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In due time I closed up my business at Leavenworth, and went to Lancaster, Ohio, where, in July, 1859, I received notice from Governor Wickliffe that I had been elected superintendent of the proposed college, and inviting me to come down to Louisiana as early as possible, because they were anxious to put the college into operation by the 1st of January following. For this honorable position I was indebted to Major D. C. Buell and General G. Mason Graham, to whom I have made full and due acknowledgment. During the civil war, it was reported and charged that I owed my position to the personal friendship of Generals Bragg and Beauregard, and that, in taking up arms against the South, I had been guilty of a breach of hospitality and friendship. I was not indebted to General Bragg, because he himself told me that he was not even aware that I was an applicant, and had favored the selection of Major Jenkins, another West Point graduate. General Beauregard had nothing whatever to do with the matter.
In the autumn of 1859, having made arrangements for my family to remain in Lancaster, I proceeded, via Columbus, Cincinnati, and Louisville, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where I reported for duty to Governor Wickliffe, who, by virtue of his office, was the president of the Board of Supervisors of the new institution over which I was called to preside. He explained to me the act of the Legislature under which the institution was founded; told me that the building was situated near Alexandria, in the parish of Rapides, and was substantially finished; that the future management would rest with a Board of Supervisors, mostly citizens of Rapides Parish, where also resided the Governor-elect, T. O. Moore, who would soon succeed him in his office as Governor and president ex officio; and advised me to go at once to Alexandria, and put myself in communication with Moore and the supervisors. Accordingly I took a boat at Baton Rouge, for the mouth of Red River. The river being low, and its navigation precarious, I there took the regular mail-coach, as the more certain conveyance, and continued on toward Alexandria. I found, as a fellow-passenger in the coach, Judge Henry Boyce, of the United States District Court, with whom I had made acquaintance years before, at St. Louis, and, as we neared Alexandria, he proposed that we should stop at Governor Moore's and spend the night. Moore's house and plantation were on Bayou Robert, about eight miles from Alexandria. We found him at home, with his wife and a married daughter, and spent the night there. He sent us forward to Alexandria the next morning, in his own carriage. On arriving at Alexandria, I put up at an inn, or boarding-house, and almost immediately thereafter went about ten miles farther up Bayou Rapides, to the plantation and house of General G. Mason Graham, to whom I looked as the principal man with whom I had to deal. He was a high-toned gentleman, and his whole heart was in the enterprise. He at once put me at ease. We acted together most cordially from that time forth, and it was at his house that all the details of the seminary were arranged. We first visited the college-building together. It was located on an old country place of four hundred acres of pine-land, with numerous springs, and the building was very large and handsome. A carpenter, named James, resided there, and had the general charge of the property ; but, as there was not a table, chair, black-board, or any thing on hand, necessary for a beginning, I concluded to quarter myself in one of the rooms of the seminary, and board with an old black woman who cooked for James, so that I might personally push forward the necessary preparations. There was an old rail-fence about the place, and a large pile of boards in front. I immediately engaged four carpenters, and set them at work to make out of these boards mess-tables, benches, black-boards, etc. I also opened a correspondence with the professors-elect, and with all parties of influence in the State, who were interested in our work. At the meeting of the Board of Supervisors, held at Alexandria, August 2, 1859, five professors had been elected: 1. W. T. Sherman, Superintendent, and Professor of Engineering, etc.; 2. Anthony Yallas, Professor of Mathematics, Philosophy, etc.; 3. Francis W. Smith, Professor of Chemistry, etc.; 4. David F. Boyd, Professor of Languages, English and Ancient ; 5. E. Berti St. Ange, Professor of French and Modern Languages.
These constituted the Academic Board, while the general supervision remained in the Board of Supervisors, composed ol the Governor of the State, the Superintendent of Public Education, and twelve members, nominated by the Governor, and confirmed by the Senate. The institution was bound to educate sixteen beneficiary students, free of any charge for tuition. These had only to pay for their clothing and books, while all others had to pay their entire expenses, including tuition.
Early in November, Profs. Smith, Yallas, St. Ange, and I, met a committee of the Board of Supervisors, composed of T. C. Manning, G. Mason Graham, and W. W. Whittington, at General Graham's house, and resolved to open the institution to pupils on the 1st day of January, 1860. We adopted a series of bylaws for the government of the institution, which was styled the “Louisiana Seminary of Learning and Military Academy.” This title grew out of the original grant, by the Congress of the United States, of a certain township of public land, to be sold by the State, and dedicated to the use of a “seminary of learning.” I do not suppose that Congress designed thereby to fix the name or title; but the subject had so long been debated in Louisiana that the name, though awkward, had become familiar. We appended to it “ Military Academy,” as explanatory of its general design.
On the 17th of November, 1859, the Governor of the State, Wickliffe, issued officially a general circular, prepared by us, giving public notice that the “Seminary of Learning” would open on the 1 st day of January, 1860; containing a description of the locality, and the general regulations for the proposed institution ; and authorizing parties to apply for further information to the “Superintendent,” at Alexandria, Louisiana.
The Legislature had appropriated for the sixteen beneficiaries at the rate of two hundred and eighty-three dollars per annum, to which we added sixty dollars as tuition for pay cadets; and, though the price was low, we undertook to manage for the first year on that basis.
