Browsing "Sherman’s Legacy"

Highwaymen in North Carolina

Though it is claimed that Sherman did not sack and burn North Carolina as he did South Carolina, there is scant evidence that the former did not suffer as did the latter. In the bummer’s path were helpless women, children and old men – whose scarce food supplies, valuables and farm animals were made off with by soldiers in blue.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Highwaymen in North Carolina

“[T]he “corn-crib” and “fodder-stack” commandoes could look back upon a plentiful harvest between Fayetteville and Goldsboro. Meat and meal had been found in abundance. So skillfully had [Sherman’s] “bummers” covered this region that the rooster no longer crowed in the morning because he no longer existed. Had the rooster escaped with his life, there would have been no fence rail for him to stand on.

[General J.D. Morgan said] “I have some men in my command . . . who have mistaken the name and meaning of the term foragers, and have become under that name highwaymen, with all of their cruelty and ferocity and none of their courage; their victims are usually old men, women and children, and Negroes whom the rob and maltreat without mercy, firing dwelling and outhouses even when filled with grain . . . These men are a disgrace to the name of soldier and the country . . . ”

Elizabeth Collier, an eighteen year-old girl of Everittsville, [North Carolina] entered in her diary:

“On Monday morning, the 20th [March], the first foraging party made their appearance at Everittsville. They asked for flour and seeing we were disposed not to give it, made a rush in the house and took it himself—the cowardly creature even pointed his gun at us – helpless women. Looking out, we soon saw that poor little Everittsville was filled with Yankees and they were plundering the houses . . . everything outside was destroyed – all provisions taken – fences knocked down – horse, cows, carriages, and buggies stolen, and everything else the witches could lay their hands on – even to the servants clothes.”

(The Civil War in North Carolina, John G. Barrett, UNC Press, 1963, pp. 346-347)

Lt. Snelling Returns Home to Georgia

Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 defined a traitor as one who “betrays his allegiance to his country” and “who aids an enemy in conquering his country.” Lt. Snelling, described below, deserted his Georgia regiment and guided the enemy army through his home State.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Lt. Snelling Returns Home to Georgia

“Sunday, November 20, 1864 was a day of unprecedented excitement in the capital of Georgia. Members of the legislature had already departed in haste for their homes. The governor and Statehouse officers were in flight, and many citizens of the town were following the example set by them. In the afternoon distant cannon fire was heard in the direction of Macon, some thirty miles away.

Just before sunset a small group of blue-coated cavalrymen were seen lingering on the outskirts of the town . . . They cut telegraph wires, seized a few horses, and then made a hurried exit. They were the first of more than thirty thousand enemy soldiers who were to enter Milledgeville within the next four days.

With flags unfurled, the band at the head of the column playing the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and other martial airs . . . [the enemy army occupied the town and Sherman] learned that he was occupying a plantation belonging to General Howell Cobb and forthwith issued orders for its complete destruction.

On the same evening he ordered a special guard to protect the property of Andrew J. Banks whose farmhouse stood a short distance away. Banks, a North Carolinian by birth, was known to be of strong Unionist sentiment.

It is doubtful if Sherman’s intelligence channels had ever been more effective than on this particular occasion. His knowledge of the country which he had entered, and of the varying sentiments of the inhabitants, he owed largely to David R. Snelling, the twenty-six year-old cavalry lieutenant who commanded his escort. Snelling had been born a few miles from Cobb’s plantation and, until the war began, had always lived in the community to which he was now returning as a conquering enemy.

He had left the county early in 1862 as a member of Captain Richard Bonner’s company of the 57th Georgia Regiment. Never an enthusiastic rebel, he deserted at Bridgeport, Alabama, in July. Later he became a member of a Unionist regiment made up of defecting Southerners. He was now a first lieutenant in the 1st Alabama (Union) Cavalry and assigned to Sherman’s personal escort where his knowledge of the people and of the country through which they were marching made his services invaluable to the commanding general who kept him close by his side.

