The careers of both officers ascended considerably after that time. In Sherman's case, this was in part because he developed close personal ties to Grant during the two years they served together in the West. Sherman's military record in —63 was mixed. In December , forces under his command suffered a severe repulse at the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou , just north of Vicksburg , Mississippi. John A. McClernand in his successful assault on Arkansas Post , generally regarded as a politically motivated distraction from the effort to capture Vicksburg.
The historian John D. He had yet [before Vicksburg] to display any marked talents for leadership. Sherman, beset by hallucinations and unreasonable fears and finally contemplating suicide, had been relieved from command in Kentucky. He later began a new climb to success at Shiloh and Corinth under Grant. Still, if he muffed his Vicksburg assignment, which had begun unfavorably, he would rise no higher.
As a man, Sherman was an eccentric mixture of strength and weakness. Although he was impatient, often irritable and depressed, petulant, headstrong, and unreasonably gruff, he had solid soldierly qualities. His men swore by him, and most of his fellow officers admired him.
After the surrender of Vicksburg to the Union forces under Grant on July 4, , Sherman was given the rank of brigadier general in the regular army , in addition to his rank as a major general of volunteers. Sherman's family came from Ohio to visit his camp near Vicksburg; his nine-year-old son, Willie, the Little Sergeant, died from typhoid fever contracted during the trip. Sherman's troops were sent to relieve them. While traveling to Chattanooga, Sherman departed Memphis on a train that arrived at the Battle of Collierville , Tennessee, while the Union garrison there was under attack on October 11, General Sherman took command of the men and successfully defended against an attack of 3, Confederate cavalry.
During the Chattanooga Campaign in November, under Grant's overall command, Sherman quickly took his assigned target of Billy Goat Hill at the north end of Missionary Ridge, only to discover that it was not part of the ridge at all, but rather a detached spur separated from the main spine by a rock-strewn ravine. When he attempted to attack the main spine at Tunnel Hill, his troops were repeatedly repelled by Patrick Cleburne 's heavy division, the best unit in Bragg's army.
Sherman's efforts were assisted by George Henry Thomas 's army's successful assault on the center of the Confederate line, a movement originally intended as a diversion. In February , he led an expedition to Meridian, Mississippi , to disrupt Confederate infrastructure.
Despite this mixed record, Sherman enjoyed Grant's confidence and friendship. When Lincoln called Grant east in the spring of to take command of all the Union armies, Grant appointed Sherman by then known to his soldiers as "Uncle Billy" to succeed him as head of the Military Division of the Mississippi , which entailed command of Union troops in the Western Theater of the war.
As Grant took overall command of the armies of the United States, Sherman wrote to him outlining his strategy to bring the war to an end concluding that "if you can whip Lee and I can march to the Atlantic I think ol' Uncle Abe will give us twenty days leave to see the young folks. Sherman proceeded to invade the state of Georgia with three armies: the 60,strong Army of the Cumberland under George Henry Thomas , the 25,strong Army of the Tennessee under James B. Johnston 's Army of Tennessee , attempting a direct assault only at the disastrous Battle of Kennesaw Mountain.
In July, the cautious Johnston was replaced by the more aggressive John Bell Hood , who played to Sherman's strength by challenging him to direct battles on open ground. Meanwhile, in August, Sherman "learned that I had been commissioned a major-general in the regular army, which was unexpected, and not desired until successful in the capture of Atlanta.
Sherman's Atlanta Campaign concluded successfully on September 2, , with the capture of the city, which Hood had been forced to abandon. This success made Sherman a household name and helped ensure Lincoln's presidential re-election in November. McClellan , the popular former Union army commander, and it had seemed likely that Lincoln would lose to McClellan. Lincoln's defeat could well have meant the victory of the Confederacy, as the Democratic Party platform called for peace negotiations based on the acknowledgment of the Confederacy's independence.
Thus the capture of Atlanta, coming when it did, may have been Sherman's greatest contribution to the Union cause. After ordering almost all civilians to leave the city in September, Sherman gave instructions that all military and government buildings in Atlanta be burned, although many private homes and shops were burned as well.
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During September and October, Sherman and Hood played cat-and-mouse in north Georgia and Alabama as Hood threatened Sherman's communications to the north. Eventually, Sherman won approval from his superiors for a plan to cut loose from his communications and march south, having advised Grant that he could "make Georgia howl".
