William Tecumseh Sherman

William ShermanWilliam Tecumseh Sherman (expired February 1891) is a man worth learning about. His father, a judge, died unexpectedly when he was young leaving 11 children without financial resources or a father. Despite what was surely a challenging childhood Sherman engaged in numerous pursuits – some successful, some not successful, and played a formative role in the development of the United States. He was an educator, a business man, a banker, and most notably, a general in the Union army during the civil war. He is believed by many to be the father of modern warfare. At one point he was proposed to be the Republican nominee for the Presidential election in 1884 and refused stating, “If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve.” This has become known as the Shermanesque statement.

After learning of South Carolina’s secession from the United States, William wrote:

You people of the South don’t know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don’t know what you’re talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it …Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth—right at your doors.You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.

William proceeded to kick their ass on the battle field.
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6 Comments

  1. Nick
    Posted February 28, 2008 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Not only was he the father of modern warfare, but apparently he was also the father of bed head.

  2. hoplitesamurai
    Posted March 27, 2008 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    As a true son of the South, (I have a mannequin dressed in reasonably accurate garb, including accoutrements and weapons on display in my bedroom.), I must say I take offence to your glorification of this Butcher!

    However as a Civil War junkie, military history buff, and rational thinking person I must deign to point out a few things I have noticed about the Civil War.

    1. Despite Southron claims to the contrary the Yankees did not win the war. It was the Midwesterners that won the war. Grant and Sherman just too name two, although if really pressed I could compile a list.

    2. Despite protestations to the contrary, the South never really had a chance to win. I mean seriously consider this; the South was largely stuck in the age of Enlightenment, whereas the North was already coming to terms with the age of Industry well prior to the war.

    3. Despite the historical revisionism, (On both sides) and the racially charged nature of this subject, the South was right. However like the modern day libertarians the Confederacy could never possible defend its stance because it lacked a rational moral philosophy.

    Now having inadvertently sounded preachy I must say that Sherman was correct. The best way to win a war is to kill as many of the enemy as you can in the shortest amount of time. That includes soldiers and civilians. Historically it is the only way to ensure the minimum amount of casualties on both sides.

  3. reasonmrsmith
    Posted March 28, 2008 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Hop, if the South “never really had a chance to win” then why did they start the war in the first place? Sherman predicted the outcome of the war quite specifically and was almost perfectly accurate.

    As far as your claim that “It was the Midwesterners that won the war,” 1 – you have provided nothing to back that up and 2 – it frankly doesn’t matter. My reaction to the civil war is one of disgust… disgust that our southern leaders supported a simultaneous act of suicide and disloyalty to our union. I take no pride that the “North” demonstrated superiority so clearly over the “South,” only sadness that so many lives were wasted for a cause that you admit was doomed to fail even before it started.

  4. lzzrdgrrl
    Posted April 8, 2008 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    He told them what he was going to do, and he went ahead and did it…….

    “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” would have been a good epitaph for the Confederate dead, who fought for land and slaves, not for “states’ rights” or the sanctity of their soil. Slave-owners along with want-to-be slave-owners had it coming. The Union general William Tecumseh Sherman who said after he burned Atlanta, “I fear the world will jump to the wrong conclusion that because I am in Atlanta the work is done. Far from it. We must kill three hundred thousand, I have told you of so often, and the further they run the harder for us to get them.”

    Maybe instead of gatling guns, they should’ve invested in….. prayer wheels, perhaps?……

    Southerners thought of themselves as an oppressed people, the descendants of Scots-Irish immigrants driven out of their Celtic homelands by the English, flying the X-shaped cross of Scotland’s patron saint in the Confederate battle flag, redolent of Scotland’s “Lost Cause”. The self-pity of the South pervades American popular culture, from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, to The Band’s bathetic song, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”. It is best known in the cover version by Joan Baez, an old civil rights campaigner. Such is the pull of identity politics.

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/JD08Aa01.html

  5. Tao
    Posted April 16, 2008 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    Professor David F Boyd from Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy in Pineville, Louisiana in 1859 gave a speach saying
    “You people of the South don’t know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don’t know what you’re talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it …Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth—right at your doors.You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.”
    It wasn’t Sherman. Sherman was there because he was the superintendent of the School.

  6. Alex
    Posted September 28, 2008 at 2:20 am | Permalink

    Nick you are mistaken. He is the very definition of what an officer/general should not be or do. He is used at West Point and The Citadel as an example of a “smuge” on the US military record. He was in essence a warcriminal.


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  1. […] that first post and in the first Volume on pages 58-59 there is a speech by Sherman on pages that could have been made to the Palestinian authority: You people of the South don’t know what you are doing. This country […]

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