First of all…HAPPY BIRTHDAY, UNCLE BILLY!!
Guess what? I’ve teamed up with my good friend, the awesome, talented artist & fellow Sherman lover Jennifer Roling (please follow along on Twitter @JenRolingArt) to co-author some posts about General Sherman (and some may be illustrated with Jen’s amazing artwork!)! If you’d like to learn more about Jen, please read this post here. Thanks to her for taking the time to answer the questions!
And now, let’s get to our first article that we’ve written about Sherman & we thought it best to kick off our collaborative efforts on Cump’s birthday. This will hopefully be the first of many we’ll co-author together.
As you know, I live, eat and breathe all things Lincoln, Sherman & the Civil War. I have for, going on, 30 years now.
Jen is much like me. We are history hobbyists, enthusiasts, or history nerds. You’ll also see us refer to ourselves as “Sherman’s Flames” on Twitter. These articles are written as part of our passion for General Sherman, whom is our favourite of all the Union Generals. It is our hope that they will encourage further learning of our favorite general, William Tecumseh Sherman. In honor of his birthday on February 8th, we wanted to write a post about the general that most folks don’t know too much about or were too put off by his myth to inquire further. He is a very misunderstood gentleman, and, in our opinion, just doesn’t get the love or respect he deserves at times.
We would like to make a few remarks on the comments and criticisms that could befall us as we release this series of articles.
To begin, we’re not going to delve into the causes of the Civil War, at least not in this article. If you want to learn more about it though, please read the Articles of Secession and the Cornerstone Speech. For more information you can also head on over to the American Battlefield Trust’s website here: https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/reasons-secession
Secondly – Sherman as a person. We know William Tecumseh Sherman was not a perfect man. We don’t even consider Abraham Lincoln to be perfect. No, in fact they were both products of their time and by our standards today, they had flaws and there is absolutely no disputing that.
We acknowledge that Sherman’s treatment of the indigenous peoples of North America was appalling and downright cruel. That said, the mindset of 19th century United States is that of a very xenophobic and white-centric people. This article is not celebrating Sherman’s awful acts as General of the army after the civil war. We don’t condone his behavior as a xenophobic and racist (by our standards today) 19th century white male. We do, however, understand that he is a product of his time and that he acted in accordance with society’s standards at that time. The reason we still love and respect Sherman is because, we feel that if he were approached with today’s logic, he would easily be convinced that killing off a native people and discriminating a human based on its skin color would be ultimately wrong. We have come to this opinion through reading his memoirs, biographies, and personal letters. We have also read primary sources from witnesses of General Sherman’s behavior in public as well private life.
Thirdly – the myths of Sherman. Sherman was no monster despite the South tarnishing his reputation. He never ordered his soldiers to kill or rape. While we don’t doubt that that may have happened, it was not Sherman’s intention nor desire to kill and rape the civilians of Georgia. His sole purpose was to destroy the war making industry of the South. Sherman loved the Union, believed in it and wanted to see the entire United States back together. In fact, he issued evacuation orders to the mayor of Atlanta. Those that stayed put themselves and their families at risk when they had every chance to leave. Sherman was, as Robert O’Connell so aptly had it as the title of his biography of Sherman, a “Fierce Patriot”. He abhorred secession and was just as for keeping the Union together as what Abraham Lincoln was. If you’d like to know more about Sherman’s thoughts of secession, I wrote a 3-part series about Sherman’s time in Louisiana, which includes his reaction to secession. Start off with Part 1 right here.
The purpose of this series of blog posts is to hopefully encourage you to pick up his memoirs or a biography and read a little more about the South’s “devil” rather than to buy into the myth. He’s an interesting fellow and when you get to know him, he’s great company.
Oh, and he’s handsome too…
So, over the next little while, I hope you’ll follow along as Jen and I write about our favourite Sherman books, what songs he may have had on his playlists, and interesting facts about him. We encourage you to comment and ask us questions specifically related to general Sherman and his involvement in the civil war.
For now, that ends our introductory post in this series. We will be back soon with another post. For today, we are going to go raise a glass to Uncle Billy. Until next time, take care!
~ Mary & Jen