Discussion Happiness/fulfillment

James N.

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Were generals like Jackson, Sherman successful because they found fulfillment/happiness in the army?
A good question, but in fact neither achieved neither happiness nor fulfillment in the army. Of course postwar Sherman served as Commanding General, but prior to the war both men had been discouraged by their experiences and had resigned from it. Jackson was unsurprisingly something of a prig and disapproved of his commanding officer's personal conduct, creating tension between the two which led to Jackson's resignation. Happily, he twice found true fulfillment as a husband while serving as a VMI professor and ultimately as father, though that was to be for a very short time. I don't think he was really happy nor fulfilled by his educational duties, being far more interested in spiritual matters at this time. His acceptance of Confederate command was likely due more to his severe devotion to what he considered to be his duty.

Sherman, despite his later reputation, had sat out the Mexican War doing garrison duty, including in California during the Gold Rush which followed it. Similar to his later friend Grant he eventually found this distasteful so he resigned to go into the law and business, at both of which he largely failed. Like Jackson, he wound up teaching at a military academy, though in Louisiana. The war intervened in the lives of both men, but after a truly bumpy start during which he suffered what was probably a nervous breakdown Sherman recovered to go on to the true fulfillment of his military career. I don't know whether or not this truly made him happy or not - at least he had the satisfaction of having succeeded where Jackson had failed.
 
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jackt62

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I've read several biographies of Sherman. He was particularly conflicted by his devotion to an army career and to his wife and foster father, who agitated for him to leave army life and settle down in Lancaster, Ohio, where he could be close to family and be set up in a family business. The decision was made for him when, like for so many other officers who saw little or no chance for promotion in the peace time army, Sherman resigned his commission and tried a number of civilian occupations before returning to the army in the CW. He was actually quite successful in his banking career in California, and were it not for the Panic of 1857, he might have persevered in that profession, or in his career as a college president in Louisiana. Ultimately, the outbreak of war in 1861 forced his hand, and with his family political connections and his experience as a West Point trained officer, he returned to army life. His success in the war had to give him some sense of fulfillment, if not happiness, despite an early bout with depression and doubt. Sherman was an anxious individual who abhorred a sense of anarchy, or things slipping out of control. His ability to help save the Union must have given him a strong sense of satisfaction in that regard.
 

Lubliner

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The army was a dull life of boredom and hard work between the Mexican War and the Civil War. Even the duty of scouting had it's dangers and hardships. No wonder many had returned to civilian life and sought rank when the true call for patriotism sounded. If it had not been for the Civil War, the devotion of men such as General Scott, or Wool, would have maybe been insignificant, and most would resign, due to lack of promotional opportunity.
Lubliner.
 

James N.

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The army was a dull life of boredom and hard work between the Mexican War and the Civil War. Even the duty of scouting had it's dangers and hardships. No wonder many had returned to civilian life and sought rank when the true call for patriotism sounded. If it had not been for the Civil War, the devotion of men such as General Scott, or Wool, would have maybe been insignificant, and most would resign, due to lack of promotional opportunity.
Lubliner.
In that respect the two gentlemen you mentioned had little to worry about, particularly Scott who had served in responsible positions in the army as far back as the War of 1812 when he led an invasion of Canada, winning a notable victory over the British at Chippewa. Having commanded the successful defeat of the main Mexican army and captured Mexico City itself in a campaign which deserves to be far better known today, Scott was considered Presidential timber. I rather imagine the septuagenarian would have found life outside the U.S. Army unthinkable and impossible.
 
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