Skip to main content

tv   The Civil War  CSPAN  April 24, 2016 12:15pm-1:31pm EDT

12:15 pm
the first vice-president had been given an office inside the oval office -- the last guy you want to get an office to because he has a beautiful office on the hill as president of the senate. bob went over and said, ted, we are going to have to take it back. he only used it for a few ceremonial things, and he was happy to do it. he was a good guy about that. rob took the grand office. discussione entire sunday on c-span three's american history tv. up next, on the civil war, author robert o'connell discusses his book, "fierce patriot: the tangled lives of william tecumseh sherman"." he describes general sherman's life as a roller coaster and discusses his name, and his
12:16 pm
military career before and after the civil war. this talk is part of the university of mary washington great lives lecture series. [applause] >> good evening and welcome to the great lives lecture, one of the most controversial figures in civil war history, williams tecumseh sherman. this was helped in part by our good friends. speaking this evening, mr. o'connell, who received his degrees from the university of virginia, which is where i first
12:17 pm
met bob as a fellow graduate student. obviously, many years ago. [laughter] >> in fact, lyndon johnson was president of the united state. let me emphasize to these students that this was lyndon johnson, not andrew johnson. [laughter] [applause] >> in any case, bob has fashioned a very distinguished career, including 30 years with the intelligence community, where he held significant assignments, including arms control and a member of the delegation on the disarmament, and he has also taught to 2004.
12:18 pm
he was in monterey, california. a prolific scholar and writer, the author of several works, one novel and histories. the last of those, "fierce patriot: the tangled lives of william tecumseh sherman", a new york times bestseller. and it was also the recipient of a 2015 award for excellence in civil war biography. at the time of its publication, he received widespread praise. it was called, a remarkable and remarkably original work on one of the people that truly defined america. the national review asserted that, "it is hard to imagine any other biography capturing
12:19 pm
sherman in such an enlightening fashion." the wall street journal called a sharply drawn and compulsive march through sherman's psyche. and evan thomas claimed it as , andprising, wise, clever powerful book. it is a pleasure to welcome one of the foremost military historians, professor robert o'connell. [applause] mr. o'connell: thank you for coming.
12:20 pm
this is a wonderful program and the great lives series, it is something that seems to be as much for the community as it is for the academic community, and that is a wonderful thing. i have known bill for 50 years. we were both graduate students at the university of virginia. before i get into sherman, i just want to, in the spirit of biography i want to talk about my past a bit and my relationship with bill. when i first met bill, he struck me as a very focused guy and he was in biography. he fell into a much beloved figure in his product was the -- to vrecreate fire these of virginia governor -- biographies
12:21 pm
of virginia governors. i was more interested in conceptual history, the idea of studying concepts and ideas. and basically a boiled down to american intellectual history. i should have known that there may have been a problem. it was the second iraq war, this is sounded -- stuff sounded good, but falling asleep reading it. i should have known something was wrong there. bill thrived and stayed at the academy and because i was foolish enough to study military
12:22 pm
history, there was not much in universities for that. i ended up finding a job in the intelligence community. a 30 year career in the intelligence community, honestly i do not think i will be telling you any classified information, for me was like a perpetual life in high school. most intelligence agencies looked like my high school, which is scary. anyway, i had extra time. unlike most jobs, if you take your work home from the intelligence community, they will arrest you. i continued to write and get interested in writing history.
