Uncle Billy said the darndest things

frontrank2

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shermanquote.jpg

I'm starting a thread of General Sherman's quotations. He is credited with saying much, but not all of it is verifiable. So I shall begin with some of his more notable statements and their origins. If I post a quote that is unverifiable, I shall say so. OK, here's the first one: " All the powers of earth cannot restore to them their slaves, any more than their dead grandfathers. Next year their lands will be taken, for in war we can take them, and rightfully, too, and in another year they may beg in vain for their lives. A people who will persevere in war beyond a certain limit ought to know the consequences. Many, many peoples with less pertinacity have been wiped out of national existence."
Letter to Major R.M. Sawyer ( 1/31/1864 ) from Vicksburg.

wtsherman1.jpg
 
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In his letters to the Mayer, and Councilmen of Atlanta, he put it pretty clear what he though:
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI IN THE FIELD, ATLANTA, GEORGIA, September 12, 1864.
"You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace. But you cannot have peace and a division of our country. If the United States submits to a division now, it will not stop, but will go on until we reap the fate of Mexico, which is eternal war."

Kevin Dally
 

Jimklag

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I'm starting a thread of General Sherman's quotations. He is credited with saying much, but not all of it is verifiable. So I shall begin with some of his more notable statements and their origins. If I post a quote that is unverifiable, I shall say so. OK, here's the first one: " All the powers of earth cannot restore to them their slaves, any more than their dead grandfathers. Next year their lands will be taken, for in war we can take them, and rightfully, too, and in another year they may beg in vain for their lives. A people who will persevere in war beyond a certain limit ought to know the consequences. Many, many peoples with less pertinacity have been wiped out of national existence."
Letter to Major R.M. Sawyer ( 1/31/1864 ) from Vicksburg.

View attachment 128172
I'm not sure of the exact quote: "If I had my choice I would shoot every reporter, but I am sure we would soon be getting reports from hell." Can somebody please help me with the actual quote.
 

frontrank2

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" War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it … Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth — right at your doors. You are bound to fail. "
    • Comments to Prof. David F. Boyd at the Louisiana State Seminary (24 December 1860), as quoted in The Civil War : A Book of Quotations (2004) by Robert Blaisdell. Also quoted in The Civil War: A Narrative (1986) by Shelby Foote, p. 58.
 

frontrank2

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I'm not sure of the exact quote: "If I had my choice I would shoot every reporter, but I am sure we would soon be getting reports from hell." Can somebody please help me with the actual quote.
" I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast."

He probably said that or something very similar, but according to Wikiquotes it's an unverified quote.
 

Jimklag

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" I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast."

He probably said that or something very similar, but according to Wikiquotes it's an unverified quote.
I also like Sherman's definition of military fame as dying on the battlefield and then getting your name in the paper.
 

diane

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“This officer forced his way through the crowd to the carriage, and said: “Mr. President, I have a cause of grievance. This morning I went to speak to Colonel Sherman, and he threatened to shoot me.” Mr. Lincoln, who was still standing, said, “Threatened to shoot you?” “Yes, sir, he threatened to shoot me.” Mr. Lincoln looked at him, then at me, and stooping his tall, spare form toward the officer, said to him in a loud stage-whisper, easily heard for some yards around: “Well, if I were you, and he threatened to shoot, I would not trust him, for I believe he would do it.” The officer turned about and disappeared, and the men laughed at him.”

W T Sherman - The Memoirs of General William T. Sherman
 

Jimklag

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“This officer forced his way through the crowd to the carriage, and said: “Mr. President, I have a cause of grievance. This morning I went to speak to Colonel Sherman, and he threatened to shoot me.” Mr. Lincoln, who was still standing, said, “Threatened to shoot you?” “Yes, sir, he threatened to shoot me.” Mr. Lincoln looked at him, then at me, and stooping his tall, spare form toward the officer, said to him in a loud stage-whisper, easily heard for some yards around: “Well, if I were you, and he threatened to shoot, I would not trust him, for I believe he would do it.” The officer turned about and disappeared, and the men laughed at him.”

W T Sherman - The Memoirs of General William T. Sherman
Among my favorite Shermanisms were his statements about his relationship to Grant, especially when it was mooted to him that he get the same rank as Grant. He declared that he didn't want to be put in a position of being Grant's rival and that he (Sherman) had all the rank he needed.
 
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#13
" I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast."
I have found dozens of references to this quote, yet not one gives a citation.
I presume it's from Sherman's Memoirs, but apparently there are multiple volumes and they are not available for download on archive.org
Can some provide a citation for this quote... it looks like something I can use in my current project. Thanks in advance
 
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#14
" War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it … Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth — right at your doors. You are bound to fail. "
    • Comments to Prof. David F. Boyd at the Louisiana State Seminary (24 December 1860), as quoted in The Civil War : A Book of Quotations (2004) by Robert Blaisdell. Also quoted in The Civil War: A Narrative (1986) by Shelby Foote, p. 58.
FWIW, here's the whole quote from the Prologue of American General:

You people of the South don't know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how this will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don't know what you're talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it...Besides, where are you men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth – right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in you spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with [emphasis added]. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If you people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.​

I'm amazed at how accurate Sherman was. I originally put this in the discussion of American General here in CWT and it's my favorite Sherman quote.

