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 Posted: Mon Jul 10th, 2006 04:42 pm
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burnsideshot
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A topic of interest for me is one that has been talked over and over for a long time.  Here is my understanding, very brief and basically.  Please correct me if I am wrong.  In 1863, the Lieber Code was formed to give guidelines on soldier conduct in war time.  This Code was not accepted in international form until well after the Civil War was decided (maybe around 1870 or so?  (Technically, the CSA was from 61-65 it's own nation implying international status.)  I know it was before Lieber died in '71).  If this is accurate, there is no way that the South can argue that Sherman should have been brought up on war crime charges.  Furthermore, it is my understanding that Sherman did give the Southern people in the cities he went through adequate notice to evacuate.  That is far more generous than he had to be under the laws of the time.  It is a topic that the South is still uptight about and I am trying to understand why.  Technically, Sherman did nothing wrong.  Any opinions?

Thanks - Jessie

Last edited on Mon Jul 10th, 2006 04:43 pm by burnsideshot



 Posted: Mon Jul 10th, 2006 05:21 pm
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HankC
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A good start is to compare Sherman to his contemporaries...

What are the criteria for 'war crimes'? Did such a term even exist in the 1860s?

Henry Wirtz, e commander at Andersonville, was executed after the war, in retribution for what today we would call war crimes, but the exact charges against him were seven for murder.

What would 'war crimes' charges against Sherman be and what is the evidence?

 

HankC



 Posted: Mon Jul 10th, 2006 05:34 pm
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burnsideshot
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Yeah Hank,

That's my point exactly!  While sure a less rigid structure of war crimes certainly did exist, as far as I can find, what Sherman was ordered to accomplish and his means of doing so do not qualify under the category.  On the other hand, I am looking for information as to if each of the places he marched through "burning and pillaging" as Southerners like to say, were in fact fortified.  I haven't found all the info on this yet, but that's why I put it in a forum...   to hopefully benefit from the sharing of knowledge :D



 Posted: Tue Jul 11th, 2006 01:07 am
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Shadowrebel
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Jessie,

By fortified do you also mean entrenched? Here are websites that might help if you do not already know about them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlanta_Campaign

http://www.sonofthesouth.net/union-generals/sherman/memoirs/general-sherman-march-sea.htm

http://www.civilwarhome.com/shermangeorgia.htm

I hope this helps.

I think the war crimes during the war were more along the lines of inter-army then opposing army crimes. Desertion, insubordination, and  disobeying orders type of court-martial offenses. Even these may not fall under the realm of war crimes in the way you mean. I let it to you to decide.

Happy reading

Shadowrebel (John)



 Posted: Tue Jul 11th, 2006 02:04 pm
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burnsideshot
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Thank you for the links.  I guess as far as fortified, I mean militarily protected and defended.  Your links were very helpful and informative.  I think I like this board.  You learn so much!  In addition, I didn't even consider inter-army crimes as war crimes previously.  This puts a WHOLE different spin on the issue!



 Posted: Tue Jul 11th, 2006 02:56 pm
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Albert Sailhorst
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My opinion, and it is just an opinion, is that Sherman destroyed civilian property, not military property, which makes him guilty of war crimes (or any such term as may apply). If Gen. Forrest is to be held accountable for an alleged massacre at Ft. Pillow (a military installation, not civilian), then Sherman is certainly guilty of something.

 

Albert Sailhorst

Scott's Battery



 Posted: Tue Jul 11th, 2006 03:46 pm
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burnsideshot
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Albert,

Maybe in many minds, you are right.  I'm sure in many minds you are, but at the time this seems as though it was a perfectly legit thing to carry out.  No international laws that I have found in my research thus far have shown regulation on this sort of thing. I have heard several different arguments about who ordered Sherman and his men on their destruction rampage.  They fluctuate between direct orders from Lincoln, Grant and some suggest it was Sherman's own idea.  Given that Sherman is credited with being the "father of modern warfare" makes me wonder if in fact he is.  Regardless, he did help facilitate and end to the war, so he can't be that bad :P  As far as the rapes, attacks etc (which of course Sherman nor anyone else ordered as far as we know)...we will never know what truly happened with that.  Stories tend to get worse and worse  and increasingly exaggerated over time especially from the mouths of those who are angry and hurt. No?  I'm not in denial though, everything could have happened just how it is stated.  I love hearing opinions and theories and facts.  Thanks Albert!

Your Friend - Jessie



 Posted: Tue Jul 11th, 2006 04:19 pm
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Albert Sailhorst
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Jessie,

I just finished reading "River Run Red" which is about Ft. Pillow. In the book, there are several quotes from soldiers, officers, etc. regarding "the rules of civilized warefare". I should think that these "rules" were unwritten; that they were simply common practice or "agreements" as it were (for example, the use of land mines was considered "ungentlemanly"). In any event, I wonder how these "rules" would apply to Sherman??

