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    General William T. Sherman Autograph Letter Signed "W.T. Sherman." Twelve pages, 7.75" x 9.75", on Headquarters Army of the United States letterhead, Washington, January 6, 1878. Addressed to the widow of General Robert Anderson, the hero of Fort Sumter, Sherman recounts the events in Kentucky immediately after the fall of Fort Sumter and Anderson's commission as a brigadier general. "It is but natural," he begins, "that at this holiday period of the year your thoughts and intense feelings should mount to that awful time when the angry passions of men had aroused the Sermons of War, had arranged father against son, brother against brother, and as in your case brothers against sister & husband, and though I would like to banish these thoughts from memory, at your command I will . . . recall some of the incidents that you desire to secure."

    "It would take many sheets to paint the picture of our country in the early autumn of 1861. . . . Washington was a vast camp of soldiers gathering from all points of the compass to defend the Capitol against a bitter enemy . . . But the cause of war covered the whole continent and President Lincoln was forced to give some of his thought to other parts of the county." Lincoln was particularly concerned with Kentucky, "a slave state whose people were divided by patriotic sentiment and slave interest was endeavoring to maintain a state of neutrality between the angry sections North and South. . . . He [President Lincoln] wanted a Leader, and all men naturally turned to General Robert Anderson, a native of Kentucky, a thorough soldier . . . and one whose courage & patriotism had already been tested in the first act of war [the firing on Fort Sumter] . . . He was summoned to Washington and soon after wrote me a note to meet him." Anderson, Sherman, and Lincoln met with men from Kentucky and it was decided to make the area a military department under the command of Anderson.

    Anderson requested that Sherman "go along as his Lieutenant, as I had been his Lieutenant of Company G. 3rd Artillery . . . and that Mr. Lincoln had promised him four Brigadiers of his choice out of the Army of the Potomac. He said he wanted Thomas, Burnside, and Buell. . . . General McClellan could not spare Burnside, but I and General Thomas were ordered to report to Genl. Anderson." The men then left for Cincinnati and met with more men from Kentucky. "Kentucky was represented as in a ferment, and matters there were rapidly approaching a crisis. . . . There were no Union forces organized for Kentucky but Rosecrans Legion . . . and a force of Kentucky Volunteers under General Nelson." Sherman was sent to St. Louis, but was quickly recalled to Louisville and found Anderson "overwhelmed with the necessary work forced on him by a command without adequate force or official help. The Rebels Sidney Johnson and Zollicoffer had invaded Kentucky from Tennessee and were actively approaching Louisville. . . . The Government proceeded on the theory that Kentucky was full of Union men, who only needed arms and a leader to meet and repel any enemy. There were some noble and patriotic men in Kentucky then, but they were without arms . . . and dazed by noise & clamor of those who owned slaves, and who believed that slavery was essential to the existence of their State. General Anderson did all that man could do . . . and at the same time used every man he could arm to go forth to protect the State against the declared enemies of the Union." Kentucky remained an important part of the Union throughout the remainder of the war.

    Anderson commanded the department from May 28, 1861, until his failing health forced his replacement by Sherman in early October 1861. "I followed Genl. Anderson in that same office and failed equally," he says, and given the choice between the death and destruction of the battlefield or command of the department in Louisville, "I would not hesitate to choose the former with all their chances of wounds, death and captivity." Sherman's sympathy toward Anderson is evident and heartfelt as it was during his time in command at Louisville that Sherman suffered what amounts to a nervous breakdown.

    Edges of the pages show some age toning. Separation has begun at the edges of the horizontal folds. This is an extremely fascinating letter packed with details on the Kentucky situation in the beginning months of the war.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2015
    12th-13th Friday-Saturday
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