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September 19, 2010

Gallipolis, OH

JoEtta Lynch, one of our Ashland artists and shop owners, has a display of her art in Gallipolis and we stopped to view the gallery. She has unique art that is very interesting, worthy of a visit for sure. The tone of the head makes it difficult to display in a photograph though.

I've just finished Volume 1 of the memoirs of General William T. Sherman of the Civil War ear. This is the 2nd book that I've read in electronic format but the first one that I've largely read in pocket form on a cell phone. I have to say it was very easy and nice to easily be able to grab a page or two when having a spare moment. I'm a fan of diaries, memoirs, and books of letters as you really get to know the personality of the person and the people who surround them. With Sherman, though, it's quite different and I don't suppose that I've yet gotten into the brain of the man. The books is superb in detailing where he went, how he got there, and the basics of his business, but not a lot in terms of understanding the emotions behind it all. The memoir is also very interesting from the standpoint of learning how the folks in the upper part of society traveled during that era. We think of everyone taking wagon trains to California but in the memoir we learn that the most trusted way to go west would be to take a steamer to Central America then a pack mule ride to the Pacific (via an apparently prosperous industry by the natives down there) and then another steamer up to California. Sherman makes multiple trips and I was surprised about the mobility of folks with money and means, the first trip going around the tip of South America and taking about 3 months if I remember right. The usual route through Central America would take him from San Francisco to New York in a little less than a month. It wasn't without peril, during one trip he was a victim of a shipwreck twice before he finished the travel.

We think of Sherman as being a lifelong military man, but actually he practiced a good number of professions. From that, I gathered that he was a very trusted man and had a very high caliber of good judgment. People would seek him out for jobs such as heading up a bank in California (he wasn't a banker) or a partner in a law office in Kansas (he wasn't a lawyer) and starting and heading up a military school in Louisiana (he wasn't a teacher but was a West Point graduate). He details the problems with California in the days during and shortly after the Mexican War, where we took over 50% of their country from them. He details a couple of severe banking and economic crashes, but you really never get to intimately know the people involved like you would in other memoirs, such as Grant's great volumes.

At the end of Volume 1, we find that Sherman is agitated and frustrated. The southern states have pulled away and since he is in Louisiana, he has intimate details of their conversations and talk. This is the most personal part of the memoirs and the most interesting so far. He talks about how it is just accepted by the population that they are no longer US citizens, that they have separated and that no war will occur. They believe that the north will not care one way or the other. He seems frustrated that the outgoing administration gives that very message and it seems to push the situation along, allowing all of this to happen. He is worried that the north appears to not be bothered at all over it.

At the very end, Lincoln has assumed the presidency and, of course, he does care. Sherman returns to Washington and puts the uniform back on.