William T. Sherman (1820–1891) was an important strategist and Union general during the American Civil War. Sherman graduated from West Point in 1840. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he did not see military action in the Mexican-American War. In 1859 he served as the superintendent of the Louisiana Military Seminary. Sherman left Louisiana when the state seceded from the Union in 1861 and was commissioned as a colonel in the Army. After initial faltering, Sherman rose through the ranks as he served under Ulysses S. Grant. Sherman led forces at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862, and in 1862–1863 he helped Grant capture Vicksburg to open the Mississippi River to the North. In 1864, when Grant was named commander in chief of the Union armies, Sherman took command of the military division of the Mississippi. In September 1864, Sherman captured Atlanta, and in November began his famous “march to the Sea.” Waging total war in Georgia and the Carolinas, Sherman was largely responsible for crushing Southern resistance. As Sherman headed toward Virginia, Confederate commander Robert E. Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomatox on April 9, 1865. Sherman accepted the surrender of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston at Durham, North Carolina, on April 26. In 1869, President Grant appointed Sherman commanding general of the US Army. Sherman served in that post until his retirement in 1884.

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