William Sherman's Role in the Research Paper

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However, despite the personal successes, he felt personally responsible for the loss and would use the events from Bull Run to questions his effectiveness as a military officer.

Next, Sherman would serve under Robert Anderson. Where, he would eventually succeed him and take command of all Union forces in Kentucky. This was important, because Kentucky was considered to be a neutral state in the war, where the Union army was based and there were pockets of Confederate units as well. This would create an atmosphere, where Sherman would be unable to conduct a total war, to defeat the various Confederate elements. At which point, he would complain to Washington about the constant shortages that he would face in achieving this objective, with his army lacking the men necessary to fight a successful campaign to low food provisions / ammunition. This would cause Sherman to be relieved of command and placed on leave of absence. Emotionally frustrated, he would return to Lancaster, Ohio; where he would rest. In December 1862, Sherman would return to his position, by serving in a supporting role as a part of the Western war effort. Where, he would command the logistics and supply lines that were used to supply General Ulysses Grant's army, during its victory at Fort Henry. At which point, Sherman would impress Grant with his loyalty and ability to do what it took to win. These two elements would help, Sherman forge a working relationship with Grant that allowed him to serve as one of the top Union generals for the rest of the war.

What all of this shows, is that Sherman wanted to fight a total war that would use a variety of creative tactics, to bring the Confederacy to its knees. However, the lack of effort at Bull Run and the inability to fight the kind of war he wanted, would lead to him being relieved of command along with the emotional issues that would follow. Despite these setbacks, his brilliance as a tactician would become evident to Grant, who liked his style and his ability to win at all costs. These two elements are important, because they would underscore a philosophy that Sherman used a part of military doctrine through the rest of his career.

Battle of Shiloh

In March 1862, Sherman would be given command of the Army of West Tennessee. One month after taking control, he would face a surprise Confederate attack at Shiloh. What happened was reports began to surface that Confederate forces were mobilizing, from their base at Corinth. As a result, the attack would take the entire Union high command by surprise. For Sherman, the events would harden his resolve to revoke the attack at all costs. Where, he would play a vital role in the counter attack and helping to motivate Grant at critical points during the battle. A good example of this can be seen with the counterattack that Sherman would lead on April 7th, where he was wounded twice. The role that Sherman would play in the battle would allow Union forces to avoid a costly defeat, by helping them to have an orderly retreat. At which point, these same forces would be used to attack the Confederate garrison at Corinth a few weeks later. This is significant, because these events would show that Sherman's attitude to win at all costs, were what the Union army needed to achieve victory.

The Battle of Vicksburg

The Battle of Vicksburg would help to propel Sherman's status to one of a great military tactician. What happened was the Union army had to be able to divide the Confederacy into two pieces, in order to defeat it. Vicksburg was the last Confederate strong hold that linked the Eastern and Western Confederacy together, at the Mississippi River. Throughout the battle, Sherman would have a mixed record of victories that would be hidden beneath the victories of other generals. A good example of this can be seen with the repulsed attacks that his units would face at Chickasaw Bayou and the attack on Arkansas Post. This would underscore a problem that Union forces would face during the siege and battle, as they would have to deal with the high bluffs along with the changing conditions of the Mississippi River. However, despite these obvious challenges, Sherman's units would help to serve as a scout / expeditionary force. Where, they would seek out and destroy Confederate units, supporting Vicksburg in places such as: Deer Creek and Steele's Bayou. This would help Sherman to become known as a capable military tactician that could adapt to a variety of situations. This distinction would serve him well, as he would play an increasingly important role as a confidant of Grant, who will do what is necessary to achieve their objectives on the battlefield.

As a result, after surrender of Vicksburg, Sherman would be allowed to conduct the kind of war that he had always wanted, one that would bring the war to the backyard of the Confederacy.

Atlanta Campaign and the March to the Sea

As the Confederate army was being chased out of the West, Sherman became the commander of the Army of Tennessee and would engage their forces at Chattanooga and Knoxville. This would allow Sherman the ability to send forces deep into Confederate territory, to disrupt and destroy their infrastructure. At which point, Sherman would begin his campaign that would take the fight to heart of the South and march up the Atlantic coast. In 1864, when Grant was given command of all Union forces in the East, Sherman was given command of Union forces in the West. This would allow him to conduct his campaign of total war throughout Georgia. Where, Sherman would cut free from his communication lines and would venture deep into the South to attack Atlanta. The way his strategy worked is the army would live off of the land and captured supplies. At which point, Sherman would have his men destroy what they would leave behind. The idea was to break the will of the South to fight, by destroying their infrastructure and conducting a crippling psychological blow, to the civilian population. Throughout the spring to December of 1864, Sherman's army would cause massive disruptions of the South including: the destruction of Atlanta and the capture of the Confederate rail center of Savannah.

At which point, Sherman would begin to march up the Atlantic coast, destroying anything of military value between Georgia and Virginia. As he was heading up the coast, his army would capture and destroy Columbia, South Carolina in February 1865. This is significant, because it would show how Sherman's total war would have an effect at destroying the South's ability to fight, by attacking the heart of the Confederacy. As a result, these actions would set the foundation for a sense of desperation that the South would feel towards the end of the war.

Post Civil War

In the period following the end of the Civil War, Sherman would become second in command of the Army. What happened was, after the South surrendered Congress created the position of General of the Army. Originally given to Grant in 1866, Sherman would serve as his second in command until being promoted to the position in 1869. Where, he would oversee the protection of the railroad against various Indian attacks. This is important, because the ideas of total war that used in the South would be used against the American Indian. A good example of this can be seen with Sherman saying, "During the years of 1865 and 1866 the great plains remained almost in a state of nature, and were in full possession of the Sioux, Cheyenne's, Arapahoe's, and Kiowa's, a race of bold Indians, who saw plainly that the construction of two parallel railroads right through their country would prove destructive to the game on which they subsisted, and consequently fatal to themselves."

This is important, because it shows the attitude of indifference that Sherman would have towards the enemy of his total war campaigns, where they were seen as traitors or brutal savages. As a result, the campaign of attacking Indians who refused to comply with the wishes of the government became common. This would transform the West between the 1870's and 1890's, as this policy would be used to subjugate the Indians. This is similar to what was used in the South, as his forces were set on destroying the American Indian way of life.


Analysis of Research / Conclusion

Clearly, the life of General William Sherman was one that was filled with tremendous promise and disappointment. This started at an early age, when his father died. However, despite these obvious setbacks, Sherman continued to demonstrate a brilliance that would allow him to become a military commander during the 1850's. Like previous times in his…

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