ready, these guns were moved to the crest, and several quick rounds

were fired at the house, followed after an interval by a single

gum. This was the signal agreed on, and the troops responded

beautifully, crossed the field in line of battle, preceded by their

skirmishers who carried the position in good style, and pursued the

enemy for half a mile beyond.

The main line halted on the crest of the ridge, from which we could

look over the parapets of the rebel works at Corinth, and hear

their drum and bugle calls. The rebel brigade had evidently been

taken by surprise in our attack; it soon rallied and came back on

us with the usual yell, driving in our skirmishers, but was quickly

checked when it came within range of our guns and line of battle.

Generals Grant and Thomas happened to be with me during this

affair, and were well pleased at the handsome manner in which the

troops behaved. That night we began the usual entrenchments, and

the next day brought forward the artillery and the rest of the

division, which then extended from the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, at

Bowie Hill Out, to the Corinth & Purdy road, there connecting with

Hurlbut’s division. That night, viz., May 29th, we heard unusual

sounds in Corinth, the constant whistling of locomotives, and soon

after daylight occurred a series of explosions followed by a dense

smoke rising high over the town. There was a telegraph line

connecting my headquarters with those of General Halleck, about

four miles off, on the Hamburg road. I inquired if he knew the

cause of the explosions and of the smoke, and he answered to

“advance with my division and feel the enemy if still in my front”

I immediately dispatched two regiments from each of my three

brigades to feel the immediate front, and in a very short time

advanced with the whole division. Each brigade found the rebel

parapets abandoned, and pushed straight for the town, which lies in

the northeast angle of intersection of the Mobile & Ohio and

Memphis & Charleston Railroads. Many buildings had been burned by

the enemy on evacuation, which had begun the night before at 6

p.m., and continued through the night, the rear-guard burning their

magazine at the time of withdrawing, about daybreak. Morgan L.

Smith’s brigade followed the retreating rear-guard some four miles

to the Tuacumbia Bridge, which was found burned. I halted the

other brigades at the college, about a mile to the southwest of the

town, where I was overtaken by General Thomas in person.

The heads of all the columns had entered the rebel lines about the

same time, and there was some rather foolish clamor for the first

honors, but in fact there was no honor in the event. Beauregard

had made a clean retreat to the south, and was only seriously

pursued by cavalry from General Pope’s flank. But he reached

Tupelo, where he halted for reorganization; and there is no doubt

that at the moment there was much disorganization in his ranks, for

the woods were full of deserters whom we did not even take

prisoners, but advised them to make their way home and stay there.

We spent the day at and near the college, when General Thomas, who

applied for orders at Halleck’s headquarters, directed me to

conduct my division back to the camp of the night before, where we

had left our trains The advance on Corinth had occupied all of the

month of May, the most beautiful and valuable month of the year for

campaigning in this latitude. There had been little fighting, save

on General Pope’s left flank about Farmington; and on our right. I

esteemed it a magnificent drill, as it served for the instruction

of our men in guard and picket duty, and in habituating them to

out-door life; and by the time we had reached Corinth I believe

that army was the best then on this continent, and could have gone

where it pleased. The four subdivisions were well commanded, as

were the divisions and brigades of the whole army. General Halleck

was a man of great capacity, of large acquirements, and at the time

possessed the confidence of the country, and of most of the army.

I held him in high estimation, and gave him credit for the

combinations which had resulted in placing this magnificent army of

a hundred thousand men, well equipped and provided, with a good

base, at Corinth, from which he could move in any direction.

Had he held his force as a unit, he could have gone to Mobile, or

Vicksburg, or anywhere in that region, which would by one move have


solved the whole Mississippi problem; and, from what he then told

me, I believe he intended such a campaign, but was overruled from

Washington. Be that as it may, the army had no sooner settled down

at Corinth before it was scattered: General Pope was called to the

East, and his army distributed among the others; General Thomas was

relieved from the command of the right wing, and reassigned to his

division in the Army of the Ohio; and that whole army under General

Buell was turned east along the Memphis & Charleston road, to march

for Chattanooga. McClernand’s “reserve” was turned west to Bolivar

and Memphis. General Halleck took post himself at Corinth,

assigned Lieutenant-Colonel McPherson to take charge of the

railroads, with instructions to repair them as far as Columbus,

Kentucky, and to collect cars and locomotives to operate them to

Corinth and Grand Junction. I was soon dispatched with my own and

Hurlbut’s divisions northwest fourteen miles to Chewalla, to save

what could be of any value out of six trains of cars belonging to

the rebels which had been wrecked and partially burned at the time

of the evacuation of Corinth.

A short time before leaving Corinth I rode from my camp to General

Halleck’s headquarters, then in tents just outside of the town,

where we sat and gossiped for some time, when he mentioned to me

casually that General Grant was going away the next morning. I

inquired the cause, and he said that he did not know, but that

Grant had applied for a thirty days’ leave, which had been given

him. Of course we all knew that he was chafing under the slights

of his anomalous position, and I determined to see him on my way

back. His camp was a short distance off the Monterey road, in the

woods, and consisted of four or five tents, with a sapling railing

around the front. As I rode up, Majors Rawlins, Lagow, and Hilyer,

were in front of the camp, and piled up near them were the usual

office and camp chests, all ready for a start in the morning. I

inquired for the general, and was shown to his tent, where I found

him seated on a camp-stool, with papers on a rude camp-table; he

seemed to be employed in assorting letters, and tying them up with

red tape into convenient bundles. After passing the usual

compliments, I inquired if it were true that he was going away. He

said, “Yes.” I then inquired the reason, and he said “Sherman, you

know. You know that I am in the way here. I have stood it as long

as I can, and can endure it no longer.” I inquired where he was

going to, and he said, “St. Louis.” I then asked if he had any

business there, and he said, “Not a bit.” I then begged him to

stay, illustrating his case by my own.

Before the battle of Shiloh, I had been cast down by a mere

newspaper assertion of “crazy;” but that single battle had given me

new life, and now I was in high feather; and I argued with him

that, if he went away, events would go right along, and he would be

left out; whereas, if he remained, some happy accident might

restore him to favor and his true place. He certainly appreciated

my friendly advice, and promised to wait awhile; at all events, not

to go without seeing me again, or communicating with me. Very soon

after this, I was ordered to Chewalla, where, on the 6th of June, I

received a note from him, saying that he had reconsidered his

intention, and would remain. I cannot find the note, but my answer

I have kept:

Chewalla, Jane 6, 1862.

Major-General GRANT.

My DEAR SIR: I have just received your note, and am rejoiced at

your conclusion to remain; for you could not be quiet at home for a

week when armies were moving, and rest could not relieve your mind

of the gnawing sensation that injustice had been done you.

My orders at Chewalla were to rescue the wrecked trains there, to

reconnoitre westward and estimate the amount of damage to the

railroad as far as Grand Junction, about fifty miles. We camped

our troops on high, healthy ground to the south of Chewalla, and

after I had personally reconnoitred the country, details of men

were made and volunteer locomotive engineers obtained to

superintend the repairs. I found six locomotives and about sixty

cars, thrown from the track, parts of the machinery detached and

hidden in the surrounding swamp, and all damaged as much by fire as

possible. It seems that these trains were inside of Corinth during

the night of evacuation, loading up with all sorts of commissary

stores, etc., and about daylight were started west; but the

cavalry-picket stationed at the Tuscumbia bridge had, by mistake or

panic, burned the bridge before the trains got to them. The

trains, therefore, were caught, and the engineers and guards

hastily scattered the stores into the swamp, and disabled the

trains as far as they could, before our cavalry had discovered

their critical situation. The weather was hot, and the swamp

fairly stunk with the putrid flour and fermenting sugar and

molasses; I was so much exposed there in the hot sun, pushing

forward the work, that I got a touch of malarial fever, which hung

on me for a month, and forced me to ride two days in an ambulance,

the only time I ever did such a thing during the whole war. By the

7th I reported to General Halleck that the amount of work necessary

to reestablish the railroad between Corinth and Grand Junction was

so great, that he concluded not to attempt its repair, but to rely

on the road back to Jackson (Tennessee), and forward to Grand

Junction; and I was ordered to move to Grand Junction, to take up

the repairs from there toward Memphis.

The evacuation of Corinth by Beauregard, and the movements of

General McClernand’s force toward Memphis, had necessitated the

evacuation of Fort Pillow, which occurred about June 1st; soon

followed by the further withdrawal of the Confederate army from

Memphis, by reason of the destruction of the rebel gunboats in the

bold and dashing attack by our gun-boats under command of Admiral

Davis, who had succeeded Foote. This occurred June 7th. Admiral

Farragut had also captured New Orleans after the terrible passage

of Forts Jackson and St. Philip on May 24th, and had ascended the

river as high as Vicksburg; so that it seemed as though, before the

end of June, we should surely have full possession of the whole

river. But it is now known that the progress of our Western armies

had aroused the rebel government to the exercise of the most

stupendous energy. Every man capable of bearing arms at the South

was declared to be a soldier, and forced to act as such. All their

armies were greatly reenforced, and the most despotic power was

granted to enforce discipline and supplies. Beauregard was

replaced by Bragg, a man of more ability–of greater powers of

organization, of action, and discipline–but naturally exacting and

severe, and not possessing the qualities to attract the love of his

officers and men. He had a hard task to bring into order and

discipline that mass of men to whose command he succeeded at

Tupelo, with which he afterward fairly outmanoeuvred General Buell,

and forced him back from Chattanooga to Louisville. It was a fatal

mistake, however, that halted General Halleck at Corinth, and led

him to disperse and scatter the best materials for a fighting army

that, up to that date, had been assembled in the West.

During the latter part of June and first half of July, I had my own

and Hurlbut’s divisions about Grand Junction, Lagrange, Moscow, and

Lafayette, building railroad-trestles and bridges, fighting off

cavalry detachments coming from the south, and waging an

everlasting quarrel with planters about their negroes and fences–

they trying, in the midst of moving armies, to raise a crop of

corn. On the 17th of June I sent a detachment of two brigades,

under General M. L. Smith, to Holly Springs, in the belief that I

could better protect the railroad from some point in front than by

scattering our men along it; and, on the 23d, I was at Lafayette

Station, when General Grant, with his staff and a very

insignificant escort, arrived from Corinth en route for Memphis, to

take command of that place and of the District of West Tennessee.

He came very near falling into the hands of the enemy, who infested

the whole country with small but bold detachments of cavalry. Up

to that time I had received my orders direct from General Halleck

at Corinth, but soon after I fell under the immediate command of

General Grant and so continued to the end of the war; but, on the

29th, General Halleck notified me that “a division of troops under

General C. S. Hamilton of ‘Rosecrans’s army corps,’ had passed the

Hatchie from Corinth,” and was destined for Holly Springs, ordering

me to “cooperate as far as advisable,” but “not to neglect the

protection of the road.” I ordered General Hurlbut to leave

detachments at Grand Junction and Lagrange, and to march for Holly

Springs. I left detachments at Moscow and Lafayette, and, with

about four thousand men, marched for the same point. Hurlbut and I

met at Hudsonville, and thence marched to the Coldwater, within

four miles of Holly Springs. We encountered only small detachments

of rebel cavalry under Colonels Jackson and Pierson, and drove them

into and through Holly Springs; but they hung about, and I kept an

infantry brigade in Holly Springs to keep them out. I heard

nothing from General Hamilton till the 5th of July, when I received

a letter from him dated Rienzi, saying that he had been within

nineteen miles of Holly Springs and had turned back for Corinth;

and on the next day, July 6th, I got a telegraph order from General

Halleck, of July 2d, sent me by courier from Moscow, “not to

attempt to hold Holly Springs, but to fall back and protect the

railroad.” We accordingly marched back twenty-five miles–Hurlbut

to Lagrange, and I to Moscow. The enemy had no infantry nearer

than the Tallahatchee bridge, but their cavalry was saucy and

active, superior to ours, and I despaired of ever protecting a

railroad, preventing a broad front of one hundred miles, from their


About this time, we were taunted by the Confederate soldiers and

citizens with the assertion that Lee had defeated McClellan at

Richmond; that he would soon be in Washington; and that our turn

would come next. The extreme caution of General Halleck also

indicated that something had gone wrong, and, on the 16th of July,

at Moscow, I received a dispatch from him, announcing that he had

been summoned to Washington, which he seemed to regret, and which

at that moment I most deeply deplored. He announced that his

command would devolve on General Grant, who had been summoned

around from Memphis to Corinth by way of Columbus, Kentucky, and

that I was to go into Memphis to take command of the District of

West Tennessee, vacated by General Grant. By this time, also, I

was made aware that the great, army that had assembled at Corinth

at the end of May had been scattered and dissipated, and that

terrible disasters had befallen our other armies in Virginia and

the East.

I soon received orders to move to Memphis, taking Hurlbut’s

division along. We reached Memphis on the 21st, and on the 22d I

posted my three brigades mostly in and near Fort Dickering, and

Hurlbut’s division next below on the river-bank by reason of the

scarcity of water, except in the Mississippi River itself. The

weather was intensely hot. The same order that took us to Memphis

required me to send the division of General Lew Wallace (then

commanded by Brigadier-General A. P. Hovey) to Helena, Arkansas, to

report to General Curtis, which was easily accomplished by

steamboat. I made my own camp in a vacant lot, near Mr. Moon’s

house, and gave my chief attention to the construction of Fort

Pickering, then in charge of Major Prime, United States Engineers;

to perfecting the drill and discipline of the two divisions under

my command; and to the administration of civil affairs.

At the time when General Halleck was summoned from Corinth to

Washington, to succeed McClellan as commander-in-chief, I surely

expected of him immediate and important results. The Army of the

Ohio was at the time marching toward Chattanooga, and was strung

from Eastport by Huntsville to Bridgeport, under the command of

General Buell. In like manner, the Army of the Tennessee was

strung along the same general line, from Memphis to Tuscumbia, and

was commanded by General Grant, with no common commander for both

these forces: so that the great army which General Halleck had so

well assembled at Corinth, was put on the defensive, with a

frontage of three hundred miles. Soon thereafter the rebels

displayed peculiar energy and military skill. General Bragg had

reorganized the army of Beauregard at Tupelo, carried it rapidly

and skillfully toward Chattanooga, whence he boldly assumed the

offensive, moving straight for Nashville and Louisville, and

compelling General Buell to fall back to the Ohio River at


The army of Van Dorn and Price had been brought from the

trans-Mississippi Department to the east of the river, and was

collected at and about Holly Springs, where, reenforced by

Armstrong’s and Forrests cavalry, it amounted to about forty

thousand brave and hardy soldiers. These were General Grant’s

immediate antagonists, and so many and large detachments had been

drawn from him, that for a time he was put on the defensive. In

person he had his headquarters at Corinth, with the three divisions

of Hamilton, Davies, and McKean, under the immediate orders of

General Rosecrans. General Ord had succeeded to the division of

McClernand (who had also gone to Washington), and held Bolivar and

Grand Junction. I had in Memphis my own and Hurlbut’s divisions,

and other smaller detachments were strung along the Memphis &

Charleston road. But the enemy’s detachments could strike this

road at so many points, that no use could be made of it, and

General Grant had to employ the railroads, from Columbus, Kentucky,

to Corinth and Grand Junction, by way of Jackson, Tennessee, a

point common to both roads, and held in some force.

In the early part of September the enemy in our front manifested

great activity, feeling with cavalry at all points, and on the 13th

General Van Dorn threatened Corinth, while General Price seized the

town of Iuka, which was promptly abandoned by a small garrison

under Colonel Murphy. Price’s force was about eight thousand men,

and the general impression was that he was en route for Eastport,

with the purpose to cross the Tennessee River in the direction of

Nashville, in aid of General Bragg, then in full career for

Kentucky. General Grant determined to attack him in force,

prepared to regain Corinth before Van Dorn could reach it. He had

drawn Ord to Corinth, and moved him, by Burnsville, on Iuka, by the

main road, twenty-six miles. General Grant accompanied this column

as far as Burnsville. At the same time he had dispatched Rosecrans

by roads to the south, via Jacinto, with orders to approach Iuka by


the two main roads, coming into Iuka from the south, viz., they

Jacinto and Fulton roads.

On the 18th General Ord encountered the enemy about four miles out

of Iuka. His orders contemplated that he should not make a serious

attack, until Rosecrans had gained his position on the south; but,

as usual, Rosecrans had encountered difficulties in the confusion

of roads, his head of column did not reach the vicinity of Iuka

till 4 p.m. of the 19th, and then his troops were long drawn out

on the single Jacinto road, leaving the Fulton road clear for

Price’s use. Price perceived his advantage, and attacked with

vehemence the head of Rosecrans’s column, Hamilton’s division,

beating it back, capturing a battery, and killing and disabling

seven hundred and thirty-six men, so that when night closed in

Rosecrans was driven to the defensive, and Price, perceiving his

danger, deliberately withdrew by the Fulton road, and the next

morning was gone. Although General Ord must have been within four

or six miles of this battle, he did not hear a sound; and he or

General Grant did not know of it till advised the next morning by a

courier who had made a wide circuit to reach them. General Grant

was much offended with General Rosecrans because of this affair,

but in my experience these concerted movements generally fail,

unless with the very best kind of troops, and then in a country on

whose roads some reliance can be placed, which is not the case in

Northern Mississippi. If Price was aiming for Tennessee; he

failed, and was therefore beaten. He made a wide circuit by the

south, and again joined Van Dorn.

On the 6th of September, at Memphis, I received an order from

General Grant dated the 2d, to send Hurlbut’s division to

Brownsville, in the direction of Bolivar, thence to report by

letter to him at Jackson. The division started the same day, and,

as our men and officers had been together side by side from the

first landing at Shiloh, we felt the parting like the breaking up

of a family. But General Grant was forced to use every man, for he

knew well that Van Dorn could attack him at pleasure, at any point

of his long line. To be the better prepared, on the 23d of

September he took post himself at Jackson, Tennessee, with a small

reserve force, and gave Rosecrans command of Corinth, with his

three divisions and some detachments, aggregating about twenty

thousand men. He posted General Ord with his own and Hurlbut’a

divisions at Bolivar, with outposts toward Grand Junction and

Lagrange. These amounted to nine or ten thousand men, and I held

Memphis with my own division, amounting to about six thousand men.

The whole of General Grant’s men at that time may have aggregated

fifty thousand, but he had to defend a frontage of a hundred and

fifty miles, guard some two hundred miles of railway, and as much

river. Van Dom had forty thousand men, united, at perfect liberty

to move in any direction, and to choose his own point of attack,

under cover of woods, and a superior body of cavalry, familiar with

every foot of the ground. Therefore General Grant had good reason

for telegraphing to General Halleck, on the 1st of October, that

his position was precarious, “but I hope to get out of it all

right.” In Memphis my business was to hold fast that important

flank, and by that date Fort Dickering had been made very strong,

and capable of perfect defense by a single brigade. I therefore

endeavored by excursions to threaten Van Dorn’s detachments to the

southeast and east. I repeatedly sent out strong detachments

toward Holly Springs, which was his main depot of supply; and

General Grierson, with his Sixth Illinois, the only cavalry I had,

made some bold and successful dashes at the Coldwater, compelling

Van Dorn to cover it by Armstrong’s whole division of cavalry.

Still, by the 1st of October, General Grant was satisfied that the

enemy was meditating an attack in force on Bolivar or Corinth; and

on the 2d Van Dorn made his appearance near Corinth, with his

entire army. On the 3d he moved down on that place from the north

and northwest, General Roseerana went out some four miles to meet

him, but was worsted and compelled to fall back within the line of

his forts. These had been began under General Halleck, but were

much strengthened by General Grant, and consisted of several

detached redoubts, bearing on each other, and inclosing the town

and the depots of stores at the intersection of the two railroads.

Van Dorn closed down on the forts by the evening of the 3d, and on

the morning of the 4th assaulted with great vehemence. Our men,

covered by good parapets, fought gallantly, and defended their

posts well, inflicting terrible losses on the enemy, so that by

noon the rebels were repulsed at all points, and drew off, leaving

their dead and wounded in our hands. Their losses, were variously

estimated, but the whole truth will probably never be known, for in

that army reports and returns were not the fashion. General

Rosecrans admitted his own loss to be three hundred and fifteen

killed, eighteen hundred and twelve wounded, and two hundred and

thirty-two missing or prisoners, and claimed on the part of the

rebels fourteen hundred and twenty-three dead, two thousand and

twenty-five prisoners and wounded. Of course, most of the wounded

must have gone off or been carried off, so that, beyond doubt, the

rebel army lost at Corinth fully six thousand men.

Meantime, General Grant, at Jackson, had dispatched Brigadier-

General McPherson, with a brigade, directly for Corinth, which

reached General Rosecrans after the battle; and, in anticipation of

his victory, had ordered him to pursue instantly, notifying him

that he had ordered Ord’s and Hurlbut’s divisions rapidly across to

Pocahontas, so as to strike the rebels in flank. On the morning of

the 5th, General Ord reached the Hatchie River, at Davies bridge,

with four thousand men; crossed over and encountered the retreating

army, captured a battery and several hundred prisoners, dispersing

the rebel advance, and forcing the main column to make a wide

circuit by the south in order to cross the Hatchie River. Had

General Rosecrans pursued promptly, and been on the heels of this

mass of confused and routed men, Van Dorn’s army would surely have

been utterly ruined; as it was, Van Dom regained Holly Springs

somewhat demoralized.

General Rosecrans did not begin his pursuit till the next morning,

the 5th, and it was then too late. General Grant was again

displeased with him, and never became fully reconciled. General

Rosecrans was soon after relieved, and transferred to the Army of

the Cumberland, in Tennessee, of which he afterward obtained the

command, in place of General Buell, who was removed.

The effect of the battle of Corinth was very great. It was,

indeed, a decisive blow to the Confederate cause in our quarter,

and changed the whole aspect of affairs in West Tennessee. From

the timid defensive we were at once enabled to assume the bold

offensive. In Memphis I could see its effects upon the citizens,

and they openly admitted that their cause had sustained a

death-blow. But the rebel government was then at its maximum

strength; Van Dorn was reenforced, and very soon Lieutenant-General

J. C. Pemberton arrived and assumed the command, adopting for his

line the Tallahatchie River, with an advance-guard along the

Coldwater, and smaller detachments forward at Grand Junction and

Hernando. General Grant, in like manner, was reenforced by new


Out of those which were assigned to Memphis, I organized two new

brigades, and placed them under officers who had gained skill and

experience during the previous campaign.



JULY, 1882 TO JANUARY, 1883

When we first entered Memphis, July 21,1862, I found the place

dead; no business doing, the stores closed, churches, schools, and

every thing shut up. The people were all more or less in sympathy

with our enemies, and there was a strong prospect that the whole

civil population would become a dead weight on our hands. Inasmuch

as the Mississippi River was then in our possession northward, and

steamboats were freely plying with passengers and freight, I caused

all the stores to be opened, churches, schools, theatres, and

places of amusement, to be reestablished, and very soon Memphis

resumed its appearance of an active, busy, prosperous place. I

also restored the mayor (whose name was Parks) and the city

government to the performance of their public functions, and

required them to maintain a good civil police.

Up to that date neither Congress nor the President had made any

clear, well-defined rules touching the negro slaves, and the

different generals had issued orders according to their own

political sentiments. Both Generals Halleck and Grant regarded the

slave as still a slave, only that the labor of the slave belonged

to his owner, if faithful to the Union, or to the United States, if

the master had taken up arms against the Government, or adhered to

the fortunes of the rebellion. Therefore, in Memphis, we received

all fugitives, put them to work on the fortifications, supplied

them with food and clothing, and reserved the question of payment

of wages for future decision. No force was allowed to be used to

restore a fugitive slave to his master in any event; but if the

master proved his loyalty, he was usually permitted to see his

slave, and, if he could persuade him to return home, it was

permitted. Cotton, also, was a fruitful subject of controversy.

The Secretary of the Treasury; Mr. Chase, was extremely anxious at

that particular time to promote the purchase of cotton, because

each bale was worth, in gold, about three hundred dollars, and

answered the purpose of coin in our foreign exchanges. He

therefore encouraged the trade, so that hundreds of greedy

speculators flocked down the Mississippi, and resorted to all sorts

of measures to obtain cotton from the interior, often purchasing it

from negroes who did not own it, but who knew where it was

concealed. This whole business was taken from the jurisdiction of

the military, and committed to Treasury agents appointed by Mr.


Other questions absorbed the attention of military commanders; and

by way of illustration I here insert a few letters from my

“letter-book,” which contains hundreds on similar subjects:


Memphis, Tennessee, August 11, 1862

Hon. S. P. CHASE, Secretary of the Treasury.

Sir: Your letter of August 2d, just received, invites my discussion

of the cotton question.

I will write plainly and slowly, because I know you have no time to

listen to trifles. This is no trifle; when one nation is at war

with another, all the people of the one are enemies of the other:

then the rules are plain and easy of understanding. Most

unfortunately, the war in which we are now engaged has been

complicated with the belief on the one hand that all on the other

are not enemies. It would have been better if, at the outset, this

mistake had not been made, and it is wrong longer to be misled by

it. The Government of the United States may now safely proceed on

the proper rule that all in the South are enemies of all in the

North; and not only are they unfriendly, but all who can procure

arms now bear them as organized regiments, or as guerrillas. There

is not a garrison in Tennessee where a man can go beyond the sight

of the flag-staff without being shot or captured. It so happened

that these people had cotton, and, whenever they apprehended our

large armies would move, they destroyed the cotton in the belief

that, of course, we world seize it, and convert it to our use.

They did not and could not dream that we would pay money for it.

It had been condemned to destruction by their own acknowledged

government, and was therefore lost to their people; and could have

been, without injustice, taken by us, and sent away, either as

absolute prize of war, or for future compensation. But the

commercial enterprise of the Jews soon discovered that ten cents

would buy a pound of cotton behind our army; that four cents would

take it to Boston, where they could receive thirty cents in gold.

The bait was too tempting, and it spread like fire, when here they

discovered that salt, bacon, powder, fire-arms, percussion-caps,

etc., etc., were worth as much as gold; and, strange to say, this

traffic was not only permitted, but encouraged. Before we in the

interior could know it, hundreds, yea thousands of barrels of salt

and millions of dollars had been disbursed; and I have no doubt

that Bragg’s army at Tupelo, and Van Dorn’s at Vicksburg, received

enough salt to make bacon, without which they could not have moved

their armies in mass; and that from ten to twenty thousand fresh

arms, and a due supply of cartridges, have also been got, I am

equally satisfied. As soon as I got to Memphis, having seen the

effect in the interior, I ordered (only as to my own command) that

gold, silver, and Treasury notes, were contraband of war, and

should not go into the interior, where all were hostile. It is

idle to talk about Union men here: many want peace, and fear war

and its results; but all prefer a Southern, independent government,

and are fighting or working for it. Every gold dollar that was

spent for cotton, was sent to the seaboard, to be exchanged for

bank-notes and Confederate scrip, which will buy goods here, and

are taken in ordinary transactions. I therefore required cotton to

be paid for in such notes, by an obligation to pay at the end of

the war, or by a deposit of the price in the hands of a trustee,

viz., the United States Quartermaster. Under these rules cotton is

being obtained about as fast as by any other process, and yet the

enemy receives no “aid or comfort.” Under the “gold” rule, the

country people who had concealed their cotton from the burners, and

who openly scorned our greenbacks, were willing enough to take

Tennessee money, which will buy their groceries; but now that the

trade is to be encouraged, and gold paid out, I admit that cotton

will be sent in by our open enemies, who can make better use of

gold than they can of their hidden bales of cotton.

