- 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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He was eventually put on leave, considered unfit for duty. The press picked up on his troubles and described him as "insane." It is believed Sherman suffered from a nervous breakdown.
In mid-December 1861, Sherman returned to service in Missouri and was assigned rear-echelon commands. In Kentucky, he provided logistical support for Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant's capture of Fort Donelson in February 1862. The following month,
Sherman was assigned to serve with Grant in the Army of West Tennessee. His first test as a commander in combat came at Shiloh.
Likely fearing renewed criticism of appearing overly alarmed, William T. Sherman initially dismissed intelligence reports that Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston was in the area. He took little precaution shoring up picket lines or sending out reconnaissance patrols. On the morning of April 6, 1862, the Confederates struck with Hell's own fury. Sherman and Grant rallied their troops and pushed back the rebel offensive by day's end. With reinforcements arriving that night, Union troops were able to launch a counter attack the next morning, scattering Confederate troops. The experience bonded Sherman and Grant to a lifelong friendship.
William T. Sherman remained in the West, serving with Grant in the long campaign against Vicksburg. However, the press was relentless in its criticism of both men. As one newspaper complained, the "Army was being ruined in mud-turtle expeditions, under the leadership of a drunkard [Grant] whose confidential adviser [Sherman] was a lunatic." Eventually, Vicksburg fell and Sherman was given command of three armies in the West.
In September 1864, William T. Sherman took Atlanta and burned it to the ground. With 60,000 men, he began his celebrated "March to the Sea," ripping through Georgia with a 60-mile-wide path of total destruction. Sherman understood that to win the war and save the Union, his Army would have to break the South's will to fight. Everything was ordered to be destroyed in this military strategy, known as "total war."
When Grant became president in 1869, William T. Sherman took over as general commander of the U.S. Army. One of his duties was to protect construction of the railroads from attack by hostile Indians. Believing the Native Americans were an impediment to progress, he ordered total destruction of the warring tribes. Despite his harsh treatment of Native Americans, Sherman spoke out against unscrupulous government officials who mistreated them on the reservations.
In February 1884, William T. Sherman retired from the Army. He lived in New York City thereafter, devoting his time to theater, amateur painting, and speaking at dinners and banquets. He declined to run for the presidency, saying, "I will not accept if nominated, and will not serve if elected."
Sherman Tecumseh Sherman died on February 14, 1891, in New York City. President Benjamin Harrison ordered all national flags be flown at half-staff. Though vilified in the South as a demon who perpetuated atrocities on civilians, historians give Sherman high marks as a military strategist and quick-witted tactician. He changed the nature of war and recognized it for what it was: "War is hell."
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