William Tecumseh Sherman
WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN
WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN, son of Hon. Charles R. Sherman, for some years a judge of the Supreme Court of Ohio, and a brother of Hon. John Sherman, the well known United States Senator from that State, was born in Lancaster, Ohio, on the 8th of February, 1820. His early education was obtained in the schools of his native town, but after his father's death, which occurred when he was nine years of age, he became a member of the family of Hon. Thomas Ewing, where he enjoyed much wider advantages; and, at the age of sixteen, entered the United States Military Academy at West Point. Graduating from that institution, June 30th, 1840, with the sixth rank of his class, he was immediately appointed to a second lieutenancy in the Third Artillery, and served through the next year in Florida, achieving some distinction by the masterly manner in which he foiled certain maneuvers of the wily Indian chief " Billy Bowlegs."
During the same year he married the daughter of his old friend, Hon. Thomas Ewing, and was soon after stationed at New Orleans, where he became well acquainted with the leading men of Louisiana. In September, 1853, he resigned his commission in the army, and was, for four years ensuing, the manager of the banking house of Lucas, Turner & Co., of San Francisco, California. In 1857, his services were solicited and secured, by some of his old Louisiana friends, as the President and Superintendent of a State Military Academy, which they were then establishing, and he assumed his position early in 1858. The objects and inducements alleged for the creation of such an institution were, of themselves, reasonable and plausible; and it was not until after the commencement of the Presidential campaign of 1860, that he became aware of the disloyal sentiments existing among the majority of the leading men of the State, or of the real and treasonable purposes which had influenced them in founding the academy over which he presided. Simultaneously with the unavoidable unmasking of their plans, these men now strove, by every persuasive art, to induce him to join with them in their revolutionary projects. But the solicitations of friendship, the proffer of gold, and the tender of high official position, failed to shake, even for a moment, the sterling loyalty of the soldier. Amazed at the revelation, and convinced that civil war was inevitable, he promptly sent to the Governor of the State the following letter of resignation :
JANUARY 18, 1861
SIR: As I occupy a quasi-military position under this State, I deem it proper to acquaint you that I accepted such position when Louisiana was a State in the Union, and when the motto of the seminary was inserted in marble over the main door, "By the liberality of the General Government of the United States. The Union, Esto Perpetua." Recent events foreshadow a great change, and it becomes all men to choose. If Louisiana withdraws from the Federal Union, I prefer to maintain my allegiance to the Old Constitution as long as a fragment of it survives, and my longer stay here would be wrong in every sense of the word. In that event, I beg you will send or appoint some authorized agent to take charge of the arms and munitions of war here belonging to the State, or direct me what disposition should be made of them. And furthermore, as President of the Board of Supervisors, I beg you to take immediate steps to relieve me as Superintendent, the moment the State determines to secede ; for, on no earthly account will I do any act or think any thought, hostile to, or in defiance of, the old Government of the United States.
With great respect, &c.,
His resignation was accepted with regret, by those who knew his worth as a man and his value as a soldier, and an instructor of soldiers; and, in February, he removed with his family to St. Louis. Shortly before the attack on Fort Sumter he visited Washington, and, conversant as he was with the intentions and plans of the Southern leaders--he was amazed at the apathy and incredulity of the Government, who, as he said, "were sleeping on a volcano, which would surely burst upon them unprepared." Urging upon government officials the imminency of the impending danger and the fearful lack of preparation to meet it, he also proffered his services as a soldier who had been educated at the country's expense and every thing to her care and institutions. But the threatened storm was generally regarded, by those in authority, as a matter which would "blow over" in sixty, or, at the most in ninety days, and he could find no one to comprehend or indorse his views in regard to the necessity of immediately calling out an immense army for the war. Upon the organization however, of the new regiments of the regular army, in June 1861, he was made colonel of the new 13th infantry, his commission dating from May 14th, 1861. His first actual service in the war was at the battle of Bull Run, or Manassas, where he commanded the Third Brigade in the First (Tyler's) Division. The spirited manner in which he handled his men was in strong contrast to the many disgraceful scenes which have made the day one of ignoble memories. The vigor and desperate valor, indeed, with which Sherman fought his brigade on that occasion is evidenced by the fact that its losses were far heavier than any other brigade in the Union army; his total of killed, wounded and missing, being six hundred and nine, while that of the whole division was but eight hundred and fifty-nine, any of the entire army, aside from prisoners and stragglers, but fifteen hundred and ninety. His valor and good conduct we promptly rewarded by his appointment as a brigadier general of volunteers, his commission dating from May 17th, 1861; and, early in August, he was made second in command of the Department of the Ohio, under General Anderson. On the 8th of October he was appointed to the chief command, in place that general, who had been obliged to resign on account of ill health. The Department of the Ohio, which, at this time, comprised all east of the Mississippi, and west of the Alleghanies, was in a deplorable condition; paucity of troops; insufficiency