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Sherman - First commandant of L.S.U. - William T. Sherman - The Participants of the War - Mikitary & Civilian - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Tue Nov 8th, 2011 11:12 pm
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Doc Ce
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Sherman upon hearing of secession:

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.[28]

It never fails to stump my fellow LSU alumni when I ask them who the first commandant of L.S.U. was Sherman.

Doc C



 Posted: Wed Nov 9th, 2011 02:47 am
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Mark
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Hey Doc, I'm working on my PhD at LSU right now! When did you go? And I am very happy to hear that at least one other of my Tiger brothers knew about the first commandant!

Mark



 Posted: Wed Nov 9th, 2011 11:10 am
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Doc Ce
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Mark

I'm from North Louisiana originally. Went to Baylor undergrad ('75'), LSU Med school ('79'). Actually have a copy of Sherman's diary while he was there - General Sherman As College President by Fleming. What area is your PhD?

Doc

Last edited on Wed Nov 9th, 2011 11:11 am by Doc Ce



 Posted: Thu Nov 10th, 2011 02:11 am
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Mark
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American History, concentrating on the Early Republic through Reconstruction

Mark



 Posted: Thu Nov 10th, 2011 07:40 am
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sgtredleg
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Wow, my computer and me are not getting along! This is the 4th try to make this post. Forgive my impatience in the upcoming diatribe.
First, I am merely an opinionated student of the civil war and I'll accept your account of Shermans statement as fact.
That being said, Sherman was ultimately correct, but was his warfare methodology necessary?
I believe the American Civil War should never have been fought. By the turn of the 20th century, slavery would have been economically unviable for the South and the dreaded institution would have collapsed on itself.
Essentially, 600,000+ Americans are buried for something that was foreordained with or without their sacrifice.
The times being considered, Sherman and Grant conducted TOTAL warfare against an ENEMY, and it succeeded.
The South was downtrodden by the North for decades before they were able to recover. (many consider that justified)
Personally, I beleve the World Wars would have had different outcomes if it were NOT for a US of A. That unity has made the United States an Icon known world round. But is it perfect? NO!
The Civil War may have eliminated a form of Slavery, but surely induced another. States Rights are now anathema to a Big Central Gov't. I believe the Civil War expedited this process.
Welfare and preferrential treatment in the job place are now codified into law, versus pursuing independent opportunities and being rewarded for your initiative and performance.
I think the results of the American Civil War enabled these and other socialistic tendencies to infiltrate the Idea of America.
Sherman, Grant and the Union Forces squashed the dream of an Independent Individual in America. We are now an entity of the Federal Gov't. States have little say and Individuals even less.
Yet, we are able to contend with the worldwide enemies of a Democratic Republic. (perfect? No, but it is what we are,)
Ironically, in order to maintain our faulty American system we need to aggressively pursue TOTAL WARFARE against our enemies. Sherman and Grant Killed the South to maintain a Union (which I think was NOT necessary). However, since WW2 we cannot COMMIT to the TOTAL WARFARE concept today to sustain the American way of life.
Maybe the South WOULD have been better without the North in todays world!
(please understand I've had a couple of glasses of wine and am a Southron at heart. I'm probably venting more than not. Never-the-less, please give your opinions on my diatribe.)



 Posted: Thu Nov 10th, 2011 12:39 pm
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I think you are looking at it from a 21st century point of view sgtredleg. When Sherman went north in 1860, he did not know that the war would ultimately result in the 13th Amendment (in fact Sherman was rather bigoted by 21st century standards for all of his life). What he did know was that (in his opinion) Southern hotheads had broken up the Union which he saw as the last best hope for freedom on earth. Remember, the the spread of liberty in Europe had been violently suppressed by the revolutions in 1848. Sherman and other Union men (north and south) believed that if the South was allowed to go its way, it would doom the American experiment and this nation would prove that men could not govern themselves. Men on both sides really believed that they were fighting to preserve democracy. Was "hard war" needed? Well, try putting yourself into Sherman's shoes in 1864. The South remains unsubdued after the three bloodiest years in American history and shows little sign of being ready to give up. Their armies have been battered time and time again and always escape destruction. So, what supports the armies? War material and support from the homefront. If you can convince the homefront that the war is not worth continuing then the Southern armies will collapse. In the end Sherman was correct: the south crumbled from within because of the external pressure. By the way, what we consider "total war" was humane considering other wars that these men would have been familiar with: take the thirty years war, Napoleon in Spain or even the Indian wars on this continent. Hope that helps.

Mark



 Posted: Thu Nov 10th, 2011 02:31 pm
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Texas Defender
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sgtredleg-

   Once again, we are in the realm of: "What ifs," so I'll add some of my views to the excellent response that Mark gave.

