American General: The Life and Times of William Tecumseh Sherman

American General: The Life and Times of William Tecumseh Sherman

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0451471350

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


From respected historian John S. D. Eisenhower comes a surprising portrait of William Tecumseh Sherman, the Civil War general whose path of destruction cut the Confederacy in two, broke the will of the Southern population, and earned him a place in history as “the first modern general.” Yet behind his reputation as a fierce warrior was a sympathetic man of complex character.

A century and a half after the Civil War, Sherman remains one of its most controversial figures—the soldier who brought the fight not only to the Confederate Army, but to Confederate civilians as well. Yet Eisenhower, a West Point graduate and a retired brigadier general (Army Reserves), finds in Sherman a man of startling contrasts, not at all defined by the implications of “total war.” His scruffy, disheveled appearance belied an unconventional and unyielding intellect. Intensely loyal to superior officers, especially Ulysses S. Grant, he was also a stalwart individualist. Confident enough to make demands face-to-face with President Lincoln, he sympathetically listened to the problems of newly freed slaves on his famed march from Atlanta to Savannah. Dubbed “no soldier” during his years at West Point, Sherman later rose to the rank of General of the Army, and though deeply committed to the Union cause, he held the people of the South in great affection.

In this remarkable reassessment of Sherman’s life and career, Eisenhower takes readers from Sherman’s Ohio origins and his fledgling first stint in the Army, to his years as a businessman in California and his hurried return to uniform at the outbreak of the war. From Bull Run through Sherman’s epic March to the Sea, Eisenhower offers up a fascinating narrative of a military genius whose influence helped preserve the Union—and forever changed war.

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soldiers subsequently placed under my command looked askance and with suspicion. Indeed, it was not until the following April that the battle of Shiloh gave me personally the chance to redeem my good name.7 — Sherman’s condition finally reached a point where Halleck decided to take further action. On November 29, 1861, Sherman received a message from Halleck’s aide saying that the general was now satisfied that the Confederates intended no attack on Sedalia and therefore Sherman should return

soldiers subsequently placed under my command looked askance and with suspicion. Indeed, it was not until the following April that the battle of Shiloh gave me personally the chance to redeem my good name.7 — Sherman’s condition finally reached a point where Halleck decided to take further action. On November 29, 1861, Sherman received a message from Halleck’s aide saying that the general was now satisfied that the Confederates intended no attack on Sedalia and therefore Sherman should return

made a “request” of Sherman—an unusually sheepish request—that Sherman make a diversionary attack on Haynes Bluff, near Chickasaw Bluffs on the Yazoo River. He did not issue an order; he merely “hoped” that Sherman would do so. Both men were aware that the demonstration against Haynes Bluff would be rebuffed, and that the defeat would reawaken the criticism of Sherman in the Northern press. But Grant knew his man. Sherman, aware of the consequences, did not hesitate in notifying his chief that

Independence . . . General Kearny came on board and received a hearty welcome to the Bay of Monterey. I had met him before. He looked haggard, worn, and rough, for he had endured a hard march from Santa Fe, had got into a tight place, lost two of his captains, one lieutenant, and twenty men out of forty-five. He too had received two lance wounds in the fight, but nevertheless, his face wore that smile so characteristic of him. He has always been a favorite model of mine and I was peculiarly glad

Halleck to come to Richmond and be his guest. This he indignantly refused, and informed Halleck, furthermore, that he had seen his order. He also stated that he was coming up to take command of his troops, and as he marched through it would probably be as well for Halleck not to show himself, because he (Sherman) would not be responsible for what some rash person might do through indignation for the treatment he had received. Very soon after that, Sherman received orders from me to proceed to

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