I wrote a reply to my Brother, John Sherman. The violence in Missouri and Kansas is killing the citizens resulting in the burning of Lawrence, Kansas and murder of the men. My Brother In Law, General Thomas Ewing has issued orders to clear four Missouri counties of all inhabitants. That is necessary as people are demanding revenge and may otherwise do the same to citizens of Missouri.
TO SENATOR JOHN SHERMAN
HeadQuarters, 15 Army Corps, Camp on Big Black River
September 9, 1863 Wednesday
I went into Vicksburg on Sunday (17 miles) taking Ellen & the children. We got back yesterday. I am perfectly satisfied that I acted wisely in staying south and Grant and McPherson the Same. So many of our Generals have gone north partly for personal reasons, and partly to receive the ovations of a public that our army has been compelled to lay quiet. To be sure the heat and drought would have made marches impossible, but the absence of so many officers and men makes our poor Regiments look so small that I feel discouraged. I now read that there is no enlistment and that the Government is afraid to make a draft, &c. Consequently till new reverses occur we have no hopes of filling our Ranks. Some of the Ohio Regiments could not march out of Camp with 100 men fit for duty and yet they Say that Ohio’s quota is full. If this be so, they are on duty at the North & not here. I have letters from Blair and all my Division commanders who say the People appreciate the Services of the Army of the Tennessee, but this will avail us little if instead of taking the open Field this winter we are compelled to rest on the defensive.
Three or four thousand of the enemy’s Cavalry swoop round through the interior of Mississipi and I cannot stop it. I only have 800 cavalry which has but recently returned from the Successful expedition to Grenada & Memphis, It would be folly to chase Cavalry with Infantry. I have frequent communications with the Confederate Army by flags of Truce, and with the citizens of the Interior. The former seem confident yet of their ultimate independence, but of course calculate on anarchy north & European complications. The Citizens are helpless. Their slaves are gone, and they can’t tell which power will prevail and fear to commit themselves by adhering to Either party. Their condition is to be pitied and yet as long as their sons, horses and materiel are arrayed against us in the Confederate Armies they have no right to expect us to protect them much against our own men.
Our soldiers were fast degenerating into robbers and I have checked it not so much on account of the poor people here, as for our own sake. On the discipline of our armies must be built the future Government of this Country. Don’t talk or think about reconstruction. It is not going to result from any law or Plan, but out of the Stern necessities of the people. Agitators & theorists have got us into this scrape, and only practical men and Fighting men can extricate us. I would be willing that Vallandigham should be elected as it would be the reductio ad absurdum. Of course he will not be allowed to govern Ohio, with its Railroads Rivers and Lines of communication. The armies in the Field would demand that these be held by a safe & trusty agent. Though as a nation we are making slow progress in War, we are plunging along fast enough in the lessons of Politics & Statesmanship.
The sacking of Lawrence and murder of the men there will develop a new antagonism. Senator Lane will attempt to wipe out the Frontier settlements of Missouri. Their impulse is right, because those people are responsible. Without their last convention, that Body could not have reached in secrecy the plan of Lawrence’s destruction. Still no Government should allow any local People to take their own vengeance in their own way even if right. For then all Government would Cease. The U.S. may rightfully do, what a local People may not. No matter how brutal a murder, you cannot punish the murderer. That is reserved to the State.
Grant is expected up from New Orleans today, but I dont think any active campaign will begin here for some time. I will expect you in October and if everything favors I may go with you to New Orleans. I have purposely kept out of Louisiana save in transition, till the day of reconstruction is reached. It is not yet.
W. T. Sherman