|View single post by Johan Steele|
|Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 03:47 am||
Life NRA,SUVCW # 48,Legion 352
|Very simply put by a worthy CS General: "Hit the enemy where he ain't."
Some would say that Sherman proved that it was all over but the shouting. The CSA could no longer field an army that could seriously challenge a Union Army in the field.
Who was Sherman fighting? The will of the CSA. Wars and battles are won in the will.
Here is a rough estimation of the damage from Shermans own words... bear w/ me if they are off as I am working from memory.
300 mioles of RR
35,000+ bales of cotton
13,000 head of cattle
9.5 million pounds of corn and 10.5 million pounds of fodder
approx $100 million in property damage.
Cotton, how is that a military target? The CS was all but bankrupt due to inept handling of the treasury, their one main bargaining crop was cotton that could be traded for guns, cannon, equipment etc. aka a valid military target.
Horses & mules. The CS Cav, transport for cannon supplies etc. aka a valid military target
Cattle. Without the cattle, the food, soldiers cannot fight. Battles grind into sieges, sieges into truces & surrenders.
As to $100 millions in property damage. 300 miles of Railroad (transport troops & supplies), bridges (same as RR's), mills (changes grain to flour to feed horses & troops). The destruction of Plantations... keep in mind that approx 25,000 slaves fell in behind Shermans Army. Care to take a guess at the value of 25,000 slaves? I'll wager it would be considered about a quarter of that 100 millions. So many conveniently forgets that the Emancipation Proclomation gave the South fits. In many cases the soldiers didn't even have to free the slaves, they did it themselves and eliminated the CS's chief source of labor and the main reason for rebellion in the first place. Kind of pointless to fight for the God given right to buy & sell human flesh when the chief product is headed for freedom.
Every plantation & its fields burned, every barn destroyed was that much less fodder for the CS Army or Cotton for the purchases of English Cannon & rifles. Every home destroyed or family displaced by the approach of 60,000 men was one more mouth calling upon the CS govt to feed & protect them and more proof that the CS was no longer viable. The population saw it, the world saw it.
Sherman had less than 200 men killed between Atlanta and the NC border, almost none in combat. Most were hanged by Wheelers men... to include a 14 year old drummer boy. Of coarse these numbers don't include those black men, women and children killed by Wheelers Cav at Ebenezer Creek when Jeff Davis (no, the Union dirtball) had the pontoons pulled before the freed slaves could cross.
As to the robbery & looting, how much was there really? Shermans Army averaged just one wagon per regiment. This does not count the ambulances. The wagons contained ammunition and rations. Shermans men average 12-15 miles a day, tore up a mile of railroad per day. How much time did that leave for looting? How did they carry the loot? From reading the diaries, and letters of men who participated they certainly didn't get rich from that march. Now I have done several route marches carrying a rifle, blanket roll, rations, canteen, 8 lbs of ammo... all told about seventy pounds. Sorry but I don't think I'd be real interested in carrying a chandelier or family heirloom furniture.
As to the Rapes.... how many were there? I believe there were about twenty reported. I believe the number was off by about 10 times. Though I suspect that not all were commited by marauding evil yanks. There is some evidence to suggest that at least one group of hanged Union men were hanged by other Union troops... apparently they felt rape was a little out of line. But there were more than just Union troops in the area. CS Deserters, some estimates as high as 10,000 of them though I don't think the number was half that high. Wheelers Cav... who didn't exactly have a steller rep w/ Georgia locals. And of coarse the freed slaves, people who had never been paid, a lifetime of slavery... suddenly an opportunity for revenge.
Not that there would be any reason for revenge, take a look at the conditions on Cobb's plantation if anyone needs a reason for revenge.
What could Lee or Johnston have done if they had ample supplies? And when I say ample supplies I mean food. If Sherman had chased Hood into TN there is no doubt Hood would have been crushed completely... Thomas did a fine job of that himself. But the Confederacy would not have known beyond a shadow of doubt that it was well and truly whipped.
Don't be misled by the stories of the ragged rebel, a large majority of them have proven to be bogus. The largest problem w/ the CS Army wasn't supplies but an inept quartermaster sys that believed ammunition and arms were more important than food. Lee's men were well equiped w/ arms and ammunition and even well clothed from late 1862 to the very end. Shoes were a problem for both sides during the war simply because of the materials and construction of the time. They wore out quickly with hard use. Johnstons forces at Bentonville were well armed and well equiped as well.
When Sherman started his march, Grant was stalemated in front of Petersburg, Lee was in a strong position behind earthworks, His Army was an intact and dangerous foe. Hood was northbound for Tennessee. Leaving only "insignificant" forces in Alabama and the Trans Mississippi. But those men were still there in the fall of 64 and still quite willing and able to fight. Jeff Davis certainly didn't believe the War was over, in fact he seemed to be becoming more shrill and unrealistic as the war neared its end.
I am reminded of the similarities to Japan and Nazi Germany in WWII. THey were beaten by late 44 but they were still fighting most of a year later. It took Berlin to convince the Germans they were licked and two A bombs to convince the Japanese. It took Shermans March to convince the CS they were licked. Sherman showed the world and the CS that the war was all but over, the South was beaten and incapable of winning the War. Before Shermans march that was still in doubt.
Take a look how long after Sherman left Atlanta before the city had newspapers running again, take a look at what the Georgia governor had to say about the hundreds of Wagons loaded w/ loot when he arrived in Atlanta after all of Shermans men were gone. Look to the reports of looting of Dalton by Wheelers men and the anger it caused Georgians at the time.
Bluntly & brutally put Sherman scared the CS into submission. THe scale of destruction nowhere approached what other generals he is compared w/ might have done. I assure you if Sherman had been a Gengis Khan North Georgia would be barren still. If he had been one of the French Generals in Spain during the Napoleans time... All of North Georgia would have blue coated ancestors. I could go on but I don't believe it is needed.
Sherman was no worse than a host of his contemporaries. He was a better general than most yes; but when it comes to his being evil. No more than any of his contemperaries.
On the Indian subject, there are two mistakes I believe are made. 1: the belief that the Indians of the 19th century were just poor innocent lovers of nature. No, not only untue but patently insulting to the Native Americans of the time and of today. The Lakota, Cheyenne, Blackfoot, Kiowa, Commanche, Ute etc were some of histories toughest fighting men. They were warriors, men who lived to fight and the white man provided a wonderful opponent. They were no poor helpless bunny huggers. It was a kind of warfare I pray the world never again experiances, it was a no quarter given and none asked conflict. The closest any in the modern world have to such a clash of cultures culminated in the savage Pacific fighting of WWII.
2: Some equate all of the ills the Native Americans faced with Sherman. Shermans treatment of the Native Americans was no different than that of the US for fifty years prior. Think I'm wrong, look to the Trail of Tears (ordered by a Southern President I believe) the Seminole War, the Blackhawk war, Commanche dealings etc. Native Americans were being lied to, murdered, ejected from their lands well prior to Sherman even going to West Point and it was all but policy into the 1890's.
Was Sherman an evil man? No more so than any Civil War General. I'm always suprised that noone places the blame for the march where it belongs, upon the CS govt as they made no real attempt to stop or even to slow it.
Just my thoughts on the subject... again.