Sherman Sherman's Wartime Record

dutchdwight1

Cadet
Joined
Apr 25, 2021
Average, but was Grant's willing subordinate
Sherman was highly connected, politically. The family which adopted him and he married into - The Ewings', ran the Senate and the House. Grant needed the political backing and put Sherman in the spotlight to enable funding. If it wasn't for Thomas, Sherman may not have had the luck in the field. There was virtually no opposition to the march to the sea. Jackson and Meridien and Savannah was always about the cotton. In his youth serving in Charlestown he knew the area and probably had contacts/relationships throughout the south. He traveled extensively from Charlestown to Savannah and across to Alabama, etc. Since he lived in Charlestown, as the leading 'solider' he was probably watching the shipping and had been feted well in both cities - Charlestown and Savannah. Thoughts?
 

Irishtom29

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Location
Kent, Washington
Not a big achievement, as Sherman and his 60,000 plus troops had only Joe Wheeler's small force of troopers to contend with. While Thomas had The Army Of Tennessee to deal with.

If not a big achievement then certainly a necessary one--it was how the war was won.

Look here, Sherman had more troops than needed to deal with Hood in his rear and he had a desire to move forward. So he split his force and went forward with 4 corps on new business and sent Thomas, his best man, with 2 corps to finish up old business. It was a very sensible decision, as events show.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
McClernand is pretty easy to understand. He was a much better general than Grant, and he knew it. Indeed, prettymuch every great "Grant" success (until mid-1863) is underpinned by a successful McClernand. The problem is largely one that McClernand expected to be acknowledged for his successes, whereas Grant wanted to take the credit for McClernand's successes. Indeed, without McClernand, Grant's career would have come to a shameful conclusion when he abandoned the field at Belmont, leaving a thousand Federals behind to be captured. McClernand went back to rescue them.

Something quite similar appears to be the case with Hooker in 1863/4. He wants to take the credit for his own achievements rather than letting his superiors do it.

The conflict with Rosecrans was also based around Grant wanting to take credit for Rosecrans' achievements, which Rosecrans characterised as “insatiable and conscienceless egotism.”

One has to ask oneself, is it that Grant was egotistical, or everyone else that came into conflict with him in this manner?

You actually think that McClernand was a better general than Grant? Based on what?
 

David Moore

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Location
Washington, DC
In August, Lincolln thought that the Election was in doubt. He stayed with Grant and Sherman.
Lincoln not as powerful as we think he was.
Grant and Sherman were the last cards in the deck. They had support in Congress - never underestimate the importance of Washburne- and among Republicans in general.
A Democrat would have been unacceptable to the Republican powers which isn’t an unreasonable notion.
Sherman was moving it just took longer than he would have been preferred. I believe Albert Castel concluded almost anyone could have done what Sherman did if not better.
Grant in the other theater was discovering he’d be fighting past “all summer.”
The real losers one might argue where the Union soldiers who fought under Grant in Virginia in 1864-5.
 

Irishtom29

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Location
Kent, Washington
Sherman was moving it just took longer than he would have been preferred. I believe Albert Castel concluded almost anyone could have done what Sherman did if not better.
Grant in the other theater was discovering he’d be fighting past “all summer.”
The real losers one might argue where the Union soldiers who fought under Grant in Virginia in 1864-5.
What Castel concluded isn't history, it's opinion. We don't know how well others would have done because, well, they didn't do it--Sherman did. And yes, to defeat Lee and his army took much hard fighting and blood; I doubt it could've been otherwise. Grant did the job.

Your shtick here is bumrapping the guys who actually won the war, I assume to support an opinion that others would have done better. Grant and Sherman, and their subordinates such as Ord, Meade, Sheridan and Thomas brought about the final destruction of the rebellion. That is fact.
 

John S. Carter

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
For the Sherman experts, how would you evaluate his wartime record and exploits, BEFORE the Atlanta campaign? Did he have enormous battlefield success to justify the assignment? Or was he simply mediocre, but Grant trusted him?
Another interesting question would be, if not Sherman who else did Grant have as assurance in as to trust with this army to accomplish what Sherman did and to follow up with the March to the Sea and finally bringing about the defeat of Johnson and the last major Confederate army which except for a few hold outs. Sherman brought about the last hope for the CSA. Grant had fought with Sherman in the Vicksburg campaign had realized that Sherman while not a great general did process the qualification of a command that would see this mission to the final. Grant and Sherman seem to have the same phycological concept of total war in order to bring the war to the population which supported the war , Sherman more than Grant. In the end Sherman even exceeded Grant's expectations with his march to Savannah. Question; If Grant had any doubts about Sherman, why did he permit Sherman to do this? As to before Atlanta ,the one major engagement that is noted is Shiloh and are there any records of his lack of performance as commander there?
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
Sherman was highly connected, politically. The family which adopted him and he married into - The Ewings', ran the Senate and the House.
John Ewing had not been in Congress since 1851 and during the Civil War there were no Ewings in the Senate or the House. In other words, the Ewings didnt run either part of Congress at the time.

