Browsing "Targeting Civilians"

Grand Army of the Republic of Thieves

With the war nearly over and nothing to gain from destroying private homes and property, Lincoln’s Grand Army added salt to the wounds in a State which was rightly driven from the Union four years earlier by his inability to compromise and avoid war. In 1865 began reconstruction and twelve years of misrule, robbery and outrage in the American South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Grand Army of the Republic of Thieves

“Glen Burnie, [North Carolina] March 21, 1865

My Dear Cousin,

Well Pattie, I have seen the Yankees at last, and I earnestly pray that I may never see them again. The 9th of March will ever be remembered by me. The vagabonds appeared here early that morning, we had no idea they were within fifty miles of here . . . There was a hundred fifty men in the first squad that came here, and such a yell as they gave when they rode in the gate, mortal never heard.

Papa ran to the swamp as soon as he saw them coming, and they were almost frantic with rage when they found he had left and started in the woods to find him and swore by all the saints in heaven that they would kill him if they found him.

The rascals all came in, and in less than ten minutes the house was stripped of almost everything. Pa had the night before fortunately concealed his two watches and your jewelry in a very nice place . . . One of them came to me to know where they were, I of course refused to tell, he them immediately presented a pistol to my head and swore he would take my life if I did not tell him . . .” They carried off every earthly thing we had to eat, did not leave a grain of corn or coffee, or anything that would sustain life one day, and they found all our silver and took every knife, fork and spoon we had in the world.

They set the Piney Woods on fire all around us. Tell Aunt Jenny they set on fire all the rosin she saw, and turned day into night. They carried off a great many of our clothes, have not left me a cloak or shawl of any kind, tore the silk you gave Jenny all to flinders, and carried off my best dresses, and two of Mama’s silks. Have not one blanket in the house, have only a half dozen quilts. The Yankees burned our barn and swore they would burn our house over our heads, but Providence saved it. I can’t tell you how.

Well Pat, I must close by telling you that the Yanks never caught Papa and that we are not quite starved to death, though we came very near it, we went five days without a mouthful of bread. You will excuse the paper I know as it is all the Yankees left in the house, and ‘tis a wonder they left this.

Oh how I do hate the very name of Yankee! May the chilling blight of heaven fall on their dark and doomed souls. May all the powers of earth and heaven combine to destroy them, may their land be one vast scene of ruin and desolation as ours is. This is the blessing of the innocent and injured one. I forgive them? May heaven never!   Nellie”

(A Goodly Heritage, Emma Woodward MacMillan, Wilmington Printing Company, 1961, pp. 65-

The Governor's Coffin

The occupation troops of Northern General Ambrose Burnside at New Bern in mid-1862 not only loaded their empty transports with furniture, carpets and jewelry for the return trip North, but also found New Bern cemeteries full of coffins to appropriate.  Even Lincoln’s hand-picked proconsul, Edward Stanly, who was appointed “governor” of North Carolina, resigned in disgust after observing the looting by Northern soldiers.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Governor’s Coffin

Richard Dobbs Spaight (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)

Longstreet Finds Adversaries Lacking Honor

Southern commanders like James Longstreet expected their Northern counterparts to embrace the conviction that enemies no less than comrades merited honorable treatment, from officers down to enlisted men. To encourage a Southern soldier to desert was unthinkable; A letter from a Southern woman in 1862 stated that “the black title of tory and deserter will cling to them, disgracing their children’s children.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Longstreet Finds Adversaries Lacking Honor

Letter from General Longstreet to General [J.G.] Foster:

“Headquarters, Confederate Forces, East Tennessee, Jan. 3, 1864:

To the Commanding General, United States Forces, East Tennessee –

Sir – I find the proclamation of President Lincoln, of the 8th of December last, in circulation in handbills among our soldiers. The immediate object of this proclamation seems to be to induce our soldiers to quit our ranks and take the oath of allegiance to the United States government.

