October 9, 1864: William T. Sherman Makes a Promise

Allatoona 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 9th 1864
Lt. Gen. Grant
City Point

It will be a physical impossibility to protect this road now that Hood, Forrest, Wheeler and the whole batch of Devils are turned loose without home or habitation. I think Hoods movements indicate a direction to the end of the Selma and Talladega road to Blue Mountain about sixty miles south west of Rome from which he will threaten Kingston, Bridgeport and Decatur and I propose we break up the road from Chattanooga and strike out with wagons for Milledgeville Millen and Savannah.

Until we can repopulate Georgia it is useless to occupy it, but utter destruction of its roads, houses, and people will cripple their military resources. By attempting to hold the roads we will lose a thousand men monthly and will gain no result. I can make the march and make Georgia howl. We have over 8,000 cattle and 3,000,000 pounds of bread but no corn, but we can forage the interior of the state.

W.T. Sherman

M. Genl.


17 thoughts on “October 9, 1864: William T. Sherman Makes a Promise

  1. Noma October 9, 2014 / 12:56 pm

    Question: Is this the point where Sherman says, “In this movement, we go not to fight, but to avoid fighting” ?

    Also, a nice re-tracing of Sherman’s steps is by Mark Dunkelman who retraced his ancestor’s steps by interviewing old families who lived *directly* on Sherman’s path. There were many stories of how their particular ancestors were spared the brunt of Sherman’s “wrath.”


  2. Joshism October 9, 2014 / 4:38 pm

    “Until we can repopulate Georgia it is useless to occupy it, but utter destruction of its roads, houses, and people will cripple their military resources.”

    I know the rest of the records say otherwise, but this sentence seems like something Sherman haters could hold high to prove Sherman wanted his troops to murder Southern civilians.

      • John Foskett October 10, 2014 / 7:12 am

        And what he did (didn’t) is what he did (didn’t).

  3. Andy Hall October 9, 2014 / 5:40 pm

    I had relatives who were well-off farmers (with aspirations to the planter class, you might say) around Lithonia, just east of Atlanta and smack in the middle of the path of the left wing of Uncle Billy’s troops. They undoubtedly lost their most valuable property — bottom rail on top, and all that — but whatever tales they had of other depredations of Sherman’s bummers were insufficiently horrific to burn down through the years of family lore to the present generation.

  4. TF Smith October 9, 2014 / 5:56 pm

    This is the sort of communication a superior loves to get from a subordinate; situation, plan, and commitment.

    And not a single line about how he needs reinforcements before he can move.

    • John Foskett October 10, 2014 / 7:13 am

      Why are you baiting me with an allusion to you-know-who on the Peninsula? 🙂

      • R E Watson October 10, 2014 / 2:27 pm

        Who says it was the Peninsula ? Could have been Sharpsburg or….. ! 😉

        • TF Smith October 10, 2014 / 4:07 pm

          West Virginia! GBM’s greatest triumph!

      • T F Smith October 11, 2014 / 6:17 am

        Not intentionally, but God, one can only imagine the relief to the CinC when he started dealing with Grant and Sherman, rather than the “military genius that must not be named”…


        • John Foskett October 11, 2014 / 10:12 am

          Just another guy who has it in for Mac – I’m going to start calling you “Catton-Sears”. 🙂

          • TF Smith October 11, 2014 / 9:37 pm

            Damn, and here I was trying for Peter S. Michie…


          • John Foskett October 12, 2014 / 8:49 am

            I’ll ,give you that one, as well, since, like the Colonel, you probably think that Mac should have actually attacked at the Warwick line rather than twiddling his thumbs for a month while he lugged up truckloads of siege mortars and allowed the Rebs to bulid up their forces on the Peninsula.

          • TF Smith October 12, 2014 / 8:20 pm

            I think Mac should have come south overland, river line by river line, with Porter detached to the Shenandoah in place of Banks, actually. Organizing a cavalry reserve/division/corps worth the name would be useful, as well, of course.

            Once the AotP was on the Peninsula, yeah, attacking when Magruder was at his weakest would have made more sense…

            Mac might have made a useful, albeit cautious corps commander, who might make something like the Crater work; or he might have made a very effective adjutant general, or inspector general at the Army level (replacing Patrick?), or a “training” division commander (replacing Casey).

            He did not make a very effective general-in-chief nor army commander.


          • sallieparker October 22, 2014 / 3:35 pm

            I like Little Mac. Mac took a pile of shoddy and made a handsome, marching, even fighting army out of it. When he seemed timid and kept asking for reinforcements, that was when Pinkerton was telling him Johnston and Lee and Jackson had twice as many men. Mac didn’t want another Bull Run. He believed in the logic of overkill, just like Grant and Monty. And anyway, what exactly was Cump Sherman doing when Mac was on the Peninsula? Going crazy, and saying he needed 200,000 reinforcements? It was McClellan who made the Grant and Sherman of 63 and 64 and 65 possible.

  5. Charles Lovejoy October 9, 2014 / 8:57 pm

    I had direct ancestors along Sherman’s march and I don’t think they lost anything significant. I know Georgia well,plenty of antebellum homes and buildings left. The town right next to mine is near where Sherman’s right wing passed. The antebellum homes that were there are still there. I wonder around and photograph, have found numerous pre Civil War houses and buildings.There is a state park south of me that host the Jarrell Plantation, an intact antebellum plantation. Robert Tooms, Alexander Stephens and TRR Cobb’s houses still around.

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