William Tecumseh Sherman: Wikis


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William Tecumseh Sherman
February 8, 1820 (1820-02-08)February 14, 1891 (1891-02-15) (aged 71)
William Tecumseh Sherman Signature.svg
Sherman as a major general in May 1865. The black ribbon of mourning on his left arm is for President Lincoln. Portrait by Mathew Brady.
Nickname Cump, Uncle Billy (by his troops)
Place of birth Lancaster, Ohio
Place of death New York City, New York
Place of burial St. Louis, Missouri
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1840–53, 1861–84
Rank Major General (Civil War),
General of the Army of the United States (postbellum)
Commands held Army of the Tennessee (1863–64)
Military Division of the Mississippi (1864–65)
Commanding General of the United States Army (postbellum)
Battles/wars American Civil War
Awards Thanks of Congress1864 and 1865
Other work Bank manager, lawyer, college superintendent, streetcar executive

William Tecumseh Sherman (February 8, 1820 – February 14, 1891) was an American soldier, businessman, educator and author. He served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War (1861–65), for which he received recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy as well as criticism for the harshness of the "scorched earth" policies that he implemented in conducting total war against the Confederate States.[1] Military historian B. H. Liddell Hart famously declared that Sherman was "the first modern general".[2]

Sherman served under General Ulysses S. Grant in 1862 and 1863 during the campaigns that led to the fall of the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg on the Mississippi River and culminated with the routing of the Confederate armies in the state of Tennessee. In 1864, Sherman succeeded Grant as the Union commander in the western theater of the war. He proceeded to lead his troops to the capture of the city of Atlanta, a military success that contributed to the re-election of President Abraham Lincoln. Sherman's subsequent march through Georgia and the Carolinas further undermined the Confederacy's ability to continue fighting. He accepted the surrender of all the Confederate armies in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida in April 1865.

When Grant became president, Sherman succeeded him as Commanding General of the Army (1869–83). As such, he was responsible for the conduct of the Indian Wars in the western United States. He steadfastly refused to be drawn into politics and in 1875 published his Memoirs, one of the best-known firsthand accounts of the Civil War.


Early life

Sherman was born in 1820 in Lancaster, Ohio, near the shores of the Hocking River. His father Charles Robert Sherman, a successful lawyer who sat on the Ohio Supreme Court, died unexpectedly in 1829. He left his widow, Mary Hoyt Sherman, with eleven children and no inheritance. Following this tragedy, the nine-year-old Sherman was raised by a Lancaster neighbor and family friend, attorney Thomas Ewing, a prominent member of the Whig Party who served as senator from Ohio and as the first Secretary of the Interior. Sherman was distantly related to the politically influential Baldwin, Hoar & Sherman family and grew to admire American founding father Roger Sherman.[3]

Sherman's older brother Charles Taylor Sherman became a federal judge. One of his younger brothers, John Sherman, served as a U.S. senator and Cabinet secretary. Another younger brother, Hoyt Sherman, was a successful banker. Two of his foster brothers served as major generals in the Union Army during the Civil War: Hugh Boyle Ewing, later an ambassador and author, and Thomas Ewing, Jr., who would serve as defense attorney in the military trials against the Lincoln conspirators.


Sherman's given names

Sherman's unusual given name has always attracted considerable attention.[4] Sherman himself reports that his middle name grew from the fact that his father "caught a fancy for the great chief of the Shawnees, 'Tecumseh.'"[5] Since the publication of a 1932 biography, it has often been reported that, as an infant, Sherman was named simply Tecumseh. According to these accounts, Sherman only acquired the name "William" at age nine or ten, after being taken into the Ewing household. His foster mother, Maria Ewing, who was of Irish ancestry, was a devout Catholic. In the Ewing home, Sherman was baptized by a Dominican priest who supposedly used the name William because the event took place on a Saint William's Day – possibly June 25, the feast day of Saint William of Montevergine.[6] However, this colorful account is dubious. Sherman himself states in his Memoirs that his father named him William Tecumseh, and there is corroborating evidence that Sherman was baptized by a Presbyterian minister as an infant and given the name William at that time.[7] As an adult, Sherman signed all his correspondence – even to his wife – "W.T. Sherman,"[8] but his friends and family always called him "Cump".[9] Despite having been baptized twice in his youth, Sherman did not adhere to any organized religion for the latter part of his adult life, although his wife, Ellen Ewing Sherman, was a devout Catholic and his son Thomas became a Catholic priest; according to Thomas, Sherman attended the Catholic Church till the outbreak of the Civil War but not thereafter.[10]

Military training and service

Young Sherman in military uniform

Senator Ewing secured an appointment for the 16-year-old Sherman as a cadet in the United States Military Academy at West Point,[11] where he roomed and became good friends with another important future Civil War General, George H. Thomas. There Sherman excelled academically, but he treated the demerit system with indifference. Fellow cadet William Rosecrans would later remember Sherman at West Point as "one of the brightest and most popular fellows" and "a bright-eyed, red-headed fellow, who was always prepared for a lark of any kind".[12] About his time at West Point, Sherman says only the following in his Memoirs:

"At the Academy I was not considered a good soldier, for at no time was I selected for any office, but remained a private throughout the whole four years. Then, as now, neatness in dress and form, with a strict conformity to the rules, were the qualifications required for office, and I suppose I was found not to excel in any of these. In studies I always held a respectable reputation with the professors, and generally ranked among the best, especially in drawing, chemistry, mathematics, and natural philosophy. My average demerits, per annum, were about one hundred and fifty, which reduced my final class standing from number four to six."[13]

Upon graduation in 1840, Sherman entered the Army as a second lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Artillery and saw action in Florida in the Second Seminole War against the Seminole tribe. He was later stationed in Georgia and South Carolina. As the foster son of a prominent Whig politician, in Charleston, the popular Lt. Sherman moved within the upper circles of Old South society.[14]

While many of his colleagues saw action in the Mexican-American War, Sherman performed administrative duties in the captured territory of California. He and fellow officer Lieutenant Edward Ord reached the town of Yerba Buena two days before its name was changed to San Francisco. In 1848, Sherman accompanied the military governor of California, Col. Richard Barnes Mason, in the inspection that officially confirmed the claim that gold had been discovered in the region, thus inaugurating the California Gold Rush.[15] Sherman, along with the above-mentioned Edward Ord, assisted in surveys for the sub-divisions of the town that would become Sacramento.

Sherman earned a brevet promotion to captain for his "meritorious service", but his lack of a combat assignment discouraged him and may have contributed to his decision to resign his commission. Sherman would become one of the relatively few high-ranking officers in the Civil War who had not fought in Mexico.

Marriage and business career

Painted portrait by G.P.A. Healy (1866)

In 1850, Sherman was promoted to the substantive rank of Captain and married Thomas Ewing's daughter, Eleanor Boyle ("Ellen") Ewing, in a Washington ceremony attended by President Zachary Taylor and other political luminaries. (Thomas Ewing was serving as the first Secretary of the Interior at the time.) [16] Like her mother, Ellen Ewing Sherman was a devout Roman Catholic, and the Shermans' eight children were reared in that faith. In 1864, Ellen took up temporary residence in South Bend, Indiana, to have her young family educated at the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary's College.[17] In 1874, with Sherman having become world famous, their eldest child, Marie Ewing ("Minnie") Sherman, also had a politically prominent wedding, attended by President Ulysses S. Grant and commemorated by a generous gift from the Khedive of Egypt. (Eventually, one of Minnie's daughters married a grandson of Confederate general Lewis Addison Armistead.)[18] Another of the Sherman daughters, Eleanor, was married to Alexander Montgomery Thackara at General Sherman’s home in Washington, D.C., on May 5, 1880. To Sherman's great displeasure and sorrow, one of his sons, Thomas Ewing Sherman, was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1879.[19]

In 1853, Sherman resigned his captaincy and became manager of the San Francisco branch of a St. Louis based bank. He returned to San Francisco at a time of great turmoil in the West. He survived two shipwrecks and floated through the Golden Gate on the overturned hull of a foundering lumber schooner.[20] Sherman suffered from stress-related asthma because of the city's brutal financial climate.[21] Late in life, regarding his time in real-estate-speculation-mad San Francisco, Sherman recalled: "I can handle a hundred thousand men in battle, and take the City of the Sun, but am afraid to manage a lot in the swamp of San Francisco."[22] In 1856, during the vigilante period, he served briefly as a major general of the California militia.[23]

Sherman's San Francisco branch closed in May 1857, and he relocated to New York on behalf of the same bank. When the bank failed during the financial Panic of 1857, he closed the New York branch. In early 1858, he returned to California to wrap-up the bank's affairs there. Later in 1858, he relocated to Leavenworth, Kansas, where he tried his hand at law practice and other ventures without much success.[24]

Military college superintendent

In 1859, Sherman accepted a job as the first superintendent of the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning & Military Academy in Pineville, Louisiana, a position he sought at the suggestion of Major D. C. Buell and secured because of General G. Mason Graham.[25] He proved an effective and popular leader of that institution, which would later become Louisiana State University (LSU).[26] Colonel Joseph P. Taylor, the brother of the late President Zachary Taylor, declared that "if you had hunted the whole army, from one end of it to the other, you could not have found a man in it more admirably suited for the position in every respect than Sherman."[27]

On hearing of South Carolina's secession from the United States, Sherman observed to a close friend, Professor David F. Boyd of Virginia, an enthusiastic secessionist, almost perfectly describing the four years of war to come:

You people of the South don't know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don't know what you're talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it... Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth—right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.[28]
Cannons used to start the Civil War in front of LSU's Military Science Building

In January 1861 just before the outbreak of the Civil War, Sherman was required to accept receipt of arms surrendered to the State Militia by the U.S. Arsenal at Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Instead of complying, he resigned his position as superintendent and returned to the North, declaring to the governor of Louisiana, "On no earthly account will I do any act or think any thought hostile ... to the ... United States."[29]

