Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Memoirs of Three Civil War Generals, Complete

Part 19 out of 44

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 5.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Douglas taking the boat to Sacramento, and I to San Francisco.

The Chief-Justice, Terry, came to San Francisco the next day,
issued a writ of habeas corpus for the body of one Maloney, which
writ was resisted, as we expected. The Governor then issued his
proclamation, and I published my orders, dated June 4, 1855. The
Quartermaster-General of the State, General Kibbe, also came to San
Francisco, took an office in the City Hall, engaged several rooms
for armories, and soon the men began to enroll into companies. In
my general orders calling out the militia, I used the expression,
"When a sufficient number of men are enrolled, arms and ammunition
will be supplied." Some of the best men of the "Vigilantes" came
to me and remonstrated, saying that collision would surely result;
that it would be terrible, etc. All I could say in reply was, that
it was for them to get out of the way." Remove your fort; cease
your midnight councils; and prevent your armed bodies from
patrolling the streets." They inquired where I was to get arms,
and I answered that I had them certain. But personally I went
right along with my business at the bank, conscious that at any
moment we might have trouble. Another committee of citizens, a
conciliatory body, was formed to prevent collision if possible, and
the newspapers boiled over with vehement vituperation. This second
committee was composed of such men as Crockett, Ritchie, Thornton,
Bailey Peyton, Foote, Donohue, Kelly, and others, a class of the
most intelligent and wealthy men of the city, who earnestly and
honestly desired to prevent bloodshed. They also came to me, and I
told them that our men were enrolling very fast, and that, when I
deemed the right moment had come, the Vigilance Committee must
disperse, else bloodshed and destruction of property would
inevitably follow. They also had discovered that the better men of
the Vigilance Committee itself were getting tired of the business,
and thought that in the execution of Casey and Cora, and the
banishment of a dozen or more rowdies, they had done enough, and
were then willing to stop. It was suggested that, if our
Law-and-Order party would not arm, by a certain day near at hand
the committee would disperse, and some of their leaders would
submit to an indictment and trial by a jury of citizens, which they
knew would acquit them of crime. One day in the bank a man called
me to the counter and said, "If you expect to get arms of General
Wool, you will be mistaken, for I was at Benicia yesterday, and
heard him say he would not give them." This person was known to me
to be a man of truth, and I immediately wrote to General Wool a
letter telling him what I had heard, and how any hesitation on his
part would compromise me as a man of truth and honor; adding that I
did not believe we should ever need the arms, but only the promise
of them, for "the committee was letting down, and would soon
disperse and submit to the law," etc. I further asked him to
answer me categorically that very night, by the Stockton boat,
which would pass Benicia on its way down about midnight, and I
would sit up and wait for his answer. I did wait for his letter,
but it did not come, and the next day I got a telegraphic dispatch
from Governor Johnson, who, at Sacramento, had also heard of
General Wool's "back-down," asking me to meet him again at Benicia
that night.

I went up in the evening boat, and found General Wool's aide-de-
camp, Captain Arnold, of the army, on the wharf, with a letter in
his hand, which he said was for me. I asked for it, but he said he
knew its importance, and preferred we should go to General Wool's
room together, and the general could hand it to me in person. We
did go right up to General Wool's, who took the sealed parcel and
laid it aside, saying that it was literally a copy of one he had
sent to Governor Johnson, who would doubtless give me a copy; but I
insisted that I had made a written communication, and was entitled
to a written answer.

At that moment several gentlemen of the "Conciliation party," who
had come up in the same steamer with me, asked for admission and
came in. I recall the names of Crockett, Foote, Bailey Peyton,
Judge Thornton, Donohue, etc., and the conversation became general,
Wool trying to explain away the effect of our misunderstanding,
taking good pains not to deny his promise made to me personally on
the wharf. I renewed my application for the letter addressed to
me, then lying on his table. On my statement of the case, Bailey
Peyton said, "General Wool, I think General Sherman has a right to
a written answer from you, for he is surely compromised." Upon
this Wool handed me the letter. I opened and read it, and it
denied any promise of arms, but otherwise was extremely evasive and
non-committal. I had heard of the arrival at the wharf of the
Governor and party, and was expecting them at Wool's room, but,
instead of stopping at the hotel where we were, they passed to
another hotel on the block above. I went up and found there, in a
room on the second floor over the bar-room, Governor Johnson,
Chief-Justice Terry, Jones, of Palmer, Cooke & Co., E. D. Baker,
Volney E. Howard, and one or two others. All were talking
furiously against Wool, denouncing him as a d---d liar, and not
sparing the severest terms. I showed the Governor General Wool's
letter to me, which he said was in effect the same as the one
addressed to and received by him at Sacramento. He was so offended
that he would not even call on General Wool, and said he would
never again recognize him as an officer or gentleman. We discussed
matters generally, and Judge Terry said that the Vigilance
Committee were a set of d---d pork-merchants; that they were
getting scared, and that General Wool was in collusion with them to
bring the State into contempt, etc. I explained that there were no
arms in the State except what General Wool had, or what were in the
hands of the Vigilance Committee of San Francisco, and that the
part of wisdom for us was to be patient and cautious. About that
time Crockett and his associates sent up their cards, but Terry and
the more violent of the Governor's followers denounced them as no
better than "Vigilantes," and wanted the Governor to refuse even to
receive them. I explained that they were not "Vigilantes," that
Judge Thornton was a "Law-and-Order" man, was one of the first to
respond to the call of the sheriff, and that he went actually to
the jail with his one arm the night we expected the first attempt
at rescue, etc. Johnson then sent word for them to reduce their
business to writing. They simply sent in a written request for an
audience, and they were then promptly admitted. After some general
conversation, the Governor said he was prepared to hear them, when
Mr. Crockett rose and made a prepared speech embracing a clear and
fair statement of the condition of things in San Francisco,
concluding with the assertion of the willingness of the committee
to disband and submit to trial after a certain date not very
remote. All the time Crockett was speaking, Terry sat with his hat
on, drawn over his eyes, and with his feet on a table. As soon as
Crockett was through, they were dismissed, and Johnson began to
prepare a written answer. This was scratched, altered, and
amended, to suit the notions of his counselors, and at last was
copied and sent. This answer amounted to little or nothing.
Seeing that we were powerless for good, and that violent counsels
would prevail under the influence of Terry and others, I sat down
at the table, and wrote my resignation, which Johnson accepted in a
complimentary note on the spot, and at the same time he appointed
to my place General Volney E. Howard, then present, a lawyer who
had once been a member of Congress from Texas, and who was expected
to drive the d---d pork-merchants into the bay at short notice. I
went soon after to General Wool's room, where I found Crockett and
the rest of his party; told them that I was out of the fight,
having resigned my commission; that I had neglected business that
had been intrusted to me by my St. Louis partners; and that I would
thenceforward mind my own business, and leave public affairs
severely alone. We all returned to San Francisco that night by the
Stockton boat, and I never after-ward had any thing to do with
politics in California, perfectly satisfied with that short
experience. Johnson and Wool fought out their quarrel of veracity
in the newspapers and on paper. But, in my opinion, there is not a
shadow of doubt that General Wool did deliberately deceive us; that
he had authority to issue arms, and that, had he adhered to his
promise, we could have checked the committee before it became a
fixed institution, and a part of the common law of California.
Major-General Volney E. Howard came to San Francisco soon after;
continued the organization of militia which I had begun; succeeded
in getting a few arms from the country; but one day the Vigilance
Committee sallied from their armories, captured the arms of the
"Law-and-Order party," put some of their men into prison, while
General Howard, with others, escaped to the country; after which
the Vigilance Committee had it all their own way. Subsequently, in
July, 1856, they arrested Chief-Justice Terry, and tried him for
stabbing one of their constables, but he managed to escape at
night, and took refuge on the John Adams. In August, they hanged
Hetherington and Brace in broad daylight, without any jury-trial;
and, soon after, they quietly disbanded. As they controlled the
press, they wrote their own history, and the world generally gives
them the credit of having purged San Francisco of rowdies and
roughs; but their success has given great stimulus to a dangerous
principle, that would at any time justify the mob in seizing all
the power of government; and who is to say that the Vigilance
Committee may not be composed of the worst, instead of the best,
elements of a community? Indeed, in San Francisco, as soon as it
was demonstrated that the real power had passed from the City Hall
to the committee room, the same set of bailiffs, constables, and
rowdies that had infested the City Hall were found in the
employment of the "Vigilantes;" and, after three months
experience, the better class of people became tired of the midnight
sessions and left the business and power of the committee in the
hands of a court, of which a Sydney man was reported to be the head
or chief-justice.

During the winter of 1855-'56, and indeed throughout the year 1856,
all kinds of business became unsettled in California. The mines
continued to yield about fifty millions of gold a year; but little
attention was paid to agriculture or to any business other than
that of "mining," and, as the placer-gold was becoming worked out,
the miners were restless and uneasy, and were shifting about from
place to place, impelled by rumors put afloat for speculative
purposes. A great many extensive enterprises by joint-stock
companies had been begun, in the way of water-ditches, to bring
water from the head of the mountain-streams down to the richer
alluvial deposits, and nearly all of these companies became
embarrassed or bankrupt. Foreign capital, also, which had been
attracted to California by reason of the high rates of interest,
was being withdrawn, or was tied up in property which could not be
sold; and, although our bank's having withstood the panic gave us
great credit, still the community itself was shaken, and loans of
money were risky in the extreme. A great many merchants, of the
highest name, availed themselves of the extremely liberal bankrupt
law to get discharged of their old debts, without sacrificing much,
if any, of their stocks of goods on hand, except a lawyer's fee;
thus realizing Martin Burke's saying that "many a clever fellow had
been ruined by paying his debts." The merchants and business-men
of San Francisco did not intend to be ruined by such a course. I
raised the rate of exchange from three to three and a half, while
others kept on at the old rate; and I labored hard to collect old
debts, and strove, in making new loans, to be on the safe side.
The State and city both denied much of their public debt; in fact,
repudiated it; and real estate, which the year before had been
first-class security, became utterly unsalable.

The office labor and confinement, and the anxiety attending the
business, aggravated my asthma to such an extent that at times it
deprived me of sleep, and threatened to become chronic and serious;
and I was also conscious that the first and original cause which
had induced Mr. Lucas to establish the bank in California had
ceased. I so reported to him, and that I really believed that he
could use his money more safely and to better advantage in St.
Louis. This met his prompt approval, and he instructed me
gradually to draw out, preparatory to a removal to New York City.
Accordingly, early in April, 1857, I published an advertisement in
the San Francisco papers, notifying our customers that, on the 1st
day of May, we would discontinue business and remove East,
requiring all to withdraw their accounts, and declaring that,
if any remained on that day of May, their balances would be
transferred to the banking-house of Parrott & Co. Punctually to the
day, this was done, and the business of Lucas, Turner & Co., of San
Francisco, was discontinued, except the more difficult and
disagreeable part of collecting their own moneys and selling the
real estate, to which the firm had succeeded by purchase or
foreclosure. One of the partners, B. R. Nisbet, assisted by our
attorney, S. M. Bowman, Esq., remained behind to close up the
business of the bank.