12:23 pm
i was published, but it was conceptual stuff, a history of weapons and the idea behind weapons. i wrote a book on the origins of war. which i think is important because i discovered contacts with edward wilson at harvard with really, ants invented war. i have a whole chapter on ants. you can imagine how well it sold. [laughter] most of these books did not sell at all and gradually as the industry got tougher, it became more important to try to get some kind of sales out of these books. at which point, i discovered biography. and i really thought that this
12:24 pm
really made a lot of sense. one of the problems, one of the central problems with history as a discipline is how few people read it. academic historians wander through the last century, wondering if they were crusaders for social justice, and have narrowed the field accordingly. this is reflected by the hated the oracle -- sophisticated historical analogies and have you -- how few historians are noted in decisions. where are the daniel boorstins, or henry kissinger? one fashion of history remains, biography. why? i think because, in the ultimate
12:25 pm
sense, it is a tory. story. we are storytelling animals. because, when you think about it , we have been around for years. how do you remember stuff people have told you? we are natural storytellers and he can fit those stories into some sort of cognitive set that will allow you to recall stuff. story is important in the way that the mind works, i cannot prove that, but it is my story and i am sticking to it. i think probably, one of the reasons biography continues to work is that it basically helps
12:26 pm
things in ways, vivid ways, and in ways that make sense to people. i think it is significant that the list synonym for biography is life story. every life has a beginning and end, they have crises that people can relate to. and when you finish a biography, it leaves you with a feeling that you have gotten to know a person. it holds together and helps you remember. that is always a problem for me as a historian. hopefully i will leave you with a little bit of that tonight. rather than approach our topic in many facets of its existence,
12:27 pm
because he really lived a lollapalooza of a life, to do this i had to divide the book into three separate stories. his military career, and his personal life, but i cannot do that tonight. i had to come up with something. i do not want to tell you just a little bit about sherman. his whole life is interesting. i needed to come up with a motive that would hold this together. i thought i would do it like my life as a manic depressive. up and down. but i do not think that sherman was really crazy. he was extremely ambitious. and because he was ambitious, when his career took a down fall, nosedive, he got very depressed.
12:28 pm
it took longer for him to succeed. you can raise the question, was it his jumpy personality that caused his crazy life, or his crazy life that cause his personality? it is a question and egg -- it is a chicken and egg question, we may never know. so i started thinking about, his life as a roller coaster. it made sense. it is true, the invention of roller coasters was contemporaneous with sherman's existence, and it may be possible that he rode a roller coaster, but i cannot prove that. he lived a life on a roller coaster. i remember, we went out to bush gardens and my kids wanted to
12:29 pm
ride this ride and after about five times i was done for the day. i was ruined. you can imagine what william tecumseh sherman's life was like, up and down. it begins in ohio, but he comes from a very good connecticut family. his great uncle was roger sherman, who was the only person i believe to sign the declaration of independence and articles of confederation, and the u.s. constitution. his father, charles sherman and mary sherman, literally walked from connecticut to lancaster, ohio where they ended up. but he was already, he had studied at you -- yale.
12:30 pm
and he had a law degree, said he was like a happy -- a yuppy pioneer. they came to lancaster. they had originally got to the fire lands of ohio, the land of the state of connecticut was granted in ohio for citizens who had suffered because the british burned so much of coastal connecticut, but there were too many indians out there, so they went to lancaster. this is on the foothills of the appalachians, south of columbus. we went there this year, i did a similar talk at sherman's birthplace. it is a nice place and he probably had a good life there. he did well. charles sherman's law practice derived -- thrived, and he went
12:31 pm
to the ohio supreme court, but he had to read -- ride circuit. but when he was riding circuit, he got sick and died and left his wife with 11 children and no means of support. what was she supposed to do? live in a shoe? [applause] [laughter] there were big problems. and what happened, this is probably that -- something that many of you do not remember, that people farmed out. if there was an unexpected death in the family and eventually, more prosperous people came and helped. the germans lived just down the hill -- shermans lived just down the hill from charles's best friend.
12:32 pm
he would become an important politician a huge man that they . a huge man that theycalled the salt boiler. he showed up and said, i am willing to take a child. and he asked, who should i take? and one daughter said, take tec, he is the brightest. the family he leaves was a remarkable family. 11 children, you have john sherman, the author of the antitrust act and future chairman of the treasury. and a founder of equitable life. and finally, william tecumseh sherman, who ended up living
12:33 pm
with the ewing family. they were very bright people. thomas was extremely religious and extremely catholic. they basically lay down the law is william tecumseh sherman comes here to live, he needs to be baptized. and there being no saint tecumseh, he needed a name that would coincide with a site -- saint. incidentally, mary sherman did not go to the baptism. at any rate measurement has a good existence. the ewings are nice people. they were very religious. the only toys they got were rosary beads.
