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The contributions of william sherman in the civil war

He is best known for you actions in the Civil War, where his performance was mixed. His brutal and devastating method of waging war "Hard War" he called it remains controversial to this day.

His siblings all enjoyed professional success. His older brother Charles became a federal judge. His younger brother John served in the U. And the contributions of william sherman in the civil war brother Hoyt was a successful banker. Two of his foster brothers would serve as major generals in the Union Army during the Civil War. Sherman in The Civil War Sherman was commissioned as a colonel and first saw action in the Battle Of Bull Runwhere his actions got the attention of Abraham Lincolnwho promoted him to brigadier general.

Sent to Kentucky, he succeeded Brig. Robert Anderson as commander of the Department of the Cumberland. Anderson was the officer who had been in charge of Fort Sumter when Southern troops bombarded it in April 1861, which started the Civil War. Sherman made some unfortunate statements overestimating enemy strength, and newspapers accused him of being insane.

Thus began one of the great partnerships of the Civil War; Sherman would later say, in reference to the wild rumors that had been spread about them, "Grant stood by me when I was crazy, and I stood by him when he was drunk, and now we stand by each other.

When Grant was promoted to command all Union armies in the field and left for the Eastern Theater, he put Sherman in charge of the Military Division of Mississippi in the Western Theater.

Sherman invaded Georgia in the spring of 1864. There, Sherman impatiently ordered a frontal assault that cost him 3,000 men, while the Confederates lost only 1,000.

He steadily forced Johnston back into the heart of Georgia and on September 2, 1864, successfully captured the vital city of Atlantaan act that certainly helped Abraham Lincoln win re-election and may have been a key factor in the election of 1864. He instructed his men to burn all military facilities.

They did, as well as many commercial and residential properties. The destruction would continue through his next campaign after capturing Atlanta, to take the port city of Savannah.

  1. Selected Correspondence of William T. He also caused Johnston to retreat.
  2. As early as August 1863, Sherman had begun to make plans for a move against Meridian. In the spring of 1863, after another bushwhacking incident near Greenville, Mississippi, Sherman ordered Brig.
  3. To a friend, Sherman later described his own transformation in 1862.

Cutting loose from his supply lines, he had his men live off the land, seizing food and mounts from the local populations as they passed.

He continued his strategy of destroying all military facilities in his path, along with all commercial targets that could be used militarily. On December 21, 1864, his troops took Savannah from the Confederates, and he dispatched a message to Lincoln that later became famous; he offered the city as a Christmas present to the president.

He turned his army north through the Carolinas, and if anything the destruction they wrought topped that in Georgia. South Carolina had set the nation on the road to war when it seceded and sent emissaries to other Southern states urging them to join in forming a new confederation, and it was in South Carolina that the first shots were fired, at Fort Sumter. His last battle was Bentonville, North Carolina, March 19—21, 1865. Soon after, word arrived that Robert E.

Lee had surrendered to Grant. Sherman and his long-time adversary, Joe Johnston, met to discuss terms. However, the agreement was worded in such a way that for the government to accept its terms would be to tacitly give legitimacy to the Confederate government, something it had denied throughout the war.

Sherman was ordered to return to Johnston and tell him they could only discuss surrender of his Army of Tennessee, and Grant was dispatched to make sure no bounds were overstepped. He was integral to the U.

At one point, when asked a question about "good Indians," he responded that, "The only good Indians I ever saw were dead," which became, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian" in popular vernacular. Sherman left a legacy of famous quotes, including perhaps his most famous, "War is hell. It is all hell. If elected, I will not serve. Given his long-running feuds with the press, that was probably a wise decision. He published one of the most popular and well-read first-hand accounts of the Civil War, his book Memoirs, published in 1875.

This was typical of armies marching through enemy territory in the Civil War. What made this campaign different is that for the first time Northern troops were instructed to wage a war of destruction, to leave civilians with just enough for survival but not enough to support military activity against the North. They also waged psychological warfare, intent on quashing any hope the people in central Mississippi might have had of a Southern victory. Similarly, Sherman biographies give this campaign little attention.

For example, John F. Yet it was on this expedition that Sherman greatly altered the way he campaigned, developing a unique style of warfare that drastically modified his attitudes toward civilians, slaves, soldiers, destruction, tactics, and planning. Sherman did not develop his style of warfare in a week or even a year. It took the entire course of the war to change him from being a commander who sought to exclude civilians from the conflict to becoming a leader who actively searched for ways to terrorize Southern civilians into giving up their cause—without injuring them.

In the first three years of the contributions of william sherman in the civil war war, Sherman went from rigorously protecting Southern civilians and their property to believing that these citizens were ultimately responsible for the war and had to be convinced to stop supporting it.

The general had spent much time in the South as a U.

Early life and career

Army officer and as superintendent of what later became Louisiana State University. He had many Southern friends and thus had an attachment to the South and its people. Sherman sought, therefore, a way to end the war with as little bloodshed as possible. His entire war experience, particularly as Ulysses S. While Sherman was in Memphis in 1862 and 1863, guarding the important river town and the Mississippi River, he battled constantly with guerrilla and Confederate cavalry units operating in Mississippi and Tennessee.