I may not appreciate the foreign aspect of the question, but my

views on this may be ventured. If England ever threatens war

because we don’t furnish her cotton, tell her plainly if she can’t

employ and feed her own people, to send them here, where they

cannot only earn an honest living, but soon secure independence by

moderate labor. We are not bound to furnish her cotton. She has

more reason to fight the South for burning that cotton, than us for

not shipping it. To aid the South on this ground would be

hypocrisy which the world would detect at once. Let her make her

ultimatum, and there are enough generous minds in Europe that will

counteract her in the balance. Of course her motive is to cripple

a power that rivals her in commerce and manufactures, that

threatenes even to usurp her history. In twenty more years of


prosperity, it will require a close calculation to determine

whether England, her laws and history, claim for a home the

Continent of America or the Isle of Britain. Therefore, finding us

in a death-struggle for existence, she seems to seek a quarrel to

destroy both parts in detail.

Southern people know this full well, and will only accept the

alliance of England in order to get arms and manufactures in

exchange for their cotton. The Southern Confederacy will accept no

other mediation, because she knows full well that in Old England

her slaves and slavery will receive no more encouragement than in

New England.

France certainly does not need our cotton enough to disturb her

equilibrium, and her mediation would be entitled to a more respect

consideration than on the part of her present ally. But I feel

assured the French will not encourage rebellion and secession

anywhere as a political doctrine. Certainly all the German states

must be our ardent friends; and, in case of European intervention;

they could not be kept down.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.


23, 1862

Dr. E. S. PLUMMER and others, Physician in Memphis, Signers to a


GENTLEMEN: I have this moment received your communication, and

assure you that it grieves my heart thus to be the instrument of

adding to the seeming cruelty and hardship of this unnatural war.

On my arrival here, I found my predecessor (General Hovey) had

issued an order permitting the departure south of all persons

subject to the conscript law of the Southern Confederacy. Many

applications have been made to me to modify this order, but I

regarded it as a condition precedent by which I was bound in honor,

and therefore I have made no changes or modifications; nor shall I

determine what action I shall adopt in relation to persons

unfriendly to our cause who remain after the time limited by

General Hovey’s order had expired. It is now sunset, and all who

have not availed themselves of General Hovey’s authority, and who

remain in Memphis, are supposed to be loyal and true men.

I will only say that I cannot allow the personal convenience of

even a large class of ladies to influence me in my determination to

make Memphis a safe place of operations for an army, and all people

who are unfriendly should forthwith prepare to depart in such

direction as I may hereafter indicate.

Surgeons are not liable to be made prisoners of war, but they

should not reside within the lines of an army which they regard as

hostile. The situation would be too delicate.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.


SAMUEL SAWYER, Esq., Editor Union Appeal, Memphis.

DEAR SIR: It is well I should come to an understanding at once

with the press as well as the people of Memphis, which I am ordered

to command; which means, to control for the interest, welfare; and

glory of the whole Government of the United States.

Personalities in a newspaper are wrong and criminal. Thus, though

you meant to be complimentary in your sketch of my career, you make

more than a dozen mistakes of fact, which I need not correct, as I

don’t desire my biography to be written till I am dead. It is

enough for the world to know that I live and am a soldier, bound to

obey the orders of my superiors, the laws of my country, and to

venerate its Constitution; and that, when discretion is given me, I

shall exercise it wisely and account to my superiors.

I regard your article headed “City Council–General Sherman and

Colonel Slack,” as highly indiscreet. Of course, no person who can

jeopardize the safety of Memphis can remain here, much less

exercise public authority; but I must take time, and be satisfied

that injustice be not done.

If the parties named be the men you describe, the fact should not

be published, to put them on their guard and thus to encourage

their escape. The evidence should be carefully collected,

authenticated, and then placed in my hands. But your statement of

facts is entirely qualified; in my mind, and loses its force by

your negligence of the very simple facts within your reach as to

myself: I had been in the army six years in 1846; am not related by

blood to any member of Lucas, Turner & Co.; was associated with

them in business six years (instead of two); am not colonel of the

Fifteenth Infantry, but of the Thirteenth. Your correction, this

morning, of the acknowledged error as to General Denver and others,

is still erroneous. General Morgan L. Smith did not belong to my

command at the battle of Shiloh at all, but he was transferred to

my division just before reaching Corinth. I mention these facts in

kindness, to show you how wrong it is to speak of persons.

I will attend to the judge, mayor, Boards of Aldermen, and

policemen, all in good time.

Use your influence to reestablish system, order, government. You

may rest easy that no military commander is going to neglect

internal safety, or to guard against external danger; but to do

right requires time, and more patience than I usually possess. If

I find the press of Memphis actuated by high principle and a sole

devotion to their country, I will be their best friend; but, if I

find them personal, abusive, dealing in innuendoes and hints at a

blind venture, and looking to their own selfish aggrandizement and

fame, then they had better look out; for I regard such persons as

greater enemies to their country and to mankind than the men who,

from a mistaken sense of State pride, have taken up muskets, and

fight us about as hard as we care about. In haste, but in

kindness, yours, etc.,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.


MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, July 27, 1882.

JOHN PARK, Mayor of Memphis, present.

Sir: Yours of July 24th is before me, and has received, as all

similar papers ever will, my careful and most respectful

consideration. I have the most unbounded respect for the civil

law, courts, and authorities, and shall do all in my power to

restore them to their proper use, viz., the protection of life,

liberty, and property.

Unfortunately, at this time, civil war prevails in the land, and

necessarily the military, for the time being, must be superior to

the civil authority, but it does not therefore destroy it. Civil

courts and executive officers should still exist and perform

duties, without which civil or municipal bodies would soon pass

into disrespect–an end to be avoided. I am glad to find in

Memphis a mayor and municipal authorities not only in existence,

but in the co-exercise of important functions, and I shall endeavor

to restore one or more civil tribunals for the arbitration of

contracts and punishment of crimes, which the military have neither

time nor inclination to interfere with. Among these, first in

importance is the maintenance of order, peace, and quiet, within

the jurisdiction of Memphis. To insure this, I will keep a strong

provost guard in the city, but will limit their duty to guarding

public property held or claimed by the United States, and for the

arrest and confinement of State prisoners and soldiers who are

disorderly or improperly away from their regiments. This guard

ought not to arrest citizens for disorder or minor crimes. This

should be done by the city police. I understand that the city

police is too weak in numbers to accomplish this perfectly, and I

therefore recommend that the City Council at once take steps to

increase this force to a number which, in their judgment, day and

night can enforce your ordinances as to peace, quiet, and order; so

that any change in our military dispositions will not have a

tendency to leave your people unguarded. I am willing to instruct

the provost guard to assist the police force when any combination

is made too strong for them to overcome; but the city police should

be strong enough for any probable contingency. The cost of

maintaining this police force must necessarily fall upon all

citizens equitably. I am not willing, nor do I think it good

policy, for the city authorities to collect the taxes belonging to

the State and County, as you recommend; for these would have to be

refunded. Better meet the expenses at once by a new tax on all

interested. Therefore, if you, on consultation with the proper

municipal body, will frame a good bill for the increase of your

police force, and for raising the necessary means for their support

and maintenance, I will approve it and aid you in the collection of

the tax. Of course, I cannot suggest how this tax should be laid,

but I think that it should be made uniform on all interests, real

estate, and personal property, including money, and merchandise.

All who are protected should share the expenses in proportion to

the interests involved. I am, with respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.


MEMPHIS, August 7, 1862.

Captain FITCH, Assistant Quartermaster, Memphis, Tennessee.

SIR: The duties devolving on the quartermaster of this post, in

addition to his legitimate functions, are very important and

onerous, and I am fully aware that the task is more than should

devolve on one man. I will endeavor to get you help in the person

of some commissioned officer, and, if possible, one under bond, as

he must handle large amounts of money in trust; but, for the

present, we most execute the duties falling to our share as well as

possible. On the subject of vacant houses, General Grant’s orders

are: “Take possession of all vacant stores and houses in the city,

and have them rented at reasonable rates; rent to be paid monthly

in advance. These buildings, with their tenants, can be turned

over to proprietors on proof of loyalty; also take charge of such

as have been leased out by disloyal owners.”

I understand that General Grant takes the rents and profits of this

class of real property under the rules and laws of war, and not

under the confiscation act of Congress; therefore the question of

title is not involved simply the possession, and the rents and

profits of houses belonging to our enemies, which are not vacant,

we hold in trust for them or the Government, according to the

future decisions of the proper tribunals.

Mr. McDonald, your chief agent in renting and managing this

business, called on me last evening and left with me written

questions, which it would take a volume to answer and a Webster to

elucidate; but as we can only attempt plain, substantial justice, I

will answer these questions as well as I can, briefly and to the


First. When ground is owned by parties who have gone south, and

have leased the ground to parties now in the city who own the

improvements on the ground?

Answer. The United States takes the rents due the owner of the

land; does not disturb the owner of the improvements.

Second. When parties owning houses have gone south, and the tenant

has given his notes for the rent in advance?

Answer. Notes are mere evidence of the debt due landlord. The

tenant pays the rent to the quartermaster, who gives a bond of

indemnity against the notes representing the debt for the

particular rent.

Third. When the tenant has expended several months’ rent in

repairs on the house?

Answer. Of course, allow all such credits on reasonable proof and


Fourth. When the owner has gone south, and parties here hold liens

on the property and are collecting the rents to satisfy their


Answer. The rent of a house can only be mortgaged to a person in

possession. If a loyal tenant be in possession and claim the rent

from himself as due to himself on some other debt, allow it; but,

if not in actual possession of the property, rents are not good

liens for a debt, but must be paid to the quartermaster.

Fifth. Of parties claiming foreign protection?

Answer. Many claim foreign protection who are not entitled to it.

If they are foreign subjects residing for business in this,

country, they are entitled to consideration and protection so long

as they obey the laws of the country. If they occupy houses

belonging to absent rebels, they must pay rent to the quarter-

master. If they own property, they must occupy it by themselves,

tenants, or servants.

Eighth. When houses are occupied and the owner has gone south,

leaving an agent to collect rent for his benefit?

Answer. Rent must be paid to the quartermaster. No agent can

collect and remit money south without subjecting himself to arrest

and trial for aiding and abetting the public enemy.

Ninth.. When houses are owned by loyal citizens, but are


Answer. Such should not be disturbed, but it would be well to

advise them to have some servant at the house to occupy it.

Tenth. When parties who occupy the house are creditors of the

owner, who has gone south? Answer. You only look to collection of

rents. Any person who transmits money south is liable to arrest

and trial for aiding and abetting the enemy; but I do not think it

our business to collect debts other than rents.

Eleventh. When the parties who own the property have left the city

under General Hovey’s Order No. 1, but are in the immediate

neighborhood, on their plantations?

Answer. It makes no difference where they are, so they are absent.

Twelfth. When movable property is found in stores that are closed?

Answer. The goods are security for the rent. If the owner of the

goods prefers to remove the goods to paying rent, he can do so.

Thirteenth. When the owner lives in town, and refuses to take the

oath of allegiance?

Answer. If the house be occupied, it does not fall under the

order. If the house be vacant, it does. The owner can recover his

property by taking the oath.

All persons in Memphis residing within our military lines are

presumed to be loyal, good citizens, and may at any moment be

called to serve on juries, posses comitatua, or other civil service

required by the Constitution and laws of our country. Should they

be called upon to do such duty, which would require them to

acknowledge their allegiance and subordination to the Constitution

of the United States, it would then be too late to refuse. So long

as they remain quiet and conform to these laws, they are entitled

to protection in their property and lives.

We have nothing to do with confiscation. We only deal with

possession, and therefore the necessity of a strict accountability,

because the United States assumes the place of trustee, and must

account to the rightful owner for his property, rents, and profits.

In due season courts will be established to execute the laws, the

confiscation act included, when we will be relieved of this duty

and trust. Until that time, every opportunity should be given to

the wavering and disloyal to return to their allegiance to the

Constitution of their birth or adoption. I am, etc.,


Major-General commanding.



MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, August 26,1862

Major-General GRANT, Corinth, Mississippi.

Sir: In pursuance of your request that I should keep you advised of

matters of interest here, in addition to the purely official

matters, I now write.

I dispatched promptly the thirteen companies of cavalry, nine of

Fourth Illinois, and four of Eleventh Illinois, to their respective

destinations, punctually on the 23d instant, although the order was

only received on the 22d. I received at the same time, from

Colonel Dickey, the notice that the bridge over Hatchie was burned,

and therefore I prescribed their order of march via Bolivar. They

started at 12 m. of the 23d, and I have no news of them since.

None of the cavalry ordered to me is yet heard from.

The guerrillas have destroyed several bridges over Wolf Creek; one

at Raleigh, on the road by which I had prescribed trade and travel

to and from the city. I have a strong guard at the lower bridge

over Wolf River, by which we can reach the country to the north of

that stream; but, as the Confederates have burned their own

bridges, I will hold them to my order, and allow no trade over any

other road than the one prescribed, using the lower or Randolph

road for our own convenience. I am still satisfied there is no

large force of rebels anywhere in the neighborhood. All the navy

gunboats are below except the St. Louis, which lies off the city.

When Commodore Davis passes down from Cairo, I will try to see him,

and get him to exchange the St. Louis for a fleeter boat not

iron-clad; one that can move up and down the river, to break up

ferry-boats and canoes, and to prevent all passing across the

river. Of course, in spite of all our efforts, smuggling is

carried on. We occasionally make hauls of clothing, gold-lace,

buttons, etc., but I am satisfied that salt and arms are got to the

interior somehow. I have addressed the Board of Trade a letter on

this point, which will enable us to control it better.

You may have been troubled at hearing reports of drunkenness here.

There was some after pay-day, but generally all is as quiet and

orderly as possible. I traverse the city every day and night, and

assert that Memphis is and has been as orderly a city as St. Louis,

Cincinnati, or New York.

Before the city authorities undertook to license saloons, there was

as much whiskey here as now, and it would take all my command as

customhouse inspectors, to break open all the parcels and packages

containing liquor. I can destroy all groggeries and shops where

soldiers get liquor just as we would in St. Louis.

The newspapers are accusing me of cruelty to the sick; as base a

charge as was ever made. I would not let the Sanitary Committee

carry off a boat-load of sick, because I have no right to. We have

good hospitals here, and plenty of them. Our regimental hospitals

are in the camps of the men, and the sick do much better there than

in the general hospitals; so say my division surgeon and the

regimental surgeons. The civilian doctors would, if permitted,

take away our entire command. General Curtis sends his sick up

here, but usually no nurses; and it is not right that nurses should

be taken from my command for his sick. I think that, when we are

endeavoring to raise soldiers and to instruct them, it is bad

policy to keep them at hospitals as attendants and nurses.

I send you Dr. Derby’s acknowledgment that he gave the leave of

absence of which he was charged. I have placed him in arrest, in

obedience to General Halleck’s orders, but he remains in charge of

the Overton Hospital, which is not full of patients.

The State Hospital also is not full, and I cannot imagine what Dr.

Derby wants with the Female Academy on Vance Street. I will see

him again, and now that he is the chief at Overton Hospital, I

think he will not want the academy. Still, if he does, under your

orders I will cause it to be vacated by the children and Sisters of

Mercy. They have just advertised for more scholars, and will be

sadly disappointed. If, however, this building or any other be

needed for a hospital, it must be taken; but really, in my heart, I

do not see what possible chance there is, under present

circumstances, of filling with patients the two large hospitals now

in use, besides the one asked for. I may, however, be mistaken in

the particular building asked for by Dr. Derby, and will go myself

to see.

The fort is progressing well, Captain Jenney having arrived.

Sixteen heavy guns are received, with a large amount of shot and

shell, but the platforms are not yet ready; still, if occasion

should arise for dispatch, I can put a larger force to work.

Captain Prime, when here, advised that the work should proceed

regularly under the proper engineer officers and laborers.

I am, etc.,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.


MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, September 4, 1862

Colonel J. C, KELTON, Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters of

the army, Washington, D. C.

DEAR COLONEL: Please acknowledge to the major-general commanding

the receipt by me of his letter, and convey to him my assurances

that I have promptly modified my first instructions about cotton,

so as to conform to his orders. Trade in cotton is now free, but

in all else I endeavor so to control it that the enemy shall

receive no contraband goods, or any aid or comfort; still I feel

sure that the officers of steamboats are sadly tempted by high

prices to land salt and other prohibited articles at waypoints

along the river. This, too, in time will be checked. All seems

well here and hereabout; no large body of the enemy within striking

distance. A force of about two thousand, cavalry passed through

Grand Junction north last Friday, and fell on a detachment of the

Bolivar army at Middleburg, the result of which is doubtless

reported to you. As soon as I heard of the movement, I dispatched

a force to the southeast by way of diversion, and am satisfied that

the enemy’s infantry and artillery fell back in consequence behind

the Tallahatchie. The weather is very hot, country very dry, and

dust as bad as possible. I hold my two divisions ready, with their

original complement of transportation, for field service. Of

course all things most now depend on events in front of Washington

and in Kentucky. The gunboat Eastport and four transports loaded

with prisoners of war destined for Vicksburg have been lying before

Memphis for two days, but are now steaming up to resume their

voyage. Our fort progresses well, but our guns are not yet

mounted. The engineers are now shaping the banquette to receive

platforms. I expect Captain Prime from Corinth in two or three


I am, with great respect, yours,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.


MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, September 21, 1862

Editor Bulletin.

SIR: Your comments on the recent orders of Generals Halleck and

McClellan afford the occasion appropriate for me to make public the

fact that there is a law of Congress, as old as our Government

itself, but reenacted on the 10th of April, 1806, and in force ever

since. That law reads:

“All officers and soldiers are to behave themselves orderly in

quarters and on the march; and whoever shall commit any waste or

spoil, either in walks of trees, parks, warrens, fish-ponds, houses

and gardens, cornfields, inclosures or meadows, or shall

maliciously destroy any property whatever belonging to the

inhabitants of the United States, unless by order of the

commander-in-chief of the armies of said United States, shall

(besides such penalties as they are liable to by law) be punished

according to the nature and degree of the offense, by the judgment

of a general or regimental court-martial.”

Such is the law of Congress; and the orders of the commander-in-

chief are, that officers or soldiers convicted of straggling and

pillaging shall be punished with death. These orders have not come

to me officially, but I have seen them in newspapers, and am

satisfied that they express the determination of the commander-in-

chief. Straggling and pillaging have ever been great military

crimes; and every officer and soldier in my command knows what

stress I have laid upon them, and that, so far as in my power lies,

I will punish them to the full extent of the law and orders.

The law is one thing, the execution of the law another. God

himself has commanded: “Thou shalt not kill,” “thou shalt not

steal,” “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods,” etc. Will

any one say these things are not done now as well as before these

laws were announced at Sinai. I admit the law to be that “no officer

or soldier of the United States shall commit waste or destruction

of cornfields, orchards, potato-patches, or any kind of pillage on

the property of friend or foe near Memphis,” and that I stand

prepared to execute the law as far as possible.

No officer or soldier should enter the house or premises of any

peaceable citizen, no matter what his politics, unless on business;

and no such officer or soldier can force an entrance unless he have

a written order from a commanding officer or provost-marshal, which

written authority must be exhibited if demanded. When property

such as forage, building or other materials are needed by the

United States, a receipt will be given by the officer taking them,

which receipt should be presented to the quartermaster, who will

substitute therefor a regular voucher, to be paid-according to the

circumstances of the case. If the officer refuse to give such

receipt, the citizen may fairly infer that the property is

wrongfully taken, and he should, for his own protection, ascertain

the name, rank, and regiment of the officer, and report him in

writing. If any soldier commits waste or destruction, the person

whose property is thus wasted must find out the name, company, and

regiment of the actual transgressor. In order to punish there must

be a trial, and there must be testimony. It is not sufficient that

a general accusation be made, that soldiers are doing this or that.

I cannot punish my whole command, or a whole battalion, because one

or two bad soldiers do wrong. The punishment must reach the

perpetrators, and no one can identify them as well as the party who

is interested. The State of Tennessee does not hold itself

responsible for acts of larceny committed by her citizens, nor does

the United Staten or any other nation. These are individual acts

of wrong, and punishment can only be inflicted on the wrong-doer.

I know the difficulty of identifying particular soldiers, but

difficulties do not alter the importance of principles of justice.

They should stimulate the parties to increase their efforts to find

out the actual perpetrators of the crime.

Colonels of regiments and commanders of corps are liable to severe

punishment for permitting their men to leave their camps to commit

waste or destruction; but I know full well that many of the acts

attributed to soldiers are committed by citizens and negroes, and

are charged to soldiers because of a desire to find fault with

them; but this only reacts upon the community and increases the

mischief. While every officer would willingly follow up an

accusation against any one or more of his men whose names or

description were given immediately after the discovery of the act,

he would naturally resent any general charge against his good men,

for the criminal conduct of a few bad ones.

I have examined into many of the cases of complaint made in this

general way, and have felt mortified that our soldiers should do

acts which are nothing more or less than stealing, but I was

powerless without some clew whereby to reach the rightful party. I

know that the great mass of our soldiers would scorn to steal or

commit crime, and I will not therefore entertain vague and general

complaints, but stand, prepared always to follow up any reasonable

complaint when the charge is definite and the names of witnesses


I know, moreover, in some instances when our soldiers are

complained of, that they have been insulted by sneering remarks

about “Yankees,” “Northern barbarians,” “Lincoln’s hirelings,”

etc. People who use such language must seek redress through some

one else, for I will not tolerate insults to our country or cause.

When people forget their obligations to a Government that made them

respected among the nations of the earth, and speak contemptuously

of the flag which is the silent emblem of that country, I will not

go out of my way to protect them or their property. I will punish

the soldiers for trespass or waste if adjudged by a court-martial,

because they disobey orders; but soldiers are men and citizens as

well as soldiers, and should promptly resent any insult to their

country, come from what quarter it may. I mention this phase

because it is too common. Insult to a soldier does not justify

pillage, but it takes from the officer the disposition he would

otherwise feel to follow up the inquiry and punish the wrong-doers.

Again, armies in motion or stationary must commit some waste.

Flankers must let down fences and cross fields; and, when an attack

is contemplated or apprehended, a command will naturally clear the

ground of houses, fences, and trees. This is waste, but is the

natural consequence of war, chargeable on those who caused the war.

So in fortifying a place, dwelling-houses must be taken, materials

used, even wasted, and great damage done, which in the end may

prove useless. This, too, is an expense not chargeable to us, but

to those who made the war; and generally war is destruction and

nothing else.

We must bear this in mind, that however peaceful things look, we

are really at war; and much that looks like waste or destruction is

only the removal of objects that obstruct our fire, or would afford

cover to an enemy.

This class of waste must be distinguished from the wanton waste

committed by army-stragglers, which is wrong, and can be punished

by the death-penalty if proper testimony can be produced.

Yours, etc.,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.

Satisfied that, in the progress of the war, Memphis would become an

important depot, I pushed forward the construction of Fort

Pickering, kept most of the troops in camps back of the city, and

my own headquarters remained in tents on the edge of the city, near

Mr. Moon’s house, until, on the approach of winter, Mrs. Sherman

came down with the children to visit me, when I took a house nearer

the fort.

All this time battalion and brigade drills were enforced, so that,

when the season approached for active operations farther south, I

had my division in the best possible order, and about the 1st of

November it was composed as follows

First Brigade, Brigadier-General M. L. SMITH–Eighth Missouri,

Colonel G. A. Smith; Sixth Missouri, Colonel Peter E. Bland; One

Hundred and Thirteenth Illinois, Colonel George B. Hoge;

Fifty-fourth Ohio, Colonel T. Kilby Smith; One Hundred and

Twentieth Illinois, Colonel G. W. McKeaig.

Second Brigade, Colonel JOHN ADAIR McDOWELL.–Sixth Iowa,


Lieutenant-Colonel John M. Corse; Fortieth Illinois, Colonel J. W.

Booth; Forty-sixth Ohio, Colonel O. C. Walcutt; Thirteenth United

States Infantry, First Battalion, Major D. Chase.

Third Brigade, Brigadier-General J. W. DENVER.–Forty-eighth Ohio,

Colonel P. J. Sullivan; Fifty-third Ohio, Colonel W. S. Jones;

Seventieth Ohio, Colonel J. R. Cockerill.

Fourth Brigade, Colonel DAVID STUART.–Fifty-fifth Illinois,

Colonel O. Malmburg; Fifty-seventh Ohio, Colonel W. Mungen;

Eighty-third Indiana, Colonel B. Spooner; One Hundred and Sixteenth

Illinois, Colonel Tupper; One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Illinois,

Lieutenant-Colonel Eldridge.

Fifth Brigade, Colonel R. P. BUCKLAND.–Seventy-second Ohio,

Lieutenant-Colonel D. W. C. Loudon; Thirty-second Wisconsin,

Colonel J. W. Howe; Ninety-third Indiana, Colonel Thomas;

Ninety-third Illinois, Major J. M. Fisher.

Subsequently, Brigadier-General J. G. Lauman arrived at Memphis,

and I made up a sixth brigade, and organized these six brigades

into three divisions, under Brigadier-Generals M. L. Smith, J. W.

Denver, and J. G. Lauman.

About the 17th of November I received an order from General Grant,


LAGRANGE, November 16, 1862.

Meet me at Columbus, Kentucky, on Thursday next. If you have a

good map of the country south of you, take it up with you.

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

I started forthwith by boat, and met General Grant, who had reached

Columbus by the railroad from Jackson, Tennessee. He explained to

me that he proposed to move against Pemberton, then intrenched on a

line behind the Tallahatchie River below Holly Springs; that he

would move on Holly Springs and Abberville, from Grand Junction;

that McPherson, with the troops at Corinth, would aim to make

junction with him at Holly Springs; and that he wanted me to leave

in Memphis a proper garrison, and to aim for the Tallahatchie, so

as to come up on his right by a certain date. He further said that

his ultimate object was to capture Vicksburg, to open the

navigation of the Mississippi River, and that General Halleck had

authorized him to call on the troops in the Department of Arkansas,

then commanded by General S. R. Curtis, for cooperation. I

suggested to him that if he would request General Curtis to send an

expedition from some point on the Mississippi, near Helena, then

held in force, toward Grenada, to the rear of Pemberton, it would

alarm him for the safety of his communications, and would assist us

materially in the proposed attack on his front. He authorized me

to send to the commanding officer at Helena a request to that

effect, and, as soon as I reached Memphis, I dispatched my aide,

Major McCoy, to Helena, who returned, bringing me a letter from

General Frederick Steele, who had just reached Helena with

Osterhaus’s division, and who was temporarily in command, General

Curtis having gone to St. Louis. This letter contained the

assurance that he “would send from Friar’s Point a large force

under Brigadier-General A. P. Hovey in the direction of Grenada,

aiming to reach the Tallahatchie at Charleston, on the next Monday,

Tuesday, or Wednesday (December 1st) at furthest.” My command was

appointed to start on Wednesday, November 24th, and meantime

MajorGeneral S. A. Hurlbut, having reported for duty, was assigned

to the command of Memphis, with four regiments of infantry one

battery of artillery, two companies of Thielman’s cavalry and the

certain prospect of soon receiving a number of new regiments, known

to be en route.

