From W.T. Sherman to Major-General Halleck, Nov. 17, 1862. Memphis, Tenn.
"…We have roused, also, the Union element, and our enemies, having burned cotton, taken corn, fodder, and supplies from the country people, have shaken their faith in the secession authorities; so that we have really a substantial beginning of the conversion of the people to our cause.
The new troops come full of the idea of a more vigorous prosecution of the war, meaning destruction and plunder.
I take brick from kilns, lumber from piles, wood, corn, &c., giving brigade quartermaster’s receipts, to be settled at the termination of hostilities on proof of loyalty, claims not transferable; but I do not permit any one below the rank of brigadier to presume to take and appropriate private property.
The quartermaster’s department here has possession of over 600 houses, some of which are used for public purposes and the balance are rented out, bringing over $12,000 a month income. I mention these facts to interest you in your future plans in this quarter of the world…"
Sherman's special order No. 254, from September 1862 in my last post is most likely tied to this letter written in November of that same year. Sherman was renting out empty houses and making money, were these the homes he took from civilians he ordered out of the city?
[I mention these facts to interest you in your future plans in this quarter of the world] Sounds like an incriminating cryptic message.
The Memphis garrison would get a bad reputation for corruption, extortion and graft over the next two years. This seems to implecate Sherman in taking an early part in this practice.