The Redemption of General Sherman

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Saint Jude

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I like the point you make at the end; viz, "I think the lesson in Sherman’s life, and Grant’s too, is that we can bounce back from our mistakes. That people still have value, even when it seems they don’t. We can all have redemption, we just need to keep trying."

Perhaps because of their own experiences, both Grant and Sherman were quick to see that O. O. Howard had the makings of a great general, despite the failure of his corps at Chancellorsville. Sherman eventually named Howard to lead the Army of the Tennessee, and the two, despite having very different personalities, were close friends until Sherman died. At the end of the Civil War, Howard was one of the highest-ranking generals in the army.
 

jackt62

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Excellent blog! but I'm not convinced that Sherman needed to be or in fact was "redeemed." He was a man with certain insecurities, whose early life story led him to fear anarchy and chaos, which is why he was so opposed to southern secession. These insecurities and the burden of sudden high command, also led to his early agitated state (breakdown?) in Kentucky over the resources needed to quell the rebellion, which in retrospect, actually turned out to be not so far off the mark. Sherman of course had his share of military blunders such as occurred at Shiloh, but so did many other commanders including Grant and Lee. As the war progressed, Sherman gained greater confidence through experience, a common occurrence, and his deeply held views to achieving victory through a combination of targeting the enemy's military, infrastructure, and logistical systems was brilliant. So does learning from mistakes and/or gaining renewed strength through life's ups and downs qualify as redemption?
 
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Excellent blog! but I'm not convinced that Sherman needed to be or in fact was "redeemed." He was a man with certain insecurities, whose early life story led him to fear anarchy and chaos, which is why he was so opposed to southern secession. These insecurities and the burden of sudden high command, also led to his early agitated state (breakdown?) in Kentucky over the resources needed to quell the rebellion, which in retrospect, actually turned out to be not so far off the mark. Sherman of course had his share of military blunders such as occurred at Shiloh, but so did many other commanders including Grant and Lee. As the war progressed, Sherman gained greater confidence through experience, a common occurrence, and his deeply held views to achieving victory through a combination of targeting the enemy's military, infrastructure, and logistical systems was brilliant. So does learning from mistakes and/or gaining renewed strength through life's ups and downs qualify as redemption?
Thank you so much! I think so. I think both Sherman and Grant had been cast away for being of no military use, yet their greatest achievements came after others had deemed them unfit. To me that is redemption.
 

Saint Jude

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Excellent blog! but I'm not convinced that Sherman needed to be or in fact was "redeemed." He was a man with certain insecurities, whose early life story led him to fear anarchy and chaos, which is why he was so opposed to southern secession. These insecurities and the burden of sudden high command, also led to his early agitated state (breakdown?) in Kentucky over the resources needed to quell the rebellion, which in retrospect, actually turned out to be not so far off the mark. Sherman of course had his share of military blunders such as occurred at Shiloh, but so did many other commanders including Grant and Lee. As the war progressed, Sherman gained greater confidence through experience, a common occurrence, and his deeply held views to achieving victory through a combination of targeting the enemy's military, infrastructure, and logistical systems was brilliant. So does learning from mistakes and/or gaining renewed strength through life's ups and downs qualify as redemption?
 

Saint Jude

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He was a man with certain insecurities, whose early life story led him to fear anarchy and chaos
If I'm not mistaken, this is the thesis of a biography of Sherman titled Sherman: A Soldier's Passion for Order, by John F. Marselack. I like the way the author grounded Sherman's peculiarities in his childhood, but I think he relied a little too much on repeating his thesis to carry his argument.
 
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diane

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Very interesting blog, Cody. I'm not all that sure Sherman would have accepted redemption, though, or thought he needed it! He had his own belief system but never tied down to one church or doctrine. He never regretted anything done during the war. Redemption in less spiritual ways, that definitely has legs. A curious counterpart is Forrest, whose redemption was 100 percent religious, walk down the aisle, confess your sins, repent - that was the kind of thing he experienced. Just one Sunday morning he gave in to the missus to go to church (which was just behind his house and whose doorstep he'd never darkened) and had a totally unexpected epiphany! Ellen couldn't get wild horses to drag Sherman to a church.
 

jackt62

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If I'm not mistaken, this is the thesis of a biography of Sherman titled Sherman: A Soldier's Passion for Order, by John F. Marselack. I like the way the author grounded Sherman's peculiarities in his childhood, but I think he relied a little too much on repeating his thesis to carry his argument.
I have not read that particular biography but from my other reading about Sherman, his outlook was affected by his experience in California during the days of the Gold Rush. That was a time of weak governance and the establishment of a vigilante committee of public safety in San Francisco. The combination of lawlessness and rough justice that existed in California in those times troubled Sherman to the extent that his belief in a strong controlling government was strengthened.
 
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Very interesting blog, Cody. I'm not all that sure Sherman would have accepted redemption, though, or thought he needed it! He had his own belief system but never tied down to one church or doctrine. He never regretted anything done during the war. Redemption in less spiritual ways, that definitely has legs. A curious counterpart is Forrest, whose redemption was 100 percent religious, walk down the aisle, confess your sins, repent - that was the kind of thing he experienced. Just one Sunday morning he gave in to the missus to go to church (which was just behind his house and whose doorstep he'd never darkened) and had a totally unexpected epiphany! Ellen couldn't get wild horses to drag Sherman to a church.
Thank you. I don't mean redemption in the religious sense. I mean he proved to be a great value after he had been discarded for his previous mistakes.
 
