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Edited by

Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer, Ph. D.

Gbe Hmerican Crisis aBtograpbtes

Edited by Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer, Ph.D. With the
counsel and advice of Professor John B. McMaster, of
the University of Pennsylvania.

Each i2mo, cloth, with frontispiece portrait. Price
$1.25 net; by mail, $1.37.

These biographies will constitute a complete and comprehensive
history of the great American sectional struggle in the form of readable
and authoritative biography. The editor has enlisted the co-operation
of many competent writers, as will be noted from the list given below.
An interesting feature of the undertaking is that the series is to be im
partial, Southern writers having been assigned to Southern subjects and
Northern writers to Northern subjects, but all will belong to the younger
generation of writers, thus assuring freedom from any suspicion of war
time prejudice. The Civil War will not be treated as a rebellion, but as
the great event in the history of our nation, which, after forty years, it
is now clearly recognized to have been.

Now ready :

Thomas H. Benton. By JOSEPH M. ROGERS.
David G. Farragut. By JOHN R. SPEARS.
William T. Sherman. By EDWARD ROBINS.

In preparation :

John C. Calhoun. By GAILLARD HUNT.
Daniel Webster. By PROF. C. H. VAN TYNE.
Alexander H. Stephens. BY Louis PENDLETON.
John Quincy Adams. By BROOKS ADAMS.
William Lloyd Garrison. By LINDSAY SWIFT.
William H. Seward. By EDWARD EVERETT HALE, Jr.
Frederick Douglass. By BOOKER T. WASHINGTON.
Jefferson Davis. By PROF. \V. E. DODD.
Stephen A. Douglas. By PROF. ALLEN JOHNSON.
Judah P. Benjamin. By PIERCE BUTLER.
Thaddeus Stevens. By PROF. J. A. WOODBURN.
Andrew Johnson. BY WADDY THOMPSON.

To be followed by :

Henry Clay Edwin M. Stanton

Ulysses S. Grant "Stonewall" Jackson

Wade Hampton Jay Cooke




Author of " Benjamin Franklin," " Romances of
Early America," etc.



r ^^

Copyright, 1905, by
Published, October, 1905.


















1820 February 8, born in Lancaster, Ohio; the son of
Charles Robert and Mary Hoyt Sherman. On the death
of his father he is adopted by Senator Thomas Ewing.

1836 June 12, reaches West Point, where he enters the
military academy as a cadet from Ohio, his appointment
dating from July 1. His classmates include George H.

1840 June, graduates from West Point, sixth in his class.
Commissioned a second lieutenant in the Third Artillery,
July 1. He is afterward stationed in Florida.

1841 November 30, commissioned a first lieutenant.

1842 June, ordered to Fort Moultrie, in Charleston harbor,
where he is stationed for four years.

1846 July 14, embarks with United States troops for service
in California. Arrives in Monterey the following Janu
ary, and does duty as an acting adjutant-general, etc.

1850 May 1, marries, in Washington, D. C., Miss Ellen
Boyle Ewing. daughter of his benefactor, Thomas Ewing.
September 27, commissioned a captain in the Commis
sary Department and is afterward stationed in St. Louis
and New Orleans. He had already been brevetted a cap
tain for gallant and meritorious services in California, to
date from May 30, 1848.

1853 September 6, resigns from the army and enters into
the banking business in San Francisco. He subsequently
relinquishes banking and makes an unsuccessful attempt
at law. His career at this point seems very unpromising.

1859 July, receives notice that he has been elected superin
tendent of a new military school in Louisiana. He ac
cepts the post, and makes a success of his work.


1861 January 18, owing to the political situation he resigns
as superintendent, and comes north. His resignation is
regretfully accepted. April 1, enters on his new duties
as president of a St. Louis street railway. May 14, com
missioned colonel of the Thirteenth Regiment of Infan
try, and reports for duty in Washington. Resigns his
presidency of the street railway. July, engages as an
acting brigade commander of volunteers, with great
credit, in the movements connected with the Bull Rim
operations. He is later commissioned a brigadier-gen
eral of volunteers, to date from May 17. August 24,
assigned to the Department of the Cumberland, and sub
sequently relieves General Robert Anderson of its com
mand. His appreciation of the gravity of the military
situation in Kentucky causes many critics to think he is
demented, although he is soon vindicated. Sherman is
finally relieved of command by General Buell.