of supplies and munitions of war; a surrounding country, lukewarm, if not openly inimical to the Union cause, and the close proximity of large, well equipped and well officered forces of the enemy (who, if they had known his real condition, could have driven him "out of his boots" in ten days) rendered Sherman's situation a most unenviable one. In addition to the pressure of these unfavorable circumstances, he now found himself annoyed and seriously endangered by the presence in his camp of numbers of those "gad-flies" of the press--newspaper letter writers and reporters--whose indiscreetness threatened to reveal to the enemy, the very facts which most needed concealment. He soon put an end to this risk by a stringent general-order, which excluded the whole busy crew from his lines, and, of course, brought down upon his own head an avalanche of indignation from a hitherto " untrammeled press." Sherman's greatest difficulty, however, was the impossibility of making the Government comprehend the magnitude of the contest which it was waging, and the necessity of placing a large and well appointed army in the field, which should make short work with rebellion by the crushing weight of numbers. When, in October 1861, he explained to the Secretary of War the critical position of his own department, and, in reply to a question of the number of troops needed for an immediate forward and decisive movement, replied" two hundred thousand men"--his words were considered visionary--and he was incontinently pronounced "crazy," by government officials as well as by the newspaper press, who had not forgiven him for his former severity. Chagrined at the distrust of his military judgment thus evinced by his superiors, Sherman, in November 1861, asked to be relieved from his position, and was succeeded by General Buell, who, being immediately reinforced with the troops so often requested by and so persistently denied to his predecessor, was enabled to hold the department in a defensive attitude, until the opening of the spring campaign.
Sherman, meanwhile, was left to rust in command of Benton barracks, near St. Louis, until General Halleck, who succeeded Fremont in command of the Western Department, and who well knew the abilities of the man, detailed him for service in General Grant's army; and, after the capture of Fort Donelson, he was placed in command of that general's fifth division, composed mostly of raw troops, whom he began immediately to drill and perfect. Soon the storm of battle again burst upon him, at Shiloh, April 6th, 1862, where he had taken position three miles out from Pittsburgh Landing, on the Corinth road. Sustaining, against great odds, the repeated and furious onsets of the enemy on the 6th, he assumed the offensive on the 7th, and pushed them back with heavy loss; and, on the morning of the 8th, pushing still forward, met and routed their cavalry, and captured many prisoners and large quantities of arms and ammunition. During the advance upon Corinth, which followed this battle of Shiloh, his division was constantly in the lead and carried, occupied, and reintrenched seven distinct camps of the enemy ; and when, on the 30th of May, Beauregard retreated from the city, it was Sherman's gallant division which took possession of it. Occupying with these raw recruits, at the opening battle of Shiloh, "the key point of the landing," says General Grant, in his official report, " it is no disparagement to any other officer to say, that I do not believe there was another division commander on the field who had the skill and experience to have done it. To his individual efforts I am indebted for the success of that battle." General Halleck also records it as the "unanimous opinion, that General Sherman saved the fortunes of the day; he was in the thickest of the fight, had three horses killed under him, and was twice wounded"--and in this eulogium of his services, every general officer, as well as others, heartily concurred. At the earnest request of Generals Grant and Halleck, Sherman was made a major-general of volunteers, dating from May 1st, 1862. Appointed by General Grant, in the spring of 1862, to the command of the district of Memphis, Tennessee, he thoroughly suppressed, within the course of six months, the guerrilla warfare and contraband trade which had rendered it, in the opinion of rebel officers, a more valuable position to them in the possession of the Federal government, then it ever had been while in their own. When, in December, 1862, General Grant began his operations against Vicksburg, he first placed Sherman in command of the fifteenth army corps, and after the latter had made some important reconnaissances, he took him into his confidence regarding his plan for the capture of that city. According to this plan, Sherman, with four picked divisions, sailed from Memphis in December, to make a direct attack upon Chickasaw Bluffs, a part of the defences of Vicksburg on the river side, while Grant himself, proceeding down the Mississippi Central railroad, to Jackson, Mississippi, as to move to the rear of the city. Grant's movement, however, was prevented by the unexpected surrender of Holly Springs, on the Mississippi Central railroad, which was to be his base of supplies, and he was also unable to communicate the fact to Sherman. Unconscious of this, therefore, the latter pressed on, disembarked on the 26th and 27th of December, and after three days' desperate fighting, which failed to make any impression upon the fortifications of the city, had the mortification to be superseded in command by General McClernand, a volunteer officer, to whom he transferred the command with a soldierly loyalty and manliness, which few men, in his circumstances, would have been able to exhibit towards a civilian general, and a rival. The repulse of the Chickasaw Bluffs, however, was subsequently fully compensated for by the hearty praise and candid criticism of General Grant and other eminent military critics, who saw, in the natural topography of the ground, the insuperable obstacles against which he had so bravely contended. Sherman's next most brilliant exploit was his rapid and successful movement for the relief of Admiral Porter's fleet