Unfortunately, I cannot quote the source (as I have forgotten) but I beleive that I read somewhere (or maybe heard a quote on Ken Burns' "The Civil War" series) that Sherman approved the stealing of personal property (or, at the very least, he turned a blind eye to it) and certainly the destruction of personal property, during the March to the Sea.

As to your statement about the things Sherman did to facilitate the end of the war, I agree....he did facilitate the end, but at what cost? Rape, robbery, murder, depriving citizens of food....I think he did more to deepen the hatred of Yankees and Union than anything. His destruction has kept the wounds of the Civil War open even today, so , yes, he is that bad.  Gen. Grant is not nearly as hated today as Gen. Sherman is.

 

Albert Sailhorst

Scott's Battery



 Posted: Tue Jul 11th, 2006 04:44 pm
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Albert Sailhorst
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I found this on http://www.echeat.com/essay.php?t=26546:

"Sherman’s first act of terror and war crime was the bombardment of Atlanta. After the bombing had started Sherman wrote to Confederate General John B. Hood, the commander of the forces in Atlanta, he “…was not bound by the laws of war to give notice of the shelling of Atlanta...” (United States, Series 1 - Volume 39 (Part II), 422). This act was a violation of General Order 100, Art. 19 and 22. These articles state that “Commanders, whenever admissible, inform the enemy of their intention to bombard a place, so that the noncombatants, and especially the women and children, may be removed before the bombardment commences…” and “…the distinction between the private individual belonging to a hostile country and the hostile country itself, with its men in arms. The principle has been more and more acknowledged that the unarmed citizen is to be spared in person, property, and honor as much as the exigencies of war will admit.”


Additionally, the same site goes on to say:

"The acts of terror and war crimes committed by Sherman’s army on their march to the sea are too extensive to list. Of these crimes Sherman wrote, “…no doubt, many acts of pillage, robbery and violence…" here he conceded to the acts committed by his men during the march (Sherman, 182-83). These acts were punishable under General Order 100, Art. 47. Sherman never prosecuted these men for their crimes therefore because all commanders are responsible for the troops under their control he became punishable under the same article. Without excusing these crimes we will progress to some of the crimes Sherman was directly responsible for. In a letter written to the commander of the cavalry forces Lieutenant General Wade Hampton on February 24, 1965, Sherman states, “General: It is officially reported to me that our foraging parties are murdered after capture and labeled “Death to all foragers.”…I have ordered a similar number of our prisoners in our hands to be disposed of in like manner. I hold about 1,000 prisoners captured in various ways, and can stand it as long as you;…I find no civil authorities who can respond to calls for forage or provisions, therefore must collect directly of the people…” (United States, Series I- Vol. 47, 546). To harm, mistreat, or put to death along with numerous other things of prisoners, was expressly forbidden in General Order 100, Articles 58, 68, 71 and 75. To avoid debate it is conceded that Sherman could find no civil authorities from which to requisition supplies. However, Sherman expressly forbade his foragers to provide receipts for private property taken from civilians along the route of the march. Also, the foraging parties took far more property than Union forces needed, and no military necessity existed that justifies seizure or destruction in excess of the army's requirements (Sherman, 175-76). This was a direct violation of General Order 100, Art. 38. Any Courts Martial past or present would have convicted William Tecumseh Sherman. "

"Not only was Sherman aware of his crimes and terrorism but a letter to Lieutenant General U. S. Grant December 18, 1964, shows he reveled in it “…I do sincerely believe that the whole United States, North and South, would rejoice to have this army turned loose on South Carolina to devastate that State, in the manner we have done Georgia…” (United States, Series 1 – Vol. 44, 743) "

I think this article accurately sums up the rationale for my opinion on Gen. Shermnan.

Thanks, and good luck in your research!