1862 February 13, ordered to assume command of post at
Paducah, Kentucky. April 6 and 7, takes a distin
guished part, as a division commander, in the battle of
Shiloh. His commission as major-general of volunteers
dates from May 1. July 21, enters Memphis, and takes
charge of the military administration of the city.

1863 January, performs great service in connection with the
capture of Arkansas Post. January to July 4, assists
General Grant importantly and brilliantly in the cam
paign against Vicksburg. His commission as brigadier-
general in the United States army dates from July 4.
November, makes a distinguished record in the opera
tions around Chattanooga. Afterward marches to the
relief of Burnside at Knoxville.

1864 May 5, opening of his celebrated campaign against
Atlanta. September 3, Lincoln formally offers the na
tion s thanks for Sherman s capture of Atlanta. Sher
man s commission as a major-general in the Regular
Army dates from August 12, 1864. November, troops
begin the "March to the Sea," from Atlanta. Decem
ber 21, fall of Savannah. Sherman is warmly thanked by

1865 February 1, campaign of the Carolines inaugurated.
March 27 and 28, Sherman has his historic talks with
Lincoln. April 18, date of the agreement which Sher-


man and General Joseph E. Johnston draw up for a
cessation of hostilities. The agreement is repudiated by
the authorities at Washington, and another is made.
May 24, Sherman and his army take part in the final
reviews in Washington to mark the ending of the war.

1866 July 25, commissioned lieutenant-general.

1869 March 8, becomes oommander-in-chief of the army.

1884 February 8, retires from active service in the army.

1891 February 14, dies in New York City. He is buried, with
impressive services, in St. Louis.




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.
. . . You might as well appeal against the thun
der-storm as against these terrible hardships of war. ? J

These incisive, relentless words were addressed by
William Tecumseh Sherman to Mayor Calhoun and
the City Council of Atlanta, Georgia, in September,
1864, in response to a letter protesting against the
determination of Sherman, then the conqueror of
Atlanta, to remove her citizens from their homes
and send them either to the southward or to the
northward. It was likewise in protest of this cele
brated order that General Hood, commanding the
Confederate Army of Tennessee, had written an im
passioned appeal wherein he said, in terms that were
doubtless re-echoed in the hearts of nearly every
Georgian :

"The unprecedented measure you propose tran
scends, in studied and ingenious cruelty, all acts


ever before brought to my attention in the dark
history of war. In the name of God and humanity
I protest, believing that you will find that you are
expelling from their homes and firesides the wives
and children of a brave people."

This was a terrible indictment that Hood brought
against his brilliant antagonist, but Sherman, who
was almost as fine a commander of the King s Eng
lish as he was of a great army, did not hesitate to
reply with that uncompromising truth: " War is
cruelty!" There is a harsh but convincing ring
about this axiom the ring, as it were, of a clear,
hard bell which suggests the stern dictum of some
old-time Puritan. The Puritans had been well hated
by the Cavaliers, yet they had had the courage of
their convictions. General Sherman, who was
fiercely hated by the Cavaliers of the South, had
the courage of his convictions, too ; so it seems
quite natural, when one considers all his qualities,
that he should have been descended from rugged
Puritan stock.

William Tecumseh Sherman traced back his an
cestry (with more certainty, by the way, than some
Americans develop their pedigrees) to a pros
perous cloth manufacturer of Dedham, Essex
County, England, one Edmond Sherman, who is
described by the late Senator John Sherman as a
"Koundhead" who combined all the faults and
virtues of a sectary. "He had the misfortune to
live at the time when Charles I undertook to dis
pense with Parliament, and to impose unlawful


taxes and burdens upon the people of England ;
and when the privileges of the nobility were en
forced with great severity by judges dependent
upon the crown."