12:34 pm
but they had a very nice existing and it was an interesting one, because william starts living with them when he is nine years old. among the children was allen, she is five years old. she is destined to be sherman's lifetime companion. usually it is not a good career move to mary your sister. put it worked out for sure. that williamme turns 16, it is apparent that ellen is becoming more interested in him. she is around 12. they could have simply thrown him out of the house, but what they did, in typical fashion, he
12:35 pm
optimized the situation by giving him an appointment to west point. he got him out of the house, and to a place where he would not be coming home a lot. anyway, sherman loved it. he was a good cadet, very bright. and because the ewings were who they were, they shared opportunities with sherman that they were sharing with their own children. he arrived and there was really no problem academically. on the other hand, he was not like robert e. lee, a spotless cadet. i think an audience there is a friend of mine, and he used to run down the -- regal me with tales of his days at west point when he was always skating on the edge of getting thrown out, and never did.
12:36 pm
he also taught me that you should fall asleep with your eyes wide open, a good trick at west point, apparently. -- anyway, sherman got through west point and things began to rise. he goes to war, does not have combat experience with it, but it turns out well. it was the bloodiest indian war we ever fought. but sherman does well and he is liked by superiors and because thomas ewing is getting more important, sherman is appointed to lieutenant. he moves to south carolina where he is at formal greek -- fort mouldry, which is actually still
12:37 pm
there. and he spends a lot of time reading, painting, and he socializes with the local aristocracy who likes military officers because they come in nice uniforms and brighten up the party. sherman is cynical about the aristocracy, but he does not really say much that indicates that he does not like slavery. in fact, he basically says, that the slaves are better behaved than he thought they would be. at this point though, the roller coaster goes down. this is 1845. the mexican war starts, and sherman cannot find a combat role. he is a recruiter for some time. he finally work a deal where he
12:38 pm
can go to california and then there is an epic journey where he goes to south america, a group of americans, officers arriving in california. one of his traveling companions is a guy destined for the army. they are quite competitive. and there is a tiny number of these people and if you have been to california, it is big, so there was a lot of trouble asserting themselves. but an interesting thing happened as sherman was the paymaster. one day his commanding officer calls him and says, sherman, you are a civil engineer. i want you to find out something .
12:39 pm
he said this gentleman has , brought a bag of yellow rocks, he thinks they may be gold. is it gold? sherman says, i will tell you, get me a hammer. he hit it and it did not shatter. it is gold. so sherman suggests that a sound the rocks -- send the rocks east. they arrived in the senate. interesting yellow rocks -- and this sets off the gold rush. within a year, 50,000 americans find their way to california and they take over. not the u.s. army.
12:40 pm
most troops desert to go to the gold fields. and inflation is so bad, that they can barely survived, so they have to go out and contract themselves out. sherman contracted himself out as a surveyor. he is getting depressed about the army. he has been writing back and forth with ellen. he is getting older and he is out in california. she is miserable. and very suddenly, he gets his commanding officer, he says, go back to washington. so he goes back and by this point thomas ewing is secretary of the interior. alan -- ellen is apparently feeding her parity -- parakeet, and this is the moment, if it was a movie elvis would be singing, it is now or never. so, sherman comes and they get
12:41 pm
married. the ceremony is great. the president, zachary taylor, shows up with all of his cabinet. ellen gets so excited that she kisses the president, which is not protocol. and things look great, except a month later zachary taylor goes to the dedication of the washington monument, the beginning of it, and he has milk and sickens and dies. ewing is out of the cabin and sherman's career is going downhill. he has no combat experience. he started the gold rush, but nobody will give him credit for that.