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/am...-william-tecumseh-sherman.99815/#post-1502004
 

diane

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#15
Sherman's war with the press was the source of a lot of quotes! Three reporters who were trying to cross the Mississippi around Vicksburg - rather a stupid undertaking but they didn't know better actually - to McClernand's camp when their boat was sunk. They were escaping Sherman's wrath and were reported drowned, which caused Sherman to gleefully chortle, "They must have sunk fast with all that weighty knowledge in their heads!"

Albert Richardson, Junius Colburn and Richard Browne were the dear un-departed who ended up having other experiences. Albert Richardson was imprisoned at Salisbury, NC and wrote some very graphic reports about that POW camp once he got out. They were part of what was loosely called the Bohemian Brigade, a group of reporters, artists, writers, illustrators and assorted journalists who were viewing the war. Very different from our modern concept of a newsman.

There was always method to Sherman's madness...!
 

Eric Calistri

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#16
These are all from Sherman's Civil War and about his feelings toward the press:



Page 206 to his son WTS Jr. 4/19/62

“I know the newspapers are full of all sorts of stories which your mama will read to you, but the newspaper men are afraid to be where the fighting is and afterward it is all over they are very brave.”


Page 232 to US Grant 6/6/62

“The moment you obtained a just celebrity at Donelson, by a stroke of war more rich in consequences than was the Battle of Saratoga, envious rivals and malicious men set their pack of hounds at you, to pull you from the pinnacle which you had so richly obtained.”


Page 396 to John Sherman 2/12/63

“These newspaper correspondents hanging about the skirts of our army, retailing scraps of news reveal all plans and are worth a hundred thousand men to the enemy. I am satisfied the south maintains many a press at the north and through them maintain an admirable system of spies in our camps….the day must come when the army will make short work with this class of enemies.”

Page 404 to John Sherman 1/18/63

“Who gave notice of McDowell’s movement on Manassas and enables Johnston so to reinforce Beauregard that our army was defeated?
The Press.
Who gave notice of the movement on Vicksburg?
The Press
Who has prevented all secret combinations and movements against our enemy?
The Press.
Who has sown the seeds of hatred so deep, that reason, Religion and self interest cannot eradicate them?
The Press.
What is the real moving cause in this Rebellion? Mutual hatred and misrepresentations made by a venal press.”


Page 418 to Ellen Sherman 3/13/63

“There is a deep laid plan to cripple us, laid by Jeff Davis who is smart and knows our people well. By a few thousands of dollars well invested in newspapers he can defeat any plan or undertaking.”


Page 467 to Ellen Sherman 5/2/63

“We can’t make much out of newspapers when juries decide that lies are more readable and palateable to the people than the uninteresting details confirmed by truth. Slander is the rule, unless one pays for truth as the advertisement.”
 
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#17
“This officer forced his way through the crowd to the carriage, and said: “Mr. President, I have a cause of grievance. This morning I went to speak to Colonel Sherman, and he threatened to shoot me.” Mr. Lincoln, who was still standing, said, “Threatened to shoot you?” “Yes, sir, he threatened to shoot me.” Mr. Lincoln looked at him, then at me, and stooping his tall, spare form toward the officer, said to him in a loud stage-whisper, easily heard for some yards around: “Well, if I were you, and he threatened to shoot, I would not trust him, for I believe he would do it.” The officer turned about and disappeared, and the men laughed at him.”

W T Sherman - The Memoirs of General William T. Sherman

The first part of that is just as memorable, if not quite as humorous as Lincoln's quip:

"The Sixty Ninth still occupied Fort Corcoran, and one morning, after reveille, when I had just received the report, had dismissed the regiment, and was leaving, I found myself in a crowd of men crossing the drawbridge on their way to a barn close by, where they had their sinks; among them was an officer, who said: "Colonel, I am going to New York today. What can do I for you?" I answered: "How can you go to New York? I do not remember to have signed a leave for you." He said, "No; he did not want a leave." He had engaged to serve three months, and had already served more than that time. If the Government did not intend to pay him, he could afford to lose the money; that he was a lawyer, and had neglected his business long enough, and was then going home." I noticed that a good number of the soldiers had paused about us to listen, and knew that, if this officer could defy me, they also would. So I turned on him sharp, and said, "Captain, this question of your term of service has been submitted to the rightful authority, and the decision has been published in orders. You are a soldier, and must submit to orders until you are properly discharged. If you attempt to leave without orders, it will be mutiny, and I will shoot you like a dog! Go back into the fort now, instantly, and don't dare to leave without my consent." I had on an overcoat, and may have had my hand about the breast, for he looked at me hard, paused a moment, and then turned back to the fort. The men scattered, and I returned to the house where I was quartered, close by."
 

diane

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#18
:laugh: Yes, that's the rest of the story! That was early on and many soldiers on both sides didn't get the whole commitment side of enlisting. Well, this isn't what I thought - goin' home... :whistling: The rumors of Sherman being a few fries short of a happy meal caused some people, like this lawyer guy, to buck his authority.
 

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#19
"Grant don't care a **** for what the enemy does out his sight, but it scares me like hell! He uses such information as he has according to his best judgment; he issues his orders and does his level best to carry them out without much reference to what is going on about him and, so far, experience seems to have fully justified him."

Sherman's assessment of Grant's leadership, October 1864
 

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