Nov 17, 2014 - Crimes of War    3 Comments

Colonizing the American South de Novo

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)


  • Bernie,
    I have enjoyed reading the Circa 1865 Blog. As always the information is well documented, straightforward, and from a time when the south had not experienced the second invasion and massive dilution of our southern way of life. Sad what is happening all across our country today, but there is a backlash emerging. I don’t think the people have connected the similarities of the pre 1960 way of life with the more conservative movements revealed by the last election. Our education system has been whitewashed too much for that connection to occur. But for people who can seek out and understand our history we have quite a challenge, and I am thankful for your efforts.

    Interesting that this week, that the City of Atlanta put up a “historical” marker commemorating the actions of Sherman and relegating his burning and torture to “folklore” in an attempt “to reflect an expanding body of more forgiving scholarship about the general’s behavior”. The article describing the marker dedication makes note about the large numbers of non-southerners that now call Atlanta home and for the sake of balance quotes a few southerners from the city that cling to the remembrances of their fathers and grandfathers who believed the actions of “Billy the Torch” nothing more than criminal.
    Marcus Norton

  • If anyone takes a good look at Sherman they will note that he looks like he is crazy. What he did to Atlanta and the South could only be done by a mad man!
    The people who are making Sherman a hero now in Atlanta could also be put into this category!

  • It would be better that there were, instead, a more forgiving approach to educating immigrants to the South about the atrocities inflicted upon her and the importance of standing up to history as written by the winners. They will not automatically be blamed, but it will be incumbent upon them to acknowledge history and the importance of commemorating the original resisters. They need reminders about the evils of cultural imperialism.

    At most, give the poor dears “trigger warnings” about the lessons in Southern history to come.

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