GENERAL SHERMAN'S COLONIZATION SCHEME

 

Confederate Veteran, Vol. IV, No. 11, Nashville, Tenn., November, 1896.

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GENERAL SHERMAN'S COLONIZATION SCHEME

Washington Evening Star

His Comment on Men and Measures in August, 1862.

Copied from the "Washington Evening Star":

United States Commissioner A. J. Williams, of Cleveland, Ohio, a member of the Loyal Legion, recently gave out for publication the following letter written by Gen. Sherman to his brother, Senator John Sherman, in 1862.

MEMPHIS, TENN., Aug. 13, 1862.

My dear brother: I have not written to you for so long that I suppose you think I have dropped the correspondence. For six weeks I was marching along the road from Corinth to Memphis, mending roads, building bridges, and all sorts of work. At last I got here and found the city contributing gold' arms, powder, salt and everything the enemy wanted. It was a smart trick on their part thus to give up Memphis that the desire of gain to our Northern merchants should supply them with the things needed in war.

I stopped this at once and declared gold, silver, treasury notes and salt as much contraband of war, as powder. I have one man under sentence of death for smuggling arms across the lines, and hope Mr. Lincoln will approve it. But the mercenary spirit of our people is too much and my orders are reversed and I am ordered to encourage the trade in cotton, and all orders prohibiting gold, silver and notes to be paid for it are annulled by orders from Washington. Grant promptly ratified my order, and all military men here saw at once that gold spent for cotton went to the purchase of arms and munitions of war. But what are the lives of our soldiers to the profits of the merchants?

After a whole year of bungling, the country has at last discovered that we want more men. All knew it last fall as well as now; but it was not popular. Now 1,300,000 men are required when 700,000 was deemed absurd before. It will take time to work up these raw recruits and they will reach us in October, when we should be in Jackson, Meridian and Vicksburg. Still, I must not growl. I have purposely put back, and have no right to criticize, save that I am glad the papers have at last found out we are at war and have a formidable enemy to combat.

Of course I approve the confiscation act, and would be willing to revolutionize the government so as to amend that article of the Constitution which forbids the forfeiture of land to the heirs. My full belief is, we must colonize the country de novo, beginning with Kentucky and Tennessee, and should remove 4,000,000 of our people at once south of the Ohio River, taking the farms and plantations of the Rebels. I deplore the war as much as ever, but if the thing has to be done, let the means be adequate.

Don't expect to overrun such a country or subdue such a people in one, two or five years. It is the task of half a century. Although our army is thus far South it cannot stir from our garrisons. Our men are killed and captured within sight of our lines.

I have two divisions here—mine and Hurlbut's— about 13,000 men; I am building a strong fort, and think this is to be one of the depots and bases of operations for future movements.

The loss of Halleck is almost fatal; we have no one to replace him. Instead of having one head we have live or six, all independent of each other.

I expect our enemy will mass their troops and fall upon our detachments before new reinforcements come. I cannot learn that there are any large bodies of men near us here.

There are detachments at Holly Springs and Senatobia, the present terminal of the railroads from the South, and all the people of the country are armed as guerrillas. Curtis is at Helena, eighty miles south, and Grant at Corinth. Bragg's Army from Tripoli has moved to Chattanooga and proposes to march on to Nashville, Lexington and Cincinnati. They will have about 75,000 men. Buell is near Huntsville with about 30,000, and I suppose detachments of the new levies can be put in Kentucky from Ohio and Indiana in time.

The weather is very hot and Bragg can't move his forces very fast; but I fear he will give trouble. My own opinion is we ought not to venture too much into the interior until the river is safely in our possession, when we could land at any point and strike inland. To attempt to hold all the South would demand an army too large even to think of.

We must colonize and settle as we go South, for in Missouri there is as much strife as ever.

Enemies must be killed or transported to some other country.

Your affectionate brother,

W. T. SHERMAN

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