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Sherman, William Tecumseh 1820-1829

Military officer; born in Mansfield, O., Feb. 8, 1820; graduated at West Point in 1840. His father died in 1829, when he was adopted by Thomas Ewing, whose daughter Ellen he married in 1850. He served in the Seminole War, and in September, 1850, was made commissary, with the rank of captain. In 1853 he resigned, became a broker in California, and, practising law for a while in Kansas, was made superintendent of a new military academy established by the State of Louisiana. When the convention of that State passed the ordinance of secession, Captain Sherman resigned; was made colonel of United States infantry in May, 1861; and commanded a brigade at the battle of Bull [156] Run, having been made brigadier-general of volunteers in May. In October, 1861, he succeeded General Anderson in the command of the Department of Kentucky. The Secretary of War asked him how many men he should require. He

General Sherman in the field.

answered, “Sixty thousand to drive the enemy from Kentucky, and 200,000 to finish the war in this section.” This estimate seemed so wild that he was reputed to be insane, and was relieved of his command; but events proved that he was more sane than most other people.

After the capture of Fort Donelson he was placed in command of a division of Grant's Army of the Tennessee, and performed signal service in the battle of Shiloh. “To his individual efforts,” said Grant, “I am indebted for the success of that battle.” There he was slightly wounded, and had three horses shot under him. In May he was made a major-general. [157] From July to November, 1862, he commanded at Memphis; and throughout the campaign against Vicksburg (December, 1862, to July, 1863) his services were most conspicuous and valuable.

How fully General Grant appreciated the services of both Sherman and McPherson can be seen from the following letter:

headquarters Department of Tennessee, Vicksburg, Miss., July 22, 1863.
His Excellency A. Lincoln, President of the United States, Washington, D. C.
I would most respectfully but urgently recommend the promotion of Maj.-Gen. W. T. Sherman, now commanding the 15th Army Corps, and Maj.-Gen. J. B. McPherson, commanding the 17th Army Corps, to the position of brigadier-general in the regular army. The first reason for this is their great fitness for any command it may ever become necessary to intrust to them. Second, their great purity of character and disinterestedness in anything except the faithful performance of their duty, and the success of every one engaged in the great battle for the preservation of the Union. Third, they have honorably won this distinction upon many well-fought battle-fields. I will only mention some of his services while serving under my command.

To General Sherman I was greatly indebted for his promptness in forwarding to me, during the siege of Fort Donelson, reinforcements and supplies from Paducah. At the battle of Shiloh, on the first day, he held with raw troops the key points to the landing. To his individual effort I am indebted for the success of that battle. Twice hit, and (I think three) horses shot under him on that day, he maintained his position with his raw troops. It is no disparagement to any other officer to say that I do not believe there was another division commander on the field who had the skill or experience to have done it. His services as division commander in the advance on Corinth, I will venture, were appreciated by the (now) general-in-chief beyond those of any other division commander. General Sherman's management, as commander of troops in the attack on Chickasaw Bluff, last December, was admirable. Seeing the ground from the opposite side of the attack, I see the impossibility of making it successful. The conception of the attack on Arkansas Post was General Sherman's. His part of the execution no one denies was as good as it possibly could have been. His demonstration on Haines's Bluff, in April, to hold the enemy at Vicksburg while the army was securing a foothold east of the Mississippi; his rapid march to join the army afterwards; his management at Jackson, Miss., in the first attack; his almost unequalled march from Jackson to Bridgeport, and passage of that stream; his securing Walnut Hill, on May 18, and thus opening communication with our supplies—all attest his great merits as a soldier.

The siege of Vicksburg, the last capture of Jackson, and the dispersion of Johnston's army, entitle General Sherman to more credit than it usually falls to the lot of one man to earn.

General McPherson has been with me in every battle since the commencement of the rebellion, except Belmont. At Henry, Donelson, Shiloh, and the siege of Corinth, as a staff officer and engineer, his services were conspicuous and highly meritorious. At the second battle of Corinth his skill as a soldier was displayed in successfully carrying reinforcements to the besieged garrison when the enemy was between him and the point to be reached. In the advance through central Mississippi, last November and December, General McPherson commanded one wing of the army with all the ability possible to show, he having the lead in advance and the rear in return. In the campaign and siege, terminating in the fall of Vicksburg, General McPherson has borne a conspicuous part. At the battle of Port Gibson, it was under his immediate direction that the enemy was driven, late in the afternoon, from a position that they had sueceeded in holding all day against an obstinate attack. His corps—the advance always under his immediate eye—were the pioneers in the advance from Port Gibson to Hankerson's Ferry. From the North Fork of Bayou Pierre to the Black River it was a constant skirmish, the whole skilfully managed. The enemy was so closely [158] pressed as to be unable to destroy their bridge of boats after them. From Hankerson's Ferry to Jackson the 17th Army Corps marched upon roads not travelled by other troops, fighting the battle of Raymond alone; and the bulk of Johnston's army at Jackson also was fought by this corps entirely under the management of General McPherson. At Champion Hill, the 17th Army Corps and General McPherson were conspicuous. All that could be termed a battle there was fought by two divisions of General McPherson's Corps and Hovey's division of the 13th Corps.

