Lancaster, Ohio: If you were to ask any lady or gentleman of the South who were the “Big 3” in the Civil War Army, I think they would always go back to General Lee and Major General Jackson. The third should be Longstreet, but many folks don’t care for his post war politics. So some may substitute Longstreet for Forrest or somebody else, but just between you and me, it probably should be Longstreet. Were you to ask a gentleman from the North, unless they were specifically schooled up you could get a wide variety of answers. But they really should answer Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan. The reason why you should get those answers is quite simply because both Sherman and Sheridan implemented the will of General Grant with such a manner that the violence of it brought an early end to the war.
I have read where many people online refer to Sherman as a “War Criminal.” I have also heard these same type of people refer to Grant as a “butcher” and General Sheridan is largely thought of the same way. But let’s be honest, in pursuit of victory in World War II, the 8th Air Force intentionally bombed German factory workers’ living quarters, and there was that whole firebombing of Dresden just to ensure the will to fight on the German people was as shattered as their military forces.
Militarily speaking, total war was the quickest and most humane form of warfare possible to bring the Civil War to its conclusion. So that said, my first venue on the way to tour the Maryland Campaign took me to Lancaster, Ohio and the childhood home of one William Tecumseh Sherman. The home was a short diversion from our jaunt across I-70 and in all honesty, Lancaster seemed like a really good place for Team Traveler to spend the night. After staying in the local Hampton Inn and getting a nice breakfast, we were ready for our 11:00 AM appointment with Laura and Tammy. Laura was the director of the Sherman House Museum and Tammy is the Executive Director of the Fairfield County Heritage Association. Both ladies were just an absolute wealth of knowledge and professionalism. Laura was the most knowledgeable person on the life and times of General Sherman that I have ever had the pleasure to speak with. She was able to relay personal story after personal story about the entire Sherman family. I was fortunate enough to be able to sit with Laura for an interview, and her expertise really shined through.
One of the biggest things that I took from the tour was the actually genuine love and admiration that “Uncle Billy” had not only for his Soldiers, but his Southern brethren as well. At one point, he paroled one of his former cadets from Louisiana State Seminary, the fore runner of Louisiana State University. That’s right, to my surprise William T. Sherman was the head of Louisiana State prior to the outbreak of hostilities. Laura also informed me that Confederate General Joe Johnston was a pall bearer at Sherman’s funeral. That is how much love and admiration these two warriors had for each other. The tour and the interview took about two hours. I think the casual tourist can view the museum in about an hour and the staff are all experts and willing to lend their expertise. I know we covered this in the interview, but I also want to remind folks that in February of 2020, the Museum is going to celebrate Sherman’s 200th birthday in a big way. If you are in the area make sure you come out to join them and pay your respects to the man who could have been President, but was quoted as saying “If nominated I will not run and if elected, I will not serve.”
We finished up at the Sherman House Museum and Team Traveler let me know they were hungry. Moose was doing a full court press for White Castle, as we don’t have them in Kansas. The last time we ate at White Castle, it was only alright. There was however, a Tim Horton’s in Lancaster. For those Canadian folks that follow The Civil War Traveler, I need not explain to you, but to my American readers, Tim Horton’s coffee and doughnuts are little slices of heaven. I will always associate Tim Horton’s with “Doughnut Time” on the Kandahar Boardwalk in Afghanistan and that freezing July morning in Stoughton, Maine. Tim Horton’s, in my humble opinion, is a step up from Dunkin’s and Krispy Kreme. But that’s just one man’s opinion.
The next five and a half hours went by without incident as we found our way to Sharpsburg and a fine crab cake dinner at Captain Bender’s. There was a problem with our rental home. It turns out that I showed up a day early and we had to scramble to find a room at nearby Shepardstown. It was unfortunate, but in all honesty, it was my mistake so it was up to me to resolve it. I will be linking a review to Captain Bender’s as the food was amazing and all agree that we will be visiting there again before we wrap up. Mentally at this point, as I type this article, I am flipping a coin between Monocacy and the National Civil War Medical Museum and Manassas. I am leaning towards Monocacy and the National Civil War Medical Museum in Frederick, simply because one of the field hospitals for Antietam is only open on the weekends in May. I can visit Manassas later this week. Oh, and the owners of the Antietam Guest House where we will be staying, are just absolutely stellar folks. She tried to find a solution that did not involve us going to a hotel room, but I decided that it was my mistake so the folks that rented the house for the one evening should get it. Problem solved!
I hope you enjoy the pictures and the interview of the Sherman House Museum, and I will see you down the trail.