While [Sherman and Snelling] were seated around the [evening] fire, a Negro slave . . . recognized Snelling and greeted him as “Massa Dave.” According to [an observer], the slave fell on the floor, hugged the lieutenant around his knees, and expressed mixed feelings and astonishment and thankfulness at seeing his former master in the uniform of the invading army. The slave who greeted him had belonged [to David Lester, Snelling’s] uncle, in whose home the lieutenant had lived as an orphan since boyhood.

That evening Sherman granted . . . Snelling’s request to ride six miles ahead to visit his relatives at the Lester plantation. In his memoirs, the general noted that Snelling returned that night on a fresh horse from his uncle’s stable [and that the visit had been] social in nature. The David Lester plantation book, however, indicates that Snelling was accompanied on his visit by a squad of Federal cavalrymen and the group conducted a raid on the plantation, burned the ginhouse, and pillaged the premises.

Whether Snelling’s unusual conduct was an attempt to prove his loyalty to the Union army or the result of an old grudge he bore against his affluent uncle perhaps may never be determined.”

(Sherman at Milledgeville in 1864, James C. Bonner, Journal of Southern History, Volume XXII, Number 3, August, 1956, pp. 273, 275-277)

 

TR’s League for Enforcing Peace with War

Theodore Roosevelt proposed a world organization well-before Woodrow Wilson’s, this to use the military of the world powers to enforce peace. Roosevelt the First, as Mencken referred to him, was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for mediating the Russo-Japanese conflict, where he advocated giving the Japanese the Korean peninsula as a subject colony. The Japanese annexed Korea and forbid the teaching of native history, customs and traditions, while teaching the young the Japanese language. In 1950-1953, the United States devastated the Korean peninsula with an unnecessary war in which 37,000 American soldiers perished, over 600,000 Korean men died on both sides, as well as 500,000 Chinese casualties. Millions of Korean civilians died from bombing, crossfire and starvation.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

TR’s League for Enforcing Peace with War

“In Europe . . . Roosevelt and his family went on with their grand tour. In Paris on April 23, the former president gave an address at the Sorbonne on “The Duties of a Citizen,” in which he talked of the need for sound character, homely virtues, virility, and the desirability of maintaining a high birthrate; the effect of his speech on the audience was, as he put it, “a little difficult for me to understand”; his listeners may have found a beguiling innocence in his advice.

Later he met with Parisians at a salon held by Mrs. Roosevelt’s cousin Edith Wharton, at her place on the rue de Varenne. Few of the French could speak English, and TR spoke French “with a rather bewildering pronunciation,” according to Mrs. Wharton.

In Norway, on May 5, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his mediation of the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, the first to go to an American, TR gave a speech that was especially noteworthy because of his suggestion that a world organization be created to prevent war. In words that foreshadowed Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations, Roosevelt called for the creation by the great powers of a “League of Peace, not only to keep the peace among themselves, but to prevent, by force, if necessary, its being broken by others. TR’s League, unlike Wilson’s, would have a strong military component to enforce its dictates.”

(1912, Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft & Debs, The election That Changed the Country, James Chace, Simon & Shuster, 2004, pp. 20-21)

 

Suppressing the Consent of the Governed

As described below, Americans in general seem unaware of the enormity of the Southern experience 1861-1865 and the aftermath of devastating defeat and subjugation. The author’s analogy brings needed perspective to an unnecessary war and death of a million Americans, counting military and civilian casualties.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Suppressing the Consent of the Governed

“Imagine America invaded by a foreign power, one that has quadruple the population and industrial base. Imagine that this enemy has free access to the world’s goods as well as an inexhaustible supply of cannon fodder from the proletariat of other countries, while America itself is tightly blockaded from the outside world.

New York and Cincinnati have been taken. For months, Boston and Chicago have been under constant siege, the civilian population driven from their homes. Enemy forces roam over large parts of the country burning the homes, tools and food of the noncombatants in a campaign of deliberate terrorism.

Nearly eighty-five percent of the nation’s able-bodied men (up to 50 years of age) have been called to arms. Battlefield casualties have run to 39 percent and deaths amount to half of that, far exceeding those from any other war.

