SHERMAN, William T. Autograph letter signed ("W.T. Sherman") to Phil[emon B. Ewing], son of Senator Thomas Ewing, Camp near Vicksburg, 3 March 1863. 4 full pages, 4to. In superb condition.
A INDIGNANT SHERMAN BLASTS THE LINCOLN ADMINISTRATION'S "VACILLATING" CONDUCT OF THE WAR, ASSAILS THE HOSTILE PRESS AND VOWS "IF POLITICIANS WANT FAME LET THEM WIN IT"
A remarkably indignant tirade from an exasperated Sherman. In fall 1861, Sherman told Secretary of War Cameron that if he had 200,000 troops, he could finish the war in Kentucky. This comment, widely reported out of context, caused a considerable outcry across the north. Here, from the seemingly stalled campaign against Vicksburg, Sherman voices outrage that political pressure should influence command decisions by President Lincoln. He denies rumors he plans to resign, yet: "I...do not intend to quit the Service unless I find the Press influences the Powers above me or those below me...My own command...have the means to know & feel the falsehood of the facts reported...I know that in McDowells's, Sumner's & Franklin's cases the President did allow a clamor to influence him and [I] presumed he would in my case...I made up my mind I would no longer submit to this blind abuse."
"The Army is now well stocked with General Officers most of whom prefer service north of the Ohio where they can criticize and find fault with their fellows nearer the front and why should not they come and vindicate their prowess in the rain & mud of actual Warfare...Our Government have now spent two years of valuable time and near two thousand millions of dollars in arriving at a conclusion that was plain to any man yet seen. We have from the start been compelled to combat superior forces, and to operate in a company full of natural difficulties, whose population was & is deadly hostile, whilst our own People have been more intent in building up and pulling down characters than in defeating the Enemy..."
"I will serve with as much Zeal as ever, but if I find that...men come to the Army for political advantage in the hereafter, perverting the truth, distorting the facts...I will quit. If Politicians want fame let them win it...If the People prefer to believe Deserters, Spies & Sneaks, I can't help it. And as they pay the bill I suppose they have the right to play the game according to their own notions. I will not serve a cause bolstered up by a set of sneaks and varmints...Jeff Davis has his People well in hand -- his Army is well organized, trained and disciplined, and nothing keeps the War from the well stocked plains & valleys of the North but the armies in the field. The whole people of the South are armed and enlisted in this Cause and if the North wish to succeed...they must unite as one man....All that has hitherto been done is in the way of education, and the War is yet to be fought. We will not take Vicksburg by any Combination yet made, but may by means of the Yazoo River reach Land, so as to make Vicksburg untenable...If I see the least symptom of a want of confidence in Grant or the President, or in my own Corps, I will of course resign, and really am I tired of the vacillating Policy of our Government & Peoples, sorry that I ever embarked in a voyage so sure to be disastrous to the first actors..."
Provenance: Paul C. Richards, 1982.