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Remarkably successful, considering that he was half-mad, and had earlier been regarded as an incompetent officer who had moved up through social influence.

Under the test of combat, his judgments were usually right.

He had been living in New Orleans, and when the war started, he warned his Southern friends that they would enjoy early success but were bound to lose in the end. This turned out correct, and showed that he was one of very few men who believed it would be a long war.

In the Vicksburg campaign, he thought Grant should have crossed the river at Memphis, even though it would mean retreating. (Grant thought the public could not stand any more reports of retreat.)

After the capture of Atlanta, he proposed a complete reversal of Grant's strategy, and turned East across Georgia, totally ignoring the Army of Tennessee, which he had been ordered to destroy. The six-week raid on this rich farmland was devastating to Southern morale, as well as critical for the victualling of the Confederate armies.

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14y ago
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14y ago

A supportive partner to U.S.Grant, rather like Stonewall Jackson to Robert E.Lee.

Until he worked with Grant, he was regarded as an incompetent officer, who had moved up through social connections. He was also thought to be insane. After the first battle of Bull Run, he started screaming "Lock me up!"

But as he said of Grant "I stood by him when he was drunk. And he stood by me when I was mad."

In Tennessee in 1862, they found they made a good team, and they went on to mastermind the Siege of Vicksburg, then the relief of Chattanooga.

When Grant was promoted General-in-Chief, he gave Sherman the Army of the Cumberland and told him to destroy Joe Johnston's Army of Tennessee.

Sherman crowded them back towards Atlanta, but couldn't capture them. So he largely destroyed Atlanta instead, which restored Northern morale and helped Lincoln to win re-election that November.

By crossing Georgia almost unmolested, Sherman proved that the Confederacy was on its last legs. It was a shrewd move, because it allowed him to stop worrying about his supply line - the men could easily live off the land.

In the end , he took Joe Johnston's surrender - the last significant event of the war.

For the rest of his life, wherever he went, he had to listen to bands playing "As we were marching through Georgia" - a tune he came to detest.

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Q: How successful was William T Sherman?
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