"We were as brothers," William Tecumseh Sherman said, describing his relationship to Ulysses S. Grant. They were incontestably two of the most important figures in the Civil War, but until now there has been no book about their victorious partnership and the deep friendship that made it possible.
They were prewar failures--Grant, forced to resign from the Regular Army because of his drinking, and Sherman, who held four different jobs, including a beloved position at a military academy in the South, during the four years before the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter. But heeding the call to save the Union each struggled past political hurdles to join the war effort. And taking each other's measure at the Battle of Shiloh, ten months into the war, they began their unique collaboration. Often together under fire on the war's great battlefields, they smoked cigars as they gave orders and learned from their mistakes as well as from their shrewd decisions. They shared the demands of family life and the heartache of loss, including the tragic death of Shermans's favorite son. They supported each other in the face of mudslinging criticism by the press and politicians. Their growing mutual admiration and trust, which President Lincoln increasingly relied upon, would set the stage for the crucial final year of the war. While Grant battled with Lee in the campaigns that ended at Appomattox Court House, Sherman first marched through Georgia to Atlanta, and then continued with his epic March to the Sea. Not only did Grant and Sherman come to think alike, but, even though their headquarters at that time were hundreds of miles apart, they were in virtually daily communication strategizing the final moves of the war and planning how to win the peace that would follow.
Moving and elegantly written, Grant and Sherman is an historical page turner: a gripping portrait of two men, whose friendship, forged on the battlefield, would win the Civil War.
Nodding acquaintances at West Point, Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman met again in 1862 and liked each other immediately. The author of this engaging dual biography doesn't claim this friendship "won the Civil War," but it made Union leadership remarkably friction free. Sherman, returning from a four-month sick leave he took to combat nerves, arrived on the battlefield of Shiloh with reinforcements for Grant; he served Grant loyally during the Vicksburg campaign, then accompanied him east to share in the victory at Chattanooga in November 1863. When Lincoln appointed Grant leader of all Union forces, Grant gave Sherman the Army of the Tennessee, an independent command. He captured Atlanta and marched brutally across Georgia while Grant fought to a bloody stalemate with Lee near Richmond. The surrender at Appomattox restored Grant's pre-eminence, and he and Sherman remained close after the war. The key, Flood writes, is that Sherman was the ideal subordinate, brilliant but insecure. In Grant he found a leader whose poise was contagious and who convinced Sherman he could do whatever job he was assigned. Better biographies of both exist, but Flood (Lee: The Last Years) has written a solid book that illuminates their productive relationship.