Monday, March 2, 2009

Tom Worthington's Civil War

Tom Worthington's Civil War: Shiloh, Sherman and the Search for Vindication by James D. Brewer

Worthington was from a prominent family in Ohio, his father was the 6th governor of Ohio. He was a West Point graduate and had enough pull (family ties, West Point graduate, Mexican War Veteran) to become a colonel at the outbreak of the war. At Shiloh he commanded the 46th Ohio, which was in McDowell's brigade of Sherman's division. Worthington became a thorn in Sherman's side, before the battle but especially in the months afterwards. Before the battle Worthington bombarded Sherman with requests for axes and shovels, plus kept insisting that the Confederates were very close and would soon attack. After the battle Worthington at first engaged in some "I told you so" boasting to Sherman and Halleck.

Once the division was resting in Memphis Worthington kicked it up a notch. He printed his diary, which listed all the times he asked for entrenching supplies and the times he saw Confederates prior to the battle. He also talked to everyone who would listen about how Sherman botched the battle. Sometimes he drank while he blasted Sherman. Eventually Sherman had enough evidence of drunkenness on duty that he brought up charges against Worthington. In some respects Worthington welcomed the court martial as he thought it would be a chance to clear his name and show Sherman's mistakes. Instead it seems that the drunkenness charges dominated the testimony and Worthington was eventually convicted and cashiered from the service. There were enough irregularities in the trial that eventually Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt ruled the verdict null and void. By then it was too late for Worthington to return to service. He spent the rest of his life trying to prove that he was right and Sherman was wrong.

This book does a very good job of following the 46th Ohio's movements on April 6th. If you want to know more about that regiment this is a great book for you. This book also does a good job of following the court martial that forced Worthington out of the service.

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