Gen. Sherman Sends Christmas Greetings to His Children

Minnie Sherman, late in life

During a break from the scourge of war, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman penned a Christmas letter to his daughter Maria, whom he affectionately calls “Minnie.” The general and his army were in occupation of Savannah, Georgia, after a long march across the state from Atlanta. Soon after the new year, Sherman and his army once again set off on campaign, but this time north through the Carolinas.

Headquarters, Military Division
Of the Mississippi,
Savannah, Dec. 25, 1864

Dear Minnie,

A happy Christmas I hope this will prove to you, and Lizzie and all.  You will probably know by this time that we have captured Savannah, and that we are all well – We are enjoying ourselves, in an elegant house, and will have a real Christmas dinner, turkey and all.  I have no doubt you read the papers and know all you want to know and that you will be content to know that Uncle Charley and I are well. . . .

I suppose it is now bitter cold with you, it is cold here but not near so much so as with you.  The trees are green here, but still the air is frosty.  I expect to be here a couple of weeks, and then again will be off. Write to me right off at Savannah, via New York, and tell Lizzie to do the same for I cannot count on the mails for long. Give my love to all your cousins and believe me your affectionate father

W.T. Sherman

About Derek Maxfield

Associate Professor of History Genesee Community College
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4 Responses to Gen. Sherman Sends Christmas Greetings to His Children

  1. aries929 says:

    WT Sherman is my cousin. His loving but demanding grandmother was Betsy Stoddard, and he mentioned her in his memoirs. WT’s brother John Sherman of the Sherman Antitrust Act mentioned Betsy in his memoirs to. I grew up in Atlanta and love to share that my Yankee kin knew how to end a war – and “make Georgia howl”.

    • John Foskett says:

      Interesting. Minnie was at Notre Dame (actually St.Mary’s across the street) at the time with her mother, where they had been spending most of their time since 1862. The Notre Dame archives record an incident on Washington’s Birthday 1864. Minnie was wearing a small US flag and apparently got into a dust up with a little Southern girl. One tragic aspect of this letter – Sherman’s infant son Charlie, born in June 1864, died in early December and is buried at Notre Dame. His funeral was presided over by the ND President, Rev. Edward Sorin C.S.C., who had founded the school in 1842. Sherman picked up his family in June 1865 and gave the ND commencement address that yea.

    • Thomas M Fleming says:

      “Making Georgia howl” is another term for the scorched earth war policy implemented upon all races of the civilian population in the south. Making Georgia howl encompassed every war crime known by unleashing wanton destruction and physical assaults upon civilians…the elderly, the infirmed, the children of all races were included. Starvation, torture and death were left in the wake of Shrman’s so called march. The incident at Ebenezer Creek is but one example of Sherman’s “compassion” for slaves who had followed his “soldiers” in the hope of freedom. Instead they were drowned by Sherman.
      Committing atrocities in the name of “the holy union’s” cause is sheer hypocrisy.
      War crimes are nothing to admire or celebrate.

      • aries929 says:

        You cherry pick war crime examples. Sherman was not personally at at Ebeneezer Creek. Yes, it was an atrocity. There are atrocities in war. War is Hell, and Sherman knew how to end a war. Are you familiar with Sherman’s Field Order No. 15? Quite a bold gesture to atone for atrocities.

        https://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/shermans-field-order-no-15

        General Norman Schwarzkopf was guided by his heroes: Hannibal, Alexander the Great, Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman and Creighton Abrams.

        His philosophy is much like theirs: “Hit, hit and keep hitting, because that’s what saves lives.”

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