WT Sherman's brother, John Sherman was a powerful leader in Congress during the civil war, though he had not been adopted by the Ewings


Grant needed the political backing and put Sherman in the spotlight to enable funding.
This makes no sense. Grant had his own political backing (see Washburne) without needing Sherman and Halleck basically pushed Sherman on Grant until Sherman became Grant's main subordinate
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
.... Indeed, without McClernand, Grant's career would have come to a shameful conclusion when he abandoned the field at Belmont, leaving a thousand Federals behind to be captured. McClernand went back to rescue them.
...
McClernand fails to control his own brigade, letting one of his regiments wonder off, and then loses it completely; he then boards the transport without them (Grant is on a different boat) and steams away. Only then does McClernand seem to realize he is missing part of his command so he frantically gets help from the gunboats to find the missing regiment. It is his career that would have come to a shameful conclusion if he hadnt luckly found them
 

David Moore

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Location
Washington, DC
What Castel concluded isn't history, it's opinion. We don't know how well others would have done because, well, they didn't do it--Sherman did. And yes, to defeat Lee and his army took much hard fighting and blood; I doubt it could've been otherwise. Grant did the job.

Your shtick here is bumrapping the guys who actually won the war, I assume to support an opinion that others would have done better. Grant and Sherman, and their subordinates such as Ord, Meade, Sheridan and Thomas brought about the final destruction of the rebellion. That is fact.
Castel spent his adult life studying the war. His books and essays are documented by original sources unlike almost all posts on this site. I have written a book - not a big deal to many on this site- in which I held myself to the highest standards in supporting my conclusions. I once held the view you have about Grant and Sherman. It is the view taught in schools and supported in popular media and bestsellers. My - documented- research led me to change my mind. Other serious - again meaning documented- authors have come to similar conclusions as I have.
Grant and Sherman were able to do what they did because they were in position to do so despite their earlier performance in the the war. Politics in my opinion played a role in this.
I wouldn’t call my work “schtick”
It seems once again the ultimate tool of Grant/ Sherman defenders is to simply dismiss points of view they don’t agree with words more suitable for a sports bar or comedy club.
This discussion might be more fruitful if you read some of the books I’ve mentioned.
 

tony_gunter

Corporal
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
Mississippi
There is no doubt that the President wanted to clear the Mississippi, which included taking Vicksburg. What makes you say that Lincoln "wanted an attempt to take Vicksburg by storm"? How would Sherman know about such a desire even if he did have it? Sherman's knowledge is what Grant told him and what Grant ordered him to do -- not what Lincoln was talking to Halleck about.

Here, BTW, is what Sherman actually thinks he is doing on December 8, 1862:
HDQRS. RIGHT WING, ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE,
Oxford, Tenn., December 8, 1862.

Rear-Admiral DAVID D. PORTER,
Commanding U. S. Naval Forces, Cairo, Ill,:

The movement thus far has been eminently successful. General Grant's moving down directly upon the enemy's strong lines behind Tallahatchie while the Helena force appeared unexpectedly on their flank, utterly confounded them, and they are now in full retreat, and we are at a loss where they will bring up. We hope they will halt and reform behind the Yalabusha with Grenada as their center. If so, General Grant can press their front, while I am ordered to take all the spare troops from Memphis and Helena and proceed with all dispatch to Vicksburg.

Time now is the great object. We must not give time for new combinations. I know you will promptly co-operate. It will not be necessary to engage their Vicksburg batteries until I have broken all their inland communication. Then Vicksburg must be attacked by land and water. In this I will defer much to you.

My purpose will be to cut the road to Monroe, La., to Jackson, Miss., and then appear up the Yazoo, threatening the Mississippi Central road where it crosses the Big Black.

These movements will disconcert the enemy and throw them on to Meridian, especially as General Grant presses them in front. All this should be done before the winter rains make General Grant's roads impassable. I will leave for Memphis to-morrow (Tuesday) night, and will reach Memphis with one of my old divisions Friday night. We ought to leave Memphis before the 20th, and I do earnestly desire you should meet me there at all events. Even if the larger gunboats cannot proceed at once, send those of light draught down with Captains Phelps, Gwin, Shirk, or some officer to assist me in the preliminary work. Of course Vicksburg cannot be reduced till you arrive with the large gunboats.

General Grant's purpose is to take full advantage of the effects of this Tallahatchie success.

I am, with great respect,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General, Commanding.

This is what Grant thinks he is doing on December 8, 1862:
HDQRS. THIRTEENTH A. C., DEPT. OF THE TENN.,
Oxford, Miss., December 8, 1862.

