Saturday, September 17, 1864

Atlanta, Georgia

I write my family:


Dear Tom,
Charley has shown me your letter of Aug. 30, in which you foreshadow for me great things in case I take Atlanta. Atlanta is “took,” but I only see harder work before me. As to being a rival of Lincoln or McClellan or any aspirants to such honor, I think I have too much sense to trouble myself about it. The People of the U.S. have too much sense to make me their President. Men old & young and women too would be organized & armed and you would have the damndest fight ever read of. Xerxes armies would be Corporal Guards to mine, and the Old & best Government of the World would expire in a Grand Raid.

But to be serious I have taken Atlanta steadily & purposely and have reason to believe separate and apart from its intrinsic value, it has illustrated what we may & can do to the enemy. I see from where I am, like all the operations of our Government, just as I reach our Goal, from which vital blows might be inflicted, my Army vanishes from purely American causes. Every General Officer wants to go home & glorify; half my men’s times are out and Lincoln is trembling about the draft. In other words do what we may, we lose its natural effect by want of national traits of weakness. The idea of the enervated & delicate South, beating us in the Northern virtues of perseverance & eye on the bottom line, but that is the real danger.

You have called to Missouri one of my Divisions, A. J. Smith’s, to head off Price, when I’ll bet that there are loafers enough about St. Louis today to make four such Divisions. If a Census were to ask me honestly a question about the Presidency, I would answer, Grant and I can manage your Armies, but not in a manner as Jeff Davis or Napoleon.

Atlanta is a very important place and Hood has fortified it beautifully to our very hands but the fortifications even have too much ground. I have expellled the People, and will contract the Lines to a comparatively small circle embracing the vital points and of course do not expect to be idle long.

Tell Rosecrans to raise the hue & cry, go down & clean out Shelby & Price, and do not take my troops to defend Missouri. It is ridiculous & absurd. If Missouri can’t at this day keep Price out, then Price ought to capture you all, and send you as Slaves down to take the places of the freed negroes. What is the Free State of Arkansas doing? And the reorganised State of Louisiana? that they do not stand as a shield against the frightened people of Missouri.

I am almost tired of playing war and consider an abdication in favor of some of some more persistent and plucky Lieutenants. I now comprehend why Cromwell scattered the House, and Louis Napoleon sent the Council of Five Hundred back to their wives.

I am no fit subject for a Democratic or Republican Candidate for any office. Charley is well, and we are all enjoying the rest, for the first time in five months without the luxury of cannon & musket shots breakfast dinner & supper.

Minnie & Lizzie are now at school up in Indiana and Ellen really contemplates spending much of her time with them, but years are so fleet that both the misses will be independent & off on their own voyage of Life before Ellen is fairly awake to the fact that they have begun the school.

Yours in haste as usual,
W. T. Sherman

Headquarters, Military Division of the Mississippi. Atlanta Geo. Sept. 17,1864

Dearest Ellen,
I have many letters from you of late some of which seem by an unexplained cause to have laid at Nashville or Chattanooga, but I think the Series is complete up to and including your visit to the School at South Bend. I got last night also Minnie’s letter which you seem to have carried to Lancaster & mailed from there. I have telegraphed you & written short hasty letters to you, to your father & Tommy and cannot add much if any thing of interest not involved in my original Telegraph.

Atlanta is ours & fairly won. I have had some sharp correspondence with Hood about expelling the “poor families of a brave People”, which correspondence in due time will become public. I take the ground that Atlanta is a conquered place and I propose to use it purely for our own military purposes which are inconsistent with its habitation by the families of a Brave People. I am shipping them all and by next Wednesday the Town will be a real Military town with no women boring me every order I give. Hood no doubt thought he would make Capital out of the barbarity &c. but I rather think he will change his mind before he is done. I beat him on the Strategy and fighting, and if my troops had only been as smart as my old Tennessee Army I could have bagged all of Hardee’s Corps at Jonesboro. Still on the whole the Campaign is the best, cleanest and most satisfactory of this war. I have received the most fulsome praise of all from the President down, but I fear the world will jump to the weary conclusion that because I am in Atlanta the work is done. Far from it, we must kill these three hundred thousand I have told you of so often, and the further they run the harder for us to get them.

I will Send you the rough notes of my Report as soon as copied in my letter Book, and you can read it to your father who will be more interested than you.

Do you remember when I was at Belfonte in 1844, I boarded with a man named Martin? Some months ago he found out I was the same & wrote me asking me to enable him to gather his corn and Some hogs. Of course I did So & wrote him very kindly. I Send you his answer, it is a gem in its way. I send you a letter from a Mrs. Biddle also as a sample of the many that come to me, and I really have not time to answer. I already write so hastily & badly that no one but my regular clerks can make it out. Dayton does much of my writing but the truth is I can write a dozen letters before he can one. I find it about as quick work to write as to tell what to write & modify & correct after.

Hill’s time was out July 19, but he staid with me till the day before yesterday when he went to Illinois, to see his brother who has charge of some cows calves, mares and colts. I paid him up, and had a grand settlement, paying him in full $292. He was honest & faithful to the last. I have two negros to take care of my horses, one a boy who now makes up my bed, blacks my shoes and swipes out the Room under the mastery of a very good orderly who Succeeded Boyer, so that the machinery of my household works smooth as possible, We occupy a fine house, that of Judge Lyons, and have a good mess. I enclose you a letter to mail to Mr. Casserly, asking him to Sell that lot. I told Hill to write to you when he got home, and you would Send him a Deed to a Lot in Leavenworth, but I gave him to understand I would not be responsible for the Consequences. He promised to come back to me before the Winter Campaign and I think he will. He turned over to his successor a minute account of Shirts with orders on all points.

Love to all. Yours ever,

Headquarters, Military Division of the Mississippi, Atlanta Sept. 17,1864.

Dear Brother,
I have your letter of the 5th and would have replied at an earlier date but I knew you would hear all you wanted to know from the public sheets. I have now finished my official Report of Atlanta and am devoting myself to the collating of the addenda or appendix which are the statistics. I did not mean to be severe on your friend Colfax, but it is to me incomprehensible that any one would wish to withdraw nine Regiments from my army actually engaged in Battle, before a strongly fortified town, and to put our already overtaxed Country the Expense of transporting them six hundred miles to vote for a member of Congress. The mere thought is more severe than any commentary I could make.

As to the negro letter I never dreamed it would be printed & made public, and cannot now imagine why the person to whom it was addressed should give it notoriety. I know of course that the negro like all other popular questions would follow the national law & swings from one extreme to the other till it settle down to something like Right, but it was hard to force us to wait so long. I believe the United States are now paying 60,000 negro soldiers many of whom are subject to my command, but we never Count them as anything in our Estimates for the Field. I tried when I went to Meridian to make up a force of 4000 but failed. General Hawkins, though nominally in command of our 20,000 could not raise but 2100 and did not feel disposed to risk them.

I am glad that at last the draft is to be enforced. That is the only legitimate source of supply, and we have a Right to ask the Government to use it to replace our natural and necessary losses. We are all in good condition here and await the next Great Combination, which will carry me deeper & deeper into the heart of Georgia.

Give my love to all & believe me Affectionately,
W. T. Sherman

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s