I replied to General Halleck about commands in the West. He is correct, that it is too large for one officer. I do not think any of the generals now there are best to command the whole area.
Confidential.] Headquarters, Military Division of the Mississippi, Nashville, April 16, 1864
Major General H. W. Halleck, Washington, D. C.
Yours of April 8 is received. I see the points you make and admit their full force.
The division of a large command into departments, coupled with the fact that the law confers on the department commanders the power of discharge, furloughs, &c. is a good and sufficient reason for the present plan. All I can then ask is that you keep in mind that the territory lying so remote as Arkansas is more naturally belonging to a division west of the Mississippi than this, more especially as soon I will be in immediate command of an army that will engross all my thoughts and action. I dislike even to attempt to name a commander west of the Mississippi that could reconcile the discordant claims of Curtis, Rosecrans, Steele, and Banks. Of them I would prefer Steele, because he will fight, but his movements are too slow for this stage of the war.
Banks is entirely too much engrossed in schemes of civil experiments. These ought to be deferred till all large armies of the Confederacy are broken up and destroyed. Our efforts heretofore to cover trading schemes, local, interests, and matters of civil reconstruction has almost paralyzed large armies by dividing them up into little squads easy of surprise and capture. The recent garrison of Pillow was not a part of our army, but a nondescript body, in process of formation and posted there to cover a trading post for the convenience of families supposed to be friendly to us, or at least not hostile.
But all these things are well known to you, and I should not refer to them. Though Steele is subject to my orders I must naturally leave him to act on his own judgment, confining my attention to the concentration of force now rapidly being made on the Tennessee from Chattanooga to Decatur.
I am, with respect, yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding