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The White Tecumseh: A Biography of General William T. Sherman
     

The White Tecumseh: A Biography of General William T. Sherman

by Stanley P. Hirshson
 

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"Extraordinarily readable." --Paul D. Casdorph, author of Jackson and Lee

Best remembered as the man who burned Atlanta and marched his army to the sea, cutting a swath of destruction through Georgia, William Tecumseh Sherman remains one of the most vital figures in Civil War annals. In The White Tecumseh, Stanley Hirshson has crafted a beautiful and rigorous work

Overview

"Extraordinarily readable." --Paul D. Casdorph, author of Jackson and Lee

Best remembered as the man who burned Atlanta and marched his army to the sea, cutting a swath of destruction through Georgia, William Tecumseh Sherman remains one of the most vital figures in Civil War annals. In The White Tecumseh, Stanley Hirshson has crafted a beautiful and rigorous work of scholarship, the only life of Sherman to draw on regimental histories and testimonies by the general's own men. What emerges is a landmark portrait of a brilliant but tormented soul, haunted by a family legacy of mental illness and relentlessly driven to realize a powerful military ambition.

"Sympathetic yet excellent . . . insight into how Sherman's own troops felt about him and his relationships with fellow generals, especially Grant. . . . Highly recommended." --Library Journal

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The Civil War general infamous for the burning of Atlanta cuts a more sympathetic figure than usual in this biography, which is as psychologically penetrating as it is painstakingly researched. Hirshson (Farewell to the Bloody Shirt), a professor of history at Queens College at CUNY, shows how Sherman (1820-1891) evolved from a rebellious yet intellectually gifted student into an inspired leader of men, driven as much by a fear of giving into the mental illness that ravaged his mother's side of his family as by his military ambition. According to Hirshson, prior biographies of Sherman have largely exaggerated the general's fierceness, and in so doing have failed to comprehend the complexities of his character. Hirshson is the only recent Sherman biographer to tap even a portion of the hundreds of unit histories to find out what Sherman's men thought about their commander. Although sympathetic to his subject, he admits that Sherman made mistakes during the Civil War, and he details the genesis and nature of these errors. He also uncovers new material about the general's personal difficulties before the war, and about his post-1865 squabbles with brother officers regarding army policy. The one drawback to this fine study is its lack of a detailed bibliography, which forces readers to delve through the endnotes to appreciate the depth of Hirshson's research in what is sure to become a controversial book on one of America's great generals. Photos; maps. (May)
Library Journal
Utilizing regimental histories, historian Hirshon offers a sympathetic yet excellent biography of one of the more noted Civil War generals, best remembered for burning Atlanta, cutting a swath of destruction across Georgia, then creating total destruction in South Carolina, including the burning of Columbia. Hirshon gives us an insight into how Sherman's own troops felt about him and his relationships with fellow generals, especially Grant. The author not only describes Sherman's role in the war but also details his early life and family problems. The latter part of the book deals with his life after the war, especially with the Indians in the West as well as his relationships with Presidents Johnson and Grant. This work focuses more closely on Sherman's battles and marches than most other biographies do and discusses his failures and accomplishments in detail. Highly recommended.W. Walter Wicker, Louisiana Tech Univ., (ret.) Ruston
Kirkus Reviews
A sympathetic biography that seems undecided whether to focus on Sherman the warrior or Sherman the family man.

As Hirshson (History/Queens Coll.; The Lion of the Lord, 1969, etc.) himself notes in his preface, this is hardly the first recent study of Sherman. In fact, the general has been poked and prodded quite a lot of late, and Hirshson compares his experience watching various works emerge to "the academic equivalent of having the contents of a six-shooter slowly emptied into one's body." Still, he has tried to turn this to his advantage, showing where his predecessors failed to use all available sources while at the same time culling from their works what he found useful. The result is a competent biography that, to justify its existence, stresses the importance of regimental histories of the Civil War, on which Hirshson relied most heavily. The problem is that while he spotlights them, it's clear that the more personal interactions of the Sherman family, especially the relationship between Sherman and his wife, Ellen, seem to be closest to his heart. The Sherman who emerges is a tormented man who, like his friend Ulysses S. Grant, tried his hand at a number of (mostly unsuccessful) ventures in the private sector but returned to the army during the Civil War to claim his share of glory. Sherman's record during that conflict is more difficult to categorize than Grant's, and it would be hard to point to a battle that he actually won. More impressive, claims Hirshson, were Sherman's marches, especially his famous (or infamous) March to the Sea through Georgia in 1864, which the author claims could have been accomplished only by a superbly skilled officer.

Not the most comprehensive biography, but a good supplement for those eager to understand the "firebug" in all his somewhat dubious glory.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780471283294
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
09/07/1998
Pages:
496
Product dimensions:
6.22(w) x 9.69(h) x 1.28(d)

Meet the Author

STANLEY P. HIRSHSON is Professor of History at Queens College, City University of New York, and the author of Farewell to the Bloody Shirt: Northern Republicans and the Southern Negro, 1877-1893. He lives in Closter, New Jersey.

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