From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.

One Leavenworth Law Firm Gave the Army Four Generals

by Harry H. Seckler

The editor of The Times is indebted to a former resident of Leavenworth, now living in San Francisco, for Rev. P. C. Headley's boon, on "The Life and Military Career of Major General Tecumseh Sherman," published in 1865.

The contributor of the book, unfortunately, did not make known his name or when he left Leavenworth, mentioning only that as a boy he was personally acquainted with the late Colonel D. R. Anthony, "in the manner," he writes, "that a boy would know an elderly man."

The book was found, the letter states, in an old second-hand book shop in San Francisco, and was sent because of a human interest story of Leavenworth in the long ago, and some early history of Leavenworth that is unknown to the present generation of Leavenworthians.

Interesting to the writer and never before brought to light is the statement, that Leavenworth had a law firm of four members--Hugh Ewing, Thomas Ewing, Jr., William T. Sherman and Daniel McCook, two of whom became brigadier generals and two major generals in the Northern Army during the Civil War.

It is doubtful any city in the United States has and Army record to equal that.

Quoting from The Leavenworth Conservative, consolidated with The Times in 1860, the book states:

"Since this biography was written some pleasant reminiscences of General Sherman have appeared in The Leavenworth Conservative, of Kansas, which on account of their interesting character, are here added to his life.

Offices in Cottonwood Shack

"Citizens of Leavenworth will remember that there stood on Main Street, between Delaware and Shawnee, in 1857, 1858 and 1859, on the ground now occupied by handsome brick buildings, a shabby-looking, tumbling cottonwood shell.

"It was occupied on the ground floor by Hampton P. Denman, ex-mayor, as a land agency office.

"The rooms above were reached by a crazy-looking stairway on the outside, up which none ever went without dread of their falling. Dingy signs informed the curious that within was a 'law shop' kept by Hugh Ewing, thomas Ewing, Jr., W. T. Sherman and Daniel McCook.

"All were comparatively young men. All were ambitious; the one who has gained the greatest fame, perhaps the least so of the associated lawyers.

"The Ewings had the advantage of high culture, considerable natural abilities, cold, impassive temperaments, and a powerful family influence to aid their aspirations. Hugh Ewing, was but little known hereabouts, though acknowledged to be a brilliant and versatile genius by his intimates, 'Young Tom,' as the other scion is familiarly called, has always been a prominent and influential man.

Owned Farm Near Topeka

"The third member of the firm fills today one of the proudest pages in the history of our land. His name and fame rank with the greatest of earth. All conspire to do him honor. Aliens bow to his genius, and enemies show the extent of their fears of its power by the virulence of their hate and manifestations.

"W. T. Sherman never mingled in our public affairs. He lived among us several months, having some landed interests here. An outlying part of our city plat is marked on the maps as 'Sherman's Addition.

"Prior to entering upon the practice of law in this city he lived for some time in the vicinity of Topeka, upon a farm of 160 acres, which we believe he still owns ... previous to residing in Kansas, Sherman lived in California where, as a miner, banker, and lawyer, he made and lost a large fortune.

"A graduate of West Point, he had previously held a captain's commission in the Topographical Engineer Corps and, in pursuance of duty, had made several important surveys and explorations."

Quit Law Practice in Anger

While in the practice of law here, Sherman was a consulting partner. He had an almost insurmountable objection to pleading in court.

He received an offer form the governor of Louisiana of a position of president of the Military College of Louisiana--the position he held when the Civil War broke out.

Shortly after reception of the offer, he was compelled to appear one day before the probate judge here--Gardner, we believe. The other partners were busy, and Sherman, with his authorities and his case all mapped out, proceeded to court.

He returned in a rage two hours later. Something had gone wrong.

He had been pettifogged out of the case by a sharp, petty attorney opposed to him, in a way which was disgusting to his intellect and his convictions.

His 'amour propre' was hurt and he declared he would have nothing more to do with the law in this state. That afternoon the business was closed, the partnership dissolved, and in a very short time Sherman was on his way to a more congenial clime and occupation.

The war found him in Louisiana, and despite of his strong pro-slavery opinions found him an intense and devoted patriot."

Army Employed the Law Firm

In his memoirs, Sherman tells of the law firm here in Leavenworth getting its share of the profession, then represented by several eminent lawyers, embracing names that later flourished in the US Senate and in the higher courts of the country.

An old classmate of his at West Point, a Major Stewart Van Vliet, then quartermaster at the Post, employed him to go to Fort Riley, 136 miles west of Fort Leavenworth, to seperintend the repairs to the military road.

He traveled with a four-mule ambulance and a driver. He states: "The country was then sparsely settled, and quite as many Indians were along the road as white people."

On reaching Indianola, near Topeka, he found everybody down with chills and fever, his own driver being stricken. But he reconnoitered the road, made contracts for repairing some bridges and cutting such parts of the road as needed it.

On the 54th anniversary of the establishment of Fort Leavenworth, General Sherman, as commander of the Army of the United States, issued General Order No. 42, establishing a school of application 'for infantry and cavalry, then known as the Infantry and Cavalry School, but now titled the Command and General Staff College.

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