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(1861-1865) Civil War Battles (Western Theater)
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Steve Clements
Toronto
ON Canada
Posts: 688
Sherman and mental illness
Posted on: 4/2/2020 12:23:24 PM

(okay, I obviously have too much time on my hands...and I am told [by the powers that be...]to expect at least ANOTHER twelve weeks of this...so )

I have two people in my life that have suffered from being bi-polar. On a positive note, both have successfully managed this with medication...

Which is a round about way of asking...does anyone out there think that Sherman was bipolar?

(if you google Sherman and bipolar, you will note that this is NOT even close to being an original thought....)

s.c.
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Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4463
Sherman and mental illness
Posted on: 4/2/2020 3:32:07 PM

Steve,

Bipolar is a word that is used an awful lot.

Almost a default .

Sherman ?

Take a look at his face in those photographs.

Never judge a book by its cover - I’ve certainly learned about that this week ....but doesn’t he look like a twitchy, nervous individual, combining high intellect with something unstable ?

To a degree, all those generals look a bit haunted in those photos : gaunt, melancholic features reach out to us from a distant era .

There’s something about his visage that transcends in this respect.

All very subjective, I’m afraid : no qualifications on my part to do more than speak from the heart.

Yes, I reckon he would probably fit the bill as bipolar .

I admire him all the more for it.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4463
Sherman and mental illness
Posted on: 4/3/2020 11:32:43 AM

No cynicism meant here, but might it be that people suffering from bipolar are more used to being in a bad place ; the concomitant being that, when things turn nasty, they're more in their comfort zone than most other people, and might perform better than their unafflicted colleagues ?

Sherman had a very bad time when he was alleged to have gone mad ; a few months later he showed his mettle at Shiloh when steady nerves and stout hearts were required.

His conduct just before the battle started was notorious : refusing to believe the reports of startled pickets about the advancing rebel host.....it brings to mind Uncle Joe Stalin's obscene replies to agents frantically trying to warn him about the imminent Barbarossa onslaught.

When caught in the full fury of the fight he made an excellent account of himself and his division.

Regards, Phil

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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
morris crumley
Dunwoody
GA USA
Posts: 2667
Sherman and mental illness
Posted on: 4/18/2020 12:29:28 PM

I have also, at one time, thought that Sherman may have been bi-polar.

But, in studying his campaigns, he comes across more to me as a man who suffered from ADD than bipolar. He seems to be in a constant "manic" mood. Little sleep, hyper-active, always energized. Talking incessantly and full of streaming ideas.....machine gun type speech, interspersed with oft repeated words ( like telling his chief teamster on the Atlanta campaign, "If you don`t keep me supplied we`ll eat your mules up....eat your mules up."

He seems to be mostly devoid of the "depressive" aspects, at least on the campaign. I know he had earlier been removed from the service and sent back home for telling the truth about the cost of quelling the rebellion, and was in a deep depression for some period of time. But, in the field I don`t see the up and down aspects of the typical bi-polar condition. I see mostly the hyperactivity, the loss of focus and sometimes believing in things that are not true( like his arrogant dismissal of the warnings about rebel strength to the south at Shiloh, and the equal mistakes in believing almost hallucinations( like Hood was still in force in Thomas`s front, when he was getting warning of rebels on the march to the south.) Indications to me of a man who looses realistic focus from time to time...perhaps in some form of manic overload....a man locking in place what he reasons, and then skipping ahead to obsess about other matters.

My two cents. Respects, Morris
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"You are a $70, red-wool, pure quill military genius, or the biggest damn fool in northern Mexico."
scoucer
Berlin
 Germany
Posts: 2715
Sherman and mental illness
Posted on: 4/18/2020 2:20:20 PM

Morris,

What do you mean with ADD `? Now this might sound weird but I´m not up on all the english terminology.

Trevor
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`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4463
Sherman and mental illness
Posted on: 4/18/2020 3:06:51 PM

Attention Deficiency Disorder ?

