rate this. The enemy continues fatigue work on some of his batteries on James Island, and especially on the new batteries near Stono River on John's Island. As regards sending Mrs. Thomas and her daughters across our lines by flag of truce, I endeavored to communicate with the enemy in the harbor on the first day of the ladies' arrival here, but my flag of truce was not accepted. Yesterday was too stormy to admit of meeting in the harbor, and to-day I propose to send a flag of truce over from Cole's Island and endeavor to effect the transfer there.
I have the honor to be, respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Commanding District.
PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL.]
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
Washington, D. C., December 30, 1864. *
Major General W. T. SHERMAN,
MY DEAR GENERAL: I take the liberty of calling your attention, in this private and friendly way, to a matter which may possibly hereafter be of more importance to you than either of us may now anticipate. While almost every one is praising your great march through Georgia and the capture of Savannah, there is a certain class, having now great influence with the President, and very probably anticipating still more on a change of Cabinet, who are decidedly disposed to make a point against you - I mean in regard to "Inevitable Sambo. " They say that you have manifested an almost criminal dislike to the negro, and that you are not willing to carry out the wishes of the Government in regard to him, but repulse him with contempt. They say you might have brought with you to Savannah more than 50,000, thus stripping Georgia of that number of laborers and opening a road by which as many more could have escaped for their masters; but that instead of this you drove them from your ranks, prevented them from following you by cutting the bridges in your rear, and thus caused the massacre of large numbers by Wheeler's cavalry.
To those who know you as I do such accusations will pass as the idle winds, for we presume that you discouraged the negroes from following you simply because you had not the means of supporting them and feared they might seriously embarrass your march. But there are others, and among them some in high authority, who think, or pretend to think, otherwise, and they are decidedly disposed to make a point against you.
I do not write this to induce you to conciliate the this class of men by doing anything which you do not think right and proper and for the interest of the Government and the country, but simply to call your attention to certain things which are viewed here somewhat differently than from your standpoint. I will explain as briefly as possible: Some here think that, in view of the scarcity of labor in the South, and the probability that a part, at least, of the able-bodied slaves will be called into the military service of the rebels, it is of the greatest importance to open outlets by which the slaves can escape into our lines, and, they say, that the route you have passed over should be made the route of escape and Savannah the great place of refuge. These I know are the views of some of the leading men in the administration, and they now express dissatisfaction that you did not carry them out in your great raid.
*General Sherman's reply of January 12, 1865, refers to this letter as dated January 1st, but General Halleck's copy is dated as here given.