After the war, General Sherman donated two cannons to the institution. These cannons had been captured from Confederate forces and had been used to start the war when fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. They are still currently on display in front of LSU's Military Science building.[30]

St. Louis interlude

Immediately following his departure from Louisiana, Sherman traveled to Washington, D.C., possibly in the hope of securing a position in the army, and met with Abraham Lincoln in the White House during inauguration week. Sherman expressed concern about the North's poor state of preparedness but found Lincoln unresponsive.[31]

Thereafter, Sherman became president of the St. Louis Railroad, a streetcar company, a position he would hold for only a few months. Thus, he was living in border-state Missouri as the secession crisis came to a climax. While trying to hold himself aloof from controversy, he observed firsthand the efforts of Congressman Frank Blair, who later served under Sherman, to hold Missouri in the Union. In early April, he declined an offer from the Lincoln administration to take a position in the War Department that might have resulting in his becoming Assistant Secretary of War.[32] After the bombardment of Fort Sumter, Sherman hesitated about committing to military service and ridiculed Lincoln's call for 75,000 three-month volunteers to quell secession, reportedly saying: "Why, you might as well attempt to put out the flames of a burning house with a squirt-gun."[33] However, in May, he offered himself for service in the regular army, and his brother (Senator John Sherman) and other connections maneuvered to get him a commission in the regular army.[34] On June 3, he wrote that "I still think it is to be a long war – very long – much longer than any Politician thinks."[35] He received a telegram summoning him to Washington on June 7.[36]

Civil War service

Portrait by Mathew Brady, c.1864

First commissions and Bull Run

Sherman was first commissioned as a colonel in the 13th U.S. Infantry regiment, effective May 14, 1861. This was a new regiment yet to be raised, and Sherman's first command was actually of a brigade of three-month volunteers.[37] With that command, he was one of the few Union officers to distinguish himself at the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861, where he was grazed by bullets in the knee and shoulder. The disastrous Union defeat led Sherman to question his own judgment as an officer and the capacities of his volunteer troops. President Lincoln, however, was impressed by Sherman while visiting the troops on July 23 and promoted him to brigadier general of volunteers (effective May 17, 1861, with seniority in rank to Ulysses S. Grant, his future commander).[38] He was assigned to serve under Robert Anderson in the Department of the Cumberland in Louisville, Kentucky, and in October succeeded Anderson in command of the department. Sherman considered his new assignment to violate a promise from Lincoln that he would not be given such a prominent position.[39]

Breakdown and Shiloh

Having succeeded Anderson at Louisville, Sherman now had principal military responsibility for a border state (Kentucky) in which Confederate troops held Columbus and Bowling Green and were present near the Cumberland Gap.[40] He became exceedingly pessimistic about the outlook for his command, and he complained frequently to Washington, D.C., about shortages and provided exaggerated estimates of the strength of the rebel forces. Very critical press reports appeared about him after an October visit to Louisville by the then Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, and in early November Sherman insisted that he be relieved.[41] He was promptly replaced by Don Carlos Buell and transferred to St. Louis, Missouri. In December, however, he was put on leave by Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck, commander of the Department of the Missouri, who considered him unfit for duty. Sherman went to Lancaster, Ohio, to recuperate. Some consider that, in Kentucky and Missouri, Sherman was in the midst of what today would be described as a nervous breakdown. While he was at home, his wife, Ellen, wrote to his brother Senator John Sherman seeking advice and complaining of "that melancholy insanity to which your family is subject."[42] Sherman himself later wrote that the concerns of command “broke me down," and he admitted contemplating "suicide".[43] His problems were further compounded when the Cincinnati Commercial described him as "insane".[44]

By mid-December, however, Sherman was sufficiently recovered to return to service under Halleck in the Department of the Missouri (in March, Halleck's command was redesignated the Department of the Mississippi and enlarged to unify command in the West). Sherman's initial assignments were rear-echelon commands, first of an instructional barracks near St. Louis and then command of the District of Cairo.[45] Operating from Paducah, Kentucky, he provided logistical support for the operations of Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to capture Fort Donelson. Grant, the previous commander of the District of Cairo, had recently won a major victory at Fort Henry and been given command of the ill-defined District of West Tennessee. Although Sherman was technically the senior officer at this time, he wrote to Grant, "I feel anxious about you as I know the great facilities [the Confederates] have of concentration by means of the River and R Road, but [I] have faith in you — Command me in any way."[46]

Detail from Sherman Memorial, Washington

After Grant captured Fort Donelson, Sherman got his wish of serving under Grant when he was assigned on March 1, 1862, to the Army of West Tennessee as commander of the 5th Division.[47] His first major test under Grant was at the Battle of Shiloh. The massive Confederate attack on the morning of April 6, 1862, took most of the senior Union commanders by surprise. Sherman in particular had dismissed the intelligence reports that he had received from militia officers, refusing to believe that Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston would leave his base at Corinth. He took no precautions beyond strengthening his picket lines, refusing to entrench, build abatis, or push out reconnaissance patrols. At Shiloh, he may have wished to avoid appearing overly alarmed in order to escape the kind of criticism he had received in Kentucky. He had written to his wife that, if he took more precautions, "they'd call me crazy again".[48]

Despite being caught unprepared by the attack, Sherman rallied his division and conducted an orderly, fighting retreat that helped avert a disastrous Union rout. Finding Grant at the end of the day sitting under an oak tree in the darkness smoking a cigar, he experienced, in his own words "some wise and sudden instinct not to mention retreat". Instead, in what would become one of the most famous conversations of the war, Sherman said simply: "Well, Grant, we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?" After a puff of his cigar, Grant replied calmly: "Yes. Lick 'em tomorrow, though."[49] Sherman would prove instrumental to the successful Union counterattack of April 7, 1862. At Shiloh, Sherman was wounded twice—in the hand and shoulder—and had three horses shot out from under him. His performance was praised by Grant and Halleck and after the battle, he was promoted to major general of volunteers, effective May 1, 1862.[47]

Beginning in late April, a Union force of 100,000 moved slowly against Corinth, under Halleck's command with Grant relegated to a role he found unsatisfactory as second-in-command to Halleck; Sherman commanded the division on the extreme right of the Union's right wing (under George H. Thomas). Shortly after the Union forces occupied Corinth on May 30, Sherman persuaded Grant not to leave his command, despite the serious difficulties he was having with his commander, General Halleck. Sherman offered Grant an example from his own life, "Before the battle of Shiloh, I was cast down by a mere newspaper assertion of 'crazy', but that single battle gave me new life, and I'm now in high feather." He told Grant that, if he remained in the army, "some happy accident might restore you to favor and your true place."[50] In July, Grant's situation improved when Halleck left for the East to become general-in-chief, and Sherman became the military governor of occupied Memphis.[51]

Vicksburg and Chattanooga

Map of the Battles for Chattanooga, 1863

The careers of both officers ascended considerably after that time. In Sherman's case, this was in part because he developed close personal ties to Grant during the two years they served together in the West.[52] However, at one point during the long and complicated Vicksburg campaign, one newspaper complained that the "army was being ruined in mud-turtle expeditions, under the leadership of a drunkard [Grant], whose confidential adviser [Sherman] was a lunatic."[53]

Sherman's own military record in 1862–63 was mixed. In December 1862, forces under his command suffered a severe repulse at the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou, just north of Vicksburg, Mississippi.[54] Soon after, his XV Corps was ordered to join Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand in his successful assault on Arkansas Post, generally regarded as a politically motivated distraction from the effort to capture Vicksburg.[55] Before the Vicksburg Campaign in the spring of 1863, Sherman expressed serious reservations about the wisdom of Grant's unorthodox strategy,[56] but he went on to perform well in that campaign under Grant's supervision. After the surrender of Vicksburg to the Union forces under General Grant on July 4, 1863, Sherman was given the rank of brigadier general in the regular army in addition to his rank as a major general of volunteers. Sherman's family came from Ohio to visit his camp near Vicksburg; their visit resulted in the death of his nine-year-old son, Willie, the Little Sergeant, from typhoid fever.[57]

While traveling to Chattanooga, General Sherman departed Memphis on a train that arrived at the Battle of Collierville, Tenn., while the Union garrison there was under attack on October 11, 1863. General Sherman took command of the 550 men and successfully defended against an attack of 3,500 Confederate cavalry.

Thereafter, command in the West was unified under Grant (Military Division of the Mississippi), and Sherman succeeded Grant in command of the Army of the Tennessee. During the Battle of Chattanooga in November, under Grant's overall command, Sherman quickly took his assigned target of Billy Goat Hill at the north end of Missionary Ridge, only to discover that it was not part of the ridge at all, but rather a detached spur separated from the main spine by a rock-strewn ravine. When he attempted to attack the main spine at Tunnel Hill, his troops were repeatedly repulsed by Patrick Cleburne's heavy division, the best unit in Braxton Bragg's army. Sherman's effort was overshadowed by George Henry Thomas's army's successful assault on the center of the Confederate line, a movement originally intended as a diversion.[58] Subsequently, Sherman led a column to relieve Union forces under Ambrose Burnside thought to be in peril at Knoxville and, in February 1864, led an expedition to Meridian, Mississippi, to disrupt Confederate infrastructure.[59]


Map of Sherman's campaigns in Georgia and the Carolinas, 1864–1865

Despite this mixed record, Sherman enjoyed Grant's confidence and friendship. When Lincoln called Grant east in the spring of 1864 to take command of all the Union armies, Grant appointed Sherman (by then known to his soldiers as "Uncle Billy") to succeed him as head of the Military Division of the Mississippi, which entailed command of Union troops in the Western Theater of the war. As Grant took overall command of the armies of the United States, Sherman wrote to him outlining his strategy to bring the war to an end concluding that "if you can whip Lee and I can march to the Atlantic I think ol' Uncle Abe will give us twenty days leave to see the young folks."[60]

