"Courage - a perfect sensibility of the measure of danger, and
a mental willingness to endure it." - William Sherman
General William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) was born in Lancaster, Ohio in 1820. He was orphaned at the age of nine and raised by Thomas Ewing, a prominent Ohio politician (Sherman later married his foster sister, Ellen Ewing). He graduated from West Point in 1840 and saw service in Florida and California (during the Mexican War). In 1853 he resigned from the army and went into banking; when the bank failed four years later he became superintendent of the Louisiana Military Academy, but resigned when Louisiana seceded in 1861.
Re-entering the army, he led a brigade at the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861 (also known as the First Battle of Manassas) - the first major land battle of the American Civil War. He was given command of the Union forces assigned to hold Kentucky, and later served under Ulysses Grant leading large units at the battles of Shiloh (1862), Vicksburg (1863) and Chattanooga (1863). In March 1964, Sherman was made commander of all the Western armies when Grant went to the East to accept his promotion as general-in-chief; by September Sherman had captured Atlanta, in one of the most decisive campaigns of the Civil War.
He then led the Savannah Campaign, more commonly known as the "March to the Sea" - leaving the captured city of Atlanta, Georgia on November 15th, 1864, his troops captured the port of Savannah on December 22nd, having cut a wide swath of destruction through Georgia and the Carolinas - killing livestock, burning crops and destroying the civilian infrastructure along their path in a scorched earth policy designed to damage the Confederacy strategically, economically and psychologically - a policy that both he and Grant believed would lead to a quicker conclusion to the war.
By the following April he had forced the surrender of the last major Confederate forces. He then marched north to assist Grant. In July 1866, when Grant was promoted to full general, Sherman was promoted to lieutenant general and took over temporary command of the army. When Grant was elected president, Sherman was promoted to general-in-chief, replacing Grant. His two-volume memoirs were published in 1875. He retired from the army in 1883 and later settled in New York City.
Other Sherman quotes:
"It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell."
"If nominated, I will not accept; if drafted, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve."
"If forced to choose between the penitentiary and the White House for four years, I would say the penitentiary, thank you."
"In our Country . . . one class of men makes war and leaves another to fight it out."
"I think I understand what military fame is; to be killed on the field of battle and have your name misspelled in the newspapers."
"This war differs from other wars, in this particular war. We are not fighting armies but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war."
This quote & biography originally ran in an issue of BookBrowse's membership magazine. Full Membership Features & Benefits.
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