A compelling and rounded portrait of the man who set the stage for "total warfare," Major General William Tecumseh Sherman
Major General William Tecumseh Sherman has come to be regarded as the most influential military strategist and tactician of the nineteenth century, the man most responsible for the character and climate of warfare in the twentieth century, and even, in many of its aspects, down to today. His leadership style also set precedents still embraced and practiced by the U.S. military down to the present. B.H. Liddell Hart, the foremost military historian and strategist of the twentieth century, characterized the general thus: "William Tecumseh Sherman, by the general recognition of all who met him, was the most original genius of the American Civil War."
Hart went on to illustrate, through Sherman's ingenious use of tactics and strategy, the basic principles of Hart's own seminal strategy of "indirect approach." As Hart concretely defined this strategy, he showed how Sherman in his campaign in Mississippi, in Georgia and in the Carolinas in 1863, 1864, and 1865-demonstrated all of its basic components and maneuvers. His campaign set the precedents for twentieth century warfare as carried out by the German high command in "blitzkrieg," by George S. Patton with his brilliant execution of mobile armored warfare, by Douglas MacArthur with his ingenious island-hopping strategy, and my Norman Schwarzkopf in his sweeping thrust codenamed "Desert Storm."
Lauded by his admirers as "a fighting prophet," Sherman, more than any other nineteenth-century military genius-more, even, than Napoleon and Wellington-set the stage for "total warfare," in many ways the bane of the twentieth century. For this he is considered the ultimate Yankee, and in the American South, even to this day, he is reviled for it. With the implementation of his "backdoor" strategy to cripple the confederacy through economic and psychological terrorism, he brought war onto the porches and into the homes of ordinary citizens-that is, noncombatants. He was the self-fulfilling proponent of his apt observation that "war is hell."
Psychologically complex, intellectually brilliant, militarily inventive, Sherman was hounded by depression and plagued by an inherited tendency to nervous collapse, a legacy of his mother's family. Nevertheless, he compelled loyalty from his troops to an extraordinary degree and was the outstanding leader of men in the civil war.
"Sherman"" "will explore these and many other aspects of Sherman's life and military career to give a full and rounded portrait of this extraordinary and complex general.