William Tecumseh Sherman was a year younger than I am now when he embarked on the Atlanta Campaign. He was responsible for nearly 100,000 men, God knows how many animals or how many millions of dollars of ordnance and supplies, all of which relied for its continued existence on a hundred miles of railway in a hostile country. And he managed it with aplomb.
Me? I can barely manage my bank account.
The fun never ends. This weekend I discovered that my employer, Georgia Tech, possesses PDFs of all 148 volumes of The War of the Rebellion, the official record of the Civil War. PDFs can be downloaded right from the library catalog; you just gotta be a GT student, staff member, or faculty. Or I suppose you could be given special dispensation if you're a researcher somewhere else. Very cool.
There are a lot of crap things about living in the early 21st century, but Project Gutenburg ain't one of them. The other day I was musing on the memoirs of William T. Sherman and it suddenly occurred to me that, well hell, they're in the public domain, I bet some fool has digitized them. And sure enough, here they are. It's a fairly good bet that among the several hundred people I know well enough to merit a Facebook friendship, I'm the only one truly willing to read this 1400+ page monster. But if you get a wild hair to digest the work of a non-writer from 140 years ago, you could do worse than Uncle Billy. His writing is concise and direct, and feels relatively modern, since those two characteristics are more or less the hallmarks of "modern" writing, unless you happen to read French post-structuralists for fun. Anyway, if you're interested in the Civil War, it's pretty good stuff. Like many memoirs, one walks away with the impression that Sherman was preternaturally wise and possessed of perfect judgement. It's easy enough to see through (though, let's be honest — Sherman is undoubtedly one of the great heroes of American history), but it will be interesting, when the time is available, to delve into the memoirs not only of his opponents in the field, but those jealous souls who served — and chafed — under him.
If ever the world needed an example of a person who can't keep his own house in order because he's busy fixing up other people's houses, this website is it. Not that anyone is looking anyway, but every now and again someone asks for a link to it, and I suddenly feel the need to sort some things out. So I spent a half hour sorting things out today, and the house looks slightly better. Until you open the door and go inside, of course, but we can't have everything.