TO THOMAS EWING SR.
Headquarters, Military Division of the Mississippi, Savannah, Geo. Dec. 31 1864.
Hon. T. Ewing Washington, D.C.
I have received yours of the 18, and by Christmas day you must have heard that my army had possession of Savannah and all its Forts which have heretofore defied the Navy and the Expeditions hitherto sent against it. I ought to have caught its garrison but the Swampy ground prevented me reaching the Causeway on the South Carolina Shore. If Hardee had given me two more days I would have closed that also. As it was however, his men only escaped and with Savannah I got all the Guns Stores and Gunboats which made it formidable. Of course I feel a just pride in the satisfaction you express, and would rather please and gratify you than all the world beside.
I know full well that I enjoy the unlimited confidence of the President and Commander in Chief, and better Still of my own Army. They will march to certain death if I order it, because they know & feel that night & day I labor to the end that not a life shall be lost in vain. I always ignore secondary objects and strike at principals with a foreknowledge that the former follow the latter. Nor are my combinations extra hazardous or bold. Every movement I have made in this war has been based on sound military principles, and the result proves the assertion. At Atlanta I was not to be decoyed from the fruits of my summer’s work, by Hood’s chaseing to the left, but I sent my oldest Lieutenant in whom I had confidence (Thomas) to Tennessee, and gave him a liberal part of my volunteers and all my recruits which I knew would enable him to cope with Hood defensively, as also hold the vital parts of former conquests. There again has my judgment been verified by Events. Nor was I rash in cutting loose from a Base and relying on the Country for forage & provisions. I had wagons enough loaded with essentials and beef cattle enough to feed us for more than a month, and had the census statistics showing the produce of Every County through which I designed to pass. No military expedition was ever based on sounder or surer data.
Besides my army has by time & attention acquired too much personal experience and adhesion to disintegrate by foraging or its incident disorganizing tendency.
I have just reviewed my four Corps and challenge competition for soldierly bearing & behavior. No City was ever occupied with less disorder, or more system than this of Savannah, and it is a subject of universal Comment that though an army of 60,000 men lay camped around it, women & children of an hostile People walk its Streets with as much security as they do in Philadelphia. I attach much importance to these little matters, as it is all important our armies should not be tainted by that Spirit of anarchy that threatened the Stability of our Government, but on the contrary that when war does End we may safely rest the fabric of Government, if necessary on the strong and safe base of a well disciplined army of Citizens.
My official reports will reach the Department in due season and will I trust give you as much personal satisfaction as those hitherto. Charley is well & will answer your letter. Tom did very well in Missouri and I hope he may have more opportunities.
Your affectionate Son,
W. T. Sherman
TO ELLEN EWING SHERMAN
Headquarters, Military Division of the Mississippi, Savannah, Geo., Dec. 31, 1864
The Steamer Fulton arrived at Hilton Head yesterday, bring N.Y. mails to December 24. I got a letter from your father at Washington, Hugh in Kentucky and John Sherman all alluding to the death of our baby, but I got nothing from you or the girls at school. I also found in the N.Y. Herald of the 22nd a full obituary and notice of funeral ceremonies from which I see you are up at South Bend. I have written you twice to Lancaster, and to Minnie at Notre Dame so you will know that I am safe again for a few days, and the northern papers seem so full of speculations about me and my army that I suppose you are sick of seeing the name.
The last letter I got from you at Kingston made me fear for our baby, but I had hoped that the little fellow would weather the ailment, but it seems he too, is lost to us, and gone to join Willy. I cannot say that I grieve for him as I did Willy, for he was but a mere ideal, whereas Willy was incorporated with us, and Seemed to be designed to perpetuate our Memories. But amid the Scenes of death and desolation through which I daily pass I cannot but become callous to death. It is so common, so familiar that it no longer impresses me as of old. You on the Contrary, surrounded alone by life & youth cannot take things so philosophically but are stayed by the Religious faith of a better and higher life elsewhere.