12:42 pm
so things go from bad to worse, to the point where he finally quits the army and he becomes, wherever he goes and he has always loved st. louis, he impresses. louis bankers are impressed with -- these two st. louis bankers are impressed with him, you have gone to california, let's open a bank. so he goes to san francisco. meanwhile, his brother is doing great. he opens a firm. i think it is called hallock and billings. he is doing well. but, sherman does not do so well in the banking industry. by this time, the gold rush is
12:43 pm
petering out. fortunately, sherman is known militarily as a risk taker, but he is a tactical risk taker. he is able to keep the bank afloat. but he was caught in 1857, in 1857 crash, and soon he finds himself trying to be a lawyer in kansas. he was a terrible lawyer. he met the chief justice of the kansas state supreme court and to the guy said, you seem like a smart guy, you are in. that was it. he is helpless as a lawyer and gradually he gets to the point where he is taking care of property for thomas ewing. again, he reached a low point in his career. but, never without purpose.
12:44 pm
in the process of going back and forth to california, both he and ellen had been shipwrecked three times. it is not surprising that sherman wrote an extensive paper on what a good idea it would be to have a transcontinental railroad. he sent it to john who has risen an amazingly in politics, and he is a u.s. representative. again, sherman is not happy. one day he is out riding and runs into in army unit and a guy that he knew invited him to join them and go camping. he realizes that he wants to be back in the army. he does everything he can to get in, but he cannot. however, he goes through
12:45 pm
braxton, a confederate general, who gets him a job to be the first head of something called the louisiana seminary learning and military academy. sherman, as i read his letters from leavenworth, it was as if the issue of slavery did not exist. this is bleeding kansas and he did not notice it. he never asked himself, i wonder why louisiana would be starting a military academy righthe just -- right now. he just went down and set it up. the kids loved him. by the end of the time, he is
12:46 pm
telling stories of the front ier, california, and has everything running well. there is a problem. he completely missed his session. the night that he learned that south carolina had seceded, he is with his friend and fellow teacher, and one of the subordinates, david french -- this louisiana institute grew into louisiana state university. david boyd was the first chancellor of lsu, but uncle billy sherman started the place, which is something louisiana does not admit to too much. [laughter] this is how boyd described sherman. sherman was such a nationalist that he had to block out the image of slavery and its dangers
12:47 pm
to the nation. he cannot face the fact that it might tear the country apart. boyd said he burst out crying like a child, basing his room in a nervous way. he returned and said, boyd, you people in the south don't know what you are doing. you think you can tear to pieces this great union without war? there will be bloodshed. the north can make a locomotive or railroad car. hardly a yard of cloth or shoe can you make the review are bound to fail. only your spirit of determination knows that you are prepared for war. that was depressing considering how clueless he was about slavery. he goes north. he cannot find the right command. he is a valuable commodity,
12:48 pm
suddenly, because the union needs trained military officers. john, who is becoming more significant as a politician, gets him an appointment with abe lincoln. they go to the white house. lincoln is in a room full of people, office keepers of one sort or another -- finally wanders over to john and sherman and sits down within. john says, this is my brother from louisiana. he might be able to tell you something about what they are doing. lincoln says, how were they getting along? sherman replies, they think they are getting along swimmingly. they are preparing for war. to which lincoln smiles and says, i guess we managed. this shocks sherman.
12:49 pm
when they leave without any offer of command, sherman goes ballistic on william, in front of his brother, who just arranged to visit with the president of the united states. it was not the height of gratitude. you politicians are all fools. that guy blew me off. he did not hear a word i said. he did. he never forgot that redheaded guy ever again. at some point, that guy saved his presidency. he does get a command. he does his best to train volunteers. he wanted regulars. he got volunteers that were not trained well as they went to manassas for the first bull run, they spent most of their time stealing pigs and various hijinks on their way to the
12:50 pm
battle. when i got into battle, they -- when they actually got into battle, they fought well. there was a crisis situation where he was in charge of three regiments. he should have thrown them all at the confederacy, instead he threw one at a time. it didn't work. they fought for a while, then walks off of the battlefield back to washington. sherman thought that this was disgraceful. he was ashamed of his troops and himself. it was his first time in combat. he had been decisively defeated. his three regiments literally walks off of the battlefield. not feeling good about himself. he wrote ellen that he was d e-fired. this unit had actually taken a
12:51 pm
lot of casualties. who came along in a carriage but a lincoln? he said, take a ride and we will talk to your troops. they carriage rolls in. the troops want a speech. lincoln says, no, i cannot give you a speech. colonel sherman knows what he is doing and you will get too excited if you have a speech. you are too excitable anyway. an officer in the back to his, this morning, i am and enlistee with 90 days. it has run out. i told colonel sherman i was going to new york. good i do anything for him in new york. he said, if you leave this unit, i will shoot you down like a dog. [laughter]
12:52 pm
lincoln looks up and says, well if i were you i would not trust. i believe he would shoot you. he liked sherman. the kentucky command, the state of kentucky was unclear if they would stay in the union or if they would secede. a lot of secessionists in kentucky fought in the army. it was a situation and lincoln wanted to send someone good. he offered the command suddenly "would you like it, sherman" sherman said, no way. i do not want to be in charge. i am not ready. he got robert anderson, i about the only war hero that the union had at that point.
