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William T. Sherman online

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posterous term to apply to a man who had rendered
so much service as he had, even supposing he had
made a mistake in granting such terms as he did to
Johnston and his army. . . . But the feeling
against Sherman died out very rapidly, and it was
not many weeks before he was restored to the fullest
confidence of the American people. Early in May
John Sherman wrote to his distinguished brother
that while the public had disapproved the gen
eral s " Agreement," yet the " gross and damnable
perversion of many of the papers," and their ar
raignment of his motives, had been even more se
verely condemned. i i For a time, says the senator,
you lost all the popularity gained by your achieve-

1 "Mr. Stanton was deeply indignant at the general for med
dling with matters beyond his jurisdiction. No doubt his in
dignation was intensified by his dislike of Sherman. The two
men were antagonistic by nature." Charles A. Dana, in " Rec
ollections of the Civil War."


inents. But now the reaction has commenced, and
you find some defenders ; many more to denounce
the base and malicious conduct of a gang of envious
scamps, who seized upon this matter as a pretext
for calumny. What to make of Stanton I don t
know." The writer also observed : " The conduct
of Grant is deserving of the highest praise. I shall
always feel grateful to him. 7

Grant had, indeed, acted with the rarest delicacy
and tact when sent down to North Carolina. He
met Sherman at Ealeigh, told him to effect
a new agreement with Johnston, on the basis of
Lee s surrender, and then got away as quickly as
possible, so that his presence might not prove hu
miliating to Sherman. As a result the latter met
Johnston again (April 26th) and the two signed a
" military convention" devoid of the political
phases of the rejected paper. The new agreement
was simply this :

"(1) All acts of war on the part of the troops
under General Johnston s command to cease from
this date.

"(2) All arms and public property to be depos
ited at Greensboro, and delivered to an ordnance-
officer of the United States army.

"(3) Eolls of all the officers and men to be
made in duplicate. . , . Each officer and man
to give his individual obligation in writing not
to take up arms against the government of the
United States, until properly released from this


"(4) The side-arms of officers, and their private
horses and baggage, to be returned by them.

"(5) This being done, all the officers and men
will be permitted to return to their homes, not to be
disturbed by the United States authorities, so long
as they observe their obligation and the laws in force
where they may reside. "

This convention, and certain "supplemental
terms" made between Schofield and Johnston, to
facilitate the return of the Confederate soldiers to
their homes, were far different in scope from the
wide privileges originally granted by Sherman.
Thus closed the war : the South, shattered, bleed
ing, after a struggle unexampled in the history of
the world for its bravery, prepared to bind up her
wounds ; the Union soldiers, like brave men, pre
pared to forget and forgive ; the Northern politician
prepared to send the receptive "carpet-bagger"
into Dixie, and fasten upon her citizens the delights
of negro suffrage, and "reconstruction."

Johnston and Sherman, who ever maintained for
each other the highest admiration, took a friendly
farewell. Johnston announced to the South that he
had surrendered in order to spare the blood of his
army, to prevent farther "devastation and ruin,"
and to " avoid the crime of waging a hopeless war."
How much more graceful such an exit from the stage
of the Confederacy than that of the man who hated
him Jefferson Davis !

Sherman now began the movement of his army to
the North. By the 20th of May all his forces were


camped about Alexandria, Va. General Meade s
Army of the Potomac had possession of the camps
above, opposite Washington and Georgetown.

The war had been the grave of many military
reputations ; it also made a few soldiers famous for
all time. And the greatest of these were Ulysses S.
Grant, Robert E. Lee, and William Tecuuiseh



