Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman


By William T. Sherman




Nearly ten years have passed since the close of the civil war in

America, and yet no satisfactory history thereof is accessible to

the public; nor should any be attempted until the Government has

published, and placed within the reach of students, the abundant

materials that are buried in the War Department at Washington.

These are in process of compilation; but, at the rate of progress

for the past ten years, it is probable that a new century will come

before they are published and circulated, with full indexes to

enable the historian to make a judicious selection of materials.

What is now offered is not designed as a history of the war, or

even as a complete account of all the incidents in which the writer

bore a part, but merely his recollection of events, corrected by a

reference to his own memoranda, which may assist the future

historian when he comes to describe the whole, and account for the

motives and reasons which influenced some of the actors in the

grand drama of war.

I trust a perusal of these pages will prove interesting to the

survivors, who have manifested so often their intense love of the

“cause” which moved a nation to vindicate its own authority; and,

equally so, to the rising generation, who therefrom may learn that

a country and government such as ours are worth fighting for, and

dying for, if need be.

If successful in this, I shall feel amply repaid for departing from

the usage of military men, who seldom attempt to publish their own

deeds, but rest content with simply contributing by their acts to

the honor and glory of their country.



St. Louis, Missouri, January 21, 1875.


Another ten years have passed since I ventured to publish my

Memoirs, and, being once more at leisure, I have revised them in

the light of the many criticisms public and private.

My habit has been to note in pencil the suggestions of critics, and

to examine the substance of their differences; for critics must

differ from the author, to manifest their superiority.

Where I have found material error I have corrected; and I have

added two chapters, one at the beginning, another at the end, both

of the most general character, and an appendix.

I wish my friends and enemies to understand that I disclaim the

character of historian, but assume to be a witness on the stand

before the great tribunal of history, to assist some future Napier,

Alison, or Hume to comprehend the feelings and thoughts of the

actors in the grand conflicts of the recent past, and thereby to

lessen his labors in the compilation necessary for the future

benefit of mankind.

In this free country every man is at perfect liberty to publish his

own thoughts and impressions, and any witness who may differ from

me should publish his own version of facts in the truthful

narration of which he is interested. I am publishing my own

memoirs, not theirs, and we all know that no three honest witnesses

of a simple brawl can agree on all the details. How much more

likely will be the difference in a great battle covering a vast

space of broken ground, when each division, brigade, regiment, and

even company, naturally and honestly believes that it was the focus

of the whole affair! Each of them won the battle. None ever lost.

That was the fate of the old man who unhappily commanded.

In this edition I give the best maps which I believe have ever been

prepared, compiled by General O. M. Poe, from personal knowledge

and official surveys, and what I chiefly aim to establish is the

true cause of the results which are already known to the whole

world; and it may be a relief to many to know that I shall publish

no other, but, like the player at cards, will “stand;” not that I

have accomplished perfection, but because I can do no better with

the cards in hand. Of omissions there are plenty, but of wilful

perversion of facts, none.

In the preface to the first edition, in 1875, I used these words:

“Nearly ten years have passed since the close of the civil war in

America, and yet no satisfactory history thereof is accessible to

the public; nor should any be attempted until the Government has

published, and placed within the reach of students, the abundant

materials that are buried in the War Department at Washington.

These are in process of compilation; but, at the rate of progress

for the past ten years, it is probable that a new century will come

before they are published and circulated, with full indexes to

enable the historian to make a judicious selection of materials”

Another decade is past, and I am in possession of all these

publications, my last being Volume XI, Part 3, Series 1, the last

date in which is August 30, 1862. I am afraid that if I assume

again the character of prophet, I must extend the time deep into

the next century, and pray meanwhile that the official records of

the war, Union and Confederate, may approach completion before the

“next war,” or rather that we, as a people, may be spared another

war until the last one is officially recorded. Meantime the rising

generation must be content with memoirs and histories compiled from

the best sources available.

In this sense I offer mine as to the events of which I was an

eye-witness and participant, or for which I was responsible.


General (retired).

St. Louis, Missouri, March 30, 1885.





