This is so much as I ought to say, and more too, but if it produces the result I will be more than satisfied, viz., that I be simply allowed to resume my proper post and duties in St. Louis. With great respect, yours truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Lieutenant-General.
On the 1st of February, the board of which I was the president submitted to the adjutant-general our draft of the "Articles of War and Army Regulations," condensed to a small compass, the result of our war experience. But they did not suit the powers that were, and have ever since slept the sleep that knows no waking, to make room for the ponderous document now in vogue, which will not stand the strain of a week's campaign in real war.
I hurried back to St. Louis to escape the political storm I saw brewing. The President repeatedly said to me that he wanted me in Washington, and I as often answered that nothing could tempt me to live in that center of intrigue and excitement; but soon came the following:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON, February 10, 1868.
DEAR GENERAL: I have received at last the President's reply to my last, letter. He attempts to substantiate his statements by his Cabinet. In this view it is important that I should have a letter from you, if you are willing to give it, of what I said to you about the effect of the "Tenure-of-Office Bill," and my object in going to see the President on Saturday before the installment of Mr. Stanton. What occurred after the meeting of the Cabinet on the Tuesday following is not a subject under controversy now; therefore, if you choose to write down your recollection (and I would like to have it) on Wednesday, when you and I called on the President, and your conversation with him the last time you saw him, make that a separate communication.
Your order to come East was received several days ago, but the President withdrew it, I supposed to make some alteration, but it has not been returned. Yours truly,
U. S. GRANT.
WASHINGTON, D. C., February 18, 1868.
Lieutenant-General W. T. SHERMAN, St. Louis.
The order is issued ordering you to Atlantic Division.
U. S. GRANT, General.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSOURI, St. Louis, February 14, 1868.
General U. S. GRANT, Washington, D. C.
Your dispatch is received informing me that the order for the Atlantic Division has been issued, and that I am assigned to its command. I was in hopes I had escaped the danger, and now were I prepared I should resign on the spot, as it requires no foresight to predict such must be the inevitable result in the end. I will make one more desperate effort by mail, which please await.
W. T. SHERMAN, Lieutenant-General.
WASHINGTON, February 14, 1868. Lieutenant-General W. T. SHERMAN, St. Louis.
I think it due to you that your letter of January 31st to the President of the United States should be published, to correct misapprehension in the public mind about your willingness to come to Washington. It will not be published against your will.
(Sent in cipher.)
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSOURI, St. Louis, MISSOURI, February 14, 1868.
General U. S. GRANT, Washington, D. C.
Dispatch of to-day received. Please await a letter I address this day through you to the President, which will in due time reach the public, covering the very point you make.
I don't want to come to Washington at all.
W. T. SHERMAN, Lieutenant-General.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSOURI, St. Loins, MISSOURI, February 14, 1868.
Hon. John SHERMAN, United States Senate, Washington, D. C.
Oppose confirmation of myself as brevet general, on ground that it is unprecedented, and that it is better not to extend the system of brevets above major-general. If I can't avoid coming to Washington, I may have to resign.
W. T. SHERMAN, Lieutenant-General.
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, WASHINGTON, D. C., February 12, 1868.
The following orders are published for the information and guidance of all concerned:
U. S. GRANT, General.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, D. C., February 12, 1868.
GENERAL: You will please issue an order creating a military division to be styled the Military Division of the Atlantic, to be composed of the Department of the Lakes, the Department of the East, and the Department of Washington, to be commanded by Lieutenant-General W. T. Sherman, with his headquarters at Washington. Until further orders from the President, you will assign no officer to the permanent command of the Military Division of the Missouri.
GENERAL U. S. GRANT, Commanding Armies of The United States, Washington, D. C.
Major-General P. H. Sheridan, the senior officer in the Military Division of the Missouri, will temporarily perform the duties of commander of the Military Division of the Missouri in addition to his duties of department commander. By command of General Grant:
E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant-General.
This order, if carried into effect, would have grouped in Washington:
1. The President, constitutional Commander-in-Chief.
2. The Secretary of War, congressional Commander-in-Chief.
3. The General of the Armies of the United States.
4. The Lieutenant-General of the Army.
5. The Commanding General of the Department of Washington.
6. The commander of the post-of Washington.
At that date the garrison of Washington was a brigade of infantry and a battery of artillery. I never doubted Mr. Johnson's sincerity in wishing to befriend me, but this was the broadest kind of a farce, or meant mischief. I therefore appealed to him by letter to allow me to remain where I was, and where I could do service, real service, and received his most satisfactory answer.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSOURI, St. Louis, MISSOURI, February 14, 1868.
General U. S. GRANT, Washington, D. C.
DEAR GENERAL: Last evening, just before leaving my office, I received your note of the 10th, and had intended answering it according to your request; but, after I got home, I got your dispatch of yesterday, announcing that the order I dreaded so much was issued. I never felt so troubled in my life. Were it an order to go to Sitka, to the devil, to battle with rebels or Indians, I think you would not hear a whimper from me, but it comes in such a questionable form that, like Hamlet's ghost, it curdles my blood and mars my judgment. My first thoughts were of resignation, and I had almost made up my mind to ask Dodge for some place on the Pacific road, or on one of the Iowa roads, and then again various colleges ran through my memory, but hard times and an expensive family have brought me back to staring the proposition square in the face, and I have just written a letter to the President, which I herewith transmit through you, on which I will hang a hope of respite till you telegraph me its effect. The uncertainties ahead are too great to warrant my incurring the expense of breaking up my house and family here, and therefore in no event will I do this till I can be assured of some permanence elsewhere. If it were at all certain that you would accept the nomination of President in May, I would try and kill the intervening time, and then judge of the chances, but I do not want you to reveal your plans to me till you choose to do so.
I have telegraphed to John Sherman to oppose the nomination which the papers announce has been made of me for brevet general.
I have this minute received your cipher dispatch of to-day, which I have just answered and sent down to the telegraph-office, and the clerk is just engaged in copying my letter to the President to go with this. If the President or his friends pretend that I seek to go to Washington, it will be fully rebutted by letters I have written to the President, to you, to John Sherman, to Mr. Ewing, and to Mr. Stanbery. You remember that in our last talk you suggested I should write again to the President. I thought of it, and concluded my letter of January 31st, already delivered, was full and emphatic. Still, I did write again to Mr. Stanbery, asking him as a friend to interpose in my behalf. There are plenty of people who know my wishes, and I would avoid, if possible, the publication of a letter so confidential as that of January 31st, in which I notice I allude to the President's purpose of removing Mr. Stanton by force, a fact that ought not to be drawn out through me if it be possible to avoid it. In the letter herewith I confine myself to purely private matters, and will not object if it reaches the public in any proper way. My opinion is, the President thinks Mrs. Sherman would like to come to Washington by reason of her father and brothers being there. This is true, for Mrs. Sherman has an idea that St. Louis is unhealthy for our children, and because most of the Catholics here are tainted with the old secesh feeling. But I know better what is to our common interest, and prefer to judge of the proprieties myself. What I do object to is the false position I would occupy as between you and the President. Were there an actual army at or near Washington, I could be withdrawn from the most unpleasant attitude of a "go-between," but there is no army there, nor any military duties which you with a host of subordinates can not perform. Therefore I would be there with naked, informal, and sinecure duties, and utterly out of place. This you understand well enough, and the army too, but the President and the politicians, who flatter themselves they are saving the country, cannot and will not understand. My opinion is, the country is doctored to death, and if President and Congress would go to sleep like Rip Van Winkle, the country would go on under natural influences, and recover far faster than under their joint and several treatment. This doctrine would be accounted by Congress, and by the President too, as high treason, and therefore I don't care about saying so to either of them, but I know you can hear anything, and give it just what thought or action it merits.
Excuse this long letter, and telegraph me the result of my letter to the President as early as you can. If he holds my letter so long as to make it improper for me to await his answer, also telegraph me.
The order, when received, will, I suppose, direct me as to whom and how I am to turn over this command, which should, in my judgment, not be broken up, as the three departments composing the division should be under one head.
