I received the following reply to my letter of thanks to Gen. Sherman.
March 10, 1864.
DEAR GENERAL: I have your more than king and characteristic letter of the 4th. I will send a copy to General McPherson at once.
You do yourself injustice and us too much honor in assigning to us too large a share of the merits which have led to your high advancements. I know you approve the friendship I have ever professed to you, and will permit me to continue, as heretofore, to manifest it on all proper occasions.
You are now Washington’s legitimate successor, and occupy a position of almost dangerous elevation; but if you can continue as heretofore, to be yourself – simple, honest, and unpretending – you will enjoy through life the respect and love of friends, and the homage of millions of human beings that will award you a large share in securing to them and their descendants a government of law and stability.
I repeat, you do General McPherson and myself too much honor. At Belmont you manifested your trains, neither of us being near; at Donelson also you illustrated your whole character; I was not near, and General McPherson in too subordinate a capacity to influence you.
Until you had won Donelson I confess I was almost cowed by the terrible array of anarchical elements that presented themselves at every point; but that admitted the ray of light which I have followed since.
I believe you are as brave, patriotic, and just as the great prototype, Washington; as unselfish, kind-hearted, and honest as a man should be, but the chief characteristic is the simple faith in success you have always manifested, which I can liken to nothing else than the faith a Christian has in a Savior. This faith gave you victory at Shiloh and Vicksburg. Also, when you have completed your last preparations you go into battle without hesitation, as that Chattanooga, no doubts, no reserves; and I tell that you thought of me, and if I got in a tight place you would come if alive.
My only points of doubt were in your knowledge of grand strategy, and of books of science and history, but I confess your common sense seems to have supplied all these.
Now as to future. Don’t stay in Washington. Halleck is better qualified than you to stand the buffets of intrigue and policy. Come West; take to yourself the whole Mississippi Valley. Let us make it dead sure, and I tell you the Atlantic sloped and Pacific shores will follow its destiny as sure as the limbs of a tree live or die with the main trunk. We have done much, but still much remains. Time and time’s influences are with us; we could almost afford to sit still and let these influences work. Even in the seceded States your word now would go further than a President’s proclamation of out of Washington. I foretold to General Halleck before he left Corinth the inevitable result, and I now exhort you to come out when our task is done, we will make short work of Charleston and Richmond and the impoverished coast of the Atlantic.
Your sincere friend,
W. T. SHERMAN,
The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 10, p 187-8
O.R., I, xxxii, part 3, p 49