I presume, however, that the great object and end in view is to hasten the day of peace. I respectfully suggest, for your consideration, the propriety of communicating any views that your government may have upon this subject through me, rather than by handbills circulated amongst our soldiers.

The few men who may desert under the promise held out in the proclamation, cannot be men of character or standing. If they desert their cause, they disgrace themselves in the eyes of God and man. They can do your cause no good, nor can they injure ours.

As a great nation, you can accept none but an honorable peace. As a noble people, you could have us accept nothing less.

I submit, therefore, whether the mode that I suggest would not be more likely to lead to an honorable end than such a circulation of a partial promise of pardon.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

J. Longstreet, Lieutenant-General, Commanding

 

Headquarters, Confederate Forces, East Tennessee, Jan. 11, 1864:

“Sir – I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 7th of January, with its inclosures, etc.

The disingenuous manner in which you have misconstrued my letter of the 3d, has disappointed me. Let me remind you, too, that the spirit and tone of my letter were to meet honorable sentiments.

I have read your order announcing the favorable terms on which deserters will be received. Step by step you have gone on in violation of the laws of honorable warfare. Our farms have been destroyed, our women and children have been robbed, and our houses have been pillaged and burnt. You have laid your plans and worked diligently to produce wholesale murder by servile insurrection. And now, the most ignoble of all, you propose to degrade the human race by inducing soldiers to dishonor and forswear themselves.

Soldiers who have met your own on so many honorable fields, who have breasted the storm of battle in defence of their honor, their families, and their homes, for three long years, have a right to expect more of honor, even in their adversaries. I beg leave to return the copies of the proclamation, and your order.

I have the honor to renew to you the assurance of great respect, your obedient servant,

J. Longstreet, Lieutenant-General, Commanding.”

(Lee and His Generals, Profiles of Robert E. Lee and Seventeen other Generals of the Confederacy, Captain William P. Snow, Gramercy Books, 1867/1996, pp. 333-334)

Terror, Looting and Banishment in Tennessee

General Eleazer A. Payne (Paine) was an Ohio lawyer and prewar friend of Abraham Lincoln. Formally reprimanded for brutality toward civilians in western Kentucky, he was known to have allowed Southern prisoners to ride away on old horses to be chased down and killed by his men.  After the war Mrs. T.J. Latham became president of the Tennessee Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy and State Agent for the Jefferson Davis Monument Fund. She also raised funds for the Nathan Bedford Forrest Monument.

www.Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Terror, Looting and Banishment in Tennessee

“Mrs. Latham was married at her home in Memphis just at the beginning of the war to T.J. Latham, a young attorney and Unionist of Dresden, Tenn., their home till the close of war.

Dresden was debatable ground, subject to raids by “bushwhackers” and “guerillas,” one week by one side, and the next week by the other. These incursions, frequent and without notice, were sometimes to arrest “disloyal” citizens and always to secure every good horse, or any moveable article they could make available.

From these harassing surroundings, Mr. Latham sought refuge by making Paducah his homes, but passing much of his time in New York. The notorious Gen. Payne was in charge at Paducah, and soon became a terror to every one suspected of being a Southern sympathizer. Soon after the famous Forrest raid into Paducah, Payne’s reign became much more oppressive and unbearable. Nero in his prime did not exceed him in heartless cruelty.

The couple with whom Mr. and Mrs. Latham boarded also came from Dresden. They were highly estimable people and had a son in the army. [The gentleman] was quite old and feeble, and under excitement subject to apoplectic attacks. Payne had him arrested. [His wife] fainted and he became alarmingly excited, appealing to Mrs. Latham to go with him, fearing, he said, that Payne’s Negroes would shoot him.

She went, and the first sight that confronted her at headquarters was a lovely woman at on her knees at Payne’s feet, praying for the release of her son, who was arrested the day before while plowing in the field a few miles from the city. Being refused, she asked what in deepest anguish: “What will you do with him?”  “Have him shot before midnight, Madam, for harboring his brother, who is a Forrest Rebel,” and [Payne then] executed his threat.

