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

Front Cover
Wiley, Apr 9, 1997 - Biography & Autobiography - 475 pages
0 Reviews
Hailed by his admirers as "a fighting prophet," cursed by his enemies as "the concentrated quintessence of Yankeedom," General William Tecumseh Sherman is one of the most complex and fascinating figures in the history of the U.S. military. His fierce campaigns of the Civil War, climaxed by the burning of Atlanta and his famous march to the sea, are the stuff of legend. Yet, until now, much of Sherman's life and troubled times have remained mired in controversy. In this superbly detailed, scrupulously documented account, author Stanley P. Hirshson presents the most vivid, revealing, and complete biography ever of the controversial general.

Drawing on a wealth of new information, including actual regimental histories, The White Tecumseh offers a refreshing new perspective on a brilliant, tormented soul and often misunderstood leader. Peeling away layers of myth and misconception, Hirshson draws a remarkable portrait of an enigmatic, temperamental, and unique individual-a man of enormous contradictions, strengths, and weaknesses; a loyal but largely absent husband and father; a determined and courageous, yet deeply flawed, military man.

Born in 1820, "Cump" Sherman attended West Point, where his undisputed brilliance in tactics, artillery, ethics, and engineering far outshone his erratic conduct. Despite a slew of disciplinary demerits, he graduated sixth in a class of over two hundred. As a young soldier, he served in Florida during the Seminole Wars, before embarking on a checkered career as a banker in San Francisco, a lawyer in Kansas, and finally, a military school master in Louisiana.

When secession came, practicality more than principle led Sherman to Washington, where an appointment from Abraham Lincoln spurred his rise through the ranks.

The White Tecumseh offers a fresh and frank assessment of Sherman as a military tactician. For the first time, we learn how he was regarded by his own men. The battle of Shiloh made Sherman a national figure, while defeat at Bull Run cast doubt on his judgment and abilities. Publicly portrayed as an unbalanced hysteric—a perception fueled by his own proclamations of collusion and conspiracy—privately he suffered from depression, forever haunted by the mental instability that had plagued his mother's family.

However, it was on the long campaigns and marches, such as his march across Mississippi in the summer of 1863, that Sherman's logistical and leadership abilities excelled. With the capture and razing of Atlanta in 1864, Sherman's notoriety — and historical legacy — was assured. As one newspaper put it, "Grant walked into Vicksburg, McClellan walked around Richmond, but Sherman is walking upon Atlanta." In fact, his understanding of logistics would be admired and studied half a century later by another West Pointer: George S. Patton.

With previously unpublished photos taken from the West Point Archives, this thoroughly researched, wonderfully balanced account of one of history's most famous and provocative figures is a compelling, beautifully crafted biography.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

THE WHITE TECUMSEH: A Biography of William T. Sherman

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

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 ... Read full review

The White Tecumseh: a biography of General William T. Sherman

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

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 ... Read full review


Of Raymonds and Streets Hoyts and Shermans
Beside the Still Waters
A Yankee in Rebeldom

24 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1997)

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. Mr. Hirshson lives in Closter, New Jersey.

Bibliographic information