July 14, 1864: Sherman ready to cross, but don’t send any recruiters

Black Soldier

Sherman’s daily report to Halleck includes a brief tirade about government hangers-on generally — “The Sanitary and Christian Commissions are enough to eradicate all traces of Christianity out of our minds” — but more specifically against sending recruiters. While the grounds he gives refer to the difficulty of providing accommodations for recruiters, I suspect his main objection is that he’s opposed to black troops. Sherman made no secret of his views on this; he thought black men unfit to be soldiers, and refused to put them in combat roles. Clearly the only Georgians that could be recruited into the Union army at this point would be freed slaves.

Official Records:


NEAR CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER, GA., July 14, 1864-10 p. m.

(Received 3.45 a. m. 15th.)

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

Washington, D. C.:

All is well. I have now accumulated stores at Allatoona and Marietta, both fortified and garrisoned points. I have also three points at which to cross the Chattahoochee in my possession, and only await General Stoneman’s return from a trip down the river to cross the army in force and moved on Atlanta. Stoneman is now out two days, and had orders to be back on the fourth or fifth day, at farthest. Rousseau should reach Opelika about July 17. Before regulations are made for the States to send recruiting officers into the rebel States, I must express my opinion that it is the height of folly. I cannot permit it here, and I will not have a set of fellows here hanging about on any such pretenses. We have no means to transport and feed them. The Sanitary and Christian Commissions are enough to eradicate all traces of Christianity out of our minds, much less a set of unscrupulous State agents in search of recruits. All these dodges and make-shifts but render us ridiculous in our own estimation. I must protect my army, and I say beforehand, I have no means to transport recruiting parties south of Nashville, or to feed them, if they come here in spite of me.

W. T. SHERMAN,

Major-General, Commanding.

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