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William Tecumseh Sherman - William T. Sherman - The Participants of the War - Mikitary & Civilian - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Sun Aug 10th, 2008 10:15 pm
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TheColoBearer
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Gen.Sherman was a man of many talents and traits and one of the finest Americans to ever have been in command of and troops. I tip my glass to him.

 

On a side note, when he was just 14 years old he helped survey the area around my home for the Erie Canal. When i asked the local museum if they knew of this fact they said they did not.

 


Last edited on Sun Aug 10th, 2008 10:16 pm by TheColoBearer



 Posted: Wed May 4th, 2011 12:53 am
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Braggcom19
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Autobiographies are notoriously self serving. Grants being one exception and even Grant left some things out I wish he had addressed. I prefer to read several biographies, published after 1950 or so, then read the Autobiography. Also before reading a bio of a southerner I check the bibliography and notes. Much "Early" work hangs it's hat far too much on the Southern Historical Society Papers.

In my opinion Sherman was a very good leader of men, a very good army Commander, and probabnly the best General either side had as regards the logistics of moving an Army. Extremely intelligent he seldom made big mistakes and seldom made the same mistake twice. A notable exception being the frontal attack at Kennesaw Mountain during the Atlanta Campaign in Dec of '64. He had experienced once before attacking a fortified position in June of '62  at Chickasaw Bayou in Grant's first attempt to take vicksburg. For the msot part he was the Army Commander who was the most parsimonius in his use of troops as regards casualties. He and Johnston danced around each other; "Moving by the left flank" that it's a wonder both weren't dizzy from the turning movements. He was also a pretty good hand at both wrecking and rebuilding a railroad.

In a forthcoming book I have been working on trying to finish before the "Green Ripper" visits I have included a chapter devoted to the premise that Sherman was Bi-Polar. I am so "deflicted" and knowing how I react to different situations reading his memiors was much like reading a study of Bi-Polarism. I'll leave that for the scholars to decide.

That he and Grant were close friends shortly after meeting there can be no doubt. Grant  trusted Sherman and even if Sherman thought Grant wrong he would speak his peice and if unable to turn Grants mind he followed orders and gave it his best. I wish Sherman and had been with Grant when he crossed the Rappahannock in May of '64, no doubt his presence was needed elsewhere but perhaps Thomas could have done Atlanta...Quien sabe?

One particular thing I liked about "Cump" was he most assurredly knew how to dispel any thoughts of his running for El Presidente, and he did not like newspapermen!

Michael Bragg


 

Last edited on Wed May 4th, 2011 12:55 am by Braggcom19



 Posted: Wed May 4th, 2011 03:08 pm
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Old North State
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Michael,
Your suggestion that General Sherman was bi-polar is interesting.  I have maintained that his performance at Missionary Ridge was due to a deep depression.  He seemed unable to act in response to circumstances and, apparently, informally turned over command to his brother in law -- General Ewing.  Sherman's letters indicate he was extremely affected by the death of his son 6 weeks earlier.  I believe he was in a deep depression as a result.  Your suggestion is interesting to me for that reason.
ONS



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 Posted: Wed May 4th, 2011 04:42 pm
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Braggcom19
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Yea,some say Sherman was "thrown back" in his attack on Missionary Ridge on 24 November. This is not entirely true. When Sherman was put across he was landed in the wrong place. Terrain did him in by placing a natural barrier between his forces and those on the ridge. It was a case of "can't get there from here", and Sherman went into a sulk as the term was then used.

Hooker had had some success at Lookout Mountain. Bragg's forces were arrayed along the physical crest of lookout, not the military crest and he could not bring artillary down onto Hooker because the "military crest, below the Physical Crest" shielded Hookers forces from the artillary and he faced "only" musketry from troops on the lower "Military crest".

Sherman was not a man who had much of a liking to being upstaged through no fault of his own and this caused him to "sulk" for a time. Next day was not a great day for either Hooker or Sherman. Limited success at best but Thomas & Army of the Cumberland were in the center with orders to "demonstrate" against the first trench lines in the center. Thomas' Soldiers, being what veterans are, usually proud men, were not happy about Grant's concerns over their not being up to the task of taking the center attack to the top. When they attacked they pushed the Johnnies from the first trench line to the second and so on until up and over they went. Grant asked tersly who ordered them to go "all in" and Thomas standing nearby said he didn't think anyone "ordered it, once they get started it's hard to stop them" or words to that effect; probably with a little satisfaction in what he had seen.

When they went over the top and as the Confederates were going down the other side, George Bruton Bragg, my Grandfather some removed, was captured. He was nephew of Braxton. A rifled musket has been passed down with "bruton Bragg" carved on the right side of the stock. Oral Bragg history places it as the musket he carrried on the ridge but I have my doubts as Grant was never known to allow prisoners to retain their muskets. Personally I believe Bruton, after being paroled, rejoined the cause and picked the musket up on some field.

Chattanooga catapulted Grant to LT General however I think Rosecrans was treated shabbily in the doing. All the plans for opening the "cracker line" were in place and ready when Grant arrived, including building pontoon boats to float the men "Down", Baldy Smith was probably the co/author of the plans, he commandeered two steam engines from chattanooga. Using one to build a saw mill with which to build the pontoon boats and the other to build a small Steamboat, (the one Grant left in). The premise that all that was all done in the short period between Grant's arrival and the plan being effected was simply not possible.

