What William T. Sherman predicted for the Civil War in 1860– and was sent home as “crazy”.
Sherman wrote this to another professor at Louisiana State Seminary (where he taught) in 1860, seeing the inevitability of a Civil War. Sherman had seen combat in the Seminole Wars.
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.
Sherman was sent home early in the Civil War because of his extreme pessimism– he was deemed a bit crazy. Turns out he was very accurate. A piece of trivia I also discovered researching my Duty, Honor, Country books was that he was ship-wrecked not once, but twice, coming in to San Francisco harbor. And he was on the expedition that confirmed the discovery of gold in CA, which started the gold rush.
Here’s his entry in the Cullum Register of Graduates for West Point where he is #1022, which means he is the 1,022 graduate of the Academy. Hmm, had to look mine up. I get #38625. Still, that’s not a lot since 1802.
Originally published at bobmayer.com on May 3, 2017.