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Interesting letter: Sherman to Rawlins, August 4th 1863

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  • Tony Gunter
    ... Private James O. Tebow, Sergeant Henry Blanck, and Captain William B. Keeler, Company A 35th IA. These constitute one case, all involving the burning of
    Message 1 of 16 , Jan 16, 2007
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      " ... Private James O. Tebow, Sergeant Henry Blanck, and Captain
      William B. Keeler, Company A 35th IA. 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 amoung the great mass of all 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
      charged with crimes at which we blush ... the burning of this
      building in no way aided our military plans. No enemy was within 50
      miles ...

      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."
    • virginia_cajun
      ... Where is this letter located? Art Bergeron
      Message 2 of 16 , Jan 18, 2007
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        --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Tony Gunter" <tony_gunter@...>
        wrote:
        >

        Where is this letter located?

        Art Bergeron
      • Tony Gunter
        ... Sherman s Civil War: Selected Correspondence of William T. Sherman, 1860-1865 p. 518
        Message 3 of 16 , Jan 18, 2007
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          --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "virginia_cajun"
          <virginia_cajun@...> wrote:
          >
          > --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Tony Gunter" <tony_gunter@>
          > wrote:
          > >
          >
          > Where is this letter located?
          >

          Sherman's Civil War: Selected Correspondence of William T. Sherman,
          1860-1865 p. 518
        • William H Keene
          You can also find it in the Official Records, Series 1, VOlume 24, part 3, page 574.
          Message 4 of 16 , Jan 18, 2007
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            You can also find it in the Official Records, Series 1, VOlume 24, part
            3, page 574.

            --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Tony Gunter" <tony_gunter@...>
            wrote:
            >
            > --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "virginia_cajun"
            > <virginia_cajun@> wrote:
            > >
            > > --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Tony Gunter" <tony_gunter@>
            > > wrote:
            > > >
            > >
            > > Where is this letter located?
            > >
            >
            > Sherman's Civil War: Selected Correspondence of William T. Sherman,
            > 1860-1865 p. 518
          • oneplez
            ... all ... because ... difficult ... 50 ... to ... I remembered a description of Shermans destructive efforts written by Donn Piatt in 1881 (I think): We copy
            Message 5 of 16 , Jan 20, 2007
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              --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Tony Gunter" <tony_gunter@...>
              wrote:
              >
              > " ... Private James O. Tebow, Sergeant Henry Blanck, and Captain
              > William B. Keeler, Company A 35th IA. 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 amoung the great mass of all 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
              > charged with crimes at which we blush ... the burning of this
              > building in no way aided our military plans. No enemy was within
              50
              > miles ...
              >
              > 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 remembered a description of Shermans destructive efforts written by
              Donn Piatt in 1881 (I think):

              We
              copy from Mr. John C. Ropes' article on Sherman that ap-
              peared in the Atlantic Magazine of August, 1891 :

              " It would not be right to close a review of General Sher-
              man's character and services without referring to his often
              announced policy of devastation. It can hardly be doubted
              that the desire to inflict punishment on the people of the
              South for their course in breaking up the Union was a strong
              element in favor of his project of marching across the coun-
              try. Thus, on October 9, 1864, he telegraphs to General
              Grant :

              " ' Until we can repopulate Georgia it is useless for us
              to occupy it ; but the utter destruction of its roads, houses,
              and people will cripple their military resources. ... I
              can make this march, and can make Georgia howl.'

              " October 17, to General Schofield : `I will . . .
              make the interior of Georgia feel the weight of war.'

              " October 19, to General Beckwith : ' I propose to aban-
              don Atlanta and the railroad back of Chattanooga to sally
              forth to ruin Georgia and bring up on the seashore.'

              " So when he arrived before Savannah, he wrote to the
              Confederate General Hardee as follows : ' Should I be forced
              to assault or the slower and surer process of starvation I shall
              then feel justified in resorting to the harshest measures, and
              shall make little effort to restrain my army burning to avenge
              the national wrong which they attach to Savannah and other
              large cities which have been so prominent in dragging our
              country into civil war.'

              " To General Grant, December 18 : ' With Savannah in
              our possession at some future time, if not now, we can pun-
              ish South Carolina as she deserves, and as thousands of the
              people in Georgia hoped we would do. I do sincerely believe
              that the whole United States, north and south, would rejoice
              to have this army turned loose on South Carolina to devas-
              tate that state in the manner we have done in Georgia, and
              it would have a direct and immediate bearing on the cam-
              paign in Virginia.'

