Sunday, October 16, 2011

October 17, 1861 (Thursday): "To Save the Country"

Assistant Secretary of War, Thomas A. Scott

Honorable THOMAS A. SCOTT,

Assistant Secretary of War:

I gave General Sherman all the regiments he asked for. At least two of those originally intended for him, and promised to me, have been diverted from me. The artillery promised me to replace Hamilton's battery have not been given to me. I will not consent to one other man being detached from this army for that expedition. I need far more than I now have to save this country, and cannot spare any disciplined regiment. Instead of diminishing this army, true policy would dictate its immediate increase to a large extent. It is the task of the Army of the Potomac to decide the question at issue. No outside expedition can effect the result. I hope that I will not again be asked to detach anybody.


Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 6, Part 1, Page 179

The Sherman referenced here is General Thomas West Sherman, no relation to the more famous one.  The expedition mentioned is the one which would result in the taking of Port Royal Sound in November of 1861.  Two things are worth noting.  First, the over-heated rhetoric of McClellan which is rather remarkable even at this juncture of the war.  Second, Sherman's expedition which is dismissed out of hand here, resulted in the landing at Port Royal Sound in November.  This would be the greatest amphibious assault until D-Day in World War II and the seizure of the sound was of great value.  It gave the North an anchorage of immense logistical value, and put Union troops on the ground in South Carolina, tying down troops there who were later to be desperately needed in places like Gettysburg.  The day after this letter, President Lincoln wrote Sherman to say he had promised he would not take any more troops from McClellan without his consent.

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