Sherman Sherman's Wartime Record

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
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Denver, CO
Interesting thought. It is true that Sherman's greatest military accomplishments occurred when he gained operational control of an entire regional military division, which he attained after Grant was promoted to Lt. General and General-in-Chief. Thus, Sherman's fame is based on his masterful flanking maneuvers against Joe Johnston from Dalton to Atlanta, and his subsequent movements from Atlanta through Georgia and the Carolinas. Before then, Sherman's record was mixed at places like Shiloh, Chickasaw Bluffs, and Chattanooga. But once attaining total command, Sherman was able to implement his military thinking that targeted civilian infrastructure as much as individual fighting forces. Probably no other commander would have gotten away with his decision to stop the pursuit of Hood's AOT after that army began its retrograde movement towards Tennessee; Sherman chose instead to have Thomas and elements of the western armies deal with Hood, while he Sherman, concentrated on his much broader strategic campaign of cutting through the heartland of the south and delivering a body punch to that public's ability to see a realistic pathway to southern victory.
The land part of the Civil War was determined at the operational level. Infantry forces that got to their assigned destination on time and ahead of the opposition consistently won. Sherman was good at that. Very few of them had any tactical insight into using the improved artillery in combination with infantry.
Most of the people with experience in the west, quickly realized that cavalry raids were incredibly disruptive. Nathan Forrest adopted those tactics and there were many imitations.
Sherman was good at carrying out orders and not making excuses for being late.
The fact that he was an average racist for his time did not mean that he wanted the freedmen to demonstrate their loyalty to the US by getting mowed down in battle. It has nothing to do his military record.
The comparison to Thomas Jackson is extremely apt.
 

Lubliner

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With Sherman giving his best performance with larger commands, it leads me to believe that a great deal of his success should be given to his subordinates, and General Staff Officers. The same appears to be the case with Grant. But regardless of this sharing of successes, these top generals were popular with their command and an inspiration to troop morale, otherwise they could not have claimed any laurels.
Lubliner.
 

Luke Freet

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Palm Coast, Florida
With Sherman giving his best performance with larger commands, it leads me to believe that a great deal of his success should be given to his subordinates, and General Staff Officers. The same appears to be the case with Grant. But regardless of this sharing of successes, these top generals were popular with their command and an inspiration to troop morale, otherwise they could not have claimed any laurels.
Lubliner.
I'd agree with this. Folks like Logan and Thomas really give Sherman a tactical boon throughout the Atlanta Campaign.
 

wausaubob

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Denver, CO
With Sherman giving his best performance with larger commands, it leads me to believe that a great deal of his success should be given to his subordinates, and General Staff Officers. The same appears to be the case with Grant. But regardless of this sharing of successes, these top generals were popular with their command and an inspiration to troop morale, otherwise they could not have claimed any laurels.
Lubliner.
Sherman had political support and Grant's confidence. Thomas served almost as Sherman's exec. Sherman was in charge and could take the hits of bad events in a way that Thomas could not accept.
 

trice

Colonel
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A few points on Grant and Sherman:
  • Sherman was Class of 1840 at West Point, Grant was Class of 1843. They would have known one another, but it is highly unlikely that a Firstie like Sherman would have been a friend of a Plebe like Grant.
  • I do not recall that Grant and Sherman ever met again between West Point and the Civil War. They were both in California in the early 1850s (Grant came with the 4th Infantry after they found gold, so maybe 1850). Sherman resigned to become a San Francisco banker in 1853; Grant resigned and went back East in 1854.
  • Sherman and Grant were both in St. Louis on May 10, 1861 -- both civilian spectators in the crowd when Lyons marched his prisoners from Camp Jackson through the city and the riot broke out. (Added later: Sherman and Grant were both in the city on this day and both mentioned watching Lyons march back, but I don't think they met one another on this date.)
  • The first time after West Point when I know Sherman and Grant were in contact was in early 1862, when Sherman is at Paducah providing logistical support to Grant's Henry & Donelson expedition. Sherman is senior in rank to Grant at this point.
  • Shortly after that, Grant is senior because of his Henry & Donelson promotion. That gets us to Shiloh, where the new relationship between Grant and Sherman is baptized in battle.
The relationship that most do not see is that of Halleck:
  • Halleck was Class of 1839 at West Point. He would have known Sherman for 3 years there, but not Grant.
  • At the start of the Mexican War, Halleck and Sherman spent seven months sailing from NY to California on the USS Lexington with Sherman (and Ord, Class of 1839, who had roomed with Sherman). Halleck and Sherman become close friends.
  • When Sherman is called "crazy" in November 1861, Halleck keeps him from resigning and has him put on leave until he can rehab him enough to bring him back. Sherman is restored to duty in mid-December.
  • Halleck inherited Grant from Fremont when Fremont was relieved and Halleck took over (November 9).
  • Halleck has a twisty relationship with Grant. He backs Grant at times and is willing to shop Grant as a scapegoat at others (Donelson-Nashville-Shiloh)
  • Halleck may have saved Grant's career after Shiloh when he kicked him into second-in-command for the Corinth campaign. When Halleck got called to Washington in July, Grant was Halleck's man again. (Halleck was also salvaging Sheridan's career in early 1862).
  • Halleck also supports Grant in the hijacking of McClernand's troops for the December 1862 attempt on Vicksburg by Sherman
  • Grant thought of Halleck as having supported him early in 1862 when it looked like Grant might be sacked. Grant did not discover the truth until after the Civil War ended.
  • Sherman is still writing friendly letters to Halleck during the Atlanta Campaign.
 
