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BOOK REVIEWS277 he refers not to a reading, for example, of the reel of correspondence between Sherman and his wife in the collection at Notre Dame but to a reading of several pages in the most hostile Sherman biography in existence. Citing this work, he repeats the cruel observation that the death of Sherman's young son Willy "cast Sherman into an exaggerated period of grief that "became a subject of obsession with him." Without delving into the sources, Rowland, moreover, equates Sherman's failure at Chickasaw with Burnside's charges at Fredericksburg. The episodes were entirely different; Sherman's assault failed not because he was incompetent but because incompetent subordinates diverted eight of the thirteen regiments that were to make the attack. Under Rowland's pen, Grant fares just as poorly. He drank, messed up at Shiloh, and was lucky to be in the West, where newspaper scrutiny was not as severe as in the East. Southern defeat coincided more with "the deteriorating condition of the Confederacy and its armies than with the talents of the two generals." In effect, the noted military analyst J. F. C. Fuller was wrong when he called Grant's movement onto high, dry ground below Vicksburg "an amazing success . . . and from a purely strategical point of view one of the greatest in military history." All the while, Professor Rowland presents a McClellan of questionablejudgment. Even after Sherman's breakdown in Kentucky, caused largely by his guilt when Confederates executed his agents, and even after the bloodbath at Shiloh, McClellan dreamed of conducting "a limited and relatively civilized war." In sum, then, the book is a well-written, interesting try at rehabilitating its central figure. Unfortunately it is nothing more than that. Stanley P. Hirshson Queens College Sherman 's Civil War: Selected Correspondence of William T. Sherman, 18601865 . Edited by Brooks D. Simpson and Jean V. Berlin. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999. Pp. xx, 948. $45.00.) William Tecumseh Sherman must have set a world's record for obsessive-compulsive orality. He hardly bothered to sleep, and awake, when not chewing cigars , he was monologing to all and sundry, and when not chattering, he was writing letters. In retirement his idea of a fun Sunday was to write fifty friends and strangers, and even during the Civil War, when he was engaged in terrorizing his enemies, his literary production was stupendous. Not merely quantitatively was his output striking, as he wrote with considerable originality, insight, and wit. Because he rarely stopped to think twice or to edit his thoughts, he revealed vast shoals of his subconscious thoughts and emotions, especially angry ones. Almost anyone else would have censored or reconsidered much of what Sherman dashed off, which of course adds to the value of his letters. And 278CIVIL WAR HISTORY he had decided opinions on a wide range of subjects, including many about which he was learned and others concerning which he was bone ignorant. Prior to this collection, scholars had to rely on the archives and on other printed letter collections that were poorly edited and misleading, but now they, and close students of the war in general, will have a fine ocean of Shermaniana into which to dive. This superb selection of four hundred of Sherman's letters nicely captures Sherman at war—with his own society as well as with the Confederates . Tirades against the press, against politicians and democracy itself, against his military rivals, against enemy civilians as well as soldiers, and most especially against black troops and black people in general more than salt these letters—they are at the core of his output. But so too are expressions of tender feelings for his children, vivid portraits of the landscape, sometimes surprisingly sensitive letters to others in the army and elsewhere, astute analyses of complex military issues, and fascinating if twisted discussions of politics. No other general ofthat war was as vivid a writer as he, and few were as insightful about the meanings of both combat and strategy—none made psychological warfare so central and effective within their repertoires. As a selection, this volume is by definition less than a complete edition of Sherman's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 277-278
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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