I know some of you like to write of leaders like Sherman, just to push folk's buttons. This would be akin to someone 100 years from now talking about how great a leader Timothy McVeigh was, because of what he did at Oklahoma City, and all he inspired. However, Rangers, let’s take a historical look at Sherman’s leadership.
At Shiloh Grant and Sherman totally underestimated the ability of Albert Sydney Johnston. Johnston was able to cross miles of swamp land, and arrive behind Sherman’s camp, hitting it early in the morning with massive force. Though it was mainly Grant’s fuckup, Sherman was almost killed in the surprise because the guards he had up were only minimal, and he didn’t have any patrols out in that area. He thought the Confederates would be defensive and not attack. Some historians agree that the only thing that spared both Sherman and Grant was the death of Johnston.
Moving forwards to what made him famous, the march to the sea, Sherman decided to not go after Hood after he captured Atlanta. This was a good tactical decision. Sherman then decided to vanish from the battlefield, and took his whole army, marching from Atlanta to Savannah, destroying an area about 70 miles wide the entire way there. During this march he learned of all the Union prisoners at Andersonville. The Confederate garrison at Andersonville was unable to feed the thousands that had become prisoners and requested that Sherman send soldiers to get the prisoners. Sherman refused, therefore leaving a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy. Why did Sherman ignore the POWs? The city of Savannah was too inviting, and was loaded with goods and plunder. When Sherman did arrive at Savannah the city fathers were able to convince Sherman to not destroy the city in return for tribute and goods. The POWs in Andersonville continued to die, with no relief in site.
OK, so Sherman is pretty good at destruction when there is no organized force that can resist him. However once Sherman entered North Carolina the remnants of Hood’s army, under the command of Johnson, attacked Sherman at Averasboro and Bentonville (about 30 minutes outside of Fort Bragg). Though the Confederates were outnumbered 3 to 1, they stopped Sherman’s army for three days. There is a chance they would have made Sherman’s force retreat back to Fayetteville, if it wasn’t due to one of the worst commanders in the Civil War, Braxton Bragg, arriving and fucking up the Confederate attack (yes, Fort Bragg is named after that huge screwup).
Sherman after the war brought his style of warfare against the plains Indians, which today is looked down upon and is considered by some as atrocities.
So, Rangers, if your style of leadership means that you don’t do any reconnaissance, don’t post guards, do not rescue fallen comrades, annihilate civilian targets and fall back from a force that you outnumber with overwhelming odds, then more power to you.
Me, I think I’ll stick with leaders that have more sound Ranger principles.
A & C Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion 1984-1986
2/325, 82nd Airborne 1979-1984
F Company, 51st LRSU 1986-1988
5th Special Forces Group 1989-1995
3rd Special Forces Group 1997-1999
RS - DHG 5-85