Mrs. Latham was more fortunate, securing the release of her friend; but Gen. Payne then, addressing her, said he would pardon her and furnish carriage and the best white escort, if she would return to her home in Dresden and point out the Rebels.

Instantly she replied: “Never! Sooner than betray my country and three brothers in the army, I would die!”

Turning savagely to Mrs. Latham, he said: “You will hear from me soon, and T.J. Latham though now in New York, will be attended to. He is a fine Union man to have the impudence to visit Gen. [Napoleon] Dana, at Memphis, my commanding officer; and, with others, induce him to annul my order that no person having sons or brothers in the Southern army should engage in business of any kind in the Paducah district. I will teach him a lesson in loyalty he will remember.”

Next morning a lieutenant went to Mrs. Latham’s and ordered her to get ready, as Gen. Payne had banished her with about ten other women to Canada. He advised her that he had selected Negro soldiers as a guard.  At Detroit the militia was ordered out to insure the safe transportation of a dozen women and children prisoners across to Windsor. On landing, John [Hunt] Morgan and many of his men and others gave them a joyous greeting, and at the hotel they sang Dixie war songs till a late hour.

Thence Mrs. Latham went to New York to join her husband. Mrs. Payne advised [her husband and others] of Payne’s despotic rule, and it was soon known to “honest old Abe” and Gen. Grant. A committee of investigation and a court-martial soon followed, with the speedy relief of Paducah of the most obnoxious and cruel tyrant.

In [Gen. Payne’s] desk were found letters [to his subordinates] saying: “Don’t send any more pianos or plated silver or pictures; all the kin are supplied. But you can send bed linen and solid silverware.”

(United Daughters of the Confederacy, Annual Convention at Montgomery, Alabama; Confederate Veteran, December, 1900, pp. 522-523)

No Full-Blown Yankee Heroes

The belief that the Northern soldier fought for the emancipation of the black man is a long-standing myth and coupled with the parallel myth that Lincoln saved the Union. The army of occupation brought an alien culture to the South which looted farms and left destitute American women and children without food or the means to survive.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

No Full-Blown Yankee Heroes

[Diary Entry] June 5, Monday [1865]:

“A Yankee came this morning before breakfast and took one of father’s mules out of the plow. He showed an order from “Marse” Abraham and said he would bring the mule back, but of course we never expect to see it again. I peeped through the blinds, and such a looking creature, I thought, would be quite capable of burning Columbia. [Northern] Capt. Schaeffer . . . He not only will not descend to associate with Negroes himself, but tries to keep his men from doing it, and when runaways come to town, he either has them thrashed and sent back home, or put to work on the streets and made to earn their rations.

People are so outraged at the indecent behavior going on in our midst that many good Christians have absented themselves from the Communion Table because they say they don’t feel fit to go there while such bitter hatred as they feel towards the Yankees has a place in their hearts. The Methodists have a revival meeting going on, and last night one of our soldier boys went up to be prayed for, and a Yankee went right up after and knelt at his side. The Reb was so overcome with emotion that he didn’t know a Yankee was kneeling beside him . . . Some of the boys who were there told me they were sorry to see a good Confederate going to heaven in such bad company.”

[Diary Entry] June 6, Tuesday:

Strange to say the Yankee brought back father’s mule that was taken yesterday — which Garnett says is pretty good evidence that it wasn’t worth stealing.

They are making a great ado in their Northern newspapers, about the “robbing of the Virginia banks by the Confederates” but not a word is said in their public prints about the $300,000 they stole from the bank at Greenville, S.C., not the thousands they have taken in spoils from private houses, as well as the banks, since these angels of peace descended upon us. They have everything their own way now, and can tell what tales they please on us, but justice will come yet. Time brings its revenges, though it may move but slowly.