              504 Life, of Thomas.

              " To General Halleck, December 24 : ' I attach more im-
              portance to these deep incisions into the enemy's country,
              because this war differs from European wars in this particu-
              lar : we are not only fighting hostile armies but a hostile peo-
              ple, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the
              hard hand of war, as well as their organized armies. I know
              that this recent movement of mine through Georgia has had
              a wonderful effect in this respect. . . . The truth is, the
              whole army is burning with an insatiable desire to wreak
              vengeance upon South Carolina. I almost tremble for her,
              but feel that she deserves all that seems in store for her.
              . . . I look upon Columbia as quite as bad as Charleston,
              and I doubt if we shall spare the public buildings there as we
              did at Milledgeville.' "

              These might be taken as the hasty utterances of an im-
              pulsive man, were it not that in his appeals to the public, after
              the war, in the press and in his memoirs, he sought to defend
              himself against the charge of cruel treatment of an unarmed
              people that actually occurred. The troops under his subor-
              dinates carried into execution, as far as they could, what he
              had threatened. It will be observed that he justifies the in-
              famous abuse altogether, on political grounds, and not the
              necessities or necessary consequences of war, and the reasons
              given are as weak as the intent was wicked such, for exam-
              ple, as the astounding assertion that because ours was a frat-
              ricidal strife, and therefore embittered beyond an ordinary
              war of alien enemies, we should countenance the condition"


              Don
            • keeno2@aol.com
              In a message dated 1/20/2007 12:49:16 PM Central Standard Time, oneplez@yahoo.com writes: The troops under his subordinates carried into execution, as far as
              Message 6 of 16 , Jan 20, 2007
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                In a message dated 1/20/2007 12:49:16 PM Central Standard Time, oneplez@... writes:
                The troops under his subordinates carried into execution, as far as they could, what he
                had threatened.
                It's hardly remarkable that two years of war tend to alter one's earlier good intentions.
                Ken
              • Tom Mix
                In fact it can be said to be remarkable if some one DID NOT change after experiencing two years of hellish war. Opinions and attitudes get altered after
                Message 7 of 16 , Jan 20, 2007
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                  In fact it can be said to be remarkable if some one DID NOT change after experiencing two years of hellish war.  Opinions and attitudes get altered after seeing such trauma on such a regular basis as Sherman and his men did.  

                  Excellent point, Ken.

                  Tom

                   

                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com [mailto:civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of keeno2@...
                  Sent: Saturday, January 20, 2007 4:47 PM
                  To: civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: Re: [civilwarwest] Re: Interesting letter: Sherman to Rawlins, August 4th 1863

                   

                  In a message dated 1/20/2007 12:49:16 PM Central Standard Time, oneplez@yahoo. com writes:

                  The troops under his subordinates carried into execution, as far as they could, what he
                  had threatened.

                  It's hardly remarkable that two years of war tend to alter one's earlier good intentions.

                  Ken

                • Bob Taubman
                  You know that old saying, The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Would that we could all excuse our malfeasance by claiming that our actions were
                  Message 8 of 16 , Jan 20, 2007
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                    You know that old saying, "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions."  Would that we could all excuse our malfeasance by claiming that our actions were well intended.  Whether or not Sherman's men inflicted such damage as some Southerners claim is another matter for discussion.  The little or no opposition that he Sherman encountered on his stroll to the sea would suggest to me that his hard-fisted methods were not really necessary.  Retribution would appear to be his course of action.  Of course as I mentioned if the damage he supposedly inflicted was as devestating as claimed by some.
                     


                     
                    ----- Original Message ----
                    From: "keeno2@..." <keeno2@...>
                    To: civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Saturday, January 20, 2007 5:46:45 PM
                    Subject: Re: [civilwarwest] Re: Interesting letter: Sherman to Rawlins, August 4th 1863

                    In a message dated 1/20/2007 12:49:16 PM Central Standard Time, oneplez@... writes:
                    The troops under his subordinates carried into execution, as far as they could, what he
                    had threatened.
                    It's hardly remarkable that two years of war tend to alter one's earlier good intentions.
                    Ken

                  • DPowell334@AOL.COM
                    In a message dated 1/20/2007 5:37:53 P.M. Central Standard Time, rtaubman@rogers.com writes: You know that old saying, The road to Hell is paved with good
                    Message 9 of 16 , Jan 20, 2007
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                      In a message dated 1/20/2007 5:37:53 P.M. Central Standard Time, rtaubman@... writes:
                      You know that old saying, "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions."  Would that we could all excuse our malfeasance by claiming that our actions were well intended.  Whether or not Sherman's men inflicted such damage as some Southerners claim is another matter for discussion.  The little or no opposition that he Sherman encountered on his stroll to the sea would suggest to me that his hard-fisted methods were not really necessary.  Retribution would appear to be his course of action.  Of course as I mentioned if the damage he supposedly inflicted was as devestating as claimed by some.
                       
                       
                      I don't mean to excuse Sherman's men, as I believe they had come to deeply resent secession by this time and were quite happy with visiting misery on people they believed to be traitors and responsible for so many of their comrades' deaths.
                       
