Browsing "Lincoln’s Blood Lust"

If Southerners Had Behaved Themselves . . .

One of the myths of the Northern invasion of the American South is that Sherman did not wreak the destruction on North Carolina as he and his vandals had in South Carolina. Homes in the Old North State were looted indiscriminately and livestock shot to deny noncombatants food for themselves and their children.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

If Southerners Had Behaved Themselves . . .

. . . [T]he Yankees came by the hundreds and destroyed everything that we possessed — every living thing. After they had taken everything out of the house—our clothes, shoes, hats, and even my children’s clothes — my husband was made to take off his boots which a yankee tried on. The shoes would not fit, so the soldier cut them to pieces. They even destroyed the medicine we had.

In the cellar, they took six barrels of lard, honey and preserves — and what they did not want, they let the Negroes come in and take. They took 16 horses, one mule, all of the oxen, every cow, every plough, even the hoes, and four vehicles. The soldiers filled them with meat and pulled them to camp which was not far from our home. They would kill the hogs in the fields, cut them in halves with the hair on. Not a turkey, duck or chicken was left.

My mother in law . . . was very old and frail and in bed. They went in her bedroom and cursed her. They took all our books and threw them in the woods. I had my silver and jewelry buried in the swamp for two months.

We went to Faison Depot and bought an old horse that we cleaned up, fed and dosed, but which died after a week’s care. Then the boys went again and bought an ox. They made something like a plough which they used to finish the crop with. Our knives were pieces of hoop iron sharpened, and our forks were made of cane — but it was enough for the little we had to eat.

All of which I have written was the last year and month of the sad, sad war (March and April, 1865). It is as fresh in my memory and all its horrors as if it were just a few weeks ago. It will never be erased from my memory as long as life shall last.

I do not and cannot with truth say I have forgotten or that I have forgiven them. They destroyed what they could of the new house and took every key and put them in the turpentine boxes. Such disappointment cannot be imagined. My children would cry for bread, but there was none. A yankee took a piece out of his bag and bit it, and said: “If you had behaved yourselves this would not have happened.”

(Sampson Independent, February 1960; The Heritage of Sampson County (NC), Volume I, Oscar Bizzell, editor, pp. 253-254)

Hooker Amuses the American Napoleons

The Duke of Wellington reportedly stated that “a man of refined Christian sensibilities is totally unfit for the profession of a soldier,” though two devoted Christians, Lee and Jackson faithfully performed their soldierly duties to near-perfection against tremendous odds.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Hooker Amuses the American Napoleons

“On the Confederate side, the force operating at Chancellorsville consisted of McLaw’s and Anderson’s divisions of Longstreet’s corps (Hood’s and Pickett’s divisions of that corps, under Longstreet, were in the vicinity of Suffolk, on the south side of the James river), and Jackson’s corps, of A.P. Hill’s, [Jubal] Early’s, D.H. Hill’s under Rodes, and [Issac] Trimble’s under [Raleigh] Colston, and two brigades of cavalry under W.H.F. Lee and Fitzhugh Lee.

Present, then, we find six infantry divisions or twenty-eight brigades, and the cavalry brigades of nine regiments. The official return of the Army of Northern Virginia nearest to the battle extant – viz: 31st March 1863 . . . you have present at Chancellorsville a Confederate total on 53,303, with some 170 pieces of artillery.

Now let us see what 133,708 fighting men in blue did with 53,303 “boys in gray.”

It will be demonstrated that “the finest army on the planet” as Hooker termed it, “was like the waves of the ocean driven upon the beach by some unseen force, and whose white crests we so soon broken into glittering jewels on the sand.”

[Three of Hooker’s] corps were to constitute the left wing of the army – were to hold and amuse General Lee and prevent him from observing the great flank movement of the right wing, and to pursue him, when maneuvered out of his entrenchments, by the approaching hosts on his left-rear.

Hooker’s original left wing was about equal in numbers to General Lee’s whole army, and his right wing, or marching column, of four infantry corps and one cavalry corps [57,414], would represent his numerical advantage in strength.

