Monday, July 6, 2020

Fierce Patriot, The Tanngled Lives of William Tecumseh Stherman

The linked provides a "normal review" of this excellent book.

A big reason that it speaks to me as a fellow veteran of mental illness is that it really brings home that three of of the men that saved the union ... Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman, struggled with psychological issues.

Lincoln had suffered from deep bouts of depression since early manhood (he called it the “hypo”), and it’s likely he recognized a similar condition lurking behind Sherman’s excessive pessimism.52 He also must have known from his own experience that these bleak episodes eventually passed and so remained open to giving his fellow sufferer additional responsibility once he recovered. Mental illness of any sort carried a tremendous stigma in nineteenth-century America, but not with Lincoln when it came to a general he instinctively liked and believed in.

Sherman was all about the big picture. He had a superb grasp of terrain and a passion for a unified America "From Sea to Shining Sea".

Sherman was a prodigy of geography. During the Civil War, no matter how befuddling the swamp or forest or mountain range, if Sherman had been there, he remembered it exactly.
If Jefferson was the architect of continental expansion, Sherman would become the general contractor.

As I age, I suspect that the tendency to depression is a "gift" that is likely to give you a thirst to gather knowledge as a (false) way to obtain the illusion of security. You will be driven to scratch to see at least what you mistakenly imagine to be THE big picture, when it is of course only YOUR big picture.

His chief problem continued to be his contingent relationship with reality, a complex and ambiguous problem for any military strategist. If the perceptual filters that had allowed him to ignore the coming of secession were in abeyance, there remained those that would exaggerate danger—a potentially paralyzing affliction in warfare, and nearly Sherman’s undoing before he finally learned to effectively balance limited information with an ever-changing reality.
The map is never the territory, plans are invalid when the first shot is fired, etc. Sherman LEARNED ... and one of the things he learned was that the Civil War was maybe more than most wars, a psychological war, because it was largely a guerrilla war. The will of the population had to be broken ...  not just Lee's army. Thus, the often maligned "March to the Sea". As we were never able to do in Vietnam, Sherman broke the spirit of the rebellion -- though not their racism, as a century of Jim Crow would prove.

I have somewhat retreated into the past in this time of crazy that has many parallels to the mid 1800s. Tearing down statues shows that history is repeating itself. Slavery is slavery, often especially if it is not declared as such. When the people who you disagree with are "deplorable". or their very race ("whiteness") is enough to allow you to hate them, or even their not wearing a mask becomes somewhat analogous to "wearing a hood", then you are most certainly a "House Divided".

I firmly believe that division is the natural state of man, only driven to abeyance by the grace of God. "One nation under GOD" absolutely required GOD! Sherman's goal of unifying America was possible then because at least the North believed  both the God of the Bible, and the Constitution -- and the south at least claimed to believe in that same God as well. It is hard to defend slavery as an act of Christian love, though the South certainly tried!

Perhaps the time has come for those that believe in the God of the Bible, the Constitution, family, community, and such old and tired values as loving your enemies, to finally separate from those that worship only power?

Certainly Sherman, Lincoln and Grant would disagree -- the Union was sacred to them. In an era when nothing but complete adherence to "woke" dogma is acceptable to at least an apparent majority under penalty of violence, how can there be a nation under nothing but mass demands  of conflicting "rights".

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