Monday, January 20, 2014

Sherman the original Seahawk

General William Tecumseh Sherman / illustration by Ledeman Studio

When it comes to strategy, Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman has a lot of room to grow. On Jauary 20th, 2014, the Seahawks won 23-17 against the San Francisco 49ers to advance to Super Bowl. In his interview (some call it a wild rant), Sherman made quite an impression on the country.

Here's a clip from CBS Sports:

However, when it comes to a Sherman that backed up his words, nobody holds a towel to the legendary William Tecumseh Sherman!

Here are some fun facts about "Uncle Billy," that you might not have heard from history class:

1. His father died when he was a boy. A family friend raised him until he enters the military academy at age 16.

2. He worked as a bank manager in San Francisco, and became first superintendent of Louisiana State Seminary of Learning & Military Academy in 1859

3. His first major Civil War action was at the Batle of Bull Run. His actions during the battle got the attention of Abraham Lincoln which resulted in his promotion to brigadier general.

4. While acting commander of the Department of the Cumberland in Kentucky, Sherman overestimated the strength of the Confederate forces, made heavy demands on reinforcements, and was labeled as "insane" by the press. This event led to Sherman being relieved of duty.

5. When Ulysses S. Grant was promoted to command all Union armies, he reinstated Sherman and put him in charge of the Military Division of Mississippi in the Western Theater. This began one of the most famous partnerships in military history. It made Spock and Kirk's friendship look like an episode of Itchy and Scratchy.

"Grant stood by me when I was crazy, and I stood by him when he was drunk, and now we stand by each other."

6. Sherman was a master of the flanking maneuver. He wrote the standard textbook on the flank and his tactics were greatly feared by the Southern armies. Said one rebel soldier on surrendering to the 103rd Illinois, "Sherman will never go to Hell; he will flank the devil and make heaven in spite of the guards."

7. Sherman is recognized by history as the figurehead of going all out in war. Here are some of Sherman's more notable quotes about conducting a war.
"War is Hell"

"Every attempt to make war easy and safe will result in humiliation and disaster."

"War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over."

"I would make this war as severe as possible, and show no symptoms of tiring
till the South begs for mercy."

"I intend to make Georgia howl."

8. During the infamous "Sherman's March to Sea," there are reports of sheer horror and carnage of unparalleled proportions. Much of these reports are found to be exaggerated, none the less, Sherman's attack on the heart of the South had a profound impact.

Sherman's March created a 60 mile wide path of sheer destruction from Atlanta to Savannah.

In Sherman's famous attack through Georgia, he gave order to treat civilians with courtesy, not invade their homes, or harm by-standards. His troops were to forage and wreck the infrastructure. The goal was to cripple the Confederates' ability to manufacture arms, goods, and supplies for war.

There are certainly examples of some soldiers going rouge, but it was not the policy.

9. Sherman was an otherwise healthy man for his lifetime. However, he died of pneumonia at age 71. In the usual twist of historical coincidence, his death has a deeply symbolic moment. What was it? The Brigadier General of the Confederate forces, Joseph E. Johnston had been fighting Sherman for survival in the west. Eventually, Johnston surrendered to Sherman in 1965 and effectively ended the Civil War. After this Sherman gave Johnston’s men 10 days of ration food. Johnston never forgot this gesture of goodwill and the two remained friends long after the war.

This is important to know, because in 1891, Johnston was one of the pallbearers in Sherman's funeral. While acting in this role, Johnston contracted pneumonia and died shortly after.

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