TO JOHN SHERMAN
Headquarters, Military Division of the Mississippi, In the Field, Near Atlanta, July 31, 1864
I received your long letter of the 24th last night and before starting out this morning will answer. I don’t want Hugh to engage in the cotton business. At first the speculators made large profits by buying cotton of slaves, overseers & thieves, but that is now all over. The competition is so great we have lost all we gained in our Mississippi campaign but the naked River. The Guerrillas render it almost a barren conquest. The only orders I give as to cotton is to burn it as the chief cash resource of the South.
Even with what is left to them at present prices they are richer in money than you of the North, and as Mr. Chase encouraged the trade in cotton, he supplied the armies of the South better than they were enabled to do, through the blockade. In my Meridian trip, I found the enemy’s camps well stocked with Shoes clothing & ammunition of Cincinnati and Philadelphia manufacture. This greed after gain encourages the South to believe what our army already knows, that our People are so avaricious that they would sell our lives for a small profit. I don’t want Hugh to engage in it, it is a dirty business. Until he is drafted let him cultivate potatoes & vegetables to feed his family, Same of Moulton.
Of course before we can make our conquests permanent we have to populate the South de novo.
Don’t understand me as opposed to the progress of the War. On the contrary, since the first day of it, we have had no choice, only our government, had no sense and kept on with temporary expedients instead of resorting to the universal compulsory draft, with terms of enlistment adequate to the End. We no sooner get an army than it dissolves away. I have seen with sorrow some of my best Regiments march to the Rear to time out. Whilst mine dwindles thus, that of the enemy constantly grows and may in the End overreach me. I don’t believe you can appreciate the disgust felt by the real men of the army for the recent Law of Congress allowing states to Send agents into the Rebellious states to enlist the refuse and negroes with high bounties, to be credited them on the draft. Our soldiers do not feel complimented that Such stuff shall go into the count as par with them.
You speak of the drift of popular sentiment that Grant 8c Sherman would now be good candidates. Fortunately we are not candidates, for before the election is over “Mack” or some other “Skunks” would write us down, in the Method of Sim Tappertit.
Since we crossed Chattahoochee, Hood attacked my center & got whipped: July 20th, on the 22nd he shortened his lines, drew inside of Atlanta well fortified and then launched his whole available force against my left, where a real hard fight ensued, but there again he got the worst of it; on the 27th I was extending my Lines and attacked by the Right & he repeated the same manoeuver and got dreadfully whipped. In Each of these battles we killed as many as our entire casualties. My aggregate losses will not foot up 5000, whereas on the 20th we buried near 700 Rebels—on the 22nd 3200, and the 27, 642, making 4700 dead,. The wounded at the rate of 6 to 12 makes this loss over 20,000. We have taken near 3000 prisoners, and 21 Battle flags, but in the Rush of the 22nd we lost McPherson and 10 cannon.
I do not think Hood will attack me again. Atlanta is too Strong for an assault and I must manoeuver on its communications. Weather is dreadfully hot. I am sorry you sold your house, but you can get another. Don’t change your residence “during the War.” If I survive this campaign in life or Reputation, I will seek some rest and retirement, and let the Rising Generals step in for a term of three years, when I will be ready to come in afresh.
Love to all. Yours affectionately,
W. T. Sherman