Smithsonian Magazine: "General Sherman Smitten by Vinnie Ream" - More Juicy Gossip?

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Belle Montgomery

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 25, 2017
Location
44022
Could it be? The Smithsonian spreading gossip about General Sherman too? Goes to show you never can tell who says what about whom about the men and women of the ACW! Enjoy James N.

"The Prairie Cinderella who sculpted Lincoln and Farragut" - and Set Tongues Wagging"

These are taken from an article in their magazine, written by Katherine Allamong Jacob and published in August 2000 number Volume 31
Sherman rumor starts at the bottom of the first column on the left.
LINK IS HERE:file:///C:/Users/Owner/Pictures/Sherman%20Ream.pdf
Sherman-Ream.jpg
Ream Sherman pic.jpg
 

donna

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
May 12, 2010
Location
Now Florida but always a Kentuckian
It seems obvious Sherman liked the ladies. Many famous people did. I guess what is sad for me at times is their disregard for their wives. This is so true today with many of our leaders. It seems the vows of marriage should not be taken lightly. Many of these women experienced much pain and now they had to know of their husband's infidelity.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
I've always been pretty annoyed by Ream's story. Sherman wasn't the only ( older, much older ) man smitten by her, not that it excuses him. Think about it- she was 19 when working on the statue. That means she'd been around awhile, an even younger girl when appearing on the scene. Please no one tell me a. girls grew up more quickly and b. these affairs were normal.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
I've always had the same dissonance about Vinnie Reams - a capable and talented woman who had to put up with what today would be called sexual harassment in order to do her job as well as being flirtatious to get the help of men like Sherman, then have to give it all up because her husband wanted a 'good' wife. Vinnie was young, all right, but not stupid - I don't think it was putting up with Sherman to get what she needed. She genuinely liked him. And we'll never know how far the relationship really went - sometimes a guy might write some pretty hot letters and they're all true, and again they may be what he wants to be true! In many ways, Sherman's insecurities led him to other women - he was always being measured by the lofty standard of Thomas Ewing in the eyes of his wife...and always found wanting! Whatever his later failings with the marriage vows, he loved his wife completely. When she died, he'd been ignoring her illness thinking it was not as bad as it was (it was a lifelong fault to declare things better than they actually were) - but when the doctor told him he'd better go upstairs if he wanted a last word with his wife, he ran up them shouting, "Wait for me, Ellen, wait for me! No one loves you as I do!" He went into a very black depression after she passed, too, the kind where your friends discreetly take away sharp objects and hide the guns, but he did pull through it.
 

Dead Parrott

Corporal
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
I've always been pretty annoyed by Ream's story. Sherman wasn't the only ( older, much older ) man smitten by her, not that it excuses him. Think about it- she was 19 when working on the statue. That means she'd been around awhile, an even younger girl when appearing on the scene. Please no one tell me a. girls grew up more quickly and b. these affairs were normal.
Some aspects of human nature - for better or worse - transcend our ideas of historical cultural boundaries.
 

Cavalier

Corporal
Joined
Jul 20, 2019
@ JPK Huson 1863 I humbly disagree. I have no idea what affairs were normal and what affairs were not but I believe boys and girls did grow up earlier in those days. For one thing they had a much shorter lifespan than we do.

My grandfather was working full time on the railroad when he was 15 and lost arm doing it.

My mother was married at 16.

My godfather left France as a child and later enlisted in the American Army at 14. (He was with Pershing chasing Pancho Villa later in his career. I always thought that was pretty cool!).

I mention these personal stories to show, in my opinion anyway, these people were not considered children.

Would not the number of teenagers fighting as combatants in the armies of the American Civil War go in some ways to substantiate that they were not considered children in the Victorian era. Also I believe the term teenager was not commonly used until the mid twentieth century.

Sweat shops and mines actually did employee children. It would have been strange, don't you think, if Vinnie Ream had not grown up quickly, living in those times.

Just opinions of course.

John
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
@ JPK Huson 1863 I humbly disagree. I have no idea what affairs were normal and what affairs were not but I believe boys and girls did grow up earlier in those days. For one thing they had a much shorter lifespan than we do.

My grandfather was working full time on the railroad when he was 15 and lost arm doing it.

My mother was married at 16.

My godfather left France as a child and later enlisted in the American Army at 14. (He was with Pershing chasing Pancho Villa later in his career. I always thought that was pretty cool!).

I mention these personal stories to show, in my opinion anyway, these people were not considered children.

Would not the number of teenagers fighting as combatants in the armies of the American Civil War go in some ways to substantiate that they were not considered children in the Victorian era. Also I believe the term teenager was not commonly used until the mid twentieth century.

Sweat shops and mines actually did employee children. It would have been strange, don't you think, if Vinnie Ream had not grown up quickly, living in those times.

Just opinions of course.

