Monday, October 22, 2007

ON THIS DAY: Wednesday, Oct. 23, 1861

Brig. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman—sounding nothing like the great Indian warrior for whom he was named—writes his wife, “Dearest Ellen,” from Louisville. “I have so much to do, and a dread of danger so hangs around me that I can hardly write you with any degree of satisfaction. I am doing all I know how, but to be in the midst of people ready to betray is the most unpleasant of all feelings. I have seen the stories.” (Sherman may be referring to the newspaper reporters who sat in on his upsetting meeting with Secretary of War Silas Cameron, or he may mean Confederate sympathizers and lackluster Union supporters in Kentucky—or all of these.)

“We are weaker and farther from our base, the Ohio River,” Sherman continues, briefly pausing to discuss a financial matter. Then: “I hope [Maj. Gen. Henry] Halleck will be sent to relieve me. I must stay here to direct all, but must share the fate of all in case of disaster, for we have no escape. I have been reinforced, but nothing like it should be. We should have 50,000 men here.

“My health is comparatively good.

“As ever yrs.

W. T. Sherman.”

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