William Tecumseh Sherman, photo by Matthew Brady.
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The destructive methods Sherman employed in the march to the sea were controversial, but he was no villain; he was one of the great military leaders of the Civil War. He knew how to outmaneuver a major Confederate army and how to destroy the Confederate will. He was an appealing individual, whom soldiers, family, and friends idolized.
Sherman: A Soldier's Passion For Order
As a major public figure, he was in demand for both the office of the presidency and small social gatherings and public speeches. He impressed his contemporaries, influenced his age, and left a name for posterity. Grant — to get him back on track. Shiloh was to remain of crucial importance to Sherman all his life. It was especially tied into his lifelong admiration for Grant.
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Shiloh was an important event in his life because he saw that Union forces could, given the right leadership, stand up to the Confederates. The Federal army could overcome chaos and be successful.
You are commenting using your WordPress. By Charles Edmund Vetter. Gretna, La.
Since his death just over a century ago, William T. Sherman has dodged biographers ' efforts to recover his life. To be sure, there have been several biographies , most notably Lloyd Lewis's Sherman: Fighting Prophet , but one comes away from these studies less than satisfied that they have captured the real Sherman.
Rather, the portrait that emerges from these studies is more a Rorschach test of the author's own prejudices—from the blunt, pragmatic Westerner masterfully crafted by Lewis to the guilt-ridden arsonist presented in James Reston, Jr.
Marszalek: Sherman was ‘no villain’
Recently, historians have returned once more to Sherman: Charles Royster and Albert Castel have offered thoughtful evaluations, and several scholars are engaged in preparing biographies or studies. The first of these to appear are John F. Marszalek's full-scale biography and Charles Edmund Vetter's somewhat eclectic study of Sherman's generalship. In an impressively researched work, Marszalek offers us what to date must now stand as the best biography of Sherman.
He argues that Sherman's desire for order and independence is far more influential than these common desires normally are in one's life. These themes shaped his attitude toward matters public and private, especially his family relationships, although occasionally Marszalek's emphasis risks making Sherman two-dimensional.
Surely Sherman 's view of American society was grounded in his insistence on order. As Marszalek shows, Sherman had very little use for many of the qualities of the very nation he fought to save. He hated politicians although, as Marszalek acutely notes, he was quite free with his own political opinions , representative government, public opinion as when he grumbled, "vox populi, vox humbug" , and, of course, the press. Much like Sherman's life, Marszalek's story sags after the end of the war, but this portion of the book, topically organized, still contains much of interest about Sherman's changing relationship with Ulysses S.
Grant, his interest in shaping the history ofthe war, and his troubled family life. While one will never confuse the two as prose stylists, this is not necessarily to Marszalek's disadvantage, for he keeps the focus of his narrative squarely on Sherman, refraining from the Sandburgian detours Lewis took all too often. Unlike Lewis, Marszalek deplores Sherman's racism and demonstrates how it shaped his attitude toward the war. Both biographers emphasize Sherman 's obsession with order, and although at times it may seem as if Marszalek leans too heavily on that theme, anyone familiar with Sherman's correspondence will acknowledge that at times the general appeared fixated on order.
Related Sherman: A Soldiers Passion for Order
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