Promptly to the day, we opened, with about sixty cadets present. Major Smith was the commandant of cadets, and I the superintendent. 1 had been to New Orleans, where I had bought a supply of mattresses, books, and every thing requisite, and we started very much on the basis of West Point and of the Virginia Military Institute, but without uniforms or muskets; yet with roll-calls, sections, and recitations, we kept as near the standard of West Point as possible. I kept all the money accounts, and gave general directions to the steward, professors, and cadets. The other professors had their regular classes and recitations. We all lived in rooms in the college-building, except Vallas, who had a family, and rented a house near by. A Creole gentleman, B. Jarreau, Esq., had been elected steward, and he also had his family in a house not far off. The other professors had a mess in a room adjoining the mess-hall. A few more cadets joined in the course of the winter, so that we had in all, during the first term, seventy-three cadets, of whom fifty-nine passed the examination on the 30th of July, 1860. During our first term many defects in the original act of the Legislature were demonstrated, and, by the advice of the Board of Supervisors, I went down to Baton Rouge during the session of the Legislature, to advocate and urge the passage of a new bill, putting the institution on a better footing. Thomas O. Moore was then Governor, Bragg was a member of the Board of Public Works, and Richard Taylor was a Senator. I got well acquainted with all of these, and with some of the leading men of the State, and was always treated with the greatest courtesy and kindness. In conjunction with the proper committee of the Legislature, we prepared a new bill, which was passed and approved on the 7th of March, 1860, by which we were to have a beneficiary cadet for each parish, in all fifty-six, and fifteen thousand dollars annually for their maintenance; also twenty thousand dollars for the general use of the college. During that session we got an appropriation of fifteen thousand dollars for building two professors’ houses, for the purchase of philosophical and chemical apparatus, and for the beginning of a college library. The seminary was made a State Arsenal, under the title of State Central Arsenal, and I was allowed five hundred dollars a year as its superintendent. These matters took me several times to Baton Rouge that winter, and I recall an event of some interest, which must have happened in February. At that time my brother, John Sherman, was a candidate, in the national House of Representatives, for Speaker, against Bocock, of Virginia. In the South he was regarded as an “abolitionist,” the most horrible of all monsters; and many people of Louiisana looked at me with suspicion, as the brother of the abolitionist, John Sherman, and doubted the propriety of having me at the head of an important State institution. By this time I was pretty well acquainted with many of their prominent men, was generally esteemed by all in authority, and by the people of Rapides Parish especially, who saw that I was devoted to my particular business, and that I gave no heed to the political excitement of the day. But the members of the State Senate and House did not know me so well, and it was natural that they should be suspicious of a Northern man, and the brother of him who was the “abolition” candidate for Speaker of the House.
One evening, at a large dinner-party at Governor Moore's, at which were present several members of the Louisiana Legislature, Taylor, Bragg, and the Attorney-General Hyams, after the ladies had left the table, I noticed at Governor Moore's end quite a lively discussion going on, in which my name was frequently used; at length the Governor called to me, saying: “Colonel Sherman, you can readily understand that, with your brother the abolitionist candidate for Speaker, some of our people wonder that you should be here at the head of an important State institution. Now, you are at my table, and I assure you of my confidence. Won't you speak your mind freely on this question of slavery, that so agitates the land? You are under my roof, and, whatever you say, you have my protection.”
I answered: “Governor Moore, you mistake in calling my brother, John Sherman, an abolitionist. We have been separated since childhood - I in the army, and he pursuing his profession of law in Northern Ohio; and it is possible we may differ in general sentiment, but I deny that he is considered at home an abolitionist; and, although he prefers the free institutions under which he lives to those of slavery which prevail here, he would not of himself take from you by law or force any property whatever, even slaves.”
Then said Moore: “Give us your own views of slavery as you see it here and throughout the South.”
I answered in effect that “the people of Louisiana were hardly responsible for slavery, as they had inherited it; that I found two distinct conditions of slavery, domestic and field hands. The domestic slaves, employed by the families, were probably better treated than any slaves on earth; but the condition of the field-hands was different, depending more on the temper and disposition of their masters and overseers than were those employed about the house;” and I went on to say that, “were I a citizen of Louisiana, and a member of the Legislature, I would deem it wise to bring the legal condition of the slaves more near the status of human beings under all Christian and civilized governments. In the first place, I argued that, in sales of slaves made by the State, I would forbid the separation of families, letting the father, mother, and children, be sold together to one person, instead of each to the highest bidder. And, again, I would advise the repeal of the statute which enacted a severe penalty for even the owner to teach his slave to read and write, because that actually qualified property and took away a part of its value; illustrating the assertion by the case of Henry Sampson, who had been the slave of Colonel Chambers, of Rapides Parish, who had gone to California as the servant of an officer of the army, and who was afterward employed by me in the bank at San Francisco. At first he could not write or read, and I could only afford to pay him one hundred dollars a month; but he was taught to read and write by Reilley, our bank-teller, when his services became worth two hundred and fifty dollars a month, which enabled him to buy his own freedom and that of bis brother and his family.”
What I said was listened to by all with the most profound attention; and, when I was through, some one (I think it was Mr. Hyams) struck the table with his fist, making the glasses jingle, and said, “By God, he is right!” and at once he took up the debate, which went on, for an hour or more, on both sides with ability and fairness. Of course, I was glad to be thus relieved, because at the time all men in Louisiana were dreadfully excited on questions affecting their slaves, who constituted the bulk of their wealth, and without whom they honestly believed that sugar, cotton, and rice, could not possibly be cultivated.
On the 30th and 31st of July, 1860, we had an examination at the seminary, winding up with a ball, and as much publicity as possible to attract general notice; and immediately thereafter we all scattered — the cadets to their homes, and the professors wherever they pleased — all to meet again on the 1st day of the next November. Major Smith and I agreed to meet in New York on a certain day in August, to purchase books, models, etc. I went directly to my family in Lancaster, and after a few days proceeded to Washington, to endeavor to procure from the General Government the necessary muskets and equipments for our cadets by the beginning of the next term. I was in Washington on the 17th day of August, and hunted up my friend Major Buell, of the Adjutant-General's Department, who was on duty with the Secretary of War, Floyd. I had with me a letter of Governor Moore's, authorizing me to act in his name. Major Buell took me into Floyd's room at the War Department, to whom I explained my business, and I was agreeably surprised to meet with such easy success. Although the State of Louisiana had already drawn her full quota of arms, Floyd promptly promised to order my requisition to be filled, and I procured the necessary blanks at the Ordnance-Office, filled them with two hundred cadet muskets, and all equipments complete, and was assured that all these articles would be shipped to Louisiana in season for our use that fall. These assurances were faithfully carried out.
I then went on to New York, there met Major Smith according to appointment, and together we selected and purchased a good supply of uniforms, clothing, and text-books, as well as a fair number of books of history and fiction, to commence a library.
