MEMPHIS, August 26th, 1862.
. . . Gradually the practice has come into my original proposition that none but discharged soldiers should go home, or wounded men. All others should be in regimental hospitals, or hospitals established near at hand where as they convalesce they can join. Although from the President down to the lowest Brigadier orders to this effect have been issued, yet there are hundreds trying to get their brothers and sons home. I know full well the intense desire to get home, but any army would be ruined by this cause alone. McClellan has 70,000 absent from his army. Some were sick, but certainly not over 20,000; with the other 50,000 our country might have been saved the disgrace of a retreat from Richmond, for it has resolved itself into that. At last all have come to the conclusion that we are at war, and great as the draft has been on your population, don’t suppose you outnumber the South yet. All their people are armed and at war. You hear of vast armies at Richmond, at Chattanooga and threatening New Orleans, whilst the whole country is full of guerilla bands numbering hundreds. All the people are armed. A year ago we could have taken them unprepared, but they have used the year to buy all kinds of arms and munitions of war and wherever we go we find them well prepared. They seem to have left this quarter. I am glad of the new levies and only regret the loss of the year. The present operations in Virginia and Kentucky are all important. . . .
W. T. SHERMAN.
SOURCE: Rachel Sherman Thorndike, Editor, The Sherman letters: correspondence between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, p. 159-60