of gunboats, on the Sunflower river, which were in danger of being hemmed in by the enemy, while attempting to reach Haines' Bluff; above Vicksburg, with a view to an attack on the city. In Grant's subsequent attempt on the city from below, the role assigned to Sherman was one involving considerable danger, and requiring a high degree of military tact--being a feigned attack, or rather a demonstration, in conjunction with the gunboats, on Haines' Bluff. This attack, which continued with great fury for two days, enabled Grant to land his troops without opposition at a point seventy miles below,--then, by a forced six days' march over terrible roads, General Sherman joined his force to that of Grant at Grand Gulf, and the whole army moved forward. We next find Sherman operating with McPherson in a series of brilliant movements, resulting in the rout of the enemy and the capture of Jackson, Mississippi, and the destruction of numerous railroad bridges, machine shops, and arsenals at that point; then, by a succession of rapid marches, which General Grant characterized as "almost unequalled," he wrested the possession of Walnut Hills from the enemy, cutting their force in two, and compelling the evacuation of Haines', Snyder's, Walnut, and Chickasaw Bluffs, together with all their strong works; and enabling General Grant at once to open communication with the fleet and his new base on the Yazoo and Mississippi, above Vicksburg. To General Sherman it was perhaps an additional source of pleasure that the position which he had thus gained by a rear attack, was the very one against which, less than five months before, he had hurled his troops in vain. In the first assault on the enemy's lines, May 19th, Sherman's corps, alone of the three engaged, succeeded in making any material advance. The surrender of the city of Vicksburg, on the 4th of July brought rest and comfort to all of the brave "Army of the Tennessee, except to Sherman's corps, who were immediately started in pursuit of Johnston, then hovering in the rear of the Union army. Johnston marched at once to Jackson, which he attempted to defend, but finally, on the night of the 16th, evacuated hastily, abandoning every thing to Sherman, of whom General Grant said, in reference to this last success, "It entitles General Sherman to more credit than usually falls to the lot of one man to earn." A well earned rest of two months was terminated, September 23d, by orders from Grant to reinforce Rosecrans, who had just fought the battle of Chickamauga. Promptness, celerity of movement, and a force of will which overcame every obstacle which enemy or accident placed in his way, characterized his execution of this order. Arriving at Memphis, he pushed on to open communication between that city and Chattanooga; and, while so engaged, was appointed commander of the Army of the Tennessee, at the request of General Grant, who had been advanced to the command of the Grand Military Division of the Mississippi, comprising the Armies of the Cumberland, the Ohio, and the Tennessee. On the 15th of November, under imperative orders from Grant, and by a forced march, he joined that general at Chattanooga, and exhausted as his men were, by the arduous march from Memphis, he at once received, and promptly obeyed, orders to cross the Tennessee, make a lodgment on the terminus of Missionary Ridge and demonstrate against Bragg's flank. The roads were in a horrible condition, but by herculean exertions, three divisions were put across the river and concealed, during the night of November 23d, behind some hills, and by one o'clock, the following morning, his whole force had crossed both the Tennessee and the Chickamauga, and under cover of a rain and dense fog, the cavalry dashed forward to cut the Chattanooga and Knoxville, and the Cleveland and Dalton railroads, while the infantry, by half past three, P. M., surprised and captured the fortifications on the terminus of Missionary Ridge ; and the Union guns being dragged up the steep ascent, quickly silenced the fire which was opened upon them from the batteries of the discomforted and enraged enemy. The night was spent in rest and preparation for the struggle which the morrow would inevitably bring for the possession of Fort Buckner, the formidable fortification which crowned the next or superior ridge of the hill. To General Sherman, on account of his known abilities and, more especially, his unquestioning obedience to military necessities, was assigned a task requiring firmness and self-sacrifice, unattended with any immediate hope of reputation and fame, but which he accepted with that promptness which always characterizes him. It was, to make a persistent demonstration against Fort Buckner, in order to draw the enemy's force from Forts Bragg and Breckinridge, which being weakened, would fall an easier conquest to Grant's storming column. Splendidly did this masterly soldier and his brave men carry out their part in the programme of the battle of the 25th. From sunrise, until three o'clock, they surged forward in desperate charges upon the fortifications of the crested heights above them--again and again were repulsed--still gained a little and steadily held what they gained--until the enemy had massed nearly his whole force against the struggling column; when, suddenly, Hooker swooped down upon Fort Bragg, and at twenty minutes to four P. M., Thomas's Fourth army corps, charging in solid column up the ridge, carried Fort Breckinridge by assault--and the battles of Chattanooga were won. The glorious success of that day was due quite as much to the persistency and stubbornness with which General Sherman held the crest of Tunnel Hill, as to the gallant daring of the other divisions; and, without the former, the latter could never, by any possibility, have succeeded.
Victory, however, brought no respite to Sherman and his tired veterans. The flying foe was to be pursued and railroad connections severed; and, while so engaged, they were ordered to the relief of Knoxville, where twelve thousand men under General Burnside were closely besieged by Longstreet. Eighty-four miles of terrible roads, and two rivers, lay between them and Knoxville, which must be reached in three days.