Having closed the bank at San Francisco on the 1st day of May,
1857, accompanied by my family I embarked in the steamer Sonora for
Panama, crossed the isthmus, and sailed to New York, whence we
proceeded to Lancaster, Ohio, where Mrs. Sherman and the family
stopped, and I went on to St. Louis. I found there that some
changes had been made in the parent, house, that Mr. Lucas had
bought out his partner, Captain Symonds, and that the firm's name
had been changed to that of James H. Lucas & Co.

It had also been arranged that an office or branch was to be
established in New York City, of which I was to have charge, on
pretty much the same terms and conditions as in the previous San
Francisco firm.

Mr. Lucas, Major Turner, and I, agreed to meet in New York, soon
after the 4th of July. We met accordingly at the Metropolitan
Hotel, selected an office, No. 12 Pall Street, purchased the
necessary furniture, and engaged a teller, bookkeeper, and porter.
The new firm was to bear the same title of Lucas, Turner & Co.,
with about the same partners in interest, but the nature of the
business was totally different. We opened our office on the 21st
of July, 1857, and at once began to receive accounts from the West
and from California, but our chief business was as the resident
agents of the St. Louis firm of James H. Lucas & Co. Personally I
took rooms at No. 100 Prince Street, in which house were also
quartered Major J. G. Barnard, and Lieutenant J. B. McPherson,
United States Engineers, both of whom afterward attained great fame
in the civil war.

My business relations in New York were with the Metropolitan Bank
and Bank of America; and with the very wealthy and most respectable
firm of Schuchhardt & Gebhard, of Nassau Street. Every thing went
along swimmingly till the 21st of August, when all Wall Street was
thrown into a spasm by the failure of the Ohio Life and Trust
Company, and the panic so resembled that in San Francisco, that,
having nothing seemingly at stake, I felt amused. But it soon
became a serious matter even to me. Western stocks and securities
tumbled to such a figure, that all Western banks that held such
securities, and had procured advances thereon, were compelled to
pay up or substitute increased collaterals. Our own house was not
a borrower in New York at all, but many of our Western
correspondents were, and it taxed my tune to watch their interests.
In September, the panic extended so as to threaten the safety of
even some of the New York banks not connected with the West; and
the alarm became general, and at last universal.

In the very midst of this panic came the news that the steamer
Central America, formerly the George Law, with six hundred
passengers and about sixteen hundred thousand dollars of treasure,
coming from Aspinwall, had foundered at sea, off the coast of
Georgia, and that about sixty of the passengers had been
providentially picked up by a Swedish bark, and brought into
Savannah. The absolute loss of this treasure went to swell the
confusion and panic of the day.

A few days after, I was standing in the vestibule of the
Metropolitan Hotel, and heard the captain of the Swedish bark tell
his singular story of the rescue of these passengers. He was a
short, sailor-like-looking man, with a strong German or Swedish
accent. He said that he was sailing from some port in Honduras for
Sweden, running down the Gulf Stream off Savannah. The weather had
been heavy for some days, and, about nightfall, as he paced his
deck, he observed a man-of-war hawk circle about his vessel,
gradually lowering, until the bird was as it were aiming at him.
He jerked out a belaying-pin, struck at the bird, missed it, when
the hawk again rose high in the air, and a second time began to
descend, contract his circle, and make at him again. The second
time he hit the bird, and struck it to the deck.... This strange
fact made him uneasy, and he thought it betokened danger; he went
to the binnacle, saw the course he was steering, and without any
particular reason he ordered the steersman to alter the course one
point to the east.

After this it became quite dark, and he continued to promenade the
deck, and had settled into a drowsy state, when as in a dream he
thought he heard voices all round his ship. Waking up, he ran to
the side of the ship, saw something struggling in the water, and
heard clearly cries for help. Instantly heaving his ship to, and
lowering all his boats, he managed to pick up sixty or more persons
who were floating about on skylights, doors, spare, and whatever
fragments remained of the Central America. Had he not changed the
course of his vessel by reason of the mysterious conduct of that
man-of-war hawk, not a soul would probably have survived the night.
It was stated by the rescued passengers, among whom was Billy
Birch, that the Central America had sailed from Aspinwall with the
passengers and freight which left San Francisco on the 1st of
September, and encountered the gale in the Gulf Stream somewhere
off Savannah, in which she sprung a leak, filled rapidly, and went
down. The passengers who were saved had clung to doors, skylights,
and such floating objects as they could reach, and were thus
rescued; all the rest, some five hundred in number, had gone down
with the ship.

The panic grew worse and worse, and about the end of September
there was a general suspension of the banks of New York, and a
money crisis extended all over the country. In New York, Lucas,
Turner & Co. had nothing at risk. We had large cash balances in
the Metropolitan Bank and in the Bank of America, all safe, and we
held, for the account of the St. Louis house, at least two hundred
thousand dollars, of St. Louis city and county bonds, and of
acceptances falling due right along, none extending beyond ninety
days. I was advised from St. Louis that money matters were
extremely tight; but I did not dream of any danger in that quarter.
I knew well that Mr. Lucas was worth two or three million dollars
in the best real estate, and inferred from the large balances to
their credit with me that no mere panic could shake his credit;
but, early on the morning of October 7th, my cousin, James M. Hoyt,
came to me in bed, and read me a paragraph in the morning paper, to
the effect that James H. Lucas & Co., of St. Louis, had suspended.
I was, of course, surprised, but not sorry; for I had always
contended that a man of so much visible wealth as Mr. Lucas should
not be engaged in a business subject to such vicissitudes. I
hurried down to the office, where I received the same information
officially, by telegraph, with instructions to make proper
disposition of the affairs of the bank, and to come out to St.
Louis, with such assets as would be available there. I transferred
the funds belonging to all our correspondents, with lists of
outstanding checks, to one or other of our bankers, and with the
cash balance of the St. Louis house and their available assets
started for St. Louis. I may say with confidence that no man lost
a cent by either of the banking firms of Lucas, Turner & Co., of
San Francisco or New York; but, as usual, those who owed us were
not always as just. I reached St. Louis October 17th, and found
the partners engaged in liquidating the balances due depositors as
fast as collections could be forced; and, as the panic began to
subside, this process became quite rapid, and Mr. Lucas, by making
a loan in Philadelphia, was enabled to close out all accounts
without having made any serious sacrifices, Of course, no person
ever lost a cent by him: he has recently died, leaving an estate of
eight million dollars. During his lifetime, I had opportunities to
know him well, and take much pleasure in bearing testimony to his
great worth and personal kindness. On the failure of his bank, he
assumed personally all the liabilities, released his partners of
all responsibility, and offered to assist me to engage in business,
which he supposed was due to me because I had resigned my army
commission. I remained in St. Louis till the 17th of December,
1857, assisting in collecting for the bank, and in controlling all
matters which came from the New York and San Francisco branches.
B. R. Nisbet was still in San Francisco, but had married a Miss
Thornton, and was coming home. There still remained in California
a good deal of real estate, and notes, valued at about two hundred
thousand dollars in the aggregate; so that, at Mr. Lucas's request,
I agreed to go out again, to bring matters, if possible, nearer a
final settlement. I accordingly left St. Louis, reached Lancaster,
where my family was, on the 10th, staid there till after Christmas,
and then went to New York, where I remained till January 5th, when
I embarked on the steamer Moles Taylor (Captain McGowan) for
Aspinwall; caught the Golden Gate (Captain Whiting) at Panama,
January 15, 1858; and reached San Francisco on the 28th of January.
I found that Nisbet and wife had gone to St. Louis, and that we had
passed each other at sea. He had carried the ledger and books to
St. Louis, but left a schedule, notes, etc., in the hands of S. M.
Bowman, Esq., who passed them over to me.

On the 30th of January I published a notice of the dissolution of
the partnership, and called on all who were still indebted to the
firm of Lucas, Turner & Co. to pay up, or the notes would be sold
at auction. I also advertised that all the real property, was for

Business had somewhat changed since 1857. Parrott & Co.; Garrison,
Fritz & Ralston; Wells, Fargo & Co.; Drexel, Sather & Church, and
Tallant & Wilde, were the principal bankers. Property continued
almost unsalable, and prices were less than a half of what they
had been in 1853-'54. William Blending, Esq., had rented my house
on Harrison Street; so I occupied a room in the bank, No. 11, and
boarded at the Meiggs House, corner of Broadway and Montgomery,
which we owned. Having reduced expenses to a minimum, I proceeded,
with all possible dispatch, to collect outstanding debts, in some
instances making sacrifices and compromises. I made some few
sales, and generally aimed to put matters in such a shape that time
would bring the best result. Some of our heaviest creditors were
John M. Rhodes & Co., of Sacramento and Shasta; Langton & Co., of
Downieville; and E. M. Stranger of Murphy's. In trying to put
these debts in course of settlement, I made some arrangement in
Downieville with the law-firm of Spears & Thornton, to collect, by
suit, a certain note of Green & Purdy for twelve thousand dollars.
Early in April, I learned that Spears had collected three thousand
seven hundred dollars in money, had appropriated it to his own use,
and had pledged another good note taken in part payment of three
thousand and fifty-three dollars. He pretended to be insane. I
had to make two visits to Downieville on this business, and there,
made the acquaintance of Mr. Stewart, now a Senator from Nevada.
He was married to a daughter of Governor Foote; was living in a
small framehouse on the bar just below the town; and his little
daughter was playing about the door in the sand. Stewart was then
a lawyer in Downieville, in good practice; afterward, by some lucky
stroke, became part owner of a valuable silver-mine in Nevada, and
is now accounted a millionaire. I managed to save something out of
Spears, and more out of his partner Thornton. This affair of
Spears ruined him, because his insanity was manifestly feigned.

I remained in San Francisco till July 3d, when, having collected
and remitted every cent that I could raise, and got all the
property in the best shape possible, hearing from St. Louis that
business had revived, and that there was no need of further
sacrifice; I put all the papers, with a full letter of
instructions, and power of attorney, in the hands of William
Blending, Esq., and took passage on the good steamer Golden Gate,
Captain Whiting, for Panama and home. I reached Lancaster on July
28, 1858, and found all the family well. I was then perfectly
unhampered, but the serious and greater question remained, what was
I to do to support my family, consisting of a wife and four
children, all accustomed to more than the average comforts of life?

I remained at Lancaster all of August, 1858, during which time I
was discussing with Mr. Ewing and others what to do next. Major
Turner and Mr. Lucas, in St. Louis, were willing to do any thing to
aid me, but I thought best to keep independent. Mr. Ewing had
property at Chauncey, consisting of salt-wells and coal-mines, but
for that part of Ohio I had no fancy. Two of his sons, Hugh and T.
E., Jr., had established themselves at Leavenworth, Kansas, where
they and their father had bought a good deal of land, some near the
town, and some back in the country. Mr. Ewing offered to confide
to me the general management of his share of interest, and Hugh and
T. E., Jr., offered me an equal copartnership in their law-firm.