According to Cothren, in his “History of Ancient Woodbury,

Connecticut,” the Sherman family came from Dedham, Essex County,

England. The first recorded name is of Edmond Sherman, with his

three sons, Edmond, Samuel, and John, who were at Boston before

1636; and farther it is distinctly recorded that Hon. Samuel

Sherman, Rev. John, his brother, and Captain John, his first

cousin, arrived from Dedham, Essex County, England, in 1634.

Samuel afterward married Sarah Mitchell, who had come (in the same

ship) from England, and finally settled at Stratford, Connecticut.

The other two (Johns) located at Watertown, Massachusetts.

From Captain John Sherman are descended Roger Sherman, the signer

of the Declaration of Independence, Hon. William M. Evarts, the

Messrs. Hoar, of Massachusetts, and many others of national fame.

Our own family are descended from the Hon. Samuel Sherman and his

son; the Rev. John, who was born in 1650-’51; then another John,

born in 1687; then Judge Daniel, born in 1721; then Taylor Sherman,

our grandfather, who was born in 1758. Taylor Sherman was a lawyer

and judge in Norwalk, Connecticut, where he resided until his

death, May 4, 1815; leaving a widow, Betsey Stoddard Sherman, and

three children, Charles R. (our father), Daniel, and Betsey.

When the State of Connecticut, in 1786, ceded to the United States

her claim to the western part of her public domain, as defined by

her Royal Charter, she reserved a large district in what is now

northern Ohio, a portion of which (five hundred thousand acres)

composed the “Fire-Land District,” which was set apart to indemnify

the parties who had lost property in Connecticut by the raids of

Generals Arnold, Tryon, and others during the latter part of the

Revolutionary War.

Our grandfather, Judge Taylor Sherman, was one of the commissioners

appointed by the State of Connecticut to quiet the Indian title,

and to survey and subdivide this Fire-Land District, which includes

the present counties of Huron and Erie. In his capacity as

commissioner he made several trips to Ohio in the early part of

this century, and it is supposed that he then contracted the

disease which proved fatal. For his labor and losses he received a

title to two sections of land, which fact was probably the prime

cause of the migration of our family to the West. My father

received a good education, and was admitted to the bar at Norwalk,

Connecticut, where, in 1810, he, at twenty years of age, married

Mary Hoyt, also of Norwalk, and at once migrated to Ohio, leaving

his wife (my mother) for a time. His first purpose was to settle

at Zanesville, Ohio, but he finally chose Lancaster, Fairfield

County, where he at once engaged in the, practice of his

profession. In 1811 he returned to Norwalk, where, meantime, was

born Charles Taylor Sherman, the eldest of the family, who with his

mother was carried to Ohio on horseback.

Judge Taylor Sherman’s family remained in Norwalk till 1815, when

his death led to the emigration of the remainder of the family,

viz., of Uncle Daniel Sherman, who settled at Monroeville, Ohio, as

a farmer, where he lived and died quite recently, leaving children

and grandchildren; and an aunt, Betsey, who married Judge Parker,

of Mansfield, and died in 1851, leaving children and grandchildren;

also Grandmother Elizabeth Stoddard Sherman, who resided with her

daughter, Mrs: Betsey Parker, in Mansfield until her death, August


Thus my father, Charles R. Sherman, became finally established at

Lancaster, Ohio, as a lawyer, with his own family in the year 1811,

and continued there till the time of his death, in 1829. I have no

doubt that he was in the first instance attracted to Lancaster by

the natural beauty of its scenery, and the charms of its already

established society. He continued in the practice of his

profession, which in those days was no sinecure, for the ordinary

circuit was made on horseback, and embraced Marietta, Cincinnati,

and Detroit. Hardly was the family established there when the War

of 1812 caused great alarm and distress in all Ohio. The English

captured Detroit and the shores of Lake Erie down to the Maumee

River; while the Indians still occupied the greater part of the

State. Nearly every man had to be somewhat of a soldier, but I

think my father was only a commissary; still, he seems to have

caught a fancy for the great chief of the Shawnees, “Tecumseh.”