Brig. Gen. FRED. STEELE.
Commanding U. S. Forces, Helena, Ark.:
I have just received authority to retain all General Curtis' forces now within my department until further orders. This is from the General-in-Chief, and contemplates their being used in co-operative movements to effect the capture of Vicksburg. If these troops have gone back to Helena I wish you would return them to Friar's Point, or the most suitable place to march them directly upon Grenada, or embark them for Vicksburg, as I may decide upon. General Halleck's dispatch was only this moment received, and my mind is not fully made up as to the best method of capturing Vicksburg. I can, by the time our troops could reach there, have the railroad completed to Grenada and a supply of provisions thrown in there. From that point Jackson, Miss., could be reached without the use of the roads. Jackson once in our possession would soon insure the capitulation of Vicksburg.
I rather incline, however, to the plan of sending your forces, and all I can spare from Memphis and here, say 25,000 in addition to yours, down the Mississippi to effect a landing above Vicksburg, probably a short distance up the Yazoo, and have them co-operate with the gunboats, whilst I move south with the remainder of my forces from here.
Please inform me by return couriers all you know about the present condition of our gunboats. You having been so long on the Mississippi River looking toward Vicksburg are possessed of much information as to the best method of attacking that point that I am not possessed of. I would be very glad to have your views.
I shall send Sherman, if the Mississippi route is determined upon, and would be very glad if you could accompany him. I have no definite news of the result of Hovey's expedition. From the enemy evacuating Tallahatchie so suddenly I judged that it had proven successful. We followed up the evacuation with all dispatch, our cavalry pressing their rear all the way from the river to Coffeeville, killing and wounding many and capturing about 700. Besides this many deserted and are coming in every day.
Word was sent me to-day by a deserter who gave himself up that there were near 2,000 Southern soldiers east of this place, scattered through the country, desirous of coming in if we would send out cavalry to drive out the guerrillas that hover in that direction and make it unsafe for them to venture in this direction.
U.S. GRANT,
Major-general.
P. S.--Send me word what number of men you have river transportation for. I shall adopt the plan of sending a force down the Mississippi. I will send instructions to the commanding officer of the cavalry forces that will necessarily be left behind for their guidance

Steele's opinion on where to land:
You ask General Steele's opinion as to the best point to land troops below here with a view of attacking Vicksburg. General Steele says that the troops should be landed at the lower end of Milliken's Bend, opposite an island called My Wife's Island, say 2 or 3 miles above the Yazoo River. From that point operations could be directed as may be hereafter indicated by yourself and General Sherman. The above point is about 25 miles by water above Vicksburg and some less by land.
You’re capturing a single point in time that is colored by the mistaken impression that Hovey has successfully caused the evacuation of Grenada and Pemberton is fleeing to Jackson.

Halleck, known for providing only vague suggestions, has issued a direct order that Sherman will proceed with as many men as possible downriver and take Vicksburg. Halleck’s sudden directness and urgency derives from the fact that the mission has already been ordained by Lincoln under McClernand and Halleck does not trust the operation to McClernamd’s command.
 

Stone in the wall

2nd Lieutenant
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Location
Blue Ridge Mountains, Jefferson County WV
If not a big achievement then certainly a necessary one--it was how the war was won.

Look here, Sherman had more troops than needed to deal with Hood in his rear and he had a desire to move forward. So he split his force and went forward with 4 corps on new business and sent Thomas, his best man, with 2 corps to finish up old business. It was a very sensible decision, as events show.
Since Sherman had more troops than he needed, the fastest way to end the war would have been to crush Hood and his army. 7 1/2 months after the fall of Atlanta Lee and Johnston are still in the field and trying to combine forces and strike a blow.
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
Castel spent his adult life studying the war. His books and essays are documented by original sources unlike almost all posts on this site. I have written a book - not a big deal to many on this site- in which I held myself to the highest standards in supporting my conclusions. I once held the view you have about Grant and Sherman. It is the view taught in schools and supported in popular media and bestsellers. My - documented- research led me to change my mind. Other serious - again meaning documented- authors have come to similar conclusions as I have.
Grant and Sherman were able to do what they did because they were in position to do so despite their earlier performance in the the war. Politics in my opinion played a role in this.
I wouldn’t call my work “schtick”
It seems once again the ultimate tool of Grant/ Sherman defenders is to simply dismiss points of view they don’t agree with words more suitable for a sports bar or comedy club.
This discussion might be more fruitful if you read some of the books I’ve mentioned.
Ive read some of the books you mention. You push Varney's book, which is possibly the most poorly documented history book I have ever seen. As such, I roll my eyes when you make claims about "serious - again meaning documented- authors". Ive read Jones essay and its a good read, but he doesnt hold himself to the highest standards in supporting his conclusions nor is the documentation that deep. For example, we have debated the role of Dickey and Lagow at Iuka before, and Jones accepts Rosecrans testimony to the JCCW as gospel throwing in additional claims for which the documented support is unclear.
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
You’re capturing a single point in time that is colored by the mistaken impression that Hovey has successfully caused the evacuation of Grenada and Pemberton is fleeing to Jackson.

