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[349] Sherman-Johnston ‘memorandum’ has little to do with that of Sherman in agreeing to it. Any person at all acquainted with the politics of the dominant party at that time would have known that it was at least unwise to introduce political questions at all. Besides, he had the example of his superior, the general-in-chief, who had just accepted the surrender of the principal Confederate army from the Confederate generalissimo without any political conditions; and the knowledge of President Lincoln's assassination, which must have made the country unwilling to consent to more liberal terms than had before been granted. Yet, however unwise Sherman's action may have been, the uproar it created, and the attacks upon his honor and integrity for which it was made the excuse, were utterly inexcusable. They were probably unexampled as an exhibition of the effect of great and unusual excitement upon the minds of men unaccustomed to such moral and mental strain.

The most charitable view of this matter seems also to be the most just-namely, that the high officers of government were completely unnerved and lost their heads under the terrible strain produced by President Lincoln's assassination, increased somewhat, perhaps, by a natural apprehension of what might come next. The contrast between this state of excitement in Washington and the marked calm that prevailed throughout the army was very instructive, and it was difficult for any soldier to understand at that time the state of mind in Washington. No part of the people could have felt more deeply or with greater indignation the loss the country had suffered, and the infamous crime by which it had been accomplished. Yet not a ripple of excitement could be seen anywhere in the army. The profound calm which pervades the atmosphere surrounding a great, disciplined, self-confident army is one of the most sublime exhibitions of human nature.

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William T. Sherman (3)
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