Accordingly, about the 1st of September, I started for Kansas,
stopping a couple of weeks in St. Louis, and reached Leavenworth.
I found about two miles below the fort, on the river-bank, where in
1851 was a tangled thicket, quite a handsome and thriving city,
growing rapidly in rivalry with Kansas City, and St. Joseph,
Missouri. After looking about and consulting with friends, among
them my classmate Major Stewart Van Vliet, quartermaster at the
fort, I concluded to accept the proposition of Mr. Ewing, and
accordingly the firm of Sherman & Ewing was duly announced, and our
services to the public offered as attorneys-at-law. We had an
office on Main Street, between Shawnee and Delaware, on the second
floor, over the office of Hampton Denman, Esq., mayor of the city.
This building was a mere shell, and our office was reached by a
stairway on the outside. Although in the course of my military
reading I had studied a few of the ordinary law-books, such as
Blackstone, Kent, Starkie, etc., I did not presume to be a lawyer;
but our agreement was that Thomas Ewing, Jr., a good and thorough
lawyer, should manage all business in the courts, while I gave
attention to collections, agencies for houses and lands, and such
business as my experience in banking had qualified me for. Yet, as
my name was embraced in a law-firm, it seemed to me proper to take
out a license. Accordingly, one day when United States Judge
Lecompte was in our office, I mentioned the matter to him; he told
me to go down to the clerk of his court, and he would give me the
license. I inquired what examination I would have to submit to,
and he replied, "None at all;" he would admit me on the ground of
general intelligence.

During that summer we got our share of the business of the
profession, then represented by several eminent law-firms,
embracing names that have since flourished in the Senate, and in
the higher courts of the country. But the most lucrative single
case was given me by my friend Major Van Vliet, who employed me to
go to Fort Riley, one hundred and thirty-six miles west of Fort
Leavenworth, to superintend the repairs to the military road. For
this purpose he supplied me with a four-mule ambulance and driver.
The country was then sparsely settled, and quite as many Indians
were along the road as white people; still there were embryo towns
all along the route, and a few farms sprinkled over the beautiful
prairies. On reaching Indianola, near Topeka, I found everybody
down with the chills and fever. My own driver became so shaky that
I had to act as driver and cook. But in due season I reconnoitred
the road, and made contracts for repairing some bridges, and for
cutting such parts of the road as needed it. I then returned to
Fort Leavenworth, and reported, receiving a fair compensation. On
my way up I met Colonel Sumner's column, returning from their
summer scout on the plains, and spent the night with the officers,
among whom were Captains Sackett, Sturgis, etc. Also at Fort Riley
I was cordially received and entertained by some old army-friends,
among them Major Sedgwick, Captains Totted, Eli Long, etc.

Mrs. Sherman and children arrived out in November, and we spent the
winter very comfortably in the house of Thomas Ewing, Jr., on the
corner of Third and Pottawottamie Streets. On the 1st of January,
1859, Daniel McCook, Esq., was admitted to membership in our firm,
which became Sherman, Ewing & McCook. Our business continued to
grow, but, as the income hardly sufficed for three such expensive
personages, I continued to look about for something more certain
and profitable, and during that spring undertook for the Hon.
Thomas Ewing, of Ohio, to open a farm on a large tract of land he
owned on Indian Creek, forty miles west of Leavenworth, for the
benefit of his grand-nephew, Henry Clark, and his grand-niece, Mrs.
Walker. These arrived out in the spring, by which time I had
caused to be erected a small frame dwelling-house, a barn, and
fencing for a hundred acres. This helped to pass away time, but
afforded little profit; and on the 11th of June, 1859, I wrote to
Major D. C. Buel, assistant adjutant-general, on duty in the War
Department with Secretary of War Floyd, inquiring if there was a
vacancy among the army paymasters, or any thing in his line that I
could obtain. He replied promptly, and sent me the printed
programme for a military college about to be organized in
Louisiana, and advised me to apply for the superintendent's place,
saying that General G. Mason Graham, the half-brother of my old
commanding-general, R. B. Mason, was very influential in this
matter, and would doubtless befriend me on account of the relations
that had existed between General Mason and myself in California.
Accordingly, I addressed a letter of application to the Hon. R. C.
Wickliffe, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, asking the answer to be sent to
me at Lancaster, Ohio, where I proposed to leave my family. But,
before leaving this branch of the subject, I must explain a little
matter of which I have seen an account in print, complimentary or
otherwise of the firm of Sherman, Ewing & McCook, more especially
of the senior partner.

One day, as I sat in our office, an Irishman came in and said he
had a case and wanted a lawyer. I asked him to sit down and give
me the points of his case, all the other members of the firm being
out. Our client stated that he had rented a lot of an Irish
landlord for five dollars a month; that he had erected thereon a
small frame shanty, which was occupied by his family; that he had,
paid his rent regularly up to a recent period, but to his house he
had appended a shed which extended over a part of an adjoining
vacant lot belonging to the same landlord, for which he was charged
two and a half dollars a month, which he refused to pay. The
consequence was, that his landlord had for a few months declined
even his five dollars monthly rent until the arrears amounted to
about seventeen dollars, for which he was sued. I told him we
would undertake his case, of which I took notes, and a fee of five
dollars in advance, and in due order I placed the notes in the
hands of McCook, and thought no more of it.

A month or so after, our client rushed into the office and said his
case had been called at Judge Gardner's (I think), and he wanted
his lawyer right away. I sent him up to the Circuit Court, Judge
Pettit's, for McCook, but he soon returned, saying he could not
find McCook, and accordingly I hurried with him up to Judge
Gardner's office, intending to ask a continuance, but I found our
antagonist there, with his lawyer and witnesses, and Judge Gardner
would not grant a continuance, so of necessity I had to act, hoping
that at every minute McCook would come. But the trial proceeded
regularly to its end; we were beaten, and judgment was entered
against our client for the amount claimed, and costs. As soon as
the matter was explained to McCook, he said "execution" could not
be taken for ten days, and, as our client was poor, and had nothing
on which the landlord could levy but his house, McCook advised him
to get his neighbors together, to pick up the house, and carry it
on to another vacant lot, belonging to a non-resident, so that even
the house could not be taken in execution. Thus the grasping
landlord, though successful in his judgment, failed in the
execution, and our client was abundantly satisfied.

In due time I closed up my business at Leavenworth, and went to
Lancaster, Ohio, where, in July, 1859, I received notice from
Governor Wickliffe that I had been elected superintendent of the
proposed college, and inviting me to come down to Louisiana as
early as possible, because they were anxious to put the college
into operation by the 1st of January following. For this honorable
position I was indebted to Major D. C. Buell and General G. Mason
Graham, to whom I have made full and due acknowledgment. During
the civil war, it was reported and charged that I owed my position
to the personal friendship of Generals Bragg and Beauregard, and
that, in taking up arms against the South, I had been guilty of a
breach of hospitality and friendship. I was not indebted to
General Bragg, because he himself told me that he was not even
aware that I was an applicant, and had favored the selection of
Major Jenkins, another West Point graduate. General Beauregard had
nothing whatever to do with the matter.




In the autumn of 1859, having made arrangements for my family to
remain in Lancaster, I proceeded, via Columbus, Cincinnati, and
Louisville, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where I reported for duty to
Governor Wickliffe, who, by virtue of his office, was the president
of the Board of Supervisors of the new institution over which I was
called to preside. He explained to me the act of the Legislature
under which the institution was founded; told me that the building
was situated near Alexandria, in the parish of Rapides, and was
substantially finished; that the future management would rest with
a Board of Supervisors, mostly citizens of Rapides Parish, where
also resided the Governor-elect, T. O. Moore, who would soon
succeed him in his office as Governor and president ex officio; and
advised me to go at once to Alexandria, and put myself in
communication with Moore and the supervisors. Accordingly I took a
boat at Baton Rouge, for the mouth of Red River.

The river being low, and its navigation precarious, I there took
the regular mail-coach, as the more certain conveyance, and
continued on toward Alexandria. I found, as a fellow-passenger in
the coach, Judge Henry Boyce, of the United States District Court,
with whom I had made acquaintance years before, at St. Louis, and,
as we neared Alexandria, he proposed that we should stop at
Governor Moore's and spend the night. Moore's house and plantation
were on Bayou Robert, about eight miles from Alexandria. We found
him at home, with his wife and a married daughter, and spent the
night there. He sent us forward to Alexandria the next morning, in
his own carriage. On arriving at Alexandria, I put up at an inn,
or boarding-house, and almost immediately thereafter went about ten
miles farther up Bayou Rapides, to the plantation and house of
General G. Mason Graham, to whom I looked as the principal man with
whom I had to deal. He was a high-toned gentleman, and his whole
heart was in the enterprise. He at once put me at ease. We acted
together most cordially from that time forth, and it was at his
house that all the details of the seminary were arranged. We first
visited the college-building together. It was located on an old
country place of four hundred acres of pineland, with numerous
springs, and the building was very large and handsome. A
carpenter, named James, resided there, and had the general charge
of the property; but, as there was not a table, chair, black-board,
or any thing on hand, necessary for a beginning, I concluded to
quarter myself in one of the rooms of the seminary, and board with
an old black woman who cooked for James, so that I might personally
push forward the necessary preparations. There was an old
rail-fence about the place, and a large pile of boards in front. I
immediately engaged four carpenters, and set them at work to make
out of these boards mess-tables, benches, black-boards, etc. I
also opened a correspondence with the professors-elect, and with
all parties of influence in the State, who were interested in our
work: At the meeting of the Board of Supervisors, held at
Alexandria, August 2, 1859, five professors had been elected:
1. W. T. Sherman, Superintendent, and Professor of Engineering, etc.;
2. Anthony Vallas, Professor of Mathematics, Philosophy, etc.;
3. Francis W. Smith, Professor of Chemistry, etc.;
4. David F. Boyd, Professor of Languages, English and Ancient;
5. E. Berti St. Ange, Professor of French and Modern Languages.

These constituted the Academic Board, while the general supervision
remained in the Board of Supervisors, composed of the Governor of
the State, the Superintendent of Public Education, and twelve
members, nominated by the Governor, and confirmed by the Senate.
The institution was bound to educate sixteen beneficiary students,
free of any charge for tuition. These had only to pay for their
clothing and books, while all others had to pay their entire
expenses, including tuition.

Early in November, Profs. Smith, Yallas, St. Ange, and I, met a
committee of the Board of Supervisors, composed of T. C. Manning,
G. Mason Graham, and W. W. Whittington, at General Graham's house,
and resolved to open the institution to pupils on the 1st day of
January, 1860. We adopted a series of bylaws for the government of
the institution, which was styled the "Louisiana Seminary of
Learning and Military Academy." This title grew out of the
original grant, by the Congress of the United States, of a certain
township of public land, to be sold by the State, and dedicated to
the use of a "seminary of learning." I do not suppose that
Congress designed thereby to fix the name or title; but the subject
had so long been debated in Louisiana that the name, though
awkward, had become familiar. We appended to it "Military
Academy," as explanatory of its general design.

On the 17th of November, 1859, the Governor of the State,
Wickliffe, issued officially a general circular, prepared by us,
giving public notice that the "Seminary of Learning" would open on
the 1st day of January, 1860; containing a description of the
locality, and the general regulations for the proposed institution;
and authorizing parties to apply for further information to the
"Superintendent," at Alexandria, Louisiana.