Sherman proceeded to invade the state of Georgia with three armies: the 60,000-strong Army of the Cumberland under George Henry Thomas, the 25,000-strong Army of the Tennessee under James B. McPherson, and the 13,000-strong Army of the Ohio under John M. Schofield.[61] He fought a lengthy campaign of maneuver through mountainous terrain against Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee, attempting a direct assault only at the disastrous Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. In July, the cautious Johnston was replaced by the more aggressive John Bell Hood, who played to Sherman's strength by challenging him to direct battles on open ground. Meanwhile, in August, Sherman "learned that I had been commissioned a major-general in the regular army, which was unexpected, and not desired until successful in the capture of Atlanta."[62]

Sherman's Atlanta Campaign concluded successfully on September 2, 1864, with the capture of the city, abandoned by Hood. After ordering almost all civilians to leave the city in September, Sherman ordered in November that all military and government buildings be burned, although many private homes and shops were burned as well.[63] This was to set a precedent for future behavior by his armies. Capturing Atlanta was an accomplishment that made Sherman a household name in the North and helped ensure Lincoln's presidential re-election in November. In the summer of that year, it had appeared likely that Lincoln would be defeated; in August, the Democratic Party nominated as its candidate George B. McClellan, the former Union army commander. Lincoln's defeat might well have meant the victory of the Confederacy, as the Democratic Party platform called for peace negotiations based on the acknowledgment of the Confederacy's independence. Thus the capture of Atlanta, coming when it did, may have been Sherman's greatest contribution to the Union cause.[64]

Green-Meldrim house, where Sherman stayed after taking Savannah in 1864

During September and October, Sherman and Hood played cat-and-mouse in north Georgia (and Alabama) as Hood threatened Sherman's communications to the north. Eventually, Sherman won approval from his superiors for a plan to cut loose from his communications and march south, having advised Grant that he could "make Georgia howl".[65] This created the threat that Hood would move north into Tennessee. Trivializing that threat, Sherman reportedly said that he would "give [Hood] his rations" to go in that direction as "my business is down south."[66] However, Sherman left forces under Maj. Gens. George H. Thomas and John M. Schofield to deal with Hood; their forces eventually smashed Hood's army in the battles of Franklin (November 30) and Nashville (December 15–16).[67] Meanwhile, after the November elections, Sherman began a march with 62,000 men to the port of Savannah, Georgia, living off the land and causing, by his own estimate, more than $100 million in property damage.[68] Sherman called this harsh tactic of material war "hard war", often seen as a species of total war.[69] At the end of this campaign, known as Sherman's March to the Sea, his troops captured Savannah on December 21, 1864.[70] Sherman then dispatched a famous message to Lincoln, offering him the city as a Christmas present.[71]

Sherman's success in Georgia received ample coverage in the Northern press at a time when Grant seemed to be making little progress in his fight against Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. A bill was introduced in Congress to promote Sherman to Grant's rank of lieutenant general, probably with a view towards having him replace Grant as commander of the Union Army. Sherman wrote both to his brother, Senator John Sherman, and to General Grant vehemently repudiating any such promotion.[72] According to a war-time account,[73] it was around this time that Sherman made his memorable declaration of loyalty to Grant:

It is related that a distinguished civilian, who visited him at Savannah, desirous of ascertaining his real opinion of General Grant, began to speak of him in terms of depreciation. "It won't do; it won't do, Mr. _____", said Sherman, in his quick, nervous way; "General Grant is a great general. I know him well. He stood by me when I was crazy, and I stood by him when he was drunk; and now, sir, we stand by each other always."
General Sherman with Generals Howard, Logan, Hazen, Davis, Slocum, and Mower, photographed by Mathew Brady, May 1865

While in Savannah, Sherman also suffered the blow of learning from a newspaper that his infant son Charles Celestine had died during the march to the sea; the general had never even seen the child.[74]

Final campaigns in the Carolinas

For the next step, Grant initially ordered Sherman to embark his army on steamers to join the Union forces confronting Lee in Virginia. Instead, Sherman persuaded Grant to allow him to march north through the Carolinas, destroying everything of military value along the way, as he had done in Georgia. He was particularly interested in targeting South Carolina, the first state to secede from the Union, for the effect it would have on Southern morale.[75] His army proceeded north through South Carolina against light resistance from the troops of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston. Upon hearing that Sherman's men were advancing on corduroy roads through the Salkehatchie swamps at a rate of a dozen miles per day, Johnston "made up his mind that there had been no such army in existence since the days of Julius Caesar."[76]

Sherman captured the state capital of Columbia, South Carolina, on February 17, 1865. Fires began that night and by next morning, most of the central city was destroyed. The burning of Columbia has engendered controversy ever since, with some claiming the fires were accidental, others a deliberate act of vengeance, and still others that the retreating Confederates burned bales of cotton on their way out of town.[77] Local Native American Lumbee guides helped Sherman's army cross the Lumber River through torrential rains and into North Carolina. According to Sherman, the trek across the Lumber River, and through the swamps, pocosins, and creeks of Robeson County "was the damnedest marching I ever saw."[78] Thereafter, his troops did little damage to the civilian infrastructure, as North Carolina, unlike its southern neighbor, which was seen as a hotbed of secession, was regarded by his men to be only a reluctant Confederate state, because of its position as one of the last to join the Confederacy.

The Burning of Columbia, South Carolina (1865) by William Waud for Harper's Weekly

In late March, Sherman briefly left his forces and traveled to City Point, Virginia, to consult with Grant. Lincoln happened to be at City Point at the same time, allowing the only three-way meeting of Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman during the war.[79]

Following Sherman's victory over Johnston's troops at the Battle of Bentonville, Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House, and Lincoln's assassination, Sherman met with Johnston at Bennett Place in Durham, North Carolina, to negotiate a Confederate surrender. At the insistence of Johnston and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Sherman offered generous terms that dealt with both political and military issues. Sherman thought his terms were consistent with the views Lincoln had expressed at City Point, but the general had no authority to offer such terms from General Grant, newly installed President Andrew Johnson, or the Cabinet. The government in Washington, D.C., refused to honor the terms, precipitating a long-lasting feud between Sherman and the Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton. Confusion over this issue lasted until April 26, 1865, when Johnston, ignoring instructions from President Davis, agreed to purely military terms and formally surrendered his army and all the Confederate forces in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida, becoming the largest surrender of the American Civil War.[80] Sherman proceeded with his troops to Washington, D.C., where they marched in the Grand Review of the Armies on May 24, 1865 and were then disbanded. Having become the second most important general in the Union army, he thus had come full circle to the city where he started his war-time service as colonel of a non-existent infantry regiment.

Slavery and emancipation

Portrait by Mathew Brady or Levin C. Handy, between 1865 and 1880

Though he came to disapprove of slavery, Sherman was not an abolitionist before the war, and like many of his time and background, he did not believe in "Negro equality".[81] His military campaigns of 1864 and 1865 freed many slaves, who greeted him "as a second Moses or Aaron"[82] and joined his marches through Georgia and the Carolinas by the tens of thousands.

The fate of these refugees became a pressing military and political issue. Some abolitionists accused Sherman of doing little to alleviate the precarious living conditions of the freed slaves.[83] To address this issue, on January 12, 1865, Sherman met in Savannah with Secretary of War Stanton and with twenty local black leaders. After Sherman's departure, Garrison Frazier, a Baptist minister, declared in response to an inquiry about the feelings of the black community:

We looked upon General Sherman, prior to his arrival, as a man, in the providence of God, specially set apart to accomplish this work, and we unanimously felt inexpressible gratitude to him, looking upon him as a man that should be honored for the faithful performance of his duty. Some of us called upon him immediately upon his arrival, and it is probable he did not meet [Secretary Stanton] with more courtesy than he met us. His conduct and deportment toward us characterized him as a friend and a gentleman.[84]

Four days later, Sherman issued his Special Field Orders, No. 15. The orders provided for the settlement of 40,000 freed slaves and black refugees on land expropriated from white landowners in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Sherman appointed Brig. Gen. Rufus Saxton, an abolitionist from Massachusetts who had previously directed the recruitment of black soldiers, to implement that plan.[85] Those orders, which became the basis of the claim that the Union government had promised freed slaves "40 acres and a mule", were revoked later that year by President Andrew Johnson.

Although the context is often overlooked, and the quotation usually chopped off, one of Sherman's most famous statements about his hard-war views arose in part from the racial attitudes summarized above. In his Memoirs, Sherman noted political pressures in 1864–1865 to encourage the escape of slaves, in part to avoid the possibility that "'able-bodied slaves will be called into the military service of the rebels.'"[86] Sherman thought concentration on such policies would have delayed the "successful end" of the war and the "liberat[ion of] all slaves."[87] He went on to summarize vividly his hard-war philosophy and to add, in effect, that he really did not want the help of liberated slaves in subduing the South:

My aim then was to whip the rebels, to humble their pride, to follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread us. "Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." I did not want them to cast in our teeth what General Hood had once done at Atlanta, that we had to call on their slaves to help us to subdue them. But, as regards kindness to the race ..., I assert that no army ever did more for that race than the one I commanded at Savannah.[88]


General Sherman's record as a tactician was mixed, and his military legacy rests primarily on his command of logistics and on his brilliance as a strategist. The influential 20th century British military historian and theorist B. H. Liddell Hart ranked Sherman as one of the most important strategists in the annals of war, along with Scipio Africanus, Belisarius, Napoleon Bonaparte, T. E. Lawrence, and Erwin Rommel. Liddell Hart credited Sherman with mastery of maneuver warfare (also known as the "indirect approach"), as demonstrated by his series of turning movements against Johnston during the Atlanta Campaign. Liddell Hart also stated that study of Sherman's campaigns had contributed significantly to his own "theory of strategy and tactics in mechanized warfare", which had in turn influenced Heinz Guderian's doctrine of Blitzkrieg and Rommel's use of tanks during the Second World War.[89] Another WWII-era student of Liddell Hart's writings about Sherman was George S. Patton, who "'spent a long vacation studying Sherman's campaigns on the ground in Georgia and the Carolinas, with the aid of [LH's] book'" and later "'carried out his [bold] plans, in super-Sherman style'".[90]

Sherman's greatest contribution to the war, the strategy of total warfare—endorsed by General Grant and President Lincoln—has been the subject of much controversy. Sherman himself downplayed his role in conducting total war, often saying that he was simply carrying out orders as best he could in order to fulfill his part of Grant's master plan for ending the war.