12:53 pm
the hero of the fort sumter incident. sherman is his second. they go to kentucky. anderson is in terrible shape. he probably had some kind of posttraumatic stress situation. he collapses almost immediately, leaving sherman in charge. when i say that sherman was a bit neurotic, one of his neuroses was that he did not want to be in charge. he collapses. he sees a confederate under every rock. he is writing crazy letters. finally, the secretary of war goes out to see what is going on. sherman gives him such a crazy talk that everyone thinks that this guy is out there. ellen has to come down and bring him to lancaster to rest.
12:54 pm
he is suffering, clearly, from exhaustion. he feels better in about one week. feelings brightly and ready to go back. -- feeling sprightly, and ready to go back. a local paper says that union general sherman is crazy. it was a deep stigma to be called nuts. sherman almost weathered. he wrote tom is -- thomas ewing saying who is to say who is crazy and two is not? he is still a valuable guide. his old rival rehabilitates sherman. he moves from california to take
12:55 pm
over the command of the west that john fremont had. he was not a good administrator, probably corrupt. he announced that basically slavery was abolished in any place that he was involved. this is over the line as far as lincoln was concerned. he got rid of fremont and replaced him. he is a superb administrator and the western theater is in good shape. there was one thing that he could not control. a little guy, a little general, who was a kernel at this point. he did not say much and he smoked a lot of cigars. this was ulysses s. grant. there came a point when grant needed troops at fort donelson. it was sherman's job to get them
12:56 pm
there. he got 10,000 their lickety-split. at this point, these guys discovered each other and it was the most famous and successful partnership in the civil war. they key was that sherman, at the last, sherman was a wing man and he found a wing to talk himself under. that was grant. he was the perfect subordinate. they had a series of campaigns that ends up in vicksburg. they cut the confederacy and half. many of you may be familiar with the anaconda plan. the first strategy of the civil war. the idea was to close all of the ports in the confederacy. because they were so dependent on cotton they would starve and
12:57 pm
give up. i did not realize there was an -- there was an anaconda b plan to move down the river and cut the confederacy and half. that is what they do. the south was not buying it. they were still in the war. grant leaves for the east. the bloody east. we are right here, these campaigns were fought right here in the so-called overland campaign. it is an oxymoron. the troops did not move. he left sherman in charge of the west. it was perfect because he would ask grant for permission. grant, like his name, would grant them. they worked perfectly together. sherman decides, if we cannot
12:58 pm
beat them by cutting them in half, maybe we can starve them with weapons. if the south had a military complex, it was atlanta. he burns it. the south still does not give up , so he starts waging war on the mind of the south. that is what the march was all about. it was a nanny nanny boo-boo kind of thing. i am here and you cannot stop me. it really was an amazing campaign. i know people in the south consider it brutal. consider the american revolution where british troops burned homes, murdered people consistently killed troops trying to surrender, and campaigned consistently raping women throughout the war. that is what i found out in my latest research.