I marched out of Memphis punctually with three small divisions,

taking different roads till we approached the Tallahatchie, when we

converged on Wyatt to cross the river, there a bold, deep stream,

with a newly-constructed fort behind. I had Grierson’s Sixth

Illinois Cavalry with me, and with it opened communication with

General Grant when we were abreast of Holly Springs. We reached

Wyatt on the 2d day of December without the least opposition, and

there learned that Pemberton’s whole army had fallen back to the

Yalabusha near Grenada, in a great measure by reason of the

exaggerated reports concerning the Helena force, which had reached

Charleston; and some of General Hovey’s cavalry, under General

Washburn, having struck the railroad in the neighborhood of

Coffeeville, naturally alarmed General Pemberton for the safety of

his communications, and made him let go his Tallahatchie line with

all the forts which he had built at great cost in labor. We had to

build a bridge at Wyatt, which consumed a couple of days, and on

the 5th of December my whole command was at College Hill, ten miles

from Oxford, whence I reported to General Grant in Oxford.

On the 8th I received the following letter:

OXFORD MISSISSIPPI, December 8, 1862–Morning

General SHERMAN, College Hill.

DEAR GENERAL: The following is a copy of dispatch just received

from Washington:

WASHINGTON, December 7, 1862–12M

General GRANT:

The capture of Grenada may change our plans in regard to Vicksburg.

You will move your troops as you may deem best to accomplish the

great object in view. You will retain, till further orders, all

troops of General Curtis now in your department. Telegraph to

General Allen in St. Louis for all steamboats you may require. Ask

Porter to cooperate. Telegraph what are your present plans.

H. W. HALLECK, General-in.-Chief.

I wish you would come over this evening and stay to-night, or come

in the morning. I would like to talk with you about this matter.

My notion is to send two divisions back to Memphis, and fix upon a

day when they should effect a landing, and press from here with

this command at the proper time to cooperate. If I do not do this

I will move our present force to Grenada, including Steele’s,

repairing road as we proceed, and establish a depot of provisions

there. When a good ready is had, to move immediately on Jackson,

Mississippi, cutting loose from the road. Of the two plans I look

most favorably on the former.

Come over and we will talk this matter over.

Yours truly,

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

I repaired at once to Oxford, and found General Grant in a large

house with all his staff, and we discussed every possible chance.

He explained to me that large reenforcements had been promised,

which would reach Memphis very soon, if not already there; that the

entire gunboat fleet, then under the command of Admiral D. D.

Porter, would cooperate; that we could count on a full division

from the troops at Helena; and he believed that, by a prompt

movement, I could make a lodgment up the Yazoo and capture

Vicksburg from the rear; that its garrison was small, and he, at

Oxford, would so handle his troops as to hold Pemberton away from

Vicksburg. I also understood that, if Pemberton should retreat

south, he would follow him up, and would expect to find me at the

Yazoo River, if not inside of Vicksburg. I confess, at that moment

I did not dream that General McClernand, or anybody else, was

scheming for the mere honor of capturing Vicksburg. We knew at the

time that General Butler had been reenforced by General Banks at

New Orleans, and the latter was supposed to be working his way

up-stream from New Orleans, while we were working down. That day

General Grant dispatched to General Halleck, in Washington, as


OXFORD, December 8, 1862.

Major-General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:

General Sherman will command the expedition down the Mississippi.

He will have a force of about forty thousand men; will land above

Vicksburg (up the Yazoo, if practicable), and out the Mississippi

Central road and the road running east from Vicksburg, where they

cross Black River. I will cooperate from here, my movements

depending on those of the enemy. With the large cavalry force now

at my command, I will be able to have them show themselves at

different points on the Tallahatchie and Yalabusha; and, when an

opportunity occurs, make a real attack. After cutting the two

roads, General Sherman’s movements to secure the end desired will

necessarily be left to his judgment.

I will occupy this road to Coffeeville.

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

I was shown this dispatch before it was sent, and afterward the

general drew up for me the following letter of instructions in his

own handwriting, which I now possess:



OXFORD, Mississippi, December 8, 1862.

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding Right Wing Army In the

Field, present.

GENERAL: You will proceed with as little delay as practicable to

Memphis, Tennessee, taking with you one division of your present

command. On your arrival at Memphis you will assume command of all

the troops there, and that portion of General Curtis’s forces at

present east of the Mississippi River, and organize them into

brigades and divisions in your own way.

As soon as possible move with them down the river to the vicinity

of Vicksburg, and, with the cooperation of the gunboat fleet under

command of Flag-Officer Porter, proceed to the reduction of that

place in such manner as circumstances and your own judgment may


The amount of rations, forage, land transportation, etc., necessary

to take, will be left entirely to yourself.

The quartermaster in St. Louis will be instructed to send you

transportation for thirty thousand men. Should you still find

yourself deficient, your quartermaster will be authorized to make

up the deficiency from such transports as may come into the port of


On arriving in Memphis put yourself in communication with Admiral

Porter, and arrange with him for his cooperation.

Inform me at the earliest practicable day of the time when you will

embark, and such plans as may then be matured. I will hold the

forces here in readiness to cooperate with you in such manner as

the movements of the enemy may make necessary.

Leave the District of Memphis in the command of an efficient

officer and with a garrison of four regiments of infantry, the

siege-guns, and what ever cavalry force may be there.

One regiment of infantry and at least a section of artillery will

also be left at Friar’s Point or Delta, to protect the stores of

the cavalry post that will be left there. Yours truly,

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

I also insert here another letter, dated the 14th instant, sent

afterward to me at Memphis, which completes all instructions

received by me governing the first movement against Vicksburg:


OXFORD, MISSISSIPPI, December 14, 1862

Major-General SHERMAN, commanding, etc.,

Memphis, Tennessee

I have not had one word from Grierson since he left, and am getting

uneasy about him. I hope General Gorman will give you no

difficulty about retaining the troops on this side the river, and

Steele to command them. The twenty-one thousand men you have, with

the twelve thousand from Helena, will make a good force. The enemy

are as yet on the Yalabusha. I am pushing down on them slowly, but

so as to keep up the impression of a continuous move. I feel

particularly anxious to have the Helena cavalry on this side of the

river; if not now, at least after you start. If Gorman will send

them, instruct them where to go and how to communicate with me. My

headquarters will probably be in Coffeeville one week hence…. In

the mean time I will order transportation, etc…. It would be well

if you could have two or three small boats suitable for navigating

the Yazoo. It may become necessary for me to look to that base for

supplies before we get through….

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

When we rode to Oxford from College Hill, there happened a little

circumstance which seems worthy of record. While General Van Dorn

had his headquarters in Holly Springs, viz., in October, 1862, he

was very short of the comforts and luxuries of life, and resorted

to every possible device to draw from the abundant supplies in

Memphis. He had no difficulty whatever in getting spies into the

town for information, but he had trouble in getting bulky supplies

out through our guards, though sometimes I connived at his supplies

of cigars, liquors, boots, gloves, etc., for his individual use;

but medicines and large supplies of all kinds were confiscated, if

attempted to be passed out. As we rode that morning toward Oxford,

I observed in a farmer’s barn-yard a wagon that looked like a city

furniture-wagon with springs. We were always short of wagons, so I

called the attention of the quartermaster, Colonel J. Condit Smith,

saying, “There is a good wagon; go for it.” He dropped out of the

retinue with an orderly, and after we had ridden a mile or so he

overtook us, and I asked him, “What luck?” He answered, “All

right; I have secured that wagon, and I also got another,” and

explained that he had gone to the farmer’s house to inquire about

the furniture-wagon, when the farmer said it did not belong to him,

but to some party in Memphis, adding that in his barn was another

belonging to the same party. They went to the barn, and there

found a handsome city hearse, with pall and plumes. The farmer

said they had had a big funeral out of Memphis, but when it reached

his house, the coffin was found to contain a fine assortment of

medicines for the use of Van Dorn’s army. Thus under the pretense

of a first-class funeral, they had carried through our guards the

very things we had tried to prevent. It was a good trick, but

diminished our respect for such pageants afterward.

As soon as I was in possession of General Grant’s instructions of

December 8th, with a further request that I should dispatch Colonel

Grierson, with his cavalry, across by land to Helena, to notify

General Steele of the general plan, I returned to College Hill,

selected the division of Brigadier-General Morgan L. Smith to

return with me to Memphis; started Grierson on his errand to

Helena, and ordered Generals Denver and Lauman to report to General

Grant for further orders. We started back by the most direct

route, reached Memphis by noon of December 12th, and began

immediately the preparations for the Vicksburg movement. There I

found two irregular divisions which had arrived at Memphis in my

absence, commanded respectively by Brigadier-General A. J. Smith

and Brigadier-General George W. Morgan. These were designated the

First and Third Divisions, leaving the Second Division of Morgan Z.

Smith to retain its original name and number.

I also sent orders, in the name of General Grant, to General

Gorman, who meantime had replaced General Steele in command of

Helena, in lieu of the troops which had been east of the

Mississippi and had returned, to make up a strong division to

report to me on my way down. This division was accordingly

organized, and was commanded by Brigadier-General Frederick Steele,

constituting my Fourth Division.

Meantime a large fleet of steamboats was assembling from St. Louis

and Cairo, and Admiral Porter dropped down to Memphis with his

whole gunboat fleet, ready to cooperate in the movement. The

preparations were necessarily hasty in the extreme, but this was

the essence of the whole plan, viz., to reach Vicksburg as it were

by surprise, while General Grant held in check Pemberton’s army

about Grenada, leaving me to contend only with the smaller garrison

of Vicksburg and its well-known strong batteries and defenses. On

the 19th the Memphis troops were embarked, and steamed down to

Helena, where on the 21st General Steele’s division was also


embarked; and on the 22d we were all rendezvoused at Friar’s Point,

in the following order, viz.:

Steamer Forest Queen, general headquarters, and battalion

Thirteenth United States Infantry.

First Division, Brigadier-General A. J. SMITH.–Steamers Des Arc,

division headquarters and escort; Metropolitan, Sixth Indiana; J.

H. Dickey, Twenty-third Wisconsin; J. C. Snow, Sixteenth Indiana;

Hiawatha, Ninety-sixth Ohio; J. S. Pringle, Sixty-seventh Indiana;

J. W. Cheeseman, Ninth Kentucky; R. Campbell, Ninety-seventh

Indiana; Duke of Argyle, Seventy-seventh Illinois; City of Alton,

One Hundred and Eighth and Forty-eighth Ohio; City of Louisiana,

Mercantile Battery; Ohio Belle, Seventeenth Ohio Battery; Citizen,

Eighty-third Ohio; Champion, commissary-boat; General Anderson,


Second Division,, Brigadier-General M. L. SMITH.–Steamers

Chancellor, headquarters, and Thielman’s cavalry; Planet, One

Hundred and Sixteenth Illinois; City of Memphis, Batteries A and B

(Missouri Artillery), Eighth Missouri, and section of Parrott guns;

Omaha, Fifty-seventh Ohio; Sioux City, Eighty-third Indiana; Spread

Eagle, One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Illinois; Ed. Walsh, One

Hundred and Thirteenth Illinois; Westmoreland, Fifty-fifth

Illinois, headquarters Fourth Brigade; Sunny South, Fifty-fourth

Ohio; Universe, Sixth Missouri; Robert Allen, commissary-boat.

Third Division, Brigadier-General G. W. MORGAN.–Steamers Empress,

division headquarters; Key West, One Hundred and Eighteenth

Illinois; Sam Gaty, Sixty-ninth Indiana; Northerner, One Hundred

and Twentieth Ohio; Belle Peoria, headquarters Second Brigade, two

companies Forty-ninth Ohio, and pontoons; Die Vernon, Third

Kentucky; War Eagle, Forty-ninth Indiana (eight companies), and

Foster’s battery; Henry von Phul, headquarters Third Brigade, and

eight companies Sixteenth Ohio; Fanny Bullitt, One Hundred and

Fourteenth Ohio, and Lamphere’s battery; Crescent City,

Twenty-second Kentucky and Fifty-fourth Indiana; Des Moines,

Forty-second Ohio; Pembina, Lamphere’s and Stone’s batteries; Lady

Jackson, commissary-boat.

Fourth Division, Brigadier-General FREDERICK STEELE–Steamers

Continental, headquarters, escort and battery; John J. Roe, Fourth

and Ninth Iowa; Nebraska, Thirty-first Iowa; Key West, First Iowa

Artillery; John Warner, Thirteenth Illinois; Tecumseh, Twenty-sixth

Iowa; Decatur, Twenty-eighth Iowa; Quitman, Thirty-fourth Iowa;

Kennett, Twenty ninth Missouri; Gladiator, Thirtieth Missouri;

Isabella, Thirty-first Missouri; D. G. Taylor, quartermaster’s

stores and horses; Sucker State, Thirty-second Missouri; Dakota,

Third Missouri; Tutt, Twelfth Missouri Emma, Seventeenth Missouri;

Adriatic, First Missouri; Meteor, Seventy-sixth Ohio; Polar Star,

Fifty-eighth Ohio.

At the same time were communicated the following instructions:


FOREST QUEEN, December 23, 1882.

To Commanders of Divisions, Generals F. STEELE, GEORGE W. MORGAN,


With this I hand to each of you a copy of a map, compiled from the

best sources, and which in the main is correct. It is the same

used by Admiral Porter and myself. Complete military success can

only be accomplished by united action on some general plan,

embracing usually a large district of country. In the present

instance, our object is to secure the navigation of the Mississippi

River and its main branches, and to hold them as military channels

of communication and for commercial purposes. The river, above

Vicksburg, has been gained by conquering the country to its rear,

rendering its possession by our enemy useless and unsafe to him,

and of great value to us. But the enemy still holds the river from

Vicksburg to Baton Rouge, navigating it with his boats, and the

possession of it enables him to connect his communications and

routes of supply, east and west. To deprive him of this will be a

severe blow, and, if done effectually, will be of great advantage

to us, and probably, the most decisive act of the war. To

accomplish this important result we are to act our part–an

important one of the great whole. General Banks, with a large

force, has reinforced General Butler in Louisiana, and from that

quarter an expedition, by water and land, is coming northward.

General Grant, with the Thirteenth Army Corps, of which we compose

the right wing, is moving southward. The naval squadron (Admiral

Porter) is operating with his gunboat fleet by water, each in

perfect harmony with the other.

General Grant’s left and centre were at last accounts approaching

the Yalabusha, near Grenada, and the railroad to his rear, by which

he drew his supplies, was reported to be seriously damaged. This

may disconcert him somewhat, but only makes more important our line

of operations. At the Yalabusha General Grant may encounter the

army of General Pemberton, the same which refused him battle on the

line of the Tallahatchie, which was strongly fortified; but, as he

will not have time to fortify it, he will hardly stand there; and,

in that event, General Grant will immediately advance down the high

ridge between the Big Black and Yazoo, and will expect to meet us

on the Yazoo and receive from us the supplies which he needs, and

which he knows we carry along. Parts of this general plan are to

cooperate with the naval squadron in the reduction of Vicksburg; to

secure possession of the land lying between the Yazoo and Big

Black; and to act in concert with General Grant against Pemberton’s

forces, supposed to have Jackson, Mississippi, as a point of

concentration. Vicksburg is doubtless very strongly fortified,

both against the river and land approaches. Already the gunboats

have secured the Yazoo up for twenty-three miles, to a fort on the

Yazoo at Haines’s Bluff, giving us a choice for a landing-place at

some point up the Yazoo below this fort, or on the island which

lies between Vicksburg and the present mouth of the Yazoo. (See

map [b, c, d], Johnson’s plantation.)

But, before any actual collision with the enemy, I purpose,

after our whole land force is rendezvoused at Gaines’s Landing,

Arkansas, to proceed in order to Milliken’s Bend (a), and there

dispatch a brigade, without wagons or any incumbrances whatever, to

the Vicksburg & Shreveport Railroad (at h and k), to destroy that

effectually, and to cut off that fruitful avenue of supply; then to

proceed to the mouth of the Yazoo, and, after possessing ourselves

of the latest and most authentic information from naval officers

now there, to land our whole force on the Mississippi side, and

then to reach the point where the Vicksburg & Jackson Railroad

crosses the Big Black (f); after which to attack Vicksburg by land,

while the gun-boats assail it by water. It may be necessary

(looking to Grant’s approach), before attacking Vicksburg, to

reduce the battery at Haine’s Bluff first, so as to enable some of

the lighter gunboats and transports to ascend the Yazoo and

communicate with General Grant. The detailed manner of

accomplishing all these results will be communicated in due season,

and these general points are only made known at this time, that

commanders may study the maps, and also that in the event of

non-receipt of orders all may act in perfect concert by following

the general movement, unless specially detached.

You all now have the same map, so that no mistakes or confusion

need result from different names of localities. All possible

preparations as to wagons, provisions, axes, and intrenching-tools,

should be made in advance, so that when we do land there will be no

want of them. When we begin to act on shore, we must do the work

quickly and effectually. The gunboats under Admiral Porter will do

their full share, and I feel every assurance that the army will not

fall short in its work.

Division commanders may read this to regimental commanders, and

furnish brigade commanders a copy. They should also cause as many

copies of the map to be made on the same scale as possible, being

very careful in copying the names.

The points marked e and g (Allan’s and Mount Albans) are evidently

strategical points that will figure in our future operations, and

these positions should be well studied.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

The Mississippi boats were admirably calculated for handling

troops, horses, guns, stores, etc., easy of embarkation and

disembarkation, and supplies of all kinds were abundant, except

fuel. For this we had to rely on wood, but most of the wood-yards,

so common on the river before the war, had been exhausted, so that

we had to use fence-rails, old dead timber, the logs of houses,

etc. Having abundance of men and plenty of axes, each boat could

daily procure a supply.

In proceeding down the river, one or more of Admiral Porter’s

gunboats took the lead; others were distributed throughout the

column, and some brought up the rear. We manoeuvred by divisions

and brigades when in motion, and it was a magnificent sight as we

thus steamed down the river. What few inhabitants remained at the

plantations on the river-bank were unfriendly, except the slaves;

some few guerrilla-parties infested the banks, but did not dare to

molest so, strong a force as I then commanded.

We reached Milliken’s Bend on Christmas-day, when I detached one

brigade (Burbridge’s), of A. J. Smith’s division, to the southwest,

to break up the railroad leading from Vicksburg toward Shreveport,

Louisiana. Leaving A. J. Smith’s division there to await the

return of Burbridge, the remaining three divisions proceeded, on

the 26th, to the mouth of the Yazoo,. and up that river to

Johnson’s plantation, thirteen miles, and there disembarked

Steele’s division above the mouth of Chickasaw Bayou, Morgans

division near the house of Johnson (which had been burned by the

gunboats on a former occasion), and M. L. Smith’s just below. A.

J. Smith’s division arrived the next night, and disembarked below

that of M. L. Smith. The place of our disembarkation was in fact

an island, separated from the high bluff known as Walnut Hills, on

which the town of Vicksburg stands, by a broad and shallow

bayou-evidently an old channel of the Yazoo. On our right was

another wide bayou, known as Old River; and on the left still

another, much narrower, but too deep to be forded, known as

Chickasaw Bayou. All the island was densely wooded, except

Johnson’s plantation, immediately on the bank of the Yazoo, and a

series of old cotton-fields along Chickasaw Bayou. There was a

road from Johnson’s plantation directly to Vicksburg, but it

crossed numerous bayous and deep swamps by bridges, which had been

destroyed; and this road debouched on level ground at the foot of

the Vicksburg bluff, opposite strong forts, well prepared and

defended by heavy artillery. On this road I directed General A. J.

Smith’s division, not so much by way of a direct attack as a

diversion and threat.

Morgan was to move to his left, to reach Chickasaw Bayou, and to

follow it toward the bluff, about four miles above A. J. Smith.

Steele was on Morgan’s left, across Chickasaw Bayou, and M. L.

Smith on Morgan’s right. We met light resistance at all points,

but skirmished, on the 27th, up to the main bayou, that separated

our position from the bluffs of Vicksburg, which were found to be

strong by nature and by art, and seemingly well defended. On

reconnoitring the front in person, during the 27th and 28th, I

became satisfied that General A. J. Smith could not cross the

intervening obstacles under the heavy fire of the forts immediately

in his front, and that the main bayou was impassable, except at two

points–one near the head of Chickasaw Bayou, in front of Morgan,

and the other about a mile lower down, in front of M. L. Smith’s


During the general reconnoissance of the 28th General Morgan L.

Smith received a severe and dangerous wound in his hip, which

completely disabled him and compelled him to go to his steamboat,

leaving the command of his division to Brigadier General D.

Stuart; but I drew a part of General A. J. Smith’s division, and

that general himself, to the point selected for passing the bayou,

and committed that special task to his management.

General Steele reported that it was physically impossible to reach

the bluffs from his position, so I ordered him to leave but a show

of force there, and to return to the west side of Chickasaw Bayou

in support of General Morgan’s left. He had to countermarch and

use the steamboats in the Yazoo to get on the firm ground on our

side of the Chickasaw.

On the morning of December 29th all the troops were ready and in

position. The first step was to make a lodgment on the foot-hills

and bluffs abreast of our position, while diversions were made by

the navy toward Haines’s Bluff, and by the first division directly

toward Vicksburg. I estimated the enemy’s forces, then strung from

Vicksburg to Haines’s Bluff, at fifteen thousand men, commanded by

the rebel Generals Martin Luther Smith and Stephen D. Lee. Aiming

to reach firm ground beyond this bayou, and to leave as little time

for our enemy to reenforce as possible, I determined to make a show

of attack along the whole front, but to break across the bayou at

the two points named, and gave general orders accordingly. I

pointed out to General Morgan the place where he could pass the

bayou, and he answered, “General, in ten minutes after you give the

signal I’ll be on those hills.” He was to lead his division in

person, and was to be supported by Steele’s division. The front

was very narrow, and immediately opposite, at the base of the hills

about three hundred yards from the bayou, was a rebel battery,

supported by an infantry force posted on the spurs of the hill

behind. To draw attention from this, the real point of attack, I

gave instructions to commence the attack at the flanks.

I went in person about a mile to the right rear of Morgan’s

position, at a place convenient to receive reports from all other

parts of the line; and about noon of December 29th gave the orders

and signal for the main attack. A heavy artillery-fire opened

along our whole line, and was replied to by the rebel batteries,

and soon the infantry-fire opened heavily, especially on A. J.

Smith’s front, and in front of General George W. Morgan. One

brigade (DeCourcey’s) of Morgan’s troops crossed the bayou safely,

but took to cover behind the bank, and could not be moved forward.

Frank Blairs brigade, of Steele’s division, in support, also

crossed the bayou, passed over the space of level ground to the

foot of the hills; but, being unsupported by Morgan, and meeting a

very severe cross-fire of artillery, was staggered and gradually

fell back, leaving about five hundred men behind, wounded and

prisoners; among them Colonel Thomas Fletcher, afterward Governor

of Missouri. Part of Thayer’s brigade took a wrong direction, and

did not cross the bayou at all; nor did General Morgan cross in

person. This attack failed; and I have always felt that it was due

to the failure of General G. W. Morgan to obey his orders, or to

fulfill his promise made in person. Had he used with skill and

boldness one of his brigades, in addition to that of Blair’s, he

could have made a lodgment on the bluff, which would have opened

the door for our whole force to follow. Meantime the Sixth

Missouri Infantry, at heavy loss, had also crossed the bayou at the

narrow passage lower down, but could not ascend the steep bank;

right over their heads was a rebel battery, whose fire was in a

measure kept down by our sharp-shooters (Thirteenth United States

Infantry) posted behind logs, stumps, and trees, on our side of the


The men of the Sixth Missouri actually scooped out with their hands

caves in the bank, which sheltered them against the fire of the


enemy, who, right over their heads, held their muskets outside the

parapet vertically, and fired down So critical was the position,

that we could not recall the men till after dark, and then one at a

time. Our loss had been pretty heavy, and we had accomplished

nothing, and had inflicted little loss on our enemy. At first I

intended to renew the assault, but soon became satisfied that, the

enemy’s attention having been drawn to the only two practicable

points, it would prove too costly, and accordingly resolved to look

elsewhere for a point below Haines’s Bluff, or Blake’s plantation.

That night I conferred with Admiral Porter, who undertook to cover

the landing; and the next day (December 30th) the boats were all

selected, but so alarmed were the captains and pilots, that we had

to place sentinels with loaded muskets to insure their remaining at

their posts. Under cover of night, Steele’s division, and one

brigade of Stuart’s, were drawn out of line, and quietly embarked

on steamboats in the Yazoo River. The night of December 30th was

appointed for this force, under the command of General Fred Steele,

to proceed up the Yazoo just below Haines’s Bluff, there to

disembark about daylight, and make a dash for the hills. Meantime

we had strengthened our positions near Chickasaw Bayou, had all our

guns in good position with parapets, and had every thing ready to

renew our attack as soon as we heard the sound of battle above.

At midnight I left Admiral Porter on his gunboat; he had his fleet

ready and the night was propitious. I rode back to camp and gave

orders for all to be ready by daybreak; but when daylight came I

received a note from General Steele reporting that, before his

boats had got up steam, the fog had settled down on the river so

thick and impenetrable, that it was simply impossible to move; so

the attempt had to be abandoned. The rain, too, began to fall, and

the trees bore water-marks ten feet above our heads, so that I

became convinced that the part of wisdom was to withdraw. I

ordered the stores which had been landed to be reembarked on the

boats, and preparations made for all the troops to regain their

proper boats during the night of the 1st of January, 1863. From

our camps at Chickasaw we could hear, the whistles of the trains

arriving in Vicksburg, could see battalions of men marching up

toward Haines’s Bluff, and taking post at all points in our front.

I was more than convinced that heavy reenforcements were coming to

Vicksburg; whether from Pemberton at Grenada, Bragg in Tennessee,

or from other sources, I could not tell; but at no point did the

enemy assume the offensive; and when we drew off our rear-guard, on

the morning of the 2d, they simply followed up the movement,

timidly. Up to that moment I had not heard a word from General

Grant since leaving Memphis; and most assuredly I had listened for

days for the sound of his guns in the direction of Yazoo City. On

the morning of January 2d, all my command were again afloat in

their proper steamboats, when Admiral Porter told me that General

McClernand had arrived at the mouth of the Yazoo in the steamboat

Tigress, and that it was rumored he had come down to supersede me.

