William Tecumseh Sherman: Grant’s Perfect Lieutenant

Presidential History Blog

William Tecumseh Sherman, frequently considered the first “modern” general, was above all, the indispensable lieutenant to Ulysses S. Grant.


Sherman Meets Lincoln

William T. Sherman (1820-1891), Ohio born and bred, was orphaned as a child and foster-raised by the politically powerful Ewing family. A West Point graduate, he fulfilled his obligations, entered the private sector, and by 1861, was content as the head of the Louisiana Military Academy.

When the Civil War began, he returned North. His brother John was now a United States Senator – a Republican Senator, with Lincoln’s ear.  “Cump,” as his intimates called him, was brought to meet the President, and requested reinstatement in the U.S. Army.  It was William T. Sherman himself who requested a “second-in-command” assignment. He did not want full responsibility. Lincoln likely figured that Sherman knew best, and reinstated him as a Colonel, but soon after promoted him to Brigadier General.


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