Browsing "Crimes of War"
Nov 17, 2014 - Crimes of War    No 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)

Nov 17, 2014 - Crimes of War    No Comments

Setting Stark Starvation Loose Upon the Land

Many noted Sherman’s mental instability early in the war, and while in command at Memphis he was greatly disturbed by Southern cavalry attacks on his forces there.  While unable to thwart these constant attacks, he would take his anger out on defensless Southern civilians while rationalizing that they were responsible for his dilemma.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Setting Stark Starvation Loose Upon the Land

“Fort Sumter was fired upon, and now the sulking Achilles came out to fight; and with him blood and iron would play a part from the very beginning. In May [1861] he declared: “the greatest difficulty in the problem now before the country is not to conquer, but so conquer to impress upon the real men of the South a respect for their conquerors.” As the war got under way Sherman became hypnotized by it . . . and refused to be diverted by those who would minimize the task or mollify it by soft considerations of the claims of humanity or too close adherence to the rule book.

As condemnation of his prodigality in the use of men began to come in, he replied that the war could not be fought with breath, but that hundreds of thousands of lives must perish, and he added, “Indeed do I wish I had been killed long since.”   [He] began “to regard the death and mangling of a couple thousand men as a small affair, a kind of morning dash – and it may be well that we become so hardened.”

[In 1862 he wrote] the Secretary of the Treasury, “The Government of the United States may now safely proceed on the proper rule that all the South are enemies of all in the North.”

As to the large number of people who were being arrested [for disloyalty] in Kentucky, he would send them “to the Dry Tortugas, or Brazil, every one of those men, women and children, and encourage a new breed.”

“To secure the navigation of the Mississippi River [to Northern shipping] I would slay millions. On that point I am not only insane, but mad.” For every shot fired at a [Northern] river steamer he would return “a thousand 30-pound Parrotts into every helpless town on Red, Ouchita, Yazoo, or wherever a boat can float or a soldier march.”

But for no reason beyond the fact that the South was opposing the North, he would set stark starvation loose upon the land. Before beginning his Meridian campaign early in 1864, he wrote his wife, “We will take all provisions, and God help the starving families.”

[In 1863 he insisted] on war, pure and simple, with no admixture of civil compromises . . . [and] considered it unwise at that time “or for years to come” to give the Southern people “any civil government in which the local people have much to say . . . All the Southern States will need a pure military Government for years after resistance has ceased.”

By the summer of 1864 . . . [Sherman] offered this advice to General Sheridan, who might find it useful in the Shenandoah Valley: “I am satisfied, and have been all the time, that the problem of this war consists in the awful fact that the present class of men who rule the South must be killed outright rather than in the conquest of territory . . . Therefore I shall expect you on any and all occasions to make bloody results.”

He wrote Grant his well-known article of faith, “Unless we can repopulate Georgia it is useless to occupy it; but the utter destruction of roads, houses and people will cripple their military resources . . . After he had reached Savannah he wrote to Halleck, “We are not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people, and we must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war, as well as their organized armies.”

When he found himself on one of Howell Cobb’s plantations in Georgia, he instructed his army “to spare nothing,” and on the march through South Carolina, one chilly night he consumed in the blazing fireplace the furniture of “one of those splendid South Carolina estates where the proprietors had formerly dispensed hospitality that distinguished the regime of that proud State.”

His first disagreement with the Radical reconstructionists grew out of his long-standing attitude toward the Negro. He had spurned abolitionism in 1861, and during the war he had shown his contempt for Negro soldiers. He wrote in May, 1865, “. . . I do not favor the scheme of declaring the Negroes of the South, now free, to be loyal voters, whereby politicians may manufacture just so much more pliable electioneering material . . . they are no friends of the Negro who seek to complicate him with new prejudices.”

Sherman set down as an article of faith, “The white men of this country will control it, and the negro, in mass, will occupy the subordinate place as a race.”

[His postwar belief regarding Radical Reconstruction is summed up with] “The South is ruined and appeals to our pity. To ride the people down with persecutions and military exactions would be like slashing away at the crew of a sinking ship.”

(Sherman and the South, E. Merton Coulter, North Carolina Historical Review, Volume VIII, Number 1, January 1931, excerpts, pp. 46-53)

Nov 16, 2014 - Crimes of War    No Comments

The Minds of Adolf and Josef Sherman

William Sherman publicly expressed his views on official Northern war policy, claiming that the rules of civilized warfare would be observed by his forces. Despite the assurances, his theory of collective responsibility led him to “the wreaking of vengeance upon a town because it happened to be near the scene” of a recent attack on his command. His total war theory “placed in his hands a weapon, simple in its application, to strike back at his enemy with telling blows.”

