Saturday, April 23, 1864

Nashville, Tennessee

Colonel Comstock has just arrived with a letter from General Grant. He wants me to be able to move as early as May 1. I will ask Thomas to have one of the gunboats patrol the river by Bridgeport. Thomas would like to confer with me in person and if possible, receive a copy of Grant’s letter. It may not be possible for us to meet until I go down to Chattanooga.

Halleck has warned me of a conspiracy to damage boats on the rivers. I passed that warning on to Cairo and St Louis and request that they so warn the steam boat captains. Captains shall have authority to protect their boats by whatever means possible. These agents are not protected as soldiers and should receive no mercy.

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Saturday, April 23, 1864

Nashville, Tennessee

Head-Quarters Military Division of the Mississippi, Nashville, Tennessee April 23 1864
Honorable E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War, Washington

Pursuant to your orders, two officers are now engaged in making affadavits & collecting testimony as to the Fort Pillow affair. They are ordered to Send you direct a copy of their Report, and on to me. I know well the animus of the Southern Soldiery, and the truth is they cannot be restrained. The effect will be of course to make the negroes desperate and when in time they commit horrid acts of retaliation we will be relieved of the responsibility. Thus far negroes have been comparatively well behaved and have not committed the horrid excesses and barbarities which the Southern People so much dreaded.

I send you herewith my latest newspaper from Atlanta of the 18th and 19th instant. In them you will find articles of interest and their own accounts of the Fort Pillow affair. The enemy will contend that a place taken by assault is not Entitled to quarter, but this Rule would have justified us in any indiscriminate slaughter at Arkansas Post, Fort De Russy & other places taken by assault.

I doubt the wisdom of any fixed Rule by our Government, but let Soldiers affected make their Rules as we progress. We will use their own logic against them, as we have from the beginning of the war. The Southern Army, which is the Southern People, cares no more for our Clamor than the idle wind, but they will heed the Slaughter that will follow as the natural consequence of their own inhuman acts.

I am with respect Your Servant
W.T. Sherman, Major General Commanding

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Friday, April 22, 1864

Nashville, Tennessee

Grant sent me an “I told you so”:

Culpeper, April 22, 1864; noon. Major General Sherman, Nashville, Tenn.;
Dispatch just received from General Brayman satisfies me of what I always believed, that forces sent to Banks would be lost for our spring; campaign.

You will nave to make your calculations now leaving A. J. Smith out. Do not let this delay or embarrass, however. Leave for him, if he should return, such directions as you deem most advisable. He may return in time to be thrown in somewhere, very opportunely.
U.S. GRANT, Lieutenant- General

Thomas wants to visit, but is unsure of his subordinates.:

Gen. G. H. Thomas, Chattanooga:
Give full instructions to General Hooker. Notify Generals Howard and Schofield of your temporary absence, and come up for a day. If you feel the least doubt, however, I will come down.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major- General

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Friday, April 22, 1864

Nashville, Tennessee


Head-Quarters Military Division of the Mississippi, Nashville, Tennessee April 22,1864

Dearest Ellen,
I suppose you saw Luke Clark, and have received letters of me very irregularly. I have all of yours which come promptly but I fear mine come less regularly. I don’t feel that I have too much to do, yet the days slip along very fast, and the time is approaching when I must to the Front, and then lookout. It seems that Banks got a whaling up Red River. He was to have left New Orleans March 5, but did not till the 25, and he left my troops go up to Alexandria & above without keeping his appointment, the consequence is that he is behind time.

The accounts from there are not full, but he has double the force necessary to whip Kirby Smith, but he has got his men scattered & Smith has got his united. Well he must fight his way out the best way he can. Hurlbut is ruined by his apathy & fear to go out of Memphis to fight Forrest. He seems to have set down on the Defensive, when he had plenty of men who by marching out fifty miles could have made Forrest quit that Country long before he did.

The mischief done was however to the Negroes & People of West Tennessee, rather than to us. Hurlbut is timid and there is no use in denying it. He is now at Cairo and Washburn goes to Memphis. All this results from Sooy Smith’s failing to meet me at Meridian.

Hugh at my invitation came to See me a few days ago. He is pleasantly Situated at Mumfordsville with his family, but so far as the War goes he might as well be in Ohio. He can come in when War’s havoc makes vacancies. He has a feeling against Logan, and one of the greatest troubles of this war results from the intestine troubles in our own Camps. So rather than Encourage him to resume his Old Division he will stay where he is. Cockerill and Loomis have resigned, and it seems men are more intent on their own personal claims to advancement than the interest of the Country.

