TO CHARLES C. SMITH
Gayoso House, Memphis, Tennessee, October 4, Midnight
Captain C. C. Smith, Commanding Battalion, 13th Regulars
My Dear Friend:
I cannot sleep tonight till I record an expression of the deep feelings of my heart to you, and to the Officers and Soldiers of the Battalion, for their kind behaviour to my poor child. I realize that you all feel for my family the attachment of kindred; and I assure you all of full reciprocity. Consistent with a sense of duty to my profession and office, I could not leave my post, and sent for my family to come to me in that fatal climate, and in that sickly period of the year, and behold the result! The child who bore my name, and in whose future I reposed with more confidence than I did in my own plans of life, now floats a mere corpse, seeking a grave in a distant land, with a weeping mother, brother, and sisters clustered about him. But, for myself I can ask no sympathy. On, on, I must go till I meet a soldier’s fate, or see my country rise superior to all factions, till its flag is adored and respected by ourselves and all the Powers of Earth.
But, my poor Willy was, or thought he was, a Sergeant of the 13th. I have seen his eyes brighten and his heart beat as he beheld the Battalion under arms, and asked me if they were not real soldiers. Child as he was, he had the enthusiasm, the pure love of truth, honor, and love of country, which should animate all soldiers. God only knows why he should die thus young. He is dead, but will not be forgotten till those who knew him in life have followed him to that same mysterious end.
Please convey to the Battalion my heartfelt thanks, and assure each and all, that if in after years they call on me or mine, and mention that they were of the 13th Regulars, when poor Willy was a Sergeant, they will have a key to the affections of my family that will open all it has, that we will share with them our last blanket, our last crust.
W.T. SHERMAN, MAJOR GENERAL