Seven days before they had left their camp beyond the Tennessee, with only two days' rations, and but a single coat or blanket per man, officers as well as privates, and with no other provisions but such as they could gather by the road. In that time, also, they had borne a conspicuous part in a terrible battle, and well might they have been excused if they had grumbled at this fresh imposition of extra duty.
But with them "to hear was to obey." The railroad bridge across the Hiawassee was repaired and planked; they then pushed forward to the Tennessee, and found the bridge there destroyed by the enemy, who retreated.
Dispatching Colonel Long with the cavalry brigade, with orders to ford the Little Tennessee, and communicate tidings of the
approaching relief to General Burnside within twenty-four hours, Sherman turned aside to Morgantown, where he extemporized a bridge, which he crossed on the night of December
Early in 1863, Gen. Sherman planned an expedition into Central Mississippi, which was sanctioned by Gen. Grant and which was immediately carried into effect. His idea was to march a movable column of 22,000 men, cut loose from any base, for one hundred and twenty miles through the enemy's country, which should sweep Mississippi and Alabama out of the grasp of the rebels. As a military conception it was unsurpassed in modern times, except by Sherman himself in his later movements; and that it failed of its intended results--and became merely a gigantic raid, which, however, carried terror and destruction into the very heart of the Confederacy--was owing only to the lack of proper energy in the co-operating cavalry force. This force, 8000 strong, leaving Memphis on the 1st of February, was to move down the Mobile and Ohio railroad from Corinth to Meridian, destroying the road as they went. At Meridian they were expected to meet Sherman, who, with 20,000 cavalry, 1200 infantry, and twenty days' rations, loft Vicksburg on the 3d. The cavalry force, however, were so badly behind time at starting, that when they did move they suet with much opposition from the enemy, who had massed at different points on the route ; and they finally turned back. Sherman's share of the expedition was promptly carried out, railroad communications were cut, stores destroyed, negroes brought away, and an immense amount of irreparable damage done. Finding that the co-operating cavalry force was not " on time " at the appointed rendezvous, he turned his face westward from Meridian, followed at a very respectful distance by the enemy, from whom, however, he received no serious opposition. The failure, however, deranged and postponed, for a time, the contemplated attack on Mobile by Farragut.
At a conference with Grant, soon after this event, plans for the coming campaign had been fully discussed and agreed upon. It was decided that a simultaneous forward movement of the eastern and western armies should take place in May, one aiming for Richmond, Virginia, and the other for Atlanta, Georgia. In less than fifty days, Sherman had concentrated the different army corps at Chattanooga, as well as immense stores of arms, ammunition and cannon ; had re-organized and drilled his men, remounted and increased his cavalry, and made all the arrangements, even to the minutest detail, for the expected campaign. On the seventh of May, his army of 98,797 effective men (of which 6149 were cavalry and 4400 artillery) and 254 guns, moved forward to its gigantic work--the capture of Atlanta, 130 miles distant. The region of Northern Georgia through which they were to pass, abounds in rugged bills, narrow and steep defiles and valleys, with rapid and deep streams; and is, in all respects, a difficult country for military movements. In addition to its natural topographical advantages, the Chattanooga and Atlanta railroad threaded many of these mountain passes, and these points, therefore, had received the special attention and scientific skill of Gen. Johnston, the rebel commander, who had added immensely to their strength by almost impregnable fortifications. Opposed to the Union troops, also, were about 45,000 well trained soldiers, reinforced during the subsequent campaign by nearly 21,000, and commanded by Johnston, Hardee, Hood, and other picked generals of the Confederacy. Again, while the rebel army, if compelled to retreat, would be only falling back upon its base of supplies, Sherman's army, already 350 miles from the primary base at Louisville, and 175 from its secondary base at Nashville, was increasing that distance by every step of its advance; and was under the necessity of guarding its long and constantly increasing line of communications (one, and for a part of the distance, two lines of railroad, and in certain conditions of navigation, the Tennessee river) from being cut by the rebel cavalry, as well as from the attacks of guerrillas. Yet Sherman, during the succeeding five months' campaign, retained this line of nearly 500 miles, wholly within his control, turning to the signal discomfiture of the enemy every attempt which they made to destroy it. Dalton, a position of great strength, and which could only be reached by the Buzzard Roost's Gap, a narrow and lofty defile in the great rock-faced ridge of the Chattoogata mountains, was the first point of attack. Protected by a formidable abatis, and artificially flooded from a neighboring creek, and commanded by heavy batteries, this defile, through which the railroad passed, and which offered the only route to Dalton, was impregnable by a front attack. Leaving Thomas and Howard to demonstrate vigorously against it, therefore, Sherman, with the rest of his army, flanked it by a movement through Snake Creek Gap, towards Resaca, on the railroad, eighteen miles below Dalton. Johnston, however, fell back on Resaca before the Union army had reached it, while Howard passed through Dalton close in Johnston's rear. Once in Resaca, Johnston showed fight, and Sherman having pontooned the Oostanaula, south of the town, and sent a division to threaten Calhoun, the next place on the railroad, and a cavalry division to cut up the railroad between Calhoun and Kingston, gave battle at Resaca, which place, after two days' heavy fighting, the rebel commander abandoned in the night of the 15th, burning the bridge behind him, with a loss of some 3500, of whom 1000 were prisoners, eight guns and