Perry’s victory on Lake Erie was the turning-point of the Western

campaign, and General Harrison’s victory over the British and

Indians at the river Thames in Canada ended the war in the West,

and restored peace and tranquillity to the exposed settlers of

Ohio. My father at once resumed his practice at the bar, and was

soon recognized as an able and successful lawyer. When, in 1816,

my brother James was born, he insisted on engrafting the Indian

name “Tecumseh” on the usual family list. My mother had already

named her first son after her own brother Charles; and insisted on

the second son taking the name of her other brother James, and when

I came along, on the 8th of February, 1820, mother having no more

brothers, my father succeeded in his original purpose, and named me

William Tecumseh.

The family rapidly increased till it embraced six boys and five

girls, all of whom attained maturity and married; of these six are

still living.

In the year 1821 a vacancy occurred in the Supreme Court of Ohio,

and I find this petition:

Somerset, Ohio, July 6, 1821.

May it please your Excellency:

We ask leave to recommend to your Excellency’s favorable notice

Charles R. Sherman, Esq., of Lancaster, as a man possessing in an

eminent degree those qualifications so much to be desired in a

Judge of the Supreme Court.

From a long acquaintance with Mr. Sherman, we are happy to be able

to state to your Excellency that our minds are led to the

conclusion that that gentleman possesses a disposition noble and

generous, a mind discriminating, comprehensive, and combining a

heart pure, benevolent and humane. Manners dignified, mild, and

complaisant, and a firmness not to be shaken and of unquestioned


But Mr. Sherman’s character cannot be unknown to your Excellency,

and on that acquaintance without further comment we might safely

rest his pretensions.

We think we hazard little in assuring your Excellency that his

appointment would give almost universal satisfaction to the

citizens of Perry County.

With great consideration, we have the honor to be

Your Excellency’s most obedient humble servants,














His Excellency ETHAN A. BROWN,

Governor of Ohio, Columbus.

He was soon after appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court, and

served in that capacity to the day of his death.

My memory extends back to about 1827, and I recall him, returning

home on horseback, when all the boys used to run and contend for

the privilege of riding his horse from the front door back to the

stable. On one occasion, I was the first, and being mounted rode

to the stable; but “Old Dick” was impatient because the stable-door

was not opened promptly, so he started for the barn of our neighbor

Mr. King; there, also, no one was in waiting to open the gate, and,

after a reasonable time, “Dick” started back for home somewhat in a

hurry, and threw me among a pile of stones, in front of preacher

Wright’s house, where I was picked up apparently a dead boy; but my

time was not yet, and I recovered, though the scars remain to this


The year 1829 was a sad one to our family. We were then ten

children, my eldest brother Charles absent at the State University,

Athens, Ohio; my next brother, James, in a store at Cincinnati; and

the rest were at home, at school. Father was away on the circuit.

One day Jane Sturgeon came to the school, called us out, and when

we reached home all was lamentation: news had come that father was

ill unto death, at Lebanon, a hundred miles away. Mother started

at once, by coach, but met the news of his death about Washington,

and returned home. He had ridden on horseback from Cincinnati to

Lebanon to hold court, during a hot day in June. On the next day

he took his seat on the bench, opened court in the forenoon, but in

the afternoon, after recess, was seized with a severe chill and had

to adjourn the court. The best medical aid was called in, and for

three days with apparent success, but the fever then assumed a more

dangerous type, and he gradually yielded to it, dying on the sixth

day, viz., June 24, 1829.

My brother James had been summoned from Cincinnati, and was present

at his bedside, as was also Henry Stoddard, Esq., of Dayton, Ohio,

our cousin. Mr. Stoddard once told me that the cause of my

father’s death was cholera; but at that time, 1829, there was no

Asiatic cholera in the United States, and the family, attributed

his death to exposure to the hot sun of June, and a consequent

fever, “typhoid.”

From the resolutions of the bench, bar, and public generally, now

in my possession, his death was universally deplored; more

especially by his neighbors in Lancaster, and by the Society of

Freemasons, of which he was the High-Priest of Arch Chapter No. 11.

His death left the family very poor, but friends rose up with

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