Was it something in the air?
From the time I was a young boy, one thing about that war has puzzled me. How is it that you could enjoy a leisurely breakfast, then set out by car and well before lunch have visited the boyhood homes of three men who played prominent roles in that war and what followed in the Old West? You can do this in a small area of East Central Ohio.
None of these were jovial men or even sociable men by normal standards. Two were poor students at Wes Point and ranked near the bottom of their respective classes. Yet fame awaited.
The first was William Tecumseh Sherman of Lancaster. Unlike the other two, he was a brlliant student. Not as concerned about military customs and protocol as he might have been, however.
Just over thirty miles to the northeast was the home of Phillip Sheridan in Somerset. Like numerous short men, he carried a big chip on his shoulder.
Drive on and you come to a wide spot in the road called New Rumley, at one time the home of an impetuous and impatient young man named George Armstrong Custer. Like Sheridan, he wasn't overly fond of books.
Sherman, an outstanding general, is best remembered for his march through Georgia and the Carolinas. He left a lot of smoke and ashes in his wake, as did Sheridan in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. With Custer leading the way, his cavalry was hot on Robert E. Lee's heels and both he and Sheridan were present when Lee surrendered at Appomattox.
Then all three moved westward. Sherman was in overall command during the Indian Wars but it was Sheridan, closer to the action and a man of many prejudices, who said, "I never saw a good Injun who wasn't dead." This was quickly transformed by others into, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian."
Then there was the man who couldn't wait on others, Custer. With the entire 8th Infantry Regiment close enough to hear the gunfire, he went charging into oblivion at the Little Big Horn.
So was it something in the air of East Central Ohio that made them the way they were? Slash, burn, destroy, throw caution to the wind, that was the way they lived and in one case died. Whatever it was, it made for some interesting stories in the history books.