Sherman The Paradox of William T. Sherman

DanSBHawk

Captain
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May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
Oh, I do realize they aren’t all first hand/eye witness sources. In fact, I’m thinking most were not. Didn’t mean to imply that they were.
Also, being a product of the state and seeing and living in the area of the alleged (I’m trying to be open to your opinions here) destruction is also going to be difficult to combat. Just want to throw that out there so there’s no misunderstandings.
I agree that fires spread and it's hard to know the end result. Here is a story from during the march through SC written by David Power Conyngham, a correspondent who accompanied the march:

screenshot-play.google.com-2020.10.31-17_14_43.png


I'm sure she did not intend to burn down her neighbors houses.
 

Georgia

Sergeant
I absolutely agree that Atlanta's businesses, industry, infrastructure were destroyed, and that there were houses that were destroyed inadvertently.

Do you agree that Sherman never ordered indiscriminate burning of Atlanta's houses?
I don’t believe Sherman had to technically, specifically give orders to burn the houses to have it happen.
Please read this account-
https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/13/who-burned-atlanta/ Plus the reports that out of thousands of homes in Atlanta, only 400 were left.
 

J C J Barefoot

Private
Joined
Sep 10, 2019
I find it amazing that after all that has been written about Sherman, little is discussed regarding the interior of Sherman’s spiritual life. Virtue and morality are deeply tied to ones belief , or lack thereof, in God and in ultimate reality. Sherman’s early life was disrupted by his fathers death and he ended up being raised in a foster home of committed Catholics at a time when Catholics were a small minority. His wife ( his foster sister) was pious, devout and prayerful. Sherman seemed to have wanted nothing to do with Christianity, Protestant or Catholic. So we can be sure the Christian moral ethics played small, if any part in his choices on his conduct of the war. The issue of faith was a constant tension between he and his wife in a marriage that was conflicted. Later, when his son decided to abandon law studies and become a Priest, Sherman basically went crackers. His reason was that he had expected his son to be a source of his future retirement funds. He all but disowned him for some length of time.
Unlike today Protestant Christianity saturated America in 1860. You could not escape it. Placing Sherman in the path of blood, suffering, and death on a daily basis, while not embracing the national civic religion one can see the interior tension Sherman might have been going through. How would his tensions have driven his choices on inflicting suffering? Then again, if he was cock sure there was no ultimate reality beyond this earth, or if he was essentially indifferent about God and faith, then his choices would have produced no internal conflict at all. I personally think the photos of Sherman reveal the face of a soul in deep interior pain.
He was not unmerciful and showed compassion many times. He and Grant seemed to share not only their Ohio roots, but an indifference to religion. Grant never seem to care and it created no real tension for him. I can’t prove this but I suspect Sherman was struggling with faith issues.
I agree that his decisions to destroy property that supported the war contributed to shoring the war. Truman decided to do worse but also ended the war and saved many lives.
 

DanSBHawk

Captain
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
By all means list them. I do not recall seeing "many" although I do recall seeing many opinions and contemporary commentary.
That's ridiculous. I'm not going to back and list every source. I've excerpted Manning Force's book, Conyngham's book, and the OR's off the top of my head. All first-hand sources.
 

Georgia

Sergeant
I agree that fires spread and it's hard to know the end result. Here is a story from during the march through SC written by David Power Conyngham, a correspondent who accompanied the march:

View attachment 380362

I'm sure she did not intend to burn down her neighbors houses.
Oh, Winnsboro! Lovely town. Have friends from college who were from there.
Let’s be honest, we were discussing the burning of Atlanta and, specifically,if homes were torched. Please hold onto this quote for the “March to the sea” part of the discussion. But, let’s not confuse the content at the moment.
 

DanSBHawk

Captain
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
I don’t believe Sherman had to technically, specifically give orders to burn the houses to have it happen.
Please read this account-
https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/13/who-burned-atlanta/Plus the reports that out of thousands of homes in Atlanta, only 400 were left.
Georgia, I honestly don't dismiss many sources based solely on the author. That is one that I'm going to have to dismiss. I'm not going into details, so as not to insult any members.
 

Quaama

Sergeant
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Location
Port Macquarie, Australia
That's ridiculous. I'm not going to back and list every source. I've excerpted Manning Force's book, Conyngham's book, and the OR's off the top of my head. All first-hand sources.

Ha, no matter, I can rely on my own list of Sherman's own words that show his intentions and actions:
[he proposes the] "utter destruction of its [Georgia's] roads, houses and people";
"I can make the march, and make Georgia howl";
"prefer to ... move through Georgia, smashing things to the sea";
"we ... must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war, as well as their organized armies";
we left Atlanta "smouldering and in ruins";
"the whole army is burning with an insatiable desire to wreak vengeance";
"she [South Carolina] deserves all that seems in store for her";
"I doubt if we will spare the public buildings there [Columbia] as we did at Milledgeville"; and last, but not least
"We quietly and deliberately destroyed Atlanta".
 