I expect my staff-officers to be making for me within the hour to learn their fate, so advise me all you can as quick as possible.
With great respect, yours truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Lieutenant-General.
To the President.
DEAR SIR: It is hard for me to conceive you would purposely do me an unkindness unless under the pressure of a sense of public duty, or because you do not believe me sincere. I was in hopes, since my letter to you of the 31st of January, that you had concluded to pass over that purpose of yours expressed more than once in conversation—to organize a new command for me in the East, with headquarters in Washington; but a telegram from General Grant of yesterday says that "the order was issued ordering you" (me) "to Atlantic Division"; and the newspapers of this morning contain the same information, with the addition that I have been nominated as brevet general. I have telegraphed my own brother in the Senate to oppose my confirmation, on the ground that the two higher grades in the army ought not to be complicated with brevets, and I trust you will conceive my motives aright. If I could see my way clear to maintain my family, I should not hesitate a moment to resign my present commission, and seek some business wherein I would be free from these unhappy complications that seem to be closing about me, spite of my earnest efforts to avoid them; but necessity ties my hands, and I must submit with the best grace I can till I make other arrangements.
In Washington are already the headquarters of a department, and of the army itself, and it is hard for me to see wherein I can render military service there. Any staff-officer with the rank of major could surely fill any gap left between these two military officers; and, by being placed in Washington, I will be universally construed as a rival to the General-in-Chief, a position damaging to me in the highest degree. Our relations have always been most confidential and friendly, and if, unhappily, any cloud of differences should arise between us, my sense of personal dignity and duty would leave me no alternative but resignation. For this I am not yet prepared, but I shall proceed to arrange for it as rapidly as possible, so that when the time does come (as it surely will if this plan is carried into effect) I may act promptly.
Inasmuch as the order is now issued, I cannot expect a full revocation of it, but I beg the privilege of taking post at New York, or any point you may name within the new military division other than Washington. This privilege is generally granted to all military commanders, and I see no good reason why I too may not ask for it, and this simple concession, involving no public interest, will much soften the blow, which, right or wrong, I construe as one of the hardest I have sustained in a life somewhat checkered with adversity. With great respects yours truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Lieutenant-General.
WASHINGTON, D. C., 2 p.m., February 19, 1888. Lieutenant-General W. T. SHERMAN, St. Louis, Missouri:
I have just received, with General Grant's indorsement of reference, your letter to me of the fourteenth (14th) inst.
The order to which you refer was made in good faith, and with a view to the best interests of the country and the service; as, however, your assignment to a new military division seems so objectionable, you will retain your present command.
On that same 19th of February he appointed Adjutant, General Lorenzo Thomas to be Secretary of War ad interim, which finally resulted in the articles of impeachment and trial of President Johnson before the Senate. I was a witness on that trial, but of course the lawyers would not allow me to express any opinion of the President's motives or intentions, and restricted me to the facts set forth in the articles of impeachment, of which I was glad to know nothing. The final test vote revealed less than two thirds, and the President was consequently acquitted. Mr. Stanton resigned. General Schofield, previously nominated, was confirmed as Secretary of War, thus putting an end to what ought never to have happened at all.
INDIAN PEACE COMMISSION.
On the 20th of July, 1867, President Johnson approved an act to establish peace with certain hostile Indian tribes, the first section of which reads as follows: "Be it enacted, etc., that the President of the United States be and is hereby authorized to appoint a commission to consist of three (3) officers of the army not below the rank of brigadier-general, who, together with N. G. Taylor, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, John B. Henderson, chairman of the Committee of Indian Affairs of the Senate, S. F. Tappan, and John B. Sanborn, shall have power and authority to call together the chiefs and head men of such bands or tribes of Indians as are now waging war against the United States, or committing depredations on the people thereof, to ascertain the alleged reasons for their acts of hostility, and in their discretion, under the direction of the President, to make and conclude with said bands or tribes such treaty stipulations, subject to the action of the Senate, as may remove all just causes of complaint on their part, and at the same time establish security for person and property along the lines of railroad now being constructed to the Pacific and other thoroughfares of travel to the Western Territories, and such as will most likely insure civilization for the Indians, and peace and safety for the whites."
The President named as the military members Lieutenant-General Sherman, Brigadier-Generals A. H. Terry and W. S. Harney. Subsequently, to insure a full attendance, Brigadier-General C. C. Augur was added to the commission, and his name will be found on most of the treaties. The commissioners met at St. Louis and elected N. G. Taylor, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, president; J. B. Sanborn, treasurer; and A. S. H. White, Esq., of Washington, D. C., secretary. The year 1867 was too far advanced to complete the task assigned during that season, and it was agreed that a steamboat (St. John's) should be chartered to convey the commission up the Missouri River, and we adjourned to meet at Omaha. In the St. John's the commission proceeded up the Missouri River, holding informal "talks" with the Santees at their agency near the Niobrara, the Yanktonnais at Fort Thompson, and the Ogallallas, Minneconjous, Sans Arcs, etc., at Fort Sully. From this point runners were sent out to the Sioux occupying the country west of the Missouri River, to meet us in council at the Forks of the Platte that fall, and to Sitting Bull's band of outlaw Sioux, and the Crows on the upper Yellowstone, to meet us in May, 1868, at Fort Laramie. We proceeded up the river to the mouth of the Cheyenne and turned back to Omaha, having ample time on this steamboat to discuss and deliberate on the problems submitted to our charge.
We all agreed that the nomad Indians should be removed from the vicinity of the two great railroads then in rapid construction, and be localized on one or other of the two great reservations south of Kansas and north of Nebraska; that agreements not treaties, should be made for their liberal maintenance as to food, clothing, schools, and farming implements for ten years, during which time we believed that these Indians should become self-supporting. To the north we proposed to remove the various bands of Sioux, with such others as could be induced to locate near them; and to the south, on the Indian Territory already established, we proposed to remove the Cheyennes, Arapahoes, Kiowas, Comanches, and such others as we could prevail on to move thither.
At that date the Union Pacific construction had reached the Rocky Mountains at Cheyenne, and the Kansas Pacific to about Fort Wallace. We held council with the Ogallallas at the Forks of the Platte, and arranged to meet them all the next spring, 1868. In the spring of 1868 we met the Crows in council at Fort Laramie, the Sioux at the North Platte, the Shoshones or Snakes at Fort Hall, the Navajos at Fort Sumner, on the Pecos, and the Cheyennes and Arapahoes at Medicine Lodge. To accomplish these results the commission divided up into committees, General Augur going to the Shoshones, Mr. Tappan and I to the Navajos, and the remainder to Medicine Lodge. In that year we made treaties or arrangements with all the tribes which before had followed the buffalo in their annual migrations, and which brought them into constant conflict with the whites.
Mr. Tappan and I found it impossible to prevail on the Navajos to remove to the Indian Territory, and had to consent to their return to their former home, restricted to a limited reservation west of Santa Fe, about old Fort Defiance, and there they continue unto this day, rich in the possession of herds of sheep and goats, with some cattle and horses; and they have remained at peace ever since.
A part of our general plan was to organize the two great reservations into regular Territorial governments, with Governor, Council, courts, and civil officers. General Harney was temporarily assigned to that of the Sioux at the north, and General Hazen to that of the Kiowas, Comanches, Cheyennes, Arapahoes, etc., etc., at the south, but the patronage of the Indian Bureau was too strong for us, and that part of our labor failed. Still, the Indian Peace Commission of 1867-'68 did prepare the way for the great Pacific Railroads, which, for better or worse, have settled the fate of the buffalo and Indian forever. There have been wars and conflicts since with these Indians up to a recent period too numerous and complicated in their detail for me to unravel and record, but they have been the dying struggles of a singular race of brave men fighting against destiny, each less and less violent, till now the wild game is gone, the whites too numerous and powerful; so that the Indian question has become one of sentiment and charity, but not of war.
