General William Sherman Research Proposal

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¶ … Sherman played an instrumental role in the Civil War and the Indian Wars. During the Civil War Sherman was relentless in his desire to lead the Northern troops to victory. Sherman's strategy involved both traditional and psychological warfare. Sherman wanted to bring the confederate Army into complete submission. To this end, Sherman ordered his men to pillage farms and to take enough provisions for ten days. To fulfil Sherman's orders 60,000 union soldiers moved from farm to farm and took whatever provisions that they deemed necessary. The 1840's saw a rise in negative attitudes towards colonists by Native Americans and vice versa. Once the Civil war was completed General Sherman was made the commander of the Missouri district. As commander in this region he was responsible for sending troops to guard those working on the transcontinental railroads from the attacks of Native Americans. In some ways developing a strategy for this type of war was quite different from developing a strategy for the civil war because of the type of problem that existed between Native Americans and settlers. Sherman's approach to the relationship between Native American's and Settlers was quite visceral and it seemed to shape the strategy that he adapted to resolve the violence between the two groups. He was so vehement that Native Americans should be placed on reservations that he declared that those who refused to go to plantations would be killed. Sherman also adopted Sheridan's strategy of attacking Native American Camp Grounds during the winter. Winter attacks were used as a strategy because the provisions and the ability of the camp to move was more limited during the cold winter months. In both the Civil War and Indian Wars Sherman used his armies to seize the provisions of the enemy and to weaken their defenses.

Introduction

TOPIC: Research Proposal on General William Sherman Assignment

General William Sherman is one of the most iconic figures in Military History. Sherman played an instrumental role in the Civil War and the Indian Wars. His fame is due in part to the types of strategies that he implemented in reference to the aforementioned conflicts. The purpose of this discussion is to examine the differences and similarities of the tactics and strategy used by Gen. William Sherman in the conduct of his campaign in the Civil War and then the proceeding Indian Wars. The research will Also explore Sherman's idea of conducting total warfare as an interesting dynamic into the Indian Wars. There will also be an emphasis on the Indian Wars vice the Civil War. The Civil War will be used as a comparison to bring Sherman's Indian Wars strategies to life.

General William Sherman

General Sherman is probably most famous as one of the leaders of the Union Army during the Civil War -- he was a Northern Commander. General Sherman was unique in the manner in which he approached war and the honesty with which he explained war.

He understood the moral questions of war and the destruction caused by war.

However, he was also a man who recognized the need for leadership and thought carefully concerning the ways in which war should be conducted. He had a keen understanding of the enemy and their motives. He used his understanding to forge strategies that ultimately led to surrender. General Sherman combined both psychological and traditional war tactics engaging in total warfare. His legacy of total warfare has been utilized to this very day as an effective way to create instability and win wars.

Now that we have a clear understanding of who General Sherman was, the next section of the discussion will focus more specifically on the strategies that he utilized during the Civil War. The explanation of General Sherman's Civil War Strategies will also serve as a foundation for explaining the strategies that he chose to deploy during the Indian Wars.

The Civil War and the Indian Wars

A book entitled Lincoln's Generals explains that General Sherman was the successor of Ulysses Grant when Grant went east. Apparently President Lincoln was pleased with this choice. The book explains that Lincoln rarely interjected in the activities of General Sherman. Lincoln seemed to be confident in Sherman's abilities and they had very little contact during the Civil War. In fact

They corresponded infrequently; in their few letters, Lincoln usually would make some modest request for kindness to southern civilians, which Sherman would reject. Sherman was never called to a conference in Washington, and he rarely solicited or received military advice…though he frequently reported his activities and requested material aid. Such decentralization typified the war in the West for both North and South. Neither the elements of the military which had been centralized in Washington, nor Lincoln exercised anything approaching on-going control.

Lincoln's decentralized approach to the war allowed Sherman and other generals to devise their own strategies.

During the Civil War Sherman was relentless in his desire to lead the Northern troops to victory. Sherman's strategy involved both traditional and psychological warfare.

These tactics were most evident in what is known as Sherman's March. This particular March took place at a pivotal time during the Civil War, when Sherman and his men had just captured Atlanta in 1864.

In addition other strongholds of the confederacy had also been captured including of the Valley in Virginia captured by General Philip Sheridan's Army; Union general-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant had captured Petersburg, Virginia.

With this understood Sherman wanted to bring the confederate Army into complete submission. To this end, Sherman ordered his men to pillage farms and to take enough provisions for ten days. Not only was this tactic useful in guaranteeing that the union soldiers had the provisions that they needed but it was also designed to break the will of the confederate army and the people of the south. Sherman said of the south, "They don't know what war means, but when the rich planters of the Oconee and Savannah see their fences and corn and hogs and sheep vanish before their eyes they will have something more than a mean opinion of the 'Yanks."

To fulfil Sherman's orders 60,000 union soldiers moved from farm to farm and took whatever provisions that they deemed necessary. The troops were allowed to move away from the primary army bases but they were told not to enter homes of the Southerners. However, the soldiers disobeyed these orders and often drifted into homes and looted residences. According to soldiers took all types of household items including household goods and clothing. In addition soldiers burnt down houses after they were pillaged. They also burnt barns, mills, cotton fields and even railroads. Basically, they burnt down the livelihoods of the Southerners. There was a 50-mile wide path of destruction caused by Sherman's men.

There has been much debate about Sherman's strategy as it pertains to the March. According to Hanson (1999) Sherman's strategy during the march was indeed a success. The author posits

"in purely strategic terms, Sherman was now three hundred miles closer to the last major source of Confederate resistance, Lee's army in Virginia. Until Sherman

reached Savannah, Grant was holding Lee firmly in his grasp and waging, whether intended or not, a brutal and steady war of annihilation. When Sherman reached

the Atlantic -- as he had foreseen all along -- the complexion of that death lock changed radically: Lee was faced with the prospect of a lethal force marching steadily northward at his rear, devouring the source of supply for his army, and ruining the homes of his soldiers in the trenches. Whereas before, Lee had kept

Grant out of Richmond and had the option either to threaten Washington or to just stay still, now he had to move either northward over Grant or southward through

Sherman."

The author further asserts that even if Sherman's armies had not pillaged and burned the many southern farms, the march would have still been successful because of the manner in which he was able to organize the Union Armies. In addition, the organization and size of the unified union armies would have dealt a heavy psychological blow to the Confederate army and their efforts.

The article further explains that Thomas Osborn, the artillery officer reported that when Sherman and his army Marched into Savannah that the most important goal of the campaign had been completed. The officer reported that the army was moved from the center of the country to the sea, Savannah was seized and the provisions for the confederate army were ruined. Furthermore he stated that "The Confederacy proper is now southern Virginia and North and South Carolina. It has no other territory now at its disposal for military operations and this campaign has shown there is not much more left to it, except General Lee's army and the small force in our front."

In this instance, Sherman used Psychological warfare to confuse the enemy. Sherman wanted the plantation owners and the people of the south to recognize the urgency of the hour. The General wanted the surrender of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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