This Edmond Sherman managed to die with his
head on his shoulders, however, and lies buried in
Dedham, where a free school endowed by him still
gives lustre to his name. After General Sherman
had become well-known on the other side of the At
lantic the sexton of Dedham Church wrote to him,
calling attention to the " neglected monument " of
his ancestor, in the church yard, and asking a
contribution toward its repair. The general re
plied, in effect, that, as his ancestor in England
had reposed in peace under a monument for more
than two centuries, while some of his more recent
ancestors in America were buried in unmarked
graves, he thought it better to contribute to tomb
stones for the latter, "and leave to his English
cousins the care of the monuments of their common
ancestors in England."

A nephew of Edmond Sherman, Captain John
Sherman, emigrated to America, settled in Water-
town, Massachusetts, and has had for descendants,
among others, Eoger Sherman, a signer of the Dec
laration of Independence, William M. Evarts,
George F. Hoar, and Chauncey M. Depew. With
" Captain John" there also came two sons of
Edmond, and one of them, Samuel, who is re
ferred to in ancient deeds as the u Worshipful
1 John Sherman s " Recollections."


Master Sherman," was the ancestor of the general.
But there is no need further to sketch in detail
the highly respectable tree of the Sherman family.
The scions of Samuel were sturdy Puritans, who
were much venerated in the staid state of Con
necticut, and contributed their full quota to the
brain and muscle which made New England
great and which have kept her a power in the
nation until the present day. The Shermans
served the commonwealth ; worshiped the Lord in
their stern, aggressive way ; observed the Sabbath
strictly, after the melancholy fashion of the times ;
and duly multiplied.

At last there came into the world (1788) Charles
Eobert Sherman, who married Mary Hoyt, a lady
of Norwalk, Connecticut, and, within a period of
nineteen years, became the father of eleven chil
dren. The sixth child of this union proved to be
the subject of our biography ; the eighth child was
the late Senator John Sherman.

Charles Eobert Sherman was an enterprising and
very young lawyer, who, finding the atmosphere of
his native state too confined, emigrated with his
wife to Lancaster, Ohio (1811). A large portion of
Ohio was then a wilderness, and a journey thence
from New England was a perilous undertaking.
Husband and wife were obliged to make the greater
part of the trip on horseback, alternately carrying
their first-born, a boy only a few months old, upon
a pillow before them. Mrs. Sherman had been
gently reared, but she never flinched at the hard-


ships and inconveniences they encountered, and
made the journey as undauntedly as did her hus
band. As she was a plucky woman, who came of
plucky forbears, it is not hard to see that her future
child, the general, owed at least some of his bravery,
moral and physical, to the maternal line of Hoyt.

At the time of the American Revolution the Hoyt
family, composed of several brothers, was divided
in its allegiance between Toryism and Patriotism.
Thore is a tradition to the effect that " one of the
Tory brothers pointed out the house of his brother,
at the capture of Norwalk by the British and Tories,
as the nest of a rebel, and it was burned to the

The Tory brother no doubt acted from what he
conceived to be a profound sense of duty. It was
likewise from a profound sense of duty that General
Sherman, the descendant of the Hoyts, waged re
lentless war upon his il brothers" in Georgia and
the Carolinas, and caused many a chivalrous but in
censed Southerner to brand him for years as a
" butcher," or an unnatural monster. These studies
in heredity are always interesting if we choose to
believe in it.

But to return to Charles Robert Sherman, the
father of our hero. He prospered well in his pro
fession of the law, which he was obliged to follow
in much the same way as did Abraham Lincoln,
many years later, in the half-settled districts of Illi
nois. In Ohio it was the necessary custom for law
yers to travel "on circuit," accompanying the


various judges who held court from county to
county. They spent a large part of the time on
horseback, "their saddle-bags stuffed with papers,
documents, briefs, law-books, clothing, and, perad-
venture, some creature delectation also." A merry,
jovial party, they rode through fields and forest,
encountering all dangers with good-humored en
durance ; and, after having reached a town and
worked all day in court, they, in company with
judge, opposing counsel and sometimes clients,
would end with a hot supper and much wit and
song at the neighboring inn.