I should like to have seen the baby of which all spoke so well, but I seem doomed to pass my life away so that even my children will be strangers. I did hope for some rest but all lean on me so, Grant, the President, the Army, and even the world now looks to me to strike hard & decisive blows that I cannot draw out quietly as I would and Seek rest. After having participated in severing the Confederacy down the Mississipi, I have again cut it in twain, and have planned & executed a Campaign which Judges pronounce will be famous among the Grand deeds of the world. I can hardly realize it, for really it was easy. But like one who has walked a narrow plank, I look back and wonder if I really did it. Yet here I am in the proud City of Savannah, with an elegant mansion at my command, surrounded by a confident, brave & victorious army that looks to me as its head. Negros & whites flock to me and gaze at me as some wonderful being, and letters from Great men pour in with words of flattery & praise, but still I do more than ever crave for peace & quiet, and would gladly drop all these and gather you and my little ones in some quiet place where I could be at ease.
People here talk as though the war was drawing to a close, but I know better. There remains yet a large class of Southern men who will not have Peace, and they Still have the power to do much mischief. Thomas’ success in Tennessee inures to my advantage as his operations there are a part of my plan. I know you have written to me, and I shall expect a big budget by the Next N.Y. steamer.
It will not be long before I sally forth again on another dangerous & important Quixotic venture.
Love to all Yours Ever,
TO Senator JOHN SHERMAN
Headquarters, Military Division of the Mississippi, Savannah, Geo., Dec. 31, 1864
Yours of Dec. 18. is at hand. A mail leaves today at 5 p.m. and I have much to do. Mr. Chase has always been most Kind to me and I have always acknowledged it. His ability is unquestioned and I doubt not he will attain the highest celebrity as Chief Justice. In like manner Mr. Stanton has always treated me with the utmost consideration and I have endeavored always to assure him of my entire satisfaction, but as you can well understand my time is so occupied that I am unable to keep up a correspondence other than what is essential. But I would be glad if you would say to Mr. Chase & Stanton that I am fully sensible of the friendship & appreciate it.
I receive vast numbers of letters from distinguished men, awarding me a measure of praise higher than the case calls for, but looking back I surely have done my full share in this war, and would like to slide out quietly and See more of my family which is growing up almost strangers to me. I have now lost Willy and the baby without ever seeing him and were it not for General Grant’s unmeasured confidence in me, I should insist on a little rest and leisure. As it is I must go on. Such success has attended me that every officer & man with me thinks he would be lost unless I am at hand. I hear the Soldiers talk as I ride by, “There goes the old man. All’s Right.” Not a waver, doubt or hesitation when I order, and men march to certain death without a murmur if I call on them because they Know I value their lives as much as my own.
I do not feel any older, and have no gray hairs yet. My health is good, and Save a little Rheumatism in my Right arm during the last march I have not been indisposed a day and even then I rode daily my march. I got Mr. Mahan’s note. Write him that he was right in his estimate of me. I saw my way from Atlanta to the Sea Coast as plain before starting as I do now after it is over. I have a Singular Capacity for knowledge of Roads the resources of a Country, and the Capacity of my Command. I wrote Charles Sherman a letter you will see, and in time you will have enough official details of this Campaign to Satisfy you. I do not fear want of appreciation but on the contrary that an exaggerated faith will be generated in my ability that no man can fulfill. Better promise little & fulfil much than the reverse. I think you will now admit I was right in my appreciation of the Press & of the war generally was as near right as that of any.
You have reason to be proud of your position in the Senate, and I have no doubt your tact & experience will enable you to hold your own. About your locating at Cincinnati, I hardly know what to Say. The moment you feel assured the Financial condition of the Country will justify the purchase of Real Estate subject to taxation, you could venture on the step. I cannot do anything looking to permanency till the war is ended. Thomas’ success in Tennessee, which was part of my Plan will go far to assure the Safety of the Ohio valley.
Love to all. Yours affectionately,
W. T. Sherman