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On Tuesday, May 14, 1861, William Tecumseh Sherman rejoined the United States Army. He was commissioned a colonel in the new 13th U.S. Infantry.
Sherman attended West Point, graduating sixth in the class in 1840. He served as an aide to Captain Philip Kearny, then as an adjutant to Colonel Richard Mason during the Mexican War, but considered resigning because he saw little action.
General Persifor Frazer Smith convinced him to remain in the army, and made Sherman his adjutant general when he took command of the Pacific Division in San Francisco after the war. He married Ellen Ewing in 1850, and resigned his commission as captain in 1853.
He worked in San Francisco as the agent for a St. Louis-based banking firm. When the parent company failed in the financial crisis of 1857 he moved to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to open a law and real estate office. In October 1859, he became the superintendent of the Louisiana State Seminary, the forerunner of Louisiana State University.
Sherman was offered a commission in the Confederate army, but declined. He moved to St. Louis, serving as president of a St. Louis streetcar company until the Civil War began.