Browsing "Sherman’s Legacy"

Yankee’s Issued Matches

The hatred of the North engendered by Sherman’s devastation in Georgia and the Carolina’s would not easily subside. In 1898 President William McKinley, himself a Northern major during the war, visited Atlanta in December 1898 for a Peace Jubilee. McKinley wore a Confederate badge on his lapel and declared in an address to the Georgia legislature that “Confederate graves were “graves of honor” and it was the duty of the United States government to keep them green.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Yankee’s Issued Matches

“When word [of Sherman’s invasion of South Carolina] reached the plantations of the Low County, terror bordering on panic swept the towns and countryside . . . and with only old men, women, children and a few slaves who had not deserted left on the lands, [all] lay vulnerable before the invaders.

Some of the families moved farther north, ostensibly out of Sherman’s path. Three families who lived in the area south of Allendale fled to the plantation of Dr. Benjamin William Lawton. An occupied house was less subject to being burn; deserted houses, left vacant, were usually torched.

But the three families who set up housekeeping in the basement of Dr. Lawton’s house in Allendale were no safer than they might have been in their own homes. Sherman’s forces routed out the families, and set fire to the house of that signer of the Ordinance of Secession, Dr. Benjamin W. Lawton. All Lawton’s possessions dissolved in flames.

Lawton’s wife, Josephine, was warned [of this] and hastily took her children and house servants to Gaffney, South Carolina, where they were given haven by friends . . . There Josephine’s seventh child was born. In early 1865 another Lawton, Dr. James Stoney . . . returned [from Georgia] to find his house in ashes.

At least one Lawton home escaped destruction by fire. Major-General High Judson Kilpatrick . . . ordered his men to keep their issue of matches in their pockets while he occupied Rose Lawn, the home of Reverend and Mrs. Joseph A. Lawton in Allendale, as his headquarters during the days of battle and destruction in the area.

With his mistress said to have been ensconced in a large front bedroom – she accompanied [Kilpatrick] from one headquarters to another in his sweep from Savannah to Columbia – he delegated a small back room to the elderly owners. To the godly couple who had to stand by while the woman of “ill-repute” occupied their bedchamber, this must surely have added basest insult to dastardly injury.

[South Carolina] lay in ruins, and the Southern cities of Richmond, Atlanta, Charleston and Columbia were blackened rubble. Sherman’s men under [Kilpatrick] had used their issues of matches to fire countless towns, villages, plantations, farms, and railroads; open fields and pine forests were reduced to shambles.”

(Kith and Kin, A Portrait of a Southern Family, 1630-1934, Carolyn L. Harrell, pp. 209-212)

Britain’s Splendid Decision

Though lost in their effective propaganda against Germany in WWII, it was the British who commenced the indiscriminate bombing of civilians on May 11, 1940, as they “dispatched eighteen Whitley bombers against railway installations in western Germany, breaching what had been regarded by many as a fundamental rule of civilized warfare, that hostilities must only be waged against the enemy forces.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Britain’s Splendid Decision

“During the war, the Nazi Party punished severely – often by death – any written or spoken violation of the “Parole Endsieg,” of that “word” or “slogan” of confidence in “the final victory.” Germany, however, was not the only nation with a “Parole Endsieg,” nor with prohibitions against the expression of anything contrary to it. Although the British did not resort to severe punishment of violations, Great Britain did have its own “Parole Endsieg,” its own words that would contribute to final victory.

Part of that propaganda was the widespread dissemination of the belief that Germany had initiated the bombing of cites and civilians well behind the lines of combat at the front. Indeed, it was this belief that made the metaphor of the of the reversed newsreel – of German bombers that had initiated the bombing war over civilian targets receding as the Allied bombers increased their attacks over German cities – work most completely as effective metaphor and propaganda.

