General Grant is to command all the armies of the West and I am to command the Army of the Tennessee. I wrote to General Dodge:
October 24, 1863.
Two gun-boats arrived at Eastport this morning. I telegraphed the fact to Hurlbut, but omitted doing so to you. I sent one of my staff with an escort to bring up Commodore Phelps. You have doubtless heard that Grant is to command the Armies of the Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee united into one. He will devolve his present army on me, and I will want a most minute account of your troops for actual duty, arms, ammunition, &c.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major General
I sent the following letter to my Brother in Law, Phil Ewing
TO PHILEMON B. EWING
Headquarters &c. Iuka, Mississippi
October 24, 1863
Your kind letter of condolence by Charley reached me in due season, and was most grateful. Though without a word or scratch of pen I would have known the deep pang it gave all who knew him & loved him as he deserved. Somehow, by the accidents of life that have buffeted me about, this boy seemed to me more a part of myself than any other human being. Though all my children at times seem to fill some necessary part of our Existence, Willy was to me the one I looked to inherit all I could learn on Earth. Yet Ellen & I did for him all that mortals could. Though at times a feeling of reproach creeps over me for want of judgment or proper feeling in calling for my family to go to that Country in that dread season, yet again it was the only lull I could foresee in the long bloody future before me. Now I would recall the act, but it is too late.
It was wonderful the avidity with which he gathered all the details of my army, every division, Brigade, Regiment, battery, everything belonging to my corps became as well Known to him as to me. He seemed to inherit an instinct I have of going across the country direct to the object regardless of beaten roads or paths. Alone & with the full confidence of a man, seemingly without fear, would he ride everywhere, & engage in manly conversation with anybody. It may be his nervous organization was too sensitive for the intense excitement he endured at Big Black though we were all seemingly at the utmost rest, but his mind followed every scout or picket that came to my tent for orders or to make reports. But a few days before his fatal illness, we sat at our Mess table in the Bungalow, when I spoke of a ship beating to windward. He asked me the direct question, “How can the wind blow a ship toward itself?” a question that not one educated man in a thousand can explain. I had to tell him that it resulted from Mechanical Laws that would require a great deal of study for him to comprehend. I must not dwell on this topic. I feel in my heart that we all loved & Cherished him in Life as he deserved, and that in his Death we are the losers.
Grant has been ordered to command the Armies of the Ohio, the Cumberland and the Tennessee. So after two long years of almost discordant war, the Government has arrived at the very conclusion I made at the outset. We have one vast Field of Battle extending from the Atlantic to the Plains. As in all armies the proper natural subdivision is Right, Center, Left & Reserve. Now as I understand the Game, Grant has the center, Meade the Left & Schofield the Right all facing South. The Reserve is still in the Militia & People. Better and more economical in the End to organize the Reserve at once, and the draft mercilessly enforced in the quickest & best mode. Grant, in shaping his force for convenient handling, naturally makes a similar subdivision of his Army. I have his Right, Rosecrans his Center & Burnside his Left. It may be he can hold Hooker in reserve, though I now believe him to be with Rosecrans near Stevenson.
Grant don’t like Rosecrans. He found great fault with him here at Iuka a year ago, and though he is disposed to yield to any body who will make some show of sacrifice, I doubt if Rosecrans will take it Kindly. Rosecrans may be Grant’s superior in intellect, but not in sagacity, purity of Character and singleness of purpose. Rosecrans is selfish & vainglorious. Grant not a bit so. He would never appropriate the just fame of another. He & I have been always perfect friends. I confide to him my innermost thoughts and when we think differently, which we have on many minor occasions, each respects the motive of the other. I would rather serve under Grant than Rosecrans, for in an extended country like this, any one of us may be worsted. Grant would stand by his friend, but Rosecrans would sacrifice his brother if he stood in the way of his popular renown. Grant has felt in his own person the wrong that maybe done by popular Clamor, and he appreciates it at its worth. He cannot make a speech of five sentences, yet he writes easily, naturally & without strain. Therefore he may escape the trap that our Countrymen lay for all successful military men.
Your Ohio Elections are now over, and I see the Result is the occasion of universal Joy. It may be all right but it sounds to me like the tingling of empty bells when war is upon us, to have such shouts of victory over a Non Combatant Enemy. A million of idle votes north won’t kill a secesh. The only vote that now tells is the cannon & the musket. But it may be the Election & the Kindred ones in Iowa and Pennsylvania are steps in the right direction, tending to avert the Civil war which should exist in the north to cap the Climax of our Democratic institutions.
Since Poor Willy’s death, I have felt more than ever my natural desire to slide out into obscurity. The Constant wear & tear of mind & body will make me old & feeble before my time. Yet the moment I cast about to See how I could get away, it seems impossible. All naturally & by habit come to me for orders & instructions. Without being aware of it, I seem to possess a knowledge of men & things, of Rivers, Roads, capacity of trains wagons &c. that no one near me even professes to have. Yet I See Buell & McClellan & Porter & Others of greater Rank & more fame hugging fine hotels and summer resorts.
I ought to give some of my thoughts to Ellen’s pecuniary matters. What should become of her and my family should something befall me in this war.
Love to all. Yours affectionately,