William Tecumseh Sherman, gold rush banker

William T.Sherman

William Tecumseh Sherman was born in 1820 in Ohio. After his father died in 1829 Thomas Ewing, an Ohio senator, raised him and later got him into the military academy at West Point. Sherman served in the Second Seminole War in Florida then spent time in both Georgia and South Carolina before he arrived in Monterey, California on January 26, 1847 after a voyage of 198 days. Here he served as an aide to Governor Mason and accompanied him on Mason’s 1848 trip to the gold mines.

In 1850 he married Ewing’s daughter, Ellen, and was promoted to Captain. By 1853 he was back in San Francisco as manager of the Lucas, Turner and Co. bank at Montgomery and Jackson Streets, but the financial world here was difficult. Sherman’s bank closed in 1857 after the main office in St. Louis folded. He was a fierce opponent of the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance and served as a Major General in the California militia.

Sherman’s Bank 1934

Sherman returned to the regular army during the Civil War and had tremendous success. After the war President Grant promoted him to the highest command in the country, General of the Army of the United States. He resigned in 1884 and lived in New York until his death in 1891. Yet for several years Sherman was a powerful and important man in San Francisco. He even has a street named for him. But one must wonder what would have happened to America if the Lucas, Turner and Co. bank had not failed. Would a successful San Francisco banker, now famous for the saying ‘war is hell’, have chosen peace in 1861? Would Sherman have gone east and rejoined the army? Would his march through Georgia never have happened? No one will ever know.


  1. Do you know the address of Sherman’s home in San Francisco when he ran the bank?? Thanks

  2. But what a great alternative history novel that would make. HMMMM?

    • Sherman had quite a history in California. He was Major General in charge of the militia in 1856 but resigned rather than fight the vigilantes, a wise move. Maybe that will blend with your brewing idea, Doris.

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