William Tecumseh Sherman collection  1813-1888 (bulk 1861-1882)
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The William Tecumseh Sherman collection consists of 51 letters written by or relating to Sherman, 1813 to 1888 (bulk 1861-1882), and a volume of outgoing telegrams that he wrote, 1882-1884. The collector Clinton H. Haskell gathered these materials.

The Correspondence and Documents series is a miscellaneous collection of letters and documents, primarily written by Sherman to various correspondents. The earliest letters in the collection include one from Sherman's father Charles about a desired appointment as collector of internal revenue (August 24, 1813), and several by Sherman concerning several aspects of his early career in the west. Sherman wrote 13 letters in the collection during his Civil War service, and they span 1861 to 1865, with 1864 covered in the greatest depth (5 letters). In a letter of January 20, 1863, he wrote about plans for the capture of Vicksburg and called it "a great if not the greatest task yet undertaken in this war." In other letters, he recommended the strengthening of Fort Donelson (March 27, 1864), discussed troop positions at the beginning of the Atlanta Campaign (May 5, 1864), invited Colonel Absalom Markland and his wife to a social gathering in Savannah (January 3, 1865), and planned to move on Raleigh, North Carolina, after the capture of Richmond, Virginia (April 3, 1865). Also included is a set of special field orders, no. 20, dated February 18, 1864, which call for troop movements after Vicksburg and specify that "Buildings must not be burned on the return march…unless they are used as a cover to the enemy, from which to fire at our men." Special field orders no. 22 are also present (February 28, 1864).

The collection also includes several personal letters written during the Civil War period. In one of these, dated September 23, 1864, Sherman wrote to his foster father, Thomas Ewing, discussing money raised by his hometown of Lancaster, Ohio, to buy him a new horse. In it, he also noted that three of his horses had died during the war, with one shot out from under him, and commented on the training, care, and gaits of war horses. He wrote to his wife Ellen, describing souvenirs that he had sent home to her (April 6, 1865). Included are several letters concerning, but not addressed to, Sherman. In one, General Ormsby MacKnight Mitchel complains about Sherman's division of Mitchel's forces and the assignment of different leadership to part of the division (October 21, 1861).

The postwar letters in the collection mainly focus on Sherman's career as the commanding general of the United States Army. They pertain to such matters as personnel and appointments, the hiring of Edmund Palmer to sketch Native Americans on the plains (July 11, 1875), Civil War memorials (May 16, 1878), the construction of railroads (September 1, 1882), and other topics. Also present is an essay dated January 16, 1888, by William C. Shaw, entitled "What I Saw on Sherman's March to the Sea," in which he described participation in the campaign, including foraging, the destruction of railroad tracks in Georgia, and the slaves and slave quarters he encountered.

The Telegram Book contains 28 telegrams sent and received by Sherman in his official capacity as commanding general of the United States Army. The telegrams span June 19, 1882, to April 7, 1884. Many of the items concern routine matters of scheduling or personnel, but a few refer to larger issues. On April 19, 1883, Sherman wrote a telegram to General John Schofield, concerning the joint operations of the U.S. and Mexican troops in pursuit of "hostile Apaches depredating on both sides of the national border." Several telegrams also discuss governmental actions toward the Creek Indians (April 9, 1883; May 26, 1883).

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