Friday, November 9, 2007

ON THIS DAY: Saturday, Nov. 9, 1861

This is a big day in the organization of the Union’s western forces—and a stunning day in the career of William Tecumseh Sherman.

The Department of War dissolves the Western Department and replaces it with several new departments: “Kansas,” under Maj. Gen. David Hunter; “New Mexico,” under Col. E.R.S. Canby; “Missouri” (including Arkansas, Illinois, and Kentucky west of the Cumberland River), under Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck, and—most significantly for Ohioans—“Ohio” (including Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Kentucky east of the Cumberland). Moreover, in Washington the Union's general in chief, George B. McClellan, has approved Brig. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s request to be relieved from command, military affairs in Kentucky having strained the 47-year-old son of Ohio’s nerves to the breaking point .

Ordered to replace Sherman, who is being transferred to General Halleck’s command, is Gen. Don Carlos Buell, yet another high-ranking Ohio in this war, and—to his eventual regret—a protégé of McClellan.

Meanwhile, Sherman’s seeming hysteria has caused widespread talk of “insanity.” Yesterday, one of Sherman’s officers had wired Mrs. Sherman’s father that he should send Ellen “and her youngest boy” to Louisville. "There is nothing to alarm you but is necessary to turn Gen. Sherman's mind from the responsibility now resting upon him.” A worried Ellen left within two hours and, with sons Philemon, Willy, and Tommy in tow, arrives in Louisville at 3 a.m. today.

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