July 19, 1862: Sherman says infantry don’t get horses. Or servants.

William T. Sherman

Sherman was coming into contact with a phenomenon that would become familiar later in the war. His troops, passing through enemy territory, were acquiring their own transportation in the form of stolen horses and mules. Here he orders contraband steeds turned in to the quartermaster, but I note that he doesn’t seem to suggest they’ll go back to their former owners — he just wants infantry to be on foot, and the livestock used in an organized fashion. The same policy seems to apply to the other sort of “contrabands” — slaves who had freed themselves as the army came by. He orders that they be put to work on fortifications for the defense of Memphis. Oh, and lastly, keep the troops out of town where they’d get in trouble.


Numbers 54.
White’s Station, July 19, 1862.
[I believe this is White’s Station, TN, now a neighborhood on the east side of Memphis]

It is manifest that a great many horses, mules, and other private property are now in our camps which have been taken in the country without warrant or authority. All such property will at once be turned in to the division quartermaster, and every regimental quartermaster, commander of a battery, or other officer will cause an actual count of horses and animals in their possession and will make a written certificate that at this date they have on hand that particular number, for which they will account. The count will be verified by the division quartermaster.

All parties who are mounted who are not by law designated and considered as mounted officers or soldiers will have their horses and mules taken away, and those animals treated as public animals. Colonels of regiments will see to the execution of this order, and see that the animals are at once delivered over to the regimental quartermaster and by him to the division quartermaster, who will report as soon as possible the number of animals he has on hand now, and how many are turned over to him by the several regiments and companies.

Every colonel of a regiment or commander of battery and chief of cavalry will to-morrow cause a thorough examination and will report the number of negroes in their camps, and give the names of such as came from their respective States as servants. All other negroes must be registered and put to work on the fortifications as soon as we reach Memphis.

The provost marshal in Memphis will be instructed to put work in the trenches all soldiers who come to Memphis without leave of the commanding general.

As soon as our camp is established as large an amount of liberty will be given to all good soldiers as is consistent with their duty, and ample opportunity afforded them to see the city with all “its sights.”

The commanding general, with the engineer officers and part of his staff, will proceed before daybreak to-morrow morning into Memphis to examine the condition of things there, to see the ground and to select camps. Orders will be sent back for the troops to march into Memphis as soon as camping ground is selected.

Both General Hurlbut’s division and my own will remain at or near this camp, at White’s Station, until such orders are received, and no officer, soldier, or citizen connected with this marching column will go to Memphis until the two divisions are moved in.

By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:


Assistant Adjutant-General.

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