Some future Motley or Macaulay will tell the truth about our cause, and some unborn Walter Scott will spread the halo of romance around it. In all the poems and romances that shall be written about this war, I prophesy that the heroes will all be rebels, or if Yankees, from some loyal Southern State. The bare idea of a full-blown Yankee hero or heroine is preposterous. They made no sacrifices, they suffered no loss, and there is nothing on their side to call up scenes of pathos or heroism.

(The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, Eliza Frances Andrews, D. Appleton, 1908, pp. 287-290)

God Will Protect Us; God Will Take Care of Us

William Henry Belk was a child of three in 1865 when his father Abel was murdered by Sherman’s bummers, leaving his mother Sarah not only a widow but with three babies and several Negro hands to feed and clothe. The industrious William would be working his first job in Monroe, North Carolina at age fourteen, and at twenty-six had started his own business which eventually spread to every State in the South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

God Will Protect Us; God Will Take Care of Us

“Across more than four-fifths of a century of incredible change William Henry Belk remembers the day his father left home to escape the advancing Federals. It was 1865, and the Confederacy was dragging wearily into its last days. The South was almost prostrate now; even Sarah Walkup Belk’s beloved Waxhaw country, the country of Andrew Jackson, the gallant William Richardson Davie, and her own Wauchope family, lay under the heel and torch of Sherman.

This Federal general . . . was moving north after his march to the sea, pillaging and burning and slaughtering, and in the path of his troops, in the border region between South Carolina and North Carolina, lay the modest home of Abel Washington Belk.

If young Belk, whose weak lungs had prevented his joining the Confederate army, should be found at home, the Belk’s feared that Sherman’s men would steal his property, burn the house, and possibly hang him. If he should leave and hide out with some of the Negroes and the valuables that could be removed, the Yankee marauders might spare the house . . . over the heads of a defenseless young woman and her three babies.

So he loaded up the wagons and took some of the Negroes and they went down to Gill’s Creek some fifteen miles east of Lancaster, South Carolina . . . refugeeing on the creek down there until the Yankees had got out of the country. And it wasn’t long before the Yankees caught a fellow . . . who figured he’d save his own hide and get in their good graces by turning up my grandfather, old man Tom Belk. This scoundrel told them that my grandfather had barrels of gold hid out at his mine . . . .

But old Sherman’s men didn’t come by our house . . . [and] caught my father instead of my grandfather. They asked him where the gold was hid out. He told them he didn’t know. But they thought he was just trying to save his gold. So they took him down to the creek . . . and held him by the feet and pushed his head down under the water.

Then they’d jerk him up and ask again where the gold was. When he’d tell them he didn’t know – which he didn’t – they’d push him down again. That went on several times. His weak lungs couldn’t stand it. I reckon they just filled with water . . . But they did drown him . . . on Gill’s Creek.”

A letter which was written by Henry Belk’s uncle to Sarah Walkup Belk was her first news of the tragedy. It read as follows: “Sister Sarah, I have sad news to tell you. Abel, your husband and my brother, is I suppose no more. He is not found as we know but there is a certain person buried about one and a half miles below here, in Graham’s field, who I suppose is Abel. His clothes were like those that Abel had on [and] Abel’s little mule is lying dead on the road not far from where the man was drowned. [signed] Herron.”

It was a cheerless, somber day when Sarah Walkup Belk turned away from the red mound in old Shiloh graveyard. But even darker were the thoughts that threatened to crush her, for everywhere she seemed to sense the very presence of death.

Beyond the stones of the graveyard . . . lay fields bare and brown and dead, and there was little promise anywhere that the resurrection of spring would provide adequate crops. The Confederacy, too, she knew, was at its death and tired hungry hopeless men could no longer stem the rush of advancing hordes from the north.

And now her husband was dead. What would she do now? Where would she turn? How could she make a living for herself and her three babies? How actually to find enough food?

She went back to her farm and organized what poor efforts she could command. She found food and clothing for herself, her babies and the Negroes. She managed to provide security in those perilous days, joy even and much love. And always she taught her children. Sometimes it seemed that doubt and despair would engulf her. Always when the darkness was heaviest the pinpoint of a star broke through. She held to her faith. And she worked.