The Confederate commander knew a movement was in progress. With the serenity of almost superhuman intelligence he waited for it to be developed before his plans were laid to counteract it, for he remembered the maxim of the great Napoleon, that when your enemy is making a mistake he must not be interrupted.

General Lee was to keep 14,000 men in front of Hooker’s 73,124 while Jackson moved around his right flank with 26,000. [Upon personally viewing the exposed and undefended enemy flank, Jackson’s] eyes burned with a brilliant glow, lighting up his sad face. His expression was one of intense interest, his face was colored slightly with the paint of approaching battle, and radiant at the success of his flanking movement.

From what I have read and heard of Jackson since that day, I know now what he was doing then. Oh! “beware of rashness,” General Hooker. Stonewall Jackson is praying in full view of your right flank!”

(Chancellorsville – Address of General Fitzhugh Lee, Southern Historical Papers, Volume VII, 1879, pp. 558-560; 570-572)

New Weapons and the Unnecessary Carnage

The South should have fought a defensive war that would bleed the enemy in massed assaults, though time and the North’s increasingly large army of bounty-enriched foreigners, paid substitutes and freedmen meant eventual exhaustion. The question remains of why Lincoln continued the unnecessary slaughter rather than peacefully allow the South’s desire for political independence.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

New Weapons and the Unnecessary Carnage

“The engine of change was technological modification. An advance of weaponry overthrew the efficacy and then the moral meaning of the tactics soldiers wished to employ, robbing of significance the gestures they had been determined to make. Civil War muzzle-loaders . . . were no longer smoothbore but rifled [and charging] columns could be brought under fire much earlier, at a half-mile’s distance, and a much higher toll exacted. Even with the persistence of poor firing instruction and wretched firing discipline, rifling strengthened the hand of the defense decisively.

The futility of the frontal attack, with each regiment advancing on a two-company front, should have been apparent as early as [Sharpsburg] . . . in those ranks of dead ranged as neatly as if on parade. Three months later Burnside attacked Lee’s men on the heights of Fredericksburg at a cost of 12, 653 casualties against their opponents 5,309.

At Gettysburg it was Lee who sent . . . 15,000 in Pickett’s charge, perhaps half returned. At Cold Harbor on June 3, 1864 . . . Grant ordered frontal attacks that in less than sixty minutes cost the Army of the Potomac 7,000 killed and wounded against the Confederates’ 1,300 casualties. There the principal charges could be sustained only twelve to twenty minutes.

Ironically, Sherman’s first opponent, Joseph E. Johnston, was perhaps the only defensive adept in either army, and it was he who repulsed Sherman’s charges while yielding ground before Sherman’s otherwise masterly campaign of probing operations and flanking movements. But on July 17, 1864, Jefferson Davis relieved Johnston of his command and installed in his place, John Bell Hood, whose devotion to the attack was unsurpassed in either army. Sherman was pleased: “I inferred that the change of command means “fight.” This is just what he wanted. As [Jacob D.] Cox put it:

“We . . . regarded the removal of Johnston as equivalent to a victory for us. Three months of sharp work convinced us that a change from Johnston’s methods to those which Hood was likely to employ was . . . to have our enemy grasp the hot end of the poke . . . we were confident that . . . a succession of attacks would soon destroy the Confederate army.”

Sherman was willing to wait for those attacks. At Peachtree Creek Hood lost between 5,000 and 6,000 in killed, wounded and missing to Sherman’s 1,800; at Decatur, as many as 10,000, against Union losses of 3,700; at Ezra Church 5,000 against 600. Describing for Sherman that last combat, soldiers of the 15th Corps assured him it had been “the easiest thing in the world; that, in fact, it was a common slaughter of the enemy.” [Sherman] saw more clearly than others that the charge had become defeat.”

(Embattled Courage, the Experience of Combat in the Civil War, Gerald F. Linderman, Free Press, 1987, pp. 135-137)

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