a large amount of stores, etc. Pressing fiercely on his flying footsteps, Sherman sent the 14th corps to Rome, which was captured and garrisoned, and after a severe skirmish at Adairsville, he reached Kingston on the 18th, captured it, and gave his troops a few days' rest, while he reopened communications with Chattanooga, and brought forward supplies for his army. On the 23d, with twenty days' rations, he moved forward again, flanking the dangerous defile of Allatoona Pass, by a rapid march on the town of Dallas. Johnston, fearing for the safety of, his railroad communications, felt compelled to leave his fortified position and give battle. In rapid succession followed the severe engagements at Burnt Hickory on the 24th, at Pumpkinvine creek and at New Hope church, on the 25th, and Johnston's grand attack on General McPherson at Dallas, on the 28th, where the former was repulsed with a loss of over three thousand. While this had been going on, Sherman had extended his left, so as to envelope the rebel right, and to occupy all the roads leading eastward towards Allatoona and Ackworth, and finally occupied Allatoona Pass with his cavalry, with a feint of moving further south. Suddenly, however, he reached Ackworth, and Johnston was obliged to fall back, on the 4th of June, to Kenesaw mountain. Sherman now fortified and garrisoned Allatoona Pass as a secondary base, repaired his communications, and on the 9th of June received full supplies and reinforcements by railroad from Chattanooga.
Moving forward again, he proceeded to press Johnston, who held a finely fortified position in a triangle, formed by the northern slopes of Pine, Kenesaw, and Lost mountains. After several days' artillery practice, General Johnston was found, on the morning of the 15th, to have abandoned the first named mountain, and to be occupying a well intrenched line between the two latter. Sherman still pressed him until he evacuated Lost mountain, and, finally, was obliged to make another change--with Kenesaw as his salient, covering Marietta with his right wing, and with his left on Norse's creek, by which means he hoped to gain security for his railroad line. A sally by Hood's corps upon the Union lines, on the 22d, was repulsed with a heavy loss to the assailants ; and, on the 27th, Sherman made an assault upon Johnston's position, which was unsuccessful. Despite the heavy loss which they sustained, the Union troops were not dispirited, and a skilful manoeuvre by Sherman, compelled the evacuation of Marietta, on the 2d of July. General Johnston remained well intrenched on the west bank of the Chattahoochie, until the 5th, when a flank movement of Sherman compelled him to cross, which he did in good order. But, on the 7th and 8th of July, Sherman secured three good points for crossing the river, and the Confederates were obliged to fall back to Atlanta, leaving their antagonist in full possession of the river. While giving his men the brief rest, which they so much needed, before his next move on Atlanta, eight miles distant, Sherman on the 9th, telegraphed orders to a force of two thousand cavalry (which he had already collected at Decatur, over two hundred miles in Johnston's rear) to push south and break up the railroad connections around Opelika, by which the rebel army got its supplies from central and southern Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, and then join him at Marietta. The cavalry, under General Rousseau, set out promptly, and, within twelve clays, destroyed thirty miles of railroad, defeated the rebel General Clanton, and reached Marietta on the 22d, with a loss of only thirty men. Meanwhile, the main army had been enjoying a rest, supplies had been brought forward, railroad guards and garrisons strengthened, roads and bridges improved and the attention of the rebels well diverted by cavalry expeditions which were sent down the river. On the 17th, then, a general advance was made, and the same evening the Union army formed its line along the old Peach Tree road. The next day McPherson and Schofield, swinging around upon the Augusta railroad, east of Decatur, broke it up most effectually, and, on the 19th, Thomas crossed Peach Tree creek on numerous bridges thrown across in face of the enemy's lines. All this was accomplished with heavy skirmishing, and on the 20th, Hood (who, three days previous, had succeeded General Johnston in the supreme command of the Confederate army), taking advantage of a gap between two eorus of the Union army, hurled his whole force upon its left wing, with the hope of cutting off and routing it. his skillfully conceived stratagem, however, was foiled by the unexpected steadiness of the Union soldiers, and after a terrible battle the enemy was driven back to his intrenchments, with a loss of over five thousand men. Retreating to his interior lines along the creek, forming the outer lines of the defences proper of Atlanta, Hood now massed nearly his whole force, and, upon the 22d, fell upon Sherman's left with great fury. Six times during the day his columns desperately charged upon the Union lines, but at night he was compelled to withdraw with a loss of fully 12,000 men, of whom over 3000 were killed, 5000 stand of arms and eighteen flags. The Union loss was but 1,720, but among the slain was the able and beloved Major-General James B. McPherson, commander of the army of the Tennessee, whose death was not only a serious blow to General Sherman, but was generally regarded as a national misfortune. The day following this severely contested battle, General Garrard's cavalry force, which had been sent to Covington, Georgia, to break the railroad and bridges near that place, returned to headquarters, having fully executed his mission with great damage to the rebel cotton and stores, and a considerable number of prisoners. An expedition, however, planned by General Sherman for the destruction of the Atlanta and Macon, and the West Point railroads, with the view of severing Atlanta from all its communications and compelling its surrender, was not so successful. A portion of it, under General McCook, performed its share speedily and well, but the co-operating force under General Stoneman unfortunately failed--the general and a large number of his men being captured--while McCook was obliged to fight his way out; the whole entailing a heavy loss of cavalry to the Union army.
