HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Alabama, October 25, 1864
Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.:
I do not wish to be considered as in any way adverse to the organization of negro regiments, further than as to its effects on the white race. I do wish the fine race of men that people our Northern States should rule and determine the future destiny of America; but if they prefer trade and gain, and leave to bought substitutes and negroes the fighting (the actual conflict), of course the question is settled, for those who hold the swords and muskets at the end of this war (which has but fairly begun) will have something to say. If negroes are to fight, they, too, will not be content with sliding back into the status of slave or free negro. I much prefer to keep negroes yet for some time to come in a subordinate state, for our prejudices, yours as well as mine, are not yet schooled for absolute equality.
Jeff. Davis has succeeded perfectly in inspiring his people with the truth that liberty and government are worth fighting for, that pay and pensions are silly nothings compared to the prize fought for. Now, I would aim to inspire our people also with the same idea: that it is not right to pay $1,000 to some fellow, who will run away, to do his fighting, or to some poor negro, who is thinking of the day of jubilee. Every young and middle-aged man should be proud of the chance to fight for the stability of his country, without profit and without price; and I would like to see all trade, commerce, and manufactures absolutely cease until this fight is over. I have no hesitation or concealment in saying that there is not, and should not be, the remotest chance of peace again on this continent till all this is realized, save the peace which would result from the base and cowardly submittal to Jeff. Davis’ terms. I would use negroes as surplus, but not spare a single white man, no one. Any white man who don’t or won’t fight now should be killed, banished, or denationalized, and then we would discriminate among the noisy patriots and see who really should vote.
If the negroes fight and the whites don’t, of course the negroes will govern. They won’t ask you or me for the privilege, but will simply take it, and probably reverse the relation hitherto existing, and they would do right. If, however, the Government has determined to push the policy to the end, it is both my duty and pleasure to assist, and in that event I should like to have Colonel Bowman, now commanding the District of Wilmington, Delaware, to organize and equip such as may fall into the custody of the army I command.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 25, 1864
His Excellency Thomas E. BRAMLETTE, Governor of Kentucky, Frankfort, Ky.:
I have just received your kind and generous letter of October 6, and acknowledge the great pleasure it gives me personally. Having failed in my first efforts to turn the tide of war from Kentucky’s fair fields, I feel the more satisfaction at a success at this late period. Let us all go on and vindicate our manhood, and so fortify our Government that we may all live in peace and security, indulging each our separate opinions on religion, politics, literature, and the other topics on which honest men have always differed and always will. For these controversies the senate is a better arena than the battle-field, and Clay and Webster and Calhoun better champions than the ugly cannon and musket that now alone discourse reason. I feel more pleasure in demonstrating this great truth than in earning personal fame, but when the latter is a means to the former I must admit a consciousness of a pride that the trust devolves on one who feels an increasing faith that the destiny of our common country is onward and upward, and not back and downward toward anarchy and ruin.
With great respect, your friend and servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding
Beauregard has under his command, mounted and equipped, in the Military Division of the West, 26,000 cavalry. From the best information I can get this estimate is correct, and these forces under Forrest and Wheeler are now endeavoring to concentrate in Northern Alabama, not far from here, for the purpose of operating upon our communications in Tennessee. To meet this we have 6,000 men mounted in the field, 3,000 on the way from Nashville, and Hatch’s Division on the way from WEST Tennessee. These facts are the strongest possible argument in support of what we request on the part of the cavalry service in this military Division.
The enemy’s intentions must become fully developed within the next week. If he crosses the Tennessee we shall have to concentrate the cavalry at or near Nashville instead of in the field.
Slocum continues to send out foraging parties to take forage from the surrounding area. Good. This makes it harder to support enemy cavalry and spares our railroad.
General Osterhaus reports from Groves’ place:
Enemy’s cavalry, 100 strong, behind rail barricade, were driven back this a.m. Wheeler’s whole force left here since yesterday. The impression is they have gone to Huntersville.
General Thomas Reports adequate troop strength to defend the line from Nashville to Chattanooga. He Writes:
With Fourth Corps, and enough of the new regiments to make up an active force of 25,000 infantry, I will undertake to clear the rebels out of WEST Tennessee, and draw off enough of Hood’s army from you to enable you to move anywhere in Georgia or Alabama you may wish without difficulty, and if Hood should follow your army I will destroy the Mobile and Alabama Railroad so effectually that he will scarcely attempt to repair it again. If you can possible spare me the troops I would like to have enough to hold the railroad securely as far as Knoxville. I believe that the re-enforcements constantly going forward will enable you to do so.
I have reports this evening from General Granger that Hood, with his army, is moving down the Tennessee River by the way of Guntersville and Somerville. Have you any information tending to confirm my reports received?