Sherman Endorses the Publication of Butterfield’s Manual
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In the midst of preparations for the final campaign against Vicksburg, Sherman writes to Harper Brothers concerning the publication of Daniel Butterfield’s Camp and Outpost Duty for Infantry. In a war in which the bulk of combatants were new recruits, the art of training and disciplining men was crucial to battlefield success, making Butterfield’s manual, Hardee’s Tactics, and other books essential instructional material. “Should you succeed in this I would advise its publication in … on linen paper, as to be carried in the pockets of officers on outpost duty and such as are published on paper should have a pliable leather, waterproof cover for similar reasons. This to be sure would increase its cost, but … increase its real value fourfold…” WILLIAM T. SHERMAN.
Autograph Letter Signed, to “Messrs Harper Brothers.” “Camp before Vicksburg,”
Mississippi, March 29, 1863. 2 pp., 7¾ x 9¾ in.
Head Qrs 15 Army Corps.
Camp before Vicksburg. March 29. 1863.
Messrs Harper Brothers: New York City
Yours of March 5 reached me last night on my return from an Expedition up Deer Creek. The copy of the Butterfield Camp & Outpost Duty is also received and I have given it a hasty glance. It fills a vacuum hitherto in our military manuals and should be extensively circulated. All such books must come to us from the War Department, stamped with authority before we can use it as authority. I would advise you to seek such approval by the Secretary of War, and have it introduced in the title paper, so as to be issued by the War Department and made universal. Then that Department would purchase large numbers and distribute them. Corps commanders would not be justified in doing this singly.
Should you succeed in this I would advise its publication in print edition on linen paper, as to be carried in the  pockets of officers on outpost duty and such as are published on paper should have a pliable leather, waterproof cover for similar reasons. This to be sure would increase its cost, but would increase its real value fourfold.
I am &c
Harper & Brothers had apparently contacted Sherman seeking his approval of the manual – Camp and Outpost Duty for Infantry (New York, 1862) – and his aid in distributing it through the army. Sherman here praises it, voices his support for its wide circulation, and advises the publishers to use paper and binding suitable for use in the field, while insisting that they must go through the War Department to find official endorsement and assistance. Harper & Brothers published the book in late 1862, selling ten thousand copies in the first year, partly on the strength of recommendations from Generals Hooker, Meade, McClellan, and Sherman.
James Harper and his brother John, printers by training, started a book publishing business, J. & J. Harper, in 1817. Joseph and Fletcher Harper, two other brothers, joined the business, after which the company name changed to Harper & Brothers. In 1850, they began publishing Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, which ultimately became the famous Harper’s Magazine.
William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) was one of the greatest Union generals of the Civil War, a consummate strategist who understood the social and political aspects of war. Sherman started his Civil War career as colonel of the 13th U.S. Infantry Regiment. After a brief bout of depression in late 1861, Sherman was reassigned to the West and served under Ulysses Grant in the Army of the Tennessee. He took part in such important victories as Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga, and in March 1864, with Grant’s ascension to General-in-Chief, was named to command the entire Western Department. His capture of Atlanta in September, 1864, helped stem the increasing unpopularity of the war on the homefront, helping Lincoln win reelection, and his “March to the Sea” from November 16 to December 22, 1864, ravaged the countryside of Georgia and devastated the South. Sherman remained in the Army and, when Grant was elected President in 1868, became commanding general of the army, which position he retained until his retirement in 1884. He prosecuted the wars against the Plains Indians and established the Command School at Fort Leavenworth.
Daniel Butterfield (1831-1901) was a New York businessman, master political operative, and Union general. From the rank of private in the New York State militia, Butterfield rose to major general and corps command in the Army of the Potomac. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for gallantry at Gaines’ Mill. For most of 1863, Butterfield served as chief of staff to Joseph Hooker and George Meade, respectively. He created the system of distinctive patches marking the separate corps, and also experimented with bugle calls, including the composition of the most famous, Taps. After the war, President Grant appointed him assistant treasury secretary, and he was involved in the sordid Black Friday gold scandal.
Butterfield, Julia L. A Biographical Memorial of General Daniel Butterfield (1904), pp. 119-124.
Light folds, tape repair to top margin, not affecting text.