He was born February 8, 1820 in Lancaster Ohio with eleven brothers and sisters. When his father passed away in 1829 he was adopted by his father's closest friend, Thomas Ewing, who was a senator and a member of the national cabinet. In 1836 he entered West Point. He graduated with the highest score in the class and was a second lieutenant in the 3rd Artillery Regiment. His first taste of action was in Florida against the Seminole Indians, then in 1846 with the Mexican-American war.(Bengston,1994)
During 1858-1859 he dabbled in business work and practiced law, but as tension between the North and South grew he returned to the army to lead a volunteer infantry division for the Union General Ulysses S Grant. .
Sherman also took part in Halleck's offensive into Corinth, Mississippi and in the closing of 1862 he led the Mississippi Column in the first Vicksburg campaign. Then in the battle for the Chickasaw Bayou, Sherman suffered his first defeat, but he was compensated for it in the taking of Fort Hindman. After, Sherman's skills were recognized and he was promoted to lieutenant General.