William Tecumseh Sherman was an eminent American soldier, author, businessman and educator. During the American Civil War he served as a General in the Union Army. He was both recognized and criticised for his tenure as a General. He also provided logistical support to Brig and put up awe-inspiring action in the First Battle of Bull Run. Sherman also jotted down his first hand experience of the Civil War in his book ‘Memoirs.’ Sherman was declared as the ‘the first modern general’ by B.H Liddell Hart, a famous British military historian. A tank was named after him and was called ‘Sherman Tank’ and a Civil War gunboat was also named ‘Fort Sherman’ in his honour. Following is a compilation of thoughts by William Tecumseh Sherman which have been excerpted from his books and life.
The more Indians we can kill... the less will have to be killed the next war, for the more I see of these Indians, the more convinced I am that they all have to be killed or be maintained as a species of paupers.
But, my dear sirs, when peace does come, you may call on me for any thing. Then will I share with you the last cracker, and watch with you to shield your homes and families against danger from every quarter.
Courage - a perfect sensibility of the measure of danger, and a mental willingness to endure it.
William Tecumseh Sherman
I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.
An army to be useful must be a unit, and out of this has grown the saying, attributed to Napoleon, but doubtless spoken before the days of Alexander, that an army with an inefficient commander was better than one with two able heads.
William Tecumseh Sherman
There will soon come an armed contest between capital and labor. They will oppose each other, not with words and arguments, but with shot and shell, gun-powder and cannon. The better classes are tired of the insane howling of the lower strata and they mean to stop them.
We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women and children... during an assault, the soldiers cannot pause to distinguish between male and female, or even discriminate as to age.
The North can make a steam engine, locomotive or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or a 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 spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with.
I found so many Jews and speculators here trading in cotton, and secessionists had become so open in refusing anything but gold, that I have felt myself bound to stop it. The gold can have but one use - the purchase of arms and ammunition... Of course, I have respected all permits by yourself or the Secretary of the Treasury, but in these new cases (swarms of Jews), I have stopped it.
The young bloods of the South; sons of planters, lawyers about towns, good billiard players and sportsmen, men who never did any work and never will. War suits them.. They are splendid riders, first rate shots and utterly reckless. These men must all be killed or employed by us before we can hope for peace.
To those who would submit to the rightful law and authority, all gentleness and forbearance; but to the petulant and persistent secessionists, why, death is mercy, and the quicker he or she is disposed of the better. Satan and the rebellious saints of Heaven were allowed a continuous existence in hell merely to swell their just punishment. To such as would rebel against a Government so mild and just as ours was in peace, a punishment equal would not be unjust.
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?
You might as well appeal against the thunder-storm as against these terrible hardships of war. They are inevitable, and the only way the people of Atlanta can hope once more to live in peace and quiet at home, is to stop the war, which can only be done by admitting that it began in error and is perpetuated in pride.
To secure the safety of the navigation of the Mississippi River I would slay millions. On that point I am not only insane, but mad... I think I see one or two quick blows that will astonish the natives of the South and will convince them that, though to stand behind a big cottonwood and shoot at a passing boat is good sport and safe, it may still reach and kill their friends and families hundreds of miles off. For every bullet shot at a steamboat, I would shoot a thousand 30-pounder Parrots into even helpless towns on Red, Ouachita, Yazoo, or wherever a boat can float or soldier march.
I confess, without shame, that I am sick and tired of fighting — its glory is all moonshine; even success the most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies, with the anguish and lamentations of distant families, appealing to me for sons, husbands, and fathers ... it is only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded and lacerated ... that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation.
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 that in the end you will surely fail.
We cannot change the hearts of the people of the South, but we can make war so terrible that they will realize the fact that however brave and gallant and devoted to their country still they are mortal and should exhaust all peaceful remedies before they fly to war.
The war now is away back in the past, and you can tell what books cannot. When you talk, you come down to the practical realities just as they happened. You all know this is not soldiering here. There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell. You can bear this warning voice to generations yet to come. I look upon war with horror, but if it has to come, I am there.