When this business was completed, I returned to Lancastei, and remained with my family till the time approached for me to return to Louisiana. I again left my family at Lancaster, until assured of the completion of the two buildings designed for the married professors for which I had contracted that spring with Mr. Mills, of Alexandria, and which were well under progress when I left in August. One of these was designed for me and the other for Vallas. Mr. Ewing presented me with a horse, which I took down the river with me, and en routeF I ordered from Grimsley & Co. a full equipment of saddle, bridle, etc., the same that I used in the war, and which I lost with my horse, shot under me at Shiloh.
Reaching Alexandria early in October, I pushed forward the construction of the two buildings, some fences, gates, and all other work, with 'the object of a more perfect start at the open ing of the regular term November 1, 1860.
About this time Dr. Powhatan Clark was elected Assistant Professor of Chemistry, etc., and acted as secretary of the Board of Supervisors, but no other changes were made in our small circle of professors.
November came, and with it nearly if not quite all our first set of cadets, and others, to the number of about one hundred and thirty. We divided them into two companies, issued arms and clothing, and began a regular system of drills and instruction, as well as the regular recitations. I had moved into my new house, but prudently had not sent for my family, nominally on the ground of waiting until the season was further advanced, but really because of the storm that was lowering heavy on the political horizon. The presidential election was to occur in November, and the nominations had already been made in stormy debates by the usual conventions. Lincoln and Hamlin (to the South utterly unknown) were the nominees of the Republican party, and for the first time both these candidates were from Northern States. The Democratic party divided &mdash: one set nominating a ticket at Charleston, and the other at Baltimore. Breckenridge and Lane were the nominees of the Southern or Democratic party; and Bell and Everett, a kind of compromise, mostly in favor in Louisiana. Political excitement was at its very height, and it was constantly asserted that Mr. Lincoln's election would imperil the Union. I purposely kept aloof from politics, would take no part, and remember that on the day of the election in November I was notified that it would be advisable for me to vote for Bell and Everett, but I openly said I would not, and I did not. The election of Mr. Lincoln fell upon us all like a clap of thunder. People saw and felt that the South had threatened so long that, if she quietly submitted, the question of slavery in the Territories was at an end forever. I mingled freely with the members of the Board of Supervisors, and with the people of Rapides Parish generally, keeping aloof from all cliques and parties, and I certainly hoped that the threatened storm would blow over, as had so often occurred before, after similar threats. At our seminary the order of exercises went along with the regularity of the seasons. Once a week, I had the older cadets to practise reading, reciting, and elocution, and noticed that their selections were from Calhoun, Yancey, and other Southern speakers, all treating of the defense of their slaves and their home institutions as the very highest duty of the patriot. Among boys this was to be expected; and among the members of our board, though most of them declaimed against politicians generally, and especially abolitionists, as pests, yet there was a growing feeling that danger was in the wind. I recall the visit of a young gentleman who had been sent from Jackson, by the Governor of Mississippi, to confer with Governor Moore, then on his plantation at Bayou Robert, and who had come over to see our college. He spoke to me openly of secession as a fixed fact, and that its details were only left open for discussion. I also recall the visit of some man who was said to be a high officer in the order of “Knights of the Golden Circle,” of the existence of which order I was even ignorant, until explained to me by Major Smith and Dr. Clark. But in November, 1860, no man ever approached me offensively, to ascertain my views, or my proposed course of action in case of secession, and no man in or out of authority ever tried to induce me to take part in steps designed to lead toward disunion. I think my general opinions were well known and understood, viz., that “secession was treason, was war;” and that in no event pould the North and West permit the Mississippi River to pass out of their control. But some men at the South actually supposed at the time that the Northwestern States, in case of a disruption of the General Government, would be drawn in self-interest to an alliance with the South. “What I now write I do not offer as any thing like a history of the important events of that time, but rather as my memory of them, the effect they had on me personally, and to what extent they influenced my personal conduct.”
South Carolina seceded December 20, 1860, and Mississippi soon after. Emissaries came to Louisiana to influence the Governor, Legislature, and people, and it was the common assertion that, if all the Cotton States would follow the lead of South Carolina, it would diminish the chances of civil war, because a bold and determined front would deter the General Government from any measures of coercion. About this time also, viz., early in December, we received Mr. Buchanan's annual message to Congress, in which he publicly announced that the General Government had no constitutional power to “coerce a State.” I confess this staggered me, and I feared that the prophecies and assertions of Alison and other European commentators on our form of government were right, and that our Constitution was a mere rope of sand, that would break with the first pressure.
The Legislature of Louisiana met on the 10th of December, and passed an act calling a convention of delegates from the people, to meet at Baton Rouge, on the 8th of January, to take into consideration the state of the Union; and, although it was universally admitted that a large majority of the voters of the State were opposed to secession, disunion, and all the steps of the South Carolinians, yet we saw that they were powerless, and that the politicians would sweep them along rapidly to the end, prearranged by their leaders in Washington. Before the ordinance of secession was passed, or the convention had assembled, on the faith of a telegraphic dispatch sent by the two Senators, Benjamin and Slidell, from their seats in the United States Senate at Washington, Governor Moore ordered the seizure of all the United States forts at the mouth of the Mississippi and Lake Pontchartrain, and of the United States arsenal at Baton Rouge. The forts had no garrisons, but the arsenal was held by a small company of artillery, commanded by Major Haskins, a most worthy and excellent officer, who had lost an arm in Mexico. I remember well that I was strongly and bitterly impressed by the seizure of the arsenal, which occurred on January 10, 1861.
