My Fellow Citizens:

It is with great pleasure and satisfaction I address you as such. I know that my name will be a curse down through your generations. I know your hatred for me – I do not return it. I was keenly aware such feelings would result from the moment in that Cincinnati hotel room when Sam and I decided upon the course we would take to bring the war to its conclusion.
I have always loved the South and Southerners. As the storm clouds of war gathered, I was teaching at the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning & Military Academy (LSU today). I am on record warning that, although you are a brave, fighting people – and that at first you would make headway – the unbounded resources of the North and the inevitable blockade would eventually do you in. Yes, it was true that the vast majority of your soldiers owned no slaves; and the wisest of your slave-holding officers knew slavery must end; but they had a tiger by the tail. Once the drums of war rattled, I knew that it would be an impossible task to ask men not to defend their state, or to sit it out and be thought a coward. You were Virginians, or Georgians or Carolinians, etc. first and foremost. I understand.
Oh, you were indeed brave; and well led. The commander of your Army of Northern Virginia was perhaps the finest grand tactician the western hemisphere has ever produced. Yet no army can go on and on with no bullets, no bread, no clothes and no blankets, and with the knowledge of an army behind them, free to roam about among those most precious to them. Did you know Lee kept newspapers away from his camp as much as he could for this reason?
It had to be brought to an end. As I often said, war is cruelty, and you cannot refine it. How otherwise would you have had it? It was difficult, even while at war with a common enemy, for your Confederacy to act in coordination and unison. How, then, would you have expected it to hold together in peace? It would have broken into ever smaller pieces; and eventually so would the North.
Lincoln did not make war upon you to emancipate slaves, nor did he go to war merely to preserve the Union. He went to war to preserve what was, and is, "the last best hope of earth."
I include, therefore, among my hopes, prayers and accolades of honor, those who fought in grey and butternut as well as those who fought in blue, and their descendants – for without our struggle, would we hold what we have so precious?
You most humble & obed. servant, etc.
William Tecumseh Sherman
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