I’m sorry I did not get to see my brother, Senator John Sherman. Of course he is very busy as we all are during this war.
December 29, 1863
As soon as I got here I telegraphed to Charles, not knowing where you were. Shortly after, I got your dispatch from Mansfield telling me you would be there till Monday and asking if we could not meet. As I only can stay here two more days, I could not attempt Mansfield and had to leave it to you whether to come to Lancaster or not. I hear you have gone on to New York and therefore I must go off without seeing you.
I have been off the Line of communication since leaving Memphis save a few hours at Bridgeport during which I had hardly time to put my official signature to papers demanding my hand. I have made a Report of our movements up to the return to Bridgeport and enclose it with this a copy which I brought here and which you may keep, only of course under the confidence of absolute secresy till the War Department thinks proper to make the original public. In this I was right, am right, and time will sanction my adherence to the Rule. In civil office the incumbent comes so immediately from the People that he naturally looks to the People as the Government. But we sworn officers of the military, look to the Constituted Authorities, and to them alone. I have no doubt Mr. Lincoln would sleep easier of nights if all officers civil & military would be as tenacious as I have been on this point.
I suppose you will read this Report and I invite attention to the part referring to the Assault on Tunnel Hill. I know that Grant in his Report will dwell on this same part. I was provoked that Meigs, looking at us from Chattanooga should report me repulsed, and that Mr. Stanton should publish his letter as senior official. Meigs apologized to me for using Thomas’ name instead of mine throughout which he charged to a copyist but made no amends for the Repulse. The whole philosophy of the Battle was that I should get by a dash a position on the Extremity of Missionary Ridge from which the enemy would be forced to drive me, or allow his Depot at Chickamauga Station to be in danger. I expected Bragg to attack me at daylight, but he did not and to bring matters to a crisis quick, as time was precious for the Sake of Burnside in East Tennessee, Grant ordered me to assume the offensive. My Report contains the rest. Again after the Battle, Granger was ordered to push for Knoxville, but his movements were so slow that Grant impatient called on me, and my move was the most rapid of the war & perfectly successful. I could have gone on after Longstreet, but Burnside Ranked me and it was his business not mine. So I reenforced him all he asked & returned.
The 15th Corps (now Logans) & Dodge’s Division of the 16th Corps are now at work on the Railroad from Nashville to Decatur, & from Decatur to Stevenson, thus making a triangle of Railroad which it is Estimated will relieve the great difficulty of supplies which has parallized the Army of the Cumberland. This will take 5 weeks.
I leave my Headquarters at Huntsville and go in person down the Mississippi to strike some lateral blows to punish the country for allowing Guerillas to attack the Boats. I go on Friday to Cincinnati, and then to Cairo where with Admiral Porter I will concert measures to produce the result. I expect to send an Expedition up the Yazoo, and go myself with another up Red River, levying a contribution to make good losses to Boats, & punish for death & wounds inflicted. I think we can make People feel that they must actively prevent Guerillas from Carrying out their threat, that though we have the River it will do us no good.
My address will be Memphis for a month, and Huntsville after. We can hardly fashion out the next campaign but it looks as though we would have to move from the Tennessee River. I would prefer to take Mobile & the Alabama, as well as the Chattahoochee, & move east from Montgomery and Columbus Mississippi.
I wish you would introduce a Bill into Congress increasing the number of Cadets on this Basis: one from each congressional district per annum. In districts not represented vest the appointment in the Secretary of War out of Boys not over 18 in the Armies in the Field, to be selected in any manner that may be prescribed by Law, or by the Regulations of the President.
This would hold out to young fellows the prospect of getting a cadetship. Last summer we were called on to recommend candidates, and I was amazed to find so many worthy applicants. All who came forward for examination preferred West Point to a commission. The great want of the Army is good Subordinate officers. The army is a good school, but West Point is better. It is useless to deny that a special preliminary education is necessary to the military officer, and the cheapest school is now at West Point susceptible of infinite increase. The mode I point out is simple & just & simply multiplies the cadets by four, and as states come back, with representation they recover their proper proportion of Cadets. Whilst in rebellion, the armies of invasion or occupation are fairly entitled to their Share. The Cost of Increase will hardly exceed the annual expense of a Regiment and will give us two hundred good officers per annum. It is unwise in Congress to legislate on the Supposition that the war must soon end. Better look to the worst and if peace should come it will be easy enough to curtail. If you are willing to take the initiative in this, send for General J. G. Barnard U.S. Engineers and Show him what I have written and he can frame a Bill. Or if he be absent, see General Hitchcock, General Cullum or Colonel James A. Hardie in the Adjutant General’s office. Barnard is most industrious and could give you all statistics, but either of the others would do the same.
I think the Presidents Proclamation unwise knowing the temper of the South. I know that it but protracts the war by seeming to court Peace. It to them looks like weakness. I tell them that as they cool off, we warm to the work, that we are just getting ready for the war, and I know the effect is better than to coax them to come back into the Union. The organization of a Civil Govt, but complicates the Game. All the Southern States will need a pure military Government for years after resistance has ceased. You have noticed the debate in Richmond on the President’s Proclamation. That is a true exhibit of the Feeling South. Don’t fall into the error that the masses think different. Of course, property holding classes south deplore the devastation that marks the progress of their own and our armies, but the South is no longer consulted. The army of the Confederacy is the South, and they Still hope to worry us out. The moment we relax they gain strength & confidence. We must hammer away and show strict persistence, such bottom that even that Slender hope will fail them. Even after that, will remain a large body of armed men that never did or will work, and war to them is both a necessity & pleasure.
Don’t allow yourself to be drawn into a league against Halleck. He has more capacity than any man in our army. Grant has qualities that Halleck does not possess but not such as would qualify him to command the whole army. The war has not yet developed Halleck’s equal as a General in Chief. Of course no man could make an army so near Washington as the Army of the Potomac. Unless you can manage to bring over Lee & his army, you must needs wait till we reenlist & recruit our Army of the Mississipi and Swing round by Georgia & the Carolinas. This will take more than a year.
I still am opposed to all Bounties. The Draft pure & simple: annual—to fill vacancies in the Ranks. Pay of men in the Front increased to 25,30 or even 40 a month and that of men at Depots, Hospitals and to the rear diminished to a bare maintenance, if not less. $400 Bounty is an absurd commentary when men draw bounty, remain absent from their ranks, & are discharged for disability without hearing a shot. Deal with the Army as you would if you were hiring men for Special work. Those who do the work pay high; those who are sick, unfortunate or shirking pay little or nothing. Same of officers from the Major General to Lieutenant. The President must make vacancies for the rising officers, the “Creations” of the War. I am willing to quit if a Younger & better man can be found for my place. Indeed I may anyhow as soon as I feel I have done my share.
I would like to have met you, but I could not possibly spare time, and you had doubtless cut out your work before you heard of my coming.
Love to Cecilia & all. Your Brother,
W. T. Sherman