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

The Minds of Adolf and Josef Sherman

“[Sherman wrote Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P.] Chase [in August 1862], not only to set the government straight as to where its cotton policy was leading, but also to clear up his own thinking about the war. [He] summed up to the Secretary:

“This is no trifle when one nation is at war with another, all the people of one are enemies of the other; then the rules are plain and easy of understanding.” He assured Chase that at the outset of the war there was apparently no understanding of such a simple matter, and he continued:

“The Government of the United States may now safely proceed on the proper rule that all men in the South are enemies of all in the North; and not only are they unfriendly, but all who can procure arms now bear them as organized regiments, or as guerillas. There is not a garrison in Tennessee where a man can go beyond the sight of the flagstaff without being shot or captured.”

Thus did Sherman strip war of all the rules of conduct voluntarily subscribed to by the nations of the civilized nations of the nineteenth century and set up a single very simple one – that all of the people of the South were enemies of those in the North, and the Union armies might therefore proceed on the “proper” rule that no line was to be drawn between the military forces of the South and the noncombatant civilian population.

Sherman here stated, in simple language, the basic principle upon which the waging of total war rests and upon what efforts to justify it are founded.

Sherman [described] his helplessness [before Southern cavalry raids on his forces] in a report to General Grant as early as August 1862. He pointed out the difficulty of coming to grips with the enemy . . . The elusiveness of Southern units brought from Sherman a characteristic recourse to generalization, as he assured Grant: “All the people are now guerillas, and they have a perfect understanding.”

[Sherman] wrote his brother in September: “It’s about time the North understood the truth. That the entire South, man, woman and child, is against us, armed and determined.”

It was evident that this time that Sherman was determined to consider the resistance encountered . . . as the treacherous acts of the civilian populace. He was to shut out any thought that his troubles were caused by Confederate cavalry. It mattered not that he had not investigated or weighed the evidence to establish the truth of the proposition – he had convinced himself that it was true, and that was what he would act upon.

Sherman had been searching around for some means of crippling those he was coming to hate, and as early as July 31 [1862], a few days after he took command at Memphis, he wrote to his wife . . . “We are now in the enemy’s country, and I act accordingly. The North may fall into bankruptcy and anarchy first, but if they can hold on, the war will soon assume a turn to extermination, not of soldiers alone, that is the least part of the trouble, but the people.”

[His brother Senator] John Sherman had written the General shortly before the Union army occupied Corinth . . . “However delay, defeat or a much longer continuation in the barbarity of rebel warfare will prepare the public mind in the North for a warfare that will not scruple to avail itself of every means of subjection.”

(Merchant of Terror, General Sherman and Total War, John Bennett Walters, Bobbs-Merrill, 1973, pp. 57-61)

Nov 13, 2014 - Crimes of War    No Comments

Adhering to the Incendiary Enemy

The freedmen unwittingly welcomed the Northern invaders and aided them against their white neighbors; Sherman’s soldiers routinely robbed and assaulted both black and white. The “Fiend of Destruction” wrote on 23 February 1865 to his cavalry commander: “It is pretty nonsense for [Southern Generals] Wheeler and Beauregard and such vain heroes to talk of our warring against women and children and prevent us from reaching their homes.”

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Adhering to the Incendiary Enemy:

“How prearranged the burning of Columbia must have been was proved by the scattering of Sherman’s soldiers in every direction. These soldiers were led by Negroes, who not only guided them, but by whom they must have been already informed of the residences of “prominent Rebels.” The eagerness and confidence by which these creatures, who called themselves soldiers, were animated, was astonishing. They flew about inquiring, “Is this the home of Mr. Rhett?” pointing in the right direction; or, “Is that the dwelling of Mr. Middleton?” also indicating exactly the locality, with many other like questions.

It was surprising to see the readiness with which these incendiaries succeeded in their work of destruction. They had hardly passed out of sight when columns of smoke and flames arose to bring the sad news that another home had been sacrificed to the demon of malice and arrogance.

At length we came in sight of the Clark place. I stood amazed, bewildered. I felt as if I would sink to the ground, yea, through it. I was riveted to the spot on which I stood. I could not move. At length I cried – cried like a woman in despair.

Elegant rosewood and mahogany furniture, broken into a thousand fragments, covered the face of the ground as far as I could see; and china and glass looked as if it had been sown. And the house, what of that? Alas! it too had been scattered to the four winds of heaven in the form of smoke and ashes. Not even a chimney stood to mark its site.