Leaving my whole force where it was, I ran down to the month of the

Yazoo in a small tug boat, and there found General McClernand, with

orders from the War Department to command the expeditionary force

on the Mississippi River. I explained what had been done, and what

was the actual state of facts; that the heavy reenforcements

pouring into Vicksburg must be Pemberton’s army, and that General

Grant must be near at hand. He informed me that General Grant was

not coming at all; that his depot at Holly Springs had been

captured by Van Dorn, and that he had drawn back from Coffeeville

and Oxford to Holly Springs and Lagrange; and, further, that

Quinby’s division of Grant’s army was actually at Memphis for

stores when he passed down. This, then, fully explained how

Vicksburg was being reenforced. I saw that any attempt on the

place from the Yazoo was hopeless; and, with General McClernand’s

full approval, we all came out of the Yazoo, and on the 3d of

January rendezvoused at Milliken’s Bend, about ten miles above.

On the 4th General McClernand issued his General Order No. 1,

assuming command of the Army of the Mississippi, divided into two

corps; the first to be commanded by General Morgan, composed of his

own and A. J. Smith’s divisions; and the second, composed of

Steele’s and Stuart’s divisions, to be commanded by me. Up to that

time the army had been styled the right wing of (General Grant’s)

Thirteenth Army Corps, and numbered about thirty thousand men. The

aggregate loss during the time of any command, mostly on the 29th

of December, was one hundred and seventy-five killed, nine hundred

and thirty wounded, and seven hundred and forty-three prisoners.

According to Badeau, the rebels lost sixty-three killed, one

hundred and thirty-four wounded, and ten prisoners. It afterward

transpired that Van Dorn had captured Holly Springs on the 20th of

December, and that General Grant fell back very soon after.

General Pemberton, who had telegraphic and railroad communication

with Vicksburg, was therefore at perfect liberty to reenforce the

place with a garrison equal, if not superior, to my command. The

rebels held high, commanding ground, and could see every movement

of our men and boats, so that the only possible hope of success

consisted in celerity and surprise, and in General Grant’s holding

all of Pemberton’s army hard pressed meantime. General Grant was

perfectly aware of this, and had sent me word of the change, but it

did not reach me in time; indeed, I was not aware of it until after

my assault of December 29th, and until the news was brought me by

General McClernand as related. General McClernand was appointed to

this command by President Lincoln in person, who had no knowledge

of what was then going on down the river. Still, my relief, on the

heels of a failure, raised the usual cry, at the North, of

“repulse, failure, and bungling.” There was no bungling on my

part, for I never worked harder or with more intensity of purpose

in my life; and General Grant, long after, in his report of the

operations of the siege of Vicksburg, gave us all full credit for

the skill of the movement, and described the almost impregnable

nature of the ground; and, although in all official reports I

assumed the whole responsibility, I have ever felt that had General

Morgan promptly and skillfully sustained the lead of Frank Blair’s

brigade on that day, we should have broken the rebel line, and

effected a lodgment on the hills behind Vicksburg. General Frank

Blair was outspoken and indignant against Generals Morgan and De

Courcey at the time, and always abused me for assuming the whole

blame. But, had we succeeded, we might have found ourselves in a

worse trap, when General Pemberton was at full liberty to turn his

whole force against us. While I was engaged at Chickasaw Bayou,

Admiral Porter was equally busy in the Yazoo River, threatening the

enemy’s batteries at Haines’s and Snyder’s Bluffs above. In a

sharp engagement he lost one of his best officers, in the person of

Captain Gwin, United States Navy, who, though on board an ironclad,

insisted on keeping his post on deck, where he was struck in the

breast by a round shot, which carried away the muscle, and

contused the lung within, from which he died a few days after. We

of the army deplored his loss quite as much as his fellows of the

navy, for he had been intimately associated with us in our previous

operations on the Tennessee River, at Shiloh and above, and we had

come to regard him as one of us.

On the 4th of January, 1863, our fleet of transports was collected

at Milliken’s Bend, about ten miles above the mouth of the Yazoo,

Admiral Porter remaining with his gunboats at the Yazoo. General

John A. McClernand was in chief command, General George W. Morgan

commanded the First Corps and I the Second Corps of the Army of the


I had learned that a small steamboat, the Blue Wing, with a mail,

towing coal-barges and loaded with ammunition, had left Memphis for

the Yazoo, about the 20th of December, had been captured by a rebel

boat which had come out of the Arkansas River, and had been carried

up that river to Fort Hind

We had reports from this fort, usually called the “Post of

Arkansas,” about forty miles above the mouth, that it was held by

about five thousand rebels, was an inclosed work, commanding the

passage of the river, but supposed to be easy of capture from the

rear. At that time I don’t think General McClernand had any

definite views or plays of action. If so, he did not impart them

to me. He spoke, in general terms of opening the navigation of the

Mississippi, “cutting his way to the sea,” etc., etc., but the

modus operandi was not so clear. Knowing full well that we could

not carry on operations against Vicksburg as long as the rebels

held the Post of Arkansas, whence to attack our boats coming and

going without convoy, I visited him on his boat, the Tigress, took

with me a boy who had been on the Blue Wing, and had escaped, and

asked leave to go up the Arkansas, to clear out the Post. He made

various objections, but consented to go with me to see Admiral

Porter about it. We got up steam in the Forest Queen, during the

night of January 4th, stopped at the Tigress, took General

McClernand on board, and proceeded down the river by night to the

admiral’s boat, the Black Hawk, lying in the mouth of the Yazoo.

It must have been near midnight, and Admiral Porter was in

deshabille. We were seated in his cabin and I explained my views

about Arkansas Post, and asked his cooperation. He said that he

was short of coal, and could not use wood in his iron-clad boats.

Of these I asked for two, to be commanded by Captain Shirk or

Phelps, or some officer of my acquaintance. At that moment, poor

Gwin lay on his bed, in a state-room close by, dying from the

effect of the cannon shot received at Haines’s Bluff, as before

described. Porter’s manner to McClernand was so curt that I

invited him out into a forward-cabin where he had his charts, and

asked him what he meant by it. He said that “he did not like him;”

that in Washington, before coming West, he had been introduced to

him by President Lincoln, and he had taken a strong prejudice

against him. I begged him, for the sake of harmony, to waive that,

which he promised to do. Returning to the cabin, the conversation

was resumed, and, on our offering to tow his gunboats up the river

to save coal, and on renewing the request for Shirk to command the

detachment, Porter said, “Suppose I go along myself?” I answered,

if he would do so, it would insure the success of the enterprise.

At that time I supposed General McClernand would send me on this

business, but he concluded to go himself, and to take his whole

force. Orders were at once issued for the troops not to disembark

at Milliken’s Bend, but to remain as they were on board the

transports. My two divisions were commanded–the First, by

Brigadier-General Frederick Steele, with three brigades, commanded

by Brigadier-Generals F. P. Blair, C. E. Hooey, and J. M. Thayer;

the Second, by Brigadier-General D. Stuart, with two brigades,

commanded by Colonels G. A. Smith and T. Kilby Smith.

The whole army, embarked on steamboats convoyed by the gunboats, of

which three were iron-clads, proceeded up the Mississippi River to

the mouth of White River, which we reached January 8th. On the

next day we continued up White River to the “Cut-off;” through this

to the Arkansas, and up the Arkansas to Notrib’s farm, just below

Fort Hindman. Early the next morning we disembarked. Stuart’s

division, moving up the river along the bank, soon encountered a

force of the enemy intrenched behind a line of earthworks,

extending from the river across to the swamp. I took Steele’s

division, marching by the flank by a road through the swamp to the

firm ground behind, and was moving up to get to the rear of Fort

Hindman, when General McClernand overtook me, with the report that

the rebels had abandoned their first position, and had fallen back

into the fort. By his orders, we counter-marched, recrossed the

swamp, and hurried forward to overtake Stuart, marching for Fort

Hindman. The first line of the rebels was about four miles below

Fort Hindman, and the intervening space was densely, wooded and

obscure, with the exception of some old fields back of and close to

the fort. During the night, which was a bright moonlight one, we

reconnoitred close up, and found a large number of huts which had

been abandoned, and the whole rebel force had fallen back into and

about the fort. Personally I crept up to a stump so close that I

could hear the enemy hard at work, pulling down houses, cutting

with axes, and building intrenchments. I could almost hear their

words, and I was thus listening when, about 4 A. M. the bugler in

the rebel camp sounded as pretty a reveille as I ever listened to.

When daylight broke it revealed to us a new line of parapet

straight across the peninsula, connecting Fort Hindman, on the

Arkansas River bank, with the impassable swamp about a mile to its

left or rear. This peninsula was divided into two nearly equal

parts by a road. My command had the ground to the right of the

road, and Morgan’s corps that to the left. McClernand had his

quarters still on the Tigress, back at Notrib’s farm, but moved

forward that morning (January 11th) to a place in the woods to our

rear, where he had a man up a tree, to observe and report the


There was a general understanding with Admiral Porter that he was

to attack the fort with his three ironclad gunboats directly by its

water-front, while we assaulted by land in the rear. About 10 a.m.

I got a message from General McClernand, telling me where he could

be found, and asking me what we were waiting for. I answered that

we were then in close contact with the enemy, viz., about five or

six hundred yards off; that the next movement must be a direct

assault; that this should be simultaneous along the whole line; and

that I was waiting to hear from the gunboats; asking him to notify

Admiral Porter that we were all ready. In about half an hour I

heard the clear ring of the navy-guns; the fire gradually

increasing in rapidity and advancing toward the fort. I had

distributed our field-guns, and, when I judged the time had come, I

gave the orders to begin. The intervening ground between us and

the enemy was a dead level, with the exception of one or two small


gullies, and our men had no cover but the few standing trees and

some logs on the ground. The troops advanced well under a heavy

fire, once or twice falling to the ground for a sort of rest or

pause. Every tree had its group of men, and behind each log was a

crowd of sharp-shooters, who kept up so hot a fire that the rebel

troops fired wild. The fire of the fort proper was kept busy by

the gunboats and Morgan’s corps, so that all my corps had to

encounter was the direct fire from the newly-built parapet across

the peninsula. This line had three sections of field-guns, that

kept things pretty lively, and several round-shot came so near me

that I realized that they were aimed at my staff; so I dismounted,

and made them scatter.

As the gunboats got closer up I saw their flags actually over the

parapet of Fort Hindman, and the rebel gunners scamper out of the

embrasures and run down into the ditch behind. About the same time

a man jumped up on the rebel parapet just where the road entered,

waving a large white flag, and numerous smaller white rags appeared

above the parapet along the whole line. I immediately ordered,

“Cease firing!” and sent the same word down the line to General

Steele, who had made similar progress on the right, following the

border of he swamp. I ordered my aide, Colonel Dayton, to jump on

his horse and ride straight up to the large white flag, and when

his horse was on the parapet I followed with the rest of my staff.

All firing had ceased, except an occasional shot away to the right,

and one of the captains (Smith) of the Thirteenth Regulars was

wounded after the display of the white flag. On entering the line,

I saw that our muskets and guns had done good execution; for there

was a horse-battery, and every horse lay dead in the traces. The

fresh-made parapet had been knocked down in many places, and dead

men lay around very thick. I inquired who commanded at that point,

and a Colonel Garland stepped up and said that he commanded that

brigade. I ordered him to form his brigade, stack arms, hang the

belts on the muskets, and stand waiting for orders. Stuart’s

division had been halted outside the parapet. I then sent Major

Hammond down the rebel line to the right, with orders to stop

Steele’s division outside, and to have the other rebel brigade

stack its arms in like manner, and to await further orders. I

inquired of Colonel Garland who commanded in chief, and he said

that General Churchill did, and that he was inside the fort. I

then rode into the fort, which was well built, with good parapets,

drawbridge, and ditch, and was an inclosed work of four bastions.

I found it full of soldiers and sailors, its parapets toward the

river well battered in, and Porter’s gunboats in the river, close

against the fort, with their bows on shore. I soon found General

Churchill, in conversation with Admiral Porter and General A. J.

Smith, and about this time my adjutant-general, Major J. H.

Hammond, came and reported that General Deshler, who commanded the

rebel brigade facing and opposed to Steele, had refused to stack

arms and surrender, on the ground that he had received no orders

from his commanding general; that nothing separated this brigade

from Steele’s men except the light parapet, and that there might be

trouble there at any moment. I advised General Churchill to send

orders at once, because a single shot might bring the whole of

Steele’s division on Deshler’s brigade, and I would not be

responsible for the consequences; soon afterward, we both concluded

to go in person. General Churchill had the horses of himself and

staff in the ditch; they were brought in, and we rode together to

where Garland was standing, and Churchill spoke to him in an angry

tone, “Why did you display the white flag!” Garland replied, “I

received orders to do so from one of your staff.” Churchill denied

giving such an order, and angry words passed between them. I

stopped them, saying that it made little difference then, as they

were in our power. We continued to ride down the line to its

extreme point, where we found Deshler in person, and his troops

were still standing to the parapet with their muskets in hand.

Steele’e men were on the outside. I asked Deshler: “What does this

mean? You are a regular officer, and ought to know better.” He

answered, snappishly, that “he had received no orders to

surrender;” when General Churchill said: “You see, sir, that we are

in their power, and you may surrender.” Deshler turned to his

staff-officers and ordered them to repeat the command to “stack

arms,” etc., to the colonels of his brigade. I was on my horse,

and he was on foot. Wishing to soften the blow of defeat, I spoke

to him kindly, saying that I knew a family of Deshlers in Columbus,

Ohio, and inquired if they were relations of his. He disclaimed

any relation with people living north of the Ohio, in an offensive

tone, and I think I gave him a piece of my mind that he did not

relish. He was a West Point graduate, small but very handsome, and

was afterward killed in battle. I never met him again.

Returning to the position where I had first entered the rebel line,

I received orders from General McClernand, by one of his staff, to

leave General A. J. Smith in charge of the fort and prisoners, and

with my troops to remain outside. The officer explained that the

general was then on the Tigress, which had moved up from below, to

a point in the river just above the fort; and not understanding his

orders, I concluded to go and see him in person. My troops were

then in possession of two of the three brigades which composed the

army opposed to us; and my troops were also in possession of all

the ground of the peninsula outside the “fort-proper” (Hindman). I

found General McClernand on the Tigress, in high spirits. He said

repeatedly: “Glorious! glorious! my star is ever in the ascendant!”

He spoke complimentarily of the troops, but was extremely jealous

of the navy. He said: “I’ll make a splendid report;” “I had a man

up a tree;” etc. I was very hungry and tired, and fear I did not

appreciate the honors in reserve for us, and asked for something to

eat and drink. He very kindly ordered something to be brought, and

explained to me that by his “orders” he did not wish to interfere

with the actual state of facts; that General A. J. Smith would

occupy “Fort Hindman,” which his troops had first entered, and I

could hold the lines outside, and go on securing the prisoners and

stores as I had begun. I returned to the position of Garland’s

brigade and gave the necessary orders for marching all the

prisoners, disarmed, to a pocket formed by the river and two deep

gullies just above the fort, by which time it had become quite

dark. After dark another rebel regiment arrived from Pine Bluff,

marched right in, and was also made prisoners. There seemed to be

a good deal of feeling among the rebel officers against Garland,

who asked leave to stay with me that night, to which I of course

consented. Just outside the rebel parapet was a house which had

been used for a hospital. I had a room cleaned out, and occupied

it that night. A cavalry-soldier lent me his battered coffee-pot

with some coffee and scraps of hard bread out of his nose-bag;

Garland and I made some coffee, ate our bread together, and talked

politics by the fire till quite late at night, when we lay down on

straw that was saturated with the blood of dead or wounded men.

The next day the prisoners were all collected on their boats, lists

were made out, and orders given for their transportation to St.

Louis, in charge of my aide, Major Sanger. We then proceeded to

dismantle and level the forts, destroy or remove the stores, and we

found in the magazine the very ammunition which had been sent for

us in the Blue Wing, which was secured and afterward used in our

twenty-pound Parrott guns.

On the 13th we reembarked; the whole expedition returned out of the

river by the direct route down the Arkansas during a heavy

snow-storm, and rendezvoused in the Mississippi, at Napoleon, at

the mouth of the Arkansas. Here General McClernand told me he had

received a letter from General Grant at Memphis, who disapproved of

our movement up the Arkansas; but that communication was made

before he had learned of our complete success. When informed of

this, and of the promptness with which it had been executed, he

could not but approve. We were then ordered back to Milliken’s

Bend, to await General Grant’s arrival in person. We reached

Milliken’s Bend January 21st.

McClernand’s report of the capture of Fort Hindman almost ignored

the action of Porter’s fleet altogether. This was unfair, for I

know that the admiral led his fleet in person in the river-attack,

and that his guns silenced those of Fort Hindman, and drove the

gunners into the ditch.

The aggregate loss in my corps at Arkansas Post was five hundred

and nineteen, viz., four officers and seventy-five men killed,

thirty-four officers and four hundred and six men wounded. I never

knew the losses in the gunboat fleet, or in Morgan’s corps; but

they must have been less than in mine, which was more exposed. The

number of rebel dead must have been nearly one hundred and fifty;

of prisoners, by actual count, we secured four thousand seven

hundred and ninety-one, and sent them north to St. Louis.




The campaign of 1863, resulting, in the capture of Vicksburg, was

so important, that its history has been well studied and well

described in all the books treating of the civil war, more

especially by Dr. Draper, in his “History of the Civil War in

America,” and in Badeau’s “Military History of General Grant.” In

the latter it is more fully and accurately given than in any other,

and is well illustrated by maps and original documents. I now need

only attempt to further illustrate Badeau’s account by some

additional details. When our expedition came out of the Arkansas

River, January, 18,1863, and rendezvoused at the river-bank, in

front of the town of Napoleon, Arkansas, we were visited by General

Grant in person, who had come down from Memphis in a steamboat.

Although at this time Major-General J. A. McClernand was in command

of the Army of the Mississippi, by virtue of a confidential order

of the War Department, dated October 21, 1862, which order bore the

indorsement of President Lincoln, General Grant still exercised a

command over him, by reason of his general command of the

Department of the Tennessee. By an order (No. 210) of December 18,

1862, from the War Department, received at Arkansas Post, the

Western armies had been grouped into five corps d’armee, viz.: the

Thirteenth, Major-General McClernand; the Fourteenth, Major-General

George H. Thomas, in Middle Tennessee; the Fifteenth, Major-General

W. T. Sherman; the Sixteenth, Major-General Hurlbut, then at or

near Memphis; and the Seventeenth, Major-General McPherson, also at

and back of Memphis. General Grant when at Napoleon, on the 18th

of January, ordered McClernand with his own and my corps to return

to Vicksburg, to disembark on the west bank, and to resume work on

a canal across the peninsula, which had been begun by General

Thomas Williams the summer before, the object being to turn the

Mississippi River at that point, or at least to make a passage for

our fleet of gunboats and transports across the peninsula, opposite

Vicksburg. General Grant then returned to Memphis, ordered to Lake

Providence, about sixty miles above us, McPherson’s corps, the

Seventeenth, and then came down again to give his personal

supervison to the whole movement.

The Mississippi River was very high and rising, and we began that

system of canals on which we expended so much hard work

fruitlessly: first, the canal at Young’s plantation, opposite

Vicksburg; second, that at Lake Providence; and third, at the Yazoo

Pass, leading into the head-waters of the Yazoo River. Early in

February the gunboats Indianola and Queen of the West ran the

batteries of Vicksburg. The latter was afterward crippled in Red

River, and was captured by the rebels; and the Indianola was butted

and sunk about forty miles below Vicksburg. We heard the booming

of the guns, but did not know of her loss till some days after.

During the months of January and February, we were digging the

canal and fighting off the water of the Mississippi, which

continued to rise and threatened to drown us. We had no sure place

of refuge except the narrow levee, and such steamboats as remained

abreast of our camps. My two divisions furnished alternately a

detail of five hundred men a day, to work on the canal. So high

was the water in the beginning of March, that McClernand’s corps

was moved to higher ground, at Milliken’s Bend, but I remained at

Young’s plantation, laid off a due proportion of the levee for each

subdivision of my command, and assigned other parts to such

steamboats as lay at the levee. My own headquarters were in Mrs.

Grove’s house, which had the water all around it, and could only be

reached by a plank-walk from the levee, built on posts. General

Frederick Steele commanded the first division, and General D. Smart

the second; this latter division had been reenforced by General

Hugh Ewing’s brigade, which had arrived from West Virginia.

At the time of its date I received the following note from General


MILLIKEN’S BEND, March 16, 1863

General SHERMAN.

DEAR SIR: I have just returned from a reconnoissance up Steele’s

Bayou, with the admiral (Porter), and five of his gunboats. With

some labor in cutting tree-tops out of the way, it will be

navigable for any class of steamers.

I want you to have your pioneer corps, or one regiment of good men

for such work, detailed, and at the landing as soon as possible.

The party will want to take with them their rations, arms, and

sufficient camp and garrison equipage for a few days. I will have

a boat at any place you may designate, as early as the men can be

there. The Eighth Missouri (being many of them boatmen) would be

excellent men for this purpose.

As soon as you give directions for these men to be in readiness,

come up and see me, and I will explain fully. The tug that takes

this is instructed to wait for you. A full supply of axes will be


Very respectfully,

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

This letter was instantly (8 a.m.) sent to Colonel Giles A. Smith,

commanding the Eighth Missouri, with orders to prepare immediately.

He returned it at 9.15, with an answer that the regiment was all

ready. I went up to Milliken’s Bend in the tug, and had a

conference with the general, resulting in these orders:


BEFORE VICKSBURG, March 16, 1863

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding Fifteenth Army Corps.


GENERAL: You will proceed as early as practicable up Steele’s

Bayou, and through Black Bayou to Deer Creek, and thence with the

gunboats now there by any route they may take to get into the Yazoo

River, for the purpose of determining the feasibility of getting an

army through that route to the east bank of that river, and at a

point from which they can act advantageously against Vicksburg.

Make such details from your army corps as may be required to clear

out the channel of the various bayous through which transports

would have to ran, and to hold such points as in your judgment

should be occupied.

I place at your disposal to-day the steamers Diligent and Silver

Wave, the only two suitable for the present navigation of this

route. Others will be supplied you as fast as required, and they

can be got.

I have given directions (and you may repeat them) that the party

going on board the steamer Diligent push on until they reach Black

Bayou, only stopping sufficiently long at any point before reaching

there to remove such obstructions as prevent their own progress.

Captain Kossak, of the Engineers, will go with this party. The

other boat-load will commence their work in Steele’s Bayou, and

make the navigation as free as possible all the way through.

There is but little work to be done in Steele’s Bayou, except for

about five miles abort midway of the bayou. In this portion many

overhanging trees will have to be removed, and should be dragged

out of the channel.

Very respectfully,

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

On returning to my camp at Young’s Point, I started these two boats

up the Yazoo and Steele’s Bayou, with the Eighth Missouri and some

pioneers, with axes, saws, and all the tools necessary. I gave

orders for a part of Stuart’s division to proceed in the large

boats up the Mississippi River to a point at Gwin’s plantation,

where a bend of Steele’s Bayou neared the main river; and the next

day, with one or two stag-officers and orderlies, got a navy-tug,

and hurried up to overtake Admiral Porter. About sixty miles up

Steele’s Bayou we came to the gunboat Price, Lieutenant Woodworth,

United States Navy; commanding, and then turned into Black Bayou, a

narrow, crooked channel, obstructed by overhanging oaks, and filled

with cypress and cotton-wood trees. The gunboats had forced their

way through, pushing aside trees a foot in diameter. In about four

miles we overtook the gunboat fleet just as it was emerging into

Deer Creek. Along Deer Creek the alluvium was higher, and there

was a large cotton-plantation belonging to a Mr. Hill, who was

absent, and the negroes were in charge of the place. Here I

overtook Admiral Porter, and accompanied him a couple of miles up

Deer Creek, which was much wider and more free of trees, with

plantations on both sides at intervals. Admiral Porter thought he

had passed the worst, and that he would be able to reach the

Rolling Fork and Sunflower. He requested me to return and use all

possible means to clear out Black Bayou. I returned to Hill’s

plantation, which was soon reached by Major Coleman, with a part of

the Eighth Missouri; the bulk of the regiment and the pioneers had

been distributed along the bayous, and set to work under the

general supervision of Captain Kosaak. The Diligent and Silver

Wave then returned to twin’s plantation and brought up

Brigadier-General Giles A. Smith, with the Sixth Missouri, and part

of the One Hundred and Sixteenth Illinois. Admiral Porter was then

working up Deer Creek with his iron-clads, but he had left me a tug,

which enabled me to reconnoitre the country, which was all under

water except the narrow strip along Deer Creek. During the 19th I

heard the heavy navy-guns booming more frequently than seemed

consistent with mere guerrilla operations; and that night I got a

message from Porter, written on tissue-paper, brought me through

the swamp by a negro, who had it concealed in a piece of tobacco.

The admiral stated that he had met a force of infantry and

artillery which gave him great trouble by killing the men who had

to expose themselves outside the iron armor to shove off the bows

of the boats, which had so little headway that they would not

steer. He begged me to come to his rescue as quickly as possible.

Giles A. Smith had only about eight hundred men with him, but I

ordered him to start up Deer Creek at once, crossing to the east

side by an old bridge at Hill’s plantation, which we had repaired

for the purpose; to work his way up to the gunboat, fleet, and to

report to the admiral that I would come, up with every man I could

raise as soon as possible. I was almost alone at Hill’s, but took

a canoe, paddled down Black Bayou to the gunboat Price, and there,

luckily, found the Silver wave with a load of men just arrived from

twin’s plantation. Taking some of the parties who were at work

along the bayou into an empty coal-barge, we tugged it up by a

navy-tug, followed by the Silver Wave, crashing through the trees,

carrying away pilot-house, smoke-stacks, and every thing

above-deck; but the captain (McMillan, of Pittsburg) was a brave

fellow, and realized the necessity. The night was absolutely

black, and we could only make two and a half of the four miles. We

then disembarked, and marched through the canebrake, carrying

lighted candles in our hands, till we got into the open

cotton-fields at Hill’s plantation, where we lay down for a few

hours’ rest. These men were a part of Giles A. Smith’s brigade,

and part belonged to the brigade of T. Bilby Smith, the senior

officer present being Lieutenant-Colonel Rice, Fifty-fourth Ohio,

an excellent young officer. We had no horses.