The Legislature had appropriated for the sixteen beneficiaries at
the rate of two hundred and eighty-three dollars per annum, to
which we added sixty dollars as tuition for pay cadets; and, though
the price was low, we undertook to manage for the first year on
that basis.

Promptly to the day, we opened, with about sixty cadets present.
Major Smith was the commandant of cadets, and I the superintendent.
I had been to New Orleans, where I had bought a supply of
mattresses, books, and every thing requisite, and we started very
much on the basis of West Point and of the Virginia Military
Institute, but without uniforms or muskets; yet with roll-calls,
sections, and recitations, we kept as near the standard of West
Point as possible. I kept all the money accounts, and gave general
directions to the steward, professors, and cadets. The other
professors had their regular classes and recitations. We all lived
in rooms in the college building, except Vallas, who had a family,
and rented a house near by. A Creole gentleman, B. Jarrean, Esq.,
had been elected steward, and he also had his family in a house not
far off. The other professors had a mess in a room adjoining the
mess-hall. A few more cadets joined in the course of the winter,
so that we had in all, during the first term, seventy-three cadets,
of whom fifty-nine passed the examination on the 30th of July,
1860. During our first term many defects in the original act of
the Legislature were demonstrated, and, by the advice of the Board
of Supervisors, I went down to Baton Rouge during the session of
the Legislature, to advocate and urge the passage of a new bill,
putting the institution on a better footing. Thomas O. Moors was
then Governor, Bragg was a member of the Board of Public Works, and
Richard Taylor was a Senator. I got well acquainted with all of
these, and with some of the leading men of the State, and was
always treated with the greatest courtesy and kindness. In
conjunction with the proper committee of the Legislature, we
prepared a new bill, which was passed and approved on the 7th of
March, 1860, by which we were to have a beneficiary cadet for each
parish, in all fifty-six, and fifteen thousand dollars annually for
their maintenance; also twenty thousand dollars for the general use
of the college. During that session we got an appropriation of
fifteen thousand dollars for building two professors' houses, for
the purchase of philosophical and chemical apparatus, and for the
beginning of a college library. The seminary was made a State
Arsenal, under the title of State Central Arsenal, and I was
allowed five hundred dollars a year as its superintendent. These
matters took me several times to Baton Rouge that winter, and I
recall an event of some interest, which most have happened in
February. At that time my brother, John Sherman, was a candidate,
in the national House of Representatives, for Speaker, against
Bocock, of Virginia. In the South he was regarded as an
"abolitionist," the most horrible of all monsters; and many people
of Louisiana looked at me with suspicion, as the brother of the
abolitionist, John Sherman, and doubted the propriety of having me
at the head of an important State institution. By this time I was
pretty well acquainted with many of their prominent men, was
generally esteemed by all in authority, and by the people of
Rapides Parish especially, who saw that I was devoted to my
particular business, and that I gave no heed to the political
excitement of the day. But the members of the State Senate and
House did not know me so well, and it was natural that they should
be suspicions of a Northern man, and the brother of him who was the
"abolition" candidate for Speaker of the House.

One evening, at a large dinner-party at Governor Moore's, at which
were present several members of the Louisiana Legislature, Taylor,
Bragg, and the Attorney-General Hyams, after the ladies had left
the table, I noticed at Governor Moore's end quite a lively
discussion going on, in which my name was frequently used; at
length the Governor called to me, saying: "Colonel Sherman, you can
readily understand that, with your brother the abolitionist
candidate for Speaker, some of our people wonder that you should be
here at the head of an important State institution. Now, you are
at my table, and I assure you of my confidence. Won't you speak
your mind freely on this question of slavery, that so agitates the
land? You are under my roof, and, whatever you say, you have my

I answered: "Governor Moors, you mistake in calling my brother,
John Sherman, an abolitionist. We have been separated since
childhood--I in the army, and he pursuing his profession of law in
Northern Ohio; and it is possible we may differ in general
sentiment, but I deny that he is considered at home an
abolitionist; and, although he prefers the free institutions under
which he lives to those of slavery which prevail here, he would not
of himself take from you by law or force any property whatever,
even slaves."

Then said Moore: "Give us your own views of slavery as you see it
here and throughout the South."

I answered in effect that "the people of Louisiana were hardly
responsible for slavery, as they had inherited it; that I found two
distinct conditions of slavery, domestic and field hands. The
domestic slaves, employed by the families, were probably better
treated than any slaves on earth; but the condition of the
field-hands was different, depending more on the temper and
disposition of their masters and overseers than were those employed
about the house;" and I went on to say that, "were I a citizen of
Louisiana, and a member of the Legislature, I would deem it wise to
bring the legal condition of the slaves more near the status of
human beings under all Christian and civilized governments. In the
first place, I argued that, in sales of slaves made by the State, I
would forbid the separation of families, letting the father,
mother, and children, be sold together to one person, instead of
each to the highest bidder. And, again, I would advise the repeal
of the statute which enacted a severe penalty for even the owner to
teach his slave to read and write, because that actually qualified
property and took away a part of its value; illustrating the
assertion by the case of Henry Sampson, who had been the slave of
Colonel Chambers, of Rapides Parish, who had gone to California as
the servant of an officer of the army, and who was afterward
employed by me in the bank at San Francisco. At first he could not
write or read, and I could only afford to pay him one hundred
dollars a month; but he was taught to read and write by Reilley,
our bank-teller, when his services became worth two hundred and
fifty dollars a month, which enabled him to buy his own freedom and
that of his brother and his family."

What I said was listened to by all with the most profound
attention; and, when I was through, some one (I think it was Mr.
Hyams) struck the table with his fist, making the glasses jingle,
and said, "By God, he is right!" and at once he took up the debate,
which went on, for an hour or more, on both sides with ability and
fairness. Of course, I was glad to be thus relieved, because at
the time all men in Louisiana were dreadfully excited on questions
affecting their slaves, who constituted the bulk of their wealth,
and without whom they honestly believed that sugar, cotton, and
rice, could not possibly be cultivated.

On the 30th and 31st of July, 1860, we had an examination at the
seminary, winding up with a ball, and as much publicity as possible
to attract general notice; and immediately thereafter we all
scattered--the cadets to their homes, and the professors wherever
they pleased--all to meet again on the 1st day of the next
November. Major Smith and I agreed to meet in New York on a
certain day in August, to purchase books, models, etc. I went
directly to my family in Lancaster, and after a few days proceeded
to Washington, to endeavor to procure from the General Government
the necessary muskets and equipments for our cadets by the
beginning of the next term. I was in Washington on the 17th day of
August, and hunted up my friend Major Buell, of the Adjutant-
General's Department, who was on duty with the Secretary of War,
Floyd. I had with me a letter of Governor Moore's, authorizing me
to act in his name. Major Buell took me into Floyd's room at the
War Department, to whom I explained my business, and I was
agreeably surprised to meet with such easy success. Although the
State of Louisiana had already drawn her full quota of arms, Floyd
promptly promised to order my requisition to be filled, and I
procured the necessary blanks at the Ordnance-Office, filled them
with two hundred cadet muskets, and all equipments complete, and
was assured that all these articles would be shipped to Louisiana
in season for our use that fall. These assurances were faithfully
carried out.

I then went on to New York, there met Major Smith according to
appointment, and together we selected and purchased a good supply
of uniforms, clothing, and text books, as well as a fair number of
books of history and fiction, to commence a library.

When this business was completed, I returned to Lancaster, and
remained with my family till the time approached for me to return
to Louisiana. I again left my family at Lancaster, until assured
of the completion of the two buildings designed for the married
professors for which I had contracted that spring with Mr. Mills,
of Alexandria, and which were well under progress when I left in
August. One of these was designed for me and the other for Vallas.
Mr. Ewing presented me with a horse, which I took down the river
with me, and en route I ordered from Grimsley & Co. a full
equipment of saddle, bridle, etc., the same that I used in the war,
and which I lost with my horse, shot under me at Shiloh.

Reaching Alexandria early in October, I pushed forward the
construction of the two buildings, some fences, gates, and all
other work, with the object of a more perfect start at the opening
of the regular term November 1, 1860.

About this time Dr. Powhatan Clark was elected Assistant Professor
of Chemistry, etc., and acted as secretary of the Board of
Supervisors, but no other changes were made in our small circle of

November came, and with it nearly if not quite all our first set of
cadets, and others, to the number of about one hundred and thirty.
We divided them into two companies, issued arms and clothing, and
began a regular system of drills and instruction, as well as the
regular recitations. I had moved into my new house, but prudently
had not sent for my family, nominally on the ground of waiting
until the season was further advanced, but really because of the
storm that was lowering heavy on the political horizon. The
presidential election was to occur in November, and the nominations
had already been made in stormy debates by the usual conventions.
Lincoln and Hamlin (to the South utterly unknown) were the nominees
of the Republican party, and for the first time both these
candidates were from Northern States. The Democratic party
divided--one set nominating a ticket at Charleston, and the other
at Baltimore. Breckenridge and Lane were the nominees of the
Southern or Democratic party; and Bell and Everett, a kind of
compromise, mostly in favor in Louisiana. Political excitement was
at its very height, and it was constantly asserted that Mr.
Lincoln's election would imperil the Union. I purposely kept aloof
from politics, would take no part, and remember that on the day of
the election in November I was notified that it would be advisable
for me to vote for Bell and Everett, but I openly said I would not,
and I did not. The election of Mr. Lincoln fell upon us all like a
clap of thunder. People saw and felt that the South had threatened
so long that, if she quietly submitted, the question of slavery in
the Territories was at an end forever. I mingled freely with the
members of the Board of Supervisors, and with the people of Rapides
Parish generally, keeping aloof from all cliques and parties, and I
certainly hoped that the threatened storm would blow over, as had
so often occurred before, after similar threats. At our seminary
the order of exercises went along with the regularity of the
seasons. Once a week, I had the older cadets to practise reading,
reciting, and elocution, and noticed that their selections were
from Calhoun, Yancey, and other Southern speakers, all treating of
the defense of their slaves and their home institutions as the very
highest duty of the patriot. Among boys this was to be expected;
and among the members of our board, though most of them declaimed
against politicians generally, and especially abolitionists, as
pests, yet there was a growing feeling that danger was in the wind.
I recall the visit of a young gentleman who had been sent from
Jackson, by the Governor of Mississippi, to confer with Governor
Moore, then on his plantation at Bayou Robert, and who had come
over to see our college. He spoke to me openly of secession as a
fixed fact, and that its details were only left open for
discussion. I also recall the visit of some man who was said to be
a high officer in the order of "Knights of the Golden Circle," of
the existence of which order I was even ignorant, until explained
to me by Major Smith and Dr. Clark. But in November, 1860, no man
ever approached me offensively, to ascertain my views, or my
proposed course of action in case of secession, and no man in or
out of authority ever tried to induce me to take part in steps
designed to lead toward disunion. I think my general opinions were
well known and understood, viz., that "secession was treason, was
war;" and that in no event would the North and West permit the
Mississippi River to pass out of their control. But some men at
the South actually supposed at the time that the Northwestern
States, in case of a disruption of the General Government, would be
drawn in self-interest to an alliance with the South. What I now
write I do not offer as any thing like a history of the important
events of that time, but rather as my memory of them, the effect
they had on me personally, and to what extent they influenced my
personal conduct.