The peace, or "Quaker" policy, of which so much has been said, originated about thus: By the act of Congress, approved March 3,1869, the forty-five regiments of infantry were reduced to twenty-five, and provision was made for the "muster out" of many of the surplus officers, and for retaining others to be absorbed by the usual promotions and casualties. On the 7th of May of that year, by authority of an act of Congress approved June 30, 1834, nine field-officers and fifty-nine captains and subalterns were detached and ordered to report to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, to serve as Indian superintendents and agents. Thus by an old law surplus army officers were made to displace the usual civil appointees, undoubtedly a change for the better, but most distasteful to members of Congress, who looked to these appointments as part of their proper patronage. The consequence was the law of July 15, 1870, which vacated the military commission of any officer who accepted or exercised the functions of a civil officer. I was then told that certain politicians called on President Grant, informing him that this law was chiefly designed to prevent his using army officers for Indian agents, "civil offices," which he believed to be both judicious and wise; army officers, as a rule, being better qualified to deal with Indians than the average political appointees. The President then quietly replied: "Gentlemen, you have defeated my plan of Indian management; but you shall not succeed in your purpose, for I will divide these appointments up among the religious churches, with which you dare not contend." The army officers were consequently relieved of their "civil offices," and the Indian agencies were apportioned to the several religious churches in about the proportion of their—supposed strength—some to the Quakers, some to the Methodists, to the Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, etc., etc.—and thus it remains to the present time, these religious communities selecting the agents to be appointed by the Secretary of the Interior. The Quakers, being first named, gave name to the policy, and it is called the "Quaker" policy to-day. Meantime railroads and settlements by hardy, bold pioneers have made the character of Indian agents of small concern, and it matters little who are the beneficiaries.
As was clearly foreseen, General U. S. Grant was duly nominated, and on the 7th of November, 1868, was elected President of the United States for the four years beginning with March 4, 1869.
On the 15th and 16th of December, 1868, the four societies of the Armies of the Cumberland, Tennessee, Ohio, and Georgia, held a joint reunion at Chicago, at which were present over two thousand of the surviving officers and soldiers of the war. The ceremonies consisted of the joint meeting in Crosby's magnificent opera-house, at which General George H. Thomas presided. General W. W. Belknap was the orator for the Army of the Tennessee, General Charles Cruft for the Army of the Cumberland, General J. D. Cox for the Army of the Ohio, and General William Cogswell for the Army of Georgia. The banquet was held in the vast Chamber of Commerce, at which I presided. General Grant, President-elect, General J. M. Schofield, Secretary of War, General H. W. Slocum, and nearly every general officer of note was present except General Sheridan, who at the moment was fighting the Cheyennes in Southern Kansas and the Indian country.
At that time we discussed the army changes which would necessarily occur in the following March, and it was generally understood that I was to succeed General Grant as general-in-chief, but as to my successor, Meade, Thomas, and Sheridan were candidates. And here I will remark that General Grant, afterward famous as the "silent man," used to be very gossipy, and no one was ever more fond than he of telling anecdotes of our West Point and early army life. At the Chicago reunion he told me that I would have to come to Washington, that he wanted me to effect a change as to the general staff, which he had long contemplated, and which was outlined in his letter to Mr. Stanton of January 29,1866, given hereafter, which had been repeatedly published, and was well known to the military world; that on being inaugurated President on the 4th of March he would retain General Schofield as his Secretary of War until the change had become habitual; that the modern custom of the Secretary of War giving military orders to the adjutant-general and other staff officers was positively wrong and should be stopped. Speaking of General Grant's personal characteristics at that period of his life, I recall a conversation in his carriage, when, riding down Pennsylvania Avenue, he, inquired of me in a humorous way, "Sherman, what special hobby do you intend to adopt?" I inquired what he meant, and he explained that all men had their special weakness or vanity, and that it was wiser to choose one's own than to leave the newspapers to affix one less acceptable, and that for his part he had chosen the "horse," so that when anyone tried to pump him he would turn the conversation to his "horse." I answered that I would stick to the "theatre and balls," for I was always fond of seeing young people happy, and did actually acquire a reputation for "dancing," though I had not attempted the waltz, or anything more than the ordinary cotillon, since the war.
On the 24th of February, 1869, I was summoned to Washington, arriving on the 26th, taking along my aides, Lieutenant-Colonels Dayton and Audenried.
On the 4th of March General Grant was duly inaugurated President of the United States, and I was nominated and confirmed as General of the Army.
Major-General P. H. Sheridan was at the same time nominated and confirmed as lieutenant-general, with orders to command the Military Division of the Missouri, which he did, moving the headquarters from St. Louis to Chicago; and General Meade was assigned to command the Military Division of the Atlantic, with headquarters at Philadelphia.
At that moment General Meade was in Atlanta, Georgia, commanding the Third Military District under the "Reconstruction Act;" and General Thomas, whose post was in Nashville, was in Washington on a court of inquiry investigating certain allegations against General A. B. Dyer, Chief of Ordnance. He occupied the room of the second floor in the building on the corner of H and Fifteenth Streets, since become Wormley's Hotel. I at the time was staying with my brother, Senator Sherman, at his residence, 1321 K Street, and it was my habit each morning to stop at Thomas's room on my way to the office in the War Department to tell him the military news, and to talk over matters of common interest. We had been intimately associated as "man and boy" for thirty-odd years, and I profess to have had better opportunities to know him than any man then living. His fame as the "Rock of Chickamauga" was perfect, and by the world at large he was considered as the embodiment of strength, calmness, and imperturbability. Yet of all my acquaintances Thomas worried and fretted over what he construed neglects or acts of favoritism more than any other.
At that time he was much worried by what he supposed was injustice in the promotion of General Sheridan, and still more that General Meade should have an Eastern station, which compelled him to remain at Nashville or go to the Pacific. General Thomas claimed that all his life he had been stationed in the South or remote West, and had not had a fair share of Eastern posts, whereas that General Meade had always been there. I tried to get him to go with me to see President Grant and talk the matter over frankly, but he would not, and I had to act as a friendly mediator. General Grant assured me at the time that he not only admired and respected General Thomas, but actually loved him as a man, and he authorized me in making up commands for the general officers to do anything and everything to favor him, only he could not recede from his former action in respect to Generals Sheridan and Meade.
Prior to General Grant's inauguration the army register showed as major-generals Halleck, Meade, Sheridan, Thomas, and Hancock. Therefore, the promotion of General Sheridan to be lieutenant- general did not "overslaugh" Thomas, but it did Meade and Halleck. The latter did not expect promotion; General Meade did, but was partially, not wholly, reconciled by being stationed at Philadelphia, the home of his family; and President Grant assured me that he knew of his own knowledge that General Sheridan had been nominated major-general before General Meade, but had waived dates out of respect for his age and longer service, and that he had nominated him as lieutenant-general by reason of his special fitness to command the Military Division of the Missouri, embracing all the wild Indians, at that very moment in a state of hostility. I gave General Thomas the choice of every other command in the army, and of his own choice he went to San Francisco, California, where he died, March 28, 1870. The truth is, Congress should have provided by law for three lieutenant-generals for these three pre-eminent soldiers, and should have dated their commissions with "Gettysburg," "Winchester," and "Nashville." It would have been a graceful act, and might have prolonged the lives of two most popular officers, who died soon after, feeling that they had experienced ingratitude and neglect.
Soon after General Grant's inauguration as President, and, as I supposed, in fulfilment of his plan divulged in Chicago the previous December, were made the following:
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, WASHINGTON, March 8, 1869.
General Orders No. 11:
The following orders of the President of the United States are published for the information and government of all concerned:
WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON CITY, March 5, 1869.
By direction of the President, General William T. Sherman will assume command of the Army of the United States.
The chiefs of staff corps, departments, and bureaus will report to and act under the immediate orders of the general commanding the army.
Any official business which by law or regulation requires the action of the President or Secretary of War will be submitted by the General of the Army to the Secretary of War, and in general all orders from the President or Secretary of War to any portion of the army, line or staff, will be transmitted through the General of the Army.