On Sunday morning, March 21st, as soon as daylight appeared, we

started, following the same route which Giles A. Smith had taken

the day before; the battalion of the Thirteenth United States

Regulars, Major Chase, in the lead. We could hear Porter’s guns,

and knew that moments were precious. Being on foot myself, no man

could complain, and we generally went at the double-quick, with

occasional rests. The road lay along Deer Creek, passing several

plantations; and occasionally, at the bends, it crossed the swamp,

where the water came above my hips. The smaller drummer-boys had

to carry their drums on their heads, and most of the men slang

their cartridge-boxes around their necks. The soldiers generally

were glad to have their general and field officers afoot, but we

gave them a fair specimen of marching, accomplishing about

twenty-one miles by noon. Of course, our speed was accelerated by

the sounds of the navy-guns, which became more and more. distinct,

though we could see nothing. At a plantation near some Indian

mounds we met a detachment of the Eighth Missouri, that had been up

to the fleet, and had been sent down as a picket to prevent any

obstructions below. This picket reported that Admiral Porter had

found Deer Creek badly obstructed, had turned back; that there was

a rebel force beyond the fleet, with some six-pounders, and nothing

between us and the fleet. So I sat down on the door-sill of a

cabin to rest, but had not been seated ten minutes when, in the

wood just ahead, not three hundred yards off, I heard quick and

rapid firing of musketry. Jumping up, I ran up the road, and found

Lieutenant-Colonel Rice, who said the head of his column had struck

a small force of rebels with a working gang of negroes, provided

with axes, who on the first fire had broken and run back into the

swamp. I ordered Rice to deploy his brigade, his left on the road,

and extending as far into the swamp as the ground would permit, and

then to sweep forward until he uncovered the gunboats. The

movement was rapid and well executed, and we soon came to some

large cotton-fields and could see our gunboats in Deer Creek,

occasionally firing a heavy eight-inch gun across the cotton field

into the swamp behind. About that time Major Kirby, of the Eighth

Missouri, galloped down the road on a horse he had picked up the

night before, and met me. He explained the situation of affairs,

and offered me his horse. I got on bareback, and rode up the

levee, the sailors coming out of their iron-clads and cheering most

vociferously as I rode by, and as our men swept forward across the

cotton-field in full view. I soon found Admiral Porter, who was on

the deck of one of his iron-clads, with a shield made of the

section of a smoke-stack, and I doubt if he was ever more glad to

meet a friend than he was to see me. He explained that he had

almost reached the Rolling Fork, when the woods became full of

sharp-shooters, who, taking advantage of trees, stumps, and the

levee, would shoot down every man that poked his nose outside the

protection of their armor; so that he could not handle his clumsy

boats in the narrow channel. The rebels had evidently dispatched a

force from Haines’s Bluff up the Sunflower to the Rolling Fork, had

anticipated the movement of Admiral Porter’s fleet, and had

completely obstructed the channel of the upper part of Deer Creek

by felling trees into it, so that further progress in that

direction was simply impossible. It also happened that, at the

instant of my arrival, a party of about four hundred rebels, armed

and supplied with axes, had passed around the fleet and had got

below it, intending in like manner to block up the channel by the

felling of trees, so as to cut off retreat. This was the force we

had struck so opportunely at the time before described. I inquired

of Admiral Porter what he proposed to do, and he said he wanted to

get out of that scrape as quickly as possible. He was actually

working back when I met him, and, as we then had a sufficient force

to cover his movement completely, he continued to back down Deer

Creek. He informed me at one time things looked so critical that

he had made up his mind to blow up the gunboats, and to escape with

his men through the swamp to the Mississippi River. There being no

longer any sharp-shooters to bother the sailors, they made good

progress; still, it took three full days for the fleet to back out

of Deer Creek into Black Bayou, at Hill’s plantation, whence

Admiral Porter proceeded to his post at the month of the Yazoo,

leaving Captain Owen in command of the fleet. I reported the facts

to General Grant, who was sadly disappointed at the failure of the

fleet to get through to the Yazoo above Haines’s Bluff, and ordered

us all to resume our camps at Young’s Point. We accordingly

steamed down, and regained our camps on the 27th. As this

expedition up Deer Creek was but one of many efforts to secure a

footing from which to operate against Vicksburg, I add the report

of Brigadier-General Giles A. Smith, who was the first to reach the




March 28, 1863

Captain L. M. DAYTON, Assistant Adjutant-General.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report the movements of the First

Brigade in the expedition up Steele’s Bayou, Black Bayou, and Deer

Creek. The Sixth Missouri and One Hundred and Sixteenth Illinois

regiments embarked at the month of Muddy Bayou on the evening of

Thursday, the 18th of March, and proceeded up Steele’s Bayou to the

month of Black; thence up Black Bayou to Hill’s plantation, at its

junction with Deer Creek, where we arrived on Friday at four

o’clock p.m., and joined the Eighth Missouri, Lieutenant-Colonel

Coleman commanding, which had arrived at that point two days

before. General Sherman had also established his headquarters

there, having preceded the Eighth Missouri in a tug, with no other

escort than two or three of his staff, reconnoitring all the

different bayous and branches, thereby greatly facilitating the

movements of the troops, but at the same time exposing himself

beyond precedent in a commanding general. At three o’clock of

Saturday morning, the 20th instant, General Sherman having received

a communication from Admiral Porter at the mouth of Rolling Fork,

asking for a speedy cooperation of the land forces with his fleet,

I was ordered by General Sherman to be ready, with all the

available force at that point, to accompany him to his relief; but

before starting it was arranged that I should proceed with the

force at hand (eight hundred men), while he remained, again

entirely unprotected, to hurry up the troops expected to arrive

that night, consisting of the Thirteenth Infantry and One Hundred

and Thirteenth Illinois Volunteers, completing my brigade, and the

Second Brigade, Colonel T. Kilby Smith commanding.

This, as the sequel showed; proved a very wise measure, and

resulted in the safety of the whole fleet. At daybreak we were in

motion, with a regular guide. We had proceeded but about six

miles, when we found the enemy had been very busy felling trees to

obstruct the creek.

All the negroes along the route had been notified to be ready at

night fall to continue the work. To prevent this as much as

possible, I ordered all able-bodied negroes to be taken along, and

warned some of the principal inhabitants that they would be held

responsible for any more obstructions being placed across the

creek. We reached the admiral about four o’clock p.m., with no

opposition save my advance-guard (Company A, Sixth Missouri) being

fired into from the opposite side of the creek, killing one man,

and slightly wounding another; having no way of crossing, we had to

content ourselves with driving them beyond musket-range.

Proceeding with as little loss of time as possible, I found the

fleet obstructed in front by fallen trees, in rear by a sunken

coal-barge, and surrounded, by a large force of rebels with an

abundant supply of artillery, but wisely keeping their main force

out of range of the admiral’s guns. Every tree and stump covered a

sharp-shooter, ready to pick off any luckless marine who showed his

head above-decks, and entirely preventing the working-parties from

removing obstructions.

In pursuance of orders from General Sherman, I reported to Admiral

Porter for orders, who turned over to me all the land-forces in his

fleet (about one hundred and fifty men), together with two

howitzers, and I was instructed by him to retain a sufficient force

to clear out the sharp-shooters, and to distribute the remainder

along the creek for six or seven miles below, to prevent any more

obstructions being placed in it during the night. This was

speedily arranged, our skirmishers capturing three prisoners.

Immediate steps were now taken to remove the coal-barge, which was

accomplished about daylight on Sunday morning, when the fleet moved

back toward Black Bayou. By three o’clock p.m. we had only made

about six miles, owing to the large number of trees to be removed;

at this point, where our progress was very slow, we discovered a

long line of the enemy filing along the edge of the woods, and

taking position on the creek below us, and about one mile ahead of


our advance. Shortly after, they opened fire on the gunboats from

batteries behind the cavalry and infantry. The boats not only

replied to the batteries, which they soon silenced, but poured a

destructive fire into their lines. Heavy skirmishing was also

heard in our front, supposed to be by three companies from the

Sixth and Eighth Missouri, whose position, taken the previous night

to guard the creek, was beyond the point reached by the enemy, and

consequently liable to be cut off or captured. Captain Owen, of

the Louisville, the leading boat, made every effort to go through

the obstructions and aid in the rescuing of the men. I ordered

Major Kirby, with four companies of the Sixth Missouri, forward,

with two companies deployed. He soon met General Sherman, with the

Thirteenth Infantry and One Hundred and Thirteenth Illinois,

driving the enemy before them, and opening communication along the

creek with the gunboats. Instead of our three companies referred

to as engaging the enemy, General Sherman had arrived at a very

opportune moment with the two regiments mentioned above, and the

Second Brigade. The enemy, not expecting an attack from that

quarter, after some hot skirmishing, retreated. General Sherman

immediately ordered the Thirteenth Infantry and One Hundred and

Thirteenth Illinois to pursue; but, after following their trace for

about two miles, they were recalled.

We continued our march for about two miles, when we bivouacked for

the night. Early on Monday morning (March 22d) we continued our

march, but owing to the slow progress of the gunboats did not reach

Hill’s plantation until Tuesday, the 23d instant, where we remained

until the 25th; we then reembarked, and arrived at Young’s Point on

Friday, the 27th instant.

Below you will find a list of casualties. Very respectfully,

Giles A. SMITH,

Colonel Eighth Missouri, commanding First Brigade.

P. S.-I forgot to state above that the Thirteenth Infantry and One

Hundred and Thirteenth Illinois being under the immediate command

of General Sherman, he can mention them as their conduct deserves.

On the 3d of April, a division of troops, commanded by Brigadier-

General J. M. Tuttle, was assigned to my corps, and was designated

the Third Division; and, on the 4th of April, Brigadier-General D.

Stuart was relieved from the command of the Second Division, to

which Major-General Frank P. Blair was appointed by an order from

General Grant’s headquarters. Stuart had been with me from the

time we were at Benton Barracks, in command of the Fifty-fifth

Illinois, then of a brigade, and finally of a division; but he had

failed in seeking a confirmation by the Senate to his nomination as

brigadier-general, by reason of some old affair at Chicago, and,

having resigned his commission as colonel, he was out of service.

I esteemed him very highly, and was actually mortified that the

service should thus be deprived of so excellent and gallant an

officer. He afterward settled in New Orleans as a lawyer, and died

about 1867 or 1868.

On the 6th of April, my command, the Fifteenth Corps, was composed

of three divisions:

The First Division, commanded by Major-General Fred Steele; and his

three brigades by Colonel Manter, Colonel Charles R. Wood, and

Brigadier-General John M. Thayer.

The Second Division, commanded by Major-General Frank P. Blair; and

his three brigades by Colonel Giles A. Smith, Colonel Thomas gilby

Smith, and Brigadier-General Hugh Ewing.

The Third Division, commanded by Brigadier-General J. M. Tuttle;

and his three brigades by Brigadier-General R. P. Buckland, Colonel

J. A. Mower, and Brigadier-General John E. Smith.

My own staff then embraced: Dayton, McCoy, and Hill, aides; J. H.

Hammond, assistant adjutant-general; Sanger, inspector-general;

McFeeley, commissary; J. Condit Smith, quartermaster; Charles

McMillan, medical director; Ezra Taylor, chief of artillery;

Jno. C. Neely, ordnance-officer; Jenney and Pitzman, engineers.

By this time it had become thoroughly demonstrated that we could

not divert the main river Mississippi, or get practicable access to

the east bank of the Yazoo, in the rear of Vicksburg, by any of the

passes; and we were all in the habit of discussing the various

chances of the future. General Grant’s headquarters were at

Milliken’s Bend, in tents, and his army was strung along the river

all the way from Young’s Point up to Lake Providence, at least

sixty miles. I had always contended that the best way to take

Vicksburg was to resume the movement which had been so well begun

the previous November, viz., for the main army to march by land

down the country inland of the Mississippi River; while the

gunboat-fleet and a minor land-force should threaten Vicksburg on

its river-front.

I reasoned that, with the large force then subject to General

Grant’s orders-viz., four army corps–he could easily resume the

movement from Memphis, by way of Oxford and Grenada, to Jackson,

Mississippi, or down the ridge between the Yazoo and Big Black; but

General Grant would not, for reasons other than military, take any

course which looked like, a step backward; and he himself concluded

on the river movement below Vicksburg, so as to appear like

connecting with General Banks, who at the same time was besieging

Port Hudson from the direction of New Orleans.

Preliminary orders had already been given, looking to the digging

of a canal, to connect the river at Duckport with Willow Bayou,

back of Milliken’s Bend, so as to form a channel for the conveyance

of supplies, by way of Richmond, to New Carthage; and several steam

dredge-boats had come from the upper rivers to assist in the work.

One day early in April, I was up at General Grant’s headquarters,

and we talked over all these things with absolute freedom. Charles

A. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War, was there, and Wilson,

Rawlins, Frank Blair, McPherson, etc. We all knew, what was

notorious, that General McClernand was still intriguing against

General Grant, in hopes to regain the command of the whole

expedition, and that others were raising a clamor against General

Grant in the news papers at the North. Even Mr. Lincoln and

General Halleck seemed to be shaken; but at no instant of time did

we (his personal friends) slacken in our loyalty to him. One

night, after such a discussion, and believing that General

McClernand had no real plan of action shaped in his mind, I wrote

my letter of April 8, 1863, to Colonel Rawlins, which letter is

embraced in full at page 616 of Badeau’s book, and which I now

reproduce here:



Colonel J. A. RAWLINS, Assistant Adjutant-General to General GRANT.

SIR: I would most respectfully suggest (for reasons which I will

not name) that General Grant call on his corps commanders for their

opinions, concise and positive, on the best general plan of a

campaign. Unless this be done, there are men who will, in any

result falling below the popular standard, claim that their advice

was unheeded, and that fatal consequence resulted therefrom. My

own opinions are:

First. That the Army of the Tennessee is now far in advance of the

other grand armies of the United States.

Second. That a corps from Missouri should forthwith be moved from

St. Louis to the vicinity of Little Rock, Arkansas; supplies

collected there while the river is full, and land communication

with Memphis opened via Des Arc on the White, and Madison on the

St. Francis River.

Third. That as much of the Yazoo Pass, Coldwater, and Tallahatchie

Rivers, as can be gained and fortified, be held, and the main army

be transported thither by land and water; that the road back to

Memphis be secured and reopened, and, as soon as the waters

subside, Grenada be attacked, and the swamp-road across to Helena

be patrolled by cavalry.

Fourth. That the line of the Yalabusha be the base from which to

operate against the points where the Mississippi Central crosses

Big Black, above Canton; and, lastly, where the Vicksburg & Jackson

Railroad crosses the same river (Big Black). The capture of

Vicksburg would result.

Fifth. That a minor force be left in this vicinity, not to exceed

ten thousand men, with only enough steamboats to float and

transport them to any desired point; this force to be held always

near enough to act with the gunboats when the main army is known to

be near Vicksburg–Haines’s Bluff or Yazoo City.

Sixth. I do doubt the capacity of Willow Bayou (which I estimate

to be fifty miles long and very tortuous) as a military channel, to

supply an army large enough to operate against Jackson,

Mississippi, or the Black River Bridge; and such a channel will be

very vulnerable to a force coming from the west, which we must

expect. Yet this canal will be most useful as the way to convey

coals and supplies to a fleet that should navigate the lower reach

of the Mississippi between Vicksburg and the Red River.

Seventh. The chief reason for operating solely by water was the

season of the year and high water in the Tallahatchie and Yalabusha

Rivers. The spring is now here, and soon these streams will be no

serious obstacle, save in the ambuscades of the forest, and

whatever works the enemy may have erected at or near Grenada.

North Mississippi is too valuable for us to allow the enemy to hold

it and make crops this year.

I make these suggestions, with the request that General Grant will

read them and give them, as I know he will, a share of his

thoughts. I would prefer that he should not answer this letter,

but merely give it as much or as little weight as it deserves.

Whatever plan of action he may adopt will receive from me the same

zealous cooperation and energetic support as though conceived by

myself. I do not believe General Banks will make any serious

attack on Port Hudson this spring. I am, etc.,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

This is the letter which some critics have styled a “protest.” We

never had a council of war at any time during the Vicksburg

campaign. We often met casually, regardless of rank or power, and

talked and gossiped of things in general, as officers do and

should. But my letter speaks for itself–it shows my opinions

clearly at that stage of the game, and was meant partially to

induce General Grant to call on General McClernand for a similar

expression of opinion, but, so far as I know, he did not. He went

on quietly to work out his own designs; and he has told me, since

the war, that had we possessed in December, 1862, the experience of

marching and maintaining armies without a regular base, which we

afterward acquired, he would have gone on from Oxford as first

contemplated, and would not have turned back because of the

destruction of his depot at Holly Springs by Van Dorn. The

distance from Oxford to the rear of Vicksburg is little greater

than by the circuitous route we afterward followed, from Bruinsburg

to Jackson and Vicksburg, during which we had neither depot nor

train of supplies. I have never criticised General Grant’s

strategy on this or any other occasion, but I thought then that he

had lost an opportunity, which cost him and us six months’ extra-

hard work, for we might have captured Vicksburg from the direction

of Oxford in January, quite as easily as was afterward done in

July, 1863.

General Grant’s orders for the general movement past Vicksburg, by

Richmond and Carthage, were dated April 20, 1863. McClernand was

to lead off with his corps, McPherson next, and my corps (the

Fifteenth) to bring up the rear. Preliminary thereto, on the night

of April 16th, seven iron-clads led by Admiral Porter in person, in

the Benton, with three transports, and ten barges in tow, ran the

Vicksburg batteries by night. Anticipating a scene, I had four

yawl-boats hauled across the swamp, to the reach of the river below

Vicksburg, and manned them with soldiers, ready to pick up any of

the disabled wrecks as they floated by. I was out in the stream

when the fleet passed Vicksburg, and the scene was truly sublime.

As soon as the rebel gunners detected the Benton, which was in the

lead, they opened on her, and on the others in succession, with

shot and shell; houses on the Vicksburg side and on the opposite

shore were set on fire, which lighted up the whole river; and the

roar of cannon, the bursting of shells, and finally the burning of

the Henry Clay, drifting with the current, made up a picture of the

terrible not often seen. Each gunboat returned the fire as she

passed the town, while the transports hugged the opposite shore.

When the Benton had got abreast of us, I pulled off to her,

boarded, had a few words with Admiral Porter, and as she was

drifting rapidly toward the lower batteries at Warrenton, I left,

and pulled back toward the shore, meeting the gunboat Tuscumbia

towing the transport Forest Queen into the bank out of the range of

fire. The Forest Queen, Captain Conway, had been my flag-boat up

the Arkansas, and for some time after, and I was very friendly with

her officers. This was the only transport whose captain would not

receive volunteers as a crew, but her own officers and crew stuck

to their boat, and carried her safely below the Vicksburg

batteries, and afterward rendered splendid service in ferrying

troops across the river at Grand Gulf and Bruinsburg. In passing

Vicksburg, she was damaged in the hull and had a steam-pipe cut

away, but this was soon repaired. The Henry Clay was set on fire

by bursting shells, and burned up; one of my yawls picked up her

pilot floating on a piece of wreck, and the bulk of her crew

escaped in their own yawl-boat to the shore above. The Silver

Wave, Captain McMillan, the same that was with us up Steele’s

Bayou, passed safely, and she also rendered good service afterward.

Subsequently, on the night of April 26th, six other transports with

numerous barges loaded with hay, corn, freight, and provisions,

were drifted past Vicksburg; of these the Tigress was hit, and sunk

just as she reached the river-bank below, on our side: I was there

with my yawls, and saw Colonel Lagow, of General Grant’s staff, who

had passed the batteries in the Tigress, and I think he was

satisfied never to attempt such a thing again. Thus General

Grant’s army had below Vicksburg an abundance of stores, and boats

with which to cross the river. The road by which the troops

marched was very bad, and it was not until the 1st of May that it

was clear for my corps. While waiting my turn to march, I received

a letter from General Grant, written at Carthage, saying that he

proposed to cross over and attack Grand Gulf, about the end of

April, and he thought I could put in my time usefully by making a

“feint” on Haines’s Bluff, but he did not like to order me to do

it, because it might be reported at the North that I had again been

“repulsed, etc.” Thus we had to fight a senseless clamor at the

North, as well as a determined foe and the obstacles of Nature. Of

course, I answered him that I would make the “feint,” regardless of

public clamor at a distance, and I did make it most effectually;

using all the old boats I could get about Milliken’s Bend and the


mouth of the Yazoo, but taking only ten small regiments, selected

out of Blair’s division, to make a show of force. We afterward

learned that General Pemberton in Vicksburg had previously

dispatched a large force to the assistance of General Bowers, at

Grand Gulf and Port Gibson, which force had proceeded as far as

Hankinson’s Ferry, when he discovered our ostentatious movement up

the Yazoo, recalled his men, and sent them up to Haines’s Bluff to

meet us. This detachment of rebel troops must have marched nearly

sixty miles without rest, for afterward, on reaching Vicksburg, I

heard that the men were perfectly exhausted, and lay along the road

in groups, completely fagged out. This diversion, made with so

much pomp and display, therefore completely fulfilled its purpose,

by leaving General Grant to contend with a minor force, on landing

at Bruinsburg, and afterward at Port Gibson and Grand Gulf.

In May the waters of the Mississippi had so far subsided that all

our canals were useless, and the roads had become practicable.

After McPherson’s corps had passed Richmond, I took up the route of

march, with Steele’s and Tuttle’s divisions. Blair’s division

remained at Milliken’s Bend to protect our depots there, till

relieved by troops from Memphis, and then he was ordered to follow

us. Our route lay by Richmond and Roundabout Bayou; then,

following Bayou Vidal we struck the Mississippi at Perkins’s

plantation. Thence the route followed Lake St. Joseph to a

plantation called Hard Times, about five miles above Grand Gulf.

The road was more or less occupied by wagons and detachments

belonging to McPherson’s corps; still we marched rapidly and

reached Hard Times on the 6th of May. Along the Bayou or Lake St.

Joseph were many very fine cotton plantations, and I recall that of

a Mr. Bowie, brother-in-law of the Hon. Reverdy Johnson, of

Baltimore. The house was very handsome, with a fine, extensive

grass-plot in front. We entered the yard, and, leaving our horses

with the headquarters escort, walked to the house. On the

front-porch I found a magnificent grand-piano, with several

satin-covered arm-chairs, in one of which sat a Union soldier (one

of McPherson’s men), with his feet on the keys of the piano, and

his musket and knapsack lying on the porch. I asked him what he

was doing there, and he answered that he was “taking a rest;” this

was manifest and I started him in a hurry, to overtake his command.

The house was tenantless, and had been completely ransacked;

articles of dress and books were strewed about, and a handsome

boudoir with mirror front had been cast down, striking a French

bedstead, shivering the glass. The library was extensive, with a

fine collection of books; and hanging on the wall were two

full-length portraits of Reverdy Johnson and his wife, one of the

most beautiful ladies of our country, with whom I had been

acquainted in Washington at the time of General Taylor’s

administration. Behind the mansion was the usual double row of

cabins called the “quarters.” There I found an old negro (a family

servant) with several women, whom I sent to the house to put things

in order; telling the old man that other troops would follow, and

he must stand on the porch to tell any officers who came along that

the property belonged to Mr. Bowie, who was the brother-in-law of

our friend Mr. Reverdy Johnson, of Baltimore, asking them to see

that no further harm was done. Soon after we left the house I saw

some negroes carrying away furniture which manifestly belonged to

the house, and compelled them to carry it back; and after reaching

camp that night, at Hard Times, I sent a wagon back to Bowie’s

plantation, to bring up to Dr. Hollingsworth’s house the two

portraits for safe keeping; but before the wagon had reached

Bowie’s the house was burned, whether by some of our men or by

negroes I have never learned.

At the river there was a good deal of scrambling to get across,

because the means of ferriage were inadequate; but by the aid of

the Forest Queen and several gunboats I got my command across

during the 7th of May, and marched out to Hankiuson’s Ferry

(eighteen miles), relieving General Crocker’s division of

McPherson’s corps. McClernand’s corps and McPherson’s were still

ahead, and had fought the battle of Port Gibson, on the 11th. I

overtook General Grant in person at Auburn, and he accompanied my

corps all the way into Jackson, which we reached May 14th.

McClernand’s corps had been left in observation toward Edwards’s

Ferry. McPherson had fought at Raymond, and taken the left-hand

road toward Jackson, via Clinton, while my troops were ordered by

General Grant in person to take the right-hand road leading through

Mississippi Springs. We reached Jackson at the same time;

McPherson fighting on the Clinton road, and my troops fighting just

outside the town, on the Raymond road, where we captured three

entire field-batteries, and about two hundred prisoners of war.

The rebels, under General Joe Johnston, had retreated through the

town northward on the Canton road. Generals Grant, McPherson, and

I, met in the large hotel facing the State-House, where the former

explained to us that he had intercepted dispatches from Pemberton

to Johnston, which made it important for us to work smart to

prevent a junction of their respective forces. McPherson was

ordered to march back early the next day on the Clinton road to

make junction with McClernand, and I was ordered to remain one day

to break up railroads, to destroy the arsenal, a foundery, the

cotton-factory of the Messrs. Green, etc., etc., and then to

follow McPherson.

McPherson left Jackson early on the 15th, and General Grant during

the same day. I kept my troops busy in tearing up railroad-tracks,

etc., but early on the morning of the 16th received notice from

General Grant that a battle was imminent near Edwards’s Depot; that

he wanted me to dispatch one of my divisions immediately, and to

follow with the other as soon as I had completed the work of

destruction. Steele’s division started immediately, and later in

the day I followed with the other division (Tuttle’s). Just as I

was leaving Jackson, a very fat man came to see me, to inquire if

his hotel, a large, frame building near the depot, were doomed to

be burned. I told him we had no intention to burn it, or any other

house, except the machine-shops, and such buildings as could easily

be converted to hostile uses. He professed to be a law-abiding

Union man, and I remember to have said that this fact was manifest

from the sign of his hotel, which was the “Confederate Hotel;” the

sign “United States” being faintly painted out, and “Confederate”

painted over it! I remembered that hotel, as it was the

supper-station for the New Orleans trains when I used to travel the

road before the war. I had not the least purpose, however, of

burning it, but, just as we were leaving the town, it burst out in

flames and was burned to the ground. I never found out exactly who

set it on fire, but was told that in one of our batteries were some

officers and men who had been made prisoners at Shiloh, with

Prentiss’s division, and had been carried past Jackson in a

railroad-train; they had been permitted by the guard to go to this

very hotel for supper, and had nothing to pay but greenbacks, which

were refused, with insult, by this same law-abiding landlord.

These men, it was said, had quietly and stealthily applied the fire

underneath the hotel just as we were leaving the town.

About dark we met General Grant’s staff-officer near Bolton

Station, who turned us to the right, with orders to push on to

Vicksburg by what was known as the upper Jackson Road, which

crossed the Big Black at Bridgeport. During that day (May 16th)

the battle of Champion Hills had been fought and won by

McClernand’s and McPherson’s corps, aided by one division of mine

(Blairs), under the immediate command of General Grant; and

McPherson was then following the mass of Pemberton’s army,

disordered and retreating toward Vicksburg by the Edwards’s Ferry

road. General Blair’s division had come up from the rear, was

temporarily attached to McClernand’s corps, taking part with it in

the battle of Champion Hills, but on the 17th it was ordered by

General Grant across to Bridgeport, to join me there.

Just beyond Bolton there was a small hewn-log house, standing back

in a yard, in which was a well; at this some of our soldiers were

drawing water. I rode in to get a drink, and, seeing a book on the

ground, asked some soldier to hand it to me. It was a volume of

the Constitution of the United States, and on the title-page was

written the name of Jefferson Davis. On inquiry of a negro, I

learned that the place belonged to the then President of the

Southern Confederation. His brother Joe Davis’s plantation was not

far off; one of my staff-officers went there, with a few soldiers,

and took a pair of carriage-horses, without my knowledge at the

time. He found Joe Davis at home, an old man, attended by a young

and affectionate niece; but they were overwhelmed with grief to see

their country overran and swarming with Federal troops.

