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Celebrate the one you love…

Having said that, Happy Birthday to my sister Judy, she’s our favorite valentine!

And…in the spirit of Civil War Era couples, here’s a re-run from 2012. My new readers may have missed it…


William T. Sherman is a name we all know and love to hate here in the Southland.


He’s the dude that ‘made Georgia howl’ during the War Between The States.

He was not just a General, Confederate Crusher, and Indian Killer, he was a husband and father as well.

He was born Tecumseh Sherman in Lancaster, Ohio.  At the age of nine, he became the ward of Senator and Secretary of the Interior, Thomas Ewing, who added William to his name, as Tecumseh, the Native American Chief was a “heathen.” Sherman was called “Cump” most of his life.

From the age of nine, he lived in the Ewing household as one of their children, was educated as a brother, reared as a brother, and lived as a brother to the family.

He married Eleanor ‘Ellen’ Boyle Ewing, his adopted sister.


Ellen was a devout Roman Catholic, not devout like my friend Mike, but devout like Queen Isabella of Spain.  I mean, DE-vout!

Ellen Sherman - Sister Wife

Sherman was a great warrior and general who hated war, he coined the phrase “war is hell”.  He hated priests and newspapermen and had no interest in his wife/sister’s religion.

And, he wasn’t the best of husbands.  Oh, he was a good provider, and became very wealthy after the war.

Every time her left for a new post without his family, he had an affair or several.  Every time he came home Ellen got pregnant.  Later in life, when their estrangement was absolute, he had a torrid affair with a sculptor.

There were eight little Shermans running around the big house back home, one of them, Thomas,  to his father’s dismay, would become a Catholic Priest and join the order of the Jesuits.  The children included, Maria Ewing – 1851, Mary Elizabeth – 1852, William Tecumseh – 1854, Thomas Ewing – 1856, Eleanor Mary – 1859, Rachel Ewing – 1861, Charles Celestine – 1864,  and Philemon Tecumseh – 1867.

Ellen loved being a mother, and was elated when Thomas took his vows.

She was also a promoter of Cump’s career, writing letters, pushing for promotion, and pushing him to excel.

Sherman not only detested priests and newspaperman, he was a racist to the Nth degree. Most of what he said regarding African Americans, quoted in Michael Fellman’s biography of the great general, is unprintable.  He didn’t hit the “like” button on Facebook.  His letters home to Ellen while he was the First Superintendent of what would become LSU – just another reason to cheer for any other team playing them – are filled with racial slurs, detestable comments, and horrid bigotry.

He hated Native Americans as well.  Odd that his birth father was enamored with the ‘race’ and named him after one of their leaders as it is, Sherman coined the phrase, “nits make lice”.  It was the answer he gave when questioned as to why he allowed his soldiers to kill men, women, and children when attacking the Native American Tribes out West.

Sherman was the man who eradicated the buffalo from the West.  His philosophy of kill the food, kill the people had worked well in the South, and was a sure bet for the West.

He was also the first person in history to use the term, “final solution”.  Long before Hitler tried to exterminate the Jews, Sherman said, “…the final solution to the Indian problem, is extermination.”

Nice guy, maybe it was a good thing that he was an absentee dad so much!

Ellen and Cump were married in 1850.  Ellen devoted her life to various charities and held “pound parties”, where people would bring a pound of food goods to be distributed to the poor.

She played the piano and harp, was considered a very beautiful girl, and was deeply in love with her husband. Her father wasn’t all that thrilled with the match.  He was concerned about the ‘nomadic’ life of a military wife.  But, Sherman kept Ellen at home for most of his career, there were plenty of women to keep his bed warm at night.

Sherman’s real passion after the war was the theatre. Ellen was a bit of an agoraphobe, hated crowds and panicked often while at the theatre.  Fellman says, “…there is no evidence that her husband ever sympathized with such mental distress; to the contrary, he assumed that she was merely stubbornly opposed to fulfilling his beliefs as to what a wife ought to be.  His angry reproaches undoubtedly intensified her resistance and he would go out into the world, nearly every day, slamming the door angrily behind him, while she stayed behind in a fury.”

Not a match made in heaven.

They lived most of their later life apart, seeing each other when necessary.  Each meeting ended in a battle.

The undefeated hero of the Union was defeated on the battle ground of love.  Maybe it wasn’t a love story after all.

Really, siblings shouldn’t marry, blood or not.

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