~Part Six~

In time, he calmed down—or, rather, the War ratcheted up, and Sherman was the right man for it. Ultimately, his paranoid desperation gave birth to an idea no less crazy than any I have had but a hell of a lot more simple: Burn it. Burn it all.

Sherman always lamented the Northern cavalry and I suspect harbored a fondness for the South more than any of his military actions had ever shown. Why else would he have written, "The young Bloods of the South, sons of Planters, Lawyers about Town, good billiard-players and sportsmen.They hate Yankees per se, and don't bother their brains about the Past, present, or Future. As long as they have good horses, plenty of Forage, and an open country, they are happy.They are splendid riders, shots, and utterly reckless.They are the best Cavalry in the world."

But, Sherman—who looked more at home on a horse than any other Northern general you'll see in a Brady-Handy photograph—knew from his West Point days that he had artillery and he had engineering. Sherman took a cue from Caesar and won the war by building roads—straight through all the waste he had laid to the land around him, gladly accepting the labor of freed slaves in what he called—of all things—a Pioneer Corps. He built his roads through some of the South's thickest woodlands at the rate often miles a day—this even as he himself slept in the trees because it was raining so hard. From such a humble perch, he broke the South in half as surely as it had sundered the United States in two.

That, I would like to add, was after he had burnt a 300-mile-long swath of destruction through Georgia with a force of 62,000 men.

This was what Sherman did when he was not insane.

[He laughs]

That, now, that is what I'll call Yankee ingenuity: lighting a goddamned match! Or, how about melting down a rail to pull it around a tree and make what the Union boys called a Sherman necktie! What wit! What Úlan! What striking innovation!

Yet, these were the ideas that arrested my progress; these were the ideas that prevented my scheduled meeting with Jefferson Davis; and these were the ideas that sent me back to Yuma empty-handed, save for a meaningless commission.

[He sighs and drinks, finally starting to grow visibly intoxicated, but subtly so.]