Thursday, March 10, 1864

On board Westmoreland, en route for Memphis

I answered Grant’s dispatches and sent the answer by General Butterfield, who had accompanied me up from New Orleans.

Captain Badeau found me yesterday on board this Boat and delivered his dispatches. I had anticipated your orders by ordering Veatch’s Division of Hurbut’s corps at once to Dodge via the Tennessee River, and had sent A. J. Smith up Red River with 10,000 men to be absent not over 30 days when I designated Smith’s Division, of about 6000 men also to come round. We must furlough near 10,000 men, and by the time they come back, the Red River trip will be made and I can safely reinforce my army near Huntsville with 15000 veterans.

I send you by General Butterfield full details of all past events, and dispositions which will meet your approval. As to the negroes, of course on arrival of Memphis I will cause your orders to be literally executed. A Clamor was raised by lessees by my withdrawal of Osband (400) from Skipwiths, and General Hawkins Brigade (2100) from Goodrich’s. I transferred them to Haines Bluff to operate up Yazoo, and the effect was instantaneous. Not a shot has been fired on the River since. I also designed to put a similar force at Harrisonburg to operate up the Washita which would secure the West Bank from Red River to Arkansas.

Admiral Porter has already driven the Enemy from Harrisonburg so that project is immediately feasible. I assert that 3000 men at Haines Bluff and 3000 at Harrisonburg would more effectually protect the Plantation Lessees than 50,000 men scattered along the shores of the Mississippi. You know the Geography so well that I need not demonstrate my assertion.

I understand General Lorenzo Thomas has passed down to Vicksburg and am sorry I did not see him, but as soon as I reach Memphis today I will send orders below and show him how much easier it will be for us to protect the Mississippi by means of the Yazoo and Washita Rivers, than by merely guarding the Banks of the Mississippi. After awaiting to observe the effect of recent changes I will hasten round to Huntsville to prepare for the Big fight in Georgia. Fix the time for crossing the Tennessee & I will be there.

I also sent General Grant this personal note:

[PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL]
NEAR MEMPHIS, March 10, 1864 General GRANT.

DEAR GENERAL: I have your more than kind and characteristic letter of the 4th, and will send a copy of it to General McPherson at once.

You do yourself injustice and us too much honor in assigning to us so large a share of the merits which have led to your high advancement. I know you approve the friendship I have ever professed to you, and will permit me to continue as heretofore to manifest it on all proper occasions.

You are now Washington’s legitimate successor, and occupy a position of almost dangerous elevation; but if you can continue as heretofore to be yourself, simple, honest, and unpretending, you will enjoy through life the respect and love of friends, and the homage of millions of human beings who will award to you a large share for securing to them and their descendants a government of law and stability.

I repeat, you do General McPherson and myself too much honor. At Belmont you manifested your traits, neither of us being near; at Donelson also you illustrated your whole character. I was not near, and General McPherson in too subordinate a capacity to influence you.

Until you had won Donelson, I confess I was almost cowed by the terrible array of anarchical elements that presented themselves at every point; but that victory admitted the ray of light which I have followed ever since.

I believe you are as brave, patriotic, and just, as the great prototype Washington; as unselfish, kind-hearted, and honest, as a man should be; but the chief characteristic in your nature is the simple faith in success you have always manifested, which I can liken to nothing else than the faith a Christian has in his Saviour.

This faith gave you victory at Shiloh and Vicksburg. Also, when you have completed your best preparations, you go into battle without hesitation, as at Chattanooga—no doubts, no reserve; and I tell you that it was this that made us act with confidence. I knew wherever I was that you thought of me, and if I got in a tight place you would come—if alive.

My only points of doubt were as to your knowledge of grand strategy, and of books of science and history; but I confess your common-sense seems to have supplied all this.

Now as to the future. Do not stay in Washington. Halleck is better qualified than you are to stand the buffets of intrigue and policy. Come out West; take to yourself the whole Mississippi Valley; let us make it dead-sure, and I tell you the Atlantic slope and Pacific shores will follow its destiny as sure as the limbs of a tree live or die with the main trunk! We have done much; still much remains to be done. Time and time’s influences are all with us; we could almost afford to sit still and let these influences work. Even in the seceded States your word now would go further than a President’s proclamation, or an act of Congress.

For God’s sake and for your country’s sake, come out of Washington! I foretold to General Halleck, before he left Corinth, the inevitable result to him, and I now exhort you to come out West. Here lies the seat of the coming empire; and from the West, when our task is done, we will make short work of Charleston and Richmond, and the impoverished coast of the Atlantic.

Your sincere friend,
W. T. SHERMAN

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