When I went first to Baton Rouge, in 1859, en route to Alexandria, I found Captain Rickett's company of artillery stationed in the arsenal, but soon after there was somewhat of a clamor on the Texas frontier about Brownsville, which induced the War Department to order Rickett's company to that frontier. I remember that Governor Moore remonstrated with the Secretary of War because so much dangerous property, composed of muskets, powder, etc., had been left by the United States unguarded, in a parish where the slave population was as five or six to one of whites; and it was on his official demand that the United States Government ordered Haskins's company to replace Rickett's. This company did not number forty men. In the night of January 9th, about five hundred New Orleans militia, under command of a Colonel Wheat, went up from New Orleans by boat, landed, surrounded the arsenal, and demanded its surrender. Haskins was of course unprepared for such a step, yet he at first resolved to defend the post as he best could with his small force. But Bragg, who was an old army acquaintance of his, had a parley with him, exhibited to him the vastly superior force of his assailants, embracing two field-batteries, and offered to procure for him honorable terms, to march out with drums and colors, and to take unmolested passage in a boat up to St. Louis; alleging, further, that the old Union was at an end, and that a just settlement would be made between the two new fragments for all the property stored in the arsenal. Of course it was Haskins's duty to have defended his post to the death; but up to that time the national authorities in Washington had shown such pusillanimity, that the officers of the army knew not what to do. The result, anyhow, was that Haskins surrendered his post, and at once embarked for St. Louis. The arms and munitions stored in the arsenal were scattered &mdash: some to Mississippi, some to New Orleans, some to Shreveport; and to me, at the Central Arsenal, were consigned two thousand muskets, three hundred Jager rifles, and a large amount of cartridges and ammunition. The invoices were signed by the former ordnance-sergeant, Olodowski, as a captain of ordnance, and I think he continued such on General Bragg's staff through the whole of the subsequent civil war. These arms, etc., came up to me at Alexandria, with orders from Governor Moore to receipt for and account for them. Thus I was made the receiver of stolen goods, and these goods the property of the United States. This grated hard on my feelings as an ex-ariny-ofhcer, and on counting the arms I noticed that they were packed in the old familiar boxes, with the “U. S.” simply scratched off. General G. Mason Graham had resigned as the chairman of the Executive Committee, and Dr. S. A. Smith, of Alexandria, then a member of the State Senate, had succeeded him as chairman, and acted as head of the Board of Supervisors. At the time I was in most intimate correspondence with all of these parties, and our letters must have been full of poli tics r but I have ouly retained copies of a few of the letters, which I will embody in this connection, as they will show, better than by any thing I can now recall, the feelings of parties at that critical period. The seizure of the arsenal at Baton Rouge occurred January 10, 1861, and the secession ordinance was not passed until about the 25th or 26th of the same month. At all events, after the seizure of the arsenal, and before the passage of the ordinance of secession, viz., on the 18th of January, I wrote as follows:
Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and
Military Academy, January 18, 1861.
Governor Thomas O. Moore, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Sir: As I occupy a quasi-military position under the laws of the State, I deem it proper to acquaint you that I accepted such position when Louisiana was a State in the Union, and when the motto of this seminary was inserted in marble over the main door: “By the liberality of the General Government of the United States. The Union — esto perpetua.”
Recent events foreshadow a great change, and it becomes all men to choose. If Louisiana withdraw from the Federal Union, I prefer to maintain my allegiance to the Constitution as long as a fragment of it survives; and my longer stay here would be wrong in every sense of the word.
In that event, I beg you will send or appoint some authorized agent to take charge of the arms and munitions of war belonging to the State, or advise me what disposition to make of them.
And furthermore, as president of the Board of Supervisors, I beg you to take immediate steps to relieve me as superintendent, the moment the State determines to secede, for on no earthly account will I do any act or think any thought hostile to or in defiance of the old Government of the United States.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. Sherman, Superintendent.
January 18, 1861.
To Governor Moore.
My dear Sir : I take it for granted that you have been expecting for some days the accompanying paper from me (the above official letter). I have repeatedly and again made known to General Graham and Dr. Smith that, in the event of a severance of the relations hitherto existing between the Confederated States of this Union, I would be forced to choose the old Union. It is barely possible all the States may secede, South and North, that new combinations may result, but this process will be one of time and uncertainty, and I cannot with my opinions await the subsequent development.
I have never been a politician, and therefore undervalue the excited feelings and opinions of present rulers, but I do think, if this people cannot execute a form of government like the present, that a worse one will result.
I will keep the cadets as quiet as possible. They are nervous, but I think the interest of the State requires them here, guarding this property, and acquiring a knowledge which will be useful to your State in after-times.
When I leave, which I now regard as certain, the present professors can manage well enough, to afford you leisure time to find a suitable successor to me. You might order Major Smith to receipt for the arms, and to exercise military command, while the academic exercises could go on undei the board. In time, some gentleman will turn up, better qualified than I am, to carry on the seminary to its ultimate point of success. I entertain the kindest feelings toward all, and would leave the State with much regret; only in great events we must choose, one way or the other.
Truly, your friend,
W. T. Sherman.
January 19, 1861 — Saturday. Dr. S. A. Smith, President Board of Supervisors, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Dear Sir : I have just finished my quarterly reports to the parents of all the cadets here, or who have been here. All my books of account are written up to date. All bills for the houses, fences, etc., are settled, and nothing now remains but the daily routine of recitations and drills. I have written officially and unofficially to Governor Moore, that with my opinions of the claimed right of seccession, of the seizure of public forts, arsenals, etc., and the ignominious capture of a United States garrison, stationed in your midst, as a guard to the arsenal and for the protection of your own people, it would be highly improper for me longer to remain. No great inconvenience can result to the seminary. I will be the chief loser. I came down two months before my pay commenced. I made sacrifices in Kansas to enable me thus to obey the call of Governor Wickliffe, and you know that last winter I declined a most advantageous offer of employment abroad; and thus far I have received nothing as superintendent of the arsenal, though I went to Washington and New York (at my own expense) on the faith of the five hundred dollars salary promised.
These are all small matters in comparison with those involved in the present state of the country, which will cause sacrifices by millions, instead of by hundreds. The more I think of it, the more I think I should be away, the sooner the better; and therefore I hope you will join with Governor Moore in authorizing me to turn over to Major Smith the military command here, and to the academic board the control of the daily exercises and recitations.
There will be no necessity of your coming up. You can let Major Smith receive the few hundreds of cash I have on hand, and I can meet you on a day certain in New Orleans, when we can settle the bank account. Before I leave, I can pay the steward Jarreau his account for the month, and there would be no necessity for other payments till about the close of March, by which time the board can meet, and elect a treasurer and superintendent also.
At present I have no class, and there will be none ready till about the month of May, when there will be a class in “surveying.” Even if you dc not elect a superintendent in the mean time, Major Smith could easily teach this class, as he is very familiar with the subject-matter. Indeed, I think you will do well to leave the subject of a new superintendent until one perfectly satisfactory turns up.