South Carolina seceded December 20, 1860, and Mississippi soon
after. Emissaries came to Louisiana to influence the Governor,
Legislature, and people, and it was the common assertion that, if
all the Cotton States would follow the lead of South Carolina, it
would diminish the chances of civil war, because a bold and
determined front would deter the General Government from any
measures of coercion. About this time also, viz., early in
December, we received Mr. Buchanan's annual message to Congress, in
which he publicly announced that the General Government had no
constitutional power to "coerce a State." I confess this staggered
me, and I feared that the prophecies and assertions of Alison and
other European commentators on our form of government were right,
and that our Constitution was a mere rope of sand, that would break
with the first pressure.

The Legislature of Louisiana met on the 10th of December, and
passed an act calling a convention of delegates from the people, to
meet at Baton Rouge, on the 8th of January, to take into
consideration the state of the Union; and, although it was
universally admitted that a large majority of the voters of the
State were opposed to secession, disunion, and all the steps of the
South Carolinians, yet we saw that they were powerless, and that
the politicians would sweep them along rapidly to the end,
prearranged by their leaders in Washington. Before the ordinance
of secession was passed, or the convention had assembled, on the
faith of a telegraphic dispatch sent by the two Senators, Benjamin
and Slidell, from their seats in the United States Senate at
Washington, Governor Moore ordered the seizure of all the United
States forts at the mouth of the Mississippi and Lake
Pontchartrain, and of the United States arsenal at Baton Rouge.
The forts had no garrisons, but the arsenal was held by a small
company of artillery, commanded by Major Haskins, a most worthy and
excellent officer, who had lost an arm in Mexico. I remember well
that I was strongly and bitterly impressed by the seizure of the
arsenal, which occurred on January 10, 1861.

When I went first to Baton Rouge, in 1859, en route to Alexandria,
I found Captain Rickett's company of artillery stationed in the
arsenal, but soon after there was somewhat of a clamor on the Texas
frontier about Brownsville, which induced the War Department to
order Rickett's company to that frontier. I remember that Governor
Moore remonstrated with the Secretary of War because so much
dangerous property, composed of muskets, powder, etc., had been
left by the United States unguarded, in a parish where the slave
population was as five or six to one of whites; and it was on his
official demand that the United States Government ordered Haskinss
company to replace Rickett's. This company did not number forty
men. In the night of January 9th, about five hundred New Orleans
militia, under command of a Colonel Wheat, went up from New Orleans
by boat, landed, surrounded the arsenal, and demanded its
surrender. Haskins was of course unprepared for such a step, yet
he at first resolved to defend the post as he best could with his
small force. But Bragg, who was an old army acquaintance of his,
had a parley with him, exhibited to him the vastly superior force
of his assailants, embracing two field-batteries, and offered to
procure for him honorable terms, to march out with drums and
colors, and to take unmolested passage in a boat up to St. Louis;
alleging, further, that the old Union was at an end, and that a
just settlement would be made between the two new fragments for all
the property stored in the arsenal. Of course it was Haskins's
duty to have defended his post to the death; but up to that time
the national authorities in Washington had shown such
pusillanimity, that the officers of the army knew not what to do.
The result, anyhow, was that Haskins surrendered his post, and at
once embarked for St. Louis. The arms and munitions stored in the
arsenal were scattered--some to Mississippi, some to New Orleans,
some to Shreveport; and to me, at the Central Arsenal, were
consigned two thousand muskets, three hundred Jager rifles, and a
large amount of cartridges and ammunition. The invoices were
signed by the former ordnance-sergeant, Olodowski, as a captain of
ordnance, and I think he continued such on General Bragg's staff
through the whole of the subsequent civil war. These arms, etc.,
came up to me at Alexandria, with orders from Governor Moore to
receipt for and account for them. Thus I was made the receiver of
stolen goods, and these goods the property of the United States.
This grated hard on my feelings as an ex-army-officer, and on
counting the arms I noticed that they were packed in the old
familiar boxes, with the "U. S." simply scratched off. General G.
Mason Graham had resigned as the chairman of the Executive
Committee, and Dr. S. A. Smith, of Alexandria, then a member of the
State Senate, had succeeded him as chairman, and acted as head of
the Board of Supervisors. At the time I was in most intimate
correspondence with all of these parties, and our letters must have
been full of politics, but I have only retained copies of a few of
the letters, which I will embody in this connection, as they will
show, better than by any thing I can now recall, the feelings of
parties at that critical period. The seizure of the arsenal at
Baton Rouge occurred January 10, 1861, and the secession ordinance
was not passed until about the 25th or 26th of the same month. At
all events, after the seizure of the arsenal, and before the
passage of the ordinance of secession, viz., on the 18th of
January, I wrote as follows:

Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy
January 18, 1861

Governor THOMAS O. MOORE, Baton, Rouge, Louisiana.

Sir: As I occupy a quasi-military position under the laws of the
State, I deem it proper to acquaint you that I accepted such
position when Louisiana was a State in the Union, and when the
motto of this seminary was inserted in marble over the main door:
"By the liberality of the General Government of the United States.
The Union--esto perpetua."

Recent events foreshadow a great change, and it becomes all men to
choose. If Louisiana withdraw from the Federal Union, I prefer to
maintain my allegiance to the Constitution as long as a fragment of
it survives; and my longer stay here would be wrong in every sense
of the word.

In that event, I beg you will send or appoint some authorized agent
to take charge of the arms and munitions of war belonging to the
State, or advise me what disposition to make of them.

And furthermore, as president of the Board of Supervisors, I beg
you to take immediate steps to relieve me as superintendent, the
moment the State determines to secede, for on no earthly account
will I do any act or think any thought hostile to or in defiance of
the old Government of the United States.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Superintendent.


January 18, 1861.

To Governor Moore:

My Dear Sir: I take it for granted that you have been expecting for
some days the accompanying paper from me (the above official
letter). I have repeatedly and again made known to General Graham
and Dr. Smith that, in the event of a severance of the relations
hitherto existing between the Confederated States of this Union, I
would be forced to choose the old Union. It is barely possible all
the States may secede, South and North, that new combinations may
result, but this process will be one of time and uncertainty, and I
cannot with my opinions await the subsequent development.

I have never been a politician, and therefore undervalue the
excited feelings and opinions of present rulers, but I do think, if
this people cannot execute a form of government like the present,
that a worse one will result.

I will keep the cadets as quiet as possible. They are nervous, but
I think the interest of the State requires them here, guarding this
property, and acquiring a knowledge which will be useful to your
State in after-times.

When I leave, which I now regard as certain, the present professors
can manage well enough, to afford you leisure time to find a
suitable successor to me. You might order Major Smith to receipt
for the arms, and to exercise military command, while the academic
exercises could go on under the board. In time, some gentleman
will turn up, better qualified than I am, to carry on the seminary
to its ultimate point of success. I entertain the kindest feelings
toward all, and would leave the State with much regret; only in
great events we must choose, one way or the other.

Truly, your friend,


January 19, 1881--Saturday.

Dr. S. A. Smith, President Board of Supervisors, Baton Rouge,

Dear Sir: I have just finished my quarterly reports to the parents
of all the cadets here, or who have been here. All my books of
account are written up to date. All bills for the houses, fences,
etc., are settled, and nothing now remains but the daily tontine of
recitations and drills. I have written officially and unofficially
to Governor Moore, that with my opinions of the claimed right of
accession, of the seizure of public forts, arsenals, etc., and the
ignominious capture of a United States garrison, stationed in your
midst, as a guard to the arsenal and for the protection of your own
people, it would be highly improper for me longer to remain. No
great inconvenience can result to the seminary. I will be the
chief loser. I came down two months before my pay commenced. I
made sacrifices in Kansas to enable me thus to obey the call of
Governor Wickliffe, and you know that last winter I declined a most
advantageous offer of employment abroad; and thus far I have
received nothing as superintendent of the arsenal, though I went to
Washington and New York (at my own expense) on the faith of the
five hundred dollars salary promised.

These are all small matters in comparison with those involved in
the present state of the country, which will cause sacrifices by
millions, instead of by hundreds. The more I think of it, the more
I think I should be away, the sooner the better; and therefore I
hope you will join with Governor Moors in authorizing me to turn
over to Major Smith the military command here, and to the academic
board the control of the daily exercises and recitations.

There will be no necessity of your coming up. You can let Major
Smith receive the few hundreds of cash I have on hand, and I can
meet you on a day certain in New Orleans, when we can settle the
bank account. Before I leave, I can pay the steward Jarrean his
account for the month, and there would be no necessity for other
payments till about the close of March, by which time the board can
meet, and elect a treasurer and superintendent also.

At present I have no class, and there will be none ready till about
the month of May, when there will be a class in "surveying." Even
if you do not elect a superintendent in the mean time, Major Smith
could easily teach this class, as he is very familiar with the
subject-matter: Indeed, I think you will do well to leave the
subject of a new superintendent until one perfectly satisfactory
turns up.

There is only one favor I would ask. The seminary has plenty of
money in bank. The Legislature will surely appropriate for my
salary as superintendent of this arsenal. Would you not let me
make my drafts on the State Treasury, send them to you, let the
Treasurer note them for payment when the appropriation is made, and
then pay them out of the seminary fund? The drafts will be paid in
March, and the seminary will lose nothing. This would be just to
me; for I actually spent two hundred dollars and more in going to
Washington and New York, thereby securing from the United States,
in advance, three thousand dollars' worth of the very best arms;
and clothing and books, at a clear profit to the seminary of over
eight hundred dollars. I may be some time in finding new
employment, and will stand in need of this money (five hundred
dollars); otherwise I would abandon it.

I will not ask you to put the Board of Supervisors to the trouble
of meeting, unless you can get a quorum at Baton Rouge.

With great respect, your friend,


By course of mail, I received the following answer from Governor
Moore, the original of which I still possess. It is all in General
Braggs handwriting, with which I am familiar

Executive Office,

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA, January 23, 1861

MY DEAR SIR: It is with the deepest regret I acknowledge receipt of
your communication of the 18th inst. In the pressure of official
business, I can now only request you to transfer to Prof. Smith the
arms, munitions, and funds in your hands, whenever you conclude to
withdraw from the position you have filled with so much
distinction. You cannot regret more than I do the necessity which
deprives us of your services, and you will bear with you the
respect, confidence, and admiration, of all who have been
associated with you. Very truly, your friend,

Thomas O. Moore.

Colonel W. T. SHERMAN, Superintendent Military Academy, Alexandria.

I must have received several letters from Bragg, about this time,
which have not been preserved; for I find that, on the 1st of
February, 1861, I wrote him thus:

Seminary of Learning
Alexandria, LOUISIANA, February 1, 1881.

Colonel Braxton BRAGG, Baton, Rouge, Louisiana.

