Thursday, June 30, 1864

Near Kenesaw, Georgia

Head-Quarters, Military Division of the Mississippi, In the Field, near Marietta

Dearest Ellen,

I got Mary Ewings letter, also that of Susan Stambaugh telling me of your serious illness after the birth of the new baby. I had got Phil’s dispatch saying you had been very sick but were much better and on the mend. I have no doubt your anxiety on many accounts has caused your illness but now having a new object of interest I hope your interest will revive & restore you rapidly to health. It is enough to make the whole world start at the awful amount of death & destruction that now stalks abroad. Daily for the past two months has the work progressed and I see no signs of a remission til one or both and all the armies are destroyed when I suppose the balance of the People will tear each other up, as Grant says reenacting the Story of the Kilkenny cats. I begin to regard the death & mangling of a couple thousand men as a small affair, a kind of morning dash; and it may be well that we become so hardened. Each day is killed or wounded some valuable officers and men, the bullets coming from a concealed foe.

I suppose the people are impatient why I don’t push or move rapidly to Atlanta but those who are here are satisfied with the progress. It is as much as our Railroad can do to Supply us bread, meat & corn, and I cannot leave the Railroad to Swing on Johnstons flank or rear without giving him the Railroad which I cannot do without having a good supply on hand. I am moving heaven and earth to accomplish this, in which event I shall leave the Railroad & move to the Chattahoochee, threatening to cross which will I think force Johnston to do that very thing when I will swing round on the road again. In that Event he may be all ready and attempt to hold both Road & river, but my opinion is he has not force enough to do both. In that Event you will be without news of us for ten days. I think we can whip his army in fair battle, but behind the hills and trunks our loss of life & limb on the first assault would reduce us too much. In other words at this distance from home we cannot afford the losses of such terrible assaults as Grant has made. I have only one source of supply, Grant had several in Succession. One of my chief objects was to prevent Joe Johnston from detaching against Grant till he got below Richmond & that I have done. I have no idea of besieging Atlanta, but may cross the Chattahoochee & circle round Atlanta breaking up its Roads.

As you begin to get well I fear you will begin to fret again about changing your abode. If you are not comfortable at home try and rent some house, not the Small one of Martins you bespoke, but get Martin or Phil to find some other, & live as quietly & comfortably as possible. The worst of the war is not yet begun, the civil strife at the North has to come yet, and the tendency to Anarchy to be cured. Look at matters in Kentucky & Missouri and down the Mississipi & Arkansas where Shallow People have been taught to believe the war is over & you will see troubles enough to convince you I was right in my view of the case from the first. Stay as quietly as you can at Lancaster till Grant & I have our downfall, or are disposed of & then if we can do better, will be time enough to change. In such a quiet place as Lancaster you can hardly realize the truth that is so plain & palpable to me.

I hardly think Johnston will give us a chance to fight a decisive Battle, unless at such a disadvantage that I ought not to accept, and he is so situated that when threatened or pressed too hard he draws off leaving us a barren victory. He will thus act all summer unless he gives a great advantage in position or succeeds in breaking our Roads.

My love to all the children & folks and believe me always. Yours,
W. T. Sherman

I wrote to my daughter Minnie:

Head-Quarters, Military Division of the Mississippi, In the Field, Near Marietta Georgia

Dear Minnie,

I ought to write to you more often, but you are old enough to understand that I have not the time at my disposal to do all I should like. My army is very large, scattered over a vast extent, and I have so much riding to do, that when night comes I feel too tired to write much. I have hardly had time to write to Mama who has been quite sick, but is now getting well. She has sent me your letter of June 12 by which I see your examination comes off on the 7th of July, so that you will be almost starting for home when you get this. You will find there a new Brother to take Willy’s place, but I fear we all loved Willy too much to let another supply his place.

I ought to have written to you more about your studies. You seemed to fear you could not succeed at Music and Drawing. I think you will although it is no Cause of anxiety as they are merely accomplishments very well in themselves but not necessary to a good Education. Your Mama was and is a very good musician, and when I was at West Point I used to draw pretty well. Indeed, I stood at the head of my Class in Drawing. But no matter, try your best at all things and Excel in those for which you have a liking or natural facility.

I observe a marked improvement in your hand writing, that is very important there is no accomplishment so agreeable in a lady as to write well and easily. Always study to write plain so that whosoever gets your letter may read it easily. I am no example at this but you have already seen that those can give the best advice who set the worst examples, for we realize best our own defeats.

I have not heard from Lizzie for a long time, but I suppose she is so busy during her mamas sickness in taking care of the little Children that She has no time to write to me. I fear Lizzie is destined to be a Stay at home, whilst you and I will be gad abouts. I will keep my promise to you, if you stay another year at your present school to take you myself to New York, and give you a year at the best Seminary I can find there. I ought not to make many promises for I daily see too many officers buried by the road side, or carried to the rear maimed and mangled to count on much of a future. But if I do come out of this war safe I will try to See more of my family and Children. For three years constantly have I been in danger, and it may be that in the next I may be spared as in the Past. Write to me more frequently. Do your best at school, and always feel that though I may not write often I always think of you.

Your father,
W. T. Sherman

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