General William T. Sherman

Memorial Day is not only a day to spend time with family and friends, have cookouts, and relax by the pool, but to remember those who served in the nation’s armed forces. We would like to recognize one of Ohio’s most famous military leaders, Civil War General William T. Sherman. Sherman was born on February 8, 1820 in Lancaster, Ohio to Charles Sherman and Mary Hoyt. His father was a sixth generation attorney and Ohio Supreme Court judge. William’s middle name was Tecumseh in honor of the Shawnee leader and Ohio native.  William was the sixth child born of eleven siblings. He was well educated and involved in various dance and arts programs in the community. His family were members of the Presbyterian Church in Lancaster. William was considered a good student and received high marks while attending Lancaster Academy. At the age of 9, his father passed away unexpectedly, and due to financial reasons his mother sent him to live with a neighbor and family friend. The neighbor that took in William was U.S. Senator Thomas Ewing. Once adjusted to his new life, Sherman, continued his education and worked several side jobs. He worked on building a canal through Lancaster and worked on a farm outside of town. Thomas Ewing’s political career was thriving and had a West Point Academy appointment at his disposal. He felt that William would succeed at West Point and at the age of 16, Sherman left Ohio for training at West Point Academy.

As a soldier in the American Civil War, Sherman quickly rose the ranks. He was a major leader in the Battle of Bull Run, Battle of Shiloh, and the Savannah Campaign (known as “Sherman’s March to the Sea”). During Sherman’s March, he was able to accomplish various Union missions deep inside enemy territory and without supply lines or significant reinforcements. Sherman was promoted to the Major General in the Civil War under Ulysses S. Grant (also an Ohioan). Once Grant was elected to President in 1868, William became the General of the Army (the second highest possible rank in the U.S. Army). Following his war career, Sherman relocated to New York. There, he showed no interest in running for political office. He is famous for saying “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”

Even though Sherman often found himself located all over the United States, he continued to maintain his Ohio roots. Today, Sherman’s boyhood home is a museum in downtown Lancaster.



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