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HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSOURI,
Dear Brother :
I am again in the midst of trouble, occasioned by a telegram from Grant saying that the order is out for me to come to the command of the military division of the Atlantic Headquarters at Washington. The President repeatedly asked me to accept of some such position, but I thought I had fought it off successfully, though he again and again reverted to it.
Now, it seems, he has ordered it, and it is full of trouble for me. I wrote him one or two letters in Washington which I thought positive enough, but have now written another, and if it fails in its object I might as well cast about for new employment. The result would be certain conflict resulting in Grant's violent deposition, mine, or the President's.
There is not room on board of one ship for more than one captain.
If Grant intends to run for President I should be willing to come on, because my duties would then be so clearly defined that I think I could steer clear of the breakers, but now it would be impossible. The President would make use of me to beget violence, a condition of things that ought not to exist now.
He has no right to use us for such purposes, though he is Commander-in-Chief. I did suppose his passage with Grant would end there, but now it seems he will fight him as he has been doing Congress. I don't object if he does so himself and don't rope me in. ...
If the President forces me into a false position out of seeming favor, I must defend myself. It is mortifying, but none the less inevitable. Affectionately,
- William Sherman