Sherman and Halleck were old friends, and occasionally they wrote each other warm personal notes. In this letter, Halleck praises Sherman’s Atlanta campaign, commiserates with him over the state “Negro recruiters”, and dishes a little dirt on Hooker, who left Sherman in a huff over seniority.
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
Washington, September 16, 1864.
General W. T. SHERMAN,
MY DEAR GENERAL: Your very interesting letter of the 4th is just received. Its perusal has given me the greatest pleasure. I have not written before to congratulate you on the capture of Atlanta, the objective point of your brilliant campaign, for the reason that I have been suffering from my annual attack of “coryza,” or hay cold. It affects my eyes so much that I can hardly see to write.
As you suppose, I have watched your movements most attentively and critically, and I do not hesitate to say that your campaign has been the most brilliant of the war. Its results are less striking and less complete than those of General Grant at Vicksburg, but then you have had greater difficulties to encounter, a longer line of communication to keep up, and a longer and more continuous strain upon yourself and upon your army. You must have been very considerably annoyed by the State negro recruiting agents.
Your letter was a capital one and did much good. The law was a ridiculous one; it was opposed by the War Department, but passed through the influence of Eastern manufacturers who hoped to escape the draft in that way. They were making immense fortunes out of the war, and could well afford to purchase negro recruits, and thus save their employees at home.
I fully agree with you in regard to the policy of a stringent draft, but, unfortunately, political influences are against us, and I fear it will not amount to much. Mr. Seward’s foolish speech at Auburn, again prophesying for twentieth time that the rebellion would be crushed in a few months, and saying that there would be no draft, as we now had soldiers enough to end the war, &c., has done much harm in a military point of view. But these infernal old political humbugs cannot tell the truth even when it is for their interest to do so. I have seen enough of polities here to last me for life. You are right in avoiding them. McClellan may possibly reach the White House, but he will lose the respect of all honest, high-minded patriots by his association with such traitors and copperheads as Belmount, Vallandigham, Wood, Seymour, and Co. He could not stand upon the traitorous Chicago platform, but he had not the manliness to oppose it. A major-general in the United States service, and yet not one word to utter against rebels or the rebellion! I had much respect for McClellan before he became a politician, but very little after reading his sneaking and cowardly letter accepting the nomination.
Hooker certainly made a mistake in leaving before the capture of Atlanta. I understand that when here he said that you would fail, your army was discouraged and dissatisfied, &c. He is most unmeasured in his abuse of me. I inclose you a specimen of what he publishes in Northern papers wherever he goes.* They are dictated by himself, and written by Wilkes, Butterfield, and such worthies. The funny part of the business is that I had nothing whatever to do with his being relieved on either occasion. Moreover, I never said anything to the President or Secretary of War to injure him in the slightest degree, and he knows that perfectly well. His animosity arises from another source. He is aware that I know something about his character and conduct in California, and fearing that I may use that information against him, he seeks to ward off its effects by making it appear that I am his personal enemy, am jealous of him, &c. I know of no other reason for his hostility to me. He is welcome to abuse as much as he pleases; I don’t think it will do him much good or me much harm.
I know very little of General Howard, but believe him to be a true, honorable man. Thomas is also a noble old was horse. It is true that he is slow, but he is always sure.
I have not seen General Grant since the fall of Atlanta, and do not know what instructions he has sent you.
I fear that Canby has not the means to do much by way of Mobile.
The military effects of Banks’ disaster are now showing themselves by the threatened operations of Price and Colonel toward Missouri, thus keeping in check our armies west of the Mississippi.
With many thanks for your kind letter and wishers for your future success,
H. W. HALLECK.