Thursday, October 27, 1864

Headquarters, Military Division of the Mississippi, In the Field, Gaylesville Alabama

Dearest Ellen,
I have just received your letter of the 16th and as I have more leisure at this moment than I will likely again for a long time I will write at length. I have written not often but certainly as often as possible consistent with my manifold duties and the fear of my letters unless in cypher falling into wrong hands. Hood has swung over towards Decatur and may and probably will attempt to enter Tennessee about Huntsville. I think there are troops enough in Tennessee, but we are expected to defend so many points that our difficulties grow exactly in proportion to our advance and the Rebels gain proportionally! I expect very soon now to attempt another feat in which I think I will succeed but it is hazardous and you will not hear from me for months. The War Department will Know my whereabouts and the Rebels and you will be able to guess.

Charley went to Nashville to have his teeth fixed. I told him he would be left behind but He knew he would get back in time. I think not and suppose I understand the chances better. He is always provoked when I after each letter tell him you say he does not write to you. He uses even strong language and seems offended. One thing is certain, he says he writes very often. I know he gets all your letters for I hand them to him. As to his being Brigadier General, he must first be Colonel of a Regiment &c. then must Command it in battle. This will take time and all chance of promotion was & is cut off by his accepting a Staff place. I told him so at the time & a hundred times since, and I am not going to commit the folly of recommending for a General one who has not demonstrated his fitness. Mr. Lincoln says he used to be very careless about such appointments but now it is very different. There are many colonels who have commanded Brigades for 3 years, and done it well who are not promoted. What would they say of me who would recommend a brother-in-Law, that had not even had a Regiment? As to Dayton, he has not resigned. I have no vacancies on my staff, and had I would be disposed to leave them, for every staff officer must have a wagon & tent. I can get along with a fly & blanket, but the moment there is a Staff, in spite of all I can do, tents & wagons multiply.

I am about to order the abolishment of all Head Quarters except that of the Doctors and Teamsters. Hood can march all round me and laugh, whilst I drag along with a wagon train. This wagon train in the end will defeat me. Soldiers get along well enough, but we are bowed down with Generals Head Quarters and staff. I have been making some sweeping reforms but yet there is wide Room for improvement. I might be a hundred miles further on my journey were it not for the excess of wagons and artillery, but I am sending it back. The break in our Railroad will be completely fixed tonight and if the Rebels let it alone for a few days I will get back the worthless & sick & baggage, and then cut loose. However I expect next to hear of Hood between this and Nashville.

You ask my opinion of McClellan. I have been much amused at similar inquiries of John & others in answer to a news paragraph that I pledged 99 votes of the hundred to McClellan. Of course this is the invention of some Rumor. I never said such thing. I will vote for nobody because I am not entitled to vote. Of the two, with the inferences to be drawn at home & abroad I would prefer Lincoln, though I Know that McClellan, Vallandigham or even Jeff Davis if President of the U.S. would prosecute the war, and no one with more vigor than the latter. But at the time the howl was raised against McClellan, I knew it was in a measure unjust, for he was charged with delinquencies that the American People are chargeable for.

How unjust to blame me for any misfortune now when all the Authorities & People are conspiring to break up the army till the Election is over. Our Armies vanish before our eyes and it is useless to complain because the Election is more important than war. Our armies are merely paper armies. I have 40,000 Cavalry on paper but less than 5000 in fact. A like measure runs through the whole, and So it was with McClellan. He had to fight partly with figures. Still I admit he never manifested the Simple courage & manliness of Grant, and he had too much Staff, too many toadies, and looked too much to No. 1. When I was in Kentucky he would not heed my counsels, and never wrote me once. Since I have gained some notoriety at Atlanta and the papers announced as usually falsely, that I was for him, he has written me twice and that has depreciated him more in my estimation than all else. He cannot be elected. Mr. Lincoln will be, but I hope it will be done quick that voters, may come to their Regiments and not give the Rebs the advantage they Know so well to take. I believe McClellan to be an honest man as to money, of good habits, discreet, and of far more than average inteligence and therefore I never have joined in the hue & cry against him. In Revolutions men fall & rise. Long before this war is over much as you hear me praised now you may hear me cursed & insulted. Read History, Read Coriolanus and you will see the true measure of popular applause. Grant Sheridan & I are now the popular favorites but neither of us will survive this war. Some other must rise greater than Either of us &c he has not yet manifested himself.

Some of my best officers are those whom I favored at Big Black. Corse, Mower, Wood, Warner &c. Corse saved us Allatoona and Mower saved Banks command up Red River. Still they are not great leaders but rather Soldiers in training. I hardly look for any real developments of military talents on our side for two years yet. Congress instead of providing an army has legislated it out of existence. In twelve months we will have no army and Jeff will walk on the track without an opponent, unless some one rises this winter. The old men have gone out, and the officers, disgusted at new ones coming in over their heads have retired. We are now getting one year men, who will be discharged before they Know how to post a guard, so that I see more trouble ahead than Ever. I am satisfied the People of the United States would rise to the occasion if they were only told the truth, but everybody tells them the Rebels are played out, starved out, tired of the War &c. when if they were just to think they would see Guerillas in Sight of Washington, Louisville and St. Louis today.

When we concentrate our energies to any one point as Vicksburg, Mobile or Atlanta we can take it, but the trouble is the country at large. We should as a People declare that we would have Peace and Submission to authority if we had to devastate every acre, and Should proceed to do it. A merciless Conscription should fill our Ranks, and we Should {mark} out our lines and go ahead leaving nothing behind, not one colum but six eight or ten. We can now live on the Corn of the South, some salt 8c beef on the hoof, but it discourages our men to be compelled to turn back to attend to what others in our Rear should. I would make every man north a Soldier till the War is over, and then he might go home & not before. I think at the rate we are now going it will take more than my 30 years, so you can begin to School even the younger Charley.

I am glad to hear such good accounts of the Children. I have not heard from Minnie or Lizzie for some time, but have no doubt they are progressing well. As to Tom he will need much of your attention for he is solitary and will need boys company. As to Elly & Rachel, the Pony team, they will gather shells 8c flowers for many years yet and still be children. Master Charley must now begin to assume the human form and to manifest some of his future self. I would like to See him as a curiosity but have not the remotest Chance this year.

I cannot tell much of things hereabout. Hill is not with me, his successor and a couple of black boys fill my household as well as I expect. My horses are all well groomed and come at my bidding. We have about the Same old mess out of doors, and I Sleep on the ground with a Comfort, pillow pair of blankets & spread. It has been Cold and I have no winter socks or flannels. Those you sent from Cincinnati have not come. I have telegraphed for some out of my trunk at Nashville, but have pretty much made up my mind to get along with what I have.

Our Railroad is broken so often and the difficulties of the trip so great that I think somebody else gets my consignments. I suppose I will have to appeal to the Sanitary or Christian Commission. Paymasters are afraid to come down, and the Army has not been paid for ten months. This is a long letter and not much in it, but there is not much here that can interest you.

The town of Gaylesville that was, is now among the Past, and is converted into Soldiers huts soon to be abandoned. We have foraged close, and Guerillas & Armies wont follow this Road. That was one object of my coming.
Yours Ever,
W. T. Sherman

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