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General Sherman and the Civil War

 

William Tecumseh Sherman was born on May 8, 1820 in Lancaster, 
Ohio. He was educated at the U.S. Military Academy and later went on 
to become a Union General in the U.S. civil war. Sherman resigned from 
the army in 1853 and became a partner in a banking firm in San 
Francisco. He became the president of the Military College in 
Louisiana(now Louisiana state University) from 1859-1861. Sherman 
offered his services at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 and was 
put in command of a volunteer infantry regiment, becoming a brigadier 
general of volunteers after the first Battle of bull run. He led his 
division at the Battle of Shiloh and was then promoted to major 
general of volunteers. Soon after Sherman fought in the battle of
Chattanooga he was made supreme commander of the armies in the west. 
Sherman fought many battles with such people as Ulysses S. Grant, and 
against people such as Robert E. Lee before he was commissioned 
lieutenant general of the regular army. Following Grants election to 
presidency he was promoted to the rank of full general and given 
command of the entire U.S. Army. William Sherman published his 
personal memoirs in 1875, retired in 1883, and died in 1891. 

 William Tecumseh Sherman, as you have read, was a very 
talented and very successful man. He is remembered by many
accomplishments, but probably most remembered by his famous March to 
the sea. Sherman's march to the sea was probably the most celebrated 
military action, in which about sixty thousand men marched with 
Sherman from Atlanta to the Atlantic ocean, then north through South 
Carolina destroying the last of the souths economic resources. 

 Bedford Forrest was in Tennessee, and with Atlanta secured, 
Sherman dispatched George H. Thomas to Nashville to restore the order 
there. John B. Hood threatened Thomas's supply line, and for about a 
month, they both fought north of Atlanta. Sherman decided to do the 
complete opposite of what the strategic plan laid down by Grant six 
months earlier had proposed to do. In that plan Grant had insisted 
that Confederate armies were the first and foremost objectives for 
Union strategy. What Sherman decided now was that he would completely 
ignore the Confederate armies and go for the "spirit that sustained 
the Confederate nation itself", the homes, the property, the families, 
and the food of the Southern heartland. He would march for Savannah, 
Georgia and the seacoast, abandoning his own line of supply, and live 
off the land and harvests of the Georgia Country. Grant finally 
approved Sherman's plan, so Sherman set off on his march eastward, 
"smashing things to the sea." On November 15, 1864, Sherman began his 
march to the sea. "I can make . . . Georgia howl!" he promised.

 Sherman left Atlanta, setting it up in flames as they left, 
with 62,000 men, 55,000 of them on foot, 5,000 on cavalry horses,
and about 2,000 riding artillery horses. It was an army of 218 
regiments, 184 of them from the West, and of these 155 were from the 
old Northwest Territory. This army was remembered as a lean and strong 
one. The bulk of the army was made up of Germans, Irish, Scotch, and 
English. Sherman and his army arrived in Georgia where there was no 
opposition, and the march was very leisurely. The army fanned out 
widely, covering a sixty mile span from one side to the other. The 
army destroyed, demolished and crushed whatever got in their way, the 
land, homes, buildings, and people. Bridges, railroads, machine shops,
warehouses- anything of this nature that was in Shaman's path was 
burned and destroyed. As a result of this march eliminating
a lot of the food to feed the Confederate army and its animals, the 
whole Confederate war effort would become weaker and weaker and 
weaker. Sherman went on toward the sea while the Confederacy could do 
nothing. 

 Sherman's march to the sea was a demonstration that the 
Confederacy could not protect its own. Many agree that Sherman was too 
brutal and cruel during the march to the sea, but Sherman and his men 
were effectively demolishing the Confederate homeland, and that was 
all that mattered to Sherman. Because Sherman "waged an economic war 
against civilians", he has been called the first modern general. 
Sherman is remembered by some as one of the best generals of the U.S. 
Civil War, and by others(mainly whom live in the south) as a cruel, 
brutal, horrible, and evil man. William Tecumseh Sherman is believed 
to have coined the phrase, "War is hell." "There is many a boy here 
who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell. You can bear 
this warning voice to generations to come." 

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RESOURCES

1. SHERMAN FIGHTING PROPHET By LLOYD LEWIS HARCOURT, BRACE & WORLD, 
INC. NEW YORK

2. The AMERICAN HERITAGE Picture History of THE CIVIL WAR VOLUME TWO 
By the Editors of AMERICAN HERITAGE

3. Peoples Chronology, License from Henry Holt and Company, Inc

4. The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, Columbia University Press

 




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