On the 28th of July, Hood in full force again assaulted the Union army on
Bell's Ferry road--expecting to catch its right flank "in air." He found, however, that Sherman was perfectly prepared for him--and, after six desperate assaults, crave it up as a bad job, having lost fully 5000 men, which, with his losses in the previous battles of the 20th and 23d, placed nearly one half of his force hors du combat. Hoping, by threatening his communications, to draw Hood out from his fortifications, Sherman now extended his line southwesterly towards East Point. The ruse failed, however, and the only alternative remaining to compass the capture of Atlanta, involved the necessity of another flank movement of the whole army, a difficult and unwelcome matter both as regarded the further removal of the army from its base of supplies and the apparent raising of the siege. But there seemed to be no other way, and accordingly, on the nights of the 25th and 26th, a portion of his army was withdrawn to the Chattahoochie, and Hood congratulated himself that a cavalry expedition which he had sent northward to break the Union connections between
Allatoona and Chattanooga, had alarmed Sherman for the safety of his communications, and compelled him to raise the siege. The joy of the rebels, however, was of short duration;
on the 29th of August, they learned that Sherman's army was sweeping their own railroad communications at West Point with a "bosom of destruction"--and on the 31st, two rebel
corps, which had been hastily pushed forward to Jonesboro, were heavily repulsed by the advancing Union armies. Finding his communications now irretrievably lost, by this flank
movement of his antagonist, Hood retreated, on the night of September 1st, to Lovejoy's Station. Atlanta was occupied, the next day, by the victorious Union troops, and the city was immediately converted into a strictly military post. The loss of Atlanta was a severe blow to the rebels; and, under orders from President Davis, on the 24th of September, Hood initiated a series of movements by which he hoped to recover not only it, but northern Georgia and east and middle Tennessee. Sherman, however, kept a watchful eye upon him
"They are at my mercy," he telegraphed to Washington, " and I shall strike. Do not be anxious about me. I am all right." With the army under his command, consisting of nearly 60,000 infantry, and 10,000 cavalry, he proposed to cut loose from all bases, and, with thirty or forty days' rations and a train of the smallest possible dimensions, to move southeastward through the very heart of the Confederacy, upon Savannah; thence, if favored by circumstances, to turn northward through North and South Carolinas, thus compelling the surrender or evacuation of Richmond. With General Sherman, action follows close on thought. Destroying all the public buildings of Atlanta, be moved forward in two columns, the right commanded by General Howard and the left by General Slocuin, while a cloud of cavalry floating around the main body, shrouded the real intentions of the march with a degree of mystery impenetrable to the enemy. General Howard's column, accompanied by General Sherman, passed through East Point, Rough and Ready, Griffin, Jonesboro, McDonough, Forsythe, Millsboro, and Monticello, reaching Milledgeville, the capital of Georgia, on the 20th of November; thence via Saundersville and Griswold to Louisville. The left wing, meanwhile, under Slocum, had marched through Decatur, Covington, Social Circle, Madison; threatened Macon with attack, then through Thickhead and Quecnaboro, and divided, one part moving towards Augusta, the other to Eatonton and Sparta. Here, uniting, they entered Warren and finally joined the right wing at Louisville. The whole force now moved down the left bank of the Ogeechce to Millen and thence to the Savannah canal, where their scouts, on the 9th of December, communicated with General Foster and Admiral Dahlgren, who where there waiting for their arrival.
