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Letter from William Sherman to D.L. Swain, April 22, 1865

Title

Letter from William Sherman to D.L. Swain, April 22, 1865

Description

General William Sherman of the Union Army wrote the letter to President D. L. Swain of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, who was also once governor. The letter was written on April 22, 1865, roughly a week since Sherman had started to negotiate surrender with Confederate General Joseph Johnston, and was in response to a letter Swain had sent three days prior. Swain had been concerned about the rough conditions Chapel Hill experienced, with flour costing $1,000 a barrel. Sherman clearly sympathized with Swain and other locals in the South. Sherman told Swain, “The moment war ceases, and I think that time is at hand, all seizures of horses and private property will cease on our part. And it may be that we will be able to spare some animals for the use of the farmers of your neighborhood.” Sherman later admitted how he preferred peace to war, but if war was forced upon him he would meet it. Sherman’s willingness to change policy after the war demonstrated how the tactics he had supported previously were only done as a matter of war, to crush the rebellion. The main photo is of D. L. Swain.

Creator

William T. Sherman

Source

Letter from William Sherman to D.L. Swain, April 22, 1865, in The Last Ninety Days of the War in North Carolina, Cornelia Spencer (New York, NY: Watchman Publishing Company, 1866), 180-181.

Date

1865-04-22

Contributor

Tim Justice

Type

Document

Coverage

Raleigh, North Carolina
Wake County, North Carolina

Original Format

Correspondence

Text

HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, IN THE FIELD, RALEIGH, N. C., April 22, 1865.

Hon. D. L. Swain, Chapel Hill, N. C.:

MY DEAR SIR: Yours of April nineteenth was laid before me yesterday, and I am pleased that you recognize in General Atkins a fair representative of our army.

The moment war ceases, and I think that time is at hand, all seizures of horses and private property will cease on our part. And it may be that we will be able to spare some animals for the use of the farmers of your neighborhood. There now exists a species of truce, but we must stand prepared for action; but I believe that in a very few days a definitive and general peace will be arranged, when I will make orders that will be in accordance with the new state of affairs.

I do believe that I fairly represent the feelings of my countrymen—that we prefer peace to war; but if war is forced upon us, we must meet it; but if peace be possible, we will accept it, and be the friends of the

farmers and working classes of North-Carolina, as well as actual patrons of churches, colleges, asylums, and all institutions of learning and charity. Accept the assurances of my respect and high esteem.

I am, truly yours, W. T. SHERMAN,

Major-General Commanding.

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Files

DL Swain.jpg

Citation

William T. Sherman, Letter from William Sherman to D.L. Swain, April 22, 1865, Civil War Era NC, accessed October 21, 2017, https://cwnc.omeka.chass.ncsu.edu/items/show/406.