I wrote General Meigs about the state of supplies:
Nashville, Tennessee, April 26, 1864
General M. C. Meigs, Quartermaster-General, Washington
Yours of April 20 is at hand. General Allen, Colonel Donaldson, and Mr. Anderson are doing all that men can. I think we all comprehend the problem. Nashville is abundantly supplied, and our business is now to feed our men and animals at the front line and accumulate a surplus to warrant our departure. I have already doubled the daily supply of cars out, and have made their loads more in accordance with our wants. Our reports show in Thomas’ department 230,000 rations issued to citizens in a month. Now, those citizens are of doubtful use to us in war, and, laying aside the humanities, I would rather have those rations in our warehouses at Chattanooga and Ringgold. Cattle, too, are being driven, and troops marching.
If I only could count on a few more days, I would have a thirty days’ start, but I may have to move on the 2d of May, with barely enough to warrant the move, and beef-cattle and salt, on which We may have to live, come forward too slowly.
Commissaries are too apt to think their work done when the vouchers of purchase are in due form and the price in Chicago or the moon is cheap. But all are laboring now to the one end, and I am content.
Colonel McCallum has not yet come. General Thomas reports one gun-boat done and two others approaching completion on the Tennessee. I will order them temporarily equipped, and let the navy officers, when they come, change the armament and crew. One naval officer has gone to the front. I don’t believe any treasury can stand the load ours has, and we may in self-preservation be forced to resort to the same means our enemy has already done: take the one-tenth as tax and the nine-tenths as impressment.
It is now going to be a grand scramble who will get the horses, Forrest or ourselves. I think Forrest can beat us in the horse-stealing business, but we must learn. As I advance into Georgia, Forrest will surely manage somehow to gather the horses in Tennessee and Kentucky, and if we could make our minds up to it, we might take them first. But it has ever been that the Confederates take as a matter of course what would be an awful vandal outrage on our part.
By our returns we have 52,000 cavalry, but if I can get up three divisions of 5,000 each by May 2, I will deem myself lucky. As to teams, I will use what we have. I inclose you copies of my orders on this subject, which are as moderate as you could ask. For myself and staff I will take but one wagon, and other commanders ought to follow my example, which I will endeavor to impress.
I have sent word to Captain Poe, who will send you two copies of his photograph sketches, which are very beautiful.
You must make up your mind to heavy losses of stores this year, as our best troops are at the front, and the enemy, being superior to us in cavalry at all points, and having a cheap appreciation of horse-flesh, will make heavy swoops at our lines of communication. I will take all the precautions I can.
With much respect, &c,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General