 

Albert Sailhorst,

Scott's Battery



 Posted: Tue Jul 11th, 2006 05:24 pm
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burnsideshot
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It's a two way street, is it not (see below posted letters...I highlighted the good stuff in red)  I'm not a pro on this topic, which is why I started the thread, but it would be true that he wasn't bound in fact to notify anyone of anything if a city is fortified and therefore a definitive military target?  The letter below actually requests Hood's help in evacuating civilians out of Atlanta.  As far as I am concerned, that was his only real responsibility (morally)...no?  I don't know, I'm sort of just raising arguments to offer an opposing side to yours.  I would love to hear your feedback.  Don't take my posts personally.  :)    - Jessie

[On 7 Sep 1864, Maj Gen Sherman, commander of Union forces occupying Atlanta GA, sent a letter to Gen. J.B. Hood, commander of opposing Confederate forces, requesting his cooperation in the peaceful evacuation of civilians, mostly pro-Confederate, from Atlanta, which was to be converted into an exclusively military fortress and target.
Gen. Hood wrote back agreeing to cooperate, since "I do not have any alternative in this matter," but added a reproach.]
[letter by Gen. Hood to Gen. Sherman]
"Permit me to say that the unprecedented measure you propose transcends, in studied and ingenious cruelty, all acts ever before brought to my attention in the dark history of war.
"In the name of God and humanity, I protest, believing that you will find that you are expelling from their homes and firesides the wives and children of a brave people."
--letter, dated 9 Sep 1864, from Gen. J.B. Hood to M.Gen. W.T. Sherman
Vol. II, p. 119.
[Reply by Gen. Sherman to Gen. Hood]
"In the name of common-sense, I ask you not to appeal to a just God in such a sacrilegious manner. You who, in the midst of peace and prosperity, have plunged a nation into war -- dark and cruel war -- who dared and badgered us to battle, insulted our flag, seized our arsenals and forts that were left in the honorable custody of peaceful ordnance-sergeants, seized and made 'prisoners of war' the very garrisons sent to protect your people against negroes and Indians, long before any overt act was committed by the (to you) hated Lincoln Government; tried to force Kentucky and Missouri into rebellion, spite of themselves; falsified the vote of Lousiana; turned loose your privateers to plunder unarmed ships; expelled Union families by the thousands, burned their houses, and declared, by an act of your Congress, the confiscation of all debts due Northern men for goods had and received! Talk thus to the marines, but not to me, who have seen these things, and who will this day make as much sacrifice for the peace and honor of the South as the best-born Southerner among you! If we must be enemies, let us be men, and fight it out as we propose to do, and not deal in such hypocritical appeals to God and humanity. God will judge us in due time, and he will pronounce whether it be more humane to fight with a town full of women and the families of a brave people at our back or to remove them in time to places of safety among their own friends and people.
--from a letter, dated 10 Sep 1864, from W.T. Sherman to J.B. Hood
Vol II, pp. 120-121

Last edited on Tue Jul 11th, 2006 05:24 pm by burnsideshot



 Posted: Tue Jul 11th, 2006 05:46 pm
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Albert Sailhorst
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You who, in the midst of peace and prosperity, have plunged a nation into war -- dark and cruel war -- who dared and badgered us to battle, insulted our flag, seized our arsenals and forts that were left in the honorable custody of peaceful ordnance-sergeants, seized and made 'prisoners of war' the very garrisons sent to protect your people against negroes and Indians

turned loose your privateers to plunder unarmed ships; expelled Union families by the thousands, burned their houses, and declared, by an act of your Congress, the confiscation of all debts due Northern men for goods had and received!

 

All of these accusations made by Sherman to Hood are common practices of war (the English, in the 1600's, used privateers to attack French & Spanish merchant ships), not "war crimes"....Why did Sherman say the very garrisons sent to protect your people against negroes and Indians...Did the Southern people need protection from the blacks??(I dodn't understand the rationale of that statement, but that's beside the point)

This was also in the documentation that you quoted Gen. Hood wrote back agreeing to cooperate, since "I do not have any alternative in this matter," and "Permit me to say that the unprecedented measure you propose transcends, in studied and ingenious cruelty, all acts ever before brought to my attention in the dark history of war.
"In the name of God and humanity, I protest, believing that you will find that you are expelling from their homes and firesides the wives and children of a brave people."


The operative words of Hood are: "unprecedented", "cruelty", "expelling from their homes......wives and children....."

Contained in my previos post is: Of these crimes Sherman wrote, “…no doubt, many acts of pillage, robbery and violence…" here he conceded to the acts committed by his men during the march (Sherman, 182-83). These acts were punishable under General Order 100, Art. 47. Sherman never prosecuted these men for their crimes therefore because all commanders are responsible for the troops under their control he became punishable under the same article." Sherman "conceeded to these acts" and did not prosecute his troops, because, to prosecute them, would leave him culpable and vulnerable to the same charges.

Further, in my previous post "However, Sherman expressly forbade his foragers to provide receipts for private property taken from civilians along the route of the march. Also, the foraging parties took far more property than Union forces needed, and no military necessity existed that justifies seizure or destruction in excess of the army's requirements (Sherman, 175-76). This was a direct violation of General Order 100, Art. 38. Any Courts Martial past or present would have convicted William Tecumseh Sherman. " Which means Sherman did not provide receipts to the citizens for property "stolen" by his troops, and that troops under his command took far more property than was needed, without justification as to military purpose.