We pushed on, and reached the Big Black early, Blair’s

troops having preceded us by an hour or so. I found General

Blair in person, and he reported that there was no bridge across

the Big Black; that it was swimming-deep; and that there was

a rebel force on the opposite side, intrenched. He had ordered

a detachment of the Thirteenth United States Regulars, under

Captain Charles Ewing, to strip some artillery-horses, mount the

men, and swim the river above the ferry, to attack and drive

away the party on the opposite bank. I did not approve of this

risky attempt, but crept down close to the brink of the river-

bank, behind a corn-crib belonging to a plantation house near by,

and saw the parapet on the opposite bank. Ordering a section of

guns to be brought forward by hand behind this corn-crib, a few

well-directed shells brought out of their holes the little party

that was covering the crossing, viz., a lieutenant and ten men,

who came down to the river-bank and surrendered. Blair’s pon-

toon-train was brought up, consisting of India-rubber boats, one

of which was inflated, used as a boat, and brought over the

prisoners. A pontoon-bridge was at once begun, finished by night,

and the troops began the passage. After dark, the whole scene was

lit up with fires of pitch-pine. General Grant joined me there,

and we sat on a log, looking at the passage of the troops by the

light of those fires; the bridge swayed to and fro under the

passing feet, and made a fine war-picture. At daybreak we moved

on, ascending the ridge, and by 10 a.m. the head of my column, long

drawn out, reached the Benton road, and gave us command of the

peninsula between the Yazoo and Big Black. I dispatched Colonel

Swan, of the Fourth Iowa Cavalry, to Haines’s Bluff, to capture

that battery from the rear, and he afterward reported that he found

it abandoned, its garrison having hastily retreated into Vicksburg,

leaving their guns partially disabled, a magazine full of

ammunition, and a hospital full of wounded and sick men. Colonel

Swan saw one of our gunboats lying about two miles below in the

Yazoo, to which he signaled. She steamed up, and to its commander

the cavalry turned over the battery at Haines’s Bluff, and rejoined

me in front of Vicksburg. Allowing a couple of hours for rest and

to close up the column, I resumed the march straight on Vicksburg.

About two miles before reaching the forts, the road forked; the

left was the main Jackson road, and the right was the “graveyard”

road, which entered Vicksburg near a large cemetery. General Grant

in person directed me to take the right-hand road, but, as

McPherson had not yet got up from the direction of the

railroad-bridge at Big Black, I sent the Eighth Missouri on the

main Jackson road, to push the rebel skirmishers into town, and to

remain until relieved by McPherson’s advance, which happened late

that evening, May 18th. The battalion of the Thirteenth United

States Regulars, commanded by Captain Washington, was at the head

of the column on the right-hand road, and pushed the rebels close

behind their parapets; one of my staff, Captain Pitzman, receiving

a dangerous wound in the hip, which apparently disabled him for

life. By night Blair’s whole division had closed up against the

defenses of Vicksburg, which were found to be strong and well

manned; and, on General Steele’s head of column arriving, I turned

it still more to the right, with orders to work its way down the

bluff, so as to make connection with our fleet in the Mississippi

River. There was a good deal of desultory fighting that evening,

and a man was killed by the aide of General Grant and myself, as we

sat by the road-side looking at Steele’s division passing to the

right. General Steele’s men reached the road which led from

Vicksburg up to Haines’s Bluff, which road lay at the foot of the

hills, and intercepted some prisoners and wagons which were coming

down from Haines’s Bluff.

All that night McPherson’s troops were arriving by the main Jackson

road, and McClernand’a by another near the railroad, deploying

forward as fast as they struck the rebel works. My corps (the

Fifteenth) had the right of the line of investment; McPherson’s

(the Seventeenth) the centre; and McClernand’s (the Thirteenth) the

left, reaching from the river above to the railroad below. Our

lines connected, and invested about three-quarters of the

land-front of the fortifications of Vicksburg. On the supposition

that the garrison of Vicksburg was demoralized by the defeats at

Champion Hills and at the railroad crossing of the Big Black,

General Grant ordered an assault at our respective fronts on the

19th. My troops reached the top of the parapet, but could not

cross over. The rebel parapets were strongly manned, and the enemy

fought hard and well. My loss was pretty heavy, falling chiefly on

the Thirteenth Regulars, whose commanding officer, Captain

Washington, was killed, and several other regiments were pretty

badly cut up. We, however, held the ground up to the ditch till

night, and then drew back only a short distance, and began to

counter-trench. On the graveyard road, our parapet was within less

than fifty yards of the rebel ditch.

On the 20th of May, General Grant called the three corps commanders

together, viz., McClernand, McPherson, and Sherman. We compared

notes, and agreed that the assault of the day before had failed, by

reason of the natural strength of the position, and because we were

forced by the nature of the ground to limit our attacks to the

strongest parts of the enemy’s line, viz., where the three

principal roads entered the city.

It was not a council of war, but a mere consultation, resulting in

orders from General Grant for us to make all possible preparations

for a renewed assault on the 22d, simultaneously, at 10 a.m. I

reconnoitred my front thoroughly in person, from right to left, and

concluded to make my real attack at the right flank of the bastion,


where the graveyard road entered the enemy’s intrenchments, and at

another point in the curtain about a hundred yards to its right

(our left); also to make a strong demonstration by Steele’s

division, about a mile to our right, toward the river. All our

field batteries were put in position, and were covered by good

epaulements; the troops were brought forward, in easy support,

concealed by the shape of the ground; and to the: minute, viz.,

10 a.m. of May 22d, the troops sprang to the assault. A small

party, that might be called a forlorn hope, provided with plank to

cross the ditch, advanced at a run, up to the very ditch; the lines

of infantry sprang from cover, and advanced rapidly in line of

battle. I took a position within two hundred yards of the rebel

parapet, on the off slope of a spur of ground, where by advancing

two or three steps I could see every thing. The rebel line,

concealed by the parapet, showed no sign of unusual activity, but

as our troops came in fair view, the enemy rose behind their

parapet and poured a furious fire upon our lines; and, for about

two hours, we had a severe and bloody battle, but at every point we

were repulsed. In the very midst of this, when shell and shot fell

furious and fast, occurred that little episode which has been

celebrated in song and story, of the boy Orion P. Howe, badly

wounded, bearing me a message for cartridges, calibre 54,

described in my letter to the Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War.

This boy was afterward appointed a cadet to the United States Naval

Academy, at Annapolis, but he could not graduate, and I do not now

know what has become of him.

After our men had been fairly beaten back from off the parapet, and

had got cover behind the spurs of ground close up to the rebel

works, General Grant came to where I was, on foot, having left his

horse some distance to the rear. I pointed out to him the rebel

works, admitted that my assault had failed, and he said the result

with McPherson and McClernand was about the same. While he was

with me, an orderly or staff-officer came and handed him a piece of

paper, which he read and handed to me. I think the writing was in

pencil, on a loose piece of paper, and was in General McClernand’s

handwriting, to the effect that “his troops had captured the rebel

parapet in his front,” that, “the flag of the Union waved over the

stronghold of Vicksburg,” and asking him (General Grant) to give

renewed orders to McPherson and Sherman to press their attacks on

their respective fronts, lest the enemy should concentrate on him

(McClernand). General Grant said, “I don’t believe a word of it;”

but I reasoned with him, that this note was official, and must be

credited, and I offered to renew the assault at once with new

troops. He said he would instantly ride down the line to

McClernand’s front, and if I did not receive orders to the

contrary, by 3 o’clock p.m., I might try it again. Mower’s fresh

brigade was brought up under cover, and some changes were made in

Giles Smith’s brigade; and, punctually at 3 p.m., hearing heavy

firing down along the line to my left, I ordered the second

assault. It was a repetition of the first, equally unsuccessful

and bloody. It also transpired that the same thing had occurred

with General McPherson, who lost in this second assault some most

valuable officers and men, without adequate result; and that

General McClernand, instead of having taken any single point of the

rebel main parapet, had only taken one or two small outlying

lunettes open to the rear, where his men were at the mercy of the

rebels behind their main parapet, and most of them were actually

thus captured. This affair caused great feeling with us, and

severe criticisms on General McClernand, which led finally to his

removal from the command of the Thirteenth Corps, to which General

Ord succeeded. The immediate cause, however, of General

McClernand’s removal was the publication of a sort of

congratulatory order addressed to his troops, first published in

St. Louis, in which he claimed that he had actually succeeded in

making a lodgment in Vicksburg, but had lost it, owing to the fact

that McPherson and Sherman did not fulfill their parts of the

general plan of attack. This was simply untrue. The two several

assaults made May 22d, on the lines of Vicksburg, had failed, by

reason of the great strength of the position and the determined

fighting of its garrison. I have since seen the position at

Sevastopol, and without hesitation I declare that at Vicksburg to

have been the more difficult of the two.

Thereafter our proceedings were all in the nature of a siege.

General Grant drew more troops from Memphis, to prolong our general

line to the left, so as completely to invest the place on its

land-side, while the navy held the river both above and below.

General Mower’s brigade of Tuttle’s division was also sent across

the river to the peninsula, so that by May 31st Vicksburg was

completely beleaguered. Good roads were constructed from our camps

to the several landing-places on the Yazoo River, to which points

our boats brought us ample supplies; so that we were in a splendid

condition for a siege, while our enemy was shut up in a close fort,

with a large civil population of men, women, and children to feed,

in addition to his combatant force. If we could prevent sallies,

or relief from the outside, the fate of the garrison of Vicksburg

was merely a question of time.

I had my headquarters camp close up to the works, near the centre

of my corps, and General Grant had his bivouac behind a ravine to

my rear. We estimated Pemberton’s whole force in Vicksburg at

thirty thousand men, and it was well known that the rebel General

Joseph E. Johnston was engaged in collecting another strong force

near the Big Black, with the intention to attack our rear, and thus

to afford Pemberton an opportunity to escape with his men. Even

then the ability of General Johnston was recognized, and General

Grant told me that he was about the only general on that side whom

he feared. Each corps kept strong pickets well to the rear; but,

as the rumors of Johnston’s accumulating force reached us, General

Grant concluded to take stronger measures. He had received from

the North General J. G. Parker’s corps (Ninth), which had been

posted at Haines’s Bluff; then, detailing one division from each of

the three corps d’armee investing Vicksburg, he ordered me to go

out, take a general command of all, and to counteract any movement

on the part of General Johnston to relieve Vicksburg. I

reconnoitred the whole country, from Haines’s Bluff to the railroad

bridge, and posted the troops thus:

Parke’s two divisions from Haines’s Bluff out to the Benton or

ridge road; Tuttle’s division, of my corps, joining on and

extending to a plantation called Young’s, overlooking Bear Creek

valley, which empties into the Big Black above Messinger’s Ferry;

then McArthurs division, of McPherson’s corps, took up the line,

and reached to Osterhaus’s division of McClernand’s corps, which

held a strong fortified position at the railroad-crossing of the

Big Black River. I was of opinion that, if Johnston should cross

the Big Black, he could by the favorable nature of the country be

held in check till a concentration could be effected by us at the

point threatened. From the best information we could gather,

General Johnston had about thirty or forty thousand men. I took

post near a plantation of one Trible, near Markham’s, and

frequently reconnoitred the whole line, and could see the enemy

engaged in like manner, on the east aide of Big Black; but he never

attempted actually to cross over, except with some cavalry, just

above Bear Creek, which was easily driven back. I was there from

June 20th to the 4th of July. In a small log-house near Markham’s

was the family of Mr. Klein, whose wife was the daughter of Mrs.

Day, of New Orleans, who in turn was the sister of Judge T. W.

Bartley, my brother-in-law. I used frequently to drop in and take

a meal with them, and Mrs. Klein was generally known as the

general’s cousin, which doubtless saved her and her family from

molestation, too common on the part of our men.

One day, as I was riding the line near a farm known as Parson

Fog’s, I heard that the family of a Mr. Wilkinson, of New Orleans,

was “refugeeing” at a house near by. I rode up, inquired, and

found two young girls of that name, who said they were the children

of General Wilkinson, of Louisiana, and that their brother had been

at the Military School at Alexandria. Inquiring for their mother,

I was told she was spending the day at Parson Fox’s. As this house

was on my route, I rode there, went through a large gate into the

yard, followed by my staff and escort, and found quite a number of

ladies sitting on the porch. I rode up and inquired if that were

Parson Fox’s. The parson, a fine-looking, venerable old man, rose,

and said that he was Parson Fox. I then inquired for Mrs.

Wilkinson, when an elderly lady answered that she was the person.

I asked her if she were from Plaquemine Parish, Louisiana, and she

said she was. I then inquired if she had a son who had been a

cadet at Alexandria when General Sherman was superintendent, and

she answered yes. I then announced myself, inquired after the boy,

and she said he was inside of Vicksburg, an artillery lieutenant.

I then asked about her husband, whom I had known, when she burst

into tears, and cried out in agony, “You killed him at Bull Run,

where he was fighting for his country!” I disclaimed killing

anybody at Bull Run; but all the women present (nearly a dozen)

burst into loud lamentations, which made it most uncomfortable for

me, and I rode away. On the 3d of July, as I sat at my bivouac by

the road-side near Trible’s, I saw a poor, miserable horse,

carrying a lady, and led by a little negro boy, coming across a

cotton-field toward me; as they approached I recognized poor Mrs.

Wilkinson, and helped her to dismount. I inquired what had brought

her to me in that style, and she answered that she knew Vicksburg,

was going to surrender, and she wanted to go right away to see her

boy. I had a telegraph-wire to General Grant’s headquarters, and

had heard that there were symptoms of surrender, but as yet nothing

definite. I tried to console and dissuade her, but she was

resolved, and I could not help giving her a letter to General

Grant, explaining to him who she was, and asking him to give her

the earliest opportunity to see her son. The distance was fully

twenty miles, but off she started, and I afterward learned that my

letter had enabled her to see her son, who had escaped unharmed.

Later in the day I got by telegraph General Grant’s notice of the

negotiations for surrender; and, by his directions, gave general

orders to my troops to be ready at a moment’s notice to cross the

Big Black, and go for Joe Johnston.

The next day (July 4, 1863) Vicksburg surrendered, and orders were

given for at once attacking General Johnston. The Thirteenth Corps

(General Ord) was ordered to march rapidly, and cross the Big Black

at the railroad-bridge; the Fifteenth by Mesainger’s, and the Ninth

(General Parker) by Birdsong’s Ferry-all to converge on Bolton. My

corps crossed the Big Black during the 5th and 6th of July, and

marched for Bolton, where we came in with General Ord’s troops; but

the Ninth Corps was delayed in crossing at Birdsong’s. Johnston

had received timely notice of Pemberton’s surrender, and was in

full retreat for Jackson. On the 8th all our troops reached the

neighborhood of Clinton, the weather fearfully hot, and water

scarce. Johnston had marched rapidly, and in retreating had caused

cattle, hogs, and sheep, to be driven into the ponds of water, and

there shot down; so that we had to haul their dead and stinking

carcasses out to use the water. On the l0th of July we had driven

the rebel army into Jackson, where it turned at bay behind the

intrenchments, which had been enlarged and strengthened since our

former visit in May. We closed our lines about Jackson; my corps

(Fifteenth) held the centre, extending from the Clinton to the

Raymond road; Ord’s (Thirteenth) on the right, reaching Pearl River

below the town; and Parker’s (Ninth) the left, above the town.

On the 11th we pressed close in, and shelled the town from every

direction. One of Ords brigades (Lauman’s) got too close, and was

very roughly handled and driven back in disorder. General Ord

accused the commander (General Lauman) of having disregarded his

orders, and attributed to him personally the disaster and heavy

loss of men. He requested his relief, which I granted, and General

Lauman went to the rear, and never regained his division. He died

after the war, in Iowa, much respected, as before that time he had

been universally esteemed a most gallant and excellent officer.

The weather was fearfully hot, but we continued to press the siege

day and night, using our artillery pretty freely; and on the

morning of July 17th the place was found evacuated. General

Steele’s division was sent in pursuit as far as Brandon (fourteen

miles), but General Johnston had carried his army safely off, and

pursuit in that hot weather would have been fatal to my command.

Reporting the fact to General Grant, he ordered me to return, to

send General Parkes’s corps to Haines’s Bluff, General Ord’s back

to Vicksburg, and he consented that I should encamp my whole corps

near the Big Black, pretty much on the same ground we had occupied

before the movement, and with the prospect of a period of rest for

the remainder of the summer. We reached our camps on the 27th of


Meantime, a division of troops, commanded by Brigadier-General W.

Sooy Smith, had been added to my corps. General Smith applied for

and received a sick-leave on the 20th of July; Brigadier-General

Hugh Ewing was assigned to its command; and from that time it

constituted the Fourth Division of the Fifteenth Army Corps.

Port Hudson had surrendered to General Banks on the 8th of July (a

necessary consequence of the fall of Vicksburg), and thus

terminated probably the most important enterprise of the civil war-

-the recovery of the complete control of the Mississippi River,

from its source to its mouth–or, in the language of Mr. Lincoln,

the Mississippi went “unvexed to the sea.”

I put my four divisions into handsome, clean camps, looking to

health and comfort alone, and had my headquarters in a beautiful

grove near the house of that same Parson Fox where I had found the

crowd of weeping rebel women waiting for the fate of their friends

in Vicksburg.

The loss sustained by the Fifteenth Corps in the assault of May

19th, at Vicksburg, was mostly confined to the battalion of the


Thirteenth Regulars, whose commanding officer, Captain Washington,

was mortally wounded, and afterward died in the hands of the enemy,

which battalion lost seventy-seven men out of the two hundred and

fifty engaged; the Eighty-third Indiana (Colonel Spooner), and the

One Hundred and Twenty seventh Illinois (Lieutenant-Colonel

Eldridge), the aggregate being about two hundred.

In the assaults of the 22d, the loss in the Fifteenth Corps was

about six hundred.

In the attack on Jackson, Mississippi, during the 11th-16th of

July, General Ord reported the loss in the Thirteenth Army Corps

seven hundred and sixty-two, of which five hundred and thirty-three

were confined to Lauman’s division; General Parkes reported, in the

Ninth Corps, thirty-seven killed, two hundred and fifty-eight

wounded, and thirty-three missing: total, three hundred and

twenty-eight. In the Fifteenth Corps the loss was less; so that,

in the aggregate, the loss as reported by me at the time was less

than a thousand men, while we took that number alone of prisoners.

In General Grant’s entire army before Vicksburg, composed of the

Ninth, part of the Sixteenth, and the whole of the Thirteenth;

Fifteenth, and Seventeenth Corps, the aggregate loss, as stated by

Badeau, was:

Killed: ………………….. 1243

Wounded:………………….. 7095

Missing: …………………. 535

Total: …………………… 8873

Whereas the Confederate loss, as stated by the same author,

Surrendered at Vicksburg ………….. 32000

Captured at Champion Hills…………. 3000

Captured at Big Black Bridge ………. 2000

Captured at Port Gibson……………. 2000

Captured with Loring ……………… 4000

Killed and wounded ……………….. 10000

Stragglers……………………….. 3000

Total……………………………. 56000

Besides which, “a large amount of public property, consisting of

railroads, locomotives, cars, steamers, cotton, guns, muskets,

ammunition, etc., etc., was captured in Vicksburg.”

The value of the capture of Vicksburg, however, was not measured by

the list of prisoners, guns, and small-arms, but by the fact that

its possession secured the navigation of the great central river of

the continent, bisected fatally the Southern Confederacy, and set

the armies which had been used in its conquest free for other

purposes; and it so happened that the event coincided as to time

with another great victory which crowned our arms far away, at

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. That was a defensive battle, whereas

ours was offensive in the highest acceptation of the term, and the

two, occurring at the same moment of time, should have ended the

war; but the rebel leaders were mad, and seemed determined that

their people should drink of the very lowest dregs of the cup of

war, which they themselves had prepared.

The campaign of Vicksburg, in its conception and execution,

belonged exclusively to General Grant, not only in the great whole,

but in the thousands of its details. I still retain many of his

letters and notes, all in his own handwriting, prescribing the

routes of march for divisions and detachments, specifying even the

amount of food and tools to be carried along. Many persons gave

his adjutant general, Rawlins, the credit for these things, but

they were in error; for no commanding general of an army ever gave

more of his personal attention to details, or wrote so many of his

own orders, reports, and letters, as General Grant. His success at

Vicksburg justly gave him great fame at home and abroad. The

President conferred on him the rank of major-general in the regular

army, the highest grade then existing by law; and General McPherson

and I shared in his success by receiving similar commissions as

brigadier-generals in the regular army.

But our success at Vicksburg produced other results not so

favorable to our cause–a general relaxation of effort, and desire

to escape the hard drudgery of camp: officers sought leaves of

absence to visit their homes, and soldiers obtained furloughs and

discharges on the most slender pretexts; even the General

Government seemed to relax in its efforts to replenish our ranks

with new men, or to enforce the draft, and the politicians were

pressing their schemes to reorganize or patch up some form of civil

government, as fast as the armies gained partial possession of the


In order to illustrate this peculiar phase of our civil war, I give

at this place copies of certain letters which have not heretofore

been published:


WASHINGTON, Augustt 29, 1868.

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, Vicksburg, Mississippi

My DEAR GENERAL: The question of reconstruction in Louisiana,

Mississippi, and Arkansas, will soon come up for decision of the

Government, and not only the length of the war, but our ultimate

and complete success, will depend upon its decision. It is a

difficult matter, but I believe it can be successfully solved, if

the President will consult opinions of cool and discreet men, who

are capable of looking at it in all its bearings and effects. I

think he is disposed to receive the advice of our generals who have

been in these States, and know much more of their condition than

gassy politicians in Congress. General Banks has written pretty

fully, on the subject. I wrote to General Grant, immediately,

after the fall of Vicksburg, for his views in regard to

Mississippi, but he has not yet answered.

I wish you would consult with Grant, McPherson, and others of cool,

good judgment, and write me your views fully, as I may wish to use

them with the President. You had better write me unofficially, and

then your letter will not be put on file, and cannot hereafter be

used against you. You have been in Washington enough to know how

every thing a man writes or says is picked up by his enemies and

misconstrued. With kind wishes for your further success,

I am yours truly,


[Private and Confidential.]



H. W. HALLECK, Commander-in-Chief, Washington, D. C.

DEAR GENERAL: I have received your letter of August 29th, and with

pleasure confide to you fully my thoughts on the important matters

you suggest, with absolute confidence that you will use what is

valuable, and reject the useless or superfluous.

That part of the continent of North America known as Louisiana,

Mississippi, and Arkansas, is in my judgment the key to the whole

interior. The valley of the Mississippi is America, and, although

railroads have changed the economy of intercommunication, yet the

water-channels still mark the lines of fertile land, and afford

cheap carriage to the heavy products of it.

The inhabitants of the country on the Monongahela, the Illinois,

the Minnesota, the Yellowstone, and Osage, are as directly

concerned in the security of the Lower Mississippi as are those who

dwell on its very banks in Louisiana; and now that the nation has

recovered its possession, this generation of men will make a

fearful mistake if they again commit its charge to a people liable

to misuse their position, and assert, as was recently done, that,

because they dwelt on the banks of this mighty stream, they had a

right to control its navigation.

I would deem it very unwise at this time, or for years to come, to

revive the State governments of Louisiana, etc., or to institute in

this quarter any civil government in which the local people have

much to say. They had a government so mild and paternal that they

gradually forgot they had any at all, save what they themselves

controlled; they asserted an absolute right to seize public moneys,

forts, arms, and even to shut up the natural avenues of travel and

commerce. They chose war–they ignored and denied all the

obligations of the solemn contract of government and appealed to


We accepted the issue, and now they begin to realize that war is a

two-edged sword, and it may be that many of the inhabitants cry for

peace. I know them well, and the very impulses of their nature;

and to deal with the inhabitants of that part of the South which

borders on the great river, we must recognize the classes into

which they have divided themselves

First. The large planters, owning lands, slaves, and all kinds of

personal property. These are, on the whole, the ruling class.

They are educated, wealthy, and easily approached. In some

districts they are bitter as gall, and have given up slaves,

plantations, and all, serving in the armies of the Confederacy;

whereas, in others, they are conservative. None dare admit a

friendship for us, though they say freely that they were at the

outset opposed to war and disunion. I know we can manage this

class, but only by action. Argument is exhausted, and words have

lost their usual meaning. Nothing but the logic of events touches

their understanding; but, of late, this has worked a wonderful

change. If our country were like Europe, crowded with people, I

would say it would be easier to replace this class than to

reconstruct it, subordinate to the policy of the nation; but, as

this is not the case, it is better to allow the planters, with

individual exceptions, gradually to recover their plantations, to

hire any species of labor, and to adapt themselves to the new order

of things. Still, their friendship and assistance to reconstruct

order out of the present ruin cannot be depended on. They watch

the operations of our armies, and hope still for a Southern

Confederacy that will restore to them the slaves and privileges

which they feel are otherwise lost forever. In my judgment, we

have two more battles to win before we should even bother our minds

with the idea of restoring civil order–viz., one near Meridian, in

November, and one near Shreveport, in February and March next, when

Red River is navigable by our gunboats. When these are done, then,

and not until then, will the planters of Louisiana, Arkansas, and

Mississippi, submit. Slavery is already gone, and, to cultivate

the land, negro or other labor must be hired. This, of itself, is

a vast revolution, and time must be afforded to allow men to adjust

their minds and habits to this new order of things. A civil

government of the representative type would suit this class far

less than a pure military role, readily adapting itself to actual

occurrences, and able to enforce its laws and orders promptly and


Second. The smaller farmers, mechanics, merchants, and laborers.

This class will probably number three-quarters of the whole; have,

in fact, no real interest in the establishment of a Southern

Confederacy, and have been led or driven into war on the false

theory that they were to be benefited somehow–they knew not how.

They are essentially tired of the war, and would slink back home if

they could. These are the real tiers etat of the South, and are

hardly worthy a thought; for they swerve to and fro according to

events which they do not comprehend or attempt to shape. When the

time for reconstruction comes, they will want the old political

system of caucuses, Legislatures, etc., to amuse them and make them

believe they are real sovereigns; but in all things they will

follow blindly the lead of the planters. The Southern politicians,

who understand this class, use them as the French do their masses–

seemingly consult their prejudices, while they make their orders

and enforce them. We should do the same.

Third. The Union men of the South. I must confess I have little

respect for this class. They allowed a clamorous set of demagogues

to muzzle and drive them as a pack of curs. Afraid of shadows,

they submit tamely to squads of dragoons, and permit them, without

a murmur, to burn their cotton, take their horses, corn, and every

thing; and, when we reach them, they are full of complaints if our

men take a few fence-rails for fire, or corn to feed our horses.

They give us no assistance or information, and are loudest in their

complaints at the smallest excesses of our soldiers. Their sons,

horses, arms, and every thing useful, are in the army against us,

and they stay at home, claiming all the exemptions of peaceful

citizens. I account them as nothing in this great game of war.

