Wednesday, October 17, 2007

History has always interested me because of the connection that historical people have before, during and after the events that made them important. Such is the case of General William T. Sherman and General Joseph E. Johnston. Both served on opposite sides during the conflict, fought against one another for the prized city of Atlanta and Johnston surrendered his rebel army to Sherman in April 1865. I am not going to waste time with this blog speaking about the biographies of both men but I would rather engage you the reader on an interesting story between these former enemies.

Our Civil War was unlike any other in history. The high cost of life, the destruction and devastation ranks it among the toughest wars in history. But the unique thing about our Civil War is not about battles, weapons or supplies. Our war was about healing and despite this horrendous conflict many men who were former enemies went home and our nation didn't plunge itself into something worse. Over the long term scheme of things, peace was maintained and people began to rebuild their lives without further bloodshed. Joseph E. Johnston and William T. Sherman were such men.General Sherman died in New York City on February 19, 1891. His body was transferred to St. Louis where the official funeral was held on February 21. Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston who had opposed Sherman in Georgia and the Carolinias was there serving as a pallbearer. The day was very cold and Johnston, out of respect for Sherman, carried the casket outside without wearing a hat to shield his head. Old Joe had just turned 82 years old on February 3 and many friends asked him to wear a hat to keep warm. Johnston refused to disrespect Sherman stating "If I were in Shermans place and he were standing here in mine, he would not put on his hat."

This quote shows the respect that the two men had for one another and his final reunion is representative of the reunion that was occurring between the north and south. After Sherman was laid to rest Johnston caught a cold that turned into pneumonia and he died the following month. Johnston, a native Virginian was buried in Baltimore, Maryland. Sherman received several monuments in his honor including one in Washington D.C. Joe Johnston didn't received such acclaim and was vilified by Confederate leaders for not attacking Sherman. In 1912, Johnston received his first and only monument in Dalton, Georgia.

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