Through the veil of time, the Civil War has come to mean many things. For some, it was a war to free the slaves "for others, it was a matter of patriotism under the fist of tyranny. However, to concede to either of these explanations as the sole correct answer is an over simplification of grotesque proportions. To uncover the real meaning of the war, it is necessary to view all aspects of the conflict exactly as they were and not pander to the fickle nature of memory and remembrance. To William T. Sherman, the war was not about slaves, or cotton, or even states rights "it was about righting a wrong of epic magnitude. The South, through insurrection had shattered the union, and that sort of criminal act could not stand if the nation were to survive and prosper. Sherman understood the war best because he cut past all the political window dressing to the bare facts: Southerners and Northerners are really no different and Secession is essentially chaos. To end the war was to put down the rebellion and re-establish order among a common people.
Early in him memoirs, Sherman dispels the myth of a war fought for slavery. While he was still employed as an instructor at the Louisiana Seminary of Learning and Military Academy, Sherman attended a dinner at the Governors mansion, during which he states, " I would deem it wise to bring the legal condition of slave more near the status of human beings under all Christian and civilized governments". And what's more, the men agree with him and debate the point in support of giving slaves basic human rights. But the idea of freeing blacks is not breached in that discussion-- in fact, prior to his admission, Sherman denounces the view that his brother, John, would ever sympathize with abolitionists in his political campaign. In the introduction to the his memoirs, Sherman is described as "stressing kindly paternalistic feelings for blacks" (xvi) but he never speaks of empowering them beyond their servant status; the reality is that Sherman was a huge opponent of blacks in positions above or equal to that of white men and refused to enlist a black unit them under his command.