William Tecumseh Sherman on the Army’s Role in Building the Northern Pacific Railroad
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Sherman comments on the close cooperation of the Army and the railroads. Key to the development of the American West, this was arguably the Army’s most important role during Sherman’s post-Civil War service. WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN.
Autograph Letter Signed, April 5, 1883, to E.V. Smalley, Washington, D.C., on Headquarters Army of the United States. 3pp.
Headquarters Army of the United States,
Washington, D.C., Apl 5, 1883
E. V. Smalley Esq
Northern Pacific Railroad
New York City
“I beg to acknowledge your letter of April 4, and am gratified to know that the officers of the Northern Pacific Railroad recognize the fact that the Army has in all its stages aided in the location and <2> construction of that most important highway, and desire some authentic statement of what those services have been. I know that the standing order and instructions from Army Head Quarters have been to afford any possible protection and assistance. But the details of the word have devolved on department and local commanders. In order to reach the conclusion you desire I will cause a copy of your letter to go out to Generals <3>Terry and Miles with instructions to return as early as possible their statements. Which will be consolidated with any other official matter of record at these headquarters and sent you for your information.
Meantime I am with great respect
William T. Sherman (1820-1891), a West Point graduate and Mexican War veteran, served as a corps commander under General Grant in successful campaigns down the Mississippi and in Tennessee. He then took command of the western armies when Grant was reassigned to the Virginia theatre. He was both recognized and criticized for his tactics of “scorched earth” and “total war,” evidenced by his capture of Atlanta and “March to the Sea” through Georgia. This was followed by a swift campaign north through the Carolinas to force the surrender of the last major Confederate army. Sherman served as Commanding General of the U.S. Army from 1869-1883, during a period of Westward expansion and Indian Wars.