General Sherman's Memoirs
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MEMOIRS OF GENERAL W. T. SHERMAN
By William T. Sherman
GENERAL W. T. SHERMAN
HIS COMRADES IN ARMS,
VOLUNTEERS AND REGULARS.
Nearly ten years have passed since the close of the civil war in America, and yet no satisfactory history thereof is accessible to the public; nor should any be attempted until the Government has published, and placed within the reach of students, the abundant materials that are buried in the War Department at Washington. These are in process of compilation; but, at the rate of progress for the past ten years, it is probable that a new century will come before they are published and circulated, with full indexes to enable the historian to make a judicious selection of materials.
What is now offered is not designed as a history of the war, or even as a complete account of all the incidents in which the writer bore a part, but merely his recollection of events, corrected by a reference to his own memoranda, which may assist the future historian when he comes to describe the whole, and account for the motives and reasons which influenced some of the actors in the grand drama of war.
I trust a perusal of these pages will prove interesting to the survivors, who have manifested so often their intense love of the "cause" which moved a nation to vindicate its own authority; and, equally so, to the rising generation, who therefrom may learn that a country and government such as ours are worth fighting for, and dying for, if need be.
If successful in this, I shall feel amply repaid for departing from the usage of military men, who seldom attempt to publish their own deeds, but rest content with simply contributing by their acts to the honor and glory of their country.
WILLIAM T. SHERMAN,
St. Louis, Missouri, January 21, 1875.
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
Another ten years have passed since I ventured to publish my Memoirs, and, being once more at leisure, I have revised them in the light of the many criticisms public and private.
My habit has been to note in pencil the suggestions of critics, and to examine the substance of their differences; for critics must differ from the author, to manifest their superiority.
Where I have found material error I have corrected; and I have added two chapters, one at the beginning, another at the end, both of the most general character, and an appendix.
I wish my friends and enemies to understand that I disclaim the character of historian, but assume to be a witness on the stand before the great tribunal of history, to assist some future Napier, Alison, or Hume to comprehend the feelings and thoughts of the actors in the grand conflicts of the recent past, and thereby to lessen his labors in the compilation necessary for the future benefit of mankind.
In this free country every man is at perfect liberty to publish his own thoughts and impressions, and any witness who may differ from me should publish his own version of facts in the truthful narration of which he is interested. I am publishing my own memoirs, not theirs, and we all know that no three honest witnesses of a simple brawl can agree on all the details. How much more likely will be the difference in a great battle covering a vast space of broken ground, when each division, brigade, regiment, and even company, naturally and honestly believes that it was the focus of the whole affair! Each of them won the battle. None ever lost. That was the fate of the old man who unhappily commanded.
In this edition I give the best maps which I believe have ever been prepared, compiled by General O. M. Poe, from personal knowledge and official surveys, and what I chiefly aim to establish is the true cause of the results which are already known to the whole world; and it may be a relief to many to know that I shall publish no other, but, like the player at cards, will "stand;" not that I have accomplished perfection, but because I can do no better with the cards in hand. Of omissions there are plenty, but of willful perversion of facts, none.
In the preface to the first edition, in 1875, I used these words: "Nearly ten years have passed since the close of the civil war in America, and yet no satisfactory history thereof is accessible to the public; nor should any be attempted until the Government has published, and placed within the reach of students, the abundant materials that are buried in the War Department at Washington. These are in process of compilation; but, at the rate of progress for the past ten years, it is probable that a new century will come before they are published and circulated, with full indexes to enable the historian to make a judicious selection of materials"
Another decade is past, and I am in possession of all these publications, my last being Volume XI, Part 3, Series 1, the last date in which is August 30, 1862. I am afraid that if I assume again the character of prophet, I must extend the time deep into the next century, and pray meanwhile that the official records of the war, Union and Confederate, may approach completion before the "next war," or rather that we, as a people, may be spared another war until the last one is officially recorded. Meantime the rising generation must be content with memoirs and histories compiled from the best sources available.
In this sense I offer mine as to the events of which I was an eye-witness and participant, or for which I was responsible.
WILLIAM T. SHERMAN,
St. Louis, Missouri, March 30, 1885.
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