Fourth. The young bloods of the South: sons of planters, lawyers

about towns, good billiard-players and sportsmen, men who never did

work and never will. War suits them, and the rascals are brave,

fine riders, bold to rashness, and dangerous subjects in every

sense. They care not a sou for niggers, land, or any thing. They

hate Yankees per se, and don’t bother their brains about the past,

present, or future. As long as they have good horses, plenty of

forage, and an open country, they are happy. This is a larger

class than most men suppose, and they are the most dangerous set of

men that this war has turned loose upon the world. They are

splendid riders, first-rate shots, and utterly reckless. Stewart,

John Morgan, Forrest, and Jackson, are the types and leaders of

this class. These men must all be killed or employed by us before

we can hope for peace. They have no property or future, and

therefore cannot be influenced by any thing, except personal

considerations. I have two brigades of these fellows in my front,

commanded by Cosby, of the old army, and Whitfield, of Texas.

Stephen D. Lee is in command of the whole. I have frequent

interviews with their officers, a good understanding with them, and

am inclined to think, when the resources of their country are

exhausted, we must employ them. They are the best cavalry in the

world, but it will tax Mr. Chase’s genius for finance to supply

them with horses. At present horses cost them nothing; for they

take where they find, and don’t bother their brains as to who is to

pay for them; the same may be said of the cornfields, which have,

as they believe, been cultivated by a good-natured people for their

special benefit. We propose to share with them the free use of

these cornfields, planted by willing hands, that will never gather

the crops.

Now that I have sketched the people who inhabit the district of

country under consideration, I will proceed to discuss the future.

A civil government now, for any part of it, would be simply

ridiculous. The people would not regard it, and even the military

commanders of the antagonistic parties would treat it lightly.

Governors would be simply petitioners for military assistance, to

protect supposed friendly interests, and military commanders would

refuse to disperse and weaken their armies for military reasons.

Jealousies would arise between the two conflicting powers, and,

instead of contributing to the end of the war, would actually defer

it. Therefore, I contend that the interests of the United States,

and of the real parties concerned, demand the continuance of the

simple military role, till after all the organized armies of the

South are dispersed, conquered, and subjugated.

The people of all this region are represented in the Army of

Virginia, at Charleston, Mobile, and Chattanooga. They have sons

and relations in each of the rebel armies, and naturally are

interested in their fate. Though we hold military possession of

the key-points of their country, still they contend, and naturally,

that should Lee succeed in Virginia, or Bragg at Chattanooga, a

change will occur here also. We cannot for this reason attempt to

reconstruct parts of the South as we conquer it, till all idea of

the establishment of a Southern Confederacy is abandoned. We

should avail ourselves of the present lull to secure the


strategical points that will give us an advantage in the future

military movements, and we should treat the idea of civil

government as one in which we as a nation have a minor or

subordinate interest. The opportunity is good to impress on the

population the truth that they are more interested in civil

government than we are; and that, to enjoy the protection of laws,

they most not be passive observers of events, but must aid and

sustain the constituted authorities in enforcing the laws; they

must not only submit themselves, but should pay their share of

taxes, and render personal services when called on.

It seems to me, in contemplating the history of the past two years,

that all the people of our country, North, South, East, and West,

have been undergoing a salutary political schooling, learning

lessons which might have been acquired from the experience of other

people; but we had all become so wise in our own conceit that we

would only learn by actual experience of our own. The people even

of small and unimportant localities, North as well as South, had

reasoned themselves into the belief that their opinions were

superior to the aggregated interest of the whole nation. Half our

territorial nation rebelled, on a doctrine of secession that they

themselves now scout; and a real numerical majority actually

believed that a little State was endowed with such sovereignty that

it could defeat the policy of the great whole. I think the present

war has exploded that notion, and were this war to cease now, the

experience gained, though dear, would be worth the expense.

Another great and important natural truth is still in contest, and

can only be solved by war. Numerical majorities by vote have been

our great arbiter. Heretofore all men have cheerfully submitted to

it in questions left open, but numerical majorities are not

necessarily physical majorities. The South, though numerically

inferior, contend they can whip the Northern superiority of

numbers, and therefore by natural law they contend that they are

not bound to submit. This issue is the only real one, and in my

judgment all else should be deferred to it. War alone can decide

it, and it is the only question now left for us as a people to

decide. Can we whip the South? If we can, our numerical majority

has both the natural and constitutional right to govern them. If

we cannot whip them, they contend for the natural right to select

their own government, and they have the argument. Our armies must

prevail over theirs; our officers, marshals, and courts, must

penetrate into the innermost recesses of their land, before we have

the natural right to demand their submission.

I would banish all minor questions, assert the broad doctrine that

as a nation the United States has the right, and also the physical

power, to penetrate to every part of our national domain, and that

we will do it–that we will do it in our own time and in our own

way; that it makes no difference whether it be in one year, or two,

or ten, or twenty; that we will remove and destroy every obstacle,

if need be, take every life, every acre of land, every particle of

property, every thing that to us seems proper; that we will not

cease till the end is attained; that all who do not aid us are

enemies, and that we will not account to them for our acts. If the

people of the South oppose, they do so at their peril; and if they

stand by, mere lookers-on in this domestic tragedy, they have no

right to immunity, protection, or share in the final results.

I even believe and contend further that, in the North, every member

of the nation is bound by both natural and constitutional law to

“maintain and defend the Government against all its enemies and

opposers whomsoever.” If they fail to do it they are derelict, and

can be punished, or deprived of all advantages arising from the

labors of those who do. If any man, North or South, withholds his

share of taxes, or his physical assistance in this, the crisis of

our history, he should be deprived of all voice in the future

elections of this country, and might be banished, or reduced to the

condition of a mere denizen of the land.

War is upon us, none can deny it. It is not the choice of the

Government of the United States, but of a faction; the Government

was forced to accept the issue, or to submit to a degradation fatal

and disgraceful to all the inhabitants. In accepting war, it

should be “pure and simple” as applied to the belligerents. I

would keep it so, till all traces of the war are effaced; till

those who appealed to it are sick and tired of it, and come to the

emblem of our nation, and sue for peace. I would not coax them, or

even meet them half-way, but make them so sick of war that

generations would pass away before they would again appeal to it.

I know what I say when I repeat that the insurgents of the South

sneer at all overtures looking to their interests. They scorn the

alliance with the Copperheads; they tell me to my face that they

respect Grant, McPherson, and our brave associates who fight

manfully and well for a principle, but despise the Copperheads and

sneaks at the North, who profess friendship for the South and

opposition to the war, as mere covers for their knavery and


God knows that I deplore this fratricidal war as much as any man

living, but it is upon us, a physical fact; and there is only one

honorable issue from it. We must fight it out, army against army,

and man against man; and I know, and you know, and civilians begin

to realize the fact, that reconciliation and reconstruction will be

easier through and by means of strong, well-equipped, and organized

armies than through any species of conventions that can be framed.

The issues are made, and all discussion is out of place and

ridiculous. The section of thirty-pounder Parrott rifles now

drilling before my tent is a more convincing argument than the

largest Democratic meeting the State of New York can possibly

assemble at Albany; and a simple order of the War Department to

draft enough men to fill our skeleton regiments would be more

convincing as to our national perpetuity than an humble pardon to

Jeff. Davis and all his misled host.

The only government needed or deserved by the States of Louisiana,

Arkansas, and Mississippi, now exists in Grant’s army. This needs,

simply, enough privates to fill its ranks; all else will follow in

due season. This army has its well-defined code of laws and

practice, and can adapt itself to the wants and necessities of a

city, the country, the rivers, the sea, indeed to all parts of this

land. It better subserves the interest and policy of the General

Government, and the people here prefer it to any weak or servile

combination that would at once, from force of habit, revive sad

perpetuate local prejudices and passions. The people of this

country have forfeited all right to a voice in the councils of the

nation. They know it and feel it, and in after-years they will be

the better citizens from the dear bought experience of the present

crisis. Let them learn now, and learn it well, that good citizens

must obey as well as command. Obedience to law, absolute–yea,

even abject–is the lesson that this war, under Providence, will

teach the free and enlightened American citizen. As a nation, we

shall be the better for it.

I never have apprehended foreign interference in our family

quarrel. Of coarse, governments founded on a different and it may

be an antagonistic principle with ours naturally feel a pleasure at

our complications, and, it may be, wish our downfall; but in the

end England and France will join with us in jubilation at the

triumph of constitutional government over faction. Even now the

English manifest this. I do not profess to understand Napoleon’s

design in Mexico, and I do not, see that his taking military

possession of Mexico concerns us. We have as much territory now as

we want. The Mexicans have failed in self-government, and it was a

question as to what nation she should fall a prey. That is now

solved, and I don’t see that we are damaged. We have the finest

part of the North American Continent, all we can people and can

take care of; and, if we can suppress rebellion in our own land,

and compose the strife generated by it, we shall have enough

people, resources, and wealth, if well combined, to defy

interference from any and every quarter.

I therefore hope the Government of the United States will continue,

as heretofore, to collect, in well-organized armies, the physical

strength of the nation; applying it, as heretofore, in asserting

the national authority; and in persevering, without relaxation, to

the end. This, whether near or far off, is not for us to say; but,

fortunately, we have no choice. We must succeed–no other choice

is left us except degradation. The South must be ruled by us, or

she will rule us. We must conquer them, or ourselves be conquered.

There is no middle course. They ask, and will have, nothing else,

and talk of compromise is bosh; for we know they would even scorn

the offer.

I wish the war could have been deferred for twenty years, till the

superabundant population of the North could flow in and replace the

losses sustained by war; but this could not be, and we are forced

to take things as they are.

All therefore I can now venture to advise is to raise the draft to

its maximum, fill the present regiments to as large a standard as

possible, and push the war, pure and simple. Great attention

should be paid to the discipline of our armies, for on them may be

founded the future stability of the Government.

The cost of the war is, of course, to be considered, but finances

will adjust themselves to the actual state of affairs; and, even if

we would, we could not change the cost. Indeed, the larger the

cost now, the less will it be in the end; for the end must be

attained somehow, regardless of loss of life and treasure, and is

merely a question of time.

Excuse so long a letter. With great respect, etc.,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

General Halleck, on receipt of this letter, telegraphed me that Mr.

Lincoln had read it carefully, and had instructed him to obtain my

consent to have it published. At the time, I preferred not to be

drawn into any newspaper controversy, and so wrote to General

Halleck; and the above letter has never been, to my knowledge,

published; though Mr. Lincoln more than once referred to it with

marks of approval.


CAMP ON BIG BLACK, September 17, 1863

Brigadier-General J. A. RAWLINS,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Vicksburg.

DEAR GENERAL: I inclose for your perusal, and for you to read to

General Grant such parts as you deem interesting, letters received

by me from Prof. Mahan and General Halleck, with my answers. After

you have read my answer to General Halleck, I beg you to inclose it

to its address, and return me the others.

I think Prof. Mahan’s very marked encomium upon the campaign of

Vicksburg is so flattering to General Grant, that you may offer to

let him keep the letter, if he values such a testimonial. I have

never written a word to General Halleck since my report of last

December, after the affair at Chickasaw, except a short letter a

few days ago, thanking him for the kind manner of his transmitting

to me the appointment of brigadier-general. I know that in

Washington I am incomprehensible, because at the outset of the war

I would not go it blind and rush headlong into a war unprepared and

with an utter ignorance of its extent and purpose. I was then

construed unsound; and now that I insist on war pure and simple,

with no admixture of civil compromises, I am supposed vindictive.

You remember what Polonius said to his son Laertes: “Beware of

entrance to a quarrel; but, being in, bear it, that the opposed may

beware of thee.” What is true of the single man, is equally true

of a nation. Our leaders seemed at first to thirst for the

quarrel, willing, even anxious, to array against us all possible

elements of opposition; and now, being in, they would hasten to

quit long before the “opposed” has received that lesson which he

needs. I would make this war as severe as possible, and show no

symptoms of tiring till the South begs for mercy; indeed, I know,

and you know, that the end would be reached quicker by such a

course than by any seeming yielding on our part. I don’t want our

Government to be bothered by patching up local governments, or by

trying to reconcile any class of men. The South has done her

worst, and now is the time for us to pile on our blows thick and


Instead of postponing the draft till after the elections, we ought

now to have our ranks full of drafted men; and, at best, if they

come at all, they will reach us when we should be in motion.

I think General Halleck would like to have the honest, candid

opinions of all of us, viz., Grant, McPherson, and Sherman. I have

given mine, and would prefer, of course, that it should coincide

with the others. Still, no matter what my opinion may be, I can

easily adapt my conduct to the plane of others, and am only too

happy when I find theirs better, than mine.

If no trouble, please show Halleck’s letter to McPherson, and ask

him to write also. I know his regiments are like mine (mere

squads), and need filling up. Yours truly,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.




After the fall of Vicksburg, and its corollary, Port Hudson, the

Mississippi River was wholly in the possession of the Union forces,

and formed a perfect line of separation in the territories of our

opponents. Thenceforth, they could not cross it save by stealth,

and the military affairs on its west bank became unimportant.

Grant’s army had seemingly completed its share of the work of war,

and lay, as it were, idle for a time. In person General Grant went

to New Orleans to confer with General Banks, and his victorious

army was somewhat dispersed. Parke’s corps (Ninth) returned to

Kentucky, and afterward formed part of the Army of the Ohio, under

General Burnside; Ord’s corps (Thirteenth) was sent down to

Natchez, and gradually drifted to New Orleans and Texas; McPhersons

(Seventeenth) remained in and near Vicksburg; Hurlbut’s (Sixteenth)

was at Memphis; and mine (Fifteenth) was encamped along the Big

Black, about twenty miles east of Vicksburg. This corps was

composed of four divisions: Steele’s (the First) was posted at and

near the railroad-bridge; Blair’s (the Second), next in order, near

Parson Fox’s; the Third Division (Tuttle’s) was on the ridge about

the head of Bear Creek; and the Fourth (Ewing’s) was at Messinger’s


Ford. My own headquarters were in tents in a fine grove of old

oaks near Parson Fox’s house, and the battalion of the Thirteenth

Regulars was the headquarters guard.

All the camps were arranged for health, comfort, rest, and drill.

It being midsummer, we did not expect any change till the autumn

months, and accordingly made ourselves as comfortable as possible.

There was a short railroad in operation from Vicksburg to the

bridge across the Big Black, whence supplies in abundance were

hauled to our respective camps. With a knowledge of this fact Mrs.

Sherman came down from Ohio with Minnie, Lizzie, Willie, and Tom,

to pay us a visit in our camp at Parson Fog’s. Willie was then

nine years old, was well advanced for his years, and took the most

intense interest in the affairs of the army. He was a great

favorite with the soldiers, and used to ride with me on horseback

in the numerous drills and reviews of the time. He then had the

promise of as long a life as any of my children, and displayed more

interest in the war than any of them. He was called a “sergeant”

in the regular battalion, learned the manual of arms, and regularly

attended the parade and guard-mounting of the Thirteenth, back of

my camp. We made frequent visits to Vicksburg, and always stopped

with General McPherson, who had a large house, and boarded with a

family (Mrs. Edwards’s) in which were several interesting young

ladies. General Grant occupied another house (Mrs. Lum’s) in

Vicksburg during that summer, and also had his family with him.

The time passed very agreeably, diversified only by little events

of not much significance, among which I will recount only one.

While, we occupied the west bank of the Big Black, the east bank

was watched by a rebel cavalry-division, commanded by General

Armstrong. He had four brigades, commanded by Generals Whitfield,

Stark, Cosby, and Wirt Adams. Quite frequently they communicated

with us by flags of truce on trivial matters, and we reciprocated;

merely to observe them. One day a flag of truce, borne by a

Captain B…., of Louisville, Kentucky, escorted by about

twenty-five men, was reported at Messinger’s Ferry, and I sent

orders to let them come right into my tent. This brought them

through the camps of the Fourth Division, and part of the Second;

and as they drew up in front of my tent, I invited Captain B….

and another officer with him (a major from Mobile) to dismount, to

enter my tent, and to make themselves at home. Their escort was

sent to join mine, with orders to furnish them forage and every

thing they wanted. B…. had brought a sealed letter for General

Grant at Vicksburg, which was dispatched to him. In the evening we

had a good supper, with wine and cigars, and, as we sat talking,

B…. spoke of his father and mother, in Louisville, got leave to

write them a long letter without its being read by any one, and

then we talked about the war. He said: “What is the use of your

persevering? It is simply impossible to subdue eight millions of

people;” asserting that “the feeling in the South had become so

embittered that a reconciliation was impossible.” I answered that,

“sitting as we then were, we appeared very comfortable, and surely

there was no trouble in our becoming friends.” “Yes,” said he,

“that is very true of us, but we are gentlemen of education, and

can easily adapt ourselves to any condition of things; but this

would not apply equally well to the common people, or to the common

soldiers.” I took him out to the camp-fires behind the tent, and

there were the men of his escort and mine mingled together,

drinking their coffee, and happy as soldiers always seem. I asked

B…. what he thought of that, and he admitted that I had the best

of the argument. Before I dismissed this flag of truce, his

companion consulted me confidentially as to what disposition he

ought to make of his family, then in Mobile, and I frankly gave him

the best advice I could.

While we were thus lying idle in camp on the big Black, the Army of

the Cumberland, under General Rosecrans, was moving against Bragg

at Chattanooga; and the Army of the Ohio, General Burnside, was

marching toward East Tennessee. General Rosecrans was so confident

of success that he somewhat scattered his command, seemingly to

surround and capture Bragg in Chattanooga; but the latter,

reenforced from Virginia, drew out of Chattanooga, concentrated his

army at Lafayette, and at Chickamauga fell on Rosecrans, defeated

him, and drove him into Chattanooga. The whole country seemed

paralyzed by this unhappy event; and the authorities in Washington

were thoroughly stampeded. From the East the Eleventh Corps

(Slocum), and the Twelfth Corps (Howard), were sent by rail to

Nashville, and forward under command of General Hooker; orders were

also sent to General Grant, by Halleck, to send what reenforcements

he could spare immediately toward Chattanooga.

Bragg had completely driven Rosecrans’s army into Chattanooga; the

latter was in actual danger of starvation, and the railroad to his

rear seemed inadequate to his supply. The first intimation which I

got of this disaster was on the 22d of September, by an order from

General Grant to dispatch one of my divisions immediately into

Vicksburg, to go toward Chattanooga, and I designated the First,

General Osterhaus–Steele meantime having been appointed to the

command of the Department of Arkansas, and had gone to Little Rock.

General Osterhaus marched the same day, and on the 23d I was

summoned to Vicksburg in person, where General Grant showed me the

alarming dispatches from General Halleck, which had been sent from

Memphis by General Hurlbut, and said, on further thought, that he

would send me and my whole corps. But, inasmuch as one division of

McPherson’s corps (John E. Smith’s) had already started, he

instructed me to leave one of my divisions on the Big Black, and to

get the other two ready to follow at once. I designated the

Second, then commanded by Brigadier-General Giles A. Smith, and the

Fourth, commanded by Brigadier-General Corse.

On the 25th I returned to my camp on Big Black, gave all the

necessary orders for these divisions to move, and for the Third

(Tittle’s) to remain, and went into Vicksburg with my family. The

last of my corps designed for this expedition started from camp on

the 27th, reached Vicksburg the 28th, and were embarked on boats

provided for them. General Halleck’s dispatches dwelt upon the

fact that General Rosecrans’s routes of supply were overtaxed, and

that we should move from Memphis eastward, repairing railroads as

we progressed, as far as Athens, Alabama, whence I was to report to

General Rosecrans, at Chattanooga, by letter.

I took passage for myself and family in the steamer Atlantic,

Captain Henry McDougall. When the boat was ready to start, Willie

was missing. Mrs. Sherman supposed him to have been with me,

whereas I supposed he was with her. An officer of the Thirteenth

went up to General McPherson’s house for him, and soon returned,

with Captain Clift leading him, carrying in his hands a small

double-barreled shot gun; and I joked him about carrying away

captured property. In a short time we got off. As we all stood on

the guards to look at our old camps at Young’s Point, I remarked

that Willie was not well, and he admitted that he was sick. His

mother put him to bed, and consulted Dr. Roler, of the Fifty-fifth

Illinois, who found symptoms of typhoid fever. The river was low;

we made slow progress till above Helena; and, as we approached

Memphis, Dr. Roler told me that Willie’s life was in danger, and he

was extremely anxious to reach Memphis for certain medicines and

for consultation. We arrived at Memphis on the 2d of October,

carried Willie up to the Gayoso Hotel, and got the most experienced

physician there, who acted with Dr. Roler, but he sank rapidly, and

died the evening of the 3d of October. The blow was a terrible one

to us all, so sudden and so unexpected, that I could not help

reproaching myself for having consented to his visit in that sickly

region in the summer-time. Of all my children, he seemed the most

precious. Born in San Francisco, I had watched with intense

interest his development, and he seemed more than any of the

children to take an interest in my special profession. Mrs.

Sherman, Minnie, Lizzie, and Tom, were with him at the time, and we

all, helpless and overwhelmed, saw him die. Being in the very

midst of an important military enterprise, I had hardly time to

pause and think of my personal loss. We procured a metallic

casket, and had a military funeral, the battalion of the Thirteenth

United States Regulars acting as escort from the Gayoso Hotel to

the steamboat Grey Eagle, which conveyed him and my family up to

Cairo, whence they proceeded to our home at Lancaster, Ohio, where

he was buried. I here give my letter to Captain C. C. Smith, who

commanded the battalion at the time, as exhibiting our intense



October 4, 1863, Midnight

Captain C. C. SMITH, commanding Battalion Thirteenth United States


MY DEAR FRIEND: I cannot sleep to-night till I record an expression

of the deep feelings of my heart to you, and to the officers and

soldiers of the battalion, for their kind behavior to my poor

child. I realize that you all feel for my family the attachment of

kindred, and I assure you of full reciprocity. Consistent with a

sense of duty to my profession and office, I could not leave my

post, and sent for the family to come to me in that fatal climate,

and in that sickly period of the year, and behold the result! The

child that bore my name, and in whose future I reposed with more

confidence than I did in my own plan of life, now floats a mere

corpse, seeking a grave in a distant land, with a weeping mother,

brother, and sisters, clustered about him. For myself, I ask no

sympathy. On, on I must go, to meet a soldier’s fate, or live to

see our country rise superior to all factions, till its flag is

adored and respected by ourselves and by all the powers of the


But Willie was, or thought he was, a sergeant in the Thirteenth. I

have seen his eye brighten, his heart beat, as he beheld the

battalion under arms, and asked me if they were not real soldiers.

Child as he was, he had the enthusiasm, the pure love of truth,

honor, and love of country, which should animate all soldiers.

God only knows why he should die thus young. He is dead, but will

not be forgotten till those who knew him in life have followed him

to that same mysterious end.

Please convey to the battalion my heart-felt thanks, and assure

each and all that if in after-years they call on me or mine, and

mention that they were of the Thirteenth Regulars when Willie was a

sergeant, they will have a key to the affections of my family that

will open all it has; that we will share with them our last

blanket, our last crust! Your friend,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-general.

Long afterward, in the spring of 1867, we had his body disinterred

and brought to St. Louis, where he is now buried in a beautiful

spot, in Calvary Cemetery, by the side of another child, “Charles,”

who was born at Lancaster, in the summer of 1864, died early, and

was buried at Notre Dame, Indiana. His body was transferred at the

same time to the same spot. Over Willie’s grave is erected a

beautiful marble monument, designed and executed by the officers

and soldiers, of that battalion which claimed him as a sergeant and


During the summer and fall of 1863 Major-General S. A. Hurlbut was

in command at Memphis. He supplied me copies of all dispatches

from Washington, and all the information he possessed of the events

about Chattanooga. Two of these dispatches cover all essential


WASHINGTON CITY, September 15, 1863–5 p.m.

Major-General S. A. HURLBUT, Memphis:

All the troops that can possibly be spared in West Tennessee and on

the Mississippi River should be sent without delay to assist

General Rosecrans on the Tennessee River.

Urge Sherman to act with all possible promptness.

If you have boats, send them down to bring up his troops.

Information just received indicates that a part of Lee’s army has

been sent to reenforce Bragg.

H. W. HALLECK, General-in-Chief.

Washington, September 19, 1868–4 p.m.

Major-General S. A. HURLBUT, Memphis, Tennessee:

Give me definite information of the number of troops sent toward

Decatur, and where they are. Also, what other troops are to

follow, and when.

Has any thing been heard from the troops ordered from Vicksburg?

No efforts must be spared to support Rosecrans’s right, and to

guard the crossings of the Tennessee River.

H. W. HALLECK, General-in-Chief.

My special orders were to repair the Memphis & Charleston Railroad

eastward as I progressed, as far as Athens, Alabama, to draw

supplies by that route, so that, on reaching Athens, we should not

be dependent on the roads back to Nashville, already overtaxed by

the demand of Rosecrans’s army.

On reaching Memphis, October 2d, I found that Osterhaus’s division

had already gone by rail as far as Corinth, and than John E.

Smith’s division was in the act of starting by cars. The Second

Division, then commanded by Brigadier-General Giles A. Smith,

reached Memphis at the same time with me; and the Fourth Division,

commanded by Brigadier-General John M. Corse, arrived a day or two

after. The railroad was in fair condition as far as Corinth,

ninety-six miles, but the road was badly stocked with locomotives

and cars, so that it took until the 9th to get off the Second

Division, when I gave orders for the Fourth Division and

wagon-trains to march by the common road.

On Sunday morning, October 11th, with a special train loaded with

our orderlies and clerks, the horses of our staff, the battalion of

the Thirteenth United States Regulars, and a few officers going

forward to join their commands, among them Brigadier-General Hugh

Ewing, I started for Corinth.

At Germantown, eight miles, we passed Corse’s division (Fourth) on

the march, and about noon the train ran by the depot at

Colliersville, twenty-six miles out. I was in the rear car with my

staff, dozing, but observed the train slacking speed and stopping

about half a mile beyond the depot. I noticed some soldiers

running to and fro, got out at the end of the car, and soon Colonel

Anthony (Silty-sixth Indiana), who commanded the post, rode up and

said that his pickets had just been driven in, and there was an

appearance of an attack by a large force of cavalry coming from the

southeast. I ordered the men to get off the train, to form on the

knoll near the railroad-cut, and soon observed a rebel officer

riding toward us with a white flag. Colonel Anthony and Colonel

Dayton (one of my aides) were sent to meet him, and to keep him in

conversation as long as possible. They soon returned, saying it


was the adjutant of the rebel general Chalmers, who demanded the

surrender of the place. I instructed them to return and give a

negative answer, but to delay him as much as possible, so as to

give us time for preparation. I saw Anthony, Dayton, and the rebel

bearer of the flag, in conversation, and the latter turn his horse

to ride back, when I ordered Colonel McCoy to run to the station,

and get a message over the wires as quick as possible to Memphis

and Germantown, to hurry forward Corse’s division. I then ordered

the train to back to the depot, and drew back the battalion of

regulars to the small earth redoubt near it. The depot-building

was of brick, and had been punctured with loop-holes. To its east,

about two hundred yards, was a small square earthwork or fort, into

which were put a part of the regulars along with the company of the

Sixty-sixth Indiana already there. The rest of the men were

distributed into the railroad-cut, and in some shallow rifle-

trenches near the depot. We had hardly made these preparations

when the enemy was seen forming in a long line on the ridge to the

south, about four hundred yards off, and soon after two parties of

cavalry passed the railroad on both sides of us, cutting the wires

and tearing up some rails. Soon they opened on us with artillery

(of which we had none), and their men were dismounting and

preparing to assault. To the south of us was an extensive

cornfield, with the corn still standing, and on the other side was

the town of Colliersville. All the houses near, that could give

shelter to the enemy, were ordered to be set on fire, and the men

were instructed to keep well under cover and to reserve their fire

for the assault, which seemed inevitable. A long line of rebel

skirmishers came down through the cornfield, and two other parties

approached us along the railroad on both sides. In the fort was a

small magazine containing some cartridges. Lieutenant James, a

fine, gallant fellow, who was ordnance-officer on my staff, asked

leave to arm the orderlies and clerks with some muskets which he

had found in the depot, to which I consented; he marched them into

the magazine, issued cartridges, and marched back to the depot to

assist in its defense. Afterward he came to me, said a party of

the enemy had got into the woods near the depot, and was annoying

him, and he wanted to charge and drive it away. I advised him to

be extremely cautious, as our enemy vastly outnumbered us, and had

every advantage in position and artillery; but instructed him, if

they got too near, he might make a sally. Soon after, I heard a

rapid fire in that quarter, and Lieutenant. James was brought in

on a stretcher, with a ball through his breast, which I supposed to

be fatal.

