ON BOARD JULIET,
Bound for Vicksburg in a fog,
Friday, Jan. 28,1864.
I have organized a cavalry force to sweep down from Memphis towards Mobile, and have gathered together out of my garrisons a very pretty force of twenty thousand men which I shall command in person, and move from Vicksburg down east in connection with the cavalry named, to reach Meridian and break up the railroad connections there. This will have the effect to disconnect Mississippi from the eastern Southern States, arid without this single remaining link they cannot keep any army of importance west of the Alabama River. Our armies are now at the lowest point, and so many are going home as re-enlisted veterans that I shall have a less force than should attempt it; but this is the time and I shall attempt it. It seems my luck to have to take the initiative and to come in at desperate times, but thus far having done a full share of the real achievements of this war, I need not fear accidents. . . .
You who attach more importance to popular fame would be delighted to see in what estimation I am held by the people of Memphis, Tenn., and all along this mighty river. I could not well decline an offer of a public dinner in Memphis, but I dreaded it more than I did the assault on Vicksburg. I had to speak, and sent you the report that best suited me, viz., that in the "Argus." The report of the bulletin which may reach the Northern press is disjointed and not so correct. Indeed, I cannot speak from notes or keep myself strictly to the point, but ’tis said that the effect of my crude speeches is good. . . .
I know that for us to assume that slavery is killed, not by a predetermined act of ours, but as the natural, logical, and legal consequence of the acts of its self-constituted admirers, we gain strength and the enemy loses it. I think it is the true doctoring for the time being. The South has made the interests of slavery the issue of the war. If they lose the war, they lose slavery. Instead of our being abolitionists, it is thereby proven that they are the abolitionists. . . .
The Mississippi is a substantial conquest; we should next get the Red River, then the Alabama, and last push into Georgia. . . .
Your affectionate brother,
W. T. SHERMAN
SOURCE: Rachel Sherman Thorndike, Editor, The Sherman Letters: Correspondence Between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, p. 221-2