In the assault of May 22 on the fortifications of Vicksburg, and during the entire siege, General McPherson and his command won unfading laurels. He is one of our ablest engineers and most skilful generals.

Very respectfully, Your obedient servant, U. S. Grant, Major-General.

He commanded one of the three corps in the siege of Vicksburg. After the fall of Vicksburg he operated successfully against Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. In October, 1863, he was made commander of the Department of the Tennessee, and joined Grant at Chattanooga in the middle of November; was in the battle of Missionary Ridge (Nov. 25); and then moved to the relief of Burnside in east Tennessee. When he was called to Chattanooga, he left Gen. J. B. McPherson in command at Vicksburg; but soon after Bragg was driven southward from Chattanooga Sherman suddenly reappeared in Mississippi. At the head of 20,000 troops he made a most destructive raid (February, 1864) from Jackson to the intersection of important railways at Meridian, in that State.

His object was to inflict as much injury on the Confederate cause and its. physical strength as possible. He believed in the righteousness and efficacy of making such a war terrible, and the line of his march eastward presented a black path of desolation. No public property of the Confederates was spared. The station-houses and rolling-stock of the railways were burned. The track was torn up, and the rails, heated by the burning ties cast into heaps, were twisted and ruined. Sherman intended to push on to Montgomery, Ala., and then, if circumstances appeared favorable, to go south-

Sherman and his Generals.


Sherman's troops burning a Railroad Station.

ward and attack Mobile. He waited at Meridian for Gen. W. S. Smith to join him with a considerable force of cavalry, but that officer was held back by the Confederate forces under Forrest and others. After waiting in vain for a week, Sherman laid Meridian in ashes, and returned to Vicksburg with 500 prisoners and 5,000 liberated slaves. This raid created great consternation, for General Polk, with his 15,000 men, made but a feeble resistance. Sherman's loss was 171 men.

General Grant arranged two grand campaigns for the year 1864. One, under his own immediate direction, was for the seizure of Richmond, the Confederate capital; the other was for the seizure of Atlanta, Ga., the focus of several converging railways. The latter expedition was led by General Sherman. His army numbered nearly 100,000 men, comprising the Army of the Cumberland, led by Gen. George H. Thomas; the Army of the Tennessee, commanded by Gen. J. B. McPherson; and the Army of the Ohio, led by Gen. J. M. Schofield. When, on May 6,. 1864, Sherman began to move southward from the vicinity of Chattanooga, his army was confronted by a Confederate force of 55,000 men, led by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, and arranged in three corps, commanded respectively by Generals Hardee, Hood, and Polk. This army then lay at Dalton, at the parting of the ways —one leading into east Tennessee and the other into west Tennessee. To strike that position in front was, at least, perilous; so Sherman began a series of successful flanking movements. When he flanked the Confederates at Dalton, they fell back to Resaca Station, on the Oostenaula River, on the line of the railway between Chattanooga and Atlanta. There a sharp battle was fought on May 15. Johnston took his next position at Allatoona Pass, and Sherman massed his troops at Dallas, westward of that post, where a severe battle was fought May 25. Johnston finally pressed on to Marietta and Atlanta, where, towards the middle of July, he was [160] succeeded by Hood. The latter city was captured by Sherman, who entered it Sept. 2, 1864. Late in October Sherman prepared for a march through Georgia from Atlanta to Savannah. See Atlanta.

When he resolved to march through the heart of Georgia from Atlanta to the sea, he delegated to General Thomas full power over all the troops under his (Sherman's) command excepting four corps. He also gave him command of two divisions of A. J. Smith's, then returning from the expulsion of Price from Missouri, also of the garrisons in Tennessee, and all the cavalry of the military division excepting a division under Kilpatrick, which he reserved for operations in Georgia. General Wilson had just arrived from Petersburg to take command of the cavalry of the army. He was sent to Nashville to gather up all the Union cavalry in Kentucky and Tennessee, and report to Thomas. It was believed that Thomas now had strength sufficient to keep Hood out of Tennessee, whose force then was about 35,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry. When, on Nov. 1, Hood was laying a pontoon bridge over the Tennessee at Florence for the invasion of Tennessee, Sherman, who had pursued him, turned his forces towards Atlanta, his troops destroying all the mills and foundries at Rome, and dismantling the railway from the Etowah River to the Chattahoochee. The railways around Atlanta were destroyed, and on Nov. 14 the forces destined for the great march were concentrated around the doomed city.

