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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

William Tecumseh Sherman on Ulysses S. Grant

I’m reading Ron Chernow’s latest biography, which is simply called “Grant.” His “Hamilton” inspired a musical. His “Washington” won him a Pulitzer. But “Grant” is a book I’m unable to put down.

Grant was sometimes called "the butcher" because his style of fighting resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. But as Chernow observes, Grant was repelled by the sight of blood. He even refused to eat meat unless it was well done.

Any biography about Grant would invariably include the irascible William Tecumseh Sherman as one of its characters.  He is my favorite general, and Grant and he were very close.

Most of  you know about Grant’s drinking. His life outside the military was a string of failures, mostly the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Few of you know that Sherman suffered something of a nervous breakdown early in the Civil War, and was nearly cashiered.

Grant was short and stocky. Sherman was tall and lean. Grant was by nature quiet and reserved. Sherman was irrepressible. These opposites had one thing in common - they both knew what it felt like to be demeaned. So they stood by each other.

Here’s how Sherman described his friendship with Grant.

“He stood by me when I was crazy and I stood by him when he was drunk, and now, sir, we stand by each other always.”


Fritz said...

If you haven't done so already, I highly recommend Grant's remarkable autobiography. That said, I'm going to buy a copy of Chernow's Grant. Thanks for the recommendation!

Anonymous said...

I read H.w. Brands' biography a few years ago.

That's a good one too. He claimed that Grant really didn't drink much. He just couldn't hold his liquor and one or two drinks would get him pie-eyed. It happened enough that he got a reputation for it, but Brands says it was not frequent.

I wonder what Chernow's take on that is.

Anonymous said...

Grant stood and fought, from a soldiers point of view he knew that's what it would take to win the war. The Union had the manpower, infrastructure and industrial might on there side. It is also worth looking into how engineers played a major role in the Union victory. What they did with the railroads in the period is just one of many examples. fascinating.

Anonymous said...

Sherman was no hero. He was nothing more than a "Blue Scum Belly". His marches through the south plundering and pillaging under the "hard hand of war" paradigm make him a War Criminal in my view. "South Carolina Civilians in Sherman's Path: Stories of Courage Amid Civil War Destruction" is a great read on the real Sherman. IMHO

Bernie O'Hare said...

You have no idea what you are talking about. Sherman, like Grant, had very strict policies against pillaging or abuse of any kind. Transgressions were met with a hangman's noose. He took away the south's breadbasket, and that is war.

Anonymous said...

Only confederate traitors sympathizers would spew the revisionist history of 10:47.

South Carolina has always been at the heart of secessionist talk, as far back as the presidency of Andrew Jackson. Jackson threatened to personally march the US army into Colombia and hang the governor and that ended it there. Sherman wanted people to know that war indeed was hell. The fastest way to end the war was to proceed with great haste through the south and take Atlanta, drive to the sea and move back north. He effectively cut the south in half and helped end the war sooner.

The traitors in the deep south did not realize the reality of war, Sherman felt the reality of war would make the south end the war. Todays nostalgic confederates are full of horseshit. The south in order to keep their beloved economic dominance of slavery almost destroyed this nation. I spit on their history and their wretched and traitorous flag!

He was a crazy man but as brilliant general.