John

Yes, I see your point and it's true. This country was as Dickensian as the UK, children in factories and mines, cities spilling over with homeless children fending for themselves. There were also shock horror exposes of houses where you could buy babies and children. For every charming image we have of pretty little girls holding dolls and pugnacious, frilled collared boys there were dozens of children no one cared about. That doesn't mean it wasn't considered shameful. We were just pretty adept at looking the other way. Heck, it wasn't until the 1930's any effective law was passed stating " Children can't work ".

A 16 year old bride wasn't being exploited by older men,she was probably cherished and supported starting her life as an adult. ' Class ' ( gag ) came into it too, the men Reams encountered were powerful guys, mostly married. I realize it was 150 years ago but there was an imbalance in position and power not experienced by the young wives in our family trees. Reams may have been considered mostly an adult at 19 sure- no 19 year old of any era or culture is or was equipped to be immersed in a world of much older men. I'm not so sure she grew up more swiftly as she did adapt.
 

Cavalier

Corporal
Joined
Jul 20, 2019
@ JPK Huson 1863. Thanks for getting back to me. Well the only point I was trying to make is that we consider 16 and 17 year olds as children, but I don't think they did.

In any case, as always, I enjoyed reading your comments.

John
 

diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
Class was indeed a big factor, more than we like to think in this country. A May-December marriage was sought after, considered ideal to marry your 16 year old daughter off to a well to do man older than her grandfather. Whether they loved each other or not was irrelevant. More often than not, especially in the 'upper' class, the photos show partners who would clearly rather not be yoked together but have gotten used to it. That's why I like when JPK puts up the funny ones - where the lower crust clearly got the better of the bargain. I got you, babe, and a whole lot of nothin' - ain't life grand! :laugh:
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Central Massachusetts
Old Cump did like the ladies, indeed (heck, so do I!).

There used to be something of a tradition for mothers to bring their babies to be kissed "for good luck" by politicians and other famous men. In the 19th century, young girls and older women got into the thing, too, sometimes competing with one another as to "who gets kissed first?" And General Sherman was no slouch in the affair (nor was he alone). We even have a thread about Sherman the Kisser. In 1874, a reporter kept scores at an event in Toledo attended by Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, and Custer:
1575129953484.png
Sherman scored highest in babies kissed, but had less than half Sheridan's or Custer's scores with "Ladies." It was all rather cartoonish. There are literally thousands of reports of Sherman's osculatory inclinations. Most of them are good-natured, tongue-in-cheek (sometimes clearly exaggerated), but a few sour-faced puritans complain that, in general there's "altogether too much public kissin' going on."

Personally, I think we shouldn't put too much stock in rumors and innuendo regarding unfaithfulness. There was a lot of relatively innocent flirtation going on. And the famous (and infamous) were inviting and very easy targets for exaggeration. Of course, there were too many very real and reprehensible examples of infidelity and exploitation, but we should be careful about tales spread only for for either purient or political reasons.
 
Last edited:

diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
Old Cump did like the ladies, indeed (heck, so do I!).

There used to be something of a tradition for mothers to bring their babies to be kissed "for good luck" by politicians and other famous men. In the 19th century, young girls and older women got into the thing, too, sometimes competing with one another as to "who gets kissed first?" And General Sherman was no slouch in the affair (nor was he alone). We even have a thread about Sherman the Kisser. In 1874, a reporter kept scores at an event in Toledo attended by Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, and Custer:
Sherman scored highest in babies kissed, but had less than half Sheridan's or Custer's scores with "Ladies." It was all rather cartoonish. There are literally thousands of reports of Sherman's osculatory inclinations. Most of them are good-natured, tongue-in-cheek (sometimes clearly exaggerated), but a few sour-faced puritans complain that, in general there's "altogether too much public kissin' going on."

Personally, I think we shouldn't put too much stock in rumors and innuendo regarding unfaithfulness. There was a lot of relatively innocent flirtation going on. And the famous (and infamous) were inviting and very easy targets for exaggeration. Of course, there were too many very real and reprehensible examples of infidelity and exploitation, but we should be careful about tales spread only for for either purient or political reasons.
I think you're right, John! And a lot of those 'revealing' letters were flirts only - I think in those days they were looser in what they flirted about than we are today. Some of Lee's letters to his cousin Marky make people blush today! Nothing to them, though. Jeb Stuart seemed to be sweet on one of his lady spies - wrote some letters to her that are still smoking and even spent the night at her place. Nothing to it, however - just heavy petting on paper and the overnight stay was to throw off some Union spies who had suspicions about the lady. Just cheating on my wife, guys! (He wasn't, but that's all they could report...)
 

