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OFFICE ST. Louis RAILROAD Co.,
Dear Brother :
I know full well the force of what you say. At a moment like this the country expects every man to do his duty. But every man is not at liberty to do as he pleases. You know that Mr. Lincoln said to you and me that he did not think he wanted military men. I was then free, uncommitted. ... I approve fully of Lincoln's determination to use all his ordinary and extraordinary powers to maintain and defend the authority with which he is clothed and the integrity of the nation, and had I not committed myself to another duty, I would most willingly have responded to his call.
The question of the national integrity and slavery should be kept distinct, for otherwise it will gradually become a war of extermination, a war without end. If, when Congress meets, a clearly defined policy be arrived at, a clear end to be accomplished, and then the force adequate to that end be provided for, then I could and would act with some degree of confidence, not now.
I take it for granted that Washington is safe; that Pickeiis can beat off all assailants ; that Key West and Tortugas are strong and able to spare troops for other purposes; that, above all, Fort Monroe is full of men, provisions, and warlike materials, and that the Chesa Ipeake is strongly occupied. Then the first thing will be the avenues of travel. Baltimore must be made to allow the free transit of troops, provisions, and materials without question, and the route from Wheeling to the Relay House kept open. Here there must be some fighting, but a march from Brownsville to Frostburg would be a good drill, via Hagerstown, Frederick, and the Potomac. From present information I apprehend that Virginia will destroy the road from Harper's Ferry west, and maybe the Marylanders will try the balance ; but, without an hour's delay, that line should swarm with troops, who should take no half-way measures.
- The Sherman Letters Correspondence Between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, Book by Rachel Sherman Thorndike, 1894, digitized by the Internet Archive