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How Lincoln’s Army 'Liberated' the Indians

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    How Lincoln s Army Liberated the Indians http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo40.html How Lincoln s Army Liberated the Indians by Thomas J.
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      How Lincoln's Army 'Liberated' the Indians
      http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo40.html
      How Lincoln's Army 'Liberated' the Indians
      by Thomas J. DiLorenzo

      In a recent issue of The American Enterprise magazine devoted to the
      War between the States (see my LRC article, "AEI is Still Fighting the
      Civil War") Victor Hanson, a visiting professor at the U.S. Naval
      Academy, defends and makes excuses for Lincoln's intentional waging of
      war on Southern civilians. This included the bombing, pillaging and
      plundering of their cities and towns, the burning of their homes, total
      destruction of farms and livestock, gang rape, and the killing of
      thousands, including women and children of all races. (See Merchant of
      Terror: General Sherman and Total War by John Bennett Walters or The
      Hard Hand of War by Mark Grimsley).

      It was all justified, says Hanson, because General Sherman and his men
      were supposedly motivated by the belief that it was necessary "to
      guarantee the American proposition that each man is as good as
      another." Sherman's "bummers," as they were called, were "political
      avenging angels" who were offended by racial inequalities in the South.
      They were driven by "an ideological furor, to destroy the nature of
      Southern aristocracy." The "tyrannical Southern ruling class" needed to
      be taught a lesson. (Besides, he writes, "rapes during [Sherman's]
      march were almost unknown)."

      In reality, neither Sherman nor his soldiers believed any of these
      things. (And rapes were not as "unknown" to the Southern people as they
      are to Hanson). In the Northern states at the time, myriad Black Codes
      existed that prohibited blacks from migrating into most Northern states
      and kept them from entering into contracts, voting, marrying whites,
      testifying in court against whites (which invited criminal abuse), or
      sending their children to public schools. They were excluded altogether
      from all forms of transportation or required to sit in special "Jim
      Crow sections." They were prohibited from entering hotels, restaurants
      or resorts except as servants, and were segregated in churches,
      prisons, and even cemeteries. Free blacks in the North in the 1860s
      were cruelly discriminated against in every aspect of their existence,
      and were denied the most fundamental of citizenship rights

      Sherman himself certainly did not believe that "each man is as good as
      another." For example, in 1862 Sherman was bothered that "the country"
      was "swarming with dishonest Jews" (see Michael Fellman, Citizen
      Sherman, p. 153). He got his close friend, General Grant, to expel all
      Jews from his army. As Fellman writes, "On December 17, 1862, Grant . .
      . , like a medieval monarch . . . expelled `The Jews, as a class,' from
      his department." Sherman biographer Fellman further writes that to
      Sherman, the Jews were "like niggers" and "like greasers (Mexicans) or
      Indians" in that they were "classes or races permanently inferior to
      his own."

      The notion that Sherman's army was motivated by a belief that all men
      are created equal is belied by the further fact that just three months
      after General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox the very same
      army commenced a campaign of ethnic genocide against the Plains
      Indians. In July of 1865 Sherman was put in charge of the Military
      District of the Missouri (all land west of the Mississippi) and given
      the assignment to eradicate the Plains Indians in order to make way for
      the federally subsidized transcontinental railroad. Like Lincoln,
      Sherman was a friend of Grenville Dodge, the chief engineer of the
      project. He was also a railroad investor and he lobbied his brother,
      Senator John Sherman, to allocate federal funds for the
      transcontinental railroad. "We are not going to let a few thieving,
      ragged Indians stop and check the progress of the railroad," he wrote
      to General Grant in 1867 (Fellman, p. 264). As Fellman writes:

      [T]he great triumvirate of the Union Civil War effort [Grant, Sherman
      and Sheridan] formulated and enacted military Indian policy until
      reaching, by The 1880s, what Sherman sometimes referred to as "the
      final solution of the Indian problem," which he defined as killing
      hostile Indians and segregating their pauperized survivors in remote
      places . . . . These men applied their shared ruthlessness, born of
      their Civil War experiences, against a people all three despised, in
      the name of Civilization and Progress (emphasis added).

      Another Sherman biographer, John F. Marszalek, points out in Sherman: A
      Soldier's Passion for Order, that "Sherman viewed Indians as he viewed
      recalcitrant Southerners during the war and newly freed people after
      the war: resisters to the legitimate forces of an orderly society," by
      which he meant the central government. Moreover, writes Marszalek,
      Sherman's philosophy was that "since the inferior Indians refused to
      step aside so superior American culture could create success and
      progress, they had to be driven out of the way as the Confederates had
      been driven back into the Union."

