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Sheet Music of the Week: General Sherman Edition

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The following is a guest post from Head of Acquisitions & Processing Denise Gallo.

"General Sherman and His Boys in Blue" by H.M. Higgins, pub. 1865. Music Division, Library of Congress.

Today marks the 192nd birthday of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. Born into an Ohio family steeped in law and politics, Sherman was at various points in his life a banker, lawyer, and president of a streetcar company. He is remembered above all, however, as a soldier. The wartime goal that dictated his actions and policies – to preserve the Union, no matter the cost – left him with two legacies. To the North, he was a hero second only to Ulysses S. Grant. To the South, he was the hated mastermind behind the March to the Sea, “scorched earth” warfare that left nothing in its wake but death and destruction.

At 16, Sherman was accepted at West Point where he quickly distinguished himself as a scholar but not as a soldier. Later, while many of the men who would fight with and against him in the Civil War saw action in the Mexican American conflict, Sherman was relegated to administrative assignments. At the First Battle of Bull Run in July of 1861, though, he was one of the few officers who held firm during the Union defeat. By March of 1862, Sherman was serving under Grant as a commander in the Army of West Tennessee. His deep self-doubts (which later led to a breakdown) and his often questionable tactical decisions did little to distinguish the early part of his career with the Union Army.

Sherman lived to see his 71st birthday but died only six days later on Valentine’s Day in 1891. Although we’ll encounter him again in our Civil War sheet music blog posts, today, we highlight a piece whose verses commemorate the overall highlights of his military career as leader of “his boys in blue.” The chorus, you’ll see, is decidedly uninspired!

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