Suffers breakdown early in the war

Two months later, the North and South entered into the Civil War. Sherman joined the Union Army. He commanded a brigade (military unit consisting of two or more regiments) during the Union's defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run (July 1861), then served in Kentucky. At this time, he became frustrated with the disorganized state of the Union war effort, as well as with his inability to do anything about it. He became convinced that the Confederate Army was much larger and stronger than his poorly trained Union volunteer force. Feelings of helplessness and insecurity gradually overcame him, and he considered suicide. Sherman finally came out of his depression, but his critics would call him mentally unstable and paranoid for the rest of his career.

After recovering his mental health, Sherman took command of the Department of Cairo in Paducah, Kentucky, in February 1862. He fought well at the bloody Battle of Shiloh (April 1862) in Tennessee, which resulted in a narrow Union victory. His performance got the attention of Union general Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885; see entry), who had been his friend at West Point. Sherman then accepted a position under Grant, who was the Union's top commander in the West. Sherman contributed to the Union victories in Vicksburg, Mississippi (1862-63), and Chattanooga, Tennessee, in October and November 1863. Leading men into battle seemed to give Sherman a sense of purpose that had been missing in his life. He was very popular with his troops, and he could often be found smoking cigars and telling stories with enlisted men.

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