On the other hand, the enemy, though its acts and domestic propaganda indicate otherwise, is telling the American population that it only wants peace and the restoration of the status quo antebellum. Lay down your arms and all will be as before. What would be our state of morale in such conditions? Americans have never suffered such misfortune, have they?

Alas, they have. This was the experience of the Southern people from 1861-1865 in their lost War for Independence.

How hard the Southerners struggled for independence from the American Empire has been, and continues to be, suppressed by a nationalist culture that can only wonder: How could any group possibly have dissented from the greatest government on earth? But a very large number of Americans did no consent that government (the regime, after all, was supposed to be founded on the consent of the governed).

They were willing to put their dissent on the line in a greater sacrifice than any large group of Americans has ever been called on to make. Until finally, as a disappointed Union officer quoted by [author Gary] Gallagher remarked: “The rebellion [was] worn out rather than suppressed.”

(An Honorable Defeat, Clyde Wilson, Chronicles, October 1998, pg. 28)

Uncle Gibb’s Liberators

The passage below describes the surrender and occupation of Smithville, now Southport, North Carolina in late January 1865 after Fort Fisher had fallen to Northern forces. The town’s public offices were plundered by the troops and those like Uncle Gibb suffered ill-treatment from soldiers who sought buried valuables.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Uncle Gibb’s Liberators

“Now Smithville [North Carolina] had relapsed into its state of quiet, but not the quiet of former days . . . Negroes however reaped a rich harvest in the shape of clothing from soldiers and blankets of which the forest was strewn.

A large assembly of Negro men, women and children had collected at the boat in order to greet their “saviors,” and to fall upon their necks and kiss them if such liberties should be allowed. [Northern] Captain [William] Cushing then addressed the sable crowd and informed them that they were free, that they were in all respects equal to the whites and would be so treated. In order to make that this was true he directed that they [the Negroes] should form a procession and give three cheers which they did saying, “God bless Massa Lincum, we’re free” and “Massa Lincum is cumin in a day or two to bring each of us a mule and deed for forty acres of land.”

The procession then started to move, and wild cheering for “Massa Lincum.” There were some small United States flags scattered among the crowds which they waved frantically in the air, crying “hallelujah, hallelujah.” The procession then moved through the garrison to Moore Street, a motley crowd dressed in every conceivable style bearing banners of anything that was bright color and they started down Moore Street amid cheering for “Massa Lincum.”

In the procession which had marched around town was “Uncle Gibb,” and in his posterity “Uncle Gibb” had been treated during his entire life as kindly as any white citizen in the town. He had a house to live in, plenty of food and clothes, and a horse and dray; and it was difficult to perceive how he had bettered his condition by freedom; but he soon found out as he was brought a prisoner into the [Northern army] Garrison for some alleged offense.

Here he was tied up by the thumbs to an oak tree which stood there, and hoisted till his toes barely touched the ground. This was done in full view of his own sister who was cooking in an adjoining kitchen, and who fainted and fell at the awful sight. We thus had an opportunity to find out whether the new friends of the colored race were any better than the old friends who had treated him with such kindness.

The ceremony attending the surrender [of Smithville] having been completed, the boat containing the plunder was dispatched back to the [USS] Monticello, and there being apparently nothing to do on shore, the sailors were given liberty and the officers proceeded to enjoy themselves.

The sailors spread themselves over the town, and proceeded first to inspect the public buildings. They broke open the court house and its offices, tore up such papers as they found lying around, among which happened to be the entire record of the Court of Equity and scattered them about the streets. They went to the Academy building in which was a Masonic Hall, and stole the jewels of the Order, and carried them to the ship.”

