Goldsboro, North Carolina
TO PHILEMON B. EWING
Head-Quarters Military Division of the Mississippi, In the Field, Goldsboro, N.C. April 9 1865
I must be off again tomorrow to look after Joe Johnston. Grant has made good work at Richmond, and I hope between us we can prevent Davis from making any new combinations. Don’t conclude yet that the war is over for there is a class of men who can no more adapt themselves to the new order of things than Cherokee Indians. They must die, or remove to some other country. All who have property, families or expect to live a civilized life may if they get a chance to act, submit and go to work to save what little of property is left there, but the young men, who have been taught to regard us with abhorrence will continue to fight to the last. If we could so manage that this class we could soon kill them, but they are a dominant class and manage by appeals to the pride or fears of the many to control others of less determined character. Yet of course we cannot begin to think of these fragments till the main armies of the Confederacy cease to have existence.
I can whip Joe Johnston if I can bring him to bay, but he may retreat so far that I cannot follow him. I may therefore manoeuver some to get him where he can not escape. Grant at my last advises had reached Burkesville, with Lee still to his north. He may pen him in Lynchburg and cut off all chances of supply. I can hardly expect to do the Same by Joe Johnston who has a more open country. Still, in my progress through the Country I necessarily make such havoc that the farmers & People are getting very tired. They expected we would confine ourselves to public stores, but I take all food, sometimes leaving with a family a small supply enough to last them till the male part can come home & procure more. This gives the men an occupation different from fighting us at a distant point. My march through Georgia and South Carolina, besides its specific fruits actually produced a marked effect on Lees Army, because fathers & sons in his Ranks felt a natural solicitude about children or relations in the regions through which I had passed with such relentless effect. I begin to hope that lesser armies will soon be needed and that I can leave Junior Generals finish up what we have done.
I have heard but little of Ellen or of any of my folks since my arrival. Their letters must have got on the wrong track. It may be went by steam for New York to Savannah. We have little communication with Savannah—but our mails come from Old Point Comfort through the Dismal Swamp canal, Albemarle & Pamlico Sounds to Newbern & then here by rail. I will keep up the railroad & telegraph as far as Raleigh, but if I go beyond will again cast loose, & live on the Country or the contents of our wagons. Charley is now with his brigade and has a chance of carving out his own fame. Hugh was here, but has I think gone to Grant. Schofield could not give him a Division without displacing some worthy incumbent, which would not be fair.
There is only one way to succeed in war and that is to stick close & persevere. My army now is in splendid heart & condition and if we encounter Johnston I am confident of the result. Give my regards to all the neighbors and it may be I will drift back to see you all once more. I am not yet absent as long as I was in California, but have had rather a more exciting time,
W. T. Sherman
TO ELLEN EWING SHERMAN
Headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi, In the Field, Goldsboro, N.C. April 9,1865.
I have written you very often since I have been here, but have received very few letters from you, and those of old date. I also telegraphed you from City Point. John Sherman came back with me, and you must have heard all you wanted to know of me & Goldsboro. I wanted to send you some money having pay due me from January 1, but paymasters can’t keep up with this army, and now we must be off again. Tomorrow we move straight against Joe Johnston wherever he may be. Grant’s magnificent victories about Petersburg, and his rapid pursuit of Lees army makes it unnecessary for me to move further north and I expect my course will be to Raleigh and Greensboro. I will fix up the Railroad to Raleigh, but then Shall cast off as my custom has been and depend on the Contents of our wagons and on the resources of the Country. Poor North Carolina will have a hard time for we sweep the Country like a swarm of locusts. Thousands of People may perish, but they now realize that war means something else than vainglory & boasting. If Peace ever falls to their lot they will never again invite war. But there is a class of young men who will never live at Peace. Long after Lee’s & Johnston’s Armies are beaten & scattered they will band together as Highwaymen and Keep the Country in a fever, begetting a Guerilla War. It may be that the Government may give us who have now been working 4 years a rest and let younger men follow up the sequel. I feel confident we can whip Joe Johnston quick if he stops but he may travel back towards Georgia and I dont wan’t to follow him again on that long Road. I wish Grant had been a few days later or I a few days sooner but on the whole our Campaigns have been good.
The weather now seems settled and if I have good Roads think I can travel pretty fast. The sun is warm, the leaves are all coming out, and flowers are in bloom, about as you will have it a month hence. The Entire Army has new clothing and with Soap & water have (made a wonderful) change in our appearance. The fellows who passed in review before me with smoke black faces, dirty & ragged, many with feet bare or wrapped in cloth, now strut about as proud as young chicken cocks, with their clean faces and bright blue clothes. All are ready to plunge again into the labor and toil and uncertainty of war. You doubtless have heard all you can Stand of these matters.
My health is good. I have enough horses though Duke is still lame. I leave Gen. Webster Col. Sawyer & Hd. Qrs. at Newbern & take with me the Same staff. I cannot tell where I will fetch up. That will depend on Joe Johnston but you will be able to trace me by the newspapers. Write via Fortress Monroe, where I will have a Post office Agent to forward letters. I send to Tommy today a hundred dollars, and now enclose you $200, which is all I can raise and I got it of the Qr. Master. I think however you will not suffer, but as a Rule don’t borrow, tis more honest to Steal.
TO THOMAS EWING SHERMAN
Head-Quarters Military Division of the Mississippi, In the Field, Goldsboro N.C. April 9 1865.
I have been very busy since our arrival, and must start again for Battle tomorrow. I have written to Mama, Minnie, & Lizzie, and now write to you to say that I hope some time this summer to be able to come and see you. The great Battles at Richmond are very important and may bring Peace to our Country when we will all be able to come home but as long as the war lasts you Know that we have to fight the Rebels. I will have a good deal to tell you when you are older for I have travelled all the way from the Mississippi since we were in our Camp at the Big Black. I have with me the same soldiers except the Regulars that I left at Nashville. I did intend to send and bring them here, but there is not time for as I said tomorrow I move for Raleigh and Greensboro.
Mama always tells me what a fine manly boy you are growing to be and I am very proud of you. I have in my pocket at all times a photograph of Mama, of you, Elly & Rachel. I have none of Minnie or Lizzy, but I remember all as plainly as if I had seen you yesterday. The last I heard of you and Mama was in the newspapers at Chicago. Mama was receiving the mayor and citizens at Bishop Duggans and Tommy Sherman was on the Steps with a flag.
That flag you know is the Emblem of our Country and is what we are fighting for. I have seen that flag in many battles and on our long march through Georgia and South Carolina, so that it is more than Country to me. I will recall as long as I live many scenes of which I will tell you when we have a house all together. No doubt you are now learning fast, and I want you to write to me by way of Fortress Monroe. We will have a Regular Mail from there up to our army in the Interior of North Carolina. Uncle Charley is now a General and has his own soldiers and his own Camp. He used to be with me, but now he is in his own camp, and with his own soldiers. He ought to write home often but I fear he does not. Give my love to Minnie and Lizzy and to your cousin Tommy Ewing and the girls. Tell Sister Angela that I think I have done a great deal of good and that she will do all that any person can for my children. Indeed, you will find plenty of friends, for all know I am off at the wars, fighting that you may have peace.
I enclose in this a hundred dollars which you can give to Mama or Minnie to pay to the Academy for your board and schooling. I will send more as soon as I get time to see the Paymaster, but we travel so fast and so far in the country that paymasters don’t come where we are.
Your Loving Father,