It was while Sherman was leading this spirited
existence that his sixth child was born in Lancaster,
February 8, 1820. To the new arrival the father
gave the name of William Tecumseh. The Tecum -
seh " was bestowed in honor of that Indian chieftain
who played so important a part in our early frontier

In 1823 Charles Eobert Sherman was made a judge
of the Ohio Supreme Court $ six years later he died,
rich in honors but poor in the goods of this world.
His wife was left with eleven children, and with
but little means for their support. It was necessary
that the children should be taken temporarily into
other homes, and in the breaking up of the family
which followed, William Tecumseh Sherman was
adopted by Thomas Ewing.

No more fortunate fate could have been desired
for the boy. Ewing was a giant, physically and in
tellectually ; he achieved a national reputation,


both as a member of the bar and as a statesman,
and the people of Ohio were ever glad to honor him.
He was a "self-made" man in the best sense of the
word ; in his youth he once worked in a salt estab
lishment all day, and studied law in the evening by
the light of the furnace fires : in time he became a
United States senator, and, later on, a cabinet offi
cer under Presidents William Henry Harrison and
Zachary Taylor. He was essentially virile, and
just the type of American to give helpful inspira
tion to any lad who might be sheltered under his
roof tree. The fact, too, that Charles Eobert Sher
man had been his friend, and had extended him
more than one kindness, made him anxious to do all
he could for the nine-year old William.

In the Ewing home at Lancaster, William Tecum-
seh remained, as a schoolboy, until the spring of
1836, when Senator Ewing secured for his young
protege a cadetship at the Military Academy at
West Point. The delighted youth set out shortly
for the east, accomplished the journey by laborious
stages, spent a few days in Washington, and finally
reached West Point (June 12th), very tired, but
still enthusiastic. Here he settled down to the
humdrum of study and military duty, attending
so well to his work that he was graduated sixth, in
a class of forty-two members, in June, 1840. Among
his classmates were Stewart Van Vliet, George H.
Thomas and Richard S. Ewell.

During his four years course at West Point he
wrote letters to his friends which, by their candor


and directness, give the keynote to his character.
He says, for instance: "The last encampment,
taken all in all, I think was the most pleasant one
I have ever spent, even to me, who did not partici
pate in the dances and balls given every week by
the different classes ; besides, the duties were alto
gether of a different nature from any of the previous
ones ; such as acting as officers upon guard and at
artillery drills, practicing at target-firing with long
twenty-fours and thirty-twos, mortars, howitzers,
etc., as also cavalry exercise, which has been in
troduced this year. As to lording it over the plebs,
to which you referred, I had only one, whom I made,
of course, tend to a pleb s duty, such as bringing
water, policing the tent, cleaning my gun and ac
coutrements, and the like, and repaid in the usual
and cheap coin advice."

Through the whole correspondence runs evidence
of a keen sense of humor, which was a virtue, be it
added, that William s distinguished brother, John,
never possessed in any remarkable degree. In
another letter, dated April, 1840, the young soldier

i i Sometimes it appears that war with England is
inevitable ; books are thrown in the corner, and
broadswords and foils supply their place. Such
lunging, cutting and slashing enough to dispose
of at least a thousand British a day ; but the mail
or recitation soon destroys the illusion with It s
all a hoax, or, Sir, you ve been neglecting your
studies. "


The boy can write seriously, too, and with all
the delightful enthusiasm of his years, as when he
says: "The nearer we come to that dreadful
epoch, graduation day, the higher opinion I con
ceive of the duties and life of an officer of the
United States Army, and the more confirmed in the
wish of spending my life in the service of my
country. Think of that ! "

Once he writes some words of advice, quaintly
amusing in their air of elderly sobriety, to brother
John :

" I hear that you are engaged in speculating in
salt, and are waiting for the river to rise to take a
load down to Cincinnati. Are you doing this on
borrowed capital or not ? Or does it interfere in the
least with your duties as engineer 1 If it does I
would advise you not to engage in it at any rate,
even if you can make a fortune by it ; for a repu
tation for a strict and rigid compliance to one s
duties, whatever they may be, is far more valuable
than a dozen loads of salt."