(Reminiscences, Dr. D.W. Curtis, Special Collections, W.M. Randall Library, UNCW, pp. 33-37)

Churchill Embroils the United States in War

England’s 1914 guarantee of Belgian sovereignty resulted in a death struggle with Germany that only US intervention and 53,000 American dead could rescue it from . England took the same path in 1939 when it guaranteed the sovereignty of Poland, which it could do nothing to secure (Poland’s sovereignty was lost to the Soviets in 1945). The action of 1914 lost England it naval preeminence; the 1939 action lost England’s empire, bankrupted the country, and cost the US over 292,000 battle deaths by 1945.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Churchill Embroils the United States in War

“Although the war had begun in Europe the scattered empires of friend and enemy were drawn ineluctably into the struggle. “Neutralization-plans,” said Sir Eyre Crowe, “are a futile absurdity. What is wanted is to strike hard with all our might in all the four corners of the world.” [The] Foreign Secretary told Colonel House, President Woodrow Wilson’s personal emissary, in February 1915, England would continue the war indefinitely. Publicly, the government was committed to the Prime Minister’s pledge given at the Guildhall on November 9:

“We shall never sheath the sword which we have not lightly drawn until Belgium recovers in full measure all . . . and until the military domination of Prussia is wholly and finally destroyed.”

In pursuit of victory, the cabinet explored many schemes. A naval blockade would hasten the process by cutting off vital shipments of war material and food. Sensitive consciences – not yet anaesthetized by casualty lists from Flanders – were disturbed by the stringency of the blockade policy.

[Board of Trade President] Walter Runciman was warned by his erstwhile colleague Charles Trevelyan:

“I feel great uneasiness about the trend in action of the Government towards trying to exclude German food-supplies passing through neutral countries . . . I do implore you to take care what you are doing. It would be bad enough to alienate Dutch opinion. But it would be infinitely worse if you alienate the USA. Remember that under very analogous circumstances the USA went to war with us against its will.”

Trevelyan feared that the government would act precipitately, especially if Winston Churchill’s influence were not checked. But the Foreign Office was alive to the danger of antagonizing the Americans. As Professor Link has written in the third volume of his biography of Woodrow Wilson: “Conciliation of America was perhaps the Foreign Office’s chief concern at this early juncture.”

The War Lords,” wrote Walter Runciman on 6 January 1915, “are sad in their stalemate, & Winston in particular sees no success for the Navy (& himself) anywhere” [and it seemed that] sturdy endurance as a method of waging war had a limited appeal. The [British] war council and the cabinet weighed great strategic alternatives and investigated the promise of mechanical contrivance in tipping the balance against Germany and Austria. On 25 February 1915, the minutes of the war council record:

“Hankey proposed (a) igniting German crops and (b) distributing a “blight” over the crops. Mr. Lloyd George approved the idea: Mr. Churchill saw no objection to burning the crops, but drew the line at sowing a blight, which was analogous to poisoning food. Mr. Lloyd George did not agree. A blight did not poison but merely deteriorated the crop.”

Churchill’s finely calibrated conscience gave him no trouble when he dealt with the desirability of entangling the United States in the war on the allied side. Walter Runciman, while trying to decide on new rates of insurance for neutral shipping [coming to England], was assailed by the First Lord [Churchill] who wrote three letters in five days urging that the rates should not go up.

“My Dear Walter,” began the first entreaty:

“It is most important to attract neutral shipping to our shores, in the hope of embroiling the U.S. with Germany. For our part, we want the traffic – the more the better; & if some of it gets into trouble, better still. The more that come, the greater our safety & the German embarrassment.”

(Politicians at War, July 1914 to May 1915, A Prologue to the Triumph of Lloyd George, Cameron Hazlehurst, Alfred A. Knopf, 1971, excerpts, pp. 185-189)

The US Country-Splitting Business

The Truman administration is considered responsible for the unnecessary postwar intervention in Korea, and the subsequent Korean conflict which was greatly instigated by the Rhee puppet regime. As the internal Korean civil war began in the late 1940s, Truman only called in the United Nations “to add the weight of what was considered to be “world opinion” in support of America’s policy.” The initial American commander, General John R. Hodge, presciently commented that it would be better to “leave Korea to its own devices and an inevitable internal upheaval for its own self-purification.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The US Country-Splitting Business

“Senator Symington. “We go into this country splitting business . . . First we split Germany. Then we split China. We stay with billions and billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of people. Then we split Korea, and stay there with billions of dollars and tens of thousands of military, all at heavy cost to the American taxpayer. Then we split Vietnam . . . Now we split Laos . . . Do you know of any other country we plan to split soon?”