When the days were darkest she would repeat over and over again and in staunch faith the prayer and prophecy of that day when without knowing it she had waved her last good-bye to her young husband: “God will protect us; God will take care of us.”

(William Henry Belk, Merchant of the South, LeGette Blythe, UNC Press, 1950, pp. 3-8)

War to Exterminate Southerners

After the fall of Fort Fisher and occupation of Wilmington in January 1865, nearly 10,000 Northern prisoners were offered to the invaders for the taking — a humane gesture to reduce their suffering. Anxious to maintain the burden on the retreating Carolinians and force them to feed the prisoners with their own meager rations, the Northern commanders stalled. And it was Grant himself who ended the exchange of prisoners with Lincoln’s approval, thereby increasing the suffering at Andersonville.

George Templeton Strong was a Northern patriot who felt comfortable living behind the lines while his government lured domestic and foreign volunteers with generous bounties to maintain the “republic.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

War to Exterminate Southerners

Diary of the Civil War, George Templeton Strong, 29 March 1865:

“Our supplies sent by Chase reached Wilmington just at the right moment and saved scores of lives. His account of the condition of hundreds of returned prisoners, founded on personal inspection, is fearful. They have been starved into idiocy — do not know their names, or where their home is. Starvation has gangrened them into irrational, atrophied, moribund animals. No Bastille and no Inquisition dungeon has ever come up to the chivalric rebel pen for prisoners of war.

I do not think people quite see, even yet, the unexampled enormity of this crime. It is a new thing in the history of man. It definitely transcends the records of the guillotines and the concomitant nogades and fusillades. The disembowelment and decapitation of all men, women and children of a Chinese city convicted of rebel sympathies is an act of mercy compared with the politic, slow torture Davis and Lee have been inflicting on their prisoners, with the intent of making them unfit for service when exchanged.

I almost hope this war may last till it becomes a war of extermination. Southrons who could endure the knowledge that human creatures were undergoing this torture within their own borders, and who did not actively protest against it, deserve to be killed.

30 March 1865, page 571:

From observation at Wilmington, Agnew thinks the Southern “masses” are effete people, unable to take care of themselves now that their slave-holding lords and magnates are gone. A “local committee” at Wilmington is feeding four thousand Wilmingtonians all rations issued by the government. The white trash of even North Carolina is helpless and imbecile, unable to work or to reorganize the community.”

(Diary of George Templeton Strong, Allan Nevins, editor, MacMillan & Company, 1962)

Lincoln's Sable Arm in North Carolina

Former Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Moore Waddell of Wilmington, North Carolina was a prewar Whig, newspaper editor and opposed to the secession of his State. On July 26, 1865 he addressed a colored audience at the Wilmington Theater, advising them on their newly-conferred liberty and subsequent duties and responsibilities — and that the white people of the South they grew up with were not their enemies, despite what the carpetbag element was telling them. At the time he made the address, the black soldiers occupying were a lawless element who were arming local blacks and inciting them to insurrection.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Sable Arm in North Carolina

“[Alfred Moore Waddell of Wilmington wrote Reconstruction Governor W.W. Holden that] The town had a Negro garrison, and with its large Negro population was in a state of great alarm. [He] wrote the governor in early June [1866] that outrages by the troops were of daily occurrence and that the effect of the presence of the colored troops on the Negro population was very dangerous. Arrests [by colored troops] were constantly made without any cause, and in one instance the soldiers were instructed, if the person arrested said or did anything, to run him through [with the bayonet]. There was little or no redress, as unusual latitude was given the colored troops.

In July the mayor and commissioners wrote describing the conduct of the Negroes and the apprehension felt by the white people of an insurrection. The Negroes had demanded that they should have some of the city offices and had made threats when they were refused. The governor replied that the citizens had acted rightly in refusing to appoint Negroes to office, as the right to hold office depended on the right of suffrage. He also assured them that if the Negroes attempted by force to gain control of public affairs or avenge grievances suffered at the hands of the whites, they would be visited by swift punishment; but if obedient to the laws, they would be protected.

