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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

November 19, 1864

Sherman Commented on Stephens Letter

Sherman’s military secretary Henry Hitchcock wrote in his diary of a conversation he had with Sherman about a letter written by Confederate Vice-President and native Georgian Alexander Stephens.

“Last night I read to him [referring to Sherman] A.H. Stephen’s [native Georgian and vice-president of the Confederacy] most remarkable letter to “Senator” Sumner of Louisiana…sent by A.H.S. to the Augusta Constitutionalist, in which we received it. The General was greatly interested, but made few or no comments. I remarked on A.H.S.’s idea that separation would secure permanent peace, and his talk about the ultimate, absolute sovereignty of the States. Said the General, ‘Stephens is crazy on the States Rights question. This war is on our part a war against anarchy. I wish they were separated from us and a foreign Government – we’d whale ‘em all the time.’ “By 11 or 12 o’clock we reached Newborn…The men are foraging and straggling, I an sorry to say, a good deal. At and near every farmhouse we hear constant shooting – of pigs and chickens. I remarked to the General something about the straggling. He answered, ‘I have been three years fighting stragglers, and they are harder to conquer than the enemy.’” Source: M.A. DeWolfe Howe (ed.), Marching with Sherman: Passages from the Letters and Campaign Diaries of Henry Hitchcock, Major and assistant Adjutant General of Volunteers, November 1864-May 1865 (Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 1995), pp. 74-75.