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    "I don't feel disposed to be over generous and should not hesitate to burn Savannah, Charleston, and Augusta Wilmington."

    William T. Sherman Autograph Letter Signed "W. T. Sherman." Four integral pages, 7.75" x 9.75", on Headquarters, Military Division of the Mississippi letterhead, "12 miles from Fayetteville NC," March 15, 1865. Following his capture of Atlanta and March to the Sea, General William Sherman was ordered by Gen. Grant to move his army north by boat in an effort to merge their forces and crush Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Sherman had other ideas and persuaded Grant to let him move overland through the Carolinas, destroying everything as he went (as he had done in Georgia). Grant consented and Sherman started north.

    Writing to General Quincy A. Gillmore, now in command of the Department of the South, just five days before meeting Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's army at the Battle of Bentonville, Sherman gives an account of his action since leaving the capital of South Carolina, Columbia, which he had captured one month earlier. "When at Columbia I had the Railroad broken down to Kingsville . . . subsequently from Cheraw I arrived to strike Florence but sent too weak a party, but the Enemy himself has destroyed the Peedee Bridge and has on the Railroad at Sumpterville and between it and Florence a vast amount of rolling stock the destruction of which is all important and it should be done before any repairs can be made whereby they can be removed. I want it done at once and leave you to devise the way. I think 2500 men lightly equipped with pack mules only, could read the Road either from Georgetown or the Santee Bridge."

    Sherman is best-remembered for his use of "total war" and his burning of the city of Atlanta, a tactic he wishes to continue, remarking that he does not "feel disposed to be over generous and should not hesitate to burn Savannah, Charleston and Augusta Wilmington. Savannah and Wilmington are the only really useful ports because of their inland Rivers. . . . All real good soldiers must now be marching. Do not let your Command rest on its own but keep them going all the time even if for no other purpose than to exhaust the Enemy's Country or compel him to defend it. The simple fact that a man's home has been visited by an Enemy makes a soldier in Lees & Johnstons Army very anxious to get home to look after his family & property."

    Sherman's goal, however, lies at Sumpterville and Florence: "Those cars and locomotives should be destroyed . . . The men could march without knapsacks . . . Let it be done at once and select your own point of departure. After destroying these cars and engines . . . (Powder can be used to good advantage in blowing up boilers and Engines) . . . you may reduce your Garrison to the minimum and send any spare men to Newbern & Goldboro. I want to collect an army that can whip Lee in open fight if he lets go [of] Richmond which I think he will soon be forced to do."

    Four days later, Sherman's army met Johnston's army in the last major clash between the two forces near Bentonville, North Carolina. The rebels were defeated and withdrew and Sherman continued his march north. Sherman wrote this letter in pencil, which is faded in places, but still legible. Folds are weakened and separating at the edges and at the intersections. Scattered spots of foxing are present with areas of light staining.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2014
    7th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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