Saturday, September 12, 1863

Camp on the Big Black River, Near Vicksburg, Mississippi

The east bank of the Big Black is watched by a rebel cavalry-division, commanded by General Armstrong. He has four brigades, commanded by Generals Whitfield, Stark, Cosby, and Wirt Adams. Quite frequently they communicate with us by flags of truce on trivial matters, and we reciprocate, merely to observe them. Today a flag of truce, borne by a Captain from 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 the Captain 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.

The Captain 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. The Captain 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 asked, “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 him 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.

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2 Responses to Saturday, September 12, 1863

  1. Tim says:

    Just curious: Is there a particular reason that you assign this anecdote to September 12, or is it just a matter of convenience? As I read Sherman’s memoirs, I don’t see a specific date given ( Thanks much for your blog! I’m compiling a daily chronology of the 5th Minnesota Infantry Regiment who were assigned to the 2nd Brigade (Mower), 3rd Division (Tuttle) during the Vicksburg campaign and the summer of 1863.

    • brownyneal says:

      There were numerous meetings and the memoirs probably combines some of them. The letter forwarded to General Grant and other events put it in this general time, but a specific day is not available. Letters and orders all have dates (although sometimes they are faulty). Memoirs do not.

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