Those forces were composed of four army corps, the right wing commanded by Gen. O. O. Howard, and the left wing by Gen. H. W. Slocum. Howard's right was composed of the corps of Generals Osterhaus and Blair, and the left of the corps of Gen. J. C. Davis and A. S. Williams. General Kilpatrick commanded the cavalry, consisting of one division. Sherman's entire force numbered 60,000 infantry and artillery and 5,500 cavalry. On Nov. 11 Sherman cut the telegraph wires that connected Atlanta with Washington, and his army became an isolated column in the heart of an enemy's country. It began its march for the sea on the morning of the 14th, when the entire city of Atlanta—excepting its court-house, churches, and dwellings— was committed to the flames. The buildings in the heart of the city, covering 200

General Sherman moving out of Atlanta.


Map showing country covered in Sherman's March to the sea.

acres of ground, formed a great conflagration; and, while the fire was raging, the bands played, and the soldiers chanted the stirring air and words, “John Brown's soul goes marching on!”

For thirty-six days that army moved through Georgia, with very little opposition, subsisting off the country. It was a sort of military promenade, requiring very little military skill in the performance, and as little personal prowess. It was grand in conception, and easily executed. Yet on that march there were many deeds that tested the prowess and daring of the soldiers on both sides Kilpatrick's first dash across the Flint River and against Wheeler's cavalry, and then towards Macon, burning a train of cars and tearing up the railway, gave the Confederates a suspicion of Sher man's intentions. There was wide-spread consternation in Georgia and South Carolina, for the invader's destination was uncertain. Beauregard was sent from the Appomattox to the Savannah to confront the Nationals. He sent before him a manifesto in which he said, “Destroy all the roads in Sherman's front, flank, and rear,” and, “be trustful in Providence.” Benjamin H. Hill, of Georgia, in the Confederate Congress at Richmond, wrote to the people of his State: “Every citizen with his gun and every negro with his spade and axe can do the work of a soldier. You can destroy the enemy by retarding his march. Be firm!” The representatives of Georgia in the Confederate Congress called upon their people to fly to arms. “Remove your negroes, horses, cattle, and provisions from Sherman's army,” they [162] said, “and burn what you cannot carry away. Burn all bridges and block up the roads in his route. Assail the invader in front, flank, and rear, by night and by day. Let him have no rest.” And Governor Brown, before he fled from Milledgeville on the approach of the Nationals, issued a proclamation ordering a levy En masse of the whole white population of the State between the ages of sixteen and forty-five, and offering pardon to prisoners in the penitentiary if they would volunteer and prove themselves good soldiers. But the people did none of these things, and only about 100 convicts accepted the offer.

All confidence in President Davis and the Confederate government had disappeared in Georgia, and a great portion of the people were satisfied that it was, as they expressed it, “the rich man's war, and the poor man's fight,” and would no longer lend themselves to the authorities at Richmond. The National army moved steadily forward. At Griswoldsville there was a sharp engagement (Nov. 22) with a portion of Hardee's troops sent up from Savannah, and several brigades of militia. The Confederates were repulsed with a loss of 2,500 men. Howard could have taken Macon after this blow upon its defenders, but such was not a part of Sherman's plan. The Nationals were attacked at the Oconee River while laying a pontoon bridge, but the assailants, largely composed of Wheeler's cavalry, were defeated. Kilpatrick made a feint towards Augusta to mislead the Confederates as to Sherman's destination, also to cover the passage of the army over the Ogeechee River, and, if possible, to release Union captives in the prison-pen at Millen. Kilpatrick and Wheeler had several skirmishes, but no severe battles. On Nov. 30, Sherman's whole army, excepting one corps, had passed the Ogeechee. This was a most skilful manoeuvre; and then, having destroyed the principal railways in Georgia over long distances, Sherman was prepared to make a final conquest of the State. Moving on seaward, the division of Hazen had a severe skirmish (Dec. 4) at Statesburg, south of the Ogeechee.

General Sherman's headquarters during March to the sea.


Attack on Fort McAllister.

The Confederates were dispersed. On the same day Kilpatrick fought Wheeler on the railway between Millen and Augusta, drove him from his barricades through Waynesboro, and pushed him 8 miles, while a supporting column of Union infantry under Baird were tearing up the railway and destroying bridges.