During this magnificent march of three hundred miles, they had met with no very serious opposition, and the few troops which the rebel generals could muster, were
skillfully thrown out of his way by Sherman's feints on Macon and Augusta--by which they were garrisoned for the defence of those cities. So completely, indeed, was General Bragg fooled by his wily
South Carolina--Columbia, its capital, and Charleston, " the nest of the rebellion," were yet to be humbled beneath the mailed foot of loyalty. Refreshed, recruited and strengthened at every point, the army commenced its march to the northward, on the 14th of January, 1865. Two corps (15th and 17th) were sent by transports to Beaufort, South Carolina, where they were joined by Foster's command, and the whole force moved on the Savannah and Charleston railroad. A few days later, the two remaining corps (14th and 20th) crossed the Savannah river, and despite the overflowed and terrible condition of the roads, struck the railroad between Branchville and Charleston, early in February; compelled the enemy to evacuate the former place on the 11th, and breaking up the road so as to effectually prevent reinforcement from the west, entering Orangeburg on the 16th, and Columbia on the 18th, close on the heels of Beauregard's retreating force. This movement flanked Charleston, and Hardee, finding it untenable, retreated in the light of a conflagration, which laid two thirds of the business portion of that beautiful city in ashes. On the morning of February 18th, the Union troops from Morris island, entered the city, and the "old flag" once more floated over Fort Sumter. Moving in two columns, the 17th and 20th corps marched from Columbia to Winnsboro, thirty miles north, on the Charlotte and Columbia railroad, which was thoroughly destroyed. Sending Kilpatrick towards Chesterville, in order to delude Beauregard into the belief that he was moving on that point, Sherman turned east, his left wing directed towards Cheraw, and his right threatening Florence. On the 3d of March occurred the short and not very severe battle of Cheraw, a success for the Union arms, and on the next day, March 4th, President Lincoln's second inauguration was celebrated by a salute from the rebel guns which they had captured. On the afternoon and night of the 6th, the Union army crossed the Great Pedee river, and in four columns, with outlying cavalry, swept through a belt of country forty miles wide, entering Laurel Hill, North Carolina, on the 8th, and reaching Fayetteville on the 11th. Thus far, the results of the campaign had been, 14 captured cities, hundreds of miles of railroads, and thousands of bales of cotton destroyed, 85 cannon, 4000 prisoners, 25,000 horses, mules, etc., and 15,000 refugees, black and white, set at liberty. After a rest of two days, Sherman moved moderately forward, meeting, fighting, and defeating the enemy under Johnston, at Averysboro, on the 16th, and again, on the 19th, at Bentonville; finally, pressing them back so swiftly on Smithfield, on the 20th and 21st, that they lost seven guns and over 2000 prisoners, while deserters poured in by hundreds. On the same day Schofield occupied Goldsboro, General Terry secured Cox's bridge, and successfully pontooned the Neuse river, and General, Sherman issued a congratulatory order to his troops, in which he says: "After a march of the most extraordinary character, nearly five hundred miles, over swamps and rivers, deemed impassable to others, at the most inclement season of the year, and drawing our chief supplies from a poor and wasted country, we reach our destination in good health and condition--you shall now have rest; and all the supplies that can be brought from the rich granaries and storehouses of our magnificent country, before again ernbarking on new and untried dangers." The entire Union losses in killed, wounded, and prisoners, on this sixty days' march from Savannah to Goldsboro, had been less than 2500 men. Leaving his men to recruit their energies, Sherman went to City Point, where, on the 27th of March, he had an interview with General Grant and the President, returning to his camp the next day.
His army was now only separated from Grant's by a distance of 150 miles, traversed by a railroad which could easily be put in order For immediate use; and, between the two, as between the upper and the nether millstone, the enemy were to be crushed by a blow, which, as yet, neither army hastened to give.
On the 10th of April, Sherman's army, thoroughly rested air falls equipped, moved on Smithfield, which they entered on the following morning. Johnston, who commanded a large body of troops, retired across the Neuse, burning the bridge behind and retreating by railroad. Sherman's men, struggling through roads so muddy that they were obliged to corduroy every foot of them, were cheered by the news of Lee's surrender, which met them en route, and leaving their trains, they pushed ahead with redoubled energy, to Raleigh, which they entered in the early morning of the 15th. Sherman now took measures to cut off Johnston's retreat, when the latter (knowing, what Sherman did not, that Salisbury had been captured by the Union General Stoneman on the 12th, thereby closing his own avenue of escape to the southward) made overtures for surrender. Interviews between the two generals, on the 17th and 18th, (at the latter of which General J. C. Breckinridge, then acting Secretary of War of the Confederacy, was present) resulted in the drawing up of a joint memorandum, to be submitted to the Presidents of the United States and of the Confederate Government, and if approved by them to be acted upon. The points of this memorandum were briefly as follows : (1) the contending armies to remain in status quo, hostilities not to be resumed until within forty-eight hours after due notice from either side; (2) the Confederate armies then in the field to disband, march to their respective State capitals, there to deposit their arms and public property, and each man to execute an agreement to cease from acts of war. The number of arms, etc., to be reported to the chief of ordnance at Washington, subject to the future action of the United States Congress, and, meanwhile, to be used only to maintain peace and order within the borders of the several States; (3) the recognition, by the Executive of the United States, of the several State governments, on their officers and legislatures taking the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United States; and the