Trivializing that threat, Sherman reportedly said that he would "give [Hood] his rations" to go in that direction as "my business is down south". George H. Thomas and John M. Schofield to deal with Hood; their forces eventually smashed Hood's army in the battles of Franklin November 30 and Nashville December 15— Sherman's success in Georgia received ample coverage in the Northern press at a time when Grant seemed to be making little progress in his fight against Confederate General Robert E.
Lee 's Army of Northern Virginia.
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A bill was introduced in Congress to promote Sherman to Grant's rank of lieutenant general , probably with a view towards having him replace Grant as commander of the Union Army. Sherman wrote both to his brother, Senator John Sherman, and to General Grant vehemently repudiating any such promotion. General Grant is a great general.
I know him well. He stood by me when I was crazy, and I stood by him when he was drunk; and now, sir, we stand by each other always. While in Savannah, Sherman learned from a newspaper that his infant son Charles Celestine had died during the Savannah Campaign ; the general had never seen the child. Grant then ordered Sherman to embark his army on steamers and join the Union forces confronting Lee in Virginia, but Sherman instead persuaded Grant to allow him to march north through the Carolinas , destroying everything of military value along the way, as he had done in Georgia.
He was particularly interested in targeting South Carolina , the first state to secede from the Union, because of the effect that it would have on Southern morale.
Upon hearing that Sherman's men were advancing on corduroy roads through the Salkehatchie swamps at a rate of a dozen miles per day, Johnston "made up his mind that there had been no such army in existence since the days of Julius Caesar. Sherman captured the state capital of Columbia , South Carolina, on February 17, Fires began that night and by next morning most of the central city was destroyed. The burning of Columbia has engendered controversy ever since, with some claiming the fires were accidental, others a deliberate act of vengeance, and still others that the retreating Confederates burned bales of cotton on their way out of town.
According to Sherman, the trek across the Lumber River, and through the swamps, pocosins , and creeks of Robeson County was "the damnedest marching I ever saw. Sherman's final significant military engagement was a victory over Johnston's troops at the Battle of Bentonville , March 19— He soon rendezvoused at Goldsborough, North Carolina , with Union troops awaiting him there after the capture of Fort Fisher and Wilmington.
Lincoln happened to be at City Point at the same time, allowing the only three-way meetings of Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman during the war. At the insistence of Johnston and of Confederate President Jefferson Davis , Sherman conditionally agreed to generous terms that dealt with both political and military issues.
Sherman thought that those terms were consistent with the views Lincoln had expressed at City Point, but the general had not been given the authority, by General Grant, the newly installed President Andrew Johnson , or the Cabinet , to offer those terms. The government in Washington, D.
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Stanton , denounced Sherman publicly, precipitating a long-lasting feud between the two men. Confusion over this issue lasted until April 26, , when Johnston, ignoring instructions from President Davis, agreed to purely military terms and formally surrendered his army and all the Confederate forces in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida, in what was the largest single capitulation of the war.
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Having become the second most important general in the Union army, he thus had come full circle to the city where he started his war-time service as colonel of a non-existent infantry regiment. Sherman was not an abolitionist before the war and, like others of his time and background, he did not believe in "Negro equality".
Sherman's military campaigns of and freed many slaves, who greeted him "as a second Moses or Aaron "  and joined his marches through Georgia and the Carolinas by the tens of thousands. The fate of these refugees became a pressing military and political issue. Some abolitionists accused Sherman of doing little to alleviate the precarious living conditions of the freed slaves. After Sherman's departure, Garrison Frazier, a Baptist minister, declared in response to an inquiry about the feelings of the black community:. We looked upon General Sherman, prior to his arrival, as a man, in the providence of God, specially set apart to accomplish this work, and we unanimously felt inexpressible gratitude to him, looking upon him as a man that should be honored for the faithful performance of his duty.
Some of us called upon him immediately upon his arrival, and it is probable he did not meet [Secretary Stanton] with more courtesy than he met us. His conduct and deportment toward us characterized him as a friend and a gentleman. The orders provided for the settlement of 40, freed slaves and black refugees on land expropriated from white landowners in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
Sherman appointed Brig. Rufus Saxton , an abolitionist from Massachusetts who had previously directed the recruitment of black soldiers, to implement that plan.