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Central Massachusetts
I think you're right, John! And a lot of those 'revealing' letters were flirts only - I think in those days they were looser in what they flirted about than we are today.
They knew they were relatively "safe," because there were societal and moral boundaries most people would seriously hesitate to cross. Not so today, with the imperative to gratify every urge, NOW and with little thought of morality, obligations, or consequences -- just don't get caught!
 
Last edited:
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
They knew they were relatively "safe," because there were societal and moral boundaries most people would seriously hesitate to cross. Not so today, with the imperative to gratify every urge, NOW and with little thought of morality, of consequences or of obligations.
I think the men then had more societal pressure to be responsible and to take the position of protector seriously. They were supposed to keep a guy in line if he was abusive or a tom cat! Warning! Forrest story. One of the general's friends got a gal pregnant and so the general asked him when the happy day would be. Marry her? Oh, heavens no! I'm set to marry a nicely placed lady back home. Well, you'll take care of that baby, at least? Why, no, general - I don't even know if it's mine. Get out of here and don't come back! "Won't have a man around me treats a woman like that," growled Forrest. End of friendship!
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
@ JPK Huson 1863. Thanks for getting back to me. Well the only point I was trying to make is that we consider 16 and 17 year olds as children, but I don't think they did.

In any case, as always, I enjoyed reading your comments.

John

Oh heck what's so funny is how difficult it is to get a read on our the world inhabited by our ancestors! JUST when I think ' Ok, may have a handle on it ', something I've never of before appears. Your comment on how so many married awfully young made me thoughtful/nosy- spent some time looking up marriage longevity. I'm not a researcher so probably made a mess of it but found couples who'd been married for 60 and 65 years before one died. It was nice.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
Class was indeed a big factor, more than we like to think in this country. A May-December marriage was sought after, considered ideal to marry your 16 year old daughter off to a well to do man older than her grandfather. Whether they loved each other or not was irrelevant. More often than not, especially in the 'upper' class, the photos show partners who would clearly rather not be yoked together but have gotten used to it. That's why I like when JPK puts up the funny ones - where the lower crust clearly got the better of the bargain. I got you, babe, and a whole lot of nothin' - ain't life grand! :laugh:

Ok thread bait- but both extremes seem to be here. First is my hand's down favorite wedding photo. Why? The groom is just so gosh darn happy to be there and she's just so contented she glows. Couldn't figure out his hair until it occurred to me there's probably a hat he just took off somewhere.

profile couple 2.jpg

See the ring? She's awfully happy about it and he looks like he's just won 3 lotteries. Hope they lived to be 99.

What you said about the camera catching ' something '. They've both been dead for decades, their stories told but this one has always worried me.
profile couple.jpg
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
They knew they were relatively "safe," because there were societal and moral boundaries most people would seriously hesitate to cross. Not so today, with the imperative to gratify every urge, NOW and with little thought of morality, obligations, or consequences -- just don't get caught!
You know, hate to sound old but it's true. I'm not saying my generation was much better. Still, even in my day ( ouch ) affairs really were incredibly shocking- they now seem so commonplace it's may be gossip fodder but no one is genuinely shocked any more.
 

Cavalier

Corporal
Joined
Jul 20, 2019
@ JPK Huson 1863. Thank you for your comments. Something to consider regarding marriages. It has been my impression that it wasn't until around WWll that divorce became socially acceptable, at least in the middle class. Good luck with your quest to get "a handle on it".

John
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

18thVirginia

Major
Joined
Sep 8, 2012
Oh heck what's so funny is how difficult it is to get a read on our the world inhabited by our ancestors! JUST when I think ' Ok, may have a handle on it ', something I've never of before appears. Your comment on how so many married awfully young made me thoughtful/nosy- spent some time looking up marriage longevity. I'm not a researcher so probably made a mess of it but found couples who'd been married for 60 and 65 years before one died. It was nice.
I remember reading about Mary Custis Lee and the author said that many women avoided early marriage and tried to put it off into their early 20s because once married, it was a long series of pregnancies, stillbirths, miscarriages, infant deaths that they wanted to delay as long as possible.

So I went to ancestry.com and looked at my own family of farmers going back many generations and none of the women in the Civil War era generations were married earlier than 18, several at 20 and one at 24.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
none of the women in the Civil War era generations were married earlier than 18, several at 20 and one at 24.

Interesting! Just ran into Ann Jarvis's work again, the first, not her daughter. That post war organization she started had a lot to do with women coming together to find solutions to childhood diseases and women perishing in childbirth. We discuss how awful it was for them but there's not a lot on how women felt. Seems they had serious conversations at the time, bears looking into. Somewhere would records or maybe a book or mission statement. Love to find it.

I could see that. Mary Custis had other interests in her life, too- her painting, interest in her father's work, heck, interest in her mother's work. Hand writing must have been on the wall that things changed in a big hurry after marriage, you know? What's so interesting is any deliberate approach not just girl meets boy, girl marries boy.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top