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wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
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Denver, CO
A few points on Grant and Sherman:
  • Sherman was Class of 1840 at West Point, Grant was Class of 1843. They would have known one another, but it is highly unlikely that a Firstie like Sherman would have been a friend of a Plebe like Grant.
  • I do not recall that Grant and Sherman ever met again between West Point and the Civil War. They were both in California in the early 1850s (Grant came with the 4th Infantry after they found gold, so maybe 1850). Sherman resigned to become a San Francisco banker in 1853; Grant resigned and went back East in 1854.
  • Sherman and Grant were both in St. Louis on May 10, 1861 -- both civilian spectators in the crowd when Lyons marched his prisoners from Camp Jackson through the city and the riot broke out.
  • The first time after West Point when I know Sherman and Grant were in contact was in early 1862, when Sherman is at Paducah providing logistical support to Grant's Henry & Donelson expedition. Sherman is senior in rank to Grant at this point.
  • Shortly after that, Grant is senior because of his Henry & Donelson promotion. That gets us to Shiloh, where the new relationship between Grant and Sherman is baptized in battle.
The relationship that most do not see is that of Halleck:
  • Halleck was Class of 1839 at West Point. He would have known Sherman for 3 years there, but not Grant.
  • At the start of the Mexican War, Halleck and Sherman spent seven months sailing from NY to California on the USS Lexington with Sherman (and Ord, Class of 1839, who had roomed with Sherman). Halleck and Sherman become close friends.
  • When Sherman is called "crazy" in November 1861, Halleck keeps him from resigning and has him put on leave until he can rehab him enough to bring him back. Sherman is restored to duty in mid-December.
  • Halleck inherited Grant from Fremont when Fremont was relieved and Halleck took over (November 9).
  • Halleck has a twisty relationship with Grant. He backs Grant at times and is willing to shop Grant as a scapegoat at others (Donelson-Nashville-Shiloh)
  • Halleck may have saved Grant's career after Shiloh when he kicked him into second-in-command for the Corinth campaign. When Halleck got called to Washington in July, Grant was Halleck's man again. (Halleck was also salvaging Sheridan's career in early 1862).
  • Halleck also supports Grant in the hijacking of McClernand's troops for the December 1862 attempt on Vicksburg by Sherman
  • Grant thought of Halleck as having supported him early in 1862 when it looked like Grant might be sacked. Grant did not discover the truth until after the Civil War ended.
  • Sherman is still writing friendly letters to Halleck during the Atlanta Campaign.
Grant got the Cairo post when Scott was still in charge of the army. That was as if Grant was higher on Scott's list than is recorded. Grant had made captain in the regular army.
Pre war, Sherman too had gone through some tough times. I think Grant and Sherman in St. Louis had a chance to agree that the army was not good preparation for a banking career or life as a farmer.
 
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wausaubob

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Sherman's forces were always able to move. He did not accept excuses. The people who had been to California, even Joe Hooker, formed a different select club. Even Farragut had been to San Francisco and had helped create the Mare Island naval station.
McClellan had been in Washington. But I think he hated roughing it and did faked his work there.
 

Irishtom29

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Location
Kent, Washington
what posts did grant give thomas during the war?

None I can think of. On the other hand he didn't take anything away from Thomas either. Thomas was almost relieved at Nashville but almost is only...well...almost. I find this paranoia some Thomas supporters have about Grant to be tiresome; Thomas commanded one of the three major Federal armies and a large department after all--there was no where for him to go up from there.
 

David Moore

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Mar 26, 2014
Location
Washington, DC
None I can think of. On the other hand he didn't take anything away from Thomas either. Thomas was almost relieved at Nashville but almost is only...well...almost. I find this paranoia some Thomas supporters have about Grant to be tiresome; Thomas commanded one of the three major Federal armies and a large department after all--there was no where for him to go up from there.
Tiresome but not inaccurate?
Without Elihu Washburne - and Rosecrans’ role at Iuka and Corinth - Grant is gone in 1862.
Politicians controlling military decisions Can you imagine such a thing?
 

Irishtom29

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Location
Kent, Washington
Tiresome but not inaccurate?
Without Elihu Washburne - and Rosecrans’ role at Iuka and Corinth - Grant is gone in 1862.
Politicians controlling military decisions Can you imagine such a thing?

Under Grant Thomas was given command of a major Federal army and department and retained in that command through the war. That's no raw deal.

War is a political act and it's proper that politicians make some military decisions, doubly so in a nation with representative government and a wide franchise. If Washburne helped save Grant's bacon we owe him gratitude.
 

David Moore

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Location
Washington, DC
Under Grant Thomas was given command of a major Federal army and department and retained in that command through the war. That's no raw deal.

War is a political act and it's proper that politicians make some military decisions, doubly so in a nation with representative government and a wide franchise. If Washburne helped save Grant's bacon we owe him gratitude.

Lot of dead soldiers while Grant learned on the job.
 
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