[After the fight we sent him back to Memphis, where his mother and

father came from their home on the North River to nurse him. Young

James was recovering from his wound, but was afterward killed by a

fall from his borse, near his home, when riding with the daughters

of Mr. Hamilton Fish, now Secretary of State.]

The enemy closed down on us several times, and got possession of

the rear of our train, from which they succeeded in getting five of

our horses, among them my favorite mare Dolly; but our men were

cool and practised shots (with great experience acquired at

Vicksburg), and drove them back. With their artillery they knocked

to pieces our locomotive and several of the cars, and set fire to

the train; but we managed to get possession again, and extinguished

the fire. Colonel Audenreid, aide-de-camp, was provoked to find

that his valise of nice shirts had been used to kindle the fire. ‘

The fighting continued all round us for three or four hours, when

we observed signs of drawing off, which I attributed to the

rightful cause, the rapid approach of Corse’s division, which

arrived about dark, having marched the whole distance from Memphis,

twenty-six miles, on the double-quick. The next day we repaired

damages to the railroad and locomotive, and went on to Corinth.

At Corinth, on the 16th, I received the following important


MEMPHIS, October 14, 1863–11 a.m.

Arrived this morning. Will be off in a few hours. My orders are

only to go to Cairo, and report from there by telegraph. McPherson

will be in Canton to-day. He will remain there until Sunday or

Monday next, and reconnoitre as far eastward as possible with

cavalry, in the mean time.

U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

WASHINGTON, October 14, 1863–1 p.m.

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, Corinth

Yours of the 10th is received. The important matter to be attended

to is that of supplies. When Eastport can be reached by boats, the

use of the railroad can be dispensed with; but until that time it

must be guarded as far as need. The Kentucky Railroad can barely

supply General Rosecrans. All these matters must be left to your

judgment as circumstances may arise. Should the enemy be so strong

as to prevent your going to Athena, or connecting with General

Rosecrans, you will nevertheless have assisted him greatly by

drawing away a part of the enemy’s forces.

H. W. HALLECK, Major-General.

On the 18th, with my staff and a small escort, I rode forward to

Burnsville, and on the 19th to Iuka, where, on the next day, I was

most agreeably surprised to hear of the arrival at Eastport (only

ten miles off) of two gunboats, under the command of Captain

Phelps, which had been sent up the Tennessee River by Admiral

Porter, to help us.

Satisfied that, to reach Athens and to communicate with General

Rosecrans, we should have to take the route north of the Tennessee

River, on the 24th I ordered the Fourth Division to cross at

Eastport with the aid of the gunboats, and to move to Florence.

About the same time, I received the general orders assigning

General Grant to command the Military Division of the Mississippi,

authorizing him, on reaching Chattanooga, to supersede General

Rosecrans by General George H. Thomas, with other and complete

authority, as set, forth in the following letters of General

Halleck, which were sent to me by General Grant; and the same

orders devolved on me the command of the Department and Army of the



WASHINGTON, D.C., October 16, 1863

Major-General U. S. GRANT, Louisville.

GENERAL: You will receive herewith the orders of the President of

the United States, placing you in command of the Departments of the

Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee. The organization of these

departments will be changed as you may deem most practicable. You

will immediately proceed to Chattanooga, and relieve General

Rosecrans. You can communicate with Generals Burnside and Sherman

by telegraph. A summary of the orders sent to these officers will

be sent to you immediately. It is left optional with you to

supersede General Rosecrans by General G. H. Thomas or not. Any

other changes will be made on your request by telegram.

One of the first objects requiring your attention is the supply of

your armies. Another is the security of the passes in the Georgia

mountains, to shut out the enemy from Tennessee and Kentucky. You

will consult with General Meigs and Colonel Scott in regard to

transportation and supplies.

Should circumstances permit, I will visit you personally in a few

days for consultation.

H. W. HALLECK, General-in-Chief.


WASHINGTON, D. C., October 20, 1868.

Major-General GRANT, Louisville.

GENERAL: In compliance with my promise, I now proceed to give you

a brief statement of the objects aimed at by General Rosecrans and

General Burnside’s movement into East Tennessee, and of the

measures directed to be taken to attain these objects.

It has been the constant desire of the government, from the

beginning of the war, to rescue the loyal inhabitants of East

Tennessee from the hands of the rebels, who fully appreciated the

importance of continuing their hold upon that country. In addition

to the large amount of agricultural products drawn from the upper

valley of the Tennessee, they also obtained iron and other

materials from the vicinity of Chattanooga. The possession of East

Tennessee would cut off one of their most important railroad

communications, and threaten their manufactories at Rome, Atlanta,


When General Buell was ordered into East Tennessee in the summer of

1882, Chattanooga was comparatively unprotected; but Bragg reached

there before Buell, and, by threatening his communications, forced

him to retreat on Nashville and Louisville. Again, after the

battle of Perryville, General Buell was urged to pursue Bragg’s

defeated army, and drive it from East Tennessee. The same was

urged upon his successor, but the lateness of the season or other

causes prevented further operations after the battle of Stone


Last spring, when your movements on the Mississippi River had drawn

out of Tennessee a large force of the enemy, I again urged General

Rosecrans to take advantage of that opportunity to carry out his

projected plan of campaign, General Burnside being ready to

cooperate, with a diminished but still efficient force. But he

could not be persuaded to act in time, preferring to lie still till

your campaign should be terminated. I represented to him, but

without avail, that by this delay Johnston might be able to

reenforce Bragg with the troops then operating against you.

When General Rosecrans finally determined to advance, he was

allowed to select his own lines and plans for carrying out the

objects of the expedition. He was directed, however, to report his

movements daily, till he crossed the Tennessee, and to connect his

left, so far as possible, with General Burnside’s right. General

Burnside was directed to move simultaneously, connecting his right,

as far as possible, with General Roaecrans’s left so that, if the

enemy concentrated upon either army, the other could move to its

assistance. When General Burnside reached Kingston and Knoxville,

and found no considerable number of the enemy in East Tennessee, he

was instructed to move down the river and cooperate with General


These instructions were repeated some fifteen times, but were not

carried out, General Burnside alleging as an excuse that he

believed that Bragg was in retreat, and that General Rosecrans

needed no reenforcements. When the latter had gained possession of

Chattanooga he was directed not to move on Rome as he proposed, but

simply to hold the mountain-passes, so as to prevent the ingress of

the rebels into East Tennessee. That object accomplished, I

considered the campaign as ended, at least for the present. Future

operations would depend upon the ascertained strength and;

movements of the enemy. In other words, the main objects of the

campaign were the restoration of East Tennessee to the Union, and

by holding the two extremities of the valley to secure it from

rebel invasion.

The moment I received reliable information of the departure of

Longstreet’s corps from the Army of the Potomac, I ordered forward

to General Rosecrans every available man in the Department of the

Ohio, and again urged General Burnside to move to his assistance.

I also telegraphed to Generals Hurlbut, Sherman, and yourself, to

send forward all available troops in your department. If these

forces had been sent to General Roseerans by Nashville, they could

not have been supplied; I therefore directed them to move by

Corinth and the Tennessee River. The necessity of this has been

proved by the fact that the reinforcements sent to him from the

Army of the Potomac have not been able, for the want of railroad

transportation, to reach General Rosecrans’s army in the field.

In regard to the relative strength of the opposing armies, it is

believed that General Rosecrans when he first moved against Bragg

had double, if not treble, his force. General Burnside, also, had

more than double the force of Buckner; and, even when Bragg and

Buckner united, Rosecrans’s army was very greatly superior in

number. Even the eighteen thousand men sent from Virginia, under

Longstreet, would not have given the enemy the superiority. It is

now ascertained that the greater part of the prisoners parolled by

you at Vicksburg, and General Banks at Port Hudson, were illegally

and improperly declared exchanged, and forced into the ranks to

swell the rebel numbers at Chickamauga. This outrageous act, in

violation of the laws of war, of the cartel entered into by the

rebel authorities, and of all sense of honor, gives us a useful

lesson in regard to the character of the enemy with whom we are

contending. He neither regards the rules of civilized warfare, nor

even his most solemn engagements. You may, therefore, expect to

meet in arms thousands of unexchanged prisoners released by you and

others on parole, not to serve again till duly exchanged.

Although the enemy by this disgraceful means has been able to

concentrate in Georgia and Alabama a much larger force than we

anticipated, your armies will be abundantly able to defeat him.

Your difficulty will not be in the want of men, but in the means of

supplying them at this season of the year. A single-track railroad

can supply an army of sixty or seventy thousand men, with the usual

number of cavalry and artillery; but beyond that number, or with a

large mounted force, the difficulty of supply is very great.

I do not know the present condition of the road from Nashville to

Decatur, but, if practicable to repair it, the use of that triangle

will be of great assistance to you. I hope, also, that the recent

rise of water in the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers will enable

you to employ water transportation to Nashville, Eastport, or


If you reoccupy the passes of Lookout Mountain, which should never

have been given up, you will be able to use the railroad and river

from Bridgeport to Chattanooga. This seems to me a matter of vital

importance, and should receive your early attention.

I submit this summary in the hope that it will assist you in fully

understanding the objects of the campaign, and the means of

attaining these objects. Probably the Secretary of War, in his

interviews with you at Louisville, has gone over the same ground.

Whatever measures you may deem proper to adopt under existing

circumstances, you will receive all possible assistance from the

authorities at Washington. You have never, heretofore, complained

that such assistance has not been afforded you in your operations,

and I think you will have no cause of complaint in your present

campaign. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. W. HALLECK, General-in-Chief

General Frank P. Blair, who was then ahead with the two divisions

of Osterhaus and John E. Smith, was temporarily assigned to the

command of the Fifteenth Corps. General Hurlbut remained at

Memphis in command of the Sixteenth Corps, and General McPherson at

Vicksburg with the Seventeenth. These three corps made up the Army

of the Tennessee. I was still busy in pushing forward the repairs

to the rail roadbridge at Bear Creek, and in patching up the many

breaks between it and Tuscumbia, when on the 27th of October, as I

sat on the porch of a house, I was approached by a dirty, black-

haired individual with mixed dress and strange demeanor, who


inquired for me, and, on being assured that I was in fact the man,

he handed me a letter from General Blair at Tuscumbia, and another

short one, which was a telegraph-message from General Grant at

Chattanooga, addressed to me through General George Crook,

commanding at Huntsville, Alabama, to this effect:

Drop all work on Memphis & Charleston Railroad, cross the Tennessee

and hurry eastward with all possible dispatch toward Bridgeport,

till you meet further orders from me.


The bearer of this message was Corporal Pike, who described to me,

in his peculiar way, that General Crook had sent him in a canoe;

that he had paddled down the Tennessee River, over Muscle Shoals,

was fired at all the way by guerrillas, but on reaching Tuscumbia

he had providentially found it in possession of our troops. He had

reported to General Blair, who sent him on to me at Iuka. This

Pike proved to be a singular character; his manner attracted my

notice at once, and I got him a horse, and had him travel with us

eastward to about Elkton, whence I sent him back to General Crook

at Huntsville; but told him, if I could ever do him a personal

service, he might apply to me. The next spring when I was in

Chattanooga, preparing for the Atlanta campaign, Corporal Pike made

his appearance and asked a fulfillment of my promise. I inquired

what he wanted, and he said he wanted to do something bold,

something that would make him a hero. I explained to him, that we

were getting ready to go for Joe Johnston at Dalton, that I

expected to be in the neighborhood of Atlanta about the 4th of

July, and wanted the bridge across the Savannah River at Augusta,

Georgia, to be burnt about that time, to produce alarm and

confusion behind the rebel army. I explained to Pike that the

chances were three to one that he would be caught and hanged; but

the greater the danger the greater seemed to be his desire to

attempt it. I told him to select a companion, to disguise himself

as an East Tennessee refugee, work his way over the mountains into

North Carolina, and at the time appointed to float down the

Savannah River and burn that bridge. In a few days he had made his

preparations and took his departure. The bridge was not burnt, and

I supposed that Pike had been caught and hanged.

When we reached Columbia, South Carolina, in February, 1865, just

as we were leaving the town, in passing near the asylum, I heard my

name called, and saw a very dirty fellow followed by a file of men

running toward me, and as they got near I recognized Pike. He

called to me to identify him as one of my men; he was then a

prisoner under guard, and I instructed the guard to bring him that

night to my camp some fifteen miles up the road, which was done.

Pike gave me a graphic narrative of his adventures, which would

have filled a volume; told me how he had made two attempts to burn

the bridge, and failed; and said that at the time of our entering

Columbia he was a prisoner in the hands of the rebels, under trial

for his life, but in the confusion of their retreat he made his

escape and got into our lines, where he was again made a prisoner

by our troops because of his looks. Pike got some clothes, cleaned

up, and I used him afterward to communicate with Wilmington, North

Carolina. Some time after the war, he was appointed a lieutenant

of the Regular, Cavalry, and was killed in Oregon, by the

accidental discharge of a pistol. Just before his death he wrote

me, saying that he was tired of the monotony of garrison-life, and

wanted to turn Indian, join the Cheyennes on the Plains, who were

then giving us great trouble, and, after he had gained their

confidence, he would betray them into our hands. Of course I wrote

him that he must try and settle down and become a gentleman as well

as an officer, apply himself to his duties, and forget the wild

desires of his nature, which were well enough in time of war, but

not suited to his new condition as an officer; but, poor fellow I

he was killed by an accident, which probably saved him from a

slower but harder fate.

At Iuka I issued all the orders to McPherson and Hurlbut necessary

for the Department of the Tennessee during my absence, and,

further, ordered the collection of a force out of the Sixteenth

Corps, of about eight thousand men, to be commanded by General G.

M. Dodge, with orders to follow as far east as Athens, Tennessee,

there to await instructions. We instantly discontinued all

attempts to repair the Charleston Railroad; and the remaining three

divisions of the Fifteenth Corps marched to Eastport, crossed the

Tennessee River by the aid of the gunboats, a ferry-boat, and a

couple of transports which had come up, and hurried eastward.

In person I crossed on the 1st of November, and rode forward to

Florence, where I overtook Ewing’s division. The other divisions

followed rapidly. On the road to Florence I was accompanied by my

staff, some clerks, and mounted orderlies. Major Ezra Taylor was

chief of artillery, and one of his sons was a clerk at head-

quarters. The latter seems to have dropped out of the column, and

gone to a farm house near the road. There was no organized force

of the rebel army north of the Tennessee River, but the country was

full of guerrillas. A party of these pounced down on the farm,

caught young Taylor and another of the clerks, and after reaching

Florence, Major Taylor heard of the capture of his son, and learned

that when last seen he was stripped of his hat and coat, was tied

to the tail-board of a wagon, and driven rapidly to the north of

the road we had traveled. The major appealed to me to do something

for his rescue. I had no cavalry to send in pursuit, but knowing

that there was always an understanding between these guerrillas and

their friends who staid at home, I sent for three or four of the

principal men of Florence (among them a Mr. Foster, who had once

been a Senator in Congress), explained to them the capture of young

Taylor and his comrade, and demanded their immediate restoration.

They, of course, remonstrated, denied all knowledge of the acts of

these guerrillas, and claimed to be peaceful citizens of Alabama,

residing at home. I insisted that these guerrillas were their own

sons and neighbors; that they knew their haunts, and could reach

them if they wanted, and they could effect the restoration to us of

these men; and I said, moreover, they must do it within twenty-four

hours, or I would take them, strip them of their hats and coats,

and tie them to the tail-boards of our wagons till they were

produced. They sent off messengers at once, and young Taylor and

his comrade were brought back the next day.

Resuming our march eastward by the large road, we soon reached Elk

River, which was wide and deep, and could only be crossed by a

ferry, a process entirely too slow for the occasion; so I changed

the route more by the north, to Elkton, Winchester, and Deckerd.

At this point we came in communication with the Army of the

Cumberland, and by telegraph with General Grant, who was at

Chattanooga. He reiterated his orders for me and my command to

hurry forward with all possible dispatch, and in person I reached

Bridgeport during the night of November 13th, my troops following

behind by several roads. At Bridgeport I found a garrison guarding

the railroad-bridge and pontoon bridge there, and staid with the

quartermaster, Colonel William G. Le Due (who was my school-mate at

How’s School in 1836). There I received a dispatch from General

Grant, at Chattanooga, to come up in person, leaving my troops to

follow as fast as possible. At that time there were two or three

small steamboats on the river, engaged in carrying stores up as far

as Kelly’s Ferry. In one of these I took passage, and on reaching

Kelly’s Ferry found orderlies, with one of General Grant’s private

horses, waiting for me, on which I rode into Chattanooga, November

14th. Of course, I was heartily welcomed by Generals Grant,

Thomas, and all, who realized the extraordinary efforts we had made

to come to their relief. The next morning we walked out to Fort

Wood, a prominent salient of the defenses of the place, and from

its parapet we had a magnificent view of the panorama. Lookout

Mountain, with its rebel flags and batteries, stood out boldly, and

an occasional shot fired toward Wauhatchee or Moccasin Point gave

life to the scene. These shots could barely reach Chattanooga, and

I was told that one or more shot had struck a hospital inside the

lines. All along Missionary Ridge were the tents of the rebel

beleaguering force; the lines of trench from Lookout up toward the

Chickamauga were plainly visible; and rebel sentinels, in a

continuous chain, were walking their posts in plain view, not a

thousand yards off. “Why,” said I, “General Grant, you are

besieged;” and he said, “It is too true.” Up to that moment I had

no idea that things were so bad. The rebel lines actually extended

from the river, below the town, to the river above, and the Army of

the Cumberland was closely held to the town and its immediate

defenses. General Grant pointed out to me a house on Missionary

Ridge, where General Bragg’s headquarters were known to be. He

also explained the situation of affairs generally; that the mules

and horses of Thomas’s army were so starved that they could not

haul his guns; that forage, corn, and provisions, were so scarce

that the men in hunger stole the few grains of corn that were given

to favorite horses; that the men of Thomas’s army had been so

demoralized by the battle of Chickamauga that he feared they could

not be got out of their trenches to assume the offensive; that

Bragg had detached Longstreet with a considerable force up into

East Tennessee, to defeat and capture Burnside; that Burnside was

in danger, etc.; and that he (Grant) was extremely anxious to

attack Bragg in position, to defeat him, or at least to force him

to recall Longstreet. The Army of the Cumberland had so long been

in the trenches that he wanted my troops to hurry up, to take the

offensive first; after which, he had no doubt the Cumberland army

would fight well. Meantime the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps, under

General Hooker, had been advanced from Bridgeport along the

railroad to Wauhatchee, but could not as yet pass Lookout Mountain.

A pontoon-bridge had been thrown across the Tennessee River at

Brown’s Ferry, by which supplies were hauled into Chattanooga from

Kelly’s and Wauhatchee..

Another bridge was in course of construction at Chattanooga, under

the immediate direction of Quartermaster-General Meigs, but at the

time all wagons, etc., had to be ferried across by a flying-bridge.

Men were busy and hard at work everywhere inside our lines, and

boats for another pontoon-bridge were being rapidly constructed

under Brigadier-General W. F. Smith, familiarly known as “Baldy

Smith,” and this bridge was destined to be used by my troops, at a

point of the river about four miles above Chattanooga, just below

the mouth of the Chickamauga River. General Grant explained to me

that he had reconnoitred the rebel line from Lookout Mountain up to

Chickamauga, and he believed that the northern portion of

Missionary Ridge was not fortified at all; and he wanted me, as

soon as my troops got up, to lay the new pontoon-bridge by night,

cross over, and attack Bragg’s right flank on that part of the

ridge abutting on Chickamauga Creek, near the tunnel; and he

proposed that we should go at once to look at the ground. In

company with Generals Thomas, W. F. Smith, Brannan, and others, we

crossed by the flying-bridge, rode back of the hills some four

miles, left our horses, and got on a hill overlooking the whole

ground about the mouth of the Chickamauga River, and across to the

Missionary Hills near the tunnel. Smith and I crept down behind a

fringe of trees that lined the river-bank, to the very point

selected for the new bridge, where we sat for some time, seeing the

rebel pickets on the opposite bank, and almost hearing their words.

Having seen enough, we returned to Chattanooga; and in order to

hurry up my command, on which so much depended, I started back to

Kelly’s in hopes to catch the steamboat that same evening; but on

my arrival the boat had gone. I applied to the commanding officer,

got a rough boat manned by four soldiers, and started down the

river by night. I occasionally took a turn at the oars to relieve

some tired man, and about midnight we reached Shell Mound, where

General Whittaker, of Kentucky, furnished us a new and good crew,

with which we reached Bridgeport by daylight. I started Ewings

division in advance, with orders to turn aside toward Trenton, to

make the enemy believe we were going to turn Braggs left by pretty

much the same road Rosecrans had followed; but with the other three

divisions I followed the main road, via the Big Trestle at

Whitesides, and reached General Hooker’s headquarters, just above

Wauhatchee, on the 20th; my troops strung all the way back to

Bridgeport. It was on this occasion that the Fifteenth Corps

gained its peculiar badge: as the men were trudging along the

deeply-cut, muddy road, of a cold, drizzly day, one of our Western

soldiers left his ranks and joined a party of the Twelfth Corps at

their camp-fire. They got into conversation, the Twelfth-Corps men

asking what troops we were, etc., etc. In turn, our fellow (who

had never seen a corps-badge, and noticed that every thing was

marked with a star) asked if they were all brigadier-generals. Of

course they were not, but the star was their corps-badge, and every

wagon, tent, hat, etc., had its star. Then the Twelfth-Corps men

inquired what corps he belonged to, and he answered, “The Fifteenth

Corps.” “What is your badge?” “Why,” said he (and he was an

Irishman), suiting the action to the word, “forty rounds in the

cartridge-box, and twenty in the pocket.” At that time Blair

commanded the corps; but Logan succeeded soon after, and, hearing

the story, adopted the cartridge-box and forty rounds as the corps-


The condition of the roads was such, and the bridge at Brown’s so

frail, that it was not until the 23d that we got three of my

divisions behind the hills near the point indicated above

Chattanooga for crossing the river. It was determined to begin the

battle with these three divisions, aided by a division of Thomas’s

army, commanded by General Jeff. C. Davis, that was already near

that point. All the details of the battle of Chattanooga, so far

as I was a witness, are so fully given in my official report

herewith, that I need add nothing to it. It was a magnificent

battle in its conception, in its execution, and in its glorious


results; hastened somewhat by the supposed danger of Burnside, at

Knoxville, yet so completely successful, that nothing is left for

cavil or fault-finding. The first day was lowering and overcast,

favoring us greatly, because we wanted to be concealed from Bragg,

whose position on the mountain-tops completely overlooked us and

our movements. The second day was beautifully clear, and many a

time, in the midst of its carnage and noise, I could not help

stopping to look across that vast field of battle, to admire its


The object of General Hooker’s and my attacks on the extreme flanks

of Bragg’s position was, to disturb him to such an extent, that

he would naturally detach from his centre as against us, so that

Thomas’s army could break through his centre. The whole plan

succeeded admirably; but it was not until after dark that I learned

the complete success at the centre, and received General Grant’s

orders to pursue on the north side of Chickamauga Creek:


TENNESSEE, Nov. 25, 1863

Major-General SHERMAN.

GENERAL: No doubt you witnessed the handsome manner in which

Thomas’s troops carried Missionary Ridge this afternoon, and can

feel a just pride, too, in the part taken by the forces under your

command in taking first so much of the same range of hills, and

then in attracting the attention of so many of the enemy as to make

Thomas’s part certain of success. The neat thing now will be to

relieve Burnside. I have heard from him to the evening of the 23d.

At that time he had from ten to twelve days’ supplies, and spoke

hopefully of being able to hold out that length of time.

My plan is to move your forces out gradually until they reach the

railroad between Cleveland and Dalton. Granger will move up the

south side of the Tennessee with a column of twenty thousand men,

taking no wagons, or but few, with him. His men will carry four

days’ rations, and the steamer Chattanooga, loaded with rations,

will accompany the expedition.

I take it for granted that Bragg’s entire force has left. If not,

of course, the first thing is to dispose of him. If he has gone,

the only thing necessary to do to-morrow will be to send out a

reconnoissance to ascertain the whereabouts of the enemy. Yours


U. S. GRANT, Major-General.

P. S.-On reflection, I think we will push Bragg with all our

strength to-morrow, and try if we cannot out off a good portion of

his rear troops and trains. His men have manifested a strong

disposition to desert for some time past, and we will now give them

a chance. I will instruct Thomas accordingly. Move the advance

force early, on the most easterly road taken by the enemy.

U. S. G.

This compelled me to reverse our column, so as to use the bridge

across the Chickamauga at its mouth. The next day we struck the

rebel rear at Chickamauga Station, and again near Graysville.

There we came in contact with Hooker’s and Palmer’s troops, who had

reached Ringgold. There I detached Howard to cross Taylor’s Ridge,

and strike the railroad which comes from the north by Cleveland to

Dalton. Hooker’s troops were roughly handled at Ringgold, and the

pursuit was checked. Receiving a note from General Hooker, asking

help, I rode forward to Ringgold to explain the movement of Howard;

where I met General Grant, and learned that the rebels had again

retreated toward Dalton. He gave orders to discontinue the

pursuit, as he meant to turn his attention to General Burnside,

supposed to be in great danger at Knoxville, about one hundred and

thirty miles northeast. General Grant returned and spent part of

the night with me, at Graysville. We talked over matters

generally, and he explained that he had ordered General Gordon

Granger, with the Fourth Corps, to move forward rapidly to

Burnsides help, and that he must return to Chattanooga to push him.

By reason of the scarcity of food, especially of forage, he

consented that, instead of going back, I might keep out in the

country; for in motion I could pick up some forage and food,

especially on the Hiawassee River, whereas none remained in