TO Senator JOHN SHERMAN
Head-Quarters, Military Division of the Mississippi, Acworth, Georgia, June 9,1864
It is out of all reason to expect me to write much and I know you do not expect it. Were I to attempt narration it would swell to unreasonable lengths, and even in my communications to the War Department I must confine myself almost to generalities. Suffice it to say that General Grant & I had a perfect understanding and all things are now as near our calculations as possible, except that the Red River failure has clipped from the General Plan our main feature, a simultaneous attack on Mobile from New Orleans. But the Red River Expedition is out and I have substituted a smaller force of my own, subject to my own orders, in line of the larger one contemplated made up by General Banks.
You no doubt have been mortified by Banks failure. I warned him again & again about going above Alexandria if he found less than 12 feet water on the Falls. Also, that the whole Philosophy of the expedition, like mine to Meridian, was to do quick what was done, so in thirty days to be out of Red River ready to swing against Mobile. I gave him ten thousand of my best men under Smith & Mower, and put them at Alexandria the very day appointed, and when the thirty days were out I had a General officer, Corse, on the Spot ready to lead them to their new destination. Banks failed, because he construed the repulse of his advance Guard into a defeat and began a retrograde, whereas had he advanced after his Battle at Mansfield the fight of the day before, however costly, would have been his victory. A. J. Smith begged alone with his command to hold the ground, and Banks knew the Gun boats escorting his transports were at Conshetta Chute higher up, so his nearest road to water and provisions was ahead & not back to Grand Ecoss. But in the night he ordered his command to fall back. Then began his troubles, though the cause existed before. The truth is Banks is not a soldier. He is too intent on reconstruction, when he ought to have sense enough to See that all the elements of society in the South are too disturbed, too tinctured by old feelings & prejudices to admit of Government in which the People have a voice. Years, it maybe tens of years, must elapse before the People of the South can have a voice in a Government that they now hate with a hate you can hardly measure.
But of myself: I concentrated my army skilfully & well, and at one blow started Johnston from his very strong position at Dalton, and had McPherson fallen on Resaca with the violence I had ordered, Johnstons army would have retreated eastward leaving all his artillery & wagons. Since that time I have had no alternative but to press his Rear. The possession of a Railroad & good wagon Roads enabled him to retreat fast and in good order. Whilst the mountainous and rough country prevented me getting round on his flanks. I am now South of the last mountain pass, and the next difficulty is the Chattahoochee. My long and single Line of Railroad to my rear, of limited capacity, is the deliberate part of my game, as also the fact that all of Georgia except the cleared bottoms is densily wooded with few Roads, and at any point an enterprising enemy can in a few hours with axes & spades make across our path formidable works, whilst his sharpshooters, spies & scouts in the guise of peaceable farmers can hang round us and kill our wagon-eers, messengers & couriers. It is a Big Indian War. Still, thus far I have won from strong positions, advanced a hundred miles & am in possession of a large wheat growing Region and all the Iron mines and works of Georgia. Johnstons army is still at my front and can fight or fall back as he pleases. The future is uncertain but I will do all that is possible,
As ever yr. brother