Thursday, December 6, 2012

Senator John Sherman to Major General William T. Sherman, January 27, 1863

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 27, 1863.

Dear Brother:

The pressure of official duties here prevented my writing sooner, but I have kept a watchful eye on all your movements recently.

I have not the slightest hesitation in justifying every movement you have made. The newspapers are generally down on you and will command the public attention to your prejudice, but intelligent persons do not fail to notice that not a specific allegation is made against you. The authorities sustain your actions throughout. This is especially so as to the Secretary of War. I read your official report, and was very anxious to have it published. It would correct many errors and would be a complete justification and explanation of many things not understood.

I asked Gen. Halleck to allow me to publish it. He declined, unless the Secretary of War consented, and said he would submit my application to the Secretary. Afterwards I saw the Secretary, and he told me he had directed a copy of the report to be furnished for publication. I again called at Halleck's, and saw Gen. Cullum, who objected to the publication of the report on various grounds.

After a full conversation with Cullum, I supposed I had satisfied him that it ought to be published, and he agreed to submit my reasons to Halleck and ask a reconsideration. This morning I received a note from Halleck stating that, as further operations would occur before Vicksburg, he did not deem it advisable to publish the report at present. Thus the matter ends. Cullum stated to me that there was no officer of the army who did not entirely justify your attack on Vicksburg under the circumstances as you supposed them to be. In the end you will be justified in public opinion.

Military affairs look dark here in the army of the Potomac. Burnside is relieved and Hooker is in command. The entire army seems demoralized. Perhaps when it is ready to move it may be all right. A certain amount of dissatisfaction always will exist in an army. I was very glad to notice that you were popular with and had the confidence of your men. This is the case with but few officers. I deeply pity Porter.1 . . .

If we recover from the folly of legislators and the quarrels of our generals, it will be evidence of vitality, remarkable in the history of any nation. I believe we shall survive all these dangers, and I agree with you that no course is left for us but to fight it out. I cannot respect some of the constituted authorities, yet I will cordially support and aid them while they are authorized to administer the government. Pray write me as often as you can.

Affectionately yours,


1Fitz-John Porter

SOURCE: Rachel Sherman Thorndike, Editor, The Sherman letters: correspondence between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, p. 186-7

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