Sherman Asks Grant to Come West

An interesting letter from General Sherman in which he urges Grant to take direct command in the West.

 

NEAR MEMPHIS,

March 10, 1864

General GRANT.

DEAR GENERAL: I have your more than kind and characteristic letter of the 4th, and will send a copy of it to General McPherson at once.

You do yourself injustice and us too much honor in assigning to us so large a share of the merits which have led to your high advancement. I know you approve the friendship I have ever professed to you, and will permit me to continue as heretofore to manifest it on all proper occasions.

You are now Washington’s legitimate successor, and occupy a position of almost dangerous elevation; but if you can continue as heretofore to be yourself, simple, honest, and unpretending, you will enjoy through life the respect and love of friends, and the homage of millions of human beings who will award to you a large share for securing to them and their descendants a government of law and stability.

I repeat, you do General McPherson and myself too much honor. At Belmont you manifested your traits, neither of us being near; at Donelson also you illustrated your whole character. I was not near, and General McPherson in too subordinate a capacity to influence you.

Until you had won Donelson, I confess I was almost cowed by the terrible array of anarchical elements that presented themselves at every point; but that victory admitted the ray of light which I have followed ever since.

I believe you are as brave, patriotic, and just, as the great prototype Washington; as unselfish, kind-hearted, and honest, as a man should be; but the chief characteristic in your nature is the simple faith in success you have always manifested, which I can liken to nothing else than the faith a Christian has in his Saviour.

This faith gave you victory at Shiloh and Vicksburg. Also, when you have completed your best preparations, you go into battle without hesitation, as at Chattanooga—no doubts, no reserve; and I tell you that it was this that made us act with confidence. I knew wherever I was that you thought of me, and if I got in a tight place you would come—if alive.

My only points of doubt were as to your knowledge of grand strategy, and of books of science and history; but I confess your common-sense seems to have supplied all this.

Now as to the future. Do not stay in Washington. Halleck is better qualified than you are to stand the buffets of intrigue and policy. Come out West; take to yourself the whole Mississippi Valley; let us make it dead-sure, and I tell you the Atlantic slope and Pacific shores will follow its destiny as sure as the limbs of a tree live or die with the main trunk! We have done much; still much remains to be done. Time and time’s influences are all with us; we could almost afford to sit still and let these influences work. Even in the seceded States your word now would go further than a President’s proclamation, or an act of Congress.

For God’s sake and for your country’s sake, come out of Washington! I foretold to General Halleck, before he left Corinth, the inevitable result to him, and I now exhort you to come out West. Here lies the seat of the coming empire; and from the West, when our task is done, we will make short work of Charleston and Richmond, and the impoverished coast of the Atlantic.

Your sincere friend,
W. T. SHERMAN

Interesting that Sherman, who was slated to command in the West, wanted Grant to take on the task.  Was Sherman feeling a bit nervous about taking the top command himself rather than acting as the second in command to Grant?  Was Sherman concerned that Grant was not up to the task of defeating Lee?  In either case an interesting look into Sherman’s thinking prior to the beginning of the 1864 campaign.

Published in: on April 24, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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2 Comments

  1. I am not so sure but that Sherman understood WAR more than any other Union General. Maybe he understood the Peter Principal too. Very interesting letter. Would that many more in our day would come out of Washington but that is more akin to rats leaving the sinking ship than elevating one to his highest potential.
    In any event a very good call on Sherman’s part.
    In Christ,
    Dennis McCutcheon
    Hey, three doctors killed in Kabul were with CURE International and while I did not know them personally I know the ministry. They serve children in developing countries with grace and alacrity and this is a tragedy of terrible degree. Join me in praying for all involved.

    • Prayers on the way Dennis.


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