John Sherman to William Tecumseh Sherman, December 9, 1860, Walter L. Fleming, ed., General W. T. Sherman as College President... (Cleveland: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1912), 312-313.
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Washington, D. C., December 9, 1860.
. . . I am clearly of the opinion that you ought not to remain much longer at your present post. You will in all human probability be involved in complications from which you cannot escape with honor. Separated from your family and all your kin, and an object of suspicion you will find your position unendurable. A fatal infatuation seems to have seized the southern mind, during which any act of madness may be committed. . . If the sectional dissensions only rested upon real or alleged grievances, they could be readily settled, but I fear they are deeper and stronger. You can now close your connection with the Seminary with honor and credit to yourself, for all who know you speak well of your conduct, while by remaining you not only involve yourself but bring trouble upon those gentlemen who recommended you.
It is a sad state of affairs, but it is nevertheless true, that if the conventions of the Southern States make anything more than a paper secession, hostile collisions will occur and probably a separation between the free and the slave states. You can judge whether it is at all probable that secession of this capital, the commerce of the Mississippi, the control of the territories, and the natural rivalry of enraged sections can be arranged without war. In that event you cannot serve in Louisiana against your family and kin in Ohio. The bare possibility of such a contingency, it seems to me renders your duty plain, to make a frank statement to all the gentlemen connected with you, and with good feeling close your engagement. If the storm shall blow over, your course will strengthen you with every man whose good opinion you desire; if not, you will escape humiliation. When you return to Ohio, I will write you freely about your return to the army, not so difficult a task as you imagine. . .