General Henry J. Hunt--
5th U.S. Artillery
Your long letter of Feb 25th was laid before me officially by General Townsend yesterday. And I brought it to my house, 817 15th St. for Sundays reading. I have read it all and now answer privately.
I do believe that all written of controversy growing out of the war should if possible be determined by the parties chiefly in interest, whilst they are living and when witnesses still survive.
The present controversy involves two distinct branches -- one of fact and of history -- and one of principles. as to the true mode of administration of the Artillery of an Army in Battle and Campaign -- The first branch is personal to Genl Hancock & Yourself therefore hardly proper to be filed away the archives of the War Dept. without both parties being heard -- therefore if you insist on its being filed. I must decide that Genl Hancock shall have a copy -- and a full year in which to reply -- both papers then to be filed, and left for the judgement of History -- neither to be printed at this time.
The other branch is a perfectly legitimate subject for discussion by Artillery and Professional Soldiers. I doubt if from the nature of our Government we can ever have Army regulations Suited to War -- Our faults of Army administration was borrowed from the French -- who in the Franco-German War sustained a good honest defeat, richly deserved, and have had the good sense to profit by defeat. Thus far we have had success spite of faulty administration, & therefore must go on till defeat teaches us Wisdom.
If you insist on submitting this paper officially, I will refer it to General Hancock, allowing him the same time you have had -- vis one year from answer and then will act on both papers officially.
Truly your friend,
W. T. Sherman