Friday, October 1, 2010

The Grant and Sherman Team--a Lethal Blow to the Confederate Cause

         Grant and Sherman’s relationship and friendship was forged early on once the war started. During the campaign against Forts Henry and Donelson Sherman was responsible for forwarding reinforcements to Grant. Forming a good working relationship with Grant, Sherman offered to waive his seniority and take a command under him.
        At Shiloh, Sherman commanded part of Grant’s army and although surprised by the Confederate assault early on, did well during the defensive fighting of the first day. Praised by Grant, he was soon made a Major General. Sherman was also instrumental in persuading Grant to remain in the army during his difficulties with Halleck during the advance on Corinth, Mississippi.
Grant was intense in his loyalty and covered Sherman's back on several occasions. Under constant fire from their own superiors, like Halleck early on in the war, Grant stood by Sherman when he was “insane” and Sherman stood by Grant when he was a “Drunk”.
        On the surface, they were very different, but the differences never hurt their friendship. Sherman was nervous. Grant was as calm, Sherman was active and explosive, Grant was calm and unhurried. Grant and Sherman were an effective, lethal combination because they were so different. They formed an equal balance—an offset of the positives and negatives of each other. 
Could this combination have worked in peacetime? I doubt if either General would have had near as much success in the peacetime army. Grant lacked the spit and polish and Sherman lacked the calmness and discipline. Both were non-political unpolished and direct. But both knew how to fight, and Sherman could always be counted on to take Grant’s aggressiveness to an even higher level.