Near by stood a row of Negro cabins, intact, showing that while the conflagration was going on, they had been sedulously guarded. And these cabins were occupied by the slaves of the plantation. Men, women and children stalked about in restless uncertainty, and in surly indifference. They had been led to believe that the country would be apportioned to them, but they had sense enough to know that such a mighty revolution involved trouble and delay, and they were supinely waiting developments. No man, woman or child approached me. There was mutual distrust and mutual avoidance.”

(The Women of the South in War Times, Matthew Page Andrews, editor, Norman, Remington Company, 1920, pp. 259-260, 318-319)

Nov 7, 2014 - Crimes of War    No Comments

Sherman Desires Bloody Results

No friend of the South, the African, or Indian, Sherman was given a free hand by Lincoln to cleanse the United States of those who would impede Republican party policies and the march of progress.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Sherman Desires Bloody Results

“Fort Sumter was fired upon, and now the sulking Achilles came out to fight; and with him blood and iron would play a part from the very beginning. In May [1861] he declared: “the greatest difficulty in the problem now before the country is not to conquer, but so conquer to impress upon the real men of the South a respect for their conquerors.” As the war got under way Sherman became hypnotized by it . . . and refused to be diverted by those who would minimize the task or mollify it by soft considerations of the claims of humanity or too close adherence to the rule book.

As condemnation of his prodigality in the use of men began to come in, he replied that the war could not be fought with breath, but that hundreds of thousands of lives must perish, and he added, “Indeed do I wish I had been killed long since.”   [He] began “to regard the death and mangling of a couple thousand men as a small affair, a kind of morning dash – and it may be well that we become so hardened.”

[In 1862 he wrote] the Secretary of the Treasury, “The Government of the United States may now safely proceed on the proper rule that all the South are enemies of all in the North.”

As to the large number of people who were being arrested [for disloyalty] in Kentucky, he would send them “to the Dry Tortugas, or Brazil, every one of those men, women and children, and encourage a new breed.”

“To secure the navigation of the Mississippi River [to Northern shipping] I would slay millions. On that point I am not only insane, but mad.” For every shot fired at a [Northern] river steamer he would return “a thousand 30-pound Parrotts into every helpless town on Red, Ouchita, Yazoo, or wherever a boat can float or a soldier march.”

But for no reason beyond the fact that the South was opposing the North, he would set stark starvation loose upon the land. Before beginning his Meridian campaign early in 1864, he wrote his wife, “We will take all provisions, and God help the starving families.”

[In 1863 he insisted] on war, pure and simple, with no admixture of civil compromises . . . [and] considered it unwise at that time “or for years to come” to give the southern people “any civil government in which the local people have much to say . . . All the Southern States will need a pure military Government for years after resistance has ceased.”

By the summer of 1864 . . . [Sherman] offered this advice to General Sheridan, who might find it useful in the Shenandoah Valley: “I am satisfied, and have been all the time, that the problem of this war consists in the awful fact that the present class of men who rule the South must be killed outright rather than in the conquest of territory . . . Therefore I shall expect you on any and all occasions to make bloody results.”

He wrote Grant his well-known article of faith, “Unless we can repopulate Georgia it is useless to occupy it; but the utter destruction of roads, houses and people will cripple their military resources . . . After he had reached Savannah he wrote to Halleck, “ We are not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people, and we must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war, as well as their organized armies.”

When he found himself on one of Howell Cobb’s plantations in Georgia, he instructed his army “to spare nothing,” and on the march through South Carolina, one chilly night he consumed in the blazing fireplace the furniture of “one of those splendid South Carolina estates where the proprietors had formerly dispensed hospitality that distinguished the regime of that proud State.”

His first disagreement with the Radical reconstructionists grew out of his long-standing attitude toward the Negro. He had spurned abolitionism in 1861, and during the war he had shown his contempt for Negro soldiers. He wrote in May, 1865, “. . . I do not favor the scheme of declaring the Negroes of the South, now free, to be loyal voters, whereby politicians may manufacture just so much more pliable electioneering material . . . they are no friends of the Negro who seek to complicate him with new prejudices.”

Sherman set down as an article of faith, “The white men of this country will control it, and the negro, in mass, will occupy the subordinate place as a race.”

[His postwar belief regarding Radical Reconstruction is summed up with] “The South is ruined and appeals to our pity. To ride the people down with persecutions and military exactions would be like slashing away at the crew of a sinking ship.”