J. M. SCHOFIELD, Secretary of War.
By command of the General of the Army.
E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant-General.
On the same day I issued my General Orders No. 12, assuming command and naming all the heads of staff departments and bureaus as members of my staff, adding to my then three aides, Colonels McCoy, Dayton, and Audenried, the names of Colonels Comstock, Horace Porter, and Dent, agreeing with President Grant that the two latter could remain with him till I should need their personal services or ask their resignations.
I was soon made aware that the heads of several of the staff corps were restive under this new order of things, for by long usage they had grown to believe themselves not officers of the army in a technical sense, but a part of the War Department, the civil branch of the Government which connects the army with the President and Congress.
In a short time General John A. Rawlins, General Grant's former chief of staff, was nominated and confirmed as Secretary of War; and soon appeared this order:
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S OFFICE, WASHINGTON, March 27, 1869.
General Orders No. 28:
The following orders received for the War Department are published for the government of all concerned:
WASHINGTON CITY, March 26, 1869.
By direction of the President, the order of the Secretary of War, dated War Department, March 5, 1869, and published in General Orders No. 11, headquarters of the army, Adjutant-General's Office, dated March 8, 1869, except so much as directs General W. T. Sherman to assume command of the Army of the United States, is hereby rescinded.
All official business which by law or regulations requires the action of the President or Secretary of War will be submitted by the chiefs of staff corps, departments, and bureaus to the Secretary of War.
All orders and instructions relating to military operations issued by the President or Secretary of War will be issued through the General of the Army.
JOHN A. RAWLINS, Secretary of War.
By command of General SHERMAN:
E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant-General.
Thus we were thrown back on the old method in having a double—if not a treble-headed machine. Each head of a bureau in daily consultation with the Secretary of War, and the general to command without an adjutant, quartermaster, commissary, or any staff except his own aides, often reading in the newspapers of military events and orders before he could be consulted or informed. This was the very reverse of what General Grant, after four years' experience in Washington as general-in-chief, seemed to want, different from what he had explained to me in Chicago, and totally different from the demand he had made on Secretary of War Stanton in his complete letter of January 29, 1866. I went to him to know the cause: He said he had been informed by members of Congress that his action, as defined by his order of March 5th, was regarded as a violation of laws making provision for the bureaus of the War Department; that he had repealed his own orders, but not mine, and that he had no doubt that General Rawlins and I could draw the line of separation satisfactorily to us both. General Rawlins was very conscientious, but a very sick man when appointed Secretary of War. Several times he made orders through the adjutant-general to individuals of the army without notifying me, but always when his attention was called to it he apologized, and repeatedly said to me that he understood from his experience on General Grant's staff how almost insulting it was for orders to go to individuals of a regiment, brigade, division, or an army of any kind without the commanding officer being consulted or even advised. This habit is more common at Washington than any place on earth, unless it be in London, where nearly the same condition of facts exists. Members of Congress daily appeal to the Secretary of War for the discharge of some soldier on the application of a mother, or some young officer has to be dry-nursed, withdrawn from his company on the plains to be stationed near home. The Secretary of War, sometimes moved by private reasons, or more likely to oblige the member of Congress, grants the order, of which the commanding general knows nothing till he reads it in the newspapers. Also, an Indian tribe, goaded by the pressure of white neighbors, breaks out in revolt. The general-in-chief must reenforce the local garrisons not only with men, but horses, wagons, ammunition, and food. All the necessary information is in the staff bureaus in Washington, but the general has no right to call for it, and generally finds it more practicable to ask by telegraph of the distant division or department commanders for the information before making the formal orders. The general in actual command of the army should have a full staff, subject to his own command. If not, he cannot be held responsible for results.
General Rawlins sank away visibly, rapidly, and died in Washington, September 6,1869, and I was appointed to perform the duties of his office till a successor could be selected. I realized how much easier and better it was to have both offices conjoined.
The army then had one constitutional commander-in-chief of both army and navy, and one actual commanding general, bringing all parts into real harmony. An army to be useful must be a unit, and out of this has grown the saying, attributed to Napoleon, but doubtless spoken before the days of Alexander, that an army with an inefficient commander was better than one with two able heads. Our political system and methods, however, demanded a separate Secretary of War, and in October President Grant asked me to scan the list of the volunteer generals of good record who had served in the civil war, preferably from the "West." I did so, and submitted to him in writing the names of W. W. Belknap, of Iowa; G. M. Dodge, the Chief Engineer of the Union Pacific Railroad; and Lucius Fairchild, of Madison, Wisconsin. I also named General John W. Sprague, then employed by the Northern Pacific Railroad in Washington Territory. General Grant knew them all personally, and said if General Dodge were not connected with the Union Pacific Railroad, with which the Secretary of War must necessarily have large transactions, he would choose him, but as the case stood, and remembering the very excellent speech made by General Belknap at the Chicago reunion of December, 1868, he authorized me to communicate with him to ascertain if he were willing to come to Washington as Secretary of War. General Belknap was then the collector of internal revenue at Keokuk, Iowa. I telegraphed him and received a prompt and favorable answer. His name was sent to the Senate, promptly confirmed, and he entered on his duties October 25,1869. General Belknap surely had at that date as fair a fame as any officer of volunteers of my personal acquaintance. He took up the business where it was left off, and gradually fell into the current which led to the command of the army itself as of the legal and financial matters which properly pertain to the War Department. Orders granting leaves of absence to officers, transfers, discharges of soldiers for favor, and all the old abuses, which had embittered the life of General Scott in the days of Secretaries of War Marcy and Davis, were renewed. I called his attention to these facts, but without sensible effect. My office was under his in the old War Department, and one day I sent my aide-de-camp, Colonel Audenried, up to him with some message, and when he returned red as a beet, very much agitated, he asked me as a personal favor never again to send him to General Belknap. I inquired his reason, and he explained that he had been treated with a rudeness and discourtesy he had never seen displayed by any officer to a soldier. Colonel Audenried was one of the most polished gentlemen in the army, noted for his personal bearing and deportment, and I had some trouble to impress on him the patience necessary for the occasion, but I promised on future occasions to send some other or go myself. Things went on from bad to worse, till in 1870 I received from Mr. Hugh Campbell, of St. Louis, a personal friend and an honorable gentleman, a telegraphic message complaining that I had removed from his position Mr. Ward, post trader at Fort Laramie, with only a month in which to dispose of his large stock of goods, to make room for his successor.
It so happened that we of the Indian Peace Commission had been much indebted to this same trader, Ward, for advances of flour, sugar, and coffee, to provide for the Crow Indians, who had come down from their reservation on the Yellowstone to meet us in 1868, before our own supplies had been received. For a time I could not-comprehend the nature of Mr. Campbell's complaint, so I telegraphed to the department commander, General C. C. Augur, at Omaha, to know if any such occurrence had happened, and the reasons therefor. I received a prompt answer that it was substantially true, and had been ordered by The Secretary of War. It so happened that during General Grant's command of the army Congress had given to the general of the army the appointment of "post-traders." He had naturally devolved it on the subordinate division and department commanders, but the legal power remained with the general of the army. I went up to the Secretary of War, showed him the telegraphic correspondence, and pointed out the existing law in the Revised Statutes. General Belknap was visibly taken aback, and explained that he had supposed the right of appointment rested with him, that Ward was an old rebel Democrat, etc.; whereas Ward had been in fact the sutler of Fort Laramie, a United States military post, throughout the civil war. I told him that I should revoke his orders, and leave the matter where it belonged, to the local council of administration and commanding officers. Ward was unanimously reelected and reinstated. He remained the trader of the post until Congress repealed the law, and gave back the power of appointment to the Secretary of War, when of course he had to go. But meantime he was able to make the necessary business arrangements which saved him and his partners the sacrifice which would have been necessary in the first instance. I never had any knowledge whatever of General Belknap's transactions with the traders at Fort Sill and Fort Lincoln which resulted in his downfall. I have never sought to ascertain his motives for breaking with me, because he knew I had always befriended him while under my military command, and in securing him his office of Secretary of War. I spoke frequently to President Grant of the growing tendency of his Secretary of War to usurp all the powers of the commanding general, which would surely result in driving me away. He as frequently promised to bring us together to agree upon a just line of separation of our respective offices, but never did.