      "Most of the other generals who took a direct role in the Indian wars,
      writes Marszalek, "were, like Sherman, [Union] Civil War luminaries."
      This included "John Pope, O.O. Howard, Nelson A. Miles, Alfred H.
      Terry, E.O.C. Ord, C.C. Augeur, and R.S. Canby. General Winfield Scott
      Hancock should be added to this list of "luminaries." Among the
      colonels, "George Armstrong Custer and Benjamin Grierson were the most
      famous."

      Sherman and General Phillip Sheridan were associated with the statement
      that "the only good Indian is a dead Indian." The problem with the
      Indians, Sherman said, was that "they did not make allowance for the
      rapid growth of the white race" (Marszalek, p. 390). And, "both races
      cannot use this country in common" (Fellman, p. 263).

      Sherman's theory of white racial superiority is what led him to the
      policy of waging war against the Indians "till the Indians are all
      killed or taken to a country where they can be watched." As Fellman (p.
      264) writes:

      Sherman planted a racist tautology: Some Indians are thieving, killing
      rascals fit for death; all Indians look alike; therefore, to get some
      we must eliminate all . . . deduced from this racist tautology . . .
      the less destructive policy would be racial cleansing of the land . . .

      Accordingly, Sherman wrote to Grant: "We must act with vindictive
      earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women
      and children." Writing two days later to his brother John, General
      Sherman said: "I suppose the Sioux must be exterminated . . ."
      (Fellman, p. 264).

      This was Sherman's attitude toward Southerners during the War for
      Southern Independence as well. In a July 31, 1862 letter to his wife
      (from his Collected Works) he wrote that his purpose in the war was:
      "Extermination, not of soldiers alone, that is the least part of the
      trouble, but the [Southern] people." His charming and nurturing wife
      Ellen wrote back that her fondest wish was for a war "of extermination
      and that all [Southerners] would be driven like the Swine into the
      sea."

      With this attitude, Sherman issued the following order to his troops at
      the beginning of the Indian Wars: "During an assault, the soldiers
      cannot pause to distinguish between male and female, or even
      discriminate as to age. As long as resistance is made, death must be
      meted out . . ." (Marszalek, p. 379).

      Most of the raids on Indian camps were conducted in the winter, when
      families would be together and could therefore all be killed at once.
      Sherman gave Sheridan "authorization to slaughter as many women and
      children as well as men Sheridan or his subordinates felt was necessary
      when they attacked Indian villages" (Fellman, p. 271). All livestock
      was also killed so that any survivors would be more likely to starve to
      death.

      Sherman was once brought before a congressional committee after federal
      Indian agents, who were supposed to be supervising the Indians who were
      on reservations, witnessed "the horror of women and children under
      military attack." Nothing came of the hearings, however. Sherman
      ordered his subordinates to kill the Indians without restraint to
      achieve what he called "the final solution of the Indian problem," and
      promised that if the newspapers found out about it he would "run
      interference against any complaints about atrocities back East"
      (Fellman, p. 271).

      Eight years into his war of "extermination" Sherman was bursting with
      pride over his accomplishments. "I am charmed at the handsome conduct
      of our troops in the field," he wrote Sheridan in 1874. "They go in
      with the relish that used to make our hearts glad in 1864-5" (Fellman,
      p. 272).

      Another part of Sherman's "final solution" strategy against this
      "inferior race" was the massive slaughter of buffalo, a primary source
      of food for the Indians. If there were no longer any buffalo near where
      the railroad traveled, he reasoned, then the Indians would not go there
      either. By 1882 the American buffalo was essentially extinct.

      Ironically, some ex-slaves took part in the Indian wars. Known as the
      "Buffalo Soldiers," they assisted in the federal army's campaign of
      extermination against another colored race.

      By 1890 Sherman's "final solution" had been achieved: The Plains
      Indians were all either killed or placed on reservations "where they
      can be watched." In a December 18, 1890 letter to the New York Times
      Sherman expressed his deep disappointment over the fact that, were it
      not for "civilian interference," his army would have "gotten rid of
      them all" and killed every last Indian in the U.S. (Marszalek, p. 400).


      To Victor Hanson and the American Enterprise Institute this is the kind
      of man who "deserves a place on the roll call of great liberators in
      human history." Native Americans would undoubtedly disagree.

      February 12, 2003

      Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mail] is the author of the LRC #1
      bestseller, The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His
      Agenda, and an Unnecessary War (Forum/Random House, 2002) and professor
      of economics at Loyola College in Maryland.

      Copyright © 2003 LewRockwell.com
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