Wednesday, May 24, 1865

Washington D.C.

The streets were filled with people to see the pageant, armed with bouquets of flowers for their favorite regiments or heroes, and every thing was propitious. My horse received so many flowers, that I had to direct the remainder to General Howard who rode with me.

Punctually at 9 A.M. the signal-gun was fired, when in person, attended by General Howard and all my staff, I rode slowly down Pennsylvania Avenue, the crowds of men, women, and children, densely lining the sidewalks, and almost obstructing the way. We were followed close by General Logan and the head of the Fifteenth Corps. When I reached the Treasury-building, and looked back, the sight was simply magnificent. The column was compact, and the glittering muskets looked like a solid mass of steel, moving with the regularity of a pendulum. We passed the Treasury building, in front of which and of the White House was an immense throng of people, for whom extensive stands had been prepared on both sides of the avenue. As I neared the brick-house opposite the lower corner of Lafayette Square, some one asked me to notice Mr. Seward, who, still feeble and bandaged for his wounds, had been removed there that he might behold the troops. I moved in that direction and took off my hat to Mr. Seward, who sat at an upper window. He recognized the salute, returned it, and then we rode on steadily past the President, saluting with our swords. All on his stand arose and acknowledged the salute. Then, turning into the gate of the presidential grounds, we left our horses with orderlies, and went upon the stand, where I found Mrs. Sherman, with her father and Tommy, our son. Passing them, I shook hands with the President, General Grant, and each member of the cabinet. As I approached Mr. Stanton, he offered me his hand, but I declined it publicly, and the fact was universally noticed. I then took my post on the left of the President, and for six hours and a half stood, while the army passed in the order of the Fifteenth, Seventeenth, Twentieth, and Fourteenth Corps.

It was, in my judgment, the most magnificent army in existence–sixty-five thousand men, in splendid physique, who had just completed a march of nearly two thousand miles in a hostile country, in good drill, and who realized that they were being closely scrutinized by thousands of their fellow-countrymen and by foreigners.

Division after division passed, each commander of an army corps or division coming on the stand during the passage of his command, to be presented to the President, cabinet, and spectators. The steadiness and firmness of the tread, the careful dress on the guides, the uniform intervals between the companies, all eyes directly to the front, and the tattered and bullet-ridden flags, festooned with flowers, all attracted universal notice.

Many good people had looked upon our Western army as a sort of mob; but the world then saw, and recognized the fact, that it was an army in the proper sense, well organized, well commanded and disciplined; and there was no wonder that it had swept through the South like a tornado. For six hours and a half that strong tread of the Army of the West resounded along Pennsylvania Avenue; not a soul of that vast crowd of spectators left his place; and, when the rear of the column had passed by, thousands of the spectators still lingered to express their sense of confidence in the strength of a Government which could claim such an army.

Some little scenes enlivened the day, and called for the laughter and cheers of the crowd. Each division was followed by six ambulances, as a representative of its baggage-train. Some of the division commanders had added, by way of variety, goats, milch-cows, and pack-mules, whose loads consisted of game-cocks, poultry, hams, etc., and some of them had the families of freed slaves along, with the women leading their children. Each division was preceded by its corps of black pioneers, armed with picks
and spades. These marched abreast in double ranks, keeping perfect dress and step, and added much to the interest of the occasion. On the whole, the grand review was a splendid success, and was a fitting conclusion to the campaign and the war.

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Tuesday, May 23, 1865

Washington, D.C.

Today, I watched the Army of the Potomac march through the streets of Washington.  By invitation, I was on the reviewing-stand, and witnessed the review of the Army of the Potomac commanded by General Meade in person. The day was beautiful, and the pageant was superb. Washington was full of strangers, who filled the streets in holiday-dress, and every house was decorated with flags. The army marched by divisions in close column around the Capitol, down Pennsylvania Avenue, past the President and cabinet, who occupied a large stand prepared for the occasion, directly in front of the White House. I sat in the stands in front of the White House with General Grant, President Johnson and other dignitaries.

It was a hot windless day as the infantry of George Meade marched by for six hours. The soldiers were faultlessly dressed including white gloves.  After the review, I congratulated General Meade and remarked, “I’m afraid my poor tatterdemalion corp will make a poor appearance tomorrow when contrasted with yours.”

Mrs. Sherman arrived that day accompanied by her father, the Honorable Thomas Ewing, and my eight year old son Tommy.

After the review, I returned to my army to prepare for the review tomorrow.  Late in the evening, the first 3 corps crossed the bridge and bivouacked in the streets.

A reporter asked me for a troop roster. I told him bluntly, “There is no damned printing press with this army.”