Determined to bring the matter to an issue, I wrote the following letter:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON, D. C., August 17, 1870.
General W. W. BELKNAP, Secretary of War.
GENERAL: I must urgently and respectfully invite your attention when at leisure to a matter of deep interest to future commanding generals of the army more than to myself, of the imperative necessity of fixing and clearly defining the limits of the powers and duties of the general of the army or of whomsoever may succeed to the place of commander-in-chief.
The case is well stated by General Grant in his letter of January 29, 1866, to the Secretary of War, Mr. Stanton, hereto appended, and though I find no official answer recorded, I remember that General Grant told me that the Secretary of War had promptly assured him in conversation that he fully approved of his views as expressed in this letter.
At that time the subject was much discussed, and soon after Congress enacted the bill reviving the grade of general, which bill was approved July 25, 1866, and provided that the general, when commissioned, may be authorized under the direction and during the pleasure of the President to command the armies of the United States; and a few days after, viz., July 28, 1866, was enacted the law which defined the military peace establishment. The enacting clause reads: "That the military peace establishment of the United States shall hereafter consist of five regiments of artillery, ten regiments of cavalry, forty-five regiments of infantry, the professors and Corps of Cadets of the United States Military Academy, and such other forces as shall be provided for by this act, to be known as the army of the United States."
The act then recites in great detail all the parts of the army, making no distinction between the line and staff, but clearly makes each and every part an element of the whole.
Section 37 provides for a board to revise the army regulations and report; and declares that the regulations then in force, viz., those of 1863, should remain until Congress "shall act on said report;" and section 38 and last enacts that all laws and parts of laws inconsistent with the provisions of this act be and the same are hereby repealed.
Under the provisions of this law my predecessor, General Grant, did not hesitate to command and make orders to all parts of the army, the Military Academy, and staff, and it was under his advice that the new regulations were compiled in 1868 that drew the line more clearly between the high and responsible duties of the Secretary of War and the general of the army. He assured me many a time before I was called here to succeed him that he wanted me to perfect the distinction, and it was by his express orders that on assuming the command of the army I specifically placed the heads of the staff corps here in Washington in the exact relation to the army which they would bear to an army in the field.
I am aware that subsequently, in his orders of March 26th, he modified his former orders of March 5th, but only as to the heads of bureaus in Washington, who have, he told me, certain functions of office imposed on them by special laws of Congress, which laws, of course, override all orders and regulations, but I did not either understand from him in person, or from General Rawlins, at whose instance this order was made, that it was designed in any way to modify, alter, or change his purposes that division and department commanders, as well as the general of the army, should exercise the same command of the staff as they did of the line of the army.
I need not remind the Secretary that orders and reports are made to and from the Military Academy which the general does not even see, though the Military Academy is specifically named as a part of that army which he is required to command. Leaves of absence are granted, the stations of officers are changed, and other orders are now made directly to the army, not through the general, but direct through other officials and the adjutant-general.
So long as this is the case I surely do not command the army of the United States, and am not responsible for it.
I am aware that the confusion results from the fact that the thirty-seventh section of the act of July 28, 1866, clothes the army regulations of 1863 with the sanction of law, but the next section repeals all laws and parts of laws inconsistent with the provisions of this act. The regulations of 1863 are but a compilation of orders made prior to the war, when such men as Davis and Floyd took pleasure in stripping General Scott of even the semblance of power, and purposely reduced him to a cipher in the command of the army.
Not one word can be found in those regulations speaking of the duties of the lieutenant-general commanding the army, or defining a single act of authority rightfully devolving on him. Not a single mention is made of the rights and duties of a commander-in-chief of the army. He is ignored, and purposely, too, as a part of the programme resulting in the rebellion, that the army without a legitimate head should pass into the anarchy which these men were shaping for the whole country.
I invite your attention to the army regulations of 1847, when our best soldiers lived, among whom was your own father, and see paragraphs 48 and 49, page 8, and they are so important that I quote them entire:
"48. The military establishment is placed under the orders of the major-general commanding in chief in all that regards its discipline and military control. Its fiscal arrangements properly belong to the administrative departments of the staff and to the Treasury Department under the direction of the Secretary of War.
"49. The general of the army will watch over the economy of the service in all that relates to the expenditure of money, supply of arms, ordnance and ordnance stores, clothing, equipments, camp-equipage, medical and hospital stores, barracks, quarters, transportation, Military Academy, pay, and subsistence: in short, everything which enters into the expenses of the military establishment, whether personal or material. He will also see that the estimates for the military service are based on proper data, and made for the objects contemplated by law, and necessary to the due support and useful employment of the army. In carrying into effect these important duties, he will call to his counsel and assistance the staff, and those officers proper, in his opinion, to be employed in verifying and inspecting all the objects which may require attention. The rules and regulations established for the government of the army, and the laws relating to the military establishment, are the guides to the commanding general in the performance of his duties."
Why was this, or why was all mention of any field of duty for the head of the army left out of the army regulations? Simply because Jefferson Davis had a purpose, and absorbed to himself, as Secretary of War, as General Grant well says, all the powers of commander-in-chief. Floyd succeeded him, and the last regulations of 1863 were but a new compilation of their orders, hastily collected and published to supply a vast army with a new edition.
I contend that all parts of these regulations inconsistent with the law of July 28, 1866, are repealed.
I surely do not ask for any power myself, but I hope and trust, now when we have a military President and a military Secretary of War, that in the new regulations to be laid before Congress next session the functions and duties of the commander-in-chief will be so clearly marked out and defined that they may be understood by himself and the army at large.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, General.
WASHINGTON, January 29, 1866.
Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
From the period of the difficulties between Major-General (now Lieutenant-General) Scott with Secretary Marcy, during the administration of President Polk, the command of the army virtually passed into the hands of the Secretary of War.
From that day to the breaking out of the rebellion the general- in-chief never kept his headquarters in Washington, and could not, consequently, with propriety resume his proper functions. To administer the affairs of the army properly, headquarters and the adjutant-general's office must be in the same place.
During the war, while in the field, my functions as commander of all the armies was never impaired, but were facilitated in all essential matters by the Administration and by the War Department. Now, however, that the war is over, and I have brought my head- quarters to the city, I find my present position embarrassing and, I think, out of place. I have been intending, or did intend, to make the beginning of the New Year the time to bring this matter before you, with the view of asking to have the old condition of affairs restored, but from diffidence about mentioning the matter have delayed. In a few words I will state what I conceive to be my duties and my place, and ask respectfully to be restored to them and it.
The entire adjutant-general's office should be under the entire control of the general-in-chief of the army. No orders should go to the army, or the adjutant-general, except through the general- in-chief. Such as require the action of the President would be laid before the Secretary of War, whose actions would be regarded as those of the President. In short, in my opinion, the general- in-chief stands between the President and the army in all official matters, and the Secretary of War is between the army (through the general-in-chief) and the President.
I can very well conceive that a rule so long disregarded could not, or would not, be restored without the subject being presented, and I now do so respectfully for your consideration.
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
General Belknap never answered that letter.
In August, 1870, was held at Des Moines, Iowa, an encampment of old soldiers which I attended, en route to the Pacific, and at Omaha received this letter:
LONG BRANCH, New Jersey, August 18,1870.
General W. T. SHERMAN.
DEAR GENERAL: Your letter of the 7th inst. did not reach Long Branch until after I had left for St. Louis, and consequently is just before me for the first time. I do not know what changes recent laws, particularly the last army bill passed, make in the relations between the general of the army and the Secretary of War.
Not having this law or other statutes here, I cannot examine the subject now, nor would I want to without consultation with the Secretary of War. On our return to Washington I have no doubt but that the relations between the Secretary and yourself can be made pleasant, and the duties of each be so clearly defined as to leave no doubt where the authority of one leaves off and the other commences.
