I have received your private letter of Feby 29 and duly considered it.
I agree with you that the controversy between Gen Hancock and myself has
two branches, one personal the other public, but
they are so connected
that they cannot be separated: When Gen Hancock's letter of 1876
addressed to you personally appeared I could not regard it as 'official.'
but his last letter was made official, and you must have
? it as belonging to the archives of the War Department for the Secretary
sent an official certified copy of it to the Senate. To this second letter
of Gen Hancock, my paper is the reply. Then that
his scandalous attack upon me by Gen Hancock
reached you it was not referred to me nor any opportunity given me to be
heard in the matter, before but the department took prompt
action upon it adverse to me. It was not until some time after its publication
-- just as I was leaving Charleston that I had any idea of its existence,
I could not do anynothing about it until
fairly settled here, then I had to collect material and evidence; but I
had commenced my reply when in September you ordered me to Kansas. It was
my misfortune for I was very desirous that my paper should pass through
the hands of Sec. McCreary.
I did not return to my post until December, when I finished my paper
as soon as possible and transmitted it to you, that it might
meet the same course treatment that the charges did, be
filed with them in the Archives of the War Department and a copy transmitted
to the Secretary of the Senate.
My paper is not an original attack on Gen Hancock such as entitles him
time to examine it before publication. It is a reply to his attack on me
to a paper already written by him. I have no objection
to Gen Hancock having a copy but I prefer and I prefer that it
be sent as it is without note or comment -- unless the Secretary see fit
to acknowledge the error of his predecessor and I don't ask even that --
If General Hancock has any further charges or explanations to make let
him produce them, then the business of 'referring' might ? commence but
not another(?) stage. I do not want my copy to you of his paper mixed up
and complicated with ???
I am surprised at you proposition to give Gen Hancock a year in which to manipulate my defense against his accusations, In ?? then he has at his disposal the services of his staff with every facility of reference to records, and has received practical aid from the War Department. I being ? handed ?? fair play, equal justice, and that the military authorities do not obstruct my defense.
The accusation involves my good name literally then only thing I have
left after forty years service to leave my
children. I have suffered too much from delay already, and every day makes
it worse. Even handed justice requires that the War Department should file
my reply with the accusations, and send a copy of it as it did of the accusations
themselves at once, to the Senate ??. I have so far ???? as to discussions
between officers but I am the guardian of my own honor and if I find
that the course only obstructs or delays my prompt public vindication
I will be compelled however reluctantly to take the matter into my own
hands and to act as my own judgment may dictate. I cannot believe that
after the active aid given by the War Department office
to Gen Hancock in the publication of these accusations
?. They will now adapt a new set of principles
of action for the purpose of obstructing my vindication of myself.
I have been unwell(?) for ? days. Have not yet been able to see the Revd ? Martin, who has been out of town but am going again this afternoon.
Very truly Yours,
Henry J. Hunt
To: W. T. Sherman
817 Fifteenth St.