After exhausting all conventional methods for dealing with these threats, he began to strike at the local Southern towns, which he considered the supply bases for the Confederates. By taking or destroying supplies, Sherman tried to prevent the Confederates from sustaining the fight while simultaneously punishing the citizens for supporting the enemy. Although he experienced limited success with this tactic, Sherman believed that the key to protecting the Mississippi, a major key to Union victory, was to strike at Confederate resources in the Magnolia State.

If the Confederate troops could not find supplies, they could not remain a threat to the river. If the Confederate threat was eliminated, Federal officials could remove thousands of garrisoning troops along the river for use on battlefields elsewhere.

After retaking Jackson in the summer of 1863 after the fall of Vicksburg, Sherman had thought about moving down the railroad track toward Meridian, a small town of about four hundred people, located about one hundred miles east of Jackson near the Alabama border.

This bustling community contained warehouses, storehouses, depots, an armory, a hospital, and other noteworthy military targets. It served as a hub for Confederate traffic between Mississippi and the rest of the eastern Confederacy. The Confederacy used the Mobile and Ohio Railroad and the Southern Railroad of Mississippi, which intersected at Meridian, to shuttle vast amounts of men and supplies through the Magnolia State. Additionally, these lines worked as an important interior route to transfer Confederate troops from one front to another quickly and efficiently.

At the time, Sherman decided that because of the hot summer weather and the exhaustion of his men, he should postpone any movement on Meridian. Simultaneously, however, he became determined to rid the state of its guerrilla elements and other Confederate forces that harassed river traffic and posed a threat to the Mississippi River itself. Convinced that a strike at Meridian could stymie these forces, at every opportunity he pressed his request to take the town.

General William Tecumseh Sherman

His plan suggested the possibility of an amphibious assault near Mobile, a large cavalry raid, numerous feints, or a march of more than twenty thousand infantry straight across a hundred and fifty miles of enemy territory.

Halleck, on several occasions in July and August, suggesting an attack on Mobile. Mobile could provide the southernmost anchor for another split of the Confederacy. The important port city had become, with the Union victories at Shiloh and Corinth, the only rail link, besides Meridian, from Mississippi to the eastern Confederacy.

Halleck thought Texas was a more important target, so he did not provide Grant with the approval he wished.

William Tecumseh Sherman

As early as August 1863, Sherman had begun to make plans for a move against Meridian. He ordered a map containing his intended route.

The contributions of william sherman in the civil war

He hoped to move across Mississippi as soon as his men were rested and the cool fall weather had arrived. Sherman therefore chose the destruction of Meridian as his main objective for the winter of 1863-1864. Most of the tactics Sherman employed during the Meridian campaign, such as using feints and acquiring supplies from the countryside as he progressed, were not new to war. Abandoning his supply lines, however, was an innovative idea. Marching on Meridian, Sherman combined all the tactics he had learned during the first three years of the Civil War.

Library of Congress

What Sherman learned about the limitations of the Confederacy and the Southern people during his first large-scale use of hard war provided him with the insight he needed to use his style of warfare on an even larger scale later, marching through Georgia and South Carolina. The Meridian campaign was hardly the brutish, purposeless destruction described in Lost Cause mythology. Rather, it was a planned strategy and tactic to end the war as quickly and bloodlessly as possible.

Sherman had considered proper treatment of noncombatants and their property his soldierly duty. He took great care in seeing that his policies and the conduct of his men did not trample upon the perceived rights of secessionist or unionist civilians. He handed out harsh punishment to soldiers who did as little as steal fence rails for their campfires or take liberally from the countryside.

By the end of the war, however, most Southerners saw Sherman as a brute for his harsh treatment of Southern civilians and his destruction of property across the Confederate states.

Although recent works have rightfully concluded that Sherman was not the first general to promote a harsher attitude toward civilians, he nevertheless moved war in that direction to a far greater degree than any of his contemporaries.

Just after the fall of Vicksburg, while in Jackson for the second time, Sherman conducted a campaign of destruction to render the city unusable to the Confederate army. The Meridian campaign, some six months later, was his preliminary attempt to subjugate an entire region of the state and served as his proving ground for later campaigns into Georgia and the Carolinas. Sherman adapted what he had learned during the first three years of the war into a new campaign technique that he designed to end the war as quickly and bloodlessly as possible.

Although he attended West Point, Sherman did not derive the contributions of william sherman in the civil war principles from his education there. Most professional military officers, many of whom had attended West Point, had studied the works of Baron Antoine Henri de Jomini.

Jomini contended that the violence between two enemy armies on the battlefield had few limitations but that civilians away from the fighting should not be included. Jomini held that there was a definite wall between warring armies and the common population.

His comments about guerrillas implied condemnation of their style of warfare. Sherman agreed with Jomini that noncombatants should be treated differently than soldiers. After the First Battle of Bull Run, Sherman wrote to his wife about the depredations that some of his command had committed: He thought this was the best way to keep border state civilians from straying to the Confederate side.

Sherman had no way of knowing exactly who was responsible for the attack, but he insisted that the local people knew the guilty parties. If they refused to assist in the apprehension the contributions of william sherman in the civil war the culprits, then they would suffer the consequences.