Mr. Porter [US ambassador to South Korea]: “No sir.”

Senator Symington: “This has been quite an interesting policy hasn’t it, over the years? . . . Our allies don’t do [this], not do our possible enemies. We do it all over the world . . .”

(William Porter Testimony, US Security Agreements and Committees Abroad, Republic of Korea, Hearings before the Subcommittee on US Security Commitments Abroad of the Committee on Foreign Relations, US Senate, Ninety-first Congress, Second Session, 1970, pp. 1579-82. Without Parallel, The American-Korean Relationship Since 1945, Frank Baldwin, editor, Pantheon Books, 197, pg. 109)

Northern Vandals Liberate Wilmington Furniture

Considered one of Wilmington, North Carolina’s antebellum architectural treasures, the Dr. John D. Bellamy mansion was seized by Northern General Joseph R. Hawley in February 1865 for use as his headquarters while occupying the city — ironically, Hawley was a native North Carolinian. Bellamy’s daughter Ellen was a young girl at the time and later recalled vivid memories of the enemy invasion.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Northern Vandals Liberate Wilmington Furniture

“The Federal troops captured Wilmington on February 21, 1865; they took possession of our home, which we had temporarily vacated, and it remained General Hawley Headquarters a long time, even after Lee’s surrender. It was very galling . . .”

[Mother] came up to own dear house, accompanied by a friendly neighbor . . . who was related to General Hawley, and had offered to introduce her. It was most humiliating, and trying, to be entertained by Mrs. Hawley, in her own parlor. Mrs. Hawley showed her raising by “hawking and spitting” in the fire, a most unlady-like act. During the call she offered Mother some figs (from Mother’s own tree) which Aunt Sarah had picked — our own old cook, who had been left there in charge of the premises.

My father made several trips to . . . Washington City before they would grant him his “Pardon.” For what? For being a Southern Gentlemen, a Rebel, and a large Slave Owner! The slaves he had inherited from his father, and which he considered a sacred trust. Being a physician, he guarded their health, kept a faithful overseer to look after them (his home being a regular drug store), and employed a Methodist minister, Rev. Mr. Turrentine, by the year, to look after their spiritual welfare.

Although the war was practically over seven months, we did not get possession of our home ‘till September. [T]he beautiful white marble mantles in the two parlors were so caked with tobacco spit and garbs of chewed tobacco, they were cleaned with great difficulty; indeed, the white marble hearths are still stained . . . No furniture had been left in the parlors . . . On leaving here, the Yankees gave [the] furniture to a servant . . .” In our sitting room, our large mahogany bookcase was left, as it was too bulky for them to carry off; but from its drawers numerous things were taken, among them an autograph album belonging to me brother Marsden.

A number of years later, when my brother John was in Washington as a member of Congress, this same Hawley, then a senator from Illinois, told him of the album “coming into his possession” when he occupied our house, and said he would restore it to him. However, he took care not to do it, although repeatedly reminded.”

(Back With The Tide, Memoirs of Ellen D. Bellamy, Bellamy Mansion Museum 2002, pp. 5-8)

Vandals Pickax the Pews Again

Wilmington, North Carolina’s St. James Parish was violated and ransacked twice in eighty-five years by foreign invaders, first in 1780. In 1865, Rector Dr. Alfred A. Watson wrote Northern General Hawley, demanding his church back and citing it as an infringement on the great Constitutional principle of religious freedom. Dr. Watson refused Hawley’s order to offer prayers for Abraham Lincoln, stating that “Because to ask it of me is to ask me to mock my Maker. What is proposed is not to restrain the Church from uttering prayers hostile to the government, but to require the Church to offer prayers specifically in its favor.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Vandals Pickaxe the Pews Again

“After the capture of Wilmington this venerable church, established in 1738, was seized by order of General Hawley for a military hospital, and in giving an account of it the rector, Dr. Watson (afterward Bishop of the Diocese) reported to the Diocesan Convention of 1866 as follows:

“This was not the first calamity of the sort in the history of the Parish Church of St. James. In 1780, during the occupation of Wilmington by British troops the church was stripped of its pews and furniture, and converted, first into a hospital, then into a blockhouse, and finally into a riding school for Tarleton’s dragoons.

