William Tecumseh Sherman

William Sherman

William Sherman is considered one of the best war generals of all time and has left a legacy that inspires troops to a sense of duty and pride to this day. Though, his methods in life were controversial, Sherman rose to write himself in the history books by doing things his own way.  From his youthful days in Ohio to a marching commander in the Civil War, “Uncle Billy” came into this world a fighter and went out the same way.

Unlike many successful military officers, William Sherman did not come from a very well off family.  His father was a lawyer and had served on the Ohio Supreme Court but died when his son was only nine years old.  After graduating West Point Military Academy Sherman pursued careers in different occupations but found himself back in the Army in 1861.  He had formerly been stationed as headmaster at an academy in Louisiana for the previous two years but warned his southern friends that a succession would go badly for them if it broke out.  Once Louisiana declared it’s services to the Confederacy, Sherman moved up North.

Sherman’s military career had been lackluster until he and General Ulysses S. Grant commanded a counter attack of a confederate rush in Missouri.  After scattering the Southern forces the two formed a strong bond.  In 1864 Sherman, now a high commander in the forces, took the city of Atlanta and set it on fire.  He then began his famous “March to the Sea” where he and 60,000 men bulldozed a path of destruction to destroy every southern establishment in their way.  This campaign also known as “Sherman’s Barbecue” is highly controversial because he waged war on citizens and buildings as well as the confederate army.

Sherman Marching through Atlanta

Though he seemed merciless and out of blood, William Sherman knew how awful war was and but stated, “You might as well appeal against a thunderstorm as against these terrible hardships of war.” http://www.rjgeib.com/thoughts/sherman/sherman-to-burn-atlanta.html Destroying farms and factories that supported the South was definitely devastating to their forces and they surrendered shortly after but the Sherman still had some fight left in him.

The rest of his years active years were spent devising tactics as well as handling Native American affairs in the western states.  Sherman had very little respect for the Indians that were attacking the transcontinental workers who were trying to expand the railroad.  One quote from his letter even states, “The more Indians we kill this year the less we have to kill the next…” http://www.plpow.com/Atrocities_QuotesFromSherman.htm He ultimately was successful in his attacks after using tactics such as slaughtering buffalo and encampments during the winter when the Plain Indians were limited on resources and strength. http://www.legendsofamerica.com/ah-williamsherman.html 

To his dying day and beyond William Sherman’s methods and tactics on “All out warfare” are criticized and controversial but he remains one of the most influential generals in American history.  Though, his tactics are fairly outdated with new technology, his ideology and hell-bent compassion made his the “first modern general.”  Traces of the commander can still be found in the military today on a gunship as well as brand of WW2 tanks that were named after him.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherman_tank

Sherman Memorial in St. Louis


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