My own views, when commanding the army, were that orders to the army should go through the general. No changes should be made, however, either of the location of troops or officers, without the knowledge of the Secretary of War.
In peace, the general commanded them without reporting to the Secretary farther than he chose the specific orders he gave from time to time, but subjected himself to orders from the Secretary, the latter deriving his authority to give orders from the President. As Congress has the right, however, to make rules and regulations for the government of the army, rules made by them whether they are as they should be or not, will have to govern. As before stated, I have not examined the recent law.
U. S. GRANT.
To which I replied:
OMAHA, NEBRASKA, September 2,1870.
General U. S. GRANT, Washington, D. C.
DEAR GENERAL: I have received your most acceptable letter of August 18th, and assure you that I am perfectly willing to abide by any decision you may make. We had a most enthusiastic meeting at Des Moines, and General Bellknap gave us a fine, finished address. I have concluded to go over to San Francisco to attend the annual celebration of the Pioneers, to be held on the 9th instant; from there I will make a short tour, aiming to get back to St. Louis by the 1st of October, and so on to Washington without unnecessary delay.
Conscious of the heavy burdens already on you, I should refrain from adding one ounce to your load of care, but it seems to me now is the time to fix clearly and plainly the field of duty for the Secretary of War and the commanding general of the army, so that we may escape the unpleasant controversy that gave so much scandal in General Scott's time, and leave to our successors a clear field.
No matter what the result, I promise to submit to whatever decision you may make. I also feel certain that General Belknap thinks he is simply executing the law as it now stands, but I am equally certain that he does not interpret the law reviving the grade of general, and that fixing the "peace establishment" of 1868, as I construe them.
For instance, I am supposed to control the discipline of the Military Academy as a part of the army, whereas General Belknap ordered a court of inquiry in the case of the colored cadet, made the detail, reviewed the proceedings, and made his order, without my knowing a word of it, except through the newspapers; and more recently, when I went to Chicago to attend to some division business, I found the inspector-general (Hardie) under orders from the Secretary of War to go to Montana on some claim business.
All I ask is that such orders should go through me. If all the staff-officers are subject to receive orders direct from the Secretary of War it will surely clash with the orders they may be in the act of executing from me, or from their immediate commanders.
I ask that General Belknap draw up some clear, well-defined rules for my action, that he show them to me before publication, that I make on them my remarks, and then that you make a final decision. I promise faithfully to abide by it, or give up my commission.
Please show this to General Belknap, and I will be back early in October. With great respect, your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN
I did return about October 15th, saw President Grant, who said nothing had been done in the premises, but that he would bring General Belknap and me together and settle this matter. Matters went along pretty much as usual till the month of August, 1871, when I dined at the Arlington with Admiral Alder and General Belknap. The former said he had been promoted to rear-admiral and appointed to command the European squadron, then at Villa Franca, near Nice, and that he was going out in the frigate Wabash, inviting me to go along. I had never been to Europe, and the opportunity was too tempting to refuse. After some preliminaries I agreed to go along, taking with me as aides-de-camp Colonel Audenried and Lieutenant Fred Grant. The Wabash was being overhauled at the Navy-Yard at Boston, and was not ready to sail till November, when she came to New-York, where we all embarked Saturday, November 11th.
I have very full notes of the whole trip, and here need only state that we went out to the Island of Madeira, and thence to Cadiz and Gibraltar. Here my party landed, and the Wabash went on to Villa Franca. From Gibraltar we made the general tour of Spain to Bordeaux, through the south of France to Marseilles, Toulon, etc., to Nice, from which place we rejoined the Wabash and brought ashore our baggage.
From Nice we went to Genoa, Turin, the Mont Cenis Tunnel, Milan, Venice, etc., to Rome. Thence to Naples, Messina, and Syracuse, where we took a steamer to Malta. From Malta to Egypt and Constantinople, to Sebastopol, Poti, and Tiflis. At Constantinople and Sebastopol my party was increased by Governor Curtin, his son, and Mr. McGahan.
It was my purpose to have reached the Caspian, and taken boats to the Volga, and up that river as far as navigation would permit, but we were dissuaded by the Grand-Duke Michael, Governor-General of the Caucasas, and took carriages six hundred miles to Taganrog, on the Sea of Azof, to which point the railroad system of Russia was completed. From Taganrog we took cars to Moscow and St. Petersburg. Here Mr. Curtin and party remained, he being our Minister at that court; also Fred Grant left us to visit his aunt at Copenhagen. Colonel Audenried and I then completed the tour of interior Europe, taking in Warsaw, Berlin, Vienna, Switzerland, France, England, Scotland, and Ireland, embarking for home in the good steamer Baltic, Saturday, September 7, 1872, reaching Washington, D. C., September 22d. I refrain from dwelling on this trip, because it would swell this chapter beyond my purpose.
When I regained my office I found matters unchanged since my departure, the Secretary of War exercising all the functions of commander-in-chief, and I determined to allow things to run to their necessary conclusion. In 1873 my daughter Minnie also made a trip to Europe, and I resolved as soon as she returned that I would simply move back to St. Louis to execute my office there as best I could. But I was embarrassed by being the possessor of a large piece of property in Washington on I Street, near the corner of Third, which I could at the time neither sell nor give away. It came into my possession as a gift from friends in New York and Boston, who had purchased it of General Grant and transferred to me at the price of $65,000.
The house was very large, costly to light, heat, and maintain, and Congress had reduced my pay four or five thousand dollars a year, so that I was gradually being impoverished. Taxes, too, grew annually, from about four hundred dollars a year to fifteen hundred, besides all sorts of special taxes.
Finding myself caught in a dilemma, I added a new hall, and made out of it two houses, one of which I occupied, and the other I rented, and thus matters stood in 1873-'74. By the agency of Mr. Hall, a neighbor and broker, I effected a sale of the property to the present owner, Mr. Emory, at a fair price, accepting about half payment in notes, and the other half in a piece of property on E Street, which I afterward exchanged for a place in Cite Brilliante, a suburb of St. Louis, which I still own. Being thus foot-loose, and having repeatedly notified President Grant of my purpose, I wrote the Secretary of War on the 8th day of May, 1874, asking the authority of the President and the War Department to remove my headquarters to St. Louis.
On the 11th day of May General Belknap replied that I had the assent of the President and himself, inclosing the rough draft of an order to accomplish this result, which I answered on the 15th, expressing my entire satisfaction, only requesting delay in the publication of the orders till August or September, as I preferred to make the changes in the month of October.
On the 3d of September these orders were made:
WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S OFFICE, WASHINGTON, September 8, 1874.
General Orders No. 108.
With the assent of the President, and at the request of the General, the headquarters of the armies of the United States will be established at St. Louis, Missouri, in the month of October next.
The regulations and orders now governing the functions of the General of the Army, and those in relation to transactions of business with the War Department and its bureaus, will continue in force.
By order of the Secretary of War:
E. D. TOWNSEND, Adjutant-General.
Our daughter Minnie was married October 1, 1874, to Thomas W. Fitch, United States Navy, and we all forthwith packed up and regained our own house at St. Louis, taking an office on the corner of Tenth and Locust Streets. The only staff I brought with me were the aides allowed by law, and, though we went through the forms of "command," I realized that it was a farce, and it did not need a prophet to foretell it would end in a tragedy. We made ourselves very comfortable, made many pleasant excursions into the interior, had a large correspondence, and escaped the mortification of being slighted by men in Washington who were using their temporary power for selfish ends.
Early in March, 1676, appeared in all the newspapers of the day the sensational report from Washington that Secretary of War Belknap had been detected in selling sutlerships in the army; that he had confessed it to Representative Blackburn, of Kentucky; that he had tendered his resignation, which had been accepted by the President; and that he was still subject to impeachment,—would be impeached and tried by the Senate. I was surprised to learn that General Belknap was dishonest in money matters, for I believed him a brave soldier, and I sorely thought him honest; but the truth was soon revealed from Washington, and very soon after I received from Judge Alphonso Taft, of Cincinnati, a letter informing me that he had been appointed Secretary of War, and should insist on my immediate return to Washington. I answered that I was ready to go to Washington, or anywhere, if assured of decent treatment.
