- NAME: William Tecumseh Sherman
- OCCUPATION: General
- BIRTH DATE: February 08, 1820
- DEATH DATE: February 14, 1891
- EDUCATION: United States Military Academy at West Point
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Lancaster, Ohio
- PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
- Full Name: William Tecumseh Sherman
- AKA: William T. Sherman
- Nickname: "Cump"
- AKA: William Sherman
Best Known For
William Tecumseh Sherman was a U.S. Civil War Union Army leader known for "Sherman's March," in which he and his troops laid waste to the South.
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William Tecumseh Sherman's early military career was a near disaster, having to be temporarily relieved of command. He returned at the Battle of Shiloh to victory and then gathered 100,000 troops destroying Atlanta and devastating Georgia in his March to the Sea. Often credited with the saying, "war is hell," he was a major architect of modern total war.
"I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell."
"If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world, but I am sure we would be getting reports from Hell before breakfast."
"In our country ... one class of men makes war and leaves another to fight it out."
"War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over."
"Grant stood by me when I was crazy, and I stood by him when he was drunk, and now we stand by each other."
"I intend to make Georgia howl."
"War is hell."
William Tecumseh Sherman was born to a prominent family in Lancaster, Ohio, on February, 8, 1820, one of 11 children. His father, Charles Sherman, was a successful lawyer and Ohio Supreme Court justice. When William was 9 years old, his father died suddenly, leaving the family with few finances. He was raised by a family friend, Thomas Ewing, a senator from Ohio and prominent member of the Whig Party. There has been much speculation on Sherman's middle name. In his memoirs, he wrote that his father gave him the name William Tecumseh because he admired the Shawnee chief.
In 1836, Senator Ewing secured William T. Sherman an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. There, he excelled academically, but had little respect for the demerit system. He never got himself into deep trouble, but had numerous minor offenses on this record. Sherman graduated in 1840, sixth in his class. He first saw action against the Seminole Indians in Florida and had numerous assignments through Georgia and South Carolina, where he became acquainted with many of the Old South's most respected families.
William T. Sherman's early military career was anything but spectacular. Unlike many of his colleagues who saw action during the Mexican-American War, Sherman spent this time stationed in California as an executive officer. In 1850, he married Eleanor Boyle Ewing, the daughter of Thomas Ewing. With his lack of combat experience, Sherman felt that the U.S. Army was a dead-end, thusly resigning his commission in 1853. He stayed in California during the glory days of the gold rush as a banker, but that ended in the Panic of 1857. He settled in Kansas to practice law, but without much success.
In 1859, William T. Sherman was head master at a military academy in Louisiana. He proved to be an effective administrator and popular with the community. As sectional tensions rose, Sherman warned his secessionist friends that a war would be long and bloody, with the North eventually winning. When Louisiana left the Union, Sherman resigned and moved to St. Louis, wanting nothing to do with the conflict. Though a conservative on slavery, he was a strong supporter of the Union. After the firing on Fort Sumter, he asked his brother, Senator John Sherman, to arrange a commission in the Army.
In May 1861, William T. Sherman was appointed colonel in the 13th U.S. Infantry, and was assigned command of a brigade under General William McDowell in Washington, D.C. He fought in the First Battle of Bull Run, in which Union troops were badly beaten. He was then sent to Kentucky and became deeply pessimistic about the war, complaining to his superiors about shortages while exaggerating the enemy's troop strength.
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