Total warfare

Like Grant, Sherman was convinced that the Confederacy's strategic, economic, and psychological ability to wage further war needed to be definitively crushed if the fighting were to end. Therefore, he believed that the North had to conduct its campaign as a war of conquest and employ scorched earth tactics to break the backbone of the rebellion, which he called "hard war".

Sherman's advance through Georgia and South Carolina was characterized by widespread destruction of civilian supplies and infrastructure. Although looting was officially forbidden, historians disagree on how well this regulation was enforced.[91] The speed and efficiency of the destruction by Sherman's army was remarkable. The practice of bending rails around trees, leaving behind what came to be known as Sherman's neckties, made repairs difficult. Accusations that civilians were targeted and war crimes were committed on the march have made Sherman a controversial figure to this day, particularly in the South.

1868 engraving by Alexander Hay Ritchie depicting the March to the Sea

The damage done by Sherman was almost entirely limited to the destruction of property. Though exact figures are not available, the loss of civilian life appears to have been very small.[92] Consuming supplies, wrecking infrastructure, and undermining morale were Sherman's stated goals, and several of his Southern contemporaries noted this and commented on it. For instance, Alabama-born Major Henry Hitchcock, who served in Sherman's staff, declared that "it is a terrible thing to consume and destroy the sustenance of thousands of people", but if the scorched earth strategy served "to paralyze their husbands and fathers who are fighting ... it is mercy in the end."[93]

The severity of the destructive acts by Union troops was significantly greater in South Carolina than in Georgia or North Carolina. This appears to have been a consequence of the animosity among both Union soldiers and officers to the state that they regarded as the "cockpit of secession".[94] One of the most serious accusations against Sherman was that he allowed his troops to burn the city of Columbia. Sherman himself stated that "[i]f I had made up my mind to burn Columbia I would have burnt it with no more feeling than I would a common prairie dog village; but I did not do it ..."[95] Historian James M. McPherson has concluded that:

The fullest and most dispassionate study of this controversy blames all parties in varying proportions—including the Confederate authorities for the disorder that characterized the evacuation of Columbia, leaving thousands of cotton bales on the streets (some of them burning) and huge quantities of liquor undestroyed ... Sherman did not deliberately burn Columbia; a majority of Union soldiers, including the general himself, worked through the night to put out the fires.[96]

Sherman's official report on the burning placed the blame on Confederate Lt. Gen. Wade Hampton III, who Sherman said had ordered the burning of cotton in the streets. In his memoirs, Sherman said, "In my official report of this conflagration I distinctly charged it to General Wade Hampton, and confess I did so pointedly to shake the faith of his people in him, for he was in my opinion a braggart and professed to be the special champion of South Carolina."[97] In this general connection, it is also noteworthy that Sherman and his subordinates (particularly John A. Logan) took steps to protect Raleigh, North Carolina, from acts of revenge after the assassination of President Lincoln.[98]

In 1867 a chance meeting of former combatants occurred in Federal Governor Orr's office in Columbia. Gen. Howard, commander of the US 15th Corps of Sherman's army during the burning, was to be introduced to Gen. Hampton in the presence of many dignitaries. Gen. Hampton said, "Before I take your hand General Howard, tell me who burnt Columbia?" Gen. Howard replied, "It is useless to deny that our troops burnt Columbia, for I saw them in the act." (See Edwin J. Scott, Random Recollections of a Long Life. page 185; The Burning of Columbia, Charleston, SC, 1888, page 11.)

Modern assessment

Map of Sherman's advance from Atlanta to Goldsboro

After the fall of Atlanta in 1864, Sherman ordered the city's evacuation. When the city council appealed to him to rescind that order, on the grounds that it would cause great hardship to women, children, the elderly, and others who bore no responsibility for the conduct of the war, Sherman sent a response in which he sought to articulate his conviction that a lasting peace would be possible only if the Union were restored, and that he was therefore prepared to do all he could do to quash the rebellion:

You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace. But you cannot have peace and a division of our country. If the United States submits to a division now, it will not stop, but will go on until we reap the fate of Mexico, which is eternal war.[...] I want peace, and believe it can only be reached through union and war, and I will ever conduct war with a view to perfect and early success. But, my dear sirs, when peace does come, you may call on me for anything. Then will I share with you the last cracker, and watch with you to shield your homes and families against danger from every quarter.[99]

Literary critic Edmund Wilson found in Sherman's Memoirs a fascinating and disturbing account of an "appetite for warfare" that "grows as it feeds on the South".[100] Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara refers equivocally to the statement that "war is cruelty and you cannot refine it" in both the book Wilson's Ghost[101] and in his interview for the film The Fog of War.

But when comparing Sherman's scorched-earth campaigns to the actions of the British Army during the Second Boer War (1899–1902)—another war in which civilians were targeted because of their central role in sustaining an armed resistance—South African historian Hermann Giliomee declares that it "looks as if Sherman struck a better balance than the British commanders between severity and restraint in taking actions proportional to legitimate needs".[102] The admiration of scholars such as Victor Davis Hanson, B. H. Liddell Hart, Lloyd Lewis, and John F. Marszalek for General Sherman owes much to what they see as an approach to the exigencies of modern armed conflict that was both effective and principled.

Postbellum service

Illustration from the second edition of Sherman's Memoirs, 1889

In May 1865, after the major Confederate armies had surrendered, Sherman wrote in a personal letter:

I confess, without shame, I am sick and tired of fighting—its glory is all moonshine; even success the most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies, with the anguish and lamentations of distant families, appealing to me for sons, husbands and fathers ... tis only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded and lacerated ... that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation.[103]

In July 1865, only three months after Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, General W. T. Sherman was put in charge of the Military Division of the Missouri, which included every territory west of the Mississippi. Sherman's main concern as commanding general was to protect the construction and operation of the railroads from attack by hostile Indians. In his campaigns against the Indian tribes, Sherman repeated his Civil War strategy by seeking not only to defeat the enemy's soldiers, but also to destroy the resources that allowed the enemy to sustain its warfare. The policies he implemented included the extensive killing of large numbers of buffalo, which were the primary source of food for the Plains Indians.[104]

Sherman's views on Indian matters were often strongly expressed. He regarded the railroads "as the most important element now in progress to facilitate the military interests of our Frontier." Hence, in 1867, he wrote to Grant that "[w]e are not going to let a few thieving, ragged Indians check and stop the progress of [the railroads]."[105] After the 1866 Fetterman Massacre, Sherman wrote Grant that "[w]e must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women and children."[106] After George Armstrong Custer's defeat at the Battle of Little Bighorn, Sherman wrote that "hostile savages like Sitting Bull and his band of outlaw Sioux ... must feel the superior power of the Government."[107] He further wrote that "[d]uring an assault, the soldiers can not pause to distinguish between male and female, or even discriminate as to age."[108] Despite his harsh treatment of the warring tribes, Sherman spoke out against the unfair way speculators and government agents treated the natives within the reservations.[109]

On July 25, 1866, Congress created the rank of General of the Army for Grant and then promoted Sherman to lieutenant general. When Grant became president in 1869, Sherman was appointed Commanding General of the United States Army. After the death of John A. Rawlins, Sherman also served for one month as interim Secretary of War. His tenure as commanding general was marred by political difficulties, and from 1874 to 1876, he moved his headquarters to St. Louis, Missouri in an attempt to escape from them. One of his significant contributions as head of the Army was the establishment of the Command School (now the Command and General Staff College) at Fort Leavenworth.

In 1875 Sherman published his memoirs in two volumes. According to critic Edmund Wilson, Sherman

had a trained gift of self-expression and was, as Mark Twain says, a master of narrative. [In his Memoirs] the vigorous account of his pre-war activities and his conduct of his military operations is varied in just the right proportion and to just the right degree of vivacity with anecdotes and personal experiences. We live through his campaigns [...] in the company of Sherman himself. He tells us what he thought and what he felt, and he never strikes any attitudes or pretends to feel anything he does not feel.[110]
Shoulder strap insignia, introduced by Sherman in 1872 for his use as General of the Army

On June 19, 1879, Sherman delivered an address to the graduating class of the Michigan Military Academy, in which he may have uttered the famous phrase "War Is Hell".[111] On April 11, 1880, he addressed a crowd of more than 10,000 at Columbus, Ohio: "There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell."[112] In 1945, President Harry S. Truman would say: "Sherman was wrong. I'm telling you I find peace is hell."[113]

Sherman stepped down as commanding general on November 1, 1883, and retired from the army on February 8, 1884. He lived most of the rest of his life in New York City. He was devoted to the theater and to amateur painting and was much in demand as a colorful speaker at dinners and banquets, in which he indulged a fondness for quoting Shakespeare.[114] Sherman was proposed as a Republican candidate for the presidential election of 1884, but declined as emphatically as possible, saying, "If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve."[115] Such a categorical rejection of a candidacy is now referred to as a "Shermanesque statement".

Autobiography and memoirs

Around 1868, Sherman wrote (or at least began) a “private” recollection for his children about his life before the Civil War—identified now as his unpublished “Autobiography, 1828-1861.” This manuscript is held by the Ohio Historical Society. Much of the material in it would eventually be incorporated in revised form in his memoirs.