The President cannot satisfy all claimants and I do not envy him the task of deciding among the thousands of applicants whose Claims are highly endorsed. I have on three occasions named Colonel Cockerill and twice Colonel Loomis, yet I would not accuse Mr. Lincoln of improper preferences for others. We must submit to him or Jeff Davis, No other choice is left us. I am quite well, and ride out when I can. I will have riding enough to do.

Ever Yours,
W. T. Sherman

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April 22, 1864

Nashville, Tennessee


Head-Quarters Military Division of the Mississippi, Nashville, Tennessee April 22, 1864

Dear Brother,
I got yours of April 17 is received. I understand exactly the force of your letters of introduction to me. You may further explain to each that my mind is so positively made up that men who come to the front for purposes of trade & civil business are out of their place and I invariably advise them to go north of the Ohio. The men who hang round our armies to make money out of the soldiers are like vultures and are entitled to little consideration. Such as want to buy cotton and Stolen horses are little better than public enemies for they play into the hands of the enemy. Our Sanitary Department is now so systematyzed that there is no use of any one, male or female, going south of Nashville. We here have a depot of Sanitary Supplies and forward them as fast as we can get means of hauling.

Every person who goes south of Nashville loads our cars to the extent of 200 pounds and takes that much from our men, or mules, and besides they eat bread & meat which we need there. You can have no idea of the crowds of men & women who come here on seeming errands of charity, but they might as well stay at home for they simply aggravate the trouble. We cannot feed our army & animals much less the suffering and patriotic Tennesseeans. I enclose my last orders and you may be sure I will enforce them. I know the pressure brought to bear on the Secretary of War, and officials, but I must and will give preference to the Army proper, over the wants of others however meritorious. We cannot carry on War & Peace at the Same time.

As to Negroes, whatever the proper authorities resolve on I must do. I think the negro question is run into the ground. Negroes should be allowed to make some provision for their families and to pass through a preparatory state before being called on for war. Of course Forrest & all southerners will kill them and their white officers. We all knew that, and should not expose small detachments. We were using them in moderation and in connection with whites as fast as the demands of service justified, but it was made a Policy, and all had to bend to it. Then it became the means by which Massachusetts and other states could dodge their share. They raised the cry that a negro man was as good to stop a Rebel bullet as a white man. But is it the only use you can put a soldier to to stop a bullet? I thought a soldier was to be an active machine, a fighter. Dirt or cotton will stop a bullet better than a mans body. We ought not to engraft a doubtful element in an army now; it is too critical a period.

Our own soldiers have prejudices and these are aroused by the foolish squabbles of Governors to show they have given their quotas. Every man in the United States must fight irrespective of quotas and those who don’t or wont fight must drift into the character of a woman, non combatant or mere denizen of the Land. Of course, some must work & raise corn, and why not use in a great measure the negro labor we have Captured, instead of scattering it and dissipating it in a poor quality of soldiery and in raising cotton. Of course, all the Leasehold plantations on the River will be cleaned out, for no army can protect them. Their establishment is merely calculated to scatter along a weak line, what if compressed would be self protection. I take it for granted that Forrest & bands of that Kind will supply themselves bountifully out of the mules & horses which lessees have got seemingly for that very purpose. A limited quantity of negro troops can be used, but it will be years before any General officer would use them in open Battle, and even in Fortifications, they must form the moiety If in the service, they must be protected. I feel certain the war will soon become barbarous, but it is inevitable. Prisoners should not be exchanged, but the war should be with desperation, the sooner the better.

Your Brother,
W. T. Sherman

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Thursday, April 21, 1864

Nashville, Tennessee

General Corse reports that disaster has befallen the troops up Red River. I forwarded his message to General Grant.

Headquarters, Military Division of the Mississippi, Nashville, Tennessee
April 21, 1864

Lieutenant-General Grant, Washington:

I have just received the following dispatch from General Corse, whom I sent to bring up my Red River command:

Cairo, April 21,1864: 2.30 p. m.

Major-General Sherman:
Banks was attacked by Kirby Smith near Mansfield, La., on the 8th instant, and retreated to Grand Ecore a la Bull Run. He refused to let Smith go, for obvious reasons, stating, however, that he had authority from both Generals Grant and Halleck to retain your troops longer. The admiral’s iron-clads are caught by low water, some above the bars at Grand Ecore, the rest above the falls, and he not only refuses to consent to the removal of Smith, but refused to allow him a transport to take him out of the river, stating that to take Smith away would occasion the loss of his fleet, the utter destruction of General Banks’ demoralized command, and enable the enemy to crush General Steele. I have communications from General Banks and Admiral Porter, and will be with you as speedily as possible,

JOHN M. CORSE, Brigadier-General

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

The disaster upon Red River I suppose may delay the return of General Mower. A large amount of cavalry belonging to Memphis I hear is at home on furlough and will soon be back, but as they will be horseless it will take some time to mount them.