When Sherman reached Millen, the Union prisoners had been removed; and he pushed on, amid swamps and sands, with the city of Savannah, where Hardee was in command, as his chief object. Kilpatrick and Baird covered the rear of the wing columns between the Ogeechee and Savannah rivers. There was some skirmishing, but no Confederates in force were seen until within 15 miles of Savannah. All the roads leading into that city were obstructed by felled trees, earthworks, and artillery. These were turned, and by Dec. 10 the Confederates were all driven within their lines, and Savannah was completely beleaguered; but the only approaches to it were by five narrow causeways. They had broken communications, so that no supplies could be received in Savannah. Sherman sought to make the Ogeechee an avenue of supply, oceanward, for his army, and to communicate with the Union fleet outside. The latter was soon effected. Fort McAllister, near the mouth of the Ogeechee, was in the way, and, on the 13th, Slocum ordered General Hazen to carry it by assault. It was a strong, enclosed redoubt, garrisoned by 200 men. It was carried, and this was the brilliant ending of the march from Atlanta to the sea. It opened to Sherman's army a new base of supplies. Sherman communicated with the officers of the fleet, and, on Dec. 17, he summoned Hardee to surrender. Hardee refused. Perceiving the arrangements made to cut off his retreat to Charleston, Hardee secretly withdrew on the dark and stormy night of Dec. 20, and, with 15,000 men, escaped to that city. The National army took possession of Savannah on Dec. 22, 1864. On the 26th Sherman wrote to President Lincoln: “I beg to present to you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savanah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales [164] of cotton.” On his march Sherman had lived generously off the country, which was abundantly filled with provisions. He appropriated to the use of the army 13,000 beeves, 160,000 bushels of corn, more than 5,000 tons of fodder, besides a large number of sheep, swine, fowls, and quantities of potatoes and rice. He forced into the service 5,000 horses and 4,000 mules. He captured 1,328 prisoners and 167 guns, and destroyed 20,000 bales of cotton. Fully 10,000 negroes followed the flag to Savannah, and many thousands more, chiefly women and children, were turned back at the crossings of rivers.

Sherman appointed Jan. 15, 1865, as the day for beginning his march northward from Savannah. The 17th Corps was sent by water to a point on the Charleston and Savannah Railway, where it seriously menaced Charleston. The left wing, under Slocum, accompanied by Kilpatrick's cav-

General William Tecumseh Sherman

Headquarters of General Sherman in Savannah.

alry, was to have crossed the Savannah on a pontoon bridge at that city; but incessant rains had so flooded the swamps and raised the streams that the army was compelled to cross higher up, and did not effect the passage until the first week in February. Savannah and its dependencies were transferred to General Foster, then in command of the Department of the South, with instructions to co-operate with Sherman's inland movements by occupying, in succession, Charleston and other places. Sherman notified General Grant that it was his intention, after leaving Savannah, “to undertake, at one stride, to make Goldsboro an open communication with the sea by the Newbern Railway.” Feints of attacks on Charleston kept Hardee from interfering with Sherman's inland march. Wheeler had been putting obstructions in his pathway to Columbia: but the movements of the Nationals were so mysterious that it distracted the Confederates, who could not determine whether Sherman's objective was Charleston or Augusta.

His invasion produced wide-spread alarm. Sherman's army steadily advanced in the face of every obstacle. They drove the Confederates from their position at Orangeburg and began destroying the railway there. On Feb. 18 they began a march directly to Columbia, the [165] capital of South Carolina, driving the Confederates before them wherever they appeared. Sherman's march was so rapid that troops for the defence of the capital could not be gathered in time. He was in front of Columbia before any adequate force for its defence appeared. Beauregard was in command there, and had promised much, but did little. On Feb. 17 the Nationals entered Columbia; and on the same day Charleston, flanked, was evacuated by Hardee (see Charleston). The rear guard of the Confederates, under Wade Hampton, on retiring, set fire to cotton in the streets; and the high wind sent the burning fibre into the air, setting fire to the dwellings, and in the course of a few hours that beautiful city was in ruins (Columbia). Sherman, after destroying the arsenal at Columbia, left the ruined city and pressed on with his forces to Fayetteville, N. C., his cavalry, under Kilpatrick, fighting the Confederate cavalry led by Wheeler many times on the way. He left a black path of desolation through the Carolinas 40 miles in width. Arriving at Fayetteville, Sherman opened communications with the National troops at Wilmington.

General Sherman was promoted major general, United States army, in August, 1864, and lieutenant-general in July, 1866. On March 4, 1869, he succeeded General Grant as general-in-chief of the armies of the United States. He was retired on his own request, Feb. 8, 1884, on full pay. He died in New York City, Feb. 14, 1891.

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