Next up in March to the Sea Monday, Wayne Hsieh, coauthor of A Savage War, continues to share correspondence between Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman as it happened approximately 150 years ago. The first post can be found here. Follow along for an insider’s view of Sherman’s March to the Sea:
Sherman wrote to Sheridan congratulating the latter on his victory at Cedar Creek, while commenting on the relationship between age and command:
November 6, 1864, Kingston, GA
To: Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan
I have been wanting to write to you for some days, but have been troubled by an acute pain in my shoulder resulting from recent exposure. . . . I notice particularly the prominent fact that you in person turned the tide in the recent battle of Cedar Creek. You have youth and vigor, and this single event has given you a hold upon an army that gives you a future better than older men can hope for. I am satisfied, and have been all the time, that the problem of this war consists in the awful fact that the present class of men who rule the South must be killed outright rather than in the conquest of territory, so that hard, bull-dog fighting, and a great deal of it, yet remains to be done, and it matters little whether it be done close to the borders, where you are, or farther in the interior, where I happen to be; therefore, I shall expect you on any and all occasions to make bloody results.
OR, Ser. 1, Vol. 43, Pt. 2, 552-53
Shortly after writing these last instructions to Thomas, Sherman virtually vanished from official Federal view as his army embarked on the March to the Sea:
November 11, 1864, 12 Midnight, Kingston, GA
To: Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas
I can hardly believe that Beauregard would attempt to work against Nashville from Corinth as a base at this stage of the war, but all information seems to point that way. If he does you will whip him out of his boots . . . The probabilities are that the wires will be broken to-morrow and that all communication will cease between us, but I have directed the main wire to be left, and will use it if possible, and wish you to do the same. You may act, however, on the certainty that I sally from Atlanta on the 16th instant with about 60,000, well provisioned, but expecting to live chiefly on the country.
OR, Ser. 1, Vol. 39, Pt. 3, 746-47
Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh is associate professor of history at the United States Naval Academy. He is the author of West Pointers and the Civil War and coauthor with Williamson Murray of A Savage War.