William Tecumseh Sherman, Letter from William Tecumseh Sherman to D. F. Boyd, August 19, 1860, General W.T. Sherman as College President: a Collection of Letters, Documents, and Other Material, Chiefly from Private sources, relating to the life and Activities of General William Tecumseh Sherman, to the Early Years of Louisiana State University, and to the Stirring Conditions existing in the South on the Eve of the Civil War, 1859-1861, Fleming, Walter Lynwood, editor, Arthur H. Clark Co., 1912, p. 399.
Boyd, D. F.
The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
Washington, D. C., Sunday, Aug. 19, 1860.
Dear Mr. Boyd: I wrote you from Lancaster. I left there last Wednesday reached here Thursday evening deposited my charge, Miss Whittington, in the convent same day, and have been two days well employed here. I have a large acquaintance here, and was thereby enabled promptly to succeed in my undertaking of getting arms for our institution -- orders are already issued for the shipment to Alexandria of 145 cadet muskets, making with 55 on hand 200 -- 10 long range minnie rifles, with sabre bayonets -- 10 pistols for belts -- 200 cartridge boxes, bayonet scabbards, belts, etc., for 200 cadets -- 10 sergeant's swords and belts, 10 musicians' swords and belts and a whole lot of extra springs, screws, etc., to keep all in repair. This will give us a good outfit for 210 cadets, a number as great as we can hope for some years to come. I did want ammunition but this is not allowed by law, and I may provide some at New York, wherewith to teach the practical use of these modern long range weapons.
Of course politics here are on every tongue, but I keep aloof. I notice a few facts, which to me are far more convincing than any political platform or dogmas. All the public buildings here are being built in a style of magnificent proportions and development, which looks like increasing rather than diminishing the proportions of our country. All the hotels are cleaning and painting ready for the usual winter influx of politicians. There is no diminution in the price of property, rents, or even of negroes.
You know that money is as sensitive as the mercury and in Europe an ugly remark of Louis Napoleon will affect stocks. So would any political event here, if people believed it -- but nobody believes in a secession, though they talk and write of it. Lincoln's chances of election were very good, but two events have just transpired which to me look important. In New York the Bell and Douglas parties have fused -- and have made a joint elective ticket, which can cast the vote of New York for Douglas or Bell, as events may make necessary. Again Seward at Boston made another of his characteristic speeches in which he renewed his assertion of the irreconcilability of slave and free labor. Now if Lincoln remains silent as he doubtless will, the moderates will accuse him of thinking as Seward does, whereas if he does, as he should, announce his belief that our government as framed is harmonious in all its parts, he will lose the Seward wing or faction.
There have been magnificent crops made in all the Northern and Middle States and they will have in abundance, corn, hay, flour, bacon, and those thousand and one things needed at the South, and as this commercial dependence and exchange should, they no doubt will have a good effect, in showing the mutual dependence of all the parts of this vast and magnificent country, the one on the other. Whilst Lincoln loses strength in the way I have stated, Breckenridge has lost vastly by the vote of his own state, being so overwhelming against him, and the press is gradually settling into identifying him with a secession faction. Between this faction of the South and Lincoln of the North, Bell or Douglas if united as they have done in the New York may be elected by the people and that gives us four years of peace, during which I trust this ugly feeling of suspicion may subside, a consummation devoutly to be wished. . .
To-morrow I will commence the purchase of books and will fill out your list first. I will then see to clothing and make such arrangements that in the future we can order as we need and have the means of payment. I wish you would keep me advised at Lancaster, Ohio, of the progress of things. In boxing up the space under the stairway, have a double bolted door made to fasten to an upright stancheon, which can be taken out -- this will be necessary, as we must store there large boxes, which will require a large opening. Please also have the space E of the hall boxed up for a guard room. We will need that for storage at first. In all November we will have a good many stores to receive, distribute, and issue. Your book case you will need in October, as I will direct the shipment of books in September.