Sheet music for "Sherman's March to the Sea"

In 1875, ten years after the end of the Civil War, Sherman became one of the first Civil War generals to publish a memoir.[116] His Memoirs of General William T. Sherman. By Himself, published by D. Appleton & Co., in two volumes, began with the year 1846 (when the Mexican War began) and ended with a chapter about the “military lessons of the [civil] war” (1875 edition: Volume I; Volume II ). The memoirs were controversial, and sparked complaints from many quarters.[117] Grant (serving as President when Sherman’s memoirs first appeared) later remarked that others had told him that Sherman treated Grant unfairly but “when I finished the book, I found I approved every word; that ... it was a true book, an honorable book, creditable to Sherman, just to his companions — to myself particularly so — just such a book as I expected Sherman would write.”[118]

In 1886, after the publication of Grant’s memoirs, Sherman produced a "second edition, revised and corrected" of his memoirs with Appleton. The new edition added a second preface, a chapter about his life up to 1846, a chapter concerning the post-war period (ending with his 1884 retirement from the army), several appendices, portraits, improved maps, and an index (1886 edition: Volume I, Volume II). For the most part, Sherman refused to revise his original text on the ground that “I disclaim the character of historian, but assume to be a witness on the stand before the great tribunal of history” and “any witness who may disagree with me should publish his own version of [the] facts in the truthful narration of which he is interested." However, Sherman did add the appendices, in which he published the views of some others.[119]

Sherman in his later years, in civilian evening clothes

Subsequently, Sherman shifted to the publishing house of Charles L. Webster & Co., the publisher of Grant’s memoirs. The new publishing house brought out a “third edition, revised and corrected” in 1890. This difficult-to-find edition was substantively identical to the second (except for the probable omission of Sherman's short 1875 and 1886 prefaces).[120]

After Sherman died in 1891, there were dueling new editions of his memoirs. His first publisher, Appleton, reissued the original (1875) edition with two new chapters about Sherman’s later years added by the journalist W. Fletcher Johnson (1891 Johnson edition: Volume I, Volume II). Meanwhile, Charles L. Webster & Co. issued a “fourth edition, revised, corrected, and complete” with the text of Sherman’s second edition, a new chapter prepared under the auspices of the Sherman family bringing the general’s life from his retirement to his death and funeral, and an appreciation by politician James G. Blaine (who was related to Sherman's wife). Unfortunately, this edition omits Sherman’s prefaces to the 1875 and 1886 editions (1891 Blaine edition: Volume I, Volume II).

In 1904 and 1913, Sherman’s youngest son (Philemon Tecumseh Sherman) republished the memoirs, ironically with Appleton (not Charles L. Webster & Co.). This was designated as a “second edition, revised and corrected.” This edition contains Sherman’s two prefaces, his 1886 text, and the materials added in the 1891 Blaine edition. Thus, this virtually invisible edition of Sherman's memoirs is actually the most comprehensive version.

There are many modern editions of Sherman’s memoirs. The edition most useful for research purposes is the 1990 Library of America version, edited by Charles Royster. It contains the entire text of Sherman’s 1886 edition, together with annotations, a note on the text, and a detailed chronology of Sherman’s life. Missing from this edition, however, is the useful biographical material contained in the 1891 Johnson and Blaine editions.

Published correspondence

Many of Sherman's official war-time letters (and other items) appear in the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion. Some of these letters are rather personal in nature, rather than relating directly to operational activities of the army. There also are at least five published collections of Sherman correspondence:

  • Sherman's Civil War: Selected Correspondence of William T. Sherman, 1860–1865, edited by Brooks D. Simpson and Jean V. Berlin (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1999) – a large collection of war-time letters (November 1860 to May 1865).
  • Sherman at War, edited by Joseph H. Ewing (Dayton, OH: Morningside, 1992) – approximately thirty war time letters to Sherman's father-in-law, Thomas Ewing, and one of his brothers-in-law, Philemon B. Ewing.
  • Home Letters of General Sherman, edited by M.A. DeWolfe Howe (New York: Charles Scribner's Son, 1909) – edited letters to his wife, Ellen Ewing Sherman, from 1837 to 1888.
  • The Sherman Letters: Correspondence Between General Sherman and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, edited by Rachel Sherman Thorndike (New York: Charles Scribner's Son, 1894) – edited letters to his brother, Senator John Sherman, from 1837 to 1891.
  • General W.T. Sherman as College President, edited by Walter L. Fleming (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Co., 1912) – edited letters and other documents from Sherman's 1859–1861 service as superintendent of the Louisiana Seminary of Learning and Military Academy.

Death and posterity

Monument in Washington, D.C.

Sherman died in New York City on February 14, 1891. On February 19, there was a funeral service held at his home there, followed by a military procession. Sherman's body was then transported to St. Louis, where another service was conducted on February 21, 1891 at a local Catholic church. His son, Thomas Ewing Sherman, a Jesuit priest, presided over his father's funeral mass. General Joseph E. Johnston, the Confederate officer who had commanded the resistance to Sherman's troops in Georgia and the Carolinas, served as a pallbearer in New York City. It was a bitterly cold day and a friend of Johnston, fearing that the general might become ill, asked him to put on his hat. Johnston famously replied: "If I were in [Sherman's] place, and he were standing in mine, he would not put on his hat." Johnston did catch a serious cold and died one month later of pneumonia.[121]

Sherman is buried in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis. Major memorials to Sherman include the gilded bronze equestrian statue by Augustus Saint-Gaudens at the main entrance to Central Park in New York City and the major monument by Carl Rohl-Smith near President's Park in Washington, D.C. Other posthumous tributes include the naming of the World War II M4 Sherman tank[122] and the "General Sherman" Giant Sequoia tree, the most massive documented single-trunk tree in the world.

Sherman depicted on U.S. postage stamp, 1894 issue.

Some of the artistic treatments of Sherman's march are the Civil War era song "Marching Through Georgia" by Henry Clay Work; Herman Melville's poem "The March to the Sea"; Ross McElwee's film Sherman's March; and E. L. Doctorow's novel The March. At the beginning of Margaret Mitchell's novel Gone with the Wind, first published in 1936, the fictional character Rhett Butler warns a group of upper-class secessionists of the folly of war with the North in terms very reminiscent of those Sherman directed to David F. Boyd before leaving Louisiana. Sherman's invasion of Georgia later plays a central role in the plot of the novel. Charles Beaumont in the Twilight Zone episode "Long Live Walter Jameson" has the lead character (a history professor) comment on the burning of Atlanta that the union soldiers did it unwillingly at the behest of a Sherman described as sullen and brutish. The presentation of Sherman in popular culture is now discussed at book-length in Sherman's March in Myth and Memory (Rowman and Littlefield, 2008), by Edward Caudill and Paul Ashdown.

