Who was William Tecumseh Sherman and what was his role in the Civil War?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sherman's largest and most prominent role in the Civil War lies in his punctuating his end.  The execution of his closing to the war helped to bring a great deal of resentment to the South and proved his belief that "war is hell."  Literally burning the South to the ground as he and his troops marched through it, Sherman helped to symbolize the brutality and intensely harsh nature of the war.  The Northern desire to punish the South for the sin of secession and attempting to form their own nation was embodied with the destruction that Sherman wrought.  The Southern belief that the North was merciless was also embodied in the calculating manner in which Sherman took down Southern strongholds, such as its capital, Atlanta.  Sherman's role was to bring the South into complete submission, a reality after Sherman marched through it.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

William T. Sherman was one of Lincoln's two main Generals by the end of the war, and although he was very eccentric and many in the Union Army and government did not like or trust him, he was a very effective fighter.  He is perhaps best remembered for changing the nature of war, or at least realizing that the nature of war had changed. 

He introduced "Total War" tactics that made no distinction between soldiers in the field and civilians and cities that supported them.  Therefore, he destroyed cities, crops, houses - anything that would help his enemy.  His feeling was that the more cruel war was, the sooner it would be over, in the end saving lives.

We still use Sherman's tactics today, and teach his military principles at our war colleges.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

William T. Sherman was one of the most successful Union generals in the Civil War.  He is best known for his "March to the Sea" that went from Atlanta, Georgia to the coast at Savannah, Georgia.  This march has made him infamous in the South.

It made him infamous because, on the march, his army lived off the land, taking whatever they needed from Southern farms and families.  He also destroyed everything that he could not use so as to hurt the Confederates' ability to continue the war.

Before undertaking the March to the Sea, Sherman served under Ulysses S. Grant at such major battles as the Battle of Vicksburg and the campaign in Tennessee.  Sherman also led the army that captured and sacked Atlanta.

krishna-agrawala | Student

William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) was a leading General of the Union during the American Civil War. From 1869 to 1885 he served as the Commanding General of the USA army.

Sherman played a very important role in the civil war for the success of Union side and bringing the civil war to an early conclusion. He is best known for his "march to sea", which refers to his march across Georgia in 1964, and for his advances through Carolina in 1965. Sherman swept almost unopposed on an 80 kilometer front across Georgia, destroying much of South's military and economic resources on way. Some people have criticized Sherman for causing this kind of destruction involving civilian properties.

mkcapen1 | Student

General William Tecumseh Sherman never served as a commander during a Union victory but is the second most famous of generals to have come from the North.   Prior to his service during the Civil war he managed to fail at a career in banking and law.  He had prior service in the military and found his calling as the administrator of a military school.  He resigned his position and joined the Union army with a commission when the states succeeded.

At one time Grant had considered getting out of the military but his friendship and Sherman's persistence led to the general continuing to serve.  General Grant ended up going on to claim victory for the Union army and was eventually elected as President of the United States.

Sherman led his troops through Atlanta and down to Savannah leaving towns and mills burned and the land perished.  General Sherman is the only man to have received the Thanks of Congress during the Civil War-first for Chattanooga and second for Atlanta and Savannah, two times.

Having spent my childhood in Savannah, Georgia I remember learning about him as being called "the Man who burned Georgia."

christeach | Student

William T. Sherman was one of the most colorful generals of the American Civil War.  He went from almost being considered insane at one point in his life to being one of the most successful generals in history.  He made the famous observation that "war is hell" and he basically felt that in order to win a war you had to make it unpleasant not only for the troops you were fighting against but also for the civilian population as well.  He accomplished this infamous task by his well known  March to the Sea.  Interestingly enough, the reason that Sherman was considered insane had to do with his statement that the war would be a long and bloody affair.  this contrasted so much with the current belief that General McClellan  had him relieved of his duty.  He turned out to be the  only one who was right.