   First of all, I certainly wouldn't call Sherman's March: "Total War." While there was sometimes indiscriminate destruction of property that would have pleased the Vandals, there were relatively few crimes committed against people. There were no mass killings like you saw in WW II when the Germans invaded the USSR, or when the Russians reversed the process.

   Aside from killing over 600,000 Americans, what did the Civil War accomplish? Slavery was ended- but as you say, it probably would have ended on its own before the turn of the century. What I would maintain is that in spite of all the fratricide and physical damage done by the war, it resulted in the acceleration of the process of the US becoming a world power, and this in turn had a profound effect on world history in the 20th century.

   Events in Europe such as the Potato Famine and the revolutionary wars in 1848 had begun large scale immingration of Europeans to the US (The vast majority going to the north). This provided a labor force that encouraged a transition to a more widespread manufacturing economy.

  By 1860, this transition was well under way. But the necessity of war sped up the process as the northerners produced a prodigious amount of weapons and equipment to overwhelm the southerners. The new manufacturing economy led to a constant demand for more and more cheap labor, which encouraged more and more immigration. This demand lasted well into the 20th century. The US became a beacon for: "The tired, the poor, and the huddled masses" of Europe. Many millions of Europeans realized that emigrating to the US would provide more opportunities for a good life than they would have in their countries of origin. So, they came in their multitudes.

   My view is that the Civil War, as horrible as it was, resulted in the acceleration of the process of transforming the US into a world power (Which it was by the beginning of the 20th century) and a superpower (Which it was by 1945). I believe that if there had been no Civil War (whether the southern states left or not), this process would have taken longer, and as a result, the history of the 20th century would have been much different. In all probability, it would not now be remembered as the: "American Century."



 Posted: Fri Nov 11th, 2011 09:36 pm
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pender
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Mark wrote: I think you are looking at it from a 21st century point of view sgtredleg. When Sherman went north in 1860, he did not know that the war would ultimately result in the 13th Amendment (in fact Sherman was rather bigoted by 21st century standards for all of his life). What he did know was that (in his opinion) Southern hotheads had broken up the Union which he saw as the last best hope for freedom on earth. Remember, the the spread of liberty in Europe had been violently suppressed by the revolutions in 1848. Sherman and other Union men (north and south) believed that if the South was allowed to go its way, it would doom the American experiment and this nation would prove that men could not govern themselves. Men on both sides really believed that they were fighting to preserve democracy. Was "hard war" needed? Well, try putting yourself into Sherman's shoes in 1864. The South remains unsubdued after the three bloodiest years in American history and shows little sign of being ready to give up. Their armies have been battered time and time again and always escape destruction. So, what supports the armies? War material and support from the homefront. If you can convince the homefront that the war is not worth continuing then the Southern armies will collapse. In the end Sherman was correct: the south crumbled from within because of the external pressure. By the  way, what we consider "total war" was humane considering other wars that these men would have been familiar with: take the thirty years war, Napoleon in Spain or even the Indian wars on this continent. Hope that helps.

Mark


Mark, you have repeatedly used this quote about Democracy on this board." Southern hotheads had broken up the Union which he saw as the last best hope for freedom on earth." Also you wrote "Sherman and other Union men (north and south) believed that if the South was allowed to go its way, it would doom the American experiment and this nation would prove that men could not govern themselves. Men on both sides really believed that they were fighting to preserve democracy." I agree with what you wrote about Sherman, and I would also agree to an extent with these quotes. That they believed in their minds this was true.

The problem I have with it is this, Southern hotheads had broken up the union. Yes they were hotheads, but they no longer wanted to be part of a union they felt trampled on their rights. Wrong or right that is how they felt, how is that democracy to be forced in the union? They also did not want king Abe(southern thinking) ruling over them. The last best hope for freedom is hotheaded Southerners, that were traitor's that wanted slave's? I say this because it would have been a northerners view.

I can understand why they might believe the American experiment might fail, looking over one hundred and fifty years of American history. But in their time are they going to place that much emphasis on the Southern people and Southern land and resources? As far as resources, we know they did not have alot at the time, except agriculture.

"this nation would prove men could not govern themselves" As England could not govern Scotland or the Soviet Union thier satellite nation's. Are even Rome over it's Empire.

Mark as I said before I agree with you this may have been their thinking. I have wrote this not so much at you, as toward the northern view of the time you have quoted. Southerners have been accused of saying they were fighting for their freedom (Southern Democracy), and fighting for thier rights, while at the same time holding their black neighbors in bondage. Can this not also be said of the northern government, they speak of freedom, but deny it to their Southern neighbors. It may be hard to believe for some when speaking of the great American Experiment, but there were those in the Southern armies and in the Southland that gave their lives blood to not be apart of it. To them it was Despotism and Tyranny.

