HDQRS. FIRST DIV., DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Memphis, October 29, 1862.
Commanding United States Forces, Helena:
DEAR SIR: I was pleased to hear that you had succeeded to the command at Helena. We should keep up a correspondence of ideas for although we are in different departments, we are near together.
An officer of your command has come up for some lumber. There is none he. My on regiments have made requisitions on requisitions for tent floors, cook sheds, &c., but I have made them get along with makeshift bricks and puncheons. Bricks are abundant here; laid in mud, they answer for walls and chimneys, and some of the soldiers have made tasteful huts; but boards are very scarce, except coarse stuff 3 inches thick, most of which we have used for gun platforms.
I wish you could come and see us. Our fort is very well advanced, and I think it is a good piece of work. We have about 6,000 negroes here, of which 2,000 are men-800 on the fort, 240 in the quartemaster's department, and about 1,000 as cooks, teamsters, and servants in the regiments. I have enlarged the Overton Hospital so as to accommodate about 1,000 patients; most of those are from your command, and I discharge all the surgeon in charge recommends. My notion is that when a soldier gets into a general hospital, unless he is wounded, he is lost to the service. Two new regiments have passed down to Helena, and I suppose you will have quite a force there. They all seem to think I have plenty of men here to make all sorts of detachments, but my present strength is less than yours; but they are well provided, and in good discipline as to drill. They do rob and steal occasionally, to my mortification, but on the whole behave pretty well.
I am now living in a house on Tennessee street, near the fort, and have all the departments inside, with a shop to repair arms, and will gradually enlarge so as to have it quiet a depot. If you should be threatened, I could send a force across to Madison, which would divert attention, but I must be careful, as our enemy has a large force at Holly Springs, estimated at 40,000. I cannot hear that any have come over from Arkansas, but I hear of the arrival of Waul's brigade, from Texas. The reaction in favor of the civil over the military rule, in the whole Shouth, will strip the people of the terror that has held them down so hard, but still we know the people are generally united in spirit and feeling against us, and must not count on any reaction until the safety of property changes their feeling, their political opinions, and Southern prejudices.
Many military changes are indicated north of us, but none in our immediate neighborhood. I shall always be pleased to hear from you, and to see you when I can.
I am, truly, your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN,
HEADQUARTERS FIST DIVISION,
Memphis, October 30, 1862.
To commanders of regiments and companies in the service of the United States:
Generosity and benevolence to the poor and distressed are characteristics of good soldiers. I tell you that there are many poor families in