Dear Sir: Yours of January 23d and 27th are received. I thank you
most kindly, and Governor Moors through you, for the kind manner in
which you have met my wishes.

Now that I cannot be compromised by political events, I will so
shape my course as best to serve the institution, which has a
strong hold on my affections and respect.

The Board of Supervisors will be called for the 9th instant, and I
will cooperate with them in their measures to place matters here on
a safe and secure basis. I expect to be here two weeks, and will
make you full returns of money and property belonging to the State
Central Arsenal. All the arms and ammunition are safely stored
here. Then I will write you more at length. With sincere respect,
your friend,


Major Smith's receipt to me, for the arms and property belonging
both to the seminary and to the arsenal, is dated February 19,
1861. I subjoin also, in this connection, copies of one or two
papers that may prove of interest

BATON ROUGE, January 28, 1881.
To Major SHERMAN, Superintendent, Alexandria.

My DEAR SIR: Your letter was duly receive, and would have been
answered ere this time could I have arranged sooner the matter of
the five hundred dollars. I shall go from here to New Orleans
to-day or tomorrow, and will remain there till Saturday after next,
perhaps. I shall expect to meet you there, as indicated in your
note to me.

I need not tell you that it is with no ordinary regret that I view
your determination to leave us, for really I believe that the
success of our institution, now almost assured, is jeopardized
thereby. I am sore that we will never have a superintendent with
whom I shall have more pleasant relations than those which have
existed between yourself and me.

I fully appreciate the motives which have induced you to give up a
position presenting so many advantages to yourself, and sincerely
hope that you may, in any future enterprise, enjoy the success
which your character and ability merit and deserve.

Should you come down on the Rapides (steamer), please look after my
wife, who will, I hope, accompany you on said boat, or some other
good one.

Colonel Bragg informs me that the necessary orders have been given
for the transfer and receipt by Major Smith of the public property.

I herewith transmit a request to the secretary to convene the Board
of Supervisors, that they may act as seems best to them in the

In the mean time, Major Smith will command by seniority the cadets,
and the Academic Board will be able to conduct the scientific
exercises of the institution until the Board of Supervisors can
have time to act. Hoping to meet you soon at the St. Charles, I

Most truly, your friend and servant, S. A. Smith

P. S. Governor Moors desires me to express his profound regret that
the State is about to lose one who we all fondly hoped had cast his
destinies for weal or for woe among us; and that he is sensible
that we lose thereby an officer whom it will be difficult, if not
impossible, to replace.

S. A. S.

BATON ROUGE, February 11, 1881.
To Major Sherman, Alexandria.

Dear Sir: I have been in New Orleans for ten days, and on returning
here find two letters from you, also your prompt answer to the
resolution of the House of Representatives, for which I am much

The resolution passed the last day before adjournment. I was
purposing to respond, when your welcome reports came to hand. I
have arranged to pay you your five hundred dollars.

I will say nothing of general politics, except to give my opinion
that there is not to be any war.

In that event, would it not be possible for you to become a citizen
of our State? Everyone deplores your determination to leave us. At
the same time, your friends feel that you are abandoning a position
that might become an object of desire to any one.

I will try to meet you in New Orleans at any time you may indicate;
but it would be best for you to stop here, when, if possible, I
will accompany you. Should you do so, you will find me just above
the State-House, and facing it.

Bring with you a few copies of the "Rules of the Seminary."

Yours truly,

S. A. Smith

Colonel W. T. SHERMAN.

Sir: I am instructed by the Board of Supervisors of this
institution to present a copy of the resolutions adopted by them at
their last meeting

"Resolved, That the thanks of the Board of Supervisors are due, and
are hereby tendered, to Colonel William T. Sherman for the able and
efficient manner in which he has conducted the affairs of the
seminary during the time the institution has been under his
control--a period attended with unusual difficulties, requiring on
the part of the superintendent to successfully overcome them a high
order of administrative talent. And the board further bear willing
testimony to the valuable services that Colonel Sherman has
rendered them in their efforts to establish an institution of
learning in accordance with the beneficent design of the State and
Federal Governments; evincing at all times a readiness to adapt
himself to the ever-varying requirements of an institution of
learning in its infancy, struggling to attain a position of honor
and usefulness.

"Resolved, further, That, in accepting the resignation of Colonel
Sherman as Superintendent of the State Seminary of Learning and
Military Academy, we tender to him assurances of our high personal
regard, and our sincere regret at the occurrence of causes that
render it necessary to part with so esteemed and valued a friend,
as well as co-laborer in the cause of education."

Powhatan Clarke, Secretary of the Board.

A copy of the resolution of the Academic Board, passed at their
session of April 1,1861:

"Resolved, That in the resignation of the late superintendent,
Colonel W. T. Sherman, the Academic Board deem it not improper to
express their deep conviction of the loss the institution has
sustained in being thus deprived of an able head. They cannot fail
to appreciate the manliness of character which has always marked
the actions of Colonel Sherman. While he is personally endeared to
many of them as a friend, they consider it their high pleasure to
tender to him in this resolution their regret on his separation,
and their sincere wish for his future welfare."

I have given the above at some length, because, during the civil
war, it was in Southern circles asserted that I was guilty of a
breach of hospitality in taking up arms against the South. They
were manifestly the aggressors, and we could only defend our own by
assailing them. Yet, without any knowledge of what the future had
in store for me, I took unusual precautions that the institution
should not be damaged by my withdrawal. About the 20th of
February, having turned over all property, records, and money, on
hand, to Major Smith, and taking with me the necessary documents to
make the final settlement with Dr. S. A. Smith, at the bank in New
Orleans, where the funds of the institution were deposited to my
credit, I took passage from Alexandria for that city, and arrived
there, I think, on the 23d. Dr. Smith met me, and we went to the
bank, where I turned over to him the balance, got him to audit all
my accounts, certify that they were correct and just, and that
there remained not one cent of balance in my hands. I charged in
my account current for my salary up to the end of February, at the
rate of four thousand dollars a year, and for the five hundred
dollars due me as superintendent of the Central Arsenal, all of
which was due and had been fairly earned, and then I stood free and
discharged of any and every obligation, honorary or business, that
was due by me to the State of Louisiana, or to any corporation or
individual in that State.

This business occupied two or three days, during which I staid at
the St. Louis Hotel. I usually sat at table with Colonel and Mrs.
Bragg, and an officer who wore the uniform of the State of
Louisiana, and was addressed as captain. Bragg wore a colonel's
uniform, and explained to me that he was a colonel in the State
service, a colonel of artillery, and that some companies of his
regiment garrisoned Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and the arsenal
at Baton Rouge.

Beauregard at the time had two sons at the Seminary of Learning. I
had given them some of my personal care at the father's request,
and, wanting to tell him of their condition and progress, I went to
his usual office in the Custom-House Building, and found him in the
act of starting for Montgomery, Alabama. Bragg said afterward that
Beauregard had been sent for by Jefferson Davis, and that it was
rumored that he had been made a brigadier-general, of which fact he
seemed jealous, because in the old army Bragg was the senior.

Davis and Stephens had been inaugurated President and
Vice-President of the Confederate States of America, February 18,
1860, at Montgomery, and those States only embraced the seven
cotton States. I recall a conversation at the tea-table, one
evening, at the St. Louis. Hotel. When Bragg was speaking of
Beauregard's promotion, Mrs. Bragg, turning to me, said, "You know
that my husband is not a favorite with the new President." My mind
was resting on Mr. Lincoln as the new President, and I said I did
not know that Bragg had ever met Mr. Lincoln, when Mrs. Bragg said,
quite pointedly, "I didn't mean your President, but our President."
I knew that Bragg hated Davis bitterly, and that he had resigned
from the army in 1855, or 1856, because Davis, as Secretary of War,
had ordered him, with his battery, from Jefferson Barracks,
Missouri, to Fort Smith or Fort Washita, in the Indian country, as
Bragg expressed it, "to chase Indians with six-pounders."

I visited the quartermaster, Colonel A. C. Myers, who had resigned
from the army, January 28, 1861, and had accepted service under the
new regime. His office was in the same old room in the Lafayette
Square building, which he had in 1853, when I was there a
commissary, with the same pictures on the wall, and the letters "U.
S." on every thing, including his desk, papers, etc. I asked him
if he did not feel funny. "No, not at all. The thing was
inevitable, secession was a complete success; there would be no
war, but the two Governments would settle all matters of business
in a friendly spirit, and each would go on in its allotted sphere,
without further confusion." About this date, February 16th,
General Twiggs, Myers's father-in-law, had surrendered his entire
command, in the Department of Texas, to some State troops, with all
the Government property, thus consummating the first serious step
in the drama of the conspiracy, which was to form a confederacy of
the cotton States, before working upon the other slave or border
States, and before the 4th of March, the day for the inauguration
of President Lincoln.

I walked the streets of New Orleans, and found business going along
as usual. Ships were strung for miles along the lower levee, and
steamboats above, all discharging or receiving cargo. The Pelican
flag of Louisiana was flying over the Custom House, Mint, City
Hall, and everywhere. At the levee ships carried every flag on
earth except that of the United States, and I was told that during
a procession on the 22d of February, celebrating their emancipation
from the despotism of the United States Government, only one
national flag was shown from a house, and that the houses of
Cuthbert Bullitt, on Lafayette Square. He was commanded to take it
down, but he refused, and defended it with his pistol.

The only officer of the army that I can recall, as being there at
the time, who was faithful, was Colonel C. L. Kilburn, of the
Commissary Department, and he was preparing to escape North.

Everybody regarded the change of Government as final; that
Louisiana, by a mere declaration, was a free and independent State,
and could enter into any new alliance or combination she chose.

Men were being enlisted and armed, to defend the State, and there
was not the least evidence that the national Administration
designed to make any effort, by force, to vindicate the national
authority. I therefore bade adieu to all my friends, and about the
25th of February took my departure by railroad, for Lancaster, via
Cairo and Cincinnati.

Before leaving this subject, I will simply record the fate of some
of my associates. The seminary was dispersed by the war, and all
the professors and cadets took service in the Confederacy, except
Yallas, St. Ange, and Cadet Taliaferro. The latter joined a Union
regiment, as a lieutenant, after New Orleans was retaken by the
United States fleet under Farragut. I think that both Yallas and
St. Ange have died in poverty since the war. Major Smith joined
the rebel army in Virginia, and was killed in April, 1865, as he
was withdrawing his garrison, by night, from the batteries at
Drury's Bluff, at the time General Lee began his final retreat from
Richmond. Boyd became a captain of engineers on the staff of
General Richard Taylor, was captured, and was in jail at Natchez,
Mississippi, when I was on my Meridian expedition. He succeeded in
getting a letter to me on my arrival at Vicksburg, and, on my way
down to New Orleans, I stopped at Natchez, took him along, and
enabled him to effect an exchange through General Banks. As soon
as the war was over, he returned to Alexandria, and reorganized the
old institution, where I visited him in 1867; but, the next winter,
the building took fire end burned to the ground. The students,
library, apparatus, etc., were transferred to Baton Rouge, where
the same institution now is, under the title of the Louisiana
University. I have been able to do them many acts of kindness, and
am still in correspondence, with Colonel Boyd, its president.