It was not until April 1944, when J.M. Spaight, former principal secretary of the British Air ministry, was permitted to publish his book, “Bombing Vindicated,” that the British and Allied public in general learned that it was Britain and not Germany that had initiated “the strategic bombing offensive” – the large-scale bombing of civilian targets. Spaight writes:

“Because we were doubtful about the psychological effect of propagandist distortion of the truth that it was we [British] who started the strategic bombing offensive, we have shrunk from giving our great decision of May 11, 1940, the publicity it deserved. That, surely, was a mistake. It was a splendid decision. It was as heroic, as self-sacrificing, as Russia’s decision to adopt her policy of “scorched earth” [against Germany]. “

Some would argue that Hitler followed [the rule of not bombing noncombatants] by using the Luftwaffe against cities only in support of ground forces already at the gates of those cities.

Although it might be argued that communications and arms manufacturing centers had always been considered legitimate targets in warfare, Spaight’s statement and the fact that British bombardment was not in support of any invading or retreating ground force seems to indicate that some in Britain thought they were breaking new ground with such attacks from the air.

Thus, what Britain’s “splendid decision” had also achieved was to introduce a new kind of terrorism into an already terrible war: the Allied airmen, who ostensibly were trying to hit factories to slow down munitions production, but who more often hit civilian homes, came to be known to the German civilians who had to suffer that indiscriminate area bombing as Der Terrorflieger, or “terror fliers.”

(Wolfsangel, A German City on Trial, 1945-48, Augusto Nigro, Brassey’s Inc., 2000, pp. 3-5)

Fire Bombing Japanese Civilians

Despite military press releases and public statements that the US was not indiscriminately bombing civilian populations, the fact was that the nighttime incendiary bombing of Japanese cities was a weapon of area destruction, not precision bombing of industrial targets. The incendiary raids “destroyed homes, hospitals and schools, as well as factories, and killed lots of people, mainly women, children, and old men.”  The waging of war upon defenseless civilians is perhaps the most lasting legacy of Lincoln and W.T. Sherman.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circ1865.com

 

Fire Bombing Japanese Civilians

“General [Hap] Arnold needed results. [Gen.] Larry Norstad had made that very clear. In effect he said: “You go ahead and get [bombing] results, or you’ll be fired.”

. . . Let’s see: we could load [the bombers] with E-46 clusters. Drop them to explode at about two thousand feet, say, or twenty-five hundred. Then each of those would release thirty-eight of the M-69 incendiary bombs . . . Could use both napalm and phosphorous. Those napalm M-47’s. They say that ninety percent of the structures in Tokyo are built of wood [and all sources] say that the same. Very flimsy construction.

Bringing those [B-29’s] all the way down from thirty thousand feet to about nine or even five thousand. A lot of people will tell me that flesh and blood can’t stand it. So if we go in low – at night, singly, not in formation – I think we’ll surprise the Japs. At least for a short period of time . . . But if this first attack is successful, we’ll run another, right quick. Say, twenty-four hours afterward. Two days at the most. And then maybe another.

With at least three hundred planes we can get a good concentration. No matter how you slice it, you’re going to kill an awful lot of civilians. Thousands and thousands . . . We’re at war with Japan. We were attacked by Japan. Do you want to kill Japanese, or would you rather have Americans killed? Crank her up, let’s go.

Drafts from the Tokyo fires bounced our planes into the sky like ping-pong balls. A B-29 coming in after the flames were really on the tear would get caught in one of those searing updrafts. According to the Tokyo fire chief, the situation was out of control within thirty minutes. It was like an explosive forest fire in a dry pine woods. The racing flames engulfed ninety-five fire engines and killed on hundred and twenty-five firemen . . . [and] burning up nearly sixteen square miles of the world’s largest city.

If it hadn’t been for that big river curving through the metropolitan area, a lot more of the city would have gone. About a fourth of all the buildings in Tokyo went up in smoke that night anyway. More than two hundred and sixty seven thousand buildings. No other air attack of the war, either in Japan or in Europe, was so destructive of life and property.

Let’s go back and consult Major Boyle for the final time, and hear what he has to say in his Air Force [magazine] article: “The ten-day fire blitz of Japan was a turning point. The panic-stricken [survivors] began an exodus from the major cities . . . “

(Mission with LeMay, My Story; Gen. Curtis E. LeMay with MacKinlay Kantor, excerpts, pp. 347; 352-355)

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