Washburn, reports that the disclosures in regard to the Fort Pillow massacre make out a much worse case than any of the published accounts. The Sioux Indians after this will be regarded as models of humanity.

I have inquiries from above about the fate of Major Bradford who was at Fort Pillow. I sent a request to Brayman at Cairo for more information.

Forrest has made enough progress to the south that it will not be possible to cut off his retreat by troops moving up the Tennessee River. If Forrest has moved south of Coldwater there will be no necessity for Gresham’s command going to Purdy, but it will go up to Clifton, land there, and act across to the west of the Tennessee, if information then received make it useful.

Slocum now commands Vicksburg. No distant expeditions will be expected from Vicksburg until the main armies are in motion. Then all the forces of the United States should occupy the detachments of the enemy as much as possible to keep them from reinforcing Johnston.

In my front, the cavalry now in front of Dodge is from Johnston’s army, watching our movements. It might be well to keep them uneasy by occasional sallies in force from Decatur and Larkin’s to confuse them.

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Thursday, April 21, 1864

Nashville, Tennessee

Head-Quarters Military Division of the Mississippi, Nashville, Tennessee April 21, 1864

A. Dana Esq. Assistant Secretary of War, Washington

My Dear Friend,
It may be Parliamentary, but is not military for me to write you; but I feel assured anything I may write, will only have the force of a casual conversation, such as we have indulged in by the Camp fire, or as we jogged along by the Road. The text of my letter is one you gave a Philadelphia Gentleman who is going up to East Tennessee to hunt up his Brother Quakers and administer the Bounties of his own & his fellow citizens charity. Now who would stand in the way of one so kindly & charitably disposed? Surely not I. But other questions present themselves.

We have been working hard with tens of thousands of men, and at a cost of millions of dollars to make Railroads to carry to the Line of the Tennessee enough provisions & material of war to enable us to push on our Physical Force to the next step in the war. I have found on personal inspection that hitherto the Railroads have barely been able to feed one man, but that mules have died by the thousand, that arms and ammunition had lain in the depot for two weeks for want of cars, that no accumulation at all of clothing & stores had been or could be made at Chattanooga, and that it took four sets of cars & locomotives to accommodate the Passes given by Military Commanders, that gradually the wants of citizens & charities were actually consuming the real resources of a Road designed exclusively for army purposes. You have been on the spot & can understand my argument.

At least one hundred Citizens daily presented good claims to go forwards: women to attend sick children, parents in Search of the bodies of sons slain in battle, Sanitary Committees sent by states & corporations to look after the personal wants of their constituents, ministers & friends to minister to the Christian wants of their flocks, men who had fled, anxious to go back to look after lost families &c. &c. and move still the Tons of goods which they all bore on their merciful errands. None but such as you, who have been present & seen the tens hundreds 8c thousands of such cases can measure them in the aggregate & segregate the exceptions.

I had no time to hesitate, for but a short month was left me to prepare, and I must be ready to put in motion near one hundred thousand men to move when nought remains to Save life. I figured up the mathematics & saw that I must have daily 145 car loads of essentials for 30 days to enable me to fill the requirement, only 75 daily was all the Roads were doing. Now I have got it up to 136. Troops march; cattle go by the roads. Sanitary & Sutlers stores limited and all is done that human energy can accomplish.

Yet come these pressing claims of charity, by men & women who cannot grasp the Great Problem. My usual answer is, Show me that your presence at the front is more valuable than 200 pounds of powder, bread or oats, and it is generally conclusive. I have given your Mr. Savery a Pass on Your letter, and it takes 200 pounds of bread from our Soldiers, or the Same of oats from our patient mules, but I could not promise to feed the suffering Quakers at the expense of our Army. I have ordered all who cannot procure food at the Front to be allowed transportation back in our empty cars, but I cannot undertake to transport the food needed by the Worthy East Tennesseeans or any of them. In Peace there is a beautiful harmony in all the departments of Life, they all fit together like the Chinese puzzle: but in war all is ajar. Nothing fits and it is the struggle between the Stronger & Weaker, and the latter however it may appear to the better feelings of our nation must kick the beam. To make war we must sc will harden our hearts.

Therefore when Preachers clamor, & the Sanitaries Wail don’t give in, but Know that war, like the thunderbolt, follows its laws, and turns not aside even if the beautiful, the virtuous and charitable stand in its path.

When the day & the hour comes, I’ll strike Joe Johnston be the result what it may, but in the time allotted to me for preparation I must & will be selfish in making those preparations which I know to be necessary.

Your friend,
W. T. Sherman, Major General

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