In 1865 the pews were once again torn out with pickaxes . . . There was sufficient room elsewhere, more suitable for hospital purposes. Other hospitals had to be emptied to supply even half the beds in the church which were indeed, never more than half filled.”

(Some Memories of My Life, Alfred Moore Waddell, Edwards & Broughton, pp. 58-59)

A Vast Tidal Wave of Fire Across Japan

Joseph Grew had been the American minister to Japan for ten years before the war and felt that the conflict could have been averted. Grew had not ceased to regret what he regarded as the failure of not only Japanese but also if American diplomacy. It is recalled that he reported to Washington in late January, 1941 that the Tokyo newspapers stated that in the event of a break with the United States, there would be an all-out attack on Pearl Harbor. Fleet Admiral Joseph O. Richardson pleaded with FDR to move his fleet from Pearl Harbor as it was a tempting target for the Japanese – FDR relieved him of command and left the bait at Hawaii.  The moral question of Americans firebombing Japanese civilians can be said to have its origins with an American general of the 1860’s.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

A Vast Tidal Wave of Fire Across Japan

“The real blitz against industrial Japan began in early March of 1945 with a series of low-level attacks that marked a revolutionary change in tactics and employment of B-29s in the Pacific. Perhaps most important: low-level attacks . . . would decrease fuel consumption, thus permitting greater bomb loads.

The significant aspect of [targeted Japanese] cities – as seen from the air – was a solid mass of one and two-story houses, over 90 percent flimsy wooden structures . . . by widespread fires could they effectively be destroyed.

After careful analysis, it was decided to make a low-level incendiary night strike against the most densely populated area of Tokyo. One of the most important contributing factors of this decision was its great element of surprise. If the Tokyo strike should be successful, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka would be hit in rapid succession on alternate nights. It was a daring plan, calling for maximum effort and maximum courage.

Tokyo, one of the world’s three largest cities, had a population in 1940 of about 7,000,000. The [incendiary] flames, started in the northeast section of the target area, were fanned over the area by a twenty-knot wind.

The Japanese were given no time to rest. Two nights later Nagoya was hit by nearly 300 B-29s. The target area was a triangle three miles long on each side. Population density in this area ranged up to 75,000 per square mile. Osaka was next. The target area was about ten square miles. On March 14, nearly 300 B-29s carried 1733 tons of incendiary bombs to Osaka, delivered from 5000 to 9000 feet. Once again, enemy defenses were ineffective.

Early on the morning of the seventeenth, Kobe hears the air raid warning signals. It must have seen the fires of Osaka three nights before. It must have known what to expect. Over 300 B-29s dropped 2328 tons of incendiaries on the urban area of Kobe. Early on the morning of the nineteenth, the wave of fire struck Nagoya again, engulfing areas . . . Over 300 B-29s dropped 1858 tons of incendiaries.

It was as if a vast, fiery tidal wave were sweeping across the great cities of Japan. There was no hiding from it, no stopping it. For the Japanese there was only the hope it would burn itself out. What made it possible?

First, daring and intelligent planning based on a thorough knowledge of the B-29 as an offensive weapon, and a complete study of the defects inherent in the Japanese industrial machine. Second, well-trained combat crews with the courage and stamina to maintain the momentum of maximum effort. Not one aircraft was grounded for lack of parts. Only 1.3 percent of the total airborne aircraft were lost.”

(Air Force Diary, James H. Straubel, Simon and Schuster, 1947, pp. 231-235)

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