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Heroes and Villains: Historical Analysis

Heroes, Villains or Both?

- Austin Rappel

What I came across most interesting in this week's readings was the "myths" behind the men; specifically Ulysses S. Offer, general in chief of the United States Army, William T. Sherman, standard in america Military and Abraham Lincoln, chief executive of the United States. Offer was considered a drunk, "Whatever happened, the storyplot of his drinking became a staple of gossip in the old army. " (McPherson, pg. 114) Sherman was considered crazy; "But Sherman could never totally escape the reputation of madness" (McPherson, pg 114) Lincoln was considered passive: "a simple trait of figure noticeable throughout Lincoln's life: the essential passivity of his mother nature. " (McPherson, pg. 206) I think it's important to determine if these exact things were true or if there is enough research to ever know for certain the "mindset" or identity of the men that are recognized to us as the men that identified and finally were the victors of the Civil War.

Grant quickly increased through the rates through the Civil Warfare; "command of an brigade, a department, an military (Army of Tennessee), an military group, an all of the armies of america. " (McPherson, pg 110) These achievements are a large contrast from what one could consider could be an accomplished by a drunkard. Brooks Simpson, a biographer concluded, "Although Grant sometimes took a glass or two during the war, and may once in a while took two, his co-workers who recognized him best and were in the best position to observe him were unanimous in their testimony that he was seldom if ever drunk. " (McPherson, pg. 114) Offer was also given the reputation as a "butcher" - when the overall most deserving of the subject was Robert E. Lee. (McPherson, pg 113)

Sherman is best known for his March to the ocean; a march of over 700 mls, in which psychological warfare was used in order to stop the war. As explained in McPherson, "The terror that his soldiers provoked among Southern whites "was a vitality, " he wrote, "and I intended to put it to use to humble their satisfaction, to follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread us We cannot change the hearts and brains of those people of the South, but we can make conflict so awful" and "make sure they are so fed up with war that decades would pass away before they might again charm to it. ""(McPherson, pg. 124) As stated in this article by Matt Carr, "General Sherman's March to the Sea", Sherman's plan was to assault the infrastructure of the south and therefore end the war; "After more than three years of violent and apparently endless turmoil, Sherman had decided to take the turmoil beyond the battlefield and subject Georgia to an even of devastation that could make its human population realise that 'battle and damage are synonymous terms'. " (pg. 30) It's hard to assume that these strategies were those of a "crazy" man.

Lincoln, the 16th chief executive of america and the writer of many documents especially the "Emancipation Proclamation" was seen at least by one biographer, David Herbert Donald, to be unaggressive. However, as stated in McPherson, "at the very outset of his presidency Lincoln shown traits which were the contrary of what Donald message or calls "his essentially unaggressive personality. "" (McPherson, pg. 207) It's hard to believe that the person that established into action the Civil Battle and wrote one of the most historical documents has a unaggressive personality. Maybe the passivity noted by some is more a compassion than anything else. As mentioned in, "Lincoln's Legacy, Lincoln Lives Through His Words" by Gail Fineberg, "Lincoln's first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, which he offered to his case on July 22, 1862. "Nobody liked it" Sellers said. Lincoln returned to his cabinet with a second draft in Sept, and admonished associates to comment not on product but on his style. " (pg 38) The quotation goes without saying to the attitude of a driven man more so to the mentality of a unaggressive man.

Although it could never be known the genuine character of Grant, Sherman or Lincoln, it will be kept up to the viewers and historians perceptions of whether aren't these men were heroes, villains or possibly a little of both during and after the Civil Battle. It's understandable these men, however viewed, will be kept in mind for the mark they still left on the Civil Conflict and wars to come.

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