See also




  1. ^ One historian has written that Sherman's "genius" for "strategy and logistics ... made him one of the foremost architects of Union victory." Steven E. Woodworth, Nothing but Victory: The Army of the Tennessee, 1861-1865 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 631. For a very critical study of Sherman, see John B. Walters, Merchant of Terror: General Sherman and Total War (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1973).
  2. ^ Liddell Hart, p. 430.
  3. ^ See, William T. Sherman papers, Notre Dame University CSHR 19/67 Folder:Roger Sherman's Watch 1932–1942
  4. ^ One nineteenth century source, for example, states that "General Sherman, we believe, is the only eminent American named from an Indian chief."Howe's Historical Collections of Ohio (Columbus, 1890), I:595.
  5. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, p. 11.
  6. ^ Lewis, p. 34.
  7. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, p. 11; Lewis, p. 23; Schenker, "'My Father . . . Named Me William Tecumseh': Rebutting the Charge That General Sherman Lied About His Name", Ohio History (2008), vol. 115, p. 55; Sherman biographer John Marszalek considers the cited article to "present a convincing case regarding Sherman's name". Marszalek, "Preface" to 2007 edition of Sherman: A Soldier's Passion for Order, pp. xiv-xv n.1.
  8. ^ See, e.g., the many Civil War letters reproduced in Brooks D. Simpson and Jean V. Berlin, Sherman's Civil War: Selected Correspondence of William T. Sherman (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1999).
  9. ^ See, for instance, Walsh, p. 32.
  10. ^ For discussion of Sherman's religious views, see Hirshson, pp. 387–388. At the time of Sherman's death, his son Thomas, a Jesuit, reportedly said: "My father was baptized in the Catholic Church, married in the Catholic Church, and attended the Catholic Church until the outbreak of the civil war. Since that time he has not been a communicant of any church ..." Thomas C. Fletcher, Life and Reminiscences of General Wm. T. Sherman by Distinguished Men of His Time (Baltimore: R.H. Woodward Co., 1891), 139. According to one memoirist, Sherman advised him in 1887, "My family is strongly Roman Catholic, but I am not." Edward W. Bok, The Americanization of Edward Bok (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920), 215.
  11. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, p. 14
  12. ^ Quoted in Hirshson, p. 13
  13. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, p. 16
  14. ^ See, for instance, Hirshson, p. 21
  15. ^ See Sherman at the Virtual Museum of San Francisco and excerpts from Sherman's Memoirs
  16. ^ Katherine Burton, Three Generations: Maria Boyle Ewing - Ellen Ewing Sherman - Minnie Sherman Fitch (Longmans, Green & Co., 1947), pp. 72–78.
  17. ^ Edward Sorin, CSC, The Chronicles of Notre Dame Du Lac ed. James T. Connelly, CSC (Notre Dame: Notre Dame Press, 1992), 289.
  18. ^ Burton, pp. 217–21, 226–27, 291.
  19. ^ See, for instance, Hirshson, pp. 362–368, 387
  20. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, pp. 125–129.
  21. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, pp. 131–134, 166.
  22. ^ Quoted in Royster, pp. 133–134
  23. ^ Memoirs, chronology, p. 1093.
  24. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, pp. 150–61. For details about Sherman's banking career, see Dwight L. Clarke, William Tecumseh Sherman: Gold Rush Banker (San Francisco: California Historical Society, 1969).
  25. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, pp. 160–62.
  26. ^ See History of LSU.
  27. ^ Quoted in Hirshson, p. 68.
  28. ^ Exchange between W.T. Sherman and Prof. David F. Boyd, December 24, 1860. Quoted in Lewis, p. 138
  29. ^ Letter by W.T. Sherman to Gov. Thomas O. Moore, January 18, 1861. Quoted in Sherman, Memoirs, p. 156
  30. ^ Department of Military Science: Unit History
  31. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, pp. 184–86; see Marszalek, pp. 140–41.
  32. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, pp. 186–89.
  33. ^ Samuel M. Bowman and Richard B. Irwin, Sherman and His Campaigns (New York, 1865), 25.
  34. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, pp. 189–90; Hirshson, pp. 83–86.
  35. ^ WTS to Thomas Ewing Jr., June 3, 1861, in Sherman and Berlin 97–98.
  36. ^ WTS 1861 Diary, University of Notre Dame Archives, microfilm roll 12, 0333, 0355.
  37. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, p. 200.
  38. ^ See, e.g., Hirshson, pp. 90–94, 109.
  39. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, p. 216; see also p. 210: In Washington, after Bull Run, Sherman explained to Lincoln "my extreme desire to serve in a subordinate capacity, and in no event to be left in a superior command. He promised me this with promptness, making the jocular remark that his chief trouble was to find places for the too many generals who wanted to be at the head of affairs, to command armies, etc."
  40. ^ For more detailed discussion of this overall period, see Marszalek, Sherman, pp. 154–67; Hirshson, White Tecumseh, pp. 95–105; Kennett, Sherman, pp. 127–49.
  41. ^ Sherman to George B. McClellan, November 4, 1861, in Stephen W. Sears, ed., The Civil War Papers of George B. McClellan: Selected Correspondence, 1861-1865 (New York, 1989), p. 127, note 1; Marszalek, Sherman, pp. 161–64.
  42. ^ Quoted in Lewis, p. 203.
  43. ^ Sherman to John Sherman, January 4, 8, 1862, in Simpson and Berlin, Sherman’s Civil War, 174, 176.
  44. ^ See Cincinnati Commercial, December 11, 1861; Marszalek, Sherman, pp. 162, 164.
  45. ^ At one point, Halleck suggested to General-in-Chief McClellan that Sherman be given command of an expedition on the Cumberland River (on which Fort Donelson was located), but Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton objected, telling Lincoln that any "expedition ... will prove disastrous under the charge of General Sherman." Kennett, pp. 155–56, quoting EMS to AL, February 14, 1862.
  46. ^ WTS to USG, February 15, 1862, Papers of Ulysses S. Grant 4:216n; see Smith, pp. 151–52.
  47. ^ a b Eicher, p. 485
  48. ^ Daniel, p. 138
  49. ^ Quoted in Walsh, pp. 77–78
  50. ^ Smith, Grant, p. 212.
  51. ^ Marszalek, Sherman, pp. 188–201.
  52. ^ Daniel, pp. 309–10.
  53. ^ Whitelaw Reid, Ohio in the War: Her Statesmen, Her Generals, and Soldiers (New York, 1868), 1:387.
  54. ^ See Marszalek, Sherman, pp. 202-08. Sherman's operations were supposed to be coordinated with an advance on Vicksburg by Grant from another direction. Unbeknownst to Sherman, Grant abandoned his advance. "As a result, [Sherman's] river expedition ran into more than they bargained for." Smith, Grant, pp. 224.
  55. ^ Smith, p. 227. It should be noted, however, that Sherman had targeted Arkansas Post independently and considered the operation there worthwhile. See Marszalek, pp. 208–10; Sherman, Memoirs, pp. 318–25.
  56. ^ To wit: an invading army may separate from its supply train and subsist by foraging. Smith, pp. 235–36
  57. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, pp. 370–75.
  58. ^ McPherson, pp. 677–80.
  59. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, pp. 406–34; Buck T. Foster, Sherman's Meridian Campaign (University of Alabama Press, 2006).
  60. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, p. 589
  61. ^ McPherson, p. 653
  62. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, p. 576. The nomination was not submitted to the Senate until December. Eicher, p. 702.
  63. ^ For a good discussion, see Russell S. Bonds, War Like the Thunderbolt: The Battle and Burning of Atlanta (Yardley, PA: Westholme Publishing, 2009), 337–374.
  64. ^ For extended discussion of Lincoln's reelection prospects and the effect of Sherman's capture of Atlanta, see James M. McPherson, Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief (New York: Penguin, 2008), 231–50.
  65. ^ Telegram W.T. Sherman to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, October 9, 1864, reproduced in Sherman's Civil War, p. 731.
  66. ^ Faunt Le Roy Senour, Major General William T. Sherman, and His Campaigns (Chicago, 1865), 293; see also Hirshson, White Tecumseh, pp. 246–47, 431 n.23.
  67. ^ W.T. Sherman to Gen. U.S. Grant, November 1, 1864, reproduced in Sherman's Civil War, pp. 746–47.
  68. ^ Report by Maj. Gen. W.T. Sherman, January 1, 1865, quoted in Grimsley, p. 200
  69. ^ History Channel.
  70. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, p. 693.
  71. ^ This message was put on a vessel on December 22, passed on by telegram from Fort Monroe, Virginia, and apparently received by Lincoln on Christmas Day itself. Sherman, Memoirs, p. 711; Official Records, Series I, vol. 44, 783; New York Times, December 26, 1864.
  72. ^ See, for instance, Liddell Hart, p. 354
  73. ^ Brockett, p. 175 (p. 162 in 1865 edition).
  74. ^ Marszalek, Sherman, p. 311.
  75. ^ John F. Marszalek, "'Take the Seat of Honor': William T. Sherman," in Steven E. Woodworth, ed., Grant's Lieutenants: From Chattanooga to Appomattox (Larwence: Univ. of Kansas Press, 2008), pp. 5, 17–18; Marszalek, Sherman, pp. 320–21.
  76. ^ Jacob D. Cox, Military Reminiscences of the Civil War (1900), vol. 2, 531–2; Jacob D. Cox, The March to the Sea (1882), p. 168; Johnston is also quoted in McPherson, p. 828.
  77. ^ Marszalek, pp. 322–25.
  78. ^ Lewis, p. 513.
  79. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, pp. 806–17; Donald C. Pfanz, The Petersburg Campaign: Abraham Lincoln at City Point (Lynchburg, VA, 1989), 1–2, 24–29, 94–95. This meeting was memorialized in G.P.A. Healy's famous painting The Peacemakers.
  80. ^ See, for instance, Johnston's Surrender at Bennett Place on Hillsboro Road
  81. ^ See, for instance, letter by W.T. Sherman to Salmon P. Chase, January 11, 1865, reproduced in Sherman's Civil War, pp. 794–795, and letter by W.T. Sherman to John Sherman, August 1865, quoted in Liddell Hart, p. 406
  82. ^ Letter to Chase, cited above
  83. ^ See, for instance, Sherman, Memoirs, vol. II, p. 247.
  84. ^ "Sherman meets the colored ministers in Savannah"
  85. ^ Special Field Orders, No. 15, January 16, 1865. See also McPherson, pp. 737–739
  86. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, pp. 728–29, quoting a December 30, 1864 letter from Henry W. Halleck.
  87. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, p. 729.
  88. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, 2d ed., ch. XXII, p. 729 (Lib. of America, 1990).
  89. ^ Liddell Hart, foreword to the Indiana University Press's edition of Sherman's Memoirs (1957). Quoted in Wilson, p. 179
  90. ^ Hirshson, p. 393, quoting B.H. Liddell Hart, "Notes on Two Discussions with Patton, 1944", February 20, 1948, GSP Papers, box 6, USMA Library.
  91. ^ See, for instance, Grimsley, pp. 190–204; McPherson, pp. 712–714, 727–729.
  92. ^ See, for instance, Grimsley, p. 199
  93. ^ Hitchcock, p. 125
  94. ^ See, for instance, Grimsley, pp. 200–202.
  95. ^ December 11, 1872 deposition, Mixed Commission, XIV, 91, quoted in Marion B. Lucas, Sherman and the Burning of Columbia (Univ. of S. Car. Press, 2000), p. 154. However, on April 5, 1865, Sherman wrote to his father-in-law that "I think you will be satisfied with the manner in which I dispose of Charleston, as also of the burning of Columbia." Simpson and Berlin, Sherman's Civil War, p. 842.
  96. ^ McPherson, pp. 728–729.
  97. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, p. 767.
  98. ^ Sherman, Memoirs, pp. 838–39; Woodworth, Nothing but Victory, p. 636.
  99. ^ Letter by Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, USA, to the Mayor and City Council of Atlanta, September 12, 1864
  100. ^ Wilson, p. 184
  101. ^ McNamara and Blight, p. 130
  102. ^ Giliomee, p. 253
  103. ^ Quoted in Liddell Hart, p. 402. This letter was to James E. Yeatman, May 21, 1865, and is excerpted more extensively (and with slight variations) in Bowman and Irwin, pp. 486–88.
  104. ^ See Isenberg, pp. 128, 156
  105. ^ Sherman to Rawlins, October 23, 1865, quoted in Ahearn, Sherman and the Settlement of the West, 24; Sherman to Grant, May 28, 1867, quoted in Fellman, Citizen Sherman, 264 & 453 n.5 (see also Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, Vol. 17, p. 262).
  106. ^ Sherman to Grant, December 28, 1866, reproduced in Wild Life on the Plains and Horrors of Indian Warfare (1891), 120.
  107. ^ Seemingly Sherman to Tappan, July 21, 1876, quoted in Marszalek, Sherman: A Soldier's Passion, 398.
  108. ^ Seemingly Sherman to Herbert A. Preston, April 17, 1873, quoted in Marszalek, Sherman: A Soldier's Passion, 379.
  109. ^ See, for instance, Lewis, pp. 597–600.
  110. ^ Wilson, p. 175
  111. ^ Fred R. Shapiro and Joseph Epstein, eds., The Yale Book of Quotations (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 708.
  112. ^ From transcript published in the Ohio State Journal, August 12, 1880, reproduced in Lewis, p. 637.
  113. ^ Richard S. Kirkendall, ed., Harry's Farewell: Interpreting and Teaching the Truman Presidency (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1880), 63.
  114. ^ See, for instance, Woodward
  115. ^ Marszalek in Encyclopedia of the American Civil War, p. 1769.
  116. ^ Marszalek, p. 461.
  117. ^ Marszalek, p. 463. In 1875, Henry V. Boynton published a critical book-length review of Sherman's memoirs "based upon compilations from the records of the war office." This led to the publication of a defense of Sherman by C.W. Moulton.
  118. ^ Extract from John Russell Young, Around the World with General Grant, vol. II, 290–91, quoted in Sherman, Memoirs (Library of America ed., 1990), p. 1054.
  119. ^ 1886 Preface. In one amusing change to his text, Sherman dropped the assertion that John Sutter, of gold rush fame, had become “very ‘tight’” at a Fourth of July celebration in 1848 and stated instead that Sutter “was enthusiastic.” Sherman, Memoirs (Library of America ed., 1990), Note on the Text, p. 1123; H.W. Brands, The Age of Gold (Doubleday, 2002), p. 271.
  120. ^ Sherman, Memoirs (Library of America ed., 1990), Note on the Text, p. 1123.
  121. ^ See, for instance, Lewis, p. 652; Marszalek, pp. 495–98.
  122. ^ The U.S. M4 tank was first given the service name General Sherman by the British