There is only one favor I would ask. The seminary has plenty of money in bank. The Legislature will surely appropriate for my salary as superintendent of this arsenal. Would you not let me make my drafts on the State Treasury, send them to you, let the Treasurer note them for payment when the appropriation is made, and then pay them out of the seminary fund ? The drafts will be paid in March, and the seminary will lose nothing. This would be just to me; for I actually spent two hundred dollars and more in going to Washington and New York, thereby securing from the United States, in advance, three thousand dollars' worth of the very best arms; and clothing and books, at a clear profit to the seminary of over eight hundred dollars. I may be some time in finding new employment, and will stand in need of this money (five hundred dollars); otherwise I would abandon it.
I will not ask you to put the Board of Supervisors to the trouble of meeting, unless you can get a quorum at Baton Rouge.
With great respect, your friend,
W. T. Sherman.
By course of mail, I received the following answer from Governor Moore, the original of which I still possess. It is all in General Bragg's handwriting, with which I am familiar:
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, January 23, 1861.
My dear Sir : It is with the deepest regret I acknowledge receipt of your communication of the 18th inst. In the pressure of official business, I can now only request you to transfer to Prof. Smith the arms, munitions, and funds in your hands, whenever you conclude to withdraw from the position yon have filled with so much distinction. You cannot regret more than I do the necessity which deprives us of your services, and you will bear with you the respect, confidence, and admiration, of all who have been associated with you.
Very truly, your friend,
Thomas O. Moore.
Colonel W. T. Sherman, Superintendent Military Academy, Alexandria.
I must have received several letters from Bragg, about this time, which have not been preserved; for I find that, on the 1st of February, 1861, I wrote him thus:
Seminary of Learning,
Alexandria, Louisiana, February 1, 1861.
Colonel Braxton Bragg, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Dear Sir : Yours of January 23d and 27th are received. I thank yon most kindly, and Governor Moore through you, for the kind manner in which you have met my wishes.
Now that I cannot be compromised by political events, I will so shape my course as best to serve the institution, which has a strong hold on my affections and respect.
The Board of Supervisors will be called for the 9th instant, and I will cooperate with them in their measures to place matters here on a safe and secure basis. I expect to be here two weeks, and will make you full returns of money and property belonging to the State Central Arsenal. All the arms and ammunition are safely stored here. Then I will write you more at length.
With sincere respect, your friend,
W. T. Sherman.
Major Smith's receipt to me, for the arms and property belonging both to the seminary and to the arsenal, is dated Febru ary 19, 1861. I subjoin also, in this connection, copies of one or two papers that may prove of interest:
Baton Rouge, January 28, 1861. To Major Sherman, Superintendent, Alexandria.
My dear sir: Your letter was duly received, and would have been answered ere this time could I have arranged sooner the matter of the five hundred dollars. I shall go from here to New Orleans to-day or tomorrow, and will remain there till Saturday after next, perhaps. I shall expect to meet you there, as indicated in your note to me.
I need not tell you that it is with no ordinary regret that I view your determination to leave us, for really I believe that the success of our institution, now almost assured, is jeopardized thereby. I am sure that we will never have a superintendent with whom I shall have more pleasant relations than those which have existed between yourself and me.
I fully appreciate the motives which have induced you to give up a position presenting so many advantages to yourself, and sincerely hope that you may, in any future enterprise, enjoy the success which your character and ability merit and deserve.
Should you come down on the Rapides (steamer), please look after my wife, who will, I hope, accompany you on said boat, or some other good one.
Colonel Bragg informs me that the necessary orders have been given for the transfer and receipt by Major Smith of the public property.
I herewith transmit a request to the secretary to convene the Board of Supervisors, that they may act as seems best to them in the premises.
In the mean time, Major Smith will command by seniority the cadets, and the Academic Board will be able to conduct the scientific exercises of the institution untd the Board of Supervisors can have time to act. Hoping to meet you soon at the St. Charles, I am,
Most truly, your friend and servant,
P. S.—Governor Moore desires me to express his profound regret that the State is about to lose one who we all fondly hoped had cast his destinies for weal or for woe among us; and that he is sensible that we lose thereby an officer whom it will be difficult, if not impossible, to replace.
S. A. S.
Baton Rouge, February 11, 1861.
To Major Sherman, Alexandria.
Dear Sir : I have been in New Orleans for ten days, and on returning here find two letters from you, also your prompt answer to the resolution of the House of Representatives, for which I am much obliged.
The resolution passed the last day before adjournment. I was purposing to respond, when your welcome reports came to hand. I have arranged to pay you your five hundred dollars.
I will say nothing of general politics, except to give my opinion that there is not to be any war.
In that event, would it not be possible for you to become a citizen of our State ? Every one deplores your determination to leave us. At the same time, your friends feel that you are abandoning a position that might become an object of desire to any one.
I will try to meet you in New Orleans at any time you may indicate; but it would be best for you to stop here, when, if possible, I will accompany you. Should you do so, you will find me just above the State-House, and facing it.
Bring with you a few copies of the “Rules of the Seminary.”
S. A. Smith.
Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy,
February 14, 1861.
Colonel Braxton Bragg, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Colonel W. T. Sherman.
Sir : I am instructed by the Board of Supervisors of this institution to present a copy of the resolutions adopted by them at their last meeting:
“Resolved, That the thanks of the Board of Supervisors are due, and are hereby tendered, to Colonel William T. Sherman for the able and efficient manner in which he has conducted the affairs of the seminary during the time the institution has been under his control” period attended with unusual difficulties, requiring on the part of the superintendent to successfully overcome them a high order of administrative talent. And the board further bear willing testimony to the valuable services that Colonel Sherman has rendered them in their efforts to establish an institution of learning in accordance with the beneficent design of the State and Federal Governments ; evincing at all times a readiness to adapt himself to the ever-varying requirements of an institution of learning in its infancy, struggling to attain a position of honor and usefulness.
“Resolved, further, That, in accepting the resignation of Colonel Sherman as Superintendent of the State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy, we tender to him assurances of our high personal regard, and our sincere regret at the occurrence of causes that render it necessary to part with so esteemed and valued a friend, as well as co-laborer in the cause of education.”