General G. Mason Graham is still living on his plantation, on Bayou
Rapides, old and much respected.

Dr. S. A. Smith became a surgeon in the rebel army, and at the
close of the war was medical director of the trans-Mississippi
Department, with General Kirby Smith. I have seen him since the
war, at New Orleans, where he died about a year ago.

Dr. Clark was in Washington recently, applying for a place as
United States consul abroad. I assisted him, but with no success,
and he is now at Baltimore, Maryland.

After the battle of Shiloh, I found among the prisoners Cadet
Barrow, fitted him out with some clean clothing, of which he was in
need, and from him learned that Cadet Workman was killed in that

Governor Moore's plantation was devastated by General Banks's
troops. After the war he appealed to me, and through the
Attorney-General, Henry Stanbery, I aided in having his
land restored to him, and I think he is now living there.

Bragg, Beauregard, and Taylor, enacted high parts in the succeeding
war, and now reside in Louisiana or Texas




During the time of these events in Louisiana, I was in constant
correspondence with my brother, John Sherman, at Washington; Mr.
Ewing, at Lancaster, Ohio; and Major H. S. Turner, at St. Louis. I
had managed to maintain my family comfortably at Lancaster, but was
extremely anxious about the future. It looked like the end of my
career, for I did not suppose that "civil war" could give me an
employment that would provide for the family. I thought, and may
have said, that the national crisis had been brought about by the
politicians, and, as it was upon us, they "might fight it out"
Therefore, when I turned North from New Orleans, I felt more
disposed to look to St. Louis for a home, and to Major Turner to
find me employment, than to the public service.

I left New Orleans about the 1st of March, 1861, by rail to Jackson
and Clinton, Mississippi, Jackson, Tennessee, and Columbus,
Kentucky, where we took a boat to Cairo, and thence, by rail, to
Cincinnati and Lancaster. All the way, I heard, in the cars and
boats, warm discussions about polities; to the effect that, if Mr.
Lincoln should attempt coercion of the seceded States, the other
slave or border States would make common cause, when, it was
believed, it would be madness to attempt to reduce them to
subjection. In the South, the people were earnest, fierce and
angry, and were evidently organizing for action; whereas, in
Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, I saw not the least sign of
preparation. It certainly looked to me as though the people of the
North would tamely submit to a disruption of the Union, and the
orators of the South used, openly and constantly, the expressions
that there would be no war, and that a lady's thimble would hold
all the blood to be shed. On reaching Lancaster, I found letters
from my brother John, inviting me to come to Washington, as he
wanted to see me; and from Major Tamer, at St. Louis, that he was
trying to secure for me the office of president of the Fifth Street
Railroad, with a salary of twenty-five hundred dollars; that Mr.
Lucas and D. A. January held a controlling interest of stock, would
vote for me, and the election would occur in March. This suited me
exactly, and I answered Turner that I would accept, with thanks.
But I also thought it right and proper that I should first go to
Washington, to talk with my brother, Senator Sherman.

Mr. Lincoln had just been installed, and the newspapers were filled
with rumors of every kind indicative of war; the chief act of
interest was that Major Robert Anderson had taken by night into
Fort Sumter all the troops garrisoning Charleston Harbor, and that
he was determined to defend it against the demands of the State of
South Carolina and of the Confederate States. I must have reached
Washington about the 10th of March. I found my brother there, just
appointed Senator, in place of Mr. Chase, who was in the cabinet,
and I have no doubt my opinions, thoughts, and feelings, wrought up
by the events in Louisiana; seemed to him gloomy and extravagant.
About Washington I saw but few signs of preparation, though the
Southern Senators and Representatives were daily sounding their
threats on the floors of Congress, and were publicly withdrawing to
join the Confederate Congress at Montgomery. Even in the War
Department and about the public offices there was open, unconcealed
talk, amounting to high-treason.

One day, John Sherman took me with him to see Mr. Lincoln. He
walked into the room where the secretary to the President now sits,
we found the room full of people, and Mr. Lincoln sat at the end of
the table, talking with three or four gentlemen, who soon left.
John walked up, shook hands, and took a chair near him, holding in
his hand some papers referring to, minor appointments in the State
of Ohio, which formed the subject of conversation. Mr. Lincoln
took the papers, said he would refer them to the proper heads of
departments, and would be glad to make the appointments asked for,
if not already promised. John then turned to me, and said, "Mr.
President, this is my brother, Colonel Sherman, who is just up from
Louisiana, he may give you some information you want." "Ah!" said
Mr. Lincoln, "how are they getting along down there?" I said, "They
think they are getting along swimmingly--they are preparing for
war." "Oh, well!" said he, "I guess we'll manage to keep house."
I was silenced, said no more to him, and we soon left. I was sadly
disappointed, and remember that I broke out on John, d--ning the
politicians generally, saying, "You have got things in a hell of a
fig, and you may get them out as you best can," adding that the
country was sleeping on a volcano that might burst forth at any
minute, but that I was going to St. Louis to take care of my
family, and would have no more to do with it. John begged me to be
more patient, but I said I would not; that I had no time to wait,
that I was off for St. Louis; and off I went. At Lancaster I found
letters from Major Turner, inviting me to St. Louis, as the place
in the Fifth Street Railroad was a sure thing, and that Mr. Lucas
would rent me a good house on Locust Street, suitable for my
family, for six hundred dollars a year.

Mrs. Sherman and I gathered our family and effects together,
started for St. Louis March 27th, where we rented of Mr. Lucas the
house on Locust Street, between Tenth and Eleventh, and occupied it
on the 1st of April. Charles Ewing and John Hunter had formed a
law-partnership in St. Louis, and agreed to board with us, taking
rooms on the third floor In the latter part of March, I was duly
elected president of the Fifth Street Railroad, and entered on the
discharge of my duties April 1, 1861. We had a central office on
the corner of Fifth and Locust, and also another up at the stables
in Bremen. The road was well stocked and in full operation, and
all I had to do was to watch the economical administration of
existing affairs, which I endeavored to do with fidelity and zeal.
But the whole air was full of wars and rumors of wars. The
struggle was going on politically for the border States. Even in
Missouri, which was a slave State, it was manifest that the
Governor of the State, Claiborne Jackson, and all the leading
politicians, were for the South in case of a war. The house on the
northwest corner of Fifth and Pine was the rebel headquarters,
where the rebel flag was hung publicly, and the crowds about the
Planters' House were all more or less rebel. There was also a camp
in Lindell's Grove, at the end of Olive, Street, under command of
General D. M. Frost, a Northern man, a graduate of West Point, in
open sympathy with the Southern leaders. This camp was nominally a
State camp of instruction, but, beyond doubt, was in the interest
of the Southern cause, designed to be used against the national
authority in the event of the General Government's attempting to
coerce the Southern Confederacy. General William S. Harvey was in
command of the Department of Missouri, and resided in his own
house, on Fourth Street, below Market; and there were five or six
companies of United States troops in the arsenal, commanded by
Captain N. Lyon; throughout the city, there had been organized,
almost exclusively out of the German part of the population, four
or five regiments of "Home Guards," with which movement Frank
Blair, B. Gratz Brown, John M. Schofield, Clinton B. Fisk, and
others, were most active on the part of the national authorities.
Frank Blair's brother Montgomery was in the cabinet of Mr. Lincoln
at Washington, and to him seemed committed the general management
of affairs in Missouri.

The newspapers fanned the public excitement to the highest pitch,
and threats of attacking the arsenal on the one hand, and the mob
of d--d rebels in Camp Jackson on the other, were bandied about. I
tried my best to keep out of the current, and only talked freely
with a few men; among them Colonel John O'Fallon, a wealthy
gentleman who resided above St. Louis. He daily came down to my
office in Bremen, and we walked up and down the pavement by the
hour, deploring the sad condition of our country, and the seeming
drift toward dissolution and anarchy. I used also to go down to
the arsenal occasionally to see Lyon, Totten, and other of my army
acquaintance, and was glad to see them making preparations to
defend their post, if not to assume the offensive.

The bombardment of Fort Sumter, which was announced by telegraph,
began April 12th, and ended on the 14th. We then knew that the war
was actually begun, and though the South was openly, manifestly the
aggressor, yet her friends and apologists insisted that she was
simply acting on a justifiable defensive, and that in the forcible
seizure of, the public forts within her limits the people were
acting with reasonable prudence and foresight. Yet neither party
seemed willing to invade, or cross the border. Davis, who ordered
the bombardment of Sumter, knew the temper of his people well, and
foresaw that it would precipitate the action of the border States;
for almost immediately Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and
Tennessee, followed the lead of the cotton States, and conventions
were deliberating in Kentucky and Missouri.

On the night of Saturday, April 6th, I received the following,

Washington, April 6,1861.

Major W. T. Sherman:

Will you accept the chief clerkship of the War Department? We will
make you assistant Secretary of War when Congress meets.

M. Blair, Postmaster-General.

To which I replied by telegraph, Monday morning; "I cannot accept;"
and by mail as follows:

Monday, Apil 8, 1861.
Office of the St. Louis Railroad Company

Hon. M. Blair, Washington, D. C.

I received, about nine o'clock Saturday night, your telegraph
dispatch, which I have this moment answered, "I cannot accept."

I have quite a large family, and when I resigned my place in
Louisiana, on account of secession, I had no time to lose; and,
therefore, after my hasty visit to Washington, where I saw no
chance of employment, I came to St. Louis, have accepted a place in
this company, have rented a house, and incurred other obligations,
so that I am not at liberty to change.

I thank you for the compliment contained in your offer, and assure
you that I wish the Administration all success in its almost
impossible task of governing this distracted and anarchical people.

Yours truly,


I was afterward told that this letter gave offense, and that some
of Mr. Lincoln's cabinet concluded that I too would prove false to
the country.

Later in that month, after the capture of Fort Sumter by the
Confederate authorities, a Dr. Cornyn came to our house on Locust
Street, one night after I had gone to bed, and told me he had been
sent by Frank Blair, who was not well, and wanted to see me that
night at his house. I dressed and walked over to his house on
Washington Avenue, near Fourteenth, and found there, in the
front-room, several gentlemen, among whom I recall Henry T. Blow.
Blair was in the back-room, closeted with some gentleman, who soon
left, and I was called in. He there told me that the Government
was mistrustful of General Harvey, that a change in the command of
the department was to be made; that he held it in his power to
appoint a brigadier-general, and put him in command of the
department, and he offered me the place. I told him I had once
offered my services, and they were declined; that I had made
business engagements in St. Louis, which I could not throw off at
pleasure; that I had long deliberated on my course of action, and
must decline his offer, however tempting and complimentary. He
reasoned with me, but I persisted. He told me, in that event, he
should appoint Lyon, and he did so.

Finding that even my best friends were uneasy as to my political
status, on the 8th of May I addressed the following official letter
to the Secretary of War:

Office of the St. Louis Railroad Company,
May 8,1881.

Hon. S. Cameron, Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.

Dear Sir: I hold myself now, as always, prepared to serve my
country in the capacity for which I was trained. I did not and
will not volunteer for three months, because I cannot throw my
family on the cold charity of the world. But for the three-years
call, made by the President, an officer can prepare his command and
do good service.

