Wednesday, October 31, 2007

ON THIS DAY: Friday, Nov. 1, 1861

Brig. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, commander of the Department of the Cumberland (which comprises much of Tennessee and Kentucky), writes an alarming letter to his wife, Ellen. Believing himself outnumbered, outgunned, and unsupported, he is in despair—or worse. “The idea of going down in history with a fame such as threatens me makes me crazy, indeed I may be so now.”

Sherman sounds pathetic. “God knows that I think of you and our dear children all the time, and [wish] that we might hide ourselves in some quiet corner of the world…Now I find myself riding a whirlwind unable to guide the storm.”

Not only Ellen will worry about Sherman’s mental state. Soon, those concerned about him will be taking action.

In Washington, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac, accepts Lincoln’s invitation to replace Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott as commander of all Union forces. Lincoln wonders out loud if McClellan can handle the tremendous responsibility, but the cocky Philadelphian tells him, “I can do it all.” It won’t be too long before Lincoln –and many others—will be wondering of McClellan can do anything.

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