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A Natural Curiosity :: The letters of William T. Sherman
Saturday, February 14, 2015

The letters of William T. Sherman

imageThrough my mother’s side of the family (Hatfields and Shermans) I am related to General William Tecumseh Sherman, the Union general best known for the destruction of Atlanta and the March to the Sea that followed. A few years ago I read his memoirs, and more recently I wondered whether his letters had ever been collected.

They have, in a 900-page collection called Sherman’s Civil War, and they are even more unvarnished than his published memoirs.

I was waiting as patiently as a Red headed person could, for the official acts of the convention charged with the destiny of Louisiana… 1.20.1861

Attached to General Scotts staff, as Inspector General — I did not dream of this, but it really does well accord with my inclinations and peculiar nature. 6.20.1861

Then for the first time I saw the Carnage of battle — men lying in every conceivable shape, and mangled in a horrible way — but this did not make a particle of impression on me — but horses running about riderless with blood streaming from their nostrils — lying on the ground hitched to guns, gnawing their sides in death — I sat on my horse on the ground where Ricketts battery had been shattered to fragments, and saw the havoc done. 7.28.1861

Indeed I never saw such a set of grumblers as our volunteers about their food clothing arms &c. and I shall make a Requisition for two wet nurses per soldier, to nurse them in their helpless pitiful condition. 8.3.1861

Among the keenest feelings of my life is that arising from a consciousness that you will be mortified beyond measure at the disgrace which has befallen me — by the announcement in the Cincinnati Commercial that I am insane. 12.12.1861

Dear Brother, I am so sensible now of my disgrace from having exaggerated the force of our enemy in Kentucky that I do think I Should have committed suicide were it not for my children. 1.4.1862

I prefer to follow not to lead, as I confess I have not the confidence of a Leader in this war, and would be happy to slide into obscurity. 1.9.1862

I am sometimes amused at these newspaper Reporters. They keep shy of me as I have said the first one I catch I will hang as a Spy. 4.14.1862

I know one fact well, that when danger is present, or important steps are necessary Sherman is invariably called for, but in unloading steamboats repairing roads &c. &c. I get provoking, short, curt orders to do thus and so. 1.24.1863

I have with me the invariable Hill who still puts me on a damned allowance of segars & whiskey & insists on blacking my boots & brushing my clothes in & out of season. 6.27.1863

If I am killed you will have but a small pension, and if I live I will never see Ohio if I can avoid it. Yrs. ever, W.T. Sherman 10.14.1863

Therefore if the People of the South are unwilling to live in the same land with us, let them go, even to Madagascar and if they cannot pay their passage we might help them, as an act of grace. 1.28.1864

Miss Baileys 2nd letter I answered sending autograph and describing my hair as red, bristly & horrid — I think She is satisfied to leave my locks out of the cluster of flowers to be made up out of the hairs of the Great men of the day. 4.18.1864

Out of the forces now here, and at Atlanta I propose to organize an efficient army of 60, to 65,000 men, with which I propose to destroy Macon, Augusta, and it may be Savannah and Charleston, but I will always Keep open the alternates of the Mouth of Apalachicola and Mobile. 10.2.1864

I can make the march and make Georgia howl. 10.9.1864

Posted by geoff on 02/14 at 05:44 PM
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