BY THE TIME he reached Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River in March 1862, William Tecumseh Sherman was a changed man. That is, he wasn’t “insane” anymore, or a “nervous Nellie,” or “flighty,” which was how the press had portrayed him six months earlier when he lost command at Louisville for expressing fear he was going to be attacked and then having the gall to tell Washington that 200,000 Federal troops would be needed to subdue Rebels in the Mississippi River Valley. Instead, after a period of recuperation, Sherman (“Cump,” to his friends since West Point days) regained his confidence: A sharp, bristling personality, he began to channel the staunch singularity of purpose he would demonstrate for the remainder of the war.
For now, though, Sherman seemed to be overcompensating for the Louisville disgrace. From the time of his arrival at Pittsburg Landing he refused even to entertain the possibility of an attack by the large Rebel army known to be converging just 20 miles south at Corinth, Mississippi.