I proceeded to Washington, when, on the 6th of April, were published these orders:
General Orders No. 28.
The following orders of the President of the United States are hereby promulgated for the information and guidance of all concerned:
The headquarters of the army are hereby reestablished at Washington City, and all orders and instructions relative to military operations or affecting the military control and discipline of the army issued by the President through the Secretary of War, shall be promulgated through the General of the Army, and the departments of the Adjutant-General and the Inspector-General shall report to him, and be under his control in all matters relating thereto.
By order of the Secretary of War:
E. D. TOWNSEND, Adjutant-General.
This was all I had ever asked; accordingly my personal staff were brought back to Washington, where we resumed our old places; only I did not, for some time, bring back the family, and then only to a rented house on Fifteenth Street, which we occupied till we left Washington for good. During the period from 1876 to 1884 we had as Secretaries of War in succession, the Hon's. Alphonso Taft, J. D. Cameron, George W. McCrary, Alexander Ramsey, and R. T. Lincoln, with each and all of whom I was on terms of the most intimate and friendly relations.
And here I will record of Washington that I saw it, under the magic hand of Alexander R. Shepherd, grow from a straggling, ill-paved city, to one of the cleanest, most beautiful, and attractive cities of the whole world. Its climate is salubrious, with as much sunshine as any city of America. The country immediately about it is naturally beautiful and romantic, especially up the Potomac, in the region of the Great Falls; and, though the soil be poor as compared with that of my present home, it is susceptible of easy improvement and embellishment. The social advantages cannot be surpassed even in London, Paris, or Vienna; and among the resident population, the members of the Supreme Court, Senate, House of Representatives, army, navy, and the several executive departments, may be found an intellectual class one cannot encounter in our commercial and manufacturing cities. The student may, without tax and without price, have access, in the libraries of Congress and of the several departments, to books of every nature and kind; and the museums of natural history are rapidly approaching a standard of comparison with the best of the world. Yet it is the usual and proper center of political intrigue, from which the army especially should keep aloof, because the army must be true and faithful to the powers that be, and not be subjected to a temptation to favor one or other of the great parties into which our people have divided, and will continue to divide, it may be, with advantage to the whole.
It would be a labor of love for me, in this connection, to pay a tribute of respect, by name, to the many able and most patriotic officers with whom I was so long associated as the commanding generals of military divisions and departments, as well as staff-officers; but I must forego the temptation, because of the magnitude of the subject, certain that each and all of them will find biographers better posted and more capable than myself; and I would also like to make recognition of the hundreds of acts of most graceful hospitality on the part of the officers and families at our remote military posts in the days, of the "adobe," the "jacal," and "dug-out," when a board floor and a shingle roof were luxuries expected by none except the commanding officer. I can see, in memory, a beautiful young city-bred lady, who had married a poor second-lieutenant, and followed him to his post on the plains, whose quarters were in a "dug-out" ten feet by about fifteen, seven feet high, with a dirt roof; four feet of the walls were the natural earth, the other three of sod, with holes for windows and corn-sacks for curtains. This little lady had her Saratoga trunk, which was the chief article of furniture; yet, by means of a rug on the ground-floor, a few candle-boxes covered with red cotton calico for seats, a table improvised out of a barrel-head, and a fireplace and chimney excavated in the back wall or bank, she had transformed her "hole in the ground" into a most attractive home for her young warrior husband; and she entertained me with a supper consisting of the best of coffee, fried ham, cakes, and jellies from the commissary, which made on my mind an impression more lasting than have any one of the hundreds of magnificent banquets I have since attended in the palaces and mansions of our own and foreign lands.
Still more would I like to go over again the many magnificent trips made across the interior plains, mountains, and deserts before the days of the completed Pacific Railroad, with regular "Doughertys" drawn by four smart mules, one soldier with carbine or loaded musket in hand seated alongside the driver; two in the back seat with loaded rifles swung in the loops made for them; the lightest kind of baggage, and generally a bag of oats to supplement the grass, and to attach the mules to their camp. With an outfit of two, three, or four of such, I have made journeys of as much as eighteen hundred miles in a single season, usually from post to post, averaging in distance about two hundred miles a week, with as much regularity as is done today by the steam-car its five hundred miles a day; but those days are gone, and, though I recognize the great national advantages of the more rapid locomotion, I cannot help occasionally regretting the change. One instance in 1866 rises in my memory, which I must record: Returning eastward from Fort Garland, we ascended the Rocky Mountains to the Sangre-de- Cristo Pass. The road descending the mountain was very rough and sidling. I got out with my rifle, and walked ahead about four miles, where I awaited my "Dougherty." After an hour or so I saw, coming down the road, a wagon; and did not recognize it as my own till quite near. It had been upset, the top all mashed in, and no means at hand for repairs. I consequently turned aside from the main road to a camp of cavalry near the Spanish Peaks, where we were most hospitably received by Major A—— and his accomplished wife. They occupied a large hospital-tent, which about a dozen beautiful greyhounds were free to enter at will. The ambulance was repaired, and the next morning we renewed our journey, escorted by the major and his wife on their fine saddle-horses.
They accompanied us about ten miles of the way; and, though age has since begun to tell on them, I shall ever remember them in their pride and strength as they galloped alongside our wagons down the long slopes of the Spanish Peaks in a driving snow-storm.
And yet again would it be a pleasant task to recall the many banquets and feasts of the various associations of officers and soldiers, who had fought the good battles of the civil war, in which I shared as a guest or host, when we could indulge in a reasonable amount of glorification at deeds done and recorded, with wit, humor, and song; these when memory was fresh, and when the old soldiers were made welcome to the best of cheer and applause in every city and town of the land. But no! I must hurry to my conclusion, for this journey has already been sufficiently prolonged.
I had always intended to divide time with my natural successor, General P. H. Sheridan, and early, notified him that I should about the year 1884 retire from the command of the army, leaving him about an equal period of time for the highest office in the army. It so happened that Congress had meantime by successive "enactments" cut down the army to twenty-five thousand men, the usual strength of a corps d'armee, the legitimate command of a lieutenant-general. Up to 1882 officers not disabled by wounds or sickness could only avail themselves of the privileges of retirement on application, after thirty years of service, at sixty-two years of age; but on the 30th of June, 1882, a bill was passed which, by operation of the law itself, compulsorily retired all army officers, regardless of rank, at the age of sixty-four years. At the time this law was debated in Congress, I was consulted by Senators and others in the most friendly manner, representing that, if I wanted it, an exception could justly and easily be made in favor of the general and lieutenant-general, whose commissions expired with their lives; but I invariably replied that I did not ask or expect an exception in my case, because no one could know or realize when his own mental and physical powers began to decline. I remembered well the experience of Gil Blas with the Bishop of Granada, and favored the passage of the law fixing a positive period for retirement, to obviate in the future special cases of injustice such as I had seen in the recent past. The law was passed, and every officer then knew the very day on which he must retire, and could make his preparations accordingly. In my own case the law was liberal in the extreme, being "without reduction in his current pay and allowances."
I would be sixty-four years old on the 8th of February, 1884, a date inconvenient to move, and not suited to other incidents; so I resolved to retire on the 1st day of November, 1883, to resume my former home at St. Louis, and give my successor ample time to meet the incoming Congress, But, preliminary thereto, I concluded to make one more tour of the continent, going out to the Pacific by the Northern route, and returning by that of the thirty-fifth parallel. This we accomplished, beginning at Buffalo, June 21st, and ending at St. Louis, Missouri, September 30, 1883, a full and most excellent account of which can be found in Colonel Tidball's "Diary," which forms part of the report of the General of the Army for the year 1883.