AFTER reaching Alexandria General Sherman
paid a visit to Washington, where he had a recep
tion of the most cordial sort. The reaction in his
favor had indeed set in ; he was no longer called a
traitor, or an " imbecilic tool" of Breckinridge
and Joe Johnston ; the North soon forgot his alleged
indiscretion, and remembered only that he was one
of the Titanic heroes of the war. Among those
who welcomed the warrior most effusively was
Andrew Johnson, who hastened to assure him that
he had been entirely ignorant of Mr. Stanton s
abusive " bulletin" until he had seen it in the
papers. Different members of the cabinet made
similar assurances ; no one showed the least desire
to shoulder any responsibility in the matter. The
general, with his perennial sense of humor, no
doubt laughed in his sleeve at this sudden desire to
"come in out of the rain." But he did not laugh
when he thought of Stanton, or of General Halleck,
who had played into Stanton s hands during the
"Agreement" episode. He had already declined
proffers of reconciliation from Halleck, and he now
sternly refused the good offices of General Grant to
secure peace between himself and Stanton. i i I have
been publicly insulted," said Sherman, "and I shall


resent the insult as publicly." The secretary of
war, on his part, made no advances, not being, as
we know, a strong imbiber of the milk of human
kindness. Indeed, it was said, that the uneven
temper of the secretary had been made more acid
than usual through fear that he was marked out for
assassination. It is possible that his physical cour
age did not always keep pace with his moral courage
a virtue which he generally displayed to the point
of boorishness.

Just at this time a grand review of the armies
then near Washington was ordered. General Meade
and the Army of the Potomac paraded before
President Johnson and his cabinet on the 23d of
May : the next morning Sherman s army made its
never- to -be forgotten progress through the streets of
the capital. The day was worthy of the occasion ;
the people, forgetful of the dead who had fallen
forgetful, for the nonce, even of Lincoln were
in gala mood. They were not unfaithful to those
who had passed beyond, but they were resolved, at
this great moment, to enjoy only the glory of the
pageant. The avenues were packed with people ;
even the house-tops were black with spectators.
At the head of the procession was General Sherniau,
accompanied by his staff. Clad in a resplendent
uniform, he looked every inch the commander, and
his charger s neck was covered with wreaths of
flowers, placed there by admiring friends. Then
came Howard, "his empty coat sleeve, pinned upon
the breast, mutely proclaiming his deeds of courage."


After him rode Logan, " swarthy of complexion,
with heavy black mustache, and eagle-eye, the
image of a born soldier." Then followed Hazeii,
and Blair, and many more but McPherson, Sher
man s old friend, was there only in memory. He
could only join those ghostly ranks immortalized in
Bret Harte s " Last Eeview " :

" And I saw a phantom army come
With never a sound of fife or drum,
But keeping time to a throbbing hum
Of wailing and lamentation ;

And so all night marched the nation s dead,
With never a banner above them spread,
Nor a badge, nor a motto brandished ;
No mark save the bare, uncovered head

Of the silent bronze Reviewer ;
With never an arch save the vaulted sky ;
With never a flower save those that lie
On the distant graves for love could buy

No gift that was purer nor truer.

What a sight it must have been, this view of
Sherman and his men ! Already did they belong
to history. "With heads erect and an air of in
describable sang froid, these men of the west
stretched down Pennsylvania Avenue, with an easy,
swinging gait, peculiar to themselves, acquired in
long and rapid marches. They wore no holiday
garb. The ragged and faded uniforms in which
they had slept and marched, through the swamps
of the Caroliuas, still clung to their bodies, and


they strode along as if proud to display them as
badges of faithful service." 1 How the spectators
cheered them all, from Sherman down to the most
valueless "bummer."

No one appreciated the beauty and significance
of this review more than did Sherman himself.
When he reached the Treasury Building, and looked
behind him at the marching columns, he was im
pressed by the magnificence of the sight the com
pactness of the lines, and the array of glittering-
muskets, which looked like a solid mass of steel,
"moving with the regularity of a pendulum. 7
The general, as he passed the house of Mr. Seward,
who had come so near sharing the fate of Lincoln,
saw and saluted the secretary of state, who sat at a
window, feeble and swathed in bandages. Next he
rode past the reviewing stand, saluting President
Johnson ; and soon, on dismounting, joined the
party on the platform itself. In addition to John
son there were on the stand General Grant, Mrs.
Sherman, her father, Senator Ewing, Mr. Stanton,
and many others. Sherman greeted each in turn,
save the secretary of war. He relates that Stanton
offered him his hand, but that he declined it
publicly, "and the fact was universally no
ticed." But subsequently the two became recon-

1 Hedley, " Marching Through Georgia."

Charles A. Dana was on the reviewing stand on that day, in
his capacity of assistant secretary of war. He naturally watched
the meeting between Stanton and Sherman, and he takes issue
with the general as to what happened. He says in his
"Recollections," that Stanton made no motion to offer his


ciled : when Stanton was dying Sherman called at
his home.