The really astonishing thing that happened regarding this battle is Stanton and his chief of railroads moving 30,000 troops from the Army of the Potomac to Chatanooga in 7 days time. Stanton committed to 5 but it took the railroad man 2 to gather the cars and clear the track. In that day in time it was an unheard of feat of logistics to move that many troops with artillary and horses and baggage that far in such a short time. Like Mussolini I guess Stanton too could "make the trains run on time".

Michael Bragg

Last edited on Wed May 4th, 2011 04:46 pm by Braggcom19



 Posted: Wed May 4th, 2011 05:04 pm
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Braggcom19
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Forgot to address the death of his son. In the mid Victorian era death had not the devestating affect on people that it now does. Drew Gilpin Faust addressed this and much more in her best selling "This Republic of Suffering" sub-titled "Death and the American Civil War; Vintage ISBN #978-0-375-70383.

Also, from experience, were Sherman bi-Polar he would have been so for so long that he would have known he had "the crazies" as he himself put it, and would have known how to shake it off in less time than 6 weeks. When Bi-Polar it's the sudden unexpected things that set one back on his heels, so to speak. An airplane said to be on time, causing me to rush to catch it, then actually  arriving late, causing me to "cool my heels" waiting used to give me fits!

I have another premise about Hooker that is thought provoking, but that will have to be for later, I must get back to work... being the handmaiden to fact checking, without staff is humbling to say the least!

Michael Bragg

 



 Posted: Wed May 4th, 2011 09:10 pm
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Texas Defender
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Braggcom19-

  In the scene at Missionary Ridge that you describe, it was not George Thomas who said: "When those fellows get started, all hell can't stop them," it was Gordon Granger.

  There are numerous sources to confirm this. Here is one:

Thoughts, Essays, and Musings on the Civil War: Grant’s Rise to Command

  Here is another:

Battle of Missionary Ridge - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Last edited on Wed May 4th, 2011 09:37 pm by Texas Defender



 Posted: Wed May 4th, 2011 10:49 pm
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Braggcom19
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There was a lot of confusion about the field that day, Gen'l August Willich was waiting orders from Granger when he heard the signal cannons, a Brigade officer, knowing he was to attack asked Willich "where are we suppossed to stop" Willich replied, as the messenger had yet to arrive, he simply said "Damned if I know... Hell I suppose" and ordered the advance. I get the impression that the implied confusion was general about the field.

Having said that, from my footnotes I see that Bearss recounted the conversation as follows; Grant is agitated turns to Thomas (which protocol would dictate) and saw that Thomas was registering surprise on his face, Grant asks, "Thomas, who ordered those men up the ridge?" Thomas responds, I don't know I did not." Grant then turns to Granger (where the origins of the confusion probably rest) "Did you order them up" asks Grant of Granger, "no" was the reply, but he was not through speaking "they started without orders. When those fellows get started all hell can't stop them". (the quoted words are bearss', it is me speaking paranthatically SIC?)

Me again: Which was probably not totally factual on Granger's part, he had ordered the signal guns fired before knowing that his messengers had gotten the orders to the brigadiers. So he did order the advance unsure as to where they believed they were to stop. I also think that Grangers response was a bit of equivicating on his part, none then know if the advance was going to be a repulse or an advance... they could only trust their eyes to tell them that the soldiers had yet to stop and were past where Grant wanted them to do so.

It may have also been a subtle dig at Grant for his remarks about the troops, the troops themselves were certainly head up about them. There is another note from a source long dead that Thomas spoke the entire dialogue. However, I have not the courage nor the obstinency to quibble with Edwin C. Bearss. I was typing from memory and probaly remembered the wrong source.

Another clue in my eyes, which may not mean a thing, is that in the period contractions were seldom used except in conversational terms. This was certainly not conversational with U S Grant in your face I think I would have used the formal cannot or can not with emphisis added.

I am sure of one thing, had the advance failed I believe Granger believed his hash was cooked! Teach me to look more carefully at my notes. A seminar I attended by a noted Chair of the history Dept at North Carolina at the time cautioned historical writers and speakers alike that they should use caution; "in proceeding without notes and without fear as to do so is at your own peril". I agreed then and do now!

This is another of those unsolvables like the battle of Wauhatchie, was it the soldiers that put Johnnie on the run... or the Mules? Before bed I'll dig around in the OR and see what mention is made there, but themdam books are heavey for an old man! And thanks for keepin' an old man honest... well maybe not altogether honest, but I try to be in what I say or write.

Michael Bragg, almost beerthirty!



 Posted: Thu May 5th, 2011 02:16 am
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HankC
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The union assault on Missionary ridge succeeded for a few reasons.

The CSA split their forces between the top and the bottom of the ridge.

as the CSA forces at the bottom retreat, they exhaust themselves, losing command and control, and are pretty much unable to continue the fight.

also as they retreat they shield the union troops from the fire from the top. the union forces follow the retreating enemystraight to and over the top.

Sherman's assaults meet well-positioned and -lead troops. Between topography and Cleburne it's a very difficult place to attack.

I'm not sure about Sherman landing at the wrong place when crossing the river. However, it is true that he attacks the *first* hill thinking it is part of the ridge rather than separate...


HankC



 Posted: Thu May 5th, 2011 02:46 am
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Braggcom19
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All good points, there are probably scores more that can be made to explain victory vs defeat in each engagement of the war. Sherman's delay at finding the "hill" instead of the topography he expected delayed him enough to give Grant cause for concern. Confusion in the Civil War was often extreme and along with topography often contributed to the eventual outcome of many battles. Grant called for demonstrations in the center and got what he got. Christmas came early for him... only came once for Bragg.

Michael Bragg



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