Before retiring also, as was my duty, I desired that my aides- de-camp who had been so faithful and true to me should not suffer by my act. All were to retain the rank of colonels of cavalry till the last day, February 8, 1884; but meantime each secured places, as follows:
Colonel O. M. Poe was lieutenant-colonel of the Engineer Corps United States Army, and was by his own choice assigned to Detroit in charge of the engineering works on the Upper Lakes, which duty was most congenial to him.
Colonel J. C. Tidball was assigned to command the Artillery School at Fort Monroe, by virtue of his commission as lieutenant-colonel, Third Artillery, a station for which he was specially qualified.
Colonel John E. Tourtelotte was then entitled to promotion to major of the Seventh Cavalry, a rank in which he could be certain of an honorable command.
The only remaining aide-de-camp was Colonel John M. Bacon, who utterly ignored self in his personal attachment to me. He was then a captain of the Ninth Cavalry, but with almost a certainty of promotion to be major of the Seventh before the date of my official retirement, which actually resulted. The last two accompanied me to St. Louis, and remained with me to the end. Having previously accomplished the removal of my family to St. Louis, and having completed my last journey to the Pacific, I wrote the following letter:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON, D. C., October 8, 1883.
Hon. R. T. LINCOLN, Secretary of War.
SIR: By the act of Congress, approved June 30, 1882, all army-officers are retired on reaching the age of sixty-four years. If living, I will attain that age on the 8th day of February, 1884; but as that period of the year is not suited for the changes necessary on my retirement, I have contemplated anticipating the event by several months, to enable the President to meet these changes at a more convenient season of the year, and also to enable my successor to be in office before the assembling of the next Congress.
I therefore request authority to turn over the command of the army to Lieutenant-General Sheridan on the 1st day of November, 1883, and that I be ordered to my home at St. Louis, Missouri, there to await the date of my legal retirement; and inasmuch as for a long time I must have much correspondence about war and official matters, I also ask the favor to have with me for a time my two present aides-de-camp, Colonels J. E. Tourtelotte and J. M. Bacon.
The others of my personal staff, viz., Colonels O. M. Poe and J. C. Tidball, have already been assigned to appropriate duties in their own branches of the military service, the engineers and artillery. All should retain the rank and pay as aides-de-camp until February 8,1884. By or before the 1st day of November I can complete all official reports, and believe I can surrender the army to my successor in good shape and condition, well provided in all respects, and distributed for the best interests of the country.
I am grateful that my physical and mental-strength remain unimpaired by years, and am thankful for the liberal provision made by Congress for my remaining years, which will enable me to respond promptly to any call the President may make for my military service or judgment as long as I live. I have the honor to be your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, General.
The answer was:
WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON CITY, October 10, 1888.
General W. T. SHERMAN, Washington, D. C.
GENERAL: I have submitted to the President your letter of the 8th instant, requesting that you be relieved of the command of the army on the 1st of November next, as a more convenient time for making the changes in military commands which must follow your retirement from active service, than would be the date of your retirement under the law.
In signifying his approval of your request, the President directs me to express to you his earnest hope that there may be given you many years of health and happiness in which to enjoy the gratitude of your fellow-citizens, well earned by your most distinguished public services.
It will give me pleasure to comply with your wishes respecting your aides-de-camp, and the necessary orders will be duly issued.
I have the honor to be, General, your obedient servant,
ROBERT T. LINCOLN, Secretary of War.
On the 27th day of October I submitted to the Secretary of War, the Hon. R. T. Lincoln, my last annual report, embracing among other valuable matters the most interesting and condensed report of Colonel O. M. Poe, A. D. C., of the "original conception, progress, and completion" of the four great transcontinental railways, which have in my judgment done more for the subjugation and civilization of the Indians than all other causes combined, and have made possible the utilization of the vast area of pasture lands and mineral regions which before were almost inaccessible, for my agency in which I feel as much pride as for my share in any of the battles in which I took part.
Promptly on the 1st of November were made the following general orders, and the command of the Army of the United States passed from me to Lieutenant-General P. H. Sheridan, with as little ceremony as would attend the succession of the lieutenant-colonel of a regiment to his colonel about to take a leave of absence:
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY WASHINGTON, November 1, 1885.
General Orders No. 77:
By and with the consent of the President, as contained in General Orders No. 71, of October 13, 1883, the undersigned relinquishes command of the Army of the United States.
In thus severing relations which have hitherto existed between us, he thanks all officers and men for their fidelity to the high trust imposed on them during his official life, and will, in his retirement, watch with parental solicitude their progress upward in the noble profession to which they have devoted their lives.
W. T. SHERMAN, General.
Official: R. C. DRUM, Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY WASHINGTON, November 1, 1885.
General Orders No. 78:
In obedience to orders of the President, promulgated in General Orders No. 71, October 13, 1883, from these headquarters, the undersigned hereby assumes command of the Army of the United States....
P. H. SHERIDAN, Lieutenant-General.
Official: R. C. DRUM, adjutant-General.
After a few days in which to complete my social visits, and after a short visit to my daughter, Mrs. A. M. Thackara, at Philadelphia, I quietly departed for St. Louis; and, as I hope, for "good and all," the family was again reunited in the same place from which we were driven by a cruel, unnecessary civil war initiated in Charleston Harbor in April, 1861.
On the 8th day of February, 1884; I was sixty-four years of age, and therefore retired by the operation of the act of Congress, approved June 30, 1882; but the fact was gracefully noticed by President Arthur in the following general orders:
WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJUTANT GENERAL'S OFFICE, WASHINGTON, February 8, 1984.
The following order of the President is published to the army:
EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 8, 1884.
General William T. Sherman, General of the Army, having this day reached the age of sixty-four years, is, in accordance with the law, placed upon the retired list of the army, without reduction in his current pay and allowances.
The announcement of the severance from the command of the army of one who has been for so many years its distinguished chief, can but awaken in the minds, not only of the army, but of the people of the United States, mingled emotions of regret and gratitude—regret at the withdrawal from active military service of an officer whose lofty sense of duty has been a model for all soldiers since he first entered the army in July, 1840; and gratitude, freshly awakened, for the services of incalculable value rendered by him in the war for the Union, which his great military genius and daring did so much to end.
The President deems this a fitting occasion to give expression, in this manner, to the gratitude felt toward General Sherman by his fellow-citizens, and to the hope that Providence may grant him many years of health and happiness in the relief from the active duties of his profession.
By order of the Secretary of War:
CHESTER A. ARTHUR.
R. C. DRUM, Adjutant-General.
To which I replied:
St. Louis, February 9, 1884.
His Excellency CHESTER A. ARTHUR, President of the United States.
DEAR SIR: Permit me with a soldier's frankness to thank you personally for the handsome compliment bestowed in general orders of yesterday, which are reported in the journals of the day. To me it was a surprise and a most agreeable one. I had supposed the actual date of my retirement would form a short paragraph in the common series of special orders of the War Department; but as the honored Executive of our country has made it the occasion for his own hand to pen a tribute of respect and affection to an officer passing from the active stage of life to one of ease and rest, I can only say I feel highly honored, and congratulate myself in thus rounding out my record of service in a manner most gratifying to my family and friends. Not only this, but I feel sure, when the orders of yesterday are read on parade to the regiments and garrisons of the United States, many a young hero will tighten his belt, and resolve anew to be brave and true to the starry flag, which we of our day have carried safely through one epoch of danger, but which may yet be subjected to other trials, which may demand similar sacrifices, equal fidelity and courage, and a larger measure of intelligence. Again thanking you for so marked a compliment, and reciprocating the kind wishes for the future,
I am, with profound respect, your friend and servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, General.
This I construe as the end of my military career. In looking back upon the past I can only say, with millions of others, that I have done many things I should not have done, and have left undone still more which ought to have been done; that I can see where hundreds of opportunities have been neglected, but on the whole am content; and feel sure that I can travel this broad country of ours, and be each night the welcome guest in palace or cabin; and, as
"all the world's stage, And all the men and women merely players,"
I claim the privilege to ring down the curtain.
W. T. SHERMAN, General.