Powhatan Claeke, Secretary to the Board.
A copy of the resolution of the Academic Board, passed at their session of April 1, 1861:
“Resolved, that in the resignation of the late superintendent, Colonel W. T. Sherman, the Academic Board deem it not improper to express their deep conviction of the loss the institution has sustained in being thus deprived of an able head. They cannot fail to appreciate the manliness of character which has always marked the actions of Colonel Sherman. While he is personally endeared to many of them as a friend, they consider it their high pleasure to tender to him in this resolution their regret on his separation, and their sincere wish for his future welfare.”
I have given the above at some length, because, during the civil war, it was in Southern circles asserted that I was guilty of a breach of hospitality in taking up arms against the South. They were manifestly the aggressors, and we could only defend our own by assailing them. Yet, without any knowledge of what the future had in store for me, I took unusual precautions that the institution should not be damaged by my withdrawal. About the 20th of February, having turned over all property, records, and money, on hand, to Major Smith, and taking with me the necessary documents to make the final settlement with Dr. S. A. Smith, at the bank in New Orleans, where the funds of the institution were deposited to my credit, I took passage from Alexandria for that city, and arrived there, I think, on the 23d. Dr. Smith met me, and we went to the bank, where I turned over to him the balance, got him to audit all my accounts, certify that they were correct and just, and that there remained not one cent of balance in my hands. I charged in my account current for my salary up to the end of February, at the rate of four thousand dollars a year, and for the five hundred dollars due me as superintendent of the Central Arsenal, all of which was due and had been fairly earned, and then I stood free and discharged of any and every obligation, honorary or business, that was due by me to the State of Louisiana, or to any corporation or individual in that State.
This business occupied two or three days, during which I staid at the St. Louis Hotel. I usually sat at table with Colonel and Mrs. Bragg, and an officer who wore the uniform of the State of Louisiana, and was addressed as captain. Bragg wore a colonel's uniform, and explained to me that he was a colonel in the State service, a colonel of artillery, and that some companies of his regiment garrisoned Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and the arsenal at Baton Rouge.
Beauregard at the time had two sons at the Seminary oi Learning. I had given them some of my personal care at the father's request, and, wanting to tell him of their condition and progress, I went to his usual office in the Custom-House Building, and found him in the act of starting for Montgomery, Alabama. Bragg said afterward that Beauregard had been sent for by Jefferson Davis, and that it was rumored that he had been made a brigadier-general, of which fact he seemed jealous, because in the old army Bragg was the senior.
Davis and Stephens had been inaugurated President and Vice-President of the Confederate States of America, February 18, 1860, at Montgomery, and those States only embraced the seven cotton States. I recall a conversation at the tea-table, one evening, at the St. Louis Hotel. When Bragg was speaking of Beauregard's promotion, Mrs. Bragg, turning to me, said, “You know that my husband is not a favorite with the new President.” My mind was resting on Mr. Lincoln as the new President, and I said I did not know that Bragg had ever met Mr. Lincoln, when Mrs. Bragg said, quite pointedly, “I didn't mean your President, but our President.” I knew that Bragg hated Davis bitterly, and that he had resigned from the army in 1855, or 1856, because Davis, as Secretary of War, had ordered him, with his battery, from Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, to Fort Smith or Fort Washita, in the Indian country, as Bragg expressed it, “to chase Indians with six-pounders.”
I visited the quartermaster, Colonel A. C. Myers, who had resigned from the army, January 28, 1861, and had accepted service under the new regime. His office was in the same old room in the Lafayette Square building, which he had in 1853, when I was there a commissary, with the same pictures on the wall, and the letters “U. S.” on every thing, including his desk, papers, etc. I asked him if he did not feel funny. “No, not at all. The thing was inevitable, secession was a complete success; there would be no war, but the two Governments would settle all matters of business in a friendly spirit, and each would go on in its allotted sphere, without further confusion.” About this date, February 16th, General Twiggs, Myers's father-in-law, had surrendered his entire command, in the Department of Texas, to some State troops, with all the Government property, thus consummating the first serious step in the drama of the conspiracy, which was to form a confederacy of the cotton States, before working upon the other slave or border States, and before the 4th of March, the day for the inauguration of President Lincoln.
I walked the streets of New Orleans, and found business going along as usual. Ships were strung for miles along the lower levee, and steamboats above, all discharging or receiving cargo. The Pelican flag of Louisiana was flying over the Custom-House, Mint, City Hall, and everywhere. At the levee ships carried every flag on earth except that of the United States, and I was told that during a procession on the 22d of February, celebrating their emancipation from the despotism of the United States Government, only one national flag was shown from a house, and that the house of Cuthbert Bullitt, on Lafayette Square. He was commanded to take it down, but he refused, and defended it with his pistol.
The only officer of the army that I can recall, as being there at the time, who was faithful, was Colonel C. L. Kilburn, of the Commissary Department, and he was preparing to escape North.
Everybody regarded the change of Government as final; that Louisiana, by a mere declaration, was a free and independent State, and could enter into any new alliance or combination she chose.
Men were being enlisted and armed, to defend the State, and there was not the least evidence that the national Administration designed to make any effort, by force, to vindicate the national authority. I therefore bade adieu to all my friends, and about the 25th of February took my departure by railroad, for Lancaster, via Cairo and Cincinnati.
Before leaving this subject, I will simply record the fate of some of my associates. The seminary was dispersed by the war, and all the professors and cadets took service in the Confederacy, except Vallas, St. Ange, and Cadet Taliaferro. The latter joined a Union regiment, as a lieutenant, after New Orleans was retaken by the United States fleet, under Farragut. I think that both Vallas and St. Ange have died in poverty since the war. Major Smith joined the rebel army in Virginia, and was killed in April, 1865, as he was withdrawing his garrison, by night, from the batteries at Drury's Bluff, at the time General Lee began his final retreat from Richmond. Boyd became a captain of engineers on the staff of General Richard Taylor, was captured, and was in jail at Natchez, Mississippi, when I was on my Meridian expedition. He succeeded in getting a letter to me on my arrival at Vicksburg, and, on my way down to New Orleans, I stopped at Natchez, took him along, and enabled him to effect an exchange through General Banks. As soon as the war was over, he returned to Alexandria, and reorganized the old institution, where I visited him in 1867; but, the next winter, the building took ure and burned to the ground. The students, library, apparatus, etc., were transferred to Baton Rouge, where the same institution now is, under the title of the Louisiana University. I have been able to do them many acts of kindness, and am still in correspondence with Colonel Boyd, its president.
