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.
Author: Eugene D. Schmiel
ISBN: 13 978-0-8214-2083-6
Page Count: 271
Eugene Schmiel has done a simply masterful job of giving Major General Jacob Cox some long overdue attention for his roll in the great drama of the US Civil War. He also sheds light on incredibly strategic early Federal victories that led to the creation of West Virginia. Schmiel takes the reader from Cox’s formative year of Oberlin College through the end of the Citizen-General’s military service.This ranged from the mountains of West Virginia, to the blood-soaked cobblestones of Burnside’s Bridge in Antietam to the red running killing fields of Franklin and finally to Johnston’s surrender in North Carolina. The author takes us on the remarkable true journey of a “political” General with no previous formal military background, and how he would come to earn the respect and admiration of both the Lincoln Administration and professional military men such as Grant, Sherman, Thomas and Schofield. The book is a compilation of official documents, along with Cox’s diaries, letters, memoirs and histories. Through these collections, Schmiel is not only able to paint a picture of the man and his times, but is also able to pass on ageless leadership traits that we could all use in modern day. One of the great benefits of reading books on military leaders is that you are often able to glean leadership lessons that you should consider applying to your own life. “Citizen-General” does this in spades by showcasing Cox’s workman approach to his duties, his attention to details and the constant striving for improvement of his organization. In one leadership lesson in particular, Cox was the beneficiary of having established a relationship of trust and respect with his immediate superior, Major General Schofield. With this relationship established, Schofield gave his subordinate the freedom to make his choices and implement Schofield’s plans in a way that Cox saw most fit. Schofield allowed this to happen not because he was an absentee leader, but because he recognized that Cox had a servant’s heart and was not seeking glory for himself, but victory for their mutual cause. This was recognized by Sherman as well because with Sherman’s blessing, a “political” General would ascend to command the 23rd Army Corps. This was indeed a rare honor, as the Union Army had been snake bit too many times in the past by “political” Generals such as the likes of Major General Dan Sickles. At the war’s end, Cox was offered a Brigadier General’s Commission in the Regular US Army, but turned it down to lay down his sword and pursue a life outside of the military. Here he followed suit to the great Roman General and Statesman Cincinnatus, whom he shared so much in common. “Citizen-General” is a must read for any professional military leader, Civil War historian or private sector leader. On a closing note, I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my copy Schmiel’s latest offering; “Lincoln, Antietam and A Northern Lost Cause.” You too can order his latest book — as well as “Citizen General” — simply by clicking on the link in the top left corner of this page