Georgia

Sergeant
I find it amazing that after all that has been written about Sherman, little is discussed regarding the interior of Sherman’s spiritual life. Virtue and morality are deeply tied to ones belief , or lack thereof, in God and in ultimate reality. Sherman’s early life was disrupted by his fathers death and he ended up being raised in a foster home of committed Catholics at a time when Catholics were a small minority. His wife ( his foster sister) was pious, devout and prayerful. Sherman seemed to have wanted nothing to do with Christianity, Protestant or Catholic. So we can be sure the Christian moral ethics played small, if any part in his choices on his conduct of the war. The issue of faith was a constant tension between he and his wife in a marriage that was conflicted. Later, when his son decided to abandon law studies and become a Priest, Sherman basically went crackers. His reason was that he had expected his son to be a source of his future retirement funds. He all but disowned him for some length of time.
Unlike today Protestant Christianity saturated America in 1860. You could not escape it. Placing Sherman in the path of blood, suffering, and death on a daily basis, while not embracing the national civic religion one can see the interior tension Sherman might have been going through. How would his tensions have driven his choices on inflicting suffering? Then again, if he was cock sure there was no ultimate reality beyond this earth, or if he was essentially indifferent about God and faith, then his choices would have produced no internal conflict at all. I personally think the photos of Sherman reveal the face of a soul in deep interior pain.
He was not unmerciful and showed compassion many times. He and Grant seemed to share not only their Ohio roots, but an indifference to religion. Grant never seem to care and it created no real tension for him. I can’t prove this but I suspect Sherman was struggling with faith issues.
I agree that his decisions to destroy property that supported the war contributed to shoring the war. Truman decided to do worse but also ended the war and saved many lives.
(Sarcasm) And you thought things weren’t argumentative enough so you decided to mix it up by throwing religion into the mix? (Sarcasm)

You’re correct that I don’t believe religion has been considered as we’ve found more than enough differences of opinions as it is.

It’s a valid consideration as ones beliefs could impact conscious or unconscious decisions.

Did Sherman have more than one son? If not, you may have just explained how or what caused his son to be committed in 1921.
 
Joined
Sep 5, 2020
(Sarcasm) And you thought things weren’t argumentative enough so you decided to mix it up by throwing religion into the mix? (Sarcasm)

You’re correct that I don’t believe religion has been considered as we’ve found more than enough differences of opinions as it is.

It’s a valid consideration as ones beliefs could impact conscious or unconscious decisions.

Did Sherman have more than one son? If not, you may have just explained how or what caused his son to be committed in 1921.
Poking in here (I’m new but have been following this thread). Sherman had four sons:

Willie who died in 1863, Tom who became a priest, Charles who was born in 1864 and died about six months after birth and Philemon, the youngest child who lived until 1941.

Carry on:smile:
 

Georgia

Sergeant
Poking in here (I’m new but have been following this thread). Sherman had four sons:

Willie who died in 1863, Tom who became a priest, Charles who was born in 1864 and died about six months after birth and Philemon, the youngest child who lived until 1941.

Carry on:smile:
Thank you very much! ( I knew I could google but something told me that someone smart would know. Depending on the dates, I’m guessing that Philemon was the one who started law school, didn’t continue and ended up having some mental concerns and was given help at an asylum in California in 1921?)
 
Joined
Sep 5, 2020
Thank you very much! ( I knew I could google but something told me that someone smart would know. Depending on the dates, I’m guessing that Philemon was the one who started law school, didn’t continue and ended up having some mental concerns and was given help at an asylum in California in 1921?)
No it was Tom, the second oldest boy (Sherman also had four daughters). Philemon became a lawyer in NYC. Here is a book about Tom on Internet Archive: General Sherman’s Son. It details some of the troubles he had later in life.
 

A. Roy

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Forum Host
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Location
Raleigh, North Carolina
Let’s be honest, we were discussing the burning of Atlanta and, specifically,if homes were torched. Please hold onto this quote for the “March to the sea” part of the discussion. But, let’s not confuse the content at the moment.

I know there's been a lot of discussion here about Atlanta, but, just as a reminder, this thread is not just about that. The primary topic is about the paradox of Sherman. Quoting the original post:

>>Vilified by Southerners, viewed with indifference and even open hostility by many in the North, Sherman remains today an enigma.
Was he an unbalanced, untreated victim of recurrent depression, or was he a misunderstood military genius who invented modern warfare?
"He was the most remarkable combination of virtues and deficiencies produced in the high direction of the Union armies," historian Allan Nevins writes.<<

Roy B.
 

Georgia

Sergeant
I know there's been a lot of discussion here about Atlanta, but, just as a reminder, this thread is not just about that. The primary topic is about the paradox of Sherman. Quoting the original post:

>>Vilified by Southerners, viewed with indifference and even open hostility by many in the North, Sherman remains today an enigma.
Was he an unbalanced, untreated victim of recurrent depression, or was he a misunderstood military genius who invented modern warfare?
"He was the most remarkable combination of virtues and deficiencies produced in the high direction of the Union armies," historian Allan Nevins writes.<<

Roy B.
This is very true statement. As difficult as it may be to comprehend, there is much more to Sherman than Atlanta and the March-although I do think both of those situations explain so very much about him.
 

Quaama

Sergeant
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Location
Port Macquarie, Australia
I know there's been a lot of discussion here about Atlanta, but, just as a reminder, this thread is not just about that. The primary topic is about the paradox of Sherman. Quoting the original post:

>>Vilified by Southerners, viewed with indifference and even open hostility by many in the North, Sherman remains today an enigma.
Was he an unbalanced, untreated victim of recurrent depression, or was he a misunderstood military genius who invented modern warfare?
"He was the most remarkable combination of virtues and deficiencies produced in the high direction of the Union armies," historian Allan Nevins writes.<<

Roy B.

The article 'The Paradox of William T. Sherman' attached to the OP starts out with a reference to the March to the Sea with the next sentence referencing the quote "I can make Georgia howl". The article also talks at length about Sherman's actions in Georgia and South Carolina.
My view is that there is no paradox to Sherman. I stated that in Post #2 of this thread when I also said "Sherman knew what he was doing in fighting people rather than armies and took pride in it". Sherman is what he is, there is nothing really contradictory about him.
In Posts #383 and (especially) #384 I asked for incidences and examples of things that, if documentary evidence exists, may lead to some paradox in the man. I have yet to see any source documents or period commentary in answer to those questions.
 
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