Accurately Predicting How A War Will Go Will Make People Call You Crazy
First interesting piece of trivia: William Tecumseh Sherman was the first president of the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy, which eventually became LSU.
In 1860, with war clouds on the horizon, he wrote a letter to a fellow professor where he predicated what a Civil War would be like.
Not long into the actual war, after he resigned his post, went north and served the Union, he was sent home for being ‘crazy’ because he was thought to be too pessimistic.
I recently read an interesting biography of him, that I recommend.
Here’s the letter:
You people of the South don’t know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don’t know what you’re talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it … Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth — right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.
Duty, Honor, Country, a novel of West Point and the Civil War.
Originally published at https://bobmayer.com.