All the powers of earth cannot restore to them their slaves, any more than their dead grandfathers. Next year their lands will be taken, for in war we can taken them, and rightfully,too, and in another year they may beg in vain for their lives. A people who will persevere in war beyond a certain limit ought to know the consequences. Many, many peoples with less pertinacity have been wiped out of national existence.
My own belief is, even now the non-slave holding classes of the South are alienating from their associates in war. Already I hear crimination. Those who have property left should take warning in time.
Since I have come down here I have seen many Southern planters who now hire their negroes and acknowledge that they could part in peace. They now see that we are bound together as one nation by indissoluble ties, and that any interest or any people that set themselves up in antagonism to the nation must perish. Whilst I would not remit one jot or tittle of our nation's right in peace or war, I do make allowances for past political errors and prejudices. Our national Congress and supreme courts are the proper avenues on which to discuss conflicting opinions, and not the battle-field. You may not hear from me again, and if you think it will do any good, call some of the better people together and explain these, my views. You may even read to them this letter and let them use it so as to prepare them for my coming.
To those who submit to the rightful law and authority all gentleness and forbearance; but to the petulant and persistent secessionists, why, death is mercy, and the quicker he or she is disposed of the better. Saton and the rebellious saints of Heaven were allowed a continuous existence in hell merely to swell their just punishment. To such as would rebel against a Government so mild and just as ours was in peace, a punishment equal would not be unjust.
We are progressing well in this guarter, though I have not changed my opinion, that although we may soon assume the existence of murder, and robbery will cease to afflict this region of country.
Truly, your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN,
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE OHIO,
January 31, 1864.
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II. Brigadier General J. D. Cox, commanding Twenty-third Army Corps, will, at 7 a. m. to-morrow, the 1st proximo, send one brigade of that corps by the Strawberry Plains road to Flat Creek, and cover the railroad train while conveying lumber from that vicinity to Knoxville, Tenn. After the train has been safely loaded and sent to the latter place the brigade will return to its former camp.
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By command of Major-General Foster:
HENRY CURTIS, JR.,