General G. Mason Graham is still living on his plantation, on Bayou Rapides, old and much respected.
Dr. S. A. Smith became a surgeon in the rebel army, and at the close of the war was medical director of the trans-Mississippi Department, with General Kirby Smith. I have seen him since the war, at New Orleans, where he died about a year ago.
Dr. Clark was in Washington recently, applying for a place as United States consul abroad. I assisted him, but with no success, and he is now at Baltimore, Maryland.
After the battle of Shiloh, I found among the prisoners Cadet Barrow, fitted him out with some clean clothing, of which he was in need, and from him learned that Cadet Workman was killed in that battle.
Governor Moore's plantation was devastated by General Banks's troops. After the war he appealed to me, and through the Attorney-General, Henry Stanbery, I aided in having his land restored to him, and I think he is now living there.
Bragg, Beauregard, and Taylor, enacted high parts in the succeeding war, and now reside in Louisiana or Texas
MISSOURI. APRIL AND MAY, 1861.
During the time of these events in Louisiana, I was in con stant correspondence with my brother, John Sherman, at Wash ington ; Mr. Ewing, at Lancaster, Ohio; and Major H. S. Turner, at St. Louis. I had managed to maintain my family comfortably at Lancaster, but was extremely anxious about the future. It looked like the end of my career, for I did not suppose that “civil war” could give me an employment that would provide for the family. I thought, and may have said, that the national crisis had been brought about by the politicians, and, as it was upon us, they “might fight it out.” Therefore, when I turned North from New Orleans, I felt more disposed to look to St. Louis for a home, and to Major Turner to find me employment, than to the public service.
I left New Orleans about the 1st of March, 1861, by rail to Jackson and Clinton, Mississippi, Jackson, Tennessee, and Columbus, Kentucky, where we took a boat to Cairo, and thence, by rail, to Cincinnati and Lancaster. All the way, I heard, in the cars and boats, warm discussions about politics ; to the effect that, if Mr. Lincoln should attempt coercion of the seceded States, the other slave or border States would make common sause, when, it was believed, it would be madness to attempt to reduce them to subjection. In the South, the people were earnest, fierce and angry, and were evidently organizing for action; whereas, in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, I saw not the least sign of preparation. It certainly looked to me as though the people of the North would tamely submit to a disruption of the Union, and the orators of the South used, openly and constantly; the expressions that there would be no war, and that a lady's thimble would hold all the blood to be shed. On reaching Lancaster, I found letters from my brother John, inviting me to come to Washington, as he wanted to see me; and from Major Turner, at St. Louis, that he was trying to secure for me the office of president of the Fifth Street Railroad, with a salary of twenty-live hundred dollars; that Mr. Lucas and D. A. January held a controlling interest of stock, would vote for me, and the election would occur in March. This suited me exactly, and I answered Turner that I would accept, with thanks. But I also thought it right and proper that I should first go to Washington, to talk with my brother, Senator Sherman.
Mr. Lincoln had just been installed, and the newspapers were filled with rumors of every kind indicative of war ; the chief act of interest was that Major Robert Anderson had taken by night into Fort Sumter all the troops garrisoning Charleston Harbor, and that he was determined to defend it against the demands of the State of South Carolina and of the Confederate States. I must have reached Washington about the 10th of March. I found my brother there, just appointed Senator, in place of Mr. Chase, who was in the cabinet, and I have no doubt my opinions, thoughts, and feelings, wrought up by the events in Louisiana, seemed to him gloomy and extravagant. About Washington I saw but few signs of preparation, though the Southern Senators and Representatives were daily sounding their threats on the floors of Congress, and were publicly withdrawing to join the Confederate Congress at Montgomery. Even in the War Department and about the public offices there was open, unconcealed talk, amounting to high-treason.
One day, John Sherman took me with him to see Mr. Lincoln. He walked into the room where the secretary to the President now sits, we found the room full of people, and Mr. Lincoln sat at the end of the table, talking with three or four gentlemen, who soon left. John walked up, shook hands, and took a chair near him, holding in his hand some papers referring to minor appointments in the State of Ohio, which formed the subject of conversation. Mr. Lincoln took the papers, said he would refer them to the proper heads of departments, and would be glad to make the appointments asked for, if not already promised. John then turned to me, and said, “Mr. President, this is my brother, Colonel Sherman, who is just up from Louisiana, he may give you some information you want.” “Ah!” said Mr. Lincoln, “how are they getting along down there ? ” I said, “They think they are getting along swimmingly &mdash: they are preparing for war.” “Oh, well!” said he, “I guess we'll manage to keep house.” I was silenced, said no more to him, and we soon left. I was sadly disappointed, and remember that I broke out on John, d &mdash: ning the politicians generally, saying, “You have got things in a hell of a fix, and you may get them out as you best can,” adding that the country was sleeping on a volcano that might burst forth at any minute, but that I was going to St. Louis to take care of my family, and would have no more to do with it. John begged me to be more patient, but I said I would not; that I had no time to wait, that I was off for St. Louis; and off I went. At Lancaster I found letters from Major Turner, inviting me to St. Louis, as the place in the Fifth Street Railroad was a sure thing, and that Mr. Lucas would rent me a good house on Locust Street, suitable for my family, for six hundred dollars a year.