The general took his post on the stand at the left
of the President, and stood for nearly seven hours
whilst the army of which he had been so proud an
army soon to dissolve into an historical memory-
marched past the White House grounds. His eyes
glistened as he gazed on his comrades. It was, in
his judgment, the most magnificent army in ex
istence not a mob. The world saw that it was
an army in the proper sense, " well organized, well
commanded and disciplined," and wondered not
that it had " swept through the South like a
tornado." If Sherman cared for triumph, and he
was but human, he could never have asked for a
fairer day than this. It was a glorious close to a
glorious campaign. Not even the vindictive spirit
of Stanton could deprive him of these fruits of

A few days later Sherman issued "general
orders" bidding farewell to his army. "The time
has come for us to part," he wrote. He reviewed
briefly the record of his campaigns, and then ended
with the valedictory : "Your general now bids you
farewell, with the full belief that, as in war you
have been good soldiers, so in peace you will make
good citizens ; and if, unfortunately, new war
should arise in our country, Sherman s army will

hand, or exchange salutations in any manner. "As the gen
eral passed Mr. Stanton gave him merely a slight forward mo
tion of the head, equivalent, perhaps, to a quarter of a bow."


be the first to buckle on its old armor, arid come
forth to defend and maintain the government of our

William Tecumseh Sherman lived for a little more
than a quarter of a century after the ending of the
war. His autumnal years are not without interest
of a certain kind, but they are curiously uneventful
when compared with the startling color, the vivid
picturesqueness, of the four years of conflict. This
is but natural ; when we dissociate the successful
commander from the roar of battle, the boom of
cannon, the midnight planning of a campaign
within the dimly -lighted tent, we no longer find
him the same heroic figure. The stage settings are
wanting. We see our actor without the light, the
tinsel, and scenic surroundings of the theatre.

Nevertheless, the last twenty-five years of Sher
man 7 s life were active, in a minor way, and quietly
useful. After the passing of the grand review in
Washington he spent a portion of the summer in
Ohio, renewing friendships and talking over the
events of the war, thence going to St. Louis to
become commander of the " Military Division of
the Mississippi. 7 Under general orders issued June
27, 1865, the country had been divided into nine
teen departments and five military divisions, and the
"Division of the Mississippi 7 was to include the
Departments of the Ohio, Missouri and Arkansas.
To St. Louis he brought his family he was anxious
to " make their acquaintance, 77 as he observed and
passed a very pleasant year, divided between the


routine of his office, study, inspection of posts, visits
to Indian tribes, and other duties, and the prepara
tion of the papers which were to supply materials
for his Memoirs, ? published a few years later.

He maintained the same independent spirit as
before, seemed to have no greater belief than of yore
in the politicians, and was not iu favor of the move
which has led to forty years of unnecessary mischief
that of extending the suffrage to the Southern
negroes. He writes, for instance, to John Sherman,
that u negro equality will lead to endless strife, and
to remove and separate the races will be a big job ; so
any way we approach the subject it is full of diffi
culty. But it is better to study the case and adapt
measures to it, than to lay down the theory or force
facts to meet it." l

At this time, Sherman chafed terribly, as so
nervous, and high-strung a man would, at the tend
ency in the War Department, to concentrate power
in that department at the expense of the generals of
the army. He protested now, as he did later, when
he became commander of the whole army, against
what General Force, in his biography of Sherman,
well calls a system which "practically resulted in
making the staff bureaus independent of the military
head of the army, and allowing an adjutant-general,
who might have the ambition to do so, to use the

1 * General Sherman . . . never acknowledged allegiance
to any party, and resented all appearance of such allegiance.
He opposed universal suffrage, and believed that extending it to
negroes was but adding to an existing evil." Rachel Sherman
Thorndike, in " The Sherman Letters."