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Monday, May 22, 1865

Washington, D.C.

Today I appeared before the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. The Committee questioned me for hours. They were especially concerned about my negotiations with General Johnston to end the war. The committee believed that President Lincoln was too soft on the Rebels and wanted me to support their view by saying Lincoln had instructed me as to the negotiations. I spoke at length about my meeting with Lincoln at City Point. We spoke of no specifics, only generalities. I told them my first attempt at peace was intended as a draft to be approved or modified in Washington and I had sent it right away by special courier. I explained that Stanton had encouraged me to try to get the enemy to return to civilian life as soon as possible. When my terms were rejected, Grant clarified what was desired, and that was what I signed. The result is there are still some of the enemy that have not yet surrendered. I explained my fear that Johnston’s soldiers would slip away and continue fighting as partisans that we must then hunt down throughout the South and prolong the war for years.

They also wanted to know why I had not written anything about slavery. I answered that slavery was dead, it had been ended with the President’s proclamation and for me to have renewed the question when that decision was already made would have involved the absurdity of an inferior undertaking to qualify the work of his superior.

After the hearing, I left with my brother, Senator John Sherman. As we walked down Pennsylvania Avenue, my appearance attracted crowds of well wishers, ladies waving their handkerchiefs and gentlemen cheering. After a severe round of continuous hand shaking I had to call a carriage to escape for some rest.

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Sunday, May 21, 1865

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, Camp near Alexandria, Va., May 21, 1865

General S. VAN VLIET, New York:

DEAR VAN: I have received several kind letters from you of late which I could not answer, as I was in motion. I am now getting ready for the review of Wednesday, after which I am to go before the war investigating committee, when, for the first time, I will be at liberty to tell my story in public. Don’t be impatient, for you will be amazed when the truth is narrated at how base Stanton and Halleck have acted toward me. They thought they had me down, and when I was far away on public business under their own orders, they sought the opportunity to ruin me by means of the excitement naturally arising from the assassination of the President, who stood in the way of the fulfillment of their projects, and whose views and policy I was strictly, literally following. Thus far I have violated no rule of official secrecy, though sorely tempted; but so much the worse for them when all becomes revealed. You may rest assured that I possess official documents that not only justify but made imperative my course in North Carolina, and you may say as much to my friends.
Yesterday General Grant and President Johnson, who know all, received me with marked courtesy and warmth. Mr. Stanton dare not come into my presence. He is afraid to meet me. I would not let Halleck review my troops at Richmond. I bade him keep to his room as my army passed through Richmond, and he had to stay indoors. I will insult Stanton in like public manner, but will not be drawn into an open, or even constructive, disrespect to the President or any “lawful authority of the United States.” My motives in the past, as at present, are as pure as you know them to have been in all my life, but I do not deny that my soul revolts at perfidy and meanness in quarters however high and seemingly exalted. I have sent for Mrs. Sherman to come and see the review, and as soon as I have discharged all the business pertaining to my official station, I will endeavor to come to New York, when I can tell you many things already known in all proper official circles, but which have been suppressed purposely, whilst the most silly, unfounded stories and suspicions have been sown broadcast to my personal injury and detriment. I have been down before in public favor as well as on the battle-field, but am blessed with a vitality that only yields to absolute death, and though terribly exposed have thus far escaped.

If I come to New York I will probably stop with my cousin, William Scott, Twenty-third street, and decline any public notice. But I will not conceal from you or the world that in the reorganization of civil government in the Southern States, which must be done, I prefer to give votes to rebel whites, now humbled, subdued, and obedient, rather than to the ignorant blacks that are not yet capable of self-government. But of all this in time. My love to Mrs. Van Vliet and the children.
As ever, your friend,

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Saturday, May 20, 1865

Washington, DC

By invitation I went over to Washington and met many friends, among them General Grant and President Johnson. The latter occupied rooms in the house on the corner of Fifteenth and H Streets, belonging to Mr. Hooper. President Johnson was extremely cordial to me, and knowing that I was chafing under the censures of the War Department, especially of the two war bulletins of Mr. Stanton, he volunteered to say that he knew of neither of them till seen in the newspapers, and that Mr. Stanton had shown neither to him nor to any of his associates in the cabinet till they were published. Nearly all the members of the cabinet made similar assurances to me afterward, and, as Mr. Stanton made no friendly advances, and offered no word of explanation or apology, I declined General Grant’s friendly offices for a reconciliation, but, on the contrary, resolved to resent what I considered an insult, as publicly as it was made. My brother, Senator Sherman, who was Mr. Stanton’s neighbor, insisted that Mr. Stanton had been frightened by the intended assassination of himself, and had become embittered thereby. I found strong military guards around his house, as well as all the houses occupied by the cabinet and by the principal officers of Government; and a sense of insecurity pervades Washington, for which no reason exists.

HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI,In the Field, Alexandria, Va.,
SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, Numbers 71. May 20, 1865

I. To make the review ordered for this army in the city of Washington on Wednesday, May 24, the two wings, without knapsacks, and with two days’ cooked retions in haversacks, will during Tuesday close well upon the Long Bridge, the Right Wing in advance. On Wednesday at break of day the troops will move out of bivouac by the right flank, and march until the head of column is closed up to Capitol grounds, and then mass as close as possible east of the canal ready to march according to Special Orders, Numbers 239, Adjutant-General’s Office, May 18, by close columns of companies, right in front, guide left, by the route prescribed. When the companies fall below fifteen files the battalions will form columns by divisions. At 9 a. m. precisely a signal gun will be fired by the leading battery, when the head of column will march around the Capitol down Pennsylvania avenue, and past the reviewing stand in front of the President’s House, and thence to the new camps or to a bivouac, according to the pleasure of the army commanders. All colors will be unfurled from the Capitol to a point beyond the President’s reviewing stand. The general-in-chief will ride at the head of column and take post near the reviewing officer. The commanders of each army, corps, and division, attended by one staff officer, will dismount after passing the general-in-chief and join him whilst his army, corps, or division is passing, when he will remount and join his command. Officers commanding regiments and above, will present swords on passing the reviewing officer, but company officers will make no salutes. Brigade bands and consolidated field music will turn out and play as the brigade passes the reviewing officer, but will be careful to cease playing in time for the music of the succeeding band to be heard. One band per division may play during the march from the Capitol to the Treasury builing. The colors of each battalion will salute by drooping in passing the stand, and the field music will make the three ruffles without interrupting the “march” of the band. Should intervals occur in the columns, care will be taken that divisions pass the reviewing stand compactly, and if the passage of the bridge draw out the columns the march will be continued with as little interruption as possible at full distance. Army commanders will make all subordinate arrangements as to guides, &c.

II. Army commanders may at once select new camps east of the Potomac, the Right Wing above Washington and Left lying below, and make arrangements with the quartermaster’s department to collect fuel, forage, &c., in advance, at their new camps, and may march thereto direct from the review by routes that will not interrupt the progress of the columns behind. The wagon trains, with camp equipage and knapsacks, can follow the day after the review.

III. Mustering officers will see at once to the preparation of rolls for pay and discharge of the organizations and men that are to be discharged under existing orders of the War Department, but no discharges will be made out till after the review.

By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON, Major and Assistant Adjutant-General

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Friday, May 19, 1865

Alexandria, Virginia

Head-Quarters Military Division of the Mississippi, Camp near Alexandria May 19 1865.

Genl. Jno. A. Rawlins Chief of Staff, Washington D.C.

I have the honor to report my arrival at Camp near the Washington Road,
three miles north of Alexandria. All my army should be in camp nearby
today. The 15th Corps, the last to leave Richmond camped last night at the Ocoqua. I have seen the order for the review in the papers, but Colonel Sawyer says it is not here in official form. I am old fashioned and prefer to see orders through some other channel but if that be the new fashion so be it I will be all ready by Wednesday though in the rough. Troops have not been paid for 8 or 10 months, and clothing may be bad, but a better set of legs & arms cannot be displayed on this Continent.

Send me all orders and letters you may have for me, and let some one newspaper know that the Vandal Sherman is encamped near the canal bridge half way between the Long Bridge & Alexandria to the West of the Road, where his friends if any can find him. Though in disgrace he is untamed and unconquered.
As ever your friend,
W. T. Sherman, Major General

President JOHNSTON:
DEAR SIR: I am just arrived. I have traveled a part of the way with each of my four corps, and this is the day all should halt within four miles of Alexandria. I have also this moment received orders for review on Wednesday next. This will keep me busy, and I write this as an excuse for not hastening up to pay you my cordial and personal respects. As the case now presents itself, it sems to me more appropriate to await your pleasure and to appear at the head of my troops, but if there be any matter on which you desire to see me personally I will hasten up to see you. I have marched from Richmond slowly on purpose to spare the men and by reason of the very hot weather, but I can assure you all are in good order and condition for serenade, reviews, or fighting.
With sincere respect, your friend and servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