[In] Beaufort, a party [of colored soldiers] from Fort Macon committed a brutal rape and were also guilty of attempting the same crime a second time. They were arrested in the town and the garrison of Fort Macon threatened to turn its guns upon the town if they were not surrendered. The condition of affairs there was so bad that General [Thomas] Ruger forbade any soldier to leave the fort except under a white officer.

Near Wilmington, Thomas Pickett was murdered and his two daughters seriously wounded by three soldiers from the Negro garrison at Fort Fisher in company of a Negro from Wilmington. In Kinston, a citizen was beaten by the soldiers, and upon Governor Holden’s complaint to General Ruger, the garrison was removed. Soon afterwards the governor notified General Ruger that a [railroad] car of muskets and ammunition had been side-tracked at Auburn, and while left unguarded had been opened by the freedmen and its contents distributed. The possessors of the arms then became the terror of the community.

Complaints of colored troops were also sent in from New Bern, Windsor, and other eastern towns. In September 1866, the last remaining regiment of Negro [troops] was mustered out, and that cause of discontent disappeared. The white [Northern] troops as a general thing, after the confusion incident to the surrender was over, behaved well. In Asheville, however, they were so disorderly and undisciplined that great efforts were made by the citizens to have them withdrawn.”

(Reconstruction in North Carolina, Joseph D.R. Hamilton, Books for Libraries Press, 1914/1971, pp. 159-161)

Soldiers Made Ashamed of Their Battle Flag

The war crimes against American civilians carried out by Sherman were accomplished with the full knowledge and assent of Grant, Lincoln, Stanton, Seward and Halleck. All knew well that for Sherman’s vandals to live off the country in Georgia and the Carolinas meant civilians would endure starvation and worse.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Soldiers Made Ashamed of Their Battle Flag

“In the earlier part of the war, General William T. Sherman knew and recognized the rules adopted by his government for the conduct of its armies in the field; and so, on September 29, 1861, he wrote to General Robert Anderson, at Louisville, Ky., saying, among other things:

“I am sorry to report that in spite of my orders and entreaties, our troops are committing depredations that will ruin our cause. Horses and wagons have been seized, cattle, sheep, hogs, chickens taken by our men, some of whom wander for miles around . . . the men are badly disciplined and give little heed to my orders or those of their own regimental officers.”

Later on General Sherman said, “War is hell.” If we could record here all the testimony in our possession, from the people of Georgia and South Carolina, who had the misfortune to live along the line of his famous “march to the sea,” during nearly the whole length of which he was warring against, and depredating on, women, children, servants, old men, and other non-combatants, it would show that he had certainly contributed everything in his power to make war “Hell,” as he termed it; and he has justly earned the distinction of being called the ruling genius of this creation.

“We consumed the corn and fodder in the region of country thirty miles on either side of a line from Atlanta to Savannah; also the sweet potatoes, hogs, sheep and poultry, and carried off more than ten thousand horses and mules. I estimate the damage done to the State of Georgia at one hundred million dollars, at least twenty millions of which enured to our benefit, and the remainder was simply waste and destruction.”

Captain Daniel Oakley of the Second Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers . . . says this:

“It was sad to see the wanton destruction of property, which was the work of “bummers,” who were marauding through the country committing every sort of outrage. There was no restraint . . . The country was necessarily left to take care of itself and became a howling waste.”  Another Northern soldier, writing for the “Detroit Free Press,” gives the following graphic account:

“After describing the burning of Marietta, in which the writer says, among other things, “soldiers rode from house to house, entered without ceremony, and kindled fires in garrets and closets and stood by to see that they were not extinguished.”

