Wednesday, April 13, 2011

150 years ago...

(Former) Major General W.T. Sherman had resigned his position at the Louisiana Military Academy (later known as LSU) and, after a brief meeting with Lincoln in Washington where he concluded that Lincoln was clueless about the nature of the upcoming war, which he was sure was going to be long, bitter, hard-fought, and bloody, was working for one of his relatives in Missouri running the St. Louis Railroad, a streetcar company. On April 6 he had received a telegram asking if he would come to Washington and go to work as chief clerk and Assistant Secretary of War in the War Department. His telegram in reply was short, sweet, and to the point: "I cannot accept". In a longer letter following afterward he explained that he had a family and an obligation to them, and did not feel that Washington D.C. was the place for him.

Then of course on April 12, the War of Southern Treason started as South Carolina secessionists fired upon U.S. soldiers using weapons seized from U.S. arsenals. At this point Sherman started re-thinking his decision, especially after the pro-Union governor of Missouri offered to put him in charge of the Unionist forces in Missouri... but it would not be until May 8 that Sherman changed his mind and dispatched a letter to Washington saying he was ready to serve in a position commensurate to his last rank in the military but for three *years*, not for some bogus three *months* because the war would take a minimum of three years to win (it actually took four), and on May 14 his offer was accepted and he was placed in charge of a new regiment, the 13th Infantry, which was then in the process of being formed.

No Southern homes or businesses had been burned yet. I am eagerly awaiting the time, three years from now, when I can 150-year-live-blog Sherman burning Atlanta then slashing and burning his way to the sea.

-- Badtux the History Penguin


  1. Sherman saw more clearly than anyone at the time what the final price would be for war, and NO ONE hated the Confederate leadership more. The best bad-ass general we ever had!

  2. Oh, I don't know about the "no one hated the Confederate leadership more" bit. Jefferson Davis was widely hated in the South during the course of the war by the small farmers who were ruined by being drafted and either being away from their farm or having to light out for the swamps to evade the draft press gangs, if the draft dodgers had all showed up, the Confederate armies would have outnumbered the Union armies. It was only after the war, after ole' Jeffy spent some time ruminating at the far tip of the Florida Keys under conditions that were somewhat harsh, that he got any sympathy in the South. Today, of course, Southerners have re-written the history to turn Jefferson Davis into a hero rather than into the man who did more than anybody else to lose the war for the South via his incompetence and micromanagement...

    BTW, Jefferson Davis was installed as President by the secession convention because he'd been Secretary of War for a few years, during which his greatest accomplishment was... a new hat for the U.S. Calvary. No, I'm not joking. That's what he accomplished as Secretary of War. Still, that plus his military background during the Mexican War impressed the secession convention more than the credentials of any of the other potential candidates, given that they knew the only way they could successfully secede would be by force of arms. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?) they were looking for a President George Washington, and got the William Bligh of national leaders instead...

    -- Badtux the History Penguin

  3. I was doing some genealogy work several years ago and found out, to my considerable surprise, that I'm related to Jefferson Davis (by marriage: through his second wife), as well as to Sen. Richard Brodhead of PA, a Copperhead so obscure that I found just 2 paragraphs mentioning him in Allan Nevins' 8-volume history of the Civil War. There was a whole North-South family nexus there that needs more investigation. Now I'm curious about this hat. If we have a future Civil War with the southern GOP, I will have to wear that hat. It would make General Sherman's ghost smile.

  4. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis also accomplished the placement of federal arms in armories throughout the south. Instant weaponry for the slave-holdig oligarchy should the need ever arise.


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