Demon of the Lost Cause
Sherman and Civil War History
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: University of Missouri Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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In 2004 the Atlanta Journal Constitution published on the front page of the opinion section an article about William Tecumseh Sherman. More than a quarter of the page was taken up by a photograph of a stern-looking Sherman, with his right hand resting Napoleon-like in his Brooks Brothers uniform, laid over an image of fire. The article is titled “Sherman Still Burns...
Chapter 1: The Prewar Years and the Early War
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Although Sherman was unknown to the general public at the beginning of the war, the template for his future reputation began to emerge early on in the mind of the Southern public. Ulysses S. Grant, in his personal memoirs, described marching his regiment through a deserted Missouri town at the beginning of the war. People “had evidently been led to believe that the...
Chapter 2: The Atlanta Campaign and the March to the Sea
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At the beginning of the Civil War, William T. Sherman had shunned high command. He understood that there would be a learning curve to be faced by both soldiers and politicians. He rightly predicted that commanding generals in the first few years of the war would be very unlikely to survive in their positions until the end. Sherman’s goal was to have the job...
Chapter 3: The Commanding General versus the North
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General William T. Sherman’s status as one of the great generals and the cruelest fiends of the Civil War had not been established by the close of hostilities. Sherman was the most controversial of Civil War generals at the close of the war and the decades that followed, but this had little to do with Sherman’s now infamous March to the Sea or his treatment of Southern civilians....
Chapter 4: The War of the Memoirs
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The public’s perception of General William T. Sherman from the end of the Civil War until his death in 1891 would change repeatedly. The accusations that General Sherman and all Union generals were brutal destroyers appeared in the Southern press before the end of the war, but these accusations had quickly been overshadowed by the twin evils of Radical Republican politicians and carpetbaggers as the perceived enemy of the South....
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Chapter 5: Sherman’s Last Years
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William T. Sherman’s reputation in the American South had been very positive in the first fifteen years that followed the Civil War. During Reconstruction he was the political ally of the South, from his surrender terms to Johnston to his stand against the Ku Klux Klan Acts and his less than lukewarm acceptance of African Americans in the army. This, of...
Chapter 6: Sherman versus the Lost Cause
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The death of General William Tecumseh Sherman on Saint Valentine’s Day 1891 was the news story of the year. The great Prussian general Helmuth von Moltke died the same year, but this was a much bigger story in Europe than in the United States. John Holland built the first practical submarine that same year, but its significance would not be realized until the...
Chapter 7: Embracing the Lost Cause
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Sherman benefited from the Lost Cause. As the old cliché goes, no press is bad press. The Lost Cause may have demonized Sherman but they never downplayed his importance. The criticism in the Confederate Veteran helped Sherman overcome what might have been the most devastating attack on his legacy, that of his former subordinate John M. Schofield, whose Forty-Six...
Chapter 8: Sherman in Film
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The myth of William T. Sherman created by Southern writers in the last decade of the nineteenth century became widely accepted and disseminated during the twentieth century. Hollywood films presented the Lost Cause mythology to worldwide audiences. Professional military men and historians used the myth of Sherman to make arguments about events in...
Chapter 9: Sherman and the Modern Historians
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That so many of the major stars in Gone With the Wind were British is perhaps very telling. Although not intended by the movie’s creators, the large number of British actors and actresses in the film reflect an interesting aspect of the creation of the Sherman myth. The modern view of Sherman is as much a product of the view of British professional military men...
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Page Count: 202
Publication Year: 2011