I will not volunteer as a soldier, because rightfully or wrongfully
I feel unwilling to take a mere private's place, and, having for
many years lived in California and Louisiana, the men are not well
enough acquainted with me to elect me to my appropriate place.

Should my services be needed, the records of the War Department
will enable you to designate the station in which I can render most

Yours truly, W. T. SHERMAN.

To this I do not think I received a direct answer; but, on the 10th
of the same month, I was appointed colonel of the Thirteenth
Regular Infantry.

I remember going to the arsenal on the 9th of May, taking my
children with me in the street-cars. Within the arsenal wall were
drawn up in parallel lines four regiments of the "Home Guards," and
I saw men distributing cartridges to the boxes. I also saw General
Lyon running about with his hair in the wind, his pockets full of
papers, wild and irregular, but I knew him to be a man of vehement
purpose and of determined action. I saw of course that it meant
business, but whether for defense or offense I did not know. The
next morning I went up to the railroad-office in Bremen, as usual,
and heard at every corner of the streets that the "Dutch" were
moving on Camp Jackson. People were barricading their houses, and
men were running in that direction. I hurried through my business
as quickly as I could, and got back to my house on Locust Street by
twelve o'clock. Charles Ewing and Hunter were there, and insisted
on going out to the camp to see "the fun." I tried to dissuade
them, saying that in case of conflict the bystanders were more
likely to be killed than the men engaged, but they would go. I
felt as much interest as anybody else, but staid at home, took my
little son Willie, who was about seven years old, and walked up and
down the pavement in front of our house, listening for the sound of
musketry or cannon in the direction of Camp Jackson. While so
engaged Miss Eliza Dean, who lived opposite us, called me across
the street, told me that her brother-in-law, Dr. Scott, was a
surgeon in Frost's camp, and she was dreadfully afraid he would be
killed. I reasoned with her that General Lyon was a regular
officer; that if he had gone out, as reported, to Camp Jackson, he
would take with him such a force as would make resistance
impossible; but she would not be comforted, saying that the camp
was made up of the young men from the first and best families of
St. Louis, and that they were proud, and would fight. I explained
that young men of the best families did not like to be killed
better than ordinary people. Edging gradually up the street, I was
in Olive Street just about Twelfth, when I saw a man running from
the direction of Camp Jackson at full speed, calling, as he went,
"They've surrendered, they've surrendered!" So I turned back and
rang the bell at Mrs. Dean's. Eliza came to the door, and I
explained what I had heard; but she angrily slammed the door in my
face! Evidently she was disappointed to find she was mistaken in
her estimate of the rash courage of the best families.

I again turned in the direction of Camp Jackson, my boy Willie with
me still. At the head of Olive Street, abreast of Lindell's Grove,
I found Frank Blair's regiment in the street, with ranks opened,
and the Camp Jackson prisoners inside. A crowd of people was
gathered around, calling to the prisoners by name, some hurrahing
for Jeff Davis, and others encouraging the troops. Men, women, and
children, were in the crowd. I passed along till I found myself
inside the grove, where I met Charles Ewing and John Hunter, and we
stood looking at the troops on the road, heading toward the city.
A band of music was playing at the head, and the column made one or
two ineffectual starts, but for some reason was halted. The
battalion of regulars was abreast of me, of which Major Rufus
Saxton was in command, and I gave him an evening paper, which I had
bought of the newsboy on my way out. He was reading from it some
piece of news, sitting on his horse, when the column again began to
move forward, and he resumed his place at the head of his command.
At that part of the road, or street, was an embankment about eight
feet high, and a drunken fellow tried to pass over it to the people

One of the regular sergeant file-closers ordered him back, but he
attempted to pass through the ranks, when the sergeant barred his
progress with his musket "a-port." The drunken man seized his
musket, when the sergeant threw him off with violence, and he
rolled over and over down the bank. By the time this man had
picked himself up and got his hat, which had fallen off, and had
again mounted the embankment, the regulars had passed, and the head
of Osterhaus's regiment of Home Guards had come up. The man had in
his hand a small pistol, which he fired off, and I heard that the
ball had struck the leg of one of Osterhaus's staff; the regiment
stopped; there was a moment of confusion, when the soldiers of that
regiment began to fire over our heads in the grove. I heard the
balls cutting the leaves above our heads, and saw several men and
women running in all directions, some of whom were wounded. Of
course there was a general stampede. Charles Ewing threw Willie on
the ground and covered him with his body. Hunter ran behind the
hill, and I also threw myself on the ground. The fire ran back
from the head of the regiment toward its rear, and as I saw the men
reloading their pieces, I jerked Willie up, ran back with him into
a gully which covered us, lay there until I saw that the fire had
ceased, and that the column was again moving on, when I took up
Willie and started back for home round by way of Market Street. A
woman and child were killed outright; two or three men were also
killed, and several others were wounded. The great mass of the
people on that occasion were simply curious spectators, though men
were sprinkled through the crowd calling out, "Hurrah for Jeff
Davis!" and others were particularly abusive of the "damned Dutch"
Lyon posted a guard in charge of the vacant camp, and marched his
prisoners down to the arsenal; some were paroled, and others held,
till afterward they were regularly exchanged.

A very few days after this event, May 14th, I received a dispatch
from my brother Charles in Washington, telling me to come on at
once; that I had been appointed a colonel of the Thirteenth Regular
Infantry, and that I was wanted at Washington immediately.

Of course I could no longer defer action. I saw Mr. Lucas, Major
Turner, and other friends and parties connected with the road, who
agreed that I should go on. I left my family, because I was under
the impression that I would be allowed to enlist my own regiment,
which would take some time, and I expected to raise the regiment
and organize it at Jefferson Barracks. I repaired to Washington,
and there found that the Government was trying to rise to a level
with the occasion. Mr. Lincoln had, without the sanction of law,
authorized the raising of ten new regiments of regulars, each
infantry regiment to be composed of three battalions of eight
companies each; and had called for seventy-five thousand State
volunteers. Even this call seemed to me utterly inadequate; still
it was none of my business. I took the oath of office, and was
furnished with a list of officers, appointed to my regiment, which
was still, incomplete. I reported in person to General Scott, at
his office on Seventeenth Street, opposite the War Department, and
applied for authority to return West, and raise my regiment at
Jefferson Barracks, but the general said my lieutenant-colonel,
Burbank, was fully qualified to superintend the enlistment, and
that he wanted me there; and he at once dictated an order for me to
report to him in person for inspection duty.

Satisfied that I would not be permitted to return to St. Louis, I
instructed Mrs. Sherman to pack up, return to Lancaster, and trust
to the fate of war.

I also resigned my place as president of the Fifth Street Railroad,
to take effect at the end of May, so that in fact I received pay
from that road for only two months' service, and then began my new
army career.




And now that, in these notes, I have fairly reached the period of
the civil war, which ravaged our country from 1861 to 1865--an
event involving a conflict of passion, of prejudice, and of arms,
that has developed results which, for better or worse, have left
their mark on the world's history--I feel that I tread on delicate

I have again and again been invited to write a history of the war,
or to record for publication my personal recollections of it, with
large offers of money therefor; all of which I have heretofore
declined, because the truth is not always palatable, and should not
always be told. Many of the actors in the grand drama still live,
and they and their friends are quick to controversy, which should
be avoided. The great end of peace has been attained, with little
or no change in our form of government, and the duty of all good
men is to allow the passions of that period to subside, that we may
direct our physical and mental labor to repair the waste of war,
and to engage in the greater task of continuing our hitherto
wonderful national development.

What I now propose to do is merely to group some of my personal
recollections about the historic persons and events of the day,
prepared not with any view to their publication, but rather for
preservation till I am gone; and then to be allowed to follow into
oblivion the cords of similar papers, or to be used by some
historian who may need them by way of illustration.

I have heretofore recorded how I again came into the military
service of the United States as a colonel of the Thirteenth Regular
Infantry, a regiment that had no existence at the time, and that,
instead of being allowed to enlist the men and instruct them, as
expected, I was assigned in Washington City, by an order of
Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott, to inspection duty near him on
the 20th of June, 1861.

At that time Lieutenant-General Scott commanded the army in chief,
with Colonel E. D. Townsend as his adjutant-general,

Major G. W. Cullum, United States Engineers, and Major Schuyler
Hamilton, as aides.-de-camp. The general had an office up stairs
on Seventeenth Street, opposite the War Department, and resided in
a house close by, on Pennsylvania Avenue. All fears for the
immediate safety of the capital had ceased, and quite a large force
of regulars and volunteers had been collected in and about
Washington. Brigadier-General J. K. Mansfield commanded in the
city, and Brigadier-General Irvin McDowell on the other side of the
Potomac, with his headquarters at Arlington House. His troops
extended in a semicircle from Alexandria to above Georgetown.
Several forts and redoubts were either built or in progress, and
the people were already clamorous for a general forward movement.
Another considerable army had also been collected in Pennsylvania
under General Patterson, and, at the time I speak of, had moved
forward to Hagerstown and Williamsport, on the Potomac River. My
brother, John Sherman, was a volunteer aide-de-camp to General
Patterson, and, toward the end of June, I went up to Hagerstown to
see him. I found that army in the very act of moving, and we rode
down to Williamsport in a buggy, and were present when the leading
division crossed the Potomac River by fording it waist-deep. My
friend and classmate, George H. Thomas, was there, in command of a
brigade in the leading division. I talked with him a good deal,
also with General Cadwalader, and with the staff-officers of
General Patterson, viz., Fitz-John Porter, Belger, Beckwith, and
others, all of whom seemed encouraged to think that the war was to
be short and decisive, and that, as soon as it was demonstrated
that the General Government meant in earnest to defend its rights
and property, some general compromise would result.

Patterson's army crossed the Potomac River on the 1st or 2d of
July, and, as John Sherman was to take his seat as a Senator in the
called session of Congress, to meet July 4th, he resigned his place
as aide-de-camp, presented me his two horses and equipment, and we
returned to Washington together.

The Congress assembled punctually on the 4th of July, and the
message of Mr. Lincoln was strong and good: it recognized the fact
that civil war was upon us, that compromise of any kind was at an
end; and he asked for four hundred thousand men, and four hundred
million dollars, wherewith to vindicate the national authority, and
to regain possession of the captured forts and other property of
the United States.

It was also immediately demonstrated that the tone and temper of
Congress had changed since the Southern Senators and members had
withdrawn, and that we, the military, could now go to work with
some definite plans and ideas.

The appearance of the troops about Washington was good, but it was
manifest they were far from being soldiers. Their uniforms were as
various as the States and cities from which they came; their arms
were also of every pattern and calibre; and they were so loaded
down with overcoats, haversacks, knapsacks, tents, and baggage,
that it took from twenty-five to fifty wagons to move the camp of a
regiment from one place to another, and some of the camps had
bakeries and cooking establishments that would have done credit to

While I was on duty with General Scott, viz., from June 20th to
about June 30th, the general frequently communicated to those about
him his opinions and proposed plans. He seemed vexed with the

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest