Primary Source Analysis

November 30, 2010 |  Tagged | Comments Off on Primary Source Analysis

Primary Source: Sherman, William T. Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman. New York: Penguin Books, 2000.

The primary source is the memoirs of General William Tecumseh Sherman.  Sherman describes in great detail his actions and decisions throughout the course of the Civil War.  He also includes some insights into his personal life at times throughout the work.  He wrote is memoirs in the 1870s and they were published in 1875, about a decade after the end of the war.  At the time of writing Sherman was no longer engaged much in military activities.  He was in a high position in the army still, but it was more of a desk job than anything else.  Also, the only military activity going on at that time was the Indian removal taking place in the West.

Sherman played a key role in the outcome of the civil war. He was a very controversial figure though because of his somewhat “brutal” tactics which he employed mostly during the March to the Sea campaign.  One of the problems with the source that seems obvious is that of his personal bias.  He wrote the work for the public to read.  He may have wanted to portray himself in a better light than what might have actually been true.  A second problem that is a possibility is that he did not write his memoirs until almost a decade after the end of the war.  In that time it is possible that his mind may have become a little foggy on some aspects. I plan on using this source as a paper in order to illustrate the actions of General Sherman during the war.  I feel that it is a fairly reliable source and it is extremely detailed.


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