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"War Is Hell"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: William Tecumseh Sherman, general in the Union army and participant in most of the major battles of the Civil War, is noted chiefly for his devastating march from Atlanta to Savannah. Before his death, the saying "War is hell" came to be ascribed to him, but a search of newspapers and speeches produces no such memorable remark. Attributed to speeches at various occasions, the exact remark may not have been uttered, but on August 11, 1880, at Columbus, Ohio, following a speech by President Hayes, Sherman spoke briefly to the Union veterans the words seemingly closest in meaning to his famous statement. The Ohio State Journal reported the words:

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 here.