legitimacy of any conflicting State governments to which the war may have given rise, to be submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States; (4) the re-establishment of all Federal courts in the several States, with powers as defined by the Constitution and laws of Congress; (5) the guarantee, by the Exeeutive, to the people of all the States, of their political rights and franchises, as well as personal and property rights, according to the Constitutions of the United States and the several States; (6) the people not to be disturbed by the United States Government, on account of the late war, so long as they lived in peace, obeyed their local laws, and abstained from acts of armed hostility; (7) on the above conditions, a general amnesty. This agreement, which was evidently entered into by Sherman under the full conviction that slavery was dead and the rebellion totally crushed, was received at Washington, by the Cabinet, just at the moment that their hearts and the public mind were intensely agitated and confused by the recent atrocious assassination of President Lincoln, the attempt on Secretary Seward's life, and the other startling events of the day. To men in such a frame of mind, and when read by the light of surrounding circumstances, its terms seemed unpardonably liberal. Forgetting that his action coincided exactly with the published policy of the late President (in his permission [April 7th] to the Virginia legislature to meet and adopt such measures as should withdraw the State troops from the Confederate force) ; and forgetting, also, that Sherman, in his recent great march, had been completely isolated from the outside world, and was ignorant of any change of policy on the part of the new President--the Cabinet set the seal of its disapproval upon the course which the gallant chieftain had submitted to their consideration. Yet, it is worthy of note, that, as events have since turned, the relations of these States to the Union have been based upon the identical policy which Sherman's course then indicated. General Grant went, therefore, immediately to Raleigh, where he arrived on the 24th, and Sherman promptly notified the enemy of the termination of the armistice at the end of forty-eight hours. Johnston immediately signified to Sherman his desire for a conference, which resulted, on the 26th, in the surrender of the Confederate army to General Sherman, on the terms awarded to General Lee 30,000 soldiers, 15,000 muskets, 108 pieces of artillery were surrendered, and the war of the rebellion was virtually ended. On the 4th of May, the greater part of his army moved northward to Richmond and Washington, where they were reviewed, May 24th, 1865, and about two-thirds of them disbanded, the war having so nearly closed, as to render their further presence in the field unnecessary.
From June 27th, 1865, to August 11th, 1866, General Sherman held the command of the Military Division of the Mississippi (including Ohio, Missouri, and Arkansas), with headquarters at St. Louis; and, from the latter (late, of the Military Division of Missouri, which command he retained till March 5, 1869. He was also appointed a member of the Board to make recommendations for brevets to general officers, March 14th to 24th. 1866; and was sent on a special mission to Mexico, in November and December, 1866. On the 25th of July, 1866, by vote of Congress, he was created LIEUTENANT-GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY, a deserved acknowledgment of his valor, skill, and patriotism. On the 19th of the same month, he received from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. On the 5th of March. 1869 he was nominated by President Grant, and the same day confirmed by the Senate, as GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY, succeeding in this, as in his previous promotion, the President, who had on assuming the Presidential office resigned his commission of General. General Sherman was himself succeeded in the Lieutenant-Generalship by Major-General Sheridan. The duties of this high office being, in time of peace, mostly of a routine character, General Sherman took up his residence in Washington, and gave his attention to them, visiting, however, from time to time the various divisions and departments. In November, 1871, he sailed for Europe accompanied by Lieutenant Fred. D. Grant, the eldest son of the President, who had a few months previous graduated from West Point. At the time of our writing (June, 1872) he is on the European Continent, having visited Egypt, Turkey and the Kingdom of Italy.
General Sherman is tall and slender, but possesses great elasticity and power of endurance. His temperament is nervous and wiry, with a dash of the sanguineous, indicated by his auburn hair and beard. His manners are slightly brusque and austere, and he has a quick, jerky way of speaking. He is a great smoker, but chews and bites his cigar somewhat viciously, especially when, as is often the case, he is in one of his abstracted moods, and thinking closely. He requires but little sleep. As a writer he expresses himself with great terseness and force, sometimes condensing a whole volume of military law into a single sentence. He is imperious, positive, and dogmatical, but he has usually thought out his opinions carefully before committing them to writing. His mind acts with great rapidity, and though sometimes eccentric and crotchety, he generally reasons accurately and well. With all his imperiousness and dogmatism, he always recognises the great military law, that "unhesitating obedience is the first duty of a soldier."
General Sherman is a man of higher genius, as well as of broader culture, than General Grant, yet we doubt if he would be quite as safe a man, as the commander-in-chief of our armies in a great war. He is, indeed, well versed in both the theory and practice of logistics; and in handling an army of a hundred thousand men or more with masterly skill, he has not a dozen equals, and perhaps hardly a superior in the world. His deficiency, if
Source: Men of Our Day; or Biographical Sketches of Patriots, Orators, Statesmen, Generals, Reformers, Financiers and Merchants, Now on the state of Action: Including Those Who in Military, Political, Business and Social Life, are the Prominent Leaders of the Time in This Country, by L. P. Brockett, M. D., Published by Ziegler and McCurdy, Philadelphia Penna; Springfield, Mass; Cincinnati, Ohio; St. Louis, Mo., 1872
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