Friday, May 20, 1864


Kingston, Georgia May 20, 1864

Dearest Ellen,
I have no doubt you will complain of neglect on my part, but you have sense enough to see that my every minute has been taken. According to appointment with General Grant, I got everything as far ready as possible on the 5th and Started from Chattanooga on the 6th. Troops had to be marched & collected from all parts of the country without attracting attention. I got McPherson up to Chattanooga and on Johnston’s flanks before he suspected anything more than a detachment of Thomas’ command.

Dalton lies in a valley, but the road passes through a gap which was a most formidable place. I drew Johnston’s attention to it whilst I moved the army round through a Gap thirty miles further south and appeared on his rear & flank. He hastily evacuated Dalton and succeeded in getting into Resacca, 18 miles, where he had prepared a strong position. This we attacked at all points getting closer & closer, whilst I got a bridge across the Oostenaula, and again threatened his Rear. Again he started & we chased him fighting all the way to Cassville. Today the army is pushing him across the Etowah. Having a Railroad, & familiar with all the byways, he has got off but at a cost of about 6000 men. We have a thousand prisoners, have killed & wounded 5000 and have ourselves lost less than 4000. We have had no time to count noses.

The Enemy burned the Railroad bridge at Oostenaula but we have repaired it and now have the telegraph cars to the very Rear of our army. The whole movement has been rapid, skillful & successful, but will be measured by subsequent events. Difficulties increase as we go, for I have to drop men to guard our Roads whereas our enemy gathers up his Guards and collects other reinforcements. I will cross the Etowah & Chattahoochee, & swing round Atlanta. If I can break up that nest it will be a splendid achievement.

Grant’s Battles in Virginia are fearful but necessary. Immense slaughter is necessary to prove that our northern armies can & will fight. That once impressed will be an immense moral power.

Banks utter failure is awful as that force should now be at Mobile. It may be that Cavalry can straighten out matters. Banks was so intent on Civil Government that he underrated the military features of his Territory. All attempts at Civil Government in the midst of war are folly.

I am in good health and See no reason to apprehend any reverse, though I shall be duly cautious, as we have a large army skillfully commanded at my feet.

Love to all,
W. T. Sherman

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