Halleck, known for providing only vague suggestions, has issued a direct order that Sherman will proceed with as many men as possible downriver and take Vicksburg. Halleck’s sudden directness and urgency derives from the fact that the mission has already been ordained by Lincoln under McClernand and Halleck does not trust the operation to McClernamd’s command.
Part of Halleck's timing also had to do with coordination from down river -- in the first week of December Banks' expedition left NY/DC for New Orleans; at the time Halleck did not know of the existence of Port Hudson so he expected once Banks joined Farragut the two would steam up the Mississippi just like Farragut had done in the summer; and he estimated that might be there in late December so he wanted Sherman's movement to coincide.
 

Irishtom29

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Location
Kent, Washington
Since Sherman had more troops than he needed, the fastest way to end the war would have been to crush Hood and his army. 7 1/2 months after the fall of Atlanta Lee and Johnston are still in the field and trying to combine forces and strike a blow.

As though it should have been super easy, barely an inconvenience.;-) Sherman was unable to chase Hood down and rather than backtrack chose to let Hood have the initiative to the north while Sherman took the initiative to the east. Which worked out fine as Sherman's subordinate did crush Hood and his army and only a shadow of that army was left to join Johnston's army in the Carolinas.
 
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lurid

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
Not a big achievement, as Sherman and his 60,000 plus troops had only Joe Wheeler's small force of troopers to contend with. While Thomas had The Army Of Tennessee to deal with.

I never said it was a big achievement sending a racist to put down a bunch of virulent racists. I said it was irony. Don't know what you're talking about?
 

lurid

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
As though it should have been super easy, barely an inconvenience.;-) Sherman was unable to chase Hood down and rather than backtrack chose to let Hood have the initiative to the north while Sherman took the initiative to the east. Which worked out fine as Sherman's subordinate did crush Hood and his army and only a shadow of that army was left to join Johnston's army in the Carolinas.
Covering 300-miles in less than 40 days when military transportation was poor and so were the roads, and being cut off the supply chain and having to live off the land piecing the heartland of the Confederacy and Sherman made look pretty easy.


It was your Southern leaders that chose war against the United States and it was your Southern leaders including Lee, who chose to make Southern civilians an active extension of the Confederate army by demanding they take up arms against the United States military. You reap what you sow.

edited - changed "people" to "civilians"

This is what I was alluding to in first place. But people in here derailed the thread and talked about Sherman's character and nothing about the OP, so let's derail it some more. Sherman was a racist, and the irony is that a racist put down virulent racists. Sherman had enough morals to see first and forehand that slavery was wrong and evil, but slaveowners were amoral didn't see it that way. Racist vs Virulent racists. Moral vs. Amoral. Historians operating with the modernist assumption that idealism is only a veneer for self-interest, that war is always amoral rather than on occasion utilitarian, and uncomfortable with absolute notions of good and evil, have downplayed the actions of Sherman’s soldiers as political avenging angels. Sherman and his Midwest seen the evils of slavery and abhorred it to nth degree.


But the root of the fearsome spirit and success of Sherman’s Union soldiers in Georgia was their collective fervor for emancipation and destruction of the tyrannical Southern ruling class. Sherman and his Midwestern farmer-fighters had a keen appreciation that the landed lords of the South, for all their proclamations about states’ rights and the preservation of liberty as envisioned by the Founding Fathers, had championed secession mostly to preserve and expand their own vast estates and multitudes of slaves. Property and position, not ideas, were the ultimate issue of this war. This Sherman, almost alone of Northern generals, understood. They got what they deserved...
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
You’re capturing a single point in time that is colored by the mistaken impression that Hovey has successfully caused the evacuation of Grenada and Pemberton is fleeing to Jackson.

Halleck, known for providing only vague suggestions, has issued a direct order that Sherman will proceed with as many men as possible downriver and take Vicksburg. Halleck’s sudden directness and urgency derives from the fact that the mission has already been ordained by Lincoln under McClernand and Halleck does not trust the operation to McClernamd’s command.

No. I am looking at the process that unfolded and what the actual people involved did and said. You are trying to conflate one thing into another here by imagining things that were not there.

Neither Halleck nor Grant trusted McClernand's abilities or wanted him leading an independent force within Grant's territory. At the same time, no one was demanding Sherman thrust those troops into a meatgrinder -- not Lincoln, not Halleck and not Grant. All three of them wanted Vicksburg taken, but the method of doing it was left to Sherman.
 
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