Before William Tecumseh Sherman became a great Union general, he was demoted for apparent insanity.
In October 1861, William Tecumseh Sherman, commander of Union forces in Kentucky, told U.S. Secretary of War Simon Cameron he needed 60,000 men to defend his territory and 200,000 to go on the offensive. Cameron called Sherman’s request “insane” and removed the general from command. In a letter to his brother, a devastated Sherman wrote, “I do think I Should have committed suicide were it not for my children. I do not think that I can again be trusted with command.” But in February 1862, Sherman was reassigned to Paducah, Kentucky, under Ulysses S. Grant, who saw not insanity but competence in the disgraced general. Later in the war, when a civilian badmouthed Grant, Sherman defended his friend, saying, “General Grant is a great general. He stood by me when I was crazy, and I stood by him when he was drunk; and now, sir, we stand by each other always.”
William Tecumseh Sherman and staff. Library of Congress description: “Gen. U. S. T. Sherman and staff”