Guessing.

He was a stormy petrel.

I get the impression that he was a bit too good at telling people what they didn’t want to hear.

A virtue up to a point, but perhaps he transgressed.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Steve Clements
Toronto
ON Canada
Posts: 688
Sherman and mental illness
Posted on: 4/18/2020 6:07:46 PM

Hi Morris,

Quote:
He seems to be in a constant "manic" mood. Little sleep, hyper-active, always energized. Talking incessantly and full of streaming ideas.....machine gun type speech, interspersed with oft repeated words ( like telling his chief teamster on the Atlanta campaign, "If you don`t keep me supplied we`ll eat your mules up....eat your mules up."



I am way out of my league here, but .... I would have naively expected that someone diagnosed as being bi-polar would swing from a manic state to a depressed state and then back to manic again....but neither of the two people that I know that have been diagnosed as bi-polar fit this description. One was so depressed that he lived in a basement for a couple of years...except for food, all alone/wanting absolutely no contact with others....while the other was simply manic all the time...(before being diagnosed and going on medication)

What made me think that Sherman might be bipolar was his 'resemblance' to the manic bi polar person that I know.

What is also interesting about Sherman is his desire for "order" and certainty (in fact, one of the better known Sherman biographies is sub-titled "A Soldier's Passion for Order"). He was great at planning a campaign...figuring out how many tons of supplies he needed, how many pieces of rolling stock were required to bring those supplies to where the supplies were needed, what crops and animals could be sourced over the ground he expected to cover etc.

But actual battles, with their unpredictable nature, and volatile ebbs and flows, were not to his liking. And, in my opinion, he struggles on the battle field. And was more interested in ripping up rails than in finishing off a defeated enemy-:)

s.c.
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morris crumley
Dunwoody
GA USA
Posts: 2667
Sherman and mental illness
Posted on: 4/18/2020 9:25:01 PM

Steve, I would certainly agree with your summation...Sherman was indeed a great planner for a campaign, logistics...and in the matter of cutting loose from his base of communications and supply on his march to the sea..scouring over the US Census data to determine if a force that size could expect to live by "off the land."

" And he was more interested in ripping up rails than in finishing off a defeated enemy."

This reminds me of the dispatch that McPherson sent Sherman after Sherman had sent Garrard`s division of cavalry off to destroy the Georgia Railroad, "all the way to Covington," thus he sent McPherson`s flank protection off for four days to wreck an already broken railroad line. McPherson wrote...dripping with sarcasm..." I have strengthened that portion of my line [east of Atlanta] with all the available troops I have got, and will simply remark in closing, that I have no cavalry as a body of observation on my flank, and that the whole Rebel army, except Georgia militia, is not in front of the Army of the Cumberland!"

Respects, Morris
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"You are a $70, red-wool, pure quill military genius, or the biggest damn fool in northern Mexico."
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4463
Sherman and mental illness
Posted on: 4/19/2020 6:03:28 AM

A couple of things he said :

It’ll cost ten thousand men to take Vicksburg, so I may as well lose them here as anywhere else.

I’m beginning to regard the loss of two thousand men as nothing more than a morning dash.

A sardonic form of melancholia ? Some form of fatalism, of being reconciled to the big picture ?

War is Hell, and you cannot refine it .

He had a stormy relationship with his wife, and the loss of their beloved son from fever contracted while visiting the army camps must have hit him hard.

And the loss of McPherson.

A wide degree of experience outside army life, including being in one or two banks that failed, probably imparted to him a profound sense of mankind’s follies and a certain agitation when he was convinced that the powers that be were not stepping up to the plate.

He exhibited a profound contempt for democratic platitudes Vox Populi....Vox Humbug !

He seems to have combined sharpness with sensitivity, and such a thing can certainly induce “ wrestling with demons” .

Regards, Phil

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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

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