He then further says: “Had one been able to climb to such a height in Atlanta as to enable him to see for forty miles around the day Sherman marched out, he would have been appalled at the destruction. Hundreds of homes had been burned, every rod of fence destroyed, nearly every fruit tree cut down, and the face of the country so changed that one born in that section could scarcely recognize it. The vindictiveness of war would have trampled the very earth out of sight had such a thing been possible.”

Again he says: “At the beginning of the campaign at Dalton, the Federal soldiery had received encouragement to become vandals . . . When Sherman cut loose from Atlanta everybody had license to throw off restraint and make Georgia “drain the bitter cup.” The Federal who wants to learn what it was to license an army to become vandals should mount a horse at Atlanta and follow Sherman’s route for fifty miles. He can hear stories from the lips of women that would make him ashamed of the flag that waved over him as he went into battle.

When the army had passed nothing was left but a trail of desolation and despair. No houses escaped robbery, no woman escaped insult, no building escaped the firebrand, except by some strange interposition. War may license an army to subsist on the enemy, but civilized warfare stops at livestock, forage and provisions. It does not enter the houses of the sick and helpless and rob women of their finger rings and carry off their clothing.”

[Sherman] not only does not say that he tried to prevent his army from committing these outrages, but says, on page 255 (Memoirs], in referring to his march through South Carolina: “I would not restrain the army, lest its vigor and energy be impaired.”

(The Confederate Cause and Conduct in the War Between the States, Hunter McGuire & George Christian, L.H. Jenkins, Publisher, 1907, pp. 78-82)

 

Francis Key Howard's American Bastille

Francis Key Howard (1826-1872) was the grandson of Francis Scott Key and revolutionary war Col. John Eager Howard; in 1861 he served  as editor of the Baltimore Exchange which criticized Abraham Lincoln’s unconstitutional suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. On Lincoln’s order, Howard’s newspaper was office was closed and he was made a political prisoner for fourteen months in Forts McHenry and Lafayette, and Warren. He later published “Fourteen Months in American Bastilles.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Francis Key Howard’s American Bastille

“On the morning of the 13th of September, 1861, at my residence, in the city of Baltimore, I was awakened about half-past twelve or one o’clock, by the ringing of the bell. When I opened it . . . two men entered . . . One of them informed me that he had an order for my arrest.

In answer to my demand that he should produce a warrant or order under which he was acting, he declined to do so, but said he had instructions from Mr. [William] Seward, the Secretary of State. [He] stated that he intended to execute his orders and that resistance would be idle, as he had with him a force sufficient to render it unavailing.

As he spoke, several men entered the house . . . The leader of the gang then began to search the apartment. Every drawer and box was thoroughly ransacked, and also were my portfolio and writing-desk, and every other place that could possibly be supposed to hold any papers. All my private memoranda, bills, note-books and letters were collected together, to be carried off. After the first two rooms had been thus searched, I was told that I could remain no longer, but must be prepared to go to Fort McHenry.

Two men, wearing the badges of the police force which the Government had organized, escorted me to the fort. I reached Fort McHenry about two o’clock in the morning. There I found several of my friends, and others were brought in a few minutes afterward . . . fifteen in all.  Among them were most of the members of the [Maryland] Legislature from Baltimore, Mr. Brown, the mayor of the city, and one of our Representatives in Congress, Mr. May.

The rooms were in the second story of the building, and opened upon a narrow balcony, which we were allowed to use; sentinels, however, being stationed on it. When I looked out in the morning, I could not help being struck by an odd and not pleasant coincidence.

On that day, forty-seven years before, my grandfather, Mr. [Francis Scott] Key, then a prisoner on a British ship, had witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry. When on the following morning, the hostile fleet drew off, defeated, he wrote the song so long popular throughout the country, the “Star-spangled Banner.” As I stood upon the very scene of that conflict, I could not but contrast my position with his, forty-seven years before. The flag he had then so proudly hailed, I saw waving, at the same place, over the victims of as vulgar and brutal a despotism as modern times have witnessed.”

(American Bastille, John A. Marshall, Thomas W. Hartley & Company. 1881, pp. 643-646)