NASHVILLE, TENN., April 25, 1864-7 p.m.
(Received 10 p.m.)
Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
There are five regiments of Indiana cavalry in Indiana. We cannot, of course, mount or equip them, and Governor Morton thinks it a breach of good faith to make them serve on foot. I want them at Nashville in a camp of instruction as a reserve. Will you use your influence to produce this end at once? I must go to the front in a day or two, and want to know if this is to be done.
W. T. SHERMAN,
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Nashville, Tenn., April 25, 1864.
Governor O. P. MORTON,
DEAR SIR: I have telegraphed you my opinion that we cannot possibly arm and equip the five regiments of cavalry which I learn are mustered in and are now in the State of Indiana. Still these men might do good service. They could be armed as infantry and be held in reserve at Nashville, to which point horses could come as easily as at Indianapolis. I will be compelled to take the initiative with 10,000 men less than I calculated, on account of the check sustained by Banks at Mansfield. He borrowed of me 10,000 men, with a clear understanding that he would reach Shreveport and be able to send them back by the time named, which would have enabled them to come by water up the Tennessee and either joined me or guarded that exposed flank of our great field of operations. With our railroad in perfect order, it is all we can do to supply our armies along the line of the Tennessee.
I have reason to suppose that Forrest, who has taken the advantage of this absence up Red River of that force and also of our furloughed veterans, who return slowly, will endeavor to make a lodgment at some point of the Tennessee River, when by his bold and rapid move he will strike our railroad somewhere about Columbia or Pulaski. I should have a reserve force here where they can easily be supplied without taxing our roads, ready to move rapidly to any point threatened. I don't know where to look for such a reserve, unless it in Indiana.
Ohio is taxed to its uttermost by the calls East, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Illinois reserves should be at Cairo and yours here. I can keep a general officer here, with orders to establish a camp of instruction which will serve a double purpose. Men enlisted as cavalry should be paid as such, and when we can we should mount them, but you have already seen that horses sent to the Tennessee all perish. A horse needs 20 pounds of food daily, whereas a man can get along with only 2. I dislike to tell you how much dismounted cavalry we now have, and we must employ them as railroad guards. What I want the new Indiana cavalry here for is a reserve.
East Kentucky is not threatened now. Please answer immediately, as I want to go to the front. You could start the regiments at once, and I will give the necessary orders to put them into camp here.
W. T. SHERMAN,