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diane

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Thank you. I don't mean redemption in the religious sense. I mean he proved to be a great value after he had been discarded for his previous mistakes.
I wasn't sure - thanks for clearing it up. In that sense, he did do a good job of redeeming himself. After his breakdown, he was so depressed he took a pistol and went walking in a field looking for a suitable corner to do himself in. Everybody thought he was nuts and he didn't want to be sent west to some lonesome F Troop! He did a very, very amazing comeback from a very, very low point. Jury's out on whether he was still crazy or not! Grant could not have had a better partner, either.
 
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Eleanor Rose

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I don't mean redemption in the religious sense.
Please pardon me for adding a little bit to this topic. I have always found it quite interesting.

Ellen couldn't get wild horses to drag Sherman to a church.
Sherman’s religious faith was frequently discussed within his family circle. Sherman was a God-fearing, but nonsectarian husband, married to an extremely dedicated Roman Catholic wife. He believed fate ruled life. Near the end of his life he wrote, "I am sure that you know that the God who created the minnow and who has moulded the rose and the carnation, given each its sweet fragrance, will provide for those mortal men, who strive to do right in the world which he himself has stocked with birds, animals, and men; -- at all events I will trust Him with absolute confidence."

Sherman always supported Ellen in her faith, but as I recall a family crisis erupted when his son Tom joined the Jesuit order. From that time on he became an outspoken critic of the Catholic educational system. I have often wondered how he would have felt about his children obtaining the last rites of the Church for him -- as he lay unconscious, on his deathbed.

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Southern Unionist

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I'm not convinced that Sherman needed to be or in fact was "redeemed."
I'm not the only one who hates pretty much everything the man ever said or did.

Being on the right side doesn't give anyone a free pass.

"I think the lesson in Sherman’s life, and Grant’s too, is that we can bounce back from our mistakes."
It really bothers me when people sneak anti-Grant comments into other threads where it can't be properly debated, as if everybody knows that all the nasty unproven rumors about Grant are facts accepted by everyone. When "everybody knows" something like that, it usually isn't true. Can we limit the Grant-bashing to a Grant thread?

both Grant and Sherman were quick to see that O. O. Howard had the makings of a great general, despite the failure of his corps at Chancellorsville.
Howard was also a poor performer at Gettysburg. Day One could have been a complete disaster if John Reynolds hadn't taken charge, and then Hancock, even though Howard had seniority over Hancock.
 
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Eleanor Rose

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It really bothers me when people sneak anti-Grant comments into other threads where it can't be properly debated
Great idea for another thread - The Redemption of General Grant! Although it has probably already been discussed/debated in the Grant forum ad nauseum, I would really be curious to know what mistakes Grant needed to bounce back from and why he needed to be redeemed.
 

diane

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Please pardon me for adding a little bit to this topic. I have always found it quite interesting.



Sherman’s religious faith was frequently discussed within his family circle. Sherman was a God-fearing, but nonsectarian husband, married to an extremely dedicated Roman Catholic wife. He believed fate ruled life. Near the end of his life he wrote, "I am sure that you know that the God who created the minnow and who has moulded the rose and the carnation, given each its sweet fragrance, will provide for those mortal men, who strive to do right in the world which he himself has stocked with birds, animals, and men; -- at all events I will trust Him with absolute confidence."

Sherman always supported Ellen in her faith, but as I recall a family crisis erupted when his son Tom joined the Jesuit order. From that time on he became an outspoken critic of the Catholic educational system. I have often wondered how he would have felt about his children obtaining the last rites of the Church for him -- as he lay unconscious, on his deathbed.

Ellie, Sherman and Ellen were quite a pair! They had so many ups and downs, separations and differences - but it's one of the CW's great partnerships. They would have been miserable without each other. She was constantly trying to shepherd him into the Catholic fold and he headed further into the hills every time she did. His feeling was me and God are fine together, I don't need a religion! Sherman found order in duty and service to country in the military, but guilt and fear in religious doctrine. As I understand it, when Sherman went into the final coma, one of his daughters fetched the priest but Uncle John stopped them. John Sherman said his brother didn't want to be a Catholic in life and they weren't going to make him one in death! His son Thomas became a priest and it broke his father's heart - after his favorite son had died at Vicksburg, Sherman had placed all his OWN hopes and dreams on Thomas. The break was so bad Thomas did a stint in a hospital but he came out all right and he and his father did reconcile.
 

Eleanor Rose

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As I understand it, when Sherman went into the final coma, one of his daughters fetched the priest but Uncle John stopped them. John Sherman said his brother didn't want to be a Catholic in life and they weren't going to make him one in death!
I hope that's true Diane, but check out this excerpt of a letter written by John Sherman, published in the New York Sun, February 19,1891.

https://books.google.com/books?id=0x9PAQAAMAAJ&pg=P***6&lpg=P***6&dq=did+general+sherman+receive+the+last+rites+on+his+deathbed&source=bl&ots=0YLfxR3jpF&sig=ACfU3U0TGm43MDk1IbtvvuBlZNDNHAgwIg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiezJXDzfXhAhXRmuAKHaEpBYYQ6AEwDnoECAsQAQ#v=onepage&q=did general sherman receive the last rites on his deathbed&f=false

Note: This link just leads to the book where I read the letter. Scroll to page 556.
 
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diane

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