                      What has always struck me, however, is how completely the Confederates lost control of their own people, and how Wheeler's Cavalry visited equally harsh destruction and vandalism on their own people. Wheeler, who nominally had between 7 and 10,000 men under his command, never managed to keep more than 2-3,000 actually in the ranks during the march, meaning that 2/3 or 3/4 of his own command dissolved into straggling and banditry.
                       
                      The more I research this aspect of the campaign, the more I am stunned at how badly the Rebels behaved, and how little influence Wheeler or his officers had in controlling their men.
                       
                      Of course, Wheeler also had orders to inflict a scorched earth campaign on the countryside ahead of Sherman, in order to deny the Yankees supplies. This meant that Wheeler destroyed hundreds of mills, thousands of bales of cotton, thousands of head of livestock, etc.
                       
                      Wheeler's orders in the end accomplished nothing: Sherman got his food, and the bulk of the people Wheeler harassed only met with the same treatment from the Yankees a few days later.
                       
                      A sad state of affairs.
                       
                      Dave Powell
                    • Jfepperson@aol.com
                      In a message dated 1/20/2007 7:15:06 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, DPowell334@AOL.COM writes: Wheeler s orders in the end accomplished nothing: Sherman got his
                      Message 10 of 16 , Jan 20, 2007
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                        In a message dated 1/20/2007 7:15:06 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, DPowell334@... writes:
                        Wheeler's orders in the end accomplished nothing: Sherman got his food, and the bulk of the people Wheeler harassed only met with the same treatment from the Yankees a few days later.
                        =====
                         
                        Dave, you are not with the program!  You can't suggest that the Yankees weren't evil!
                         
                        JFE
                         

                        James F. Epperson
                        http://members.aol.com/jfepperson/causes.html
                        http://members.aol.com/siege1864
                      • gnrljejohnston
                        ... What has always struck me, however, is how completely the Confederates lostcontrol of their own people, and how Wheeler s Cavalry visited equally harsh
                        Message 11 of 16 , Jan 20, 2007
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                          --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, DPowell334@... wrote:

                          What has always struck me, however, is how completely the
                          Confederates lostcontrol of their own people, and how Wheeler's
                          Cavalry visited equally harsh destruction and vandalism on their own
                          people. ...... The more I research this aspect of the campaign, the
                          more I am stunned at how badly the Rebels behaved, and how little
                          influence Wheeler or his officers had in controlling their men.

                          Of course, Wheeler also had orders to inflict a scorched earth
                          campaign on the countryside ahead of Sherman, in order to deny the
                          Yankees supplies. This meant that Wheeler destroyed hundreds of
                          mills, thousands of bales of cotton, thousands of head of livestock,
                          etc.

                          Wheeler's orders in the end accomplished nothing: Sherman got his
                          food, and the bulk of the people Wheeler harassed only met with the
                          same treatment from the Yankees a few days later.

                          A sad state of affairs.

                          Dave Powell

                          The sad thing may be also Dave, that there were many times Sherman's
                          troops were blamed for the destruction that Wheeler's troops did.

                          JEJ
                        • DPowell334@AOL.COM
                          In a message dated 1/20/2007 6:57:42 P.M. Central Standard Time, GnrlJEJohnston@aol.com writes: The sad thing may be also Dave, that there were many times
                          Message 12 of 16 , Jan 20, 2007
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                            In a message dated 1/20/2007 6:57:42 P.M. Central Standard Time, GnrlJEJohnston@... writes:

                            The sad thing may be also Dave, that there were many times Sherman's
                            troops were blamed for the destruction that Wheeler's troops did.

                            JEJ
                            I have come to the opinion - best guess - that the majority of predation was inflicted by the approx 12,000 stragglers that followed both armies, just out of reach of the law of either Sherman or Wheeler, and who felt they could cut loose during the march. I think that Sherman had better control over his 60,000, but that larger number yielded several thousand stragglers who felt they could operate beyond discipline.
                             
                            Wheeler, of course, had much less - 10,000 - but lost control of 2/3, so that the cloud of stragglers that followed both columns  came from both armies in about equal proportions.
                             
                            to me, the iconic letter is from a guy in Terry's Texas Rangers (8th Texas Cav) who boasts to his fiancee in Houston about getting a fine set of Silver Candlesticks. This happens, BTW, just outside of Savannah.
                             
                            War is immensely destructive. Young men - and these were all young men, for the most part - need close discipline or they will succumb to the seductive lure of destruction for its' own sake. I feel that this is exactly what happened to both sides during the march, but I must conclude that it happened to Wheeler's men at least as much as Shermans'.
                             
                            Interesting that I have been severely criticized for airing this opinion in other fora, As Jim aluded to, this is an extremely sensitive subject for CSA-leaning folks.
                             