  • Bonds, Russell S., War Like the Thunderbolt: The Battle and Burning of Atlanta, Westholme Publishing, 2009, ISBN 978-1-59416-100-1.
  • Bowman, Samuel M. and Richard B. Irwin, Sherman and His Campaigns (New York, 1865).
  • Brockett, L.P., Our Great Captains: Grant, Sherman, Thomas, Sheridan, and Farragut, C.B. Richardson, 1866.
  • Clarke, Dwight L., William Tecumseh Sherman: Gold Rush Banker, California Historical Society, 1969.
  • Daniel, Larry J., Shiloh: The Battle That Changed the Civil War, Simon & Schuster, 1997, ISBN 0-684-80375-5.
  • Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Giliomee, Hermann, The Afrikaners: Biography of a People, University Press of Virginia, 2003, ISBN 0-8139-2237-2.
  • Grimsley, Mark, The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy toward Southern Civilians, 1861–1865, Cambridge University Press, 1997, ISBN 0-521-59941-5.
  • Hanson, Victor D., The Soul of Battle, Anchor Books, 1999, ISBN 0-385-72059-9.
  • Hirshson, Stanley P., The White Tecumseh: A Biography of General William T. Sherman, John Wiley & Sons, 1997, ISBN 0-471-28329-0.
  • Hitchcock, Henry, Marching with Sherman: Passages from the Letters and Campaign Diaries of Henry Hitchcock, Major and Assistant Adjutant General of Volunteers, November 1864 – May 1865, ed. M.A. DeWolfe Howe, Yale University Press, 1927. Reprinted in 1995 by the University of Nebraska Press, ISBN 0-8032-7276-6.
  • Isenberg, Andrew C., The Destruction of the Bison, Cambridge University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-521-00348-2.
  • W. Fletcher Johnson, Life of Wm. Tecumseh Sherman, Late General, U.S.A. (1891) Useful 19th century biography.
  • Kennett, Lee, Sherman: A Soldier's Life, HarperCollins, 2001, ISBN 0-06-017495-1.
  • Lewis, Lloyd, Sherman: Fighting Prophet, Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1932. Reprinted in 1993 by the University of Nebraska Press, ISBN 0-8032-7945-0.
  • Liddell Hart, B. H., Sherman: Soldier, Realist, American, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1929. Reprinted in 1993 by Da Capo Press, ISBN 0-306-80507-3.
  • Marszalek, John F., Sherman: A Soldier's Passion for Order, Free Press, 1992, ISBN 0-02-920135-7; "reissued with new preface", Southern Illinois University Press, 2007.
  • Marszalek, John F., "William Tecumseh Sherman", Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History, Heidler, David S., and Heidler, Jeanne T., eds., W. W. Norton & Company, 2000, ISBN 0-393-04758-X.
  • McNamara, Robert S. and Blight, James G., Wilson's Ghost: Reducing the Risk of Conflict, Killing, and Catastrophe in the 21st Century, Public Affairs, 2001, ISBN 1-891620-89-4.
  • McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, illustrated ed., Oxford University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-19-515901-2.
  • Royster, Charles, The Destructive War: William Tecumseh Sherman, Stonewall Jackson, and the Americans, Alfred A. Knopf, 1991, ISBN 0-679-73878-9.
  • Schenker, Carl R., Jr., "'My Father . . . Named Me William Tecumseh': Rebutting the Charge That General Sherman Lied About His Name", Ohio History (2008), vol. 115, p. 55.
  • Sherman's Civil War: Selected Correspondence of William T. Sherman,1860–1865, eds. Brooks D. Simpson and J.V. Berlin, University of North Carolina Press, 1999, ISBN 0-8078-2440-2.
  • Sherman, William T., Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman, 2nd ed., D. Appleton & Co., 1913 (1889). Reprinted by the Library of America, 1990, ISBN 978-0-94045065-3.
  • "William Tecumseh Sherman", A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, Vol. II (1988), p. 741.
  • Smith, Jean Edward, Grant, Simon and Schuster, 2001, ISBN 0-684-84927-5.
  • Walsh, George, Whip the Rebellion, Forge Books, 2005, ISBN 0-7653-0526-7.
  • Warner, Ezra J., Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders, LSU Press, 1964, ISBN 0-8071-0822-7.
  • Wilson, Edmund, Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1962. Reprinted by W. W. Norton & Co., 1994, ISBN 0-393-31256-9.
  • Woodward, C. Vann, "Civil Warriors", New York Review of Books, vol. 37, no. 17, November 8, 1990.
  • Woodworth, Steven E., Nothing but Victory: The Army of the Tennessee, 1861-1865 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005).

External links

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Military offices
Preceded by
Ulysses S. Grant
Commanding General of the United States Army
Succeeded by
Philip H. Sheridan


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

War is Hell!

William Tecumseh Sherman (8 February 182014 February 1891) was a Union general during the Civil War. He succeeded General U.S. Grant as commander of the Western Theater of that war in the spring of 1864. He later served as commanding general of the army (1869 - 1883). He is best known for his destructive "March to the Sea" through the state of Georgia and is widely regarded as an early advocate of "Total War".


You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it...
You have heretofore read public sentiment in your newspapers, that live by falsehood and excitement; and the quicker you seek for truth in other quarters, the better.

If they want eternal war, well and good; we accept the issue, and will dispossess them and put our friends in their place. I know thousands and millions of good people who at simple notice would come to North Alabama and accept the elegant houses and plantations there. If the people of Huntsville think different, let them persist in war three years longer, and then they will not be consulted. Three years ago by a little reflection and patience they could have had a hundred years of peace and prosperity, but they preferred war; very well. Last year they could have saved their slaves, but now it is too late.

All the powers of earth cannot restore to them their slaves, any more than their dead grandfathers. Next year their lands will be taken, for in war we can take them, and rightfully, too, and in another year they may beg in vain for their lives. A people who will persevere in war beyond a certain limit ought to know the consequences. Many, many peoples with less pertinacity have been wiped out of national existence.'

- Letter to Maj. R. M. SAWYER (Vicksburg, January 31, 1864)[1]

  • You people of the South don't know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don't know what you're talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it… Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth—right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.
    • Comments to Prof. David F. Boyd at the Louisiana State Seminary (24 December 1860); quoted in The Civil War: A Narrative (1986) by Shelby Foote, p. 58; also in The Civil War : A Book of Quotations (2004) by Robert Blaisdell
  • I regard the death and mangling of a couple thousand men as a small affair, a kind of morning dash — and it may be well that we become so hardened.
    • Letter to his wife (July 1864)
  • Atlanta is ours, and fairly won.
  • Hold the fort! I am coming!
    • Signal to Gen. John M. Corse at Allatoona (5 October 1864)
It is only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded and lacerated ... that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation.
  • I confess, without shame, that I am sick and tired of fighting — its glory is all moonshine; even success the most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies, with the anguish and lamentations of distant families, appealing to me for sons, husbands, and fathers ... it is only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded and lacerated ... that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation.
    • Letter (May 1865)
I will not accept if nominated, and will not serve if elected.
  • War is Hell.
    • This quote originates from his address to the graduating class of the Michigan Military Academy (19 June 1879); but slightly varying accounts of this speech have been published:
    • I’ve been where you are now and I know just how you feel. It’s entirely natural that there should beat in the breast of every one of you a hope and desire that some day you can use the skill you have acquired here.
      Suppress it! You don’t know the horrible aspects of war. I’ve been through two wars and I know. I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is Hell!
    • Variants:
    • There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all Hell.
    • Some of you young men think that war is all glamour and glory, but let me tell you, boys, it is all Hell!
  • I can make this march, and I will make Georgia howl!
    • Telegram to General Grant, as quoted in Conflict and Compromise : The Political Economy of Slavery, Emancipation, and The American Civil War (1989) by Roger L. Ransom
  • I hereby state, and mean all I say, that I never have been and never will be a candidate for President; that if nominated by either party I should peremptorily decline; and even if unanimously elected I should decline to serve.
    • Interview in Harper's Weekly (24 June 1871)
  • I will not accept if nominated, and will not serve if elected.
    • Telegram sent to General Henderson in 1884; quoted in Sherman's Memoirs, 4th ed. 1891. This is often paraphrased: If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve.