I suppose, the bottom line is, it depends on which side of the fence a person is on regarding this matter.....Was Robert E. Lee a traitor?....Would he be a traitor if the South had won the war??.....Was George Washington a hero, or traitor to the British Crown??.....It all depends on one's point of view.....

Again, good luck in your research!!

Albert Sailhorst

Scott's Battery



 



 Posted: Tue Jul 11th, 2006 06:07 pm
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burnsideshot
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HAHA...yeah, ok,  you make some good points.  I also intentionally left out any anti-Sherman speak.  I admire the man to be honest.  He knew what he had to do would be unpopular as reflected in letters to his family, yet, he felt it needed to be done for the good of the nation (presumably) and he did it.  I heard he had deep affections for the South having lived in LA.  Anyway, I agree that it depends what side you stand on. 

I'll just throw this in.  I admire RE Lee.  Man of good sound moral character and maybe one of the biggest reasons the entire South didn't fall apart further after the war.  Definitely I would never think of him as a traitor, though having Northern bias.  It's amazing that he still sets an example and is a role model for many 130+ years after his death.  IMPRESSIVE if you ask me!

Thanks for your comments - Jessie



 Posted: Tue Jul 11th, 2006 06:22 pm
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Albert Sailhorst
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I admit, Sherman did what he had to do. However, being of Southern ancestry, I have to say I don't agree with having done those things to Americans. If we did those things in Iraq, maybe we wouldn't have had to be there so long. But, I can't apply 19th century thinking to 21st century thinking. Besides, if we did wage "total war' nowadays, just imagine the public outcry!!

Thanks for stimulating my thought processes today!!

Albert Sailhorst

Scott's Battery



 Posted: Tue Jul 11th, 2006 08:04 pm
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burnsideshot
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Wow Albert... I don't think anyone has ever made me so proud.  A Southerner admitting that Sherman did what he had to do even though you don't agree with it.  You are truly wise.  You don't mix your emotions up with the truth!  I LOVE THAT!

Your Friend - Jessie



 Posted: Tue Jul 11th, 2006 08:25 pm
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Albert Sailhorst
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Hey thanks!

I've studied war long enough to know that armies, soldiers, etc. have to do the things that they do in order to win wars. "War is hell" is true enough...."It is good that war is so terrible, lest we should grow to fond of it"......

I think the best book that I ever read that truely describes the brutality of war is "River Run Red" (though I disagree with the thesis of the book, but that's another personal matter....HA!). It really brings to life the cruelties. But, in order to attain a military/political objective, one must accept these cruelties.

If I don't respond back, it's because I can only come to the website on Tuesdays, as I don't have a computer at home and I use this one when the boss is away!!....heehee....Don't tell anyone!!

Albert Sailhorst, Scott's Battery



 Posted: Wed Jul 12th, 2006 12:34 am
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William Posey
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And then there was Lagrange, Georgia, where 40 ladies marched out to fight Sherman's troopers. The ladies of Lagrange were armed with pitchforks and muskets. There were no men left to fight, so the ladies did what they could to defend their homes.

Was this a fortified place, in your definition?



 Posted: Wed Jul 12th, 2006 01:07 am
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javal1
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Interesting question William. It's subjective of course, but I'd say it depends on your definition of fortified. Is a town defended by 40 men with muskets fortified? If so, then a town with 40 women with muskets is fortified as well. Last time I checked, the musketball didn't have a different effect depending on the gender of the shooter ;) Enjoying the thread....



 Posted: Wed Jul 12th, 2006 01:24 am
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William Posey
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40 trained soldiers, all armed with muskets, would be more effective than 40 housewives, some with muskets and some with pitchforks. Although, the pitchfork is a very effective weapon against cavalry.

Anyway, the officer in charge of the troop was so in awe of the ladies' determination to defend their homes that he agreed to spare the town from burning.



 Posted: Wed Jul 12th, 2006 01:56 pm
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burnsideshot
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Ah...I like that story!  I hadn't heard of that happening there.  I find it interesting though how so few people accept that some of the soldiers (particulary artillery) were women.  I have seen people at some reenactments my husband dragged me to that were very opposed to the female reenactors dressing up as men and "fighting."



 Posted: Wed Jul 12th, 2006 03:02 pm
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William Posey
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These ladies were not soldiers in any formal sense. All their men were gone to war and many had just been killed, wounded or captured by Sherman's troops at a fort some distance away. There was no one to protect them, so they protected themselves. This was pure desperation and they succeeded without firing a shot or plunging a pitchfork into a single horse's belly.



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