12:59 pm
that is a lot different than what happened in the march. i think there was one case of rape. there were no nonjudicial killings. there were a few in the south. some of the so-called b ummers that sherman had were captured and killed. this did not go on as far as the north was concerned. they would burn your house and take your food. nonetheless, this worked well. we come to the end of the war. sherman is famous. at his peak. the surrender at appomattox everyone is familiar with , but what people are not
1:00 pm
familiar with is the only surrender in northern virginia. the rest of the confederacy remained at war. joe johnson negotiated a very easy peace. when this went to washington and this was shortly after abraham the whole cabinet rejects this piece and they ordered him to take -- he didn't do that. peace on theate order of appomattox. meanwhile stanton and how that start spreading newspapers that he is a secret trader.
1:01 pm
he is actually helping jefferson davis escape the clutches of the with a fictitious supply of gold they were supposed to be moving. this is about a big -- this is a big story. it was the biggest story that year in newspapers. it quickly evaporated. the war ends and sherman is on a high. grant's president, general of the army. tried his best to avoid reconstruction, tries to avoid that workentanglement
1:02 pm
on gone with the impeachment of johnson. stays out of it and things will be good with grant as elected president. for about a month they are -- the civilian head runs the army, not you. says i'm going to talk to grant about that. grant gave him this job of wanting -- grant is a warmhearted guy. the same thing happened with his successor, who was clearly corrupt. what sherman did was interesting.
1:03 pm
he retreated from washington. he left for new york. sherman went to st. louis. this was a very good move for him. his real agenda was to build the transcontinental railroad. he did it very brutally. settlers understood you can only -- in this case it was buffalo. to one of his friends, maybe we can get a bunch of hunters from england to go over here. maybe all the hunters from europe to come over here.
1:04 pm
they built the transcontinental railroad. things went well for sherman from that point on. she had a long and pleasant career. had several attractive and interesting mistresses. he enjoyed life thoroughly and died a national hero. i don't know if any of you have seen the statue, it is right across from the plaza hotel. always the flashy guy and people go to the statue. nobody goes down to where it is in new york. things are good for sherman's
1:05 pm
reputation, but only groep -- only momentarily. what happens is is there is a forceful reinterpretation of the civil war in the south, a lost cause mentality. it was a noble cause, and it was led by the noblest of all generals. every godhead and needs a devil. became the demon of the lost cause. his reputation was pretty much shattered. the 1930's a very respected
1:06 pm
a book historian wrote that he was actually praising sherman, but he said sherman was the one who invented modern industrial warfare. in 1945 that didn't look like a hot invention. the civil rights movement revealed the lost cause to be an invention. when that happened people began physicallysherman emancipated more slaves than anybody else in the civil war. -- peopleis army went have looked at him differently. i like the guy a lot.
1:07 pm
aonce tried to write biography about somebody i didn't like and it didn't even get published. you should probably like your character. i think that's about it. [applause] >> i will take questions. andou would raise your hand state it's a singly. >> in the big scheme of things, sherman?you rank was he good, bad, top, bottom?
1:08 pm
>> i think he was an excellent general. he let his army be what it wanted to be. he had a good strategic vision. he was not a great battlefield general. he was probably better than george washington. he was exceptionally good. you have to rate him right in the neighborhood of grant. i thought on the confederate side. all these guys are first rate. my monty python black night, the
1:09 pm
guy who keeps getting his limbs chopped off and he would never stop fighting. >> how did you get the name -- >> his father named him that. landhe went up to the fire there was a war. impressed with the nobility of this guy. maybe he ran out of some of the more normal names. that is as good an answer as anyone can give. nobody told sherman, i told charles that was a crazy thing.
1:10 pm
that is about as good as i can do. >> questions? you have a little piece about interesting stories. that was a crazy general here named bernstein. he said this ain't working and he backed off. also savannah was given up by the people. he wrote a letter to lincoln, i'm going to give you savanna. hell. is >> he said the thing about war is held later.
1:11 pm
it was interesting how he said it. they had the -- they had the .rand army it was an organization. they would have reunions every 10 years. sherman religiously went. at first, literally hundreds of thousands of people were showing up. as time goes on, and i think the last one was 1917 and there were 40 people left. sherman used to give speeches in front of these things. he was brilliant at this. it was truly his. someone asked him what it was like to be a soldier or something like that. he said, boys, we know what it is like to be a soldier.