Tell me if I am wrong, but I perceive the above mentoined quotes as meaning, That without the South land and its people that made up the Confedarcy. That have been so ridiculed by some then and now. The north would have never been able to achieve the great American Experiment. In other words the road to greatness could only come from the South. Though Southerners wanted no part of it, they were essential to it.

The way I see it, if I am wrong plese explain how, Pender  



 Posted: Sat Nov 12th, 2011 12:39 pm
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Its not my quote Pender, its from Lincoln (his 1862 message to Congress). But I think it neatly encapsulates why men fought so hard for so long to keep the Southern states in the Union. I'm not saying its a "correct" point of view (I'm not saying its incorrect either). I'm just trying to explain why they did what they did. It is not so much that the "only road to greatness" came from the South, but that the actions of the Southern states might prove that there could be no road to greatness at all for democracy. As I pointed out, Southerners also were just as convinced they were fighting for their own version of democracy, which, as you accurately point out, they believed was in danger. I'm just explain the nineteenth century mindset. I think we owe it to the men and women of the past to explain their actions in context. Hope that helps clarify things.

Mark



 Posted: Sat Nov 12th, 2011 12:47 pm
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pender
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Thanks for the reply Mark, I just have trouble understanding that way of thinking. How could they of thought that way, and keep the south in bondage? 

"but the actions of the southern states might prove that there could be no road to greatness at all for Democracy" This is what I mean Mark, All the emphasis is put on the south. Does this mean Democracy depends on the south, worldwide and American? Please forgive all these questions, but I am trying to understand your thinking on this subject and the thinking of Union men of the time.

Pender 

 

Last edited on Sat Nov 12th, 2011 01:01 pm by pender



 Posted: Sun Nov 13th, 2011 01:14 am
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Mark
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Pender, please forgive my clunky answer. Let me try again. In classical political thought, for democracy to function properly, there has to be both the rule of the majority and the protection of the rights of the minority. The Constitution, in conjunction with the Bill of Rights was specifically designed with such ideals in mind. Many in the North felt that the the will of the majority in the Union states (and thus the Constitution and democracy itself) was being subverted by the Southern secession. After all, if the minority don't want to play by the rules when they are outvoted, then the whole idea of democracy breaks down. On the other hand, Southerners had the opposite problem. They felt that the Northern states planned to suppress the rights of the minority and thus made the decision to secede in order to protect those minority rights. See how both sides were fighting for the opposite sides of democracy? I hope that helps, and I appreciate the questions. It gives me the opportunity to think about and sharpen my argument.

Mark



 Posted: Sun Nov 13th, 2011 01:18 pm
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Mark, that is a good answer. They had similar ideas, different dreams. One thing I have found is that my line of thinking on the subject is nothing new. In the New York Times on Dec. 4th 1861, a Mr. Weed gave three points on the crisis.

Mr. Weed has stated his opinion of the crisis thus: 1. There is imminent danger of a dissolution of the union. 2. The danger originated in the ambition and cupidity of men who desire a southern Despotism, and in the fanatic zeal of the northern Abolitionist, who seek the emancipation of slaves regardless of consequences. 3. The danger can only be averted by such moderation and forbearance as will draw out, strengthen and combine the union sentiment of the whole country.

Each of these statements will command general assent. The only question likely to arise relates to the practical measures by which the "moderation and forbearance" can be displayed. And while the S.C. convention was in session and before any state had seceded, and when it was doubted by many what such action would be taken, Mr. Greeley said,

"If it (the Declaration of Independence) justifies the secession from the British Empire of three million colonist in 1776, we do not see why it would not justify the secession of five millions of southerns from the Federal Union in 1861. If we are mistaken on this point, why does not someone attempt to show wherein and why? For our own part, while we deny the right of slave-holders to hold slaves against the will of the latter, we cannot see how twenty millions of people can rightfully hold ten, or even five, in a detested Union with them by military force."

All content came from Slavery and States Rights speech of the Hon. Joseph Wheeler, of Alabama. From the Richmond, VA. Dispatch, July 31, 1894.

I must say Mr. Greeley expresses my feelings on the subject clearly.

Also I wonder if Sherman's relationship to the people and students of L.S.U. is not he's reason for wanting to give an easy peace? Though many criticize him for acts done during the war, at the close of the war, he's easy peace policy (which he was criticized by northerners for) was one of the most lenient.

Pender

 

 

 



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