whole power of the secretary of war and -reduce the
general-in-chief to a nullity. "

Sherman soon found himself brought, most un
willingly, into contact with the really petty squabbles
in which President Johnson and Stantou, and later
General Grant, became the important, if not the
altogether ideal, figures. He was now lieutenant-
general, having succeeded Grant in that position
upon the latter s appointment, in July, 1866, to be
general of the army. These squabbles do not call
for elaboration. How Johnson attempted to rid
himself of Stanton, as secretary of war ; how Stanton
resisted and Congress intervened ; how Grant re
fused to be made a "cat s paw" and would not
accept the secretaryship for himself; how Johnson
tried to send Grant on a mission to Mexico ; how
Grant, suspecting sinister political motives, would
not be made to go all these incidents are now
familiar history. It is more to the point to record
that Sherman wisely resisted any attempt to have
himself put at the head of the army, and the head
of the War Department, and in his friendship for
Grant, went so far as to go himself on the scorned
mission that of escort to the newly appointed
American minister to Mexico. That minister was
Lewis D. Campbell, of Ohio, who was sent to
acknowledge President Juarez, and thus diplomatic
ally protest against the occupation of Mexico by
the Emperor Maximilian.

Throughout all these troubles and " political
nightmares" troubles which show us the least


enviable phases of the history of our country-
General Sherman kept a level head, despite his
impetuosity and his habit of having opinions on
every subject. Johnson, in his contests with Grant,
and Stanton, and Congress, would have been very
glad to use Sherman for his own purposes ; but the
latter was wise enough to keep, so far as he could,
to the strict duties of his army work, and to remain
faithful to Grant under all circumstances. Grant,
to be sure, was never a perfect man, particularly
after the war, when love of power and money began
to seize hold upon his once unpretentious soul ; but
there was every reason why the two great generals
should remain true to each other. When Sherman
was appointed head of a commission empowered
to hear the grievances of Indian tribes in conflict
with the government, he threw his whole heart into
the work, only too anxious, as he was, to escape the
broils of so-called statesmanship. He visited these
discontented tribes, and spoke to them, albeit in
kindness, with the utmost frankness. The Indians
were anxious to check the building of railroads,
which frightened the buffalo herds ; Sherman told
them that they could not expect to stop emigration or
the improvements of white men in the far west.
He urged the Indians to accept reservations of land,
to learn to farm and raise cattle, and to submit as
gracefully as possible to the inevitable westward
movement of the Caucasian s star of empire. " You
cannot stop the locomotive any more than you can
stop the sun or moon," he said. "You see for


yourselves that the white men are collecting in all
directions in spite of all you can do. The white
men are taking all the good land. If you don t
choose your homes now, it will be too late next

The general was no hypocrite; he saw that the
Indian was doomed on the American hemisphere, and
he therefore held out to him no false hopes. And
each year brings us nearer and nearer to the ex
tinction, as a race, of the real owners of this con
tinent. Sherman did what he could to relieve the
situation but that situation has always meant com
plete and unavoidable injustice to the Indian. The
Anglo-Saxon may not be ethical, or sentimental,
but he is always logical ; he always fulfills the
natural law by crowding an inferior race to the wall
or to the reservation. He has ever pressed hard
against the red man, and he will never, in his heart,
recognize the equality of the black man.

Disheartening as was this mission, yet it must
have proved a pleasant contrast to the political con
ditions in which Sherman had so nearly become an
actor. He had not forgotten the letters which he
had written to President Johnson when the latter
had planned to have him created a brevet general,
and brought on to Washington. One of these let
ters (dated January 31, 1868), from which it is worth
quoting had run, in part, as follows :
" To the President:

i Since our interview of yesterday I have given
the subject of our conversation all my thoughts, and


I beg you will pardon iny reducing the result to

"My personal preferences, if expressed, were to
be allowed to return to St. Louis to resume my pres
ent command ; because my command was important,
large, suited to my rank and inclination, and because
my family was well provided for there, in house
facilities, schools, living, and agreeable society.

