Monday, December 21, 1863

Headquarters, Department of the Tennessee Nashville, Tennessee


December 21, 1863
Logan, John A. Major General Commanding, 15th Army Corp, Bridgeport, Alabama

Dear General:

I got here last night, stay over today and go to Louisville tomorrow. I have seen General Grant, and General Dodge is also here. I think I can see the drift of events for a short time ahead and you should know them. I will go home for Christmas (the first for more than 20 years) but on the 2nd of January will start for Cairo. In concert with Admiral Porter, we must do something to check the boldness of our enemy in attacking Boats on the Mississippi. To secure the safety of the navigation of the Mississippi, I would slay Millions. On that point I am not only insane, but mad. Fortunately, the Great West is with me there. I think I see one or two quick blows, that will astonish the natives of the South and will convince them, that though to stand behind a big cottonwood and shoot at a passing Boat is good sport and safe that it may still reach and kill their friends and families, hundreds of miles off. For every bullet, shot at a Steamboat I would shoot a thousand 30 pound Parrotts into even helpless Towns on Red, Washita, Yazoo, or wherever a Boat can float or Soldier march.

Well, I think in all January and part of February I can do something in this Line. In the mean time Dodge will go on in concert with the Contractor in putting the Nashville and Decatur Road in order, you will have to take that from Stevenson to Decatur, so timing your work, that you will be done as soon as he.

We will then have a triangle of Railroad: Nashville the apex and the base along the Tennessee. You are to repair and hold this base; gather forage and supplies and be ready for the next great move. A part of this contemplates crossing the Tennessee, for which you have 70 Pontoons. Let Jenney have a Saw-mill and get out balks and chesses for that length of bridge. Keep the Boats well guarded in any creek above Guntersville, as near as possible to one of your Divisions. Keep your Corps stationed by Divisions, and if Detachments are called for, let them go out from the nearest Division.

General Grant tells me, he has already ordered a Brigade to Huntsville. Send a whole Division and instead of Keeping the corps between Paint Rock and Stevenson, let it stretch down to Huntsville or even Athens, but so arranged, that concentration is easy. The enemy however, cannot cross the Tennessee, save in squads.

Grant may want you some time to feign on Rome, if so, the proper way will be to cross at Guntersville a Division, very lightly equipped to move out on the old Huntsville and Rome Road towards the Coosa, near Gaylesville, but of this you can judge as soon as you see the country. I would like my Head Quarters, Army in the field, at Huntsville, with 13th Regulars and 3d U.S. Cavalry as Head Quarters Guard.

Remember, the 5th Ohio Cavalry belongs to you. I left it temporarily on Hiwassee with orders to join you as soon as Colonel Long’s Brigade was re-enforced, but unless you watch them, the Regiment will be gobbled.

If weather continues good, I advise you to slip the corps down to their positions as soon as possible, for we are liable to have rain and very bad roads in winter. Athens, Huntsville, Paint Rock and Larkinsville would be a good distribution for the four Divisions, with outposts forward on the Tennessee at fords and ferries.

Your friend,
W. T. Sherman, Major General

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