1:12 pm
war is hell. it was almost an environmental statement. that was a later statement. he did not tell lincoln that. >> all we have to do is read or see the movie of gone with the wind to know what people thought about sherman in the 1930's. 80 years in advance have you found the southern society has changed or modified their view? robert: i think so. i read amazon reviews. i think that if you will work terribly angry i would have -- and i have gotten a you, but not that any. maybe no one south of the mason-dixon line read my book. i don't know. [laughter] >> i think it has changed.
1:13 pm
it has a lot to do with ending the lost cause mentality and realizing that the north winning the civil war is a good thing. it was not a good thing to have slaves. since sherman was involved with that, i think people are gradually coming to resolve those issues. you know, i do not think you will ever beloved. i could not call him beloved after the civil war, but he was likes enough that he was asked to be the grand marshal of the mardi gras in new orleans and was invited to atlanta to see how they rebuilt the city after he burned it down. >> i wanted to ask, considering the motivation that he had for his march through georgia, etc.,
1:14 pm
you mentioned until 1945 -- any thoughts of what he did and what we did to end the war by using atomic bombs in hiroshima and nagasaki? robert: you know -- it is much -- really, it is analogous in the situation that sherman did something that no one thought he would do. it worked in a long part because he long footed his adversaries. he used their vulnerability. that was also true of the use of nuclear weapons. they use of nuclear weapons, in my way of thinking, was more significant. it has changed war and the way we live.
1:15 pm
if you think about things after these two great industrial wars of the 20th century, world war i and world war ii, the utility and the amount of life taken senselessly. you have to think western civilization was in a trouble -- in big trouble. that was bad enough, but we invented a weapon that was more powerful than chemical explosives. people have historically used weapons like that promiscuously. things are looking bad. for maybe even the human race. it turns out that nuclear weapons were unusable in warfare. part of the things that i was involved with was figuring out how we could use them and we never solved the problem. neither did the russians. we have reached the stage where it really does feel, despite the latest comments of vladimir putin, it feels that we have more or less eliminated major
1:16 pm
industrial war. we have moved to lower level threats and higher levels of destructiveness. to me, that is historically unprecedented. you could say that sherman's march was like napoleon's march, but warmer and with more food. [laughter] >> thank you, professor. the question of the indians and the great american bison, where was the bureau of indian affairs? did any of the native americans raise issue with sherman in a negotiation?
1:17 pm
is he a genocideist? robert: the definition -- he wiped out a way of life, more or less. others were involved, the whole u.s. government was basically involved. sherman -- grant for instance, i have forgotten his name, he was an indian. he rose to be one of grant's colonels. he was at appomattox. robert e lee looked at him and said it is nice to see that we have at least one real american here, because he knew that he was native american. he looked at the and said, we are all americans. he became the head of indian affairs.
1:18 pm
he did his best, but that has always been the case. washington on one hand was thrashing the indians, on the other he was worrying about them and trying to figure out a future for them. this always seems to be the schizophrenic view that we have of the plains indians. they did not probably have to be wiped out. they may have gotten really good at robbing railroads, they were raiders by nature, but they could have coexisted. that was not what was going to happen. >> i wanted to know where sherman got his troops from. what part, i think it was michigan company a in his march? robert: it is interesting. it was known as the army of the
1:19 pm
west. we would definitely call it the army of the midwest. 70% of sherman's troops were from ohio, indiana -- some from michigan. one big state that i am missing. illinois. thank you. shows you what it is like to be an expert. [laughter] >> i am very interested in the negotiation that he had down south with the armistice. talk about the conditions that he negotiated. how are they different from the ones at appomattox? if there were critical points that may have led to the resentment over reconstruction.