Letter to Atlanta (1864)

Letter to the City Council of Atlanta (12 September 1864)
  • You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace. But you cannot have peace and a division of our country. If the United States submits to a division now, it will not stop, but will go on until we reap the fate of Mexico, which is eternal war. The United States does and must assert its authority, wherever it once had power; for, if it relaxes one bit to pressure, it is gone, and I believe that such is the national feeling.
  • You might as well appeal against the thunder-storm as against these terrible hardships of war. They are inevitable, and the only way the people of Atlanta can hope once more to live in peace and quiet at home, is to stop the war, which can only be done by admitting that it began in error and is perpetuated in pride.
  • You have heretofore read public sentiment in your newspapers, that live by falsehood and excitement; and the quicker you seek for truth in other quarters, the better. I repeat then that, by the original compact of government, the United States had certain rights in Georgia, which have never been relinquished and never will be; that the South began the war by seizing forts, arsenals, mints, custom-houses, etc., etc., long before Mr. Lincoln was installed, and before the South had one jot or title of provocation. I myself have seen in Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi, hundreds and thousands of women and children fleeing from your armies and desperadoes, hungry and with bleeding feet. In Memphis, Vicksburg, and Mississippi, we fed thousands and thousands of the families of rebel soldiers left on our hands, and whom we could not see starve. Now that war comes to you, you feel very different. You deprecate its horrors, but did not feel them when you sent car-loads of soldiers and ammunition, and moulded shells and shot, to carry war into Kentucky and Tennessee, to desolate the homes of hundreds and thousands of good people who only asked to live in peace at their old homes, and under the Government of their inheritance. But these comparisons are idle. I want peace, and believe it can only be reached through union and war, and I will ever conduct war with a view to perfect an early success.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN (1820-1891), American general, was born on the 8th of February 1820, at Lancaster, Ohio. He was descended from Edmond Sherman, who emigrated from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634. His father, Charles R. Sherman, a judge of the Supreme Court of Ohio, died suddenly in 1829, leaving his widow with a family of young children. William was adopted by the Hon. Thomas Ewing, a close friend of the father, sometime a senator of the United States and a member of the national cabinet. In 1836 he entered West Point, and on graduating near the head of his class he was appointed second lieutenant in the 3rd artillery regiment. His first field service was in Florida against the Seminole Indians. The usual changes of station and detached duty made him acquainted with the geography of all the Southern states, and Sherman improved the opportunity by making topographical studies which proved of no small value to him later. He also employed much of his time in the study of law. When the war with Mexico began in 1846 he asked for field duty, and was ordered to join an expedition going to California by sea. He was made adjutant-general to Colonel Mason, military governor, and as such was executive officer in the administration of 'local government till peace came in the autumn of 1848 and the province was ceded to the United States. In 1847 he served on the staff of the general commanding the division of the Pacific. In 1850 he married Ellen Boyle, daughter of Thomas Ewing, then secretary of the interior. Transferred in the same year to the commissariat department as a captain, he resigned three years later and went back to California to conduct at San Francisco a branch of an important St Louis banking-house. He continued successfully in the management of this business through a financial crisis incident to a wildly speculative time, until in the spring of 1857 the house, by his advice, withdrew from Californian affairs. Afterwards for a short time he was engaged in business at New York and in 1858 practised law at Leavenworth, Kansas. In 1859, the state of Louisiana proposing to establish a military college, Sherman was appointed its superintendent. On the 1st of January 1860 the "State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy" was opened, and here Sherman remained until the spring of 1861, when it was evident that Louisiana would join the states seceding from the Union. He thereupon resigned the superintendency, and returned to St Louis, parting with the governor of the state and his colleagues in the school with regret and mutual esteem.. Though his brother John Sherman was a leader in the party which had elected Lincoln, William Sherman was very conservative on the slavery question, and his distress at what he thought an unnecessary rupture between the states was extreme. Yet his devotion to the national constitution was unbounded, and he offered his services as soon as volunteers for the three years' enlistments were called out. On the 14th of May 1861 he was appointed colonel of the 13th U.S. Infantry, a new regiment, and was soon assigned to command a brigade in General McDowell's army in front of Washington. He served with it in the first battle of Bull Run, on the 21st of July. Promoted, brigadier-general of volunteers, Sherman was in August sent to Kentucky to serve under General Robert Anderson. In October he succeeded to the command of the department. On the 26th of October he reported that 200,000 men would be required for the Kentucky campaign. He was relieved of his post soon afterwards in consequence, but the event justified Sherman's view. He was soon re-employed in a minor position, and, at the head of a division of new troops, accompanied Grant's army to Pittsburg Landing. At the battle of Shiloh Sherman's gallant conduct gained him promotion to majorgeneral. His appreciation of Grant, and his sympathy with the chagrin he suffered after this battle, cemented the friendship between the two. He took part in Halleck's advance on Corinth, Mississippi, and at the close of 1862 led the Mississippi column in the first Vicksburg campaign. He suffered defeat at Chickasaw Bayou, but the capture of Fort Hindman, near Arkansas Post, compensated to some extent for the Vicksburg failure. In Grant's final Vicksburg campaign Sherman commanded the XV. corps and the right of the investing line, and after the surrender he was sent to oppose General Johnston in the country about Jackson, Miss. In July he was made a brigadier-general in the regular army. When, after Rosecrans's defeat at Chickamauga, Grant was placed in supreme command in the west, Sherman succeeded to the command of the Army of the Tennessee, with which he took part in the great battle of Chattanooga. He had already prepared for a further advance by making an expedition into the heart of Mississippi as far as Meridian, destroying railways and making impracticable, for a season, the transfer of military operations to that region; and on Grant becoming general-in-chief (March 1864) he was made commander of the military division of the Mississippi, including his Army of the Tennessee, now under McPherson, the Army of the Cumberland, under Thomas, and the Army of the Ohio, under Schofield. Making detachments for garrisons and minor operations in a theatre of war over 500 m. wide, he assembled, near Chattanooga, his three armies, aggregating roo,000 men, and began (May 1864) the invasion of Georgia. After a brilliant and famous campaign of careful manoeuvre and heavy combats (see American Civil War), Sherman finally wrested Atlanta from the Confederates on the 1st of September. His able opponent Johnston had been removed from his command, and Hood, Johnston's successor, began early in October a vigorous movement designed to carry the war back into Tennessee. After a devious chase of a month Hood moved across Alabama to northern Mississippi. Sherman thereupon, leaving behind Thomas and Schofield to deal with Hood, made the celebrated "March to the Sea" from Atlanta to Savannah with 60,000 picked men. After a march of 300 m. Savannah was reached in December. Railways and material were destroyed, the country cleared of supplies, and the Confederate government severed from its western states. In January 1865 Sherman marched northwards again, once more abandoning his base, towards Petersburg, where Grant and Lee were waging a war of giants. Every mile of his march northwards through the Carolinas diminished the supply region of the enemy, and desperate efforts were made to stop his advance. General Johnston was recalled to active service, and showed his usual skill, but his forces were inadequate. Sherman defeated him and reached Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina, on the r3th of April, having marched nearly 500 m. from Savannah. Lee's position in Virginia was now desperate. Hood had been utterly defeated by Thomas and Schofield, and Schofield (moved 2000 m. by land and sea) rejoined Sherman in North Carolina. With 90,000 men Sherman drove Johnston before him, and when Lee surrendered to Grant Johnston also gave up the struggle. There was much friction between Sherman and the war secretary, Stanton, before the terms were ratified, but with their signature the Civil War came to an end.

Sherman had the good fortune to learn the art of command by degrees. At Bull Run his brigade was wasted in isolated and disconnected regimental attacks, at Shiloh his division was completely surprised owing to want of precaution; but his bravery and energy were beyond question, and these qualities carried him gradually to the front at the same time as he acquired skill and experience. When therefore he was entrusted with an independent command he was in every way fitted to do himself justice. At the head of a hundred thousand men he showed, besides the large grasp of strategy which planned the Carolinas march, besides the patient skill in manoeuvre which gained ground day by day towards Atlanta, the strength of will which sent his men to the hopeless assault of Kenesaw to teach them that he was not afraid to fight, and cleared Atlanta of its civil population in the face of a bitter popular outcry. Great as were his responsibilities they never strained him beyond his powers. He has every claim to be regarded as one of the greatest generals of modern history.

When Grant became full general in 1866 Sherman was promoted lieutenant-general, and in 1869, when Grant became president, hesucceeded to the full rank. General Sherman retired, after being commanding general of the army for fifteen years, in 1884. He died at New York on the 14th of January 1891. An equestrian statue, by Saint Gaudens, was unveiled at New York in 1903, and another at Washington in the same year. Sherman's Memoirs were published in 1875 (New York). See also Rachel Sherman Thorndike, The Sherman Letters (New York, 1894) Home Letters of Gen. Sherman (1909), edited by M. A. De Wolfe Howe; S. M. Bowman and R. B. Irwin, Sherman and his Campaigns: a Military Biography (New York, 1865); W. Fletcher Johnson, Life of William Tecumseh Sherman (Philadelphia, 1891); Manning F. Force, General Sherman (Great Commanders series) (New York,1899).

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Simple English

William Tecumseh Sherman
February 8, 1820(1820-02-08) – February 14, 1891 (aged 71)
Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, USA, in May 1865. The black ribbon around his left arm is a sign of mourning over President Lincoln's death. Portrait by Mathew Brady.
Nickname Cump, Uncle Billy (by his troops)
Place of birth Lancaster, Ohio
Place of death New York City, New York
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1840–53, 1861–84
Rank Major General (Civil War),
General of the Army of the United States (postbellum)
Commands held Army of the Tennessee (1863),
Military Division of the Mississippi (1864),
Commanding General of the United States Army (postbellum)
Battles/wars American Civil War
- Vicksburg Campaign,
- Chattanooga,
- Atlanta Campaign,
- March to the Sea,
- Carolinas Campaign
Awards Thanks of Congress (1864 and 1865)
Other work Bank president, lawyer, university superintendent, streetcar executive

William Tecumseh Sherman (February 8, 1820 – February 14, 1891) was an American soldier, businessman, educator, and author. Before the Civil War, he fought in the Mexican-American War and was the head of Louisiana State University. He served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War (1861–65). While general, his army burned the cities of Atlanta and Savannah. After the Civil War, he was in charge of all the Union Armies. He was urged several times to run for President of the United States, but declined to run each time.

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Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
NAME Sherman, William Tecumseh
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Cump, Uncle Billy (nicknames)
SHORT DESCRIPTION American General, businessman, educator, and author.
DATE OF BIRTH February 8, 1820
PLACE OF BIRTH Lancaster, Ohio
DATE OF DEATH February 14, 1891
PLACE OF DEATH New York City, New YorkNew York City, New York


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