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Cage Match

Over at Altercation it is going to be Lieutenant Colonel Bob Bateman, a military historian in and for the military, versus Victor David Hanson, PhD, formerly respected classics professor who has morphed into a neocon wingnut. Colonel Bateman is tired of VDH distorting history for political purposes and intends to fact check the history that supposedly supports Hanson’s views.

I wonder how Hanson reconciles his admiration of William Tecumseh Sherman and his personal transformation into a political shill when Sherman is rather well know for saying of political office: “If nominated, I will not accept; if drafted, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve.”

Sherman was not exactly a fan of the chattering classes either: “If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world but I am sure we would be getting reports from hell before breakfast.”

Douglas MacArthur or Curtis LeMay would be much better choices.

Tune in and bring popcorn.

4 comments

1 Badtux { 10.22.07 at 7:11 pm }

What is interesting about Sherman is that he basically got raked over the coals when he accepted the surrender of the last existing Confederate army (Joe Johnston’s Army of North Carolina). Sherman’s surrender terms were basically, “go, and sin no more.” But then Abraham Lincoln got assassinated by that idiot John Wilkes Booth, and Sherman was basically threatened with hanging. Only the intervention of U.S. Grant kept Sherman from being immediately court-martialled (probably to be hung shortly thereafter) for exceeding his authority.

What is especially interesting about Sherman is his attitude towards people who *start* wars. He didn’t like them. How VD-H reconciles that fact with the fact that Dear Leader has started at least one war against someone who was no threat to America (the war in Iraq) will be interesting indeed. George W. Bush brought war to our nation (in Iraq at least). To quote Sherman, …those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. Somehow I doubt that Sherman would love Dubya…

General LeMay, on the other hand… somehow I think VD-H and LeMay would be, like, the bestest of buddies…

2 Bryan { 10.22.07 at 7:59 pm }

My family has personal reasons to hate Curt’s guts [may he rot in hell] for some of the things he did, and VD-H can join him.

Sherman actually told Joe Johnston about Lincoln’s assassination before he told his troops, because he wanted the war over. What he offered Johnston was what he, Grant, and Lincoln agreed to at their last meeting. He knew what would happen if he requested instructions from Washington on terms.

He convinced Grant to allow him to march through South Carolina, rather than going by sea to Virginia, to ensure that South Carolina felt the effects of the war they started. He got rather pointed in letters to his brother, the Senator, about people who glorify war.

3 Badtux { 10.23.07 at 6:00 pm }

Yep, war is hell. Sherman knew that well. Of course, he gave war a little bit of help in being hell, but really, it was Sherman who ended the war, not U.S. Grant — Lee’s starving army had largely deserted by the time Grant chased him down, because Sherman had eaten or destroyed a full year’s supply of food as his scavengers swept across the South, leaving nothing for the Confederates to feed their armies with. Johnston had some 120,000 men on paper… and about 18,000 in reality at the time he surrendered to Sherman, the rest had deserted due to lack of food.

Sherman’s goal was to end the war in as short a period as necessary, and he did that, basically taking a war that had slogged on for four long years and ending it in a single eight-month campaign — and he did that in such a way that the South never, ever considered running an insurgency against the Federal occupation (though they did run an insurgency of sorts against the Federally-installed local governments). Because they feared that if they actually fired a weapon in the direction of federal soldiers, Sherman would be back… and punish them even worse the second time.

4 Bryan { 10.23.07 at 7:18 pm }

There’s an anecdote about Lincoln visiting Sherman’s camp in DC and being approached by an officer who wanted to go into New York without a leave.

The officer told Lincoln that Sherman had threatened to “shoot him like a dog” if he tried it.

Lincoln told told the officer that “Well, if I were you, and he threatened to shoot, I would not trust him, for I believe he would do it.”

It would be nice if we had a few generals today who understood logistics and were prepared to just get it over and then leave.

From his papers Sherman felt that if there wasn’t a formal surrender of Johnston’s army, it would fade into the country side and fight a contracted guerrilla war. Too bad no one figured that out in Iraq.