Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 8.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

To William T. Sherman [1]

Executive Mansion, Washington, D.C.
Major General Sherman, September 19th, 1864.

The State election of Indiana occurs on the 11th. of October, and the loss of it to the friends of the Government would go far towards losing the whole Union cause. The bad effect upon the November election, and especially the giving the State Government to those who will oppose the war in every possible way, are too much to risk, if it can possibly be avoided. The draft proceeds, notwithstanding its strong tendency to lose us the State. Indiana is the only important State, voting in October, whose soldiers cannot vote in the field. Any thing you can safely do to let her soldiers, or any part of them, go home and vote at the State election, will be greatly in point. They need not remain for the Presidential election, but may return to you at once. This is, in no sense, an order, but is merely intended to impress you with the importance, to the army itself, of your doing all you safely can, yourself being the judge of what you can safely do. Yours truly A. LINCOLN

Annotation

[1]   LS, InFtwL; LS copy, DLC-RTL. See Lincoln's memorandum, supra. On September 12, 1864, Governor Morton, Indiana Republicans in congress, and others wrote Stanton:

`` . . . we express it as our profound conviction that upon the issue of the election that occurs within a month from this date may depend the question as to whether the secession element shall be effectually crushed or whether it shall acquire strength enough, we do not say to take the state out of the Union, but practically to sever her from the general government, so far as future military aid is concerned.

``We further express the gravest doubts as to whether it will be possible for us to secure success at the polls on the 11th of October unless we can receive aid---

``1. By delay of the draft until the election has passed.

``2. By the return, before election day, of fifteen thousand Indiana soldiers. . . .'' (William Dudley Foulke, Life of Oliver P. Morton, I, 367).

Page  12On September 18 Stanton replied:

``It appears from a dispatch received from General Sherman last night that his army is jealously watching whether the draft will be suspended or enforced. The general says:

`` `If the President modifies it to the extent of one man, or wavers in its execution, he is gone. Even the army would vote against him.'

``You can judge from this what effect the recall of troops and delaying the draft is likely to have on your election.'' (OR, III, IV, 732).

See further Lincoln to Morton, October 13, infra.