A kinder, gentler Sherman
- 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,
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.
W. T. SHERMAN,
HEADQUARTERS Fifteenth ARMY CORPS,
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.
W. T. SHERMAN,
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.
D. N. BARROWS.
W. Q. POINDEXTER.
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.