General McPherson inquired about my response to the residents of Mississippi that are suffering from the war. My reply:
TO JAMES B. MCPHERSON
September 10, 1863
General McPherson, Vicksburg:
The enemy can ford Big Black anywhere above Birdsong’s. They are burning cotton and destroying property, and I don’t think it is any of our business to protect those people. They deserve little help at our hands. Indeed the rebels are serving our cause in making the people of Mississippi hate their rule. I want the people to feel that their rebel authorities care but little for them.
I can make them evacuate that country by marching on Canton, but don’t see why I should march our infantry in this hot weather to help a parcel of people who are not our friends or even allies. When these people act as friends and offer to help. I will respond.
W. T. Sherman, Major-General