                            Dave Powell
                          • keeno2@aol.com
                            In a message dated 1/20/2007 8:35:51 PM Central Standard Time, DPowell334@AOL.COM writes: Interesting that I have been severely criticized for airing this
                            Message 13 of 16 , Jan 20, 2007
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                              In a message dated 1/20/2007 8:35:51 PM Central Standard Time, DPowell334@... writes:
                              Interesting that I have been severely criticized for airing this opinion in other fora, As Jim aluded to, this is an extremely sensitive subject for CSA-leaning folks.
                              If it weren't, Dave, I'd be a bit worried about the CSA-leaning folks. Unfortunately, it's very easy to explain away the depradations caused by the passage of 62,000 fed-up, angry, and very vigorous young men, a goodly portion of whom remained outside the direct control of their commanders (and many with the approval of their commanders). It's a bit more difficult to explain away the destruction attributable to  Wheeler's troopers.
                               
                              Sherman tried to exert control but confessed on several occasions that keeping track of all the soldiers, all of the time, was quite impossible. In effect, he knew there would be some extracurricular activity but, at that time in the war he apparently figured some inadvertent "collateral damage" would help make his point: "the war is over -- call your menfolks home." Sherman's orders were to leave the little people alone. Although that intention may not have been strictly followed, it is clear to me that Wheeler's people finished the job.
                               
                              Regards,
                              Ken
                               
                            • gnrljejohnston
                              ... opinion in ... subject for ... This may be an extremely sensitive to some, but I always have said, you cannot sweep factual history under the rug and try
                              Message 14 of 16 , Jan 21, 2007
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                                --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, DPowell334@... wrote:
                                >

                                > Interesting that I have been severely criticized for airing this
                                opinion in
                                > other fora, As Jim aluded to, this is an extremely sensitive
                                subject for
                                > CSA-leaning folks.
                                >
                                > Dave Powell
                                >

                                This may be an extremely sensitive to some, but I always have
                                said, "you cannot sweep factual history under the rug and try to hide
                                it." One cannot ignore history just because it is not PC. You have
                                to take to bad along with the good. You also have separate the fact
                                from the myth.

                                I may be wrong (and I probably am), but I think it was Patton that
                                said one should honor and respect you adversary. Even Sherman had a
                                high respect for JEJ as an adversary, and stated so. With that in
                                mind, I shall honor Robert E. Lee this week in rememberance of his
                                200th birthday and fly the First National.

                                This is from a Yankee born in Illinois and lived most of his life in
                                Michigan.

                                JEJ
                              • Carl Williams
                                ... opinion in ... for ... uh oh, another topic for Shotgun to ban!
                                Message 15 of 16 , Jan 22, 2007
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                                  > Interesting that I have been severely criticized for airing this
                                  opinion in
                                  > other fora, As Jim aluded to, this is an extremely sensitive subject
                                  for
                                  > CSA-leaning folks.
                                  >
                                  > Dave Powell
                                  >

                                  uh oh, another topic for Shotgun to ban!
                                • Dick Weeks
                                  I hope you folks don t think that I like having topics banned in the group. I ban them because every time we start discussing certain topics that are
                                  Message 16 of 16 , Jan 22, 2007
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                                    I hope you folks don't think that I like having topics banned in the group.
                                    I ban them because every time we start discussing certain topics that are
                                    emotionally charged there are some, not all by any stretch of the
                                    imagination, but some, that resort to flaming tactics. That is they start
                                    saying rude things about the one that makes a post and not the post itself.
                                    There is a reason for this. When you are face to face with someone, a
                                    facial expression, a body movement, or a voice inflection can, in many
                                    instances, convey a persons feelings without even speaking. This is not
                                    possible in email. It has to be done with the written word. Therein is
                                    where the problems begin. Some put in email what they would never say if
                                    they were face to face with an individual. Just my opinion of course.

                                    Rest assured, a topic will not be banned unless I see that topic cannot be
                                    discussed in a civil manner. The decision to ban a topic is not based on my
                                    personal likes or dislikes. It is based solely on the actions of the group.

                                    I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                    Dick (a.k.a. Shotgun)
                                    http://www.civilwarhome.com

                                    ----- Original Message -----
                                    From: "Carl Williams" <carlw4514@...>
                                    To: <civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com>
                                    Sent: Monday, January 22, 2007 5:58 AM
                                    Subject: [civilwarwest] Re: Interesting letter: Sherman to Rawlins, August
                                    4th 1863


                                    >
                                    >> Interesting that I have been severely criticized for airing this
                                    > opinion in
                                    >> other fora, As Jim aluded to, this is an extremely sensitive subject
                                    > for
                                    >> CSA-leaning folks.
                                    >>
                                    >> Dave Powell
                                    >>
                                    >
                                    > uh oh, another topic for Shotgun to ban!
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
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                                    > Yahoo! Groups Links
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