Introduction -General ShermanIn Washington, D.C. on May 24, 1865 some 60,000 Union soldiers are marching in parade during a Grand Review of the Armies to celebrate victory in the American Civil War. The Union Army has just accepted the surrender of the main Confederate armies. Leading the precession is General William Tecumseh Sherman. On this page we list interesting facts about this great Union General who survived a mental breakdown to become who many consider the best Union commander besides Ulysses S. Grant. How did he become so famous? Where did he fight? When did he become a General? All these questions and more are answered in the information below.
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General Sherman Interesting Facts
- William Tecumseh Sherman was born on February 8, 1820 in Lancaster, Ohio.
- At 16 years old he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point. Although one of the best students academically he had trouble conforming to the rules of the Academy. He graduated sixth in his class.
- Upon graduating from the United States Military Academy he became a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
- Sherman fought in the Second Seminole War against the Seminole Indians in Florida.
- An interesting fact about Sherman is that he did not fight in the Mexican-American War which was unusual for a high ranking Civil War Commander. He was stationed in California during the war with Mexico.
- In 1850 William Tecumseh Sherman was promoted to Captain in the U.S. Army.
- In 1853 he left the army and went through several jobs with out much success.
- In 1859 he became the first superintendent of the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning & Military Academy.
- In 1861 William Tecumseh Sherman experienced what has been labeled as either nervous exhaustion or a nervous breakdown. Many people thought he had gone insane and by his own admission he contemplated suicide.
- General Sherman is often criticized for implementing a "scorched earth" policy against the southern states. A "scorched earth" policy involves destroying anything that might be of use to the enemy while advancing through their territory; this may include civilian property, buildings, crops, and railroad tracks.
- As part of the Union Army's scorched earth policy Sherman would have his soldiers heat railroad tracks, that could be used by the Confederates, and bend them around trees; these became dubbed "Sherman's neckties".
- In 1869 William Tecumseh Sherman became the commanding General of the U.S. Army replacing Ulysses S. Grant who had just become President of the United States. Sherman served as the commanding General up until 1893.
- In 1875 Sherman published his Memoirs which are regarded highly as an excellent account of the American Civil War.
- He died in New York City on February 14, 1891 from an unknown cause.
General Sherman Civil War Facts
- In 1861, with the outbreak of the American Civil War, Sherman reentered the military as a colonel.
- Sherman saw his first action of the Civil War at the Battle of First Manassas on July 21, 1861 where he was in charge of a brigade.
- On August 7th of 1861 President Lincoln promoted Sherman to the rank of brigadier general. Although the Union had lost the Battle of First Manassas the president was impressed with Sherman's abilities.
- In April of 1862 Sherman participated in the Battle of Shiloh where he commanded a division. Although caught off guard on the first day of the battle (April 6th 1862) as were all the Union commanders he organized an orderly retreat avoiding a rout. The next day he was an important part of the successful Union counterattack.
- On May 1st of 1862 he was promoted to the rank of major general of volunteers.
- In December of 1862 the Union began its Vicksburg Campaign with the goal of capturing the strategically important town of Vicksburg in Mississippi. General Sherman started the campaign by attacking entrenched Confederate positions at the Battle of Chickasaw Bluffs. The Union attack failed.
- In 1864 General William Tecumseh Sherman led an invasion of Georgia which would culminate with the capture of Atlanta on September 2nd of 1864. He ordered that all military and government buildings be burned to the ground; many civilian buildings and homes were also destroyed.
- General Sherman sought and eventually received approval to march his army south from Atlanta; he is quoted as saying he could "make Georgia howl". This was the start of his famous March to the Sea which culminated with the capture of Savannah Georgia on December 21 of 1864. He sent President Lincoln a now famous message offering the president Savannah as a Christmas present.