II. General Easton will also turn over to Mr. Draper the customhouse, and such other buildings in the city of Savannah as he may need in the execution of his office.
* * *
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON,
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, Savannah, January 12, 1865.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I received yours of January 1* about the "negro. " Since Mr. Stanton got here we have talked over all maters freely, and I deeply regret that I am threatened with that curse to all peace and comfort-popularity; but I trust to bad luck enough in the future to cure that, for I know enough of "the people" to feel that a single mistake made by some of my subordinates will tumble down my fame into infamy.
But the nigger? Why, in God's name, can't sensible men let him alone? When the people of the South tried to rule us through the negro, and became insolent, we east them down, and on that question we are strong and unanimous. Neither cotton, the negro, nor any single interest or class should govern us.
But I fear, if you be right that that power behind the throne is growing, somebody must meet it or we are again involved in war with another class of fanatics. Mr. Lincoln has boldly and well met the one attack, now let him meet the other.
If it be insisted that I shall so conduct my operations that the negro alone is consulted, of course I will be defeated, and then where will be Sambo?
Don't military success imply the safety of Sambo and vice versa? Of course that cock-and-bull story of my turning back negroes that Wheeler might kill them is all humbug. I turned nobody back. Jeff. C. Davis did at Ebenezer Creek forbid certain plantation slaves- old men, women, and children-to follow his column; but they would come along and he took up his pontoon bridge, not because he wanted to leave them, but because he wanted his bridge.
He and Slocum both tell me they don't believe Wheeler killed one of them. Slocum's column (30,000) reports 17,000 negroes. Now, with 1,200 wagons and the necessary impedimenta of an Army, overloaded with two-thirds negroes, five-sixths of whom are helpless, and a large proportion of them babies and small children, had I encountered an enemy of respectable strength defeat would have been certain. Tell the President that in such an event defeat would have cost him ten thousand times the effort to overcome that it now will to meet this new and growing pressure.
I know the fact that all natural emotions swing as the pendulum. These Southrons pulled Sambo's pendulum so far over that the danger is it will on its return jump off its pivot. There are certain people who will find fault, and they can always get the pretext; but, thank God, I am not running for an office, and am not concerned because the rising generation will believe that I burned 500 niggers at one pop in
* General Halleck's copy is dated December 30, 1864; see Vol. XLVI. p. 836.