Mrs. Sherman and I gathered our family and effects together, started for St. Louis March 27th, where we rented of Mr. Lucas the house on Locust Street, between Tenth and Eleventh, and occupied it on the 1st of April. Charles Ewing and John Hunter had formed a law-partnership in St. Louis, and agreed to board with us, taking rooms on the third floor In the latter part of March, I was duly elected president of the Fifth Street Railroad, and entered on the discharge of my duties April 1, 1861. We had a central office on the corner of Fifth and Locust, and also another up at the stables in Bremen. The road was well stocked and in full operation, and all I had to do was to watch the economical administration of existing affairs, which I endeavored to do with fidelity and zeal. But the whole air was full of wars and rumors of wars. The struggle was going on politically for the border States. Even in Missouri, which was a slave State, it was manifest that the Governor of the State, Claiborne Jackson, and all the leading politicians, were for the South in case of a war. The house on the northwest corner of Fifth and Pine was the rebel headquarters, where the rebel flag was hung publicly, and the crowds about the Planters' House were all more or less rebel. There was also a camp in Lindell's Grove, at the end of Olive Street, under command of General D. M. Frost, a Northern man, a graduate of West Point, in open sympathy with the Southern leaders. This camp was nominally a State camp of instruction, but, beyond doubt, was in the interest of the Southern cause, designed to be used against .the national authority in the event of the General Government's attempting to coerce the Southern Confederacy. General William S. Harney was in command of the Department of Missouri, and resided in his own house, on Fourth Street, below Market; and there were five or six companies of United States troops in the arsenal, commanded by Captain N. Lyon ; throughout the city, there had been organized, almost exclusively out of the German part of the population, four or five regiments of “Home Guards,” with which movement Frank Blair, B. Gratz Brown, John M. Schofield, Clinton B. Fisk, and others, were most active on the part of the national authorities. Frank Blair's brother Montgomery was in the cabinet of Mr. Lincoln at Washington, and to him seemed committed the general management of affairs in Missouri.
The newspapers fanned the public excitement to the highest pitch, and threats of attacking the arsenal on the one hand, and the mob of d — d rebels in Camp Jackson on the other, were bandied about. I tried my best to keep out of the current, and only talked freely with a few men; among them Colonel John O'Fallon, a wealthy gentleman who resided above St. Louis. He daily came down to my office in Bremen, and we walked up and down the pavement by the hour, deploring the sad condition of our country, and the seeming drift toward dissolution and anarchy. I used also to go down to the arsenal occasionally to see Lyon, Totten, and other of my army acquaintance, and was glad to see them making preparations to defend their post, if not to assume the offensive.
The bombardment of Fort Sumter, which was announced by telegraph, began April 12th, and ended on the 14th. We then knew that the war was actually begun, and though the South was openly, manifestly the aggressor, yet her friends and apologists insisted that she was simply acting on a justifiable defensive, and that in the forcible seizure of the public forts within her limits the people were acting with reasonable prudence and foresight. Yet neither party seemed willing to invade, or cross the border. Davis, who ordered the bombardment of Sumter, knew the temper of his people well, and foresaw that it would precipitate the action of the border States; for almost immediately Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee, followed the lead of the cotton States, and conventions were deliberating in Kentucky and Missouri.
On the night of Saturday, April 6th, I received the following dispatch:
Washington, April 6, 1861. Major W. T. Sherman .
Will you accept the chief clerkship of the War Department? We will make you assistant Secretary of War when Congress meets.
M. Blair, Postmaster-General.
To which I replied by telegraph, Monday morning, “I cannot accept;” and by mail as follows:
Office St. Louis Kallkoad Company, Monday, April 8,1861. Ron. M. Blair, Washington, D. C.:
I received, about nine o'clock Saturday night, your telegraph dispatch, which I have this moment answered, “I cannot accept.”
I have quite a large family, and when I resigned my place in Louisiana, on account of secession, I had no time to lose; and, therefore, after my hasty visit to Washington, where I saw no chance of employment, I came to St. Louis, have accepted a place in this company, have rented a house, and incurred other obligations, so that I am not at liberty to change.
I thank you for the compliment contained in your offer, and assure you that I wish the Administration all success in its almost impossible task of governing this distracted and anarchical people.
Yours truly, W. T. Sherman.
I was afterward told that this letter gave offense, and that some of Mr. Lincoln's cabinet concluded that I too would prove false to the country.
Later in that'month, after the capture of Fort Sumter by the Confederate authorities, a Dr. Corivyn came to our house on Locust Street, one night after I had gone to bed, and told me he had been sent by Frank Blair, who was not well, and wanted to see me that night at his house. I dressed and walked over to his house on Washington Avenue, near Fourteenth, and found there, in the front-room, several gentlemen, among whom I recall Henry T. Blow. Blair was in the back-room, closeted with some gentleman, who soon left, and I was called in. He there told me that the Government was mistrustful of General Harney, that a change in the command of the department was to be made; that he held it in his power to appoint a brigadier-general, and put him in command of the department, and he offered me the place. I told him I had once offered my services, and they were declined ; that I had made business engagements in St. Louis, which I could not throw off at pleasure; that I had long deliberated on my course of action, and must decline his offer, however tempting and complimentary. He reasoned with me, but I persisted. He told me, in that event, he should appoint Lyon, and he did so.
Finding that even my best friends were uneasy as to my political status, on the 8th of May I addressed the following official letter to the Secretary of War :
Office of St. Loins Eailboad Company, May 8,1861.
Hon. S. Oamebon, Secretary of War, Washington, D. G.
Dear Sir : I hold myself now, as always, prepared to serve my country in the capacity for which I was trained. I did not and will not volunteer for three months, because I cannot throw my family on the cold charity of the world. But for the three-years call, made by the President, an officer can prepare his command and do good service.
I will not volunteer as a soldier, because rightfully or wrongfully I feel unwilling to take a mere private’s place, and, having for many years lived in California and Louisiana, the men are not well enough acquainted with me to elect me to my appropriate place.
Should my services be needed, the records of the War Department will enable you to designate the station in which I can render most service.
Yours truly, W. T. Sherman.
To this I do not think I received a direct answer; but, on the 14th of the same month, I was appointed colonel of the Thirteenth Regular Infantry.
- Capuchin A Catholic friar.
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Cable, George Washington. “Posson Jone” and Père Raphaël: With a New Word Setting Forth How and Why the Two Tales Are One. Illus. Stanley M. Arthurs. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1909. Google Books. Web. 27 Feb. 2012. <http://books. google.com/books?id=bzhLAAAAIAAJ>.