(Sherman and the South, E. Merton Coulter, North Carolina Historical Review, Volume VIII, Number 1, January 1931, excerpts, pp. 46-53)

Nov 7, 2014 - Crimes of War    No Comments

Doing the Barbarous Will of the Abolitionists

The Old Guard was published from 1863 to 1867 by C. Chauncey Burr in New York, though not pro-Union. Articles that appeared during the war years were very critical of Lincoln and his administration, and blamed them either directly of indirectly, for the mass casualties on both sides of the fighting.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Doing the Barbarous will of the Abolitionists

“The following extract from a letter written by one of our officers the day after the slaughter at Fredericksburg will be read with mingled shame and indignation by every Northern man, except the abolitionists, who appear to delight in such theft and plunder.

“I went over the Rappahannock this morning (the 13th) and such a scene as I witnessed cannot possibly be described. The men [of the Northern army] had emptied every house and store of its contents, and the streets, as a matter of course, were filled with chairs and sofas, pianos, books and everything imaginable. The men were beginning to make themselves appear as ridiculous as possible. Some had hauled pianos to the front doors and were making hideous noises on them.

Others were in silk dresses with beaver hats on, parading the streets. Others were reading letters; while others turned their attention to obtaining tobacco of which there was an immense quantity in town. I have seen hundreds of men with from 50 to 100 pounds of it. I saw one man with a canary bird, and another with a banjo.

A more disgraceful scene I have never witnessed. If Richmond suffers the same fate this town has, no wonder that the [Southern] whites fight so. The shelling was a military necessity; but after the town was in our possession the pillaging should have ceased. I think our army has been disgraced today by this act.”

A federal officer, corresponding for the Chicago Times, gives an account of General Grant’s progress in Northern Mississippi which shows that our soldiers under that command are horribly demoralized:

“ Straggling through the country, and stealing everything that they can lay their hands on (says the correspondent), whether of use or not to them, goes on. Helpless women and children are robbed of their clothes and bedding, their provisions taken from them and by men who have no earthly use for them whatever.”

From Another Correspondent:

“A private letter received here not long since, from a soldier in one of our western armies states that their march South was characterized by acts of vandalism and wanton outrage, and fiendish cruelty disgraceful to a civilized people. Burning houses, desolated fields and homeless households marked their path; while unlicensed robbery, indiscriminate plunder, and, not infrequently, assassination completed the woeful picture presented by an invading army which appeared to be without restraint, and whose only purpose would seem to be as thus manifested, to burn, pillage and destroy as it went.”

Men who behave in this manner are not soldiers, but brigands. The officers who allow such crimes deserve to be execrated by the parents whose sons are under their command. It was one of the real causes of abolition complain against General McClellan, that he forbid marauding and plundering. It is painful to publish such things; but the people ought to know them, in order that they may understand why it is that the Southern people fight with such unnatural desperation, and why they have come to entertain such a sincere horror of Northern people.

Generals who allow these crimes on the part of their soldiers, it is certain, are not fighting to restore the Union—they are doing the barbarous will of the abolitionists, to drive the South so far out that it can never get back. We are sorry to say that General Grant has won for himself a most inglorious notoriety in this particular.”

(The Old Guard, September 1863, C. Chauncey Burr & Co. New York.)

 

Nov 7, 2014 - Crimes of War    No Comments

Governor Spaight's Coffin

The father of Governor Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jr. was the first native-born governor of North Carolina, educated in Scotland at the University of Glasgow and aide de camp to General Richard Caswell.  Spaight the younger was the last North Carolina governor elected by the legislature.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Governor Spaight’s Coffin:

Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jr. (1796-1850), son of a Revolutionary War veteran who was also a member of the North Carolina Legislature, United States Congressman and delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, served as governor of The Old North State from 1835 to 1837. He was born in New Bern, and prior to being governor, he served in the State Legislature from 1819 to 1822, and again from 1825 to 1834. Spaight was the last governor to be elected by the legislature, and was a member of the 1837 Constitutional Convention which transferred the gubernatorial election to popular vote.

During the War Between the States, Northern occupation troops used the Stevenson House (corner Pollock & George Streets) in New Bern as a hospital for wounded soldiers. In a truly unbelievable act of barbarism, “the body of Governor Spaight was dug up by Northern soldiers, the skull placed on a gate post, and the metal coffin used to send the body of a federal soldier back North.”

(A New Geography of North Carolina, Bill Sharpe, Sharpe’s Publishing Company 1961, page 1232)

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