Brother John, then scarcely sixteen years old,
was a member of an engineer corps of the Mus-
kinguni River Improvement Company, and it may
easily be imagined that he was not in danger of
meeting with a heavy financial disaster. The salt
speculation did not succeed, because the unaccom
modating river refused to rise at the right moment ;
but John Sherman s career suffered no blight as a

In a later letter to John the cadet says, with that


dogmatic air which was afterward to characterize
so many of his military utterances :

1 i I presume the idea of your studying law has
been decided upon, ... so that it would be
rather impertinent for me to object in the least ;
but for my part it would be my last choice. Every
body studies law nowadays, and to be a lawyer
without being exceedingly eminent which it is to
be hoped you will be some day is not a sufficient
equivalent for their risks and immense study and
labor. However, if you decide upon anything you
should immediately commence to carry it into ex
ecution. . . . Whether I remain in the army
for life, or not, is doubtful, but one thing is certain
that I will never study another profession."

The country owes much to the lad s dislike of the
law. He did, as we shall see, become a lawyer for
a brief space, but not in a serious way. He was es
sentially a man of brains, yet there was not in him
the stuff of which barristers are made. He lacked
the intellectual finesse of the less-educated but more
subtle Lincoln ; he lacked, too, the art of patience.
As a real member of the bar, or as a statesman, he
must have proved a brilliant failure. But he knew
his limitations, as the future years would show :
the time was to come when, unlike the less prudent
Grant, he would refuse to listen to the buzzing
of the presidential bee. Only once would he try to
be a statesman (in re the surrender of General
Joseph E. Johnston) and then he would not suc


In June, 1840, when Sherman graduated, he was
appointed to a second-lieutenantcy in the Third
Eeginient of Artillery, and allowed a leave of absence
for a visit home. Several months later found him
stationed at Fort Pierce, in eastern Florida, where
he spent the warm season in idling, fishing, or
anathematizing the mosquitoes ; and the colder
months in assisting in frequent expeditions against
the hostile Seminole Indians. To John Sherman
the lieutenant described the Seminole war with
cynical humor :

" As to the history of the war, the same as all
our Indian wars. A treaty for the removal [of the
Indians] is formed by a few who represent themselves
as the whole ; the time comes, and none present
themselves. The Government orders force to be
used ; the troops in the territory commence, but are
so few that they all get massacred. The cowardly
inhabitants, instead of rallying, desert their homes,
and sound the alarm -call for assistance. An army
supposed to be strong enough is sent, seeks and en
counters the enemy at a place selected by the latter,
and gets a few hundred killed. The Indians retreat,
scatter, and are safe. This may be repeated ad in-
fin-itum. The best officer is selected to direct the
affairs of the army, comes to Florida, exposes him
self, does all he can, gets abused by all, more than
likely breaks down his constitution, and is glad
enough to get out of the scrape."

There is a philosophy in this critique which
strongly suggests the history of Indian warfare, (as


to some of its phases, assuredly), in earlier and later

^ But this life in Florida, while affording a certain
amount of military experience, was trifling, uu-
heroic and wholly uninviting. Although it called
for bravery and endurance on the part of the sol
diers, there was nothing very inspiring in potting
Seminole bucks or capturing ugly squaws.

In January of 1842 Sherman received his com
mission as a first-lieutenant. After seeing service
at posts in Florida, he was transferred with his
company to Fort Morgan, at the entrance of the Bay
of Mobile ; in the following June he was ordered to
Fort Moultrie, in Charleston harbor.

Here he remained for the next four years, enjoy
ing the hospitality of the Charlestonians who are
among the most cordial people of a cordial race
but evidently becoming, at times, somewhat bored
with the too -civilized life which he was leading.
He little realized that in less than twenty years
Charleston would be one of the storm-centres of the
greatest war of the nineteenth century. But there
was no thought of conflict thus far. Balls, picnick
ing, horse-racing, boating, fishing, swimming and
the like were more familiar experiences to the
officers stationed at Charleston, than the use of gun
powder or cannon. The latter were employed only
for saluting or practice ; bayonets and swords flashed
only for routine duty or for dress parade. " A life
of this kind," observed young Sherman, " does well

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Online LibraryEdward RobinsWilliam T. Sherman → online text (page 1 of 22)