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A kinder, gentler Sherman

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  • Will <wh_keene@yahoo.com>
    In the past there has been discussion of the form of warfare conducted by Sherman in his march to the sea, specifically discussion turning the destructive
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 21 12:06 PM
      In the past there has been discussion of the form of warfare
      conducted by Sherman in his march to the sea, specifically discussion
      turning the destructive force of war at civilians. While I have no
      comment to make about the march to the sea, I would like to present a
      different side of Sherman from the end of the Vicksburg campaign.
      The first 3 are from OR Series 1, Vol. 24, pt 2; the last 2 are from
      OR Series 1, Vol. 24, pt 3.


      Headquarters, Army before Jackson, July 16, 1863.

      WILLIAM YERGER, w. H. ALLEN, and others,
      Jackson, MISS.:

      GENTLEMAN: Your communication is received. The city of Jackson will
      be occupied by a Division of troops, commanded by General Blair. His
      orders will be to protect private property. I can make to terms,
      because resistance has been made with artillery until it became
      hopeless, and terms would compromise the Government of the United
      States, but I assure your that all citizens acting in good faith will
      be respected by me and my command, and that families will be
      encouraged to get home, and resume their peaceful vocations.

      I am,&c.,
      W. T. SHERMAN,
      Major-General, commanding.

      Jackson, MISS., July 21, 1863.

      C. H. MANSHIP, Esq. Mayor of Jackson:

      SIR: Yours of July 20 is received. I will cause 200 barrels of flour
      and 100 barrels of mess pork to be delivered at Big Black River
      Bridge, to the order of any committee you may accredit who will
      undertake to distribute the same the people in want, living in and
      near Jackson. Let the committee be appointed at once, I will furnish
      them a safe conduct to and from the river.

      I am,&c.,
      W. T. SHERMAN,
      Major-General, commanding.

      JULY 22, 1863.

      Whereas Major-General Sherman has agreed to furnish to those in need
      of provisions, in Jackson and its vicinty, 200 barrels of flour and
      20,000 pounds of pork, or its equivalent in hard bread and bacon, we,
      the undersigned, a committee appointed by the mayor to receive said
      supplies, agree to receive the same, and to distribute the same
      fairly and equally among the inhabitants needing the same, in
      proportion to the numbers of members in their families.

      W. YERGER.
      D. N. BARROWS.
      F. ANDERSON.
      W. L. SHARKEY.
      F. S. HUNT.
      J. A. KAUSLER.
      J. M. COATS.
      J. H. BOYD.

      BLACK RIVER, August 3, 1863.

      Messrs. JESSE REED, W. B. ANDERSON,
      Hinds County Committee:

      GENTLEMEN: Yours of August 1 is received. I withdrew from Jackson
      purposely to avoid the destruction to private property, always
      incident to the occupation of an army. You have seen enough of armies
      to know that they are so intent overcoming their opponents that the
      poor people receive very little consideration at their hands. I do
      not believe we will again have occasion to visit Hinds County, and
      the people who have wives and children to feed and protect should, as
      soon as possible, begin to reorganize a government capable of
      protecting them against the bands of scouts and guerrillas that
      infest the land, who can do no good, and may do you infinite

      I am satisfied General [W. H.] Jackson, C. S. Army, will restrict the
      operations of his scouts, and I will do the same with ours, and in
      that way I hope and trust the citizens may have enough leisure to
      study their real interests, which must lead them to the conclusion
      that war was not the remedy for grievances, or supposed grievances,
      for which our forefathers provided the Supreme Court of the United
      States to arbitrate and remove. You may safely count on all United
      States officers in authority to encourage the return of the people of
      Mississippi to the peace and prosperity that they enjoyed under the

      With great respect,
      W. T. SHERMAN.

      CAMP ON BIG BLACK RIVER, August 4, 1863.

      Lieutenant Colonel John A. RAWLINS,
      Asst. Adjt. General, Dept. of the Tennessee, Vicksburg, MISS.:

      SIR: I have the honor herewith to transmit for the action of the
      general-in-chief the proceedings of a general court martial in the
      case of Private [James O.] Tebow, Sergeant [Henry] Blanck, and
      Captain [William B.] Keeler, of Company A, Thirty-FIFTH Iowa. These
      constitute one case, all involving the burning of a cotton-gin during
      our march from Jackson back to our camps on Big Black.

      The amount of burning, stealing, and plundering done by our army
      makes me ashamed of it. I would quit the service if I could, because
      I fear that we are drifting to the worst sort of vandalism. I have
      endeavored to repress this class of crime, but you know how difficult
      it is to fix the guilt among the great mass of an army. In this case
      I caught the man in the act. He is acquitted because his superior
      officer ordered. it. The superior officer is acquitted because, I
      suppose, he had not set the fire with his own hands, and thus you and
      I and every commander must go through the war justly chargeable with
      crimes at which we blush.

      I should have executed the soldier on the spot, and would have been
      justified, but the pleaded his superior orders, and now a volunteer
      court-martial, tainted with the technicalities of our old civil
      courts, absolves the officer on the old pleas, good when all men were
      held responsible alone for the acts done by their own hands. I
      believe there is a remedy; General Grant can stamp the act as a
      crime, and can pronounce the officer unworthy a commission in the
      Army of the United States. This will in a measure relieve our General
      Government of the obloquy attached to such acts of vandalism, and
      this would form a good occasion for a general order announcing to all
      that our province is to maintain good law, and not to break it. The
      burning of this building in no way aided our military plans. No enemy
      was within 50 miles. A major riding behind his regiment is not the
      man to know the policy of the General Government of the United
      States. I have issued orders again and again on this subject, but our
      commands change so often that time is not afforded to prohibit all
      sorts of misdemeanors to each new command, nor is it necessary. This
      major had no reason to presume that he, in the presence of his
      regimental, brigade, and Division commanders, should judge of the
      policy of the Government, and I was close at hand and he knew it. He
      knew that he had no right to order this burning, or, if ignorant, he
      is unworthy a commission.

      I ask that he be dismissed summarily and in disgrace. Not that I
      would visit upon him undeserved punishment, but that the United
      States authorities should wash their hands of the obloquy attached to
      such wanton acts of destruction.

      I am, &c.,
      W. T. SHERMAN.
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