"Whilst, on the other hand, Washington was for
many (to me) good reasons highly objectionable.
Especially because it is the political capital of the
country and focus of intrigue, gossip and slander.
Your personal preferences were, as expressed, to
make a new department east, adequate to my rank,
with headquarters at Washington, and to assign me
to its command to remove my family here, and to
avail myself of its schools, etc. ; to remove Mr.
Stanton from his office as secretary of war, and
have me to discharge the duties.

"It has been the rule and custom of our army
since the organization of the government that the
second officer of the army should be at the second
(in importance) command, and remote from general
headquarters. To bring me to Washington would
put three heads to an army, yourself, General
Grant, and myself, and we would be more than
human if we were not to differ. In my judgment
it would ruin the army, and would be fatal to one
or two of us.


u Generals Scott and Taylor proved themselves
soldiers and patriots in the field, but Washington
was fatal to both. ... I have been with Gen
eral Grant in the midst of death and slaughter
when the howls of people reached him after Shiloh ;
when messengers were speeding to and fro between
his army and Washington, bearing slanders to in
duce his removal before he took Vicksburg j in
Chattanooga, when the soldiers were stealing the
corn of the starving mules to satisfy their own hun
ger ; at Nashville, when he was ordered to the for
lorn hope > to command the Army of the Potomac,
so often defeated and yet I never saw him more
troubled than since he has been in Washington, and
been compelled to read himself a sneak and de
ceiver based on reports of four of the cabinet, and
apparently with your knowledge. If this political
atmosphere can disturb the equanimity of one so
guarded, and so prudent, as he is, what will be
the result with one so careless, so outspoken as
I am? Therefore, with my consent, Washington

"As to the secretary of war, his office is twofold.
As cabinet officer he should not be there without
your hearty, cheerful consent, and I believe that is
the judgment and opinion of every fair-minded man.
As the holder of a civil office, having the supervi
sion of monies appropriated by Congress, and of
contracts for army supplies, I do think Congress, or
the Senate by delegation from Congress, has a lawful
right to be consulted. At all events, I would not


risk a suit or contest on that phase of the ques

Fortunate for Sherman that he never fell in with
any of the schemes of passionate, discredited Andrew
Johnson the man without a compass, without a
party, without a brake upon his hates.

Grant became President of the United States in
March of 1869 ; on the day succeeding the inaugu
ration Sherman was appointed to command the
United States army. He had previously taken a
trip to the South, and found the journey in "every
sense agreeable" a fact which speaks well for the
courtesy of the Southerners, who, naturally, had
no reason to remember with enthusiasm the guest
within their borders. But the feeling of the people
in Dixie was much less bitter at that time than it
became later, when the evils of negro franchise and
" carpet- bag government" began to appear. Sher
man even visited the military academy at Alex
andria, La. Here he was received as an old friend,
not as a conquering enemy ; and he found, in
the main hall of the institution, his own portrait.
The marble tablet which had reposed over the main
door, bearing the inscription, " By the Liberality of
the General Government of the United States The
Union: Esto Perpetua^ the very inscription to
which the general had referred in his official resig-

1 The troubles with Stanton ended, as we know, in the im
peachment trial of Johnson for removing him, and the President
secured, for want of the necessary two-thirds vote, an acquittal.
General Schofield afterward became secretary of war.


nation of the superintendency of the academy had
been taken out and was now broken in pieces. But
Sherman was told that the same legend, this time
cut on a tablet of iron, would be placed in the old
niche above the door.

His appointment to command the army, in
place of Grant, obliged him to come to the much-
despised Washington, and proved, in another way,
too, not altogether conducive to his pleasure. Like
Banquo s ghost, the old question as to the relative
functions of the War Department and the general
commanding would not down. At first Sherman
flattered himself that a much needed reform in this
matter was to be made, for the new President, who
himself had often felt the evils of the old system,
directed that the chiefs of staff corps and the vari
ous bureaus of the department should act directly
under the orders of Sherman. The general was to

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Online LibraryEdward RobinsWilliam T. Sherman → online text (page 19 of 22)