Tuesday, October 13, 1863

Colliersville, Tennessee

The train is repaired and I leave today for Corinth, Mississippi to lead the head of my column which is stretched out from here to the East. Before I left Memphis, I sent the following letter to my wife, Ellen and my children:

TO ELLEN EWING SHERMAN
Memphis, Oct. 10,1863

Dearest Ellen,

I still feel out of heart to write. The moment I begin to think of you & the children, Poor Willy appears before me as plain as life. I can see him now stumbling over the Sand hills on Harrison Street San Francisco, at the table in Leavenworth, running to meet me with open arms at Black River & last, moaning in death in this Hotel. I hardly know how to feel. At times I cannot realize the truth, So dreamlike, and yet I Know we can never see his bright honest face again. I don’t think years if reserved to me can efface that memory. Yet we know that others have sustained a loss to them as precious, But the world moves on. I see ladies & children playing in the Room where Willy died, and it seems sacrilege. I know you are now at home, and I pray that Minnie has gradually recovered her health & Strength, and I hope all our Children will regain their full health. Why should I ever have taken them to that dread Climate? It nearly kills me to think of it. Why was I not killed at Vicksburg and left Willy to grow up to care for you? God Knows I exhausted human foresight, and human love for that boy and will pardon any error of Judgment that carried him to death.

I have experienced more sympathy than I could reasonably expect. I have seen the Sisters who witnessed with us the last pulsation of that precious body. I have done all I can to manifest my appreciation of the universal kindness manifested to him and to us. Would that I could Subside into Some quiet corner & live out in Peace my life. But how can I?

TO MARY ELIZABETH HOYT SHERIDAN

Dear Lizzie,

Learn by heart what your Papa told the Soldiers who used to call Willy their brother. I do believe Soldiers have stronger feelings than other men, and I Know that every one of the Regulars would have died, if they could have saved Willy.

We must all now love each other the more that Willy watches us from Heaven.

Your loving Father,
W. T. Sherman

TO THOMAS EWING SHERMAN

Dear Tommy,

You are now our only Boy, and must take Poor Willy’s place, to take care of your Sisters, and to fill my Place when I too am gone. I have promised that whenever you meet a Soldier who knew Willy that you will give him half you have. Give him all if in want, and work hard to gain knowledge & health which will when you are a man, insure you all you need in this world.

Your loving father,
W. T. Sherman

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