A Note on General Sherman: Was he really hated by everyone in the South?

General Sherman

I remember in the 1980’s my grandmother (who was born and lived in Tennessee) talking about General Sherman- not that she was old enough at that time to have known him-he died before she was born. Although, I must say, she spoke as if she had been alive when he made his “March to the Sea.”  She said things most unkind regarding him-what his troops had done to the land and the people of Georgia as he moved from Atlanta to Savannah. At the time, I wondered if what she was saying was part of a collective memory passed on generation to generation even up to the present day. From her words, I had assumed that Sherman was hated. Interestingly enough, I have a great uncle named Sherman (who also was born and raised in Tennessee). I know that there were pockets of Unionists in the South during the Civil War-including Tennessee. At any rate, my grandmother seemed to have no use for General Sherman.

The other day I was reading the book  Armchair Reader: Civil War published in 2007. I came across a paragraph about Sherman. It claimed that he actually wasn’t as unpopular in the South as I thought-at least according to this entry from the volume:

“Sherman remained popular after the war, even-surprising as it may sound today-in the South. In 1879, he toured the sites of many of his Southern victories, such as Atlanta and Savannah, and received a friendly reception. Many expected that he would follow in Grant’s footsteps and run for president, but Sherman never had any interest. When supporters threatened to draft him as a Republican candidate in 1884, he wired back a famous response: ‘I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.’ The nomination that year went instead to James G. Blaine, who lost to Grover Cleveland. Sherman died in 1891. Joseph E. Johnston, the Confederate general who surrendered to him in North Carolina, served as a pallbearer at his funeral.”

 Note to self: apparently, my grandmother’s perception of William T. Sherman wasn’t universally shared by all.

Other Sherman related items:

I’ve always chuckled when reading President Abraham Lincoln’s comment about General Sherman when he was asked about his objective in the march:

“I know the hole he went in at, but I can’t tell you what hole he will come out of.”


Prior to that, General Sherman had wired Lincoln with the following message:

“I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah.”

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3 Responses to “A Note on General Sherman: Was he really hated by everyone in the South?”

  1. Matt Musson says:

    I wonder if people realize that Sherman rounded up Jews in the South? And, under General Order No. 11 – He forbid Jewish people from riding on trains throughout the Confederacy and the border states. And he wrote to his dear wife He wrote that his purpose in the war was: “Extermination, not of soldiers alone, that is the least part of the trouble, but the [Southern] people.”

    Not a very likeable guy.

  2. B. Nash says:

    Awesome. Yes, I would love to see pictures!

  3. Sharon Michael says:

    I belong to The Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War. Every year in February, we have a wreath laying at General Shermans grave site. Also there is the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, along with other Civil War groups and speakers. It is a very moving ceremony. I do have pictures if interested.

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