TO ELLEN EWING SHERMAN
Headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi,
In the Field, Big Shanty Georgia
I have received Phil’s dispatch announcing the birth to us of another son. It took me somewhat by surprise but was not altogether unexpected. Well, I am glad you are over the terrible labor and hope that it is the last you will have to endure. Of course I am pleased to Know the Sex of the child, as he must succeed to the place left vacant by Willy, though I fear we will never again be able to lavish on any one the love we bore for him. Still we hardly Know ourselves or what is in store for us. I agree with you that we should retain Willy’s name vacant for his memory, and that though dead to the world he yet lives fresh in our memories.
Whatever name you give this child will be acceptable to me. Charles is a common family name would do, but I will suggest none that you may name him as you choose only that it be simple and common. I received within the past few days a great number of letters, some three or four from you all in a heap, but all were short, and those for Charley were delivered. I have not named to Charley the birth of the Child and don’t Know as I will till he finds it out. I am now so used to conceal my thoughts that no one can suspect my Knowledge till I reveal it. You say that pending the important events now transpiring you Cannot write. I feel so too.
That it should have devolved on me to guide one of the two great armies on which may depend the fate of our People for the next hundred years I somewhat regret. Yet you Know I have been drawn into it by a slow & gradual process which I could not avoid. Grant was forced into his position and I likewise. I think thus far I have played my game well. Had my plans been executed with the vim I contemplated I should have forced Johnston to fight the decisive Battle in the Oostenaula Valley between Dalton & Resaca. McPherson was a little overcautious, and we cannot move vast armies of this size with the rapidity of thought or of smaller bodies.
For the past ten days our movements have been vastly retarded by Rains. It has rained hard all the time and today harder than ever, a steady Cold rain. I am in an old house with a fire burning which is not uncomfortable. Johnston has 60,000 Infantry, 15,000 Cavalry and a good deal of militia. We must have a terrific Battle, and he wants to choose & fortify his ground. He also aims to break my Roads to the Rear. I wish we could make an accumulation of stores some where near but the Railroad is taxed to its utmost to supply our daily wants.
The Country is stripped of cattle, horses, hogs, and grain, but there are large fine fields of growing oats, wheat and corn, which our horses & mules devour as we advance. Thus far we have been well supplied, and I hope it will continue, though I expect to hear every day of Forrest breaking into Tennessee from some quarter. Morgan is in Kentucky but I attach little importance to him or his Raid, as we don’t draw anything from Kentucky, and there are plenty of troops there to capture & destroy him. Forrest is a more dangerous man. I am in hopes that an expedition sent out from Memphis on Tupelo, about the 1st of June will give him full employment.
I have also ordered A. J. Smith with the force he brought out of Red River to move against Mobile by way of diversion. Johnston is now between me and Marietta. As soon as these Clouds and Storms clear away I will study his position and determine to assault his Line or turn it and force him back of the Chattahoochee. As long as I press him close and prevent his sending anything to Lee I fulfill my part of the Grand Plan. In the mean time Grant will give Lee all the fighting he wants until he is sick of the word. Every man in America should now be aroused, and all who will not help should be put in petticoats & deprived of the Right to vote in the affairs of the after nation.
I will telegraph you on all important occasions. Hoping you will soon be well & contented.
I am as ever yours,
W. T. Sherman