WASHINGTON, May 19, 1865.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN, U. S. Army, Commanding, &c.:
I am just in receipt of yours of this date. The order for review was only published yesterday, or rather was only ready for circulation at that time and was sent to you this morning. I will be glad to see you as soon as you can come to the city. Can you not come in the evening or in the morning? I want to talk to you upon matters about which you feel sore, I think justly so, but which bear some explanation in behalf of those who, you feel, have inflicted the injury.
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, Camp near Alexandria, May 19, 1865.
General JOHN A. RAWLINS, Chief of Staff, Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: I have just received at the hands of Colonel William M. Wherry, of General Schofield’s staff, the inclosed commmunications with an abstract of the prisoners of war surrendered and paroled at Greensborough, N. C., about the 1st of May, pursuant to the tems of the capitulation made by General Johnston near Durham’s Station on the 26th of April. The aggregate number paroled exceeds the number heretofore reported, and amounts to 36,791 men.
I am, yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General


Bvt. Major General JOHN A. RAWLINS, Chief of Staff, Armies of the United States, Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: I have the honor to apply for the appointment of Major General John A. Logan, U. S. Volunteers, to the command of the Army of the Tennesse, vice Major General O. O. Howard, assigned to duty in the War Department. Also for the appointment of Major General W. B. Hazen, U. S. Volunteers, to the command of the Fifteenth Corps, in the event of the transfer of General Logan.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, U. S. Army, Commanding

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, Camp near Alexandria, Va., May 19, 1865.

SIR: I have this moment received for the first time a copy of Special Orders, Numbers 213, of the War Department, of date May 8, 1865. I am now very busy on business connected with my command, still on the march and ordered for a review next Wednesday. I shall be most happy to appear before the committee at any time, but if you contemplate any elabovate inquiry into matters standing far back, I would suggest a delay till the review is over, and if you propose to extend your inquiry beyond May 1, last year, it would be well to advise me at once. I would have to send for my letter and order-book to Lancaster, Ohio.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

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Thursday, May 18, 1865

SPECIAL ORDERS, Numbers 239. May 18, 1865.

A review, with marching salute, of the Army of the Potomac, the Army of the Tennessee, the Army of Georgia, and General Sheridan’s cavalry will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, the 23rd and 24th instant. On Tuesday, the 23rd instant, will be reviewed the Army of the Potomac, General Sheridan’s cavalry, and the Ninth Corps, all under the command of Major General George G. Meade, commanding Army of the Potomac. On Wednesday, the 24th instant, will be reviewed the Army of the Tennessee, Major General O. O. Howard commanding, and the Army of Georgia, Major General H. W. Slocum commanding, the whole under the command of Major General W. T. Sherman. The following will be order of march:

The head of column will each day rest on Maryland Avenue at foot of Capitol Hill, moving at precisely 9 a.m., passing around the Capital to Pennsylvania avenue, thence up the avenue to the Aqueduct Bridge, and across to their camp. The troops will be without knapsacks, marching at company front, closed in mass, and at route step, except between Fifteenth street and New York avenue and Seventeenth street, where the cadence step will be observed. Each brigade will be accompanied by six ambulances, passing three abreast.

The reviewing officer will be stationed in front of the President’s house, where provisions will be made for members of the Cabinet, heads of military and civil department, governors of States, members of Congress, and Corps Diplomatique. The Ninth Army Corps, Major-General Parke commanding, will report to Major-General Meade for the review. Major General C. C. Augur, commanding Department of Washington, will have the necessary guards posted in the streets along the route, keeping the street clear of all horsemen and carriages, except those of the proper officers, heads of military or civil departments or Corps Diplomatique, and such other arrangement as are necessary to facilitate the review.
By command of Lieutenant-General Grant:
E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant-General

Major General WILLIAM T. SHERMAN, Commanding Mil. Div. of the Mississippi, Hdqrs. Alexandria, Va.:

The Secretary of War directs that all volunteer organizations of white troops in your command whose terms of service expire between this date and September 30 next, inclusive, be immediately mustered out of service. The musters out will be made with existing regimental and company organizations, and under the regulations promulgated in General Orders, Numbers 94, of the 15th instant, form this office. All men in the aforesaid organizations whose terms of service expire subsequent to October 1, 1865, will be transferred to other organizations from the same State, to veteran regiments when practicable, and when not practicable to regiments having the longest term to serve. It is proper to add that this order will discharge as follows: First. The three years’ regiments that were mustered into service under the call of July 2, 1862, and prior to October 1 of that year. Second. Three-years’ recruits mustered into service for old regiments between the same dates. Third. One year’s men for new and old organizations who entered the service between May 17 and October 1, 1864.

Please acknowledge receipt of this.
THOMAS M. VINCENT, Assistant Adjutant-General

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