Lincoln thanks Sherman for his Christmas present quite graciously: “the honor is all yours; for I believe none of us went further than to acquiesce”. Stanton wishes Sherman had captured Hardee’s army.
Washington, December 26, 1864.
MY DEAR GENERAL SHERMAN: Many, many thanks for your Christmas gift, the capture of Savannah. When you were about leaving Atlanta for the Atlantic for the Atlantic coast, I was anxious, if not fearful; but feeling that you were the better judge, and remembering that “nothing risked, nothing gained,” I did not interfere. Now, the undertaking being a success, the honor is all yours; for I believe none of us went further than to acquiesce. And taking the work of General Thomas into the count, as it should be taken, it is indeed a great success. Not only does it afford the obvious and immediate military advantages, but, in showing to the world that your army could be divided, putting the stronger part to an important new service, and yet leaving enough to vanquish the old opposing force of the whole – Hood’s army – it brings those who sat in darkness to see a great light. But what next? I suppose it will be safer if I leave General Grant and yourself to decide. Please make my grateful acknowledgments to your whole army, officers and men. *
Yours, very truly,
December 26, 1864.
I wish you a merry Christmas, if not too late, and thank you for the Savannah news. It is a sore disappointment that Hardee was able to get off his 15,000 from Sherman’s 60,000. It looks like protracting the war while their armies continue to escape. I hope you will give immediate instructions to seize and hold the cotton. All sorts of schemes will be got up to hold it under sham titles of British and other private claimants; they should all be disregarded; and it ought not to be turned over to any Treasury agent, but held by military authority until a special order of the Department is given for the transfer. Sherman has been nominated for major-General.
EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.