1:20 pm
robert: the biggest thing, i think the soldiers would be able to keep their small arms. that was one. the biggest paying was to be completely reinstated into the united states all you have to do was swear allegiance to the united states government. the north was in a more vindictive mood. that was probably the key thing. no reconstruction. he did not agree with reconstruction. >> how did he get along with general sheridan? robert: he used to come over to the house when he was general of the army in washington and play with his kids. he was like uncle phil. he was great, but he was kind of a blunt instrument. sherman was the brains behind the operation.
1:21 pm
>> -- robert: let me in large on that. one thing, it is hard to tell who is smart and who is not. grant did not say word mostly. when push came to shove, he had throat cancer and had to take care of his wife, he wrote extraordinary memoirs. some say the greatest set of military memoirs since caesar. he was an incredible writer, but laconic in every other way. >> back to the time when they farmed out, how did they maintain a relationship with their biological mom? robert: it was painful. some did more than others. john was very good to her.
1:22 pm
he moved her into his house. sherman took care of her, too. it was a sad situation. she lost track of her family. she continued, the kids took care of her as best as they could. later, when they were successful, they took care of her well. she had a rough life having 11 kids. >> you said that general sherman was largely a blank on slavery. could you comment on his attitude on race? he was strongly racist considering black people come it has been said.
1:23 pm
robert: yes. frankly, his letters are filled with the n-word. you have to take that in the context of the time. the his attitudes towards black people really did evolve. i think that at the end of the civil war he never would have thought that black people would necessarily have the vote. in 1975 he realize republicans were losing in the south. he wrote this article in a national magazine saying these people are citizens and deserve the rod of full citizenship in the united states. what was funny was that in typical sherman fashion he said, why should we consider these people inferior?
1:24 pm
it is all of these bohemians and germans -- these immigrants. [laughter] >> if you do not want the follow-up of reconstruction, it was supposedly a democracy -- what was the alternative to reconstruction? to keep 11 states under permanent military occupation? what did they want to do? those that were against reconstruction? robert: sherman had a very easy peace, to let the ruling class come back as it was. in the end, it did not work out that much better with jim crow legislation for black people. i think, at least reconstruction was an effort, and noble effort.
1:25 pm
i do not necessarily think that sherman is not -- you are right. reconstruction cannot last forever. and it didn't. with the compromise of 1877, it was over. >> let's look toward next week. coming up, on tuesday, the lecture was postponed. it had to be postponed on the count of the weather. lecturing about harvard's janet brown. i urge you to come back. he will be signing his book in the foyer. we conclude with a round of applause. thank you. [applause]
1:26 pm
on c-spanon twitter history or information at our schedule. >> the u.s. signal corps produced hundreds of documentaries. among these were approximately 200 the litton's. -- 200 bulletins. 1945, evacuation of civilians, a 14 minute bulletin detailing the procedure for refugees and displaced persons out of harms way. locating them to temporary
1:27 pm
housing until it is safe to return home. >> no school today, it says. no school today or tomorrow or next week or next month, or for a long time to come. no school in france or holland. belgium or italy. china or the philippines. medicine. water or no place to get warm. no place to sleep. everywhere the byproduct -- the byproduct of war. they inevitably interfere with our military operations. it is an imperative necessity they big -- they be controlled.
1:28 pm
it is the job of the military be maintained. refugees will have to be confined to the areas of their homes. others may have to be reactive -- may have to be evacuated to the rear. control of the theater commander. in cooperation with the military police. individuals -- our -- they can create panic and cause whole people to flee blindly into this -- into the streets of the open roads. even before their homes have been touched. make themselves a perfect target for the enemy.
1:29 pm
just as it happened here, it happened over china. they became homeless wanderers and created a hazard to military operations by blocking the movement of troops and supplies. it is the same in every case, in every country. no matter where they are going or where they are, refugees are an uncontrolled crowd. toy are a possible threat law and order. and for the security of troops in the area. refugees without discipline and danger their own health.
1:30 pm
hunger, theye by follow the garbage truck's. disrupted water supplies, broken sewer disposal systems, and inadequate shelter. these mean more exposure and more sickness. quickly -- act quickly and decisively. >> interested in american history tv? visit c-span.org/history to see our upcoming schedule. american artifacts, lectures and history, and more. davidnext,

11 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on