“Courage- a perfect sensibility of the measure or danger, and a mental willingness to endure it” –William T. Sherman (
greatest general for the Union during the Civil War because, although he was ruthless in his burning of Atlanta and the “March to the Sea”, he did bring finality to the conflict and he was the only one who could bring the war to an end. His early life, role in the Civil War, and his life after the war all affected the course of American history.
Sherman was born on February 8, 1820 in Lancaster, Ohio. He was named after the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh. Sadly, Sherman’s father dies in 1829. His death was unexpected. Unfortunately, for the Sherman family, his mother could not take care of all her children and had several of the children were adopted into other families. Thomas Ewing, a prominent Ohio politician and a close friend of the Sherman’s, adopted Sherman. (
Sherman was an American soldier, businessman, educator, and author. He graduated sixth in his class from West Point Academy in 1840. He married Eleanor Boyle Ewing in 1850. She was the daughter of his adoptive parents. They had eight children. He was posted in California. He fought in the Mexican-American war. He resigned in 1853 and returned to California. He moved to San Francisco, California, where he became the manager of a banking firm until the bank failed (
Sherman was appointed by Governor J. Neeley Johnson as a Major-General commanding the San Francisco division of the California Militia on May 18, 1856 (
In August 1861, Sherman and George H. Thomas were promoted to Brigadier-General and were assigned to the Department of the Cumberland under the command of Brigadier-General Robert Anderson. Anderson was in command of Fort Sumter when P.G.T Beauregard opened fire upon it, beginning the war. Sherman had previously served under Anderson, and it was Anderson that requested that Sherman be transferred to his command (
Sherman was in the Union Army and was a General for majority of the Civil War. He was a man of great authority. He led many battles including; the Battle of Shiloh, and the Siege of Vicksburg.
If the question was asked, “Who was and still is the most hated and despised man in the history of Georgia?” Union General William T. Sherman would be the answer. He made Atlanta his chief objective when he left Chattanooga on May 6, 1864. He left a swath of destruction through Georgia. Sherman set fire to the military supplies. When the fire spread, much of Atlanta burned to the ground. As he rode out of the city, in the early morning of November 15 and saw what he had done, Sherman declared, “Behind us lay Atlanta smoldering and in ruin, the black smoke rising high in the air and hanging like ball over ruined- and a now empty city” –William T. Sherman (Wikipedia).
In December, General Sherman marched through a swampy bayou. As he did, he headed toward Vicksburg but, Confederates held him off. The battle, also known as the Siege of Vicksburg, consisted of a long siege brought about by the fact that the city is located on a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi River and was largely secure to invaders (Wikipedia).
Sherman’s March to the Sea is the name commonly given to the Savannah Campaign. It was conducted in late 1864 by General Sherman of the Union Army. The campaign began with General Sherman’s troops leaving the captured city of Atlanta, Georgia, on November 15, 1864, and ended with the capture of the port of Savannah on December 22. Sherman’s March to the Sea followed his successful Atlanta Campaign of May to September 1864. He and U.S. Army Commander Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant believed that the Civil War would end only if the Confederacy’s strategic, economic, and physiological capacity for warfare were with certainty broken (
After the war, in 1869, Sherman was promoted to Lieutenant General in the regular army. After Ulysses S. Grant was elected president, he was promoted to the grade of full General and given command of the entire U.S. Army, which he remained until 1883. He replaced Grant as commander-in-chief. He was the only man to twice receive the thanks of Congress, the first for Chattanooga and the second for Atlanta and Savannah.
In 1881, Sherman established a Command School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. This was one of his most important contributions. He refused all other offers to serve any political means. Sherman retired from the army in 1884 and famously refused to become a candidate for president, saying “If nominated I will not run, if elected I will not serve.” After he retired, he moved to New York City where he remained until his death. He died on February 14, 1891. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.
Sherman was a man of high authority before, during, and after the war. Even though Ulysses S. Grant is often given the credit for winning the war, without the help of William T. Sherman the war would have had a different outcome. His early life, role in the Civil War, and his life after the war all affected the course of American history.
All about Sherman, Think Quest. 1-15-2007.
Clinton, Catharine. The Civil War. New York: Fair street Productions, 1999. Memories, William T. Sherman. The War Times Journal. 1-14-2007.
William T. Sherman Quotes. Brainy Quotes. 1-25-2007.
Bengston, Wayne C. William T. Sherman A Georgia Nobleman. Golden Ink. 1-14-2007.
William T. Sherman. Civil War Biographies. 1-15-2007.
William T. Sherman. Ohio History Central Online Encyclopedia. 1-15-2007
William T. Sherman. PBS. 1-15-2007.
William T. Sherman. Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco. 1-14-2007.
William T. Sherman. Wikipedia. 1-14-2007.
II. Early Life
III. Careers/Role in Civil War
A. Early Careers
B. Role in Civil War
a. Appointed By
2. Participation in Battles
IV. Life After War
C. Career/ Family