Sherman’s strategy of subduing the American South included starvation and wanton destruction to dissuade them from independence. Before beginning his Meridian, Mississippi campaign in early 1864, he wrote his wife, “We will take all provisions, and God help the starving families.”
Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865
Colonizing the American South de Novo
“Copied from the “Washington Evening Star”:
United States Commissioner A.J. Williams, of Cleveland, Ohio, a member of the Loyal Legion, recently gave out for publication the following letter written by Gen. Sherman to his brother, Senator John Sherman, in 1862.
Memphis, Tenn., Aug. 13, 1862
My Dear Brother,
“ . . . At last I got here and found the city contributing gold, arms, powder, salt and everything the enemy wanted. It was a smart trick on their part thus to give up Memphis that the desire of gain to our Northern merchants should supply them with the things needed in war. I have one man under sentence of death for smuggling arms across the lines, and hope Mr. Lincoln will approve it.
But the mercenary spirit of our people is too much and my orders are reversed and I am ordered to encourage the trade in cotton, and all orders prohibiting gold, silver and notes to be paid for it are annulled by orders from Washington. But what are the lives of our soldiers to the profits of the merchants?
After a whole year of bungling, the country has at last discovered that we want more men. Now 1,300,000 men are required when 700,000 was deemed absurd before.
Of course I will approve the confiscation act, and would be willing to revolutionize the government so as to amend that Article of the Constitution which forbids the forfeiture of land to the heirs. My full belief is, we must colonize the country de novo, beginning with Kentucky and Tennessee, and should remove 4,000,000 of our people at once south of the Ohio River, taking the farms and plantations of the Rebels.
I deplore the war as much as ever, but if the thing has to be done, let the means be adequate.
Don’t expect to overrun such a country or subdue such a people in one, two or five years. It is the task of half a century. We must colonize and settle as we go South . . . enemies must be killed or transported to some other country.
Your affectionate brother, W.T. Sherman”
(Gen. Sherman’s Colonization Scheme, His Comment on Men and Measures in August 1862, Confederate Veteran, November 1896, pg. 37)