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 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 05:57 am
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susansweet
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My Civil War book discussion group just read Sherman's Memoirs .  In discussing it tonight one of the people asked what is a FLYING BRIDGE  which was used by Sherman's troops to cross some of the rivers on the March.  I said I didn't know but bet some of you would know.  Come on Johan you always have the information .  Do you know this one?

Thanks so much.

Susan

 

By the way many of us have a different view of Sherman after reading this book. 

 



 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 11:06 am
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PvtClewell
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Susan,

Found this definition on the Internet:

"Flying bridge, a temporary bridge suspended or floating, as for the passage of armies; also, a floating structure connected by a cable with an anchor or pier up stream, and made to pass from bank to bank by the action of the current or other means. --"

I hope this helps. Couldn't find any pictures, though. Maybe somebody else can.

By the way, what view of Sherman do you have now?



 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 11:26 am
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Thanks Pvt .  I was so tired last night when I got home I didn't google it , I will pass the information on to the others.

I have always disliked Sherman but after reading his Memoirs I am beginning to like him. 

Susan



 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 12:02 pm
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It would be another term for a Pontoon Bridge, IIRC flying bridge refered only one section.



 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 02:16 pm
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Thanks Johan I figured you might know

Susan



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 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 07:28 pm
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You're just mad because Alabama wasn't worth tearing up.

ole



 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 07:31 pm
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I'd take Sherman over Sheridan any day of the week. Sheridan, IMO, was a complete ass. Sherman at least was civil at the surrender negotiations in North Carolina.



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 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 08:23 pm
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Bama-

  I agree with you on many things, but I can't go along with your description of General Sherman as a : "war criminal." Sherman certainly made war on property, but he wasn't into systematic killing. All he wanted to do was force the southerners to submit to what he referred to as: "proper authority." (The US Gov't).

  General Sheridan, when it came to the Indians, conducted a war of extermination. Today it would probably be referred to as: "ethnic cleansing."

  The two seem different to me.



 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 08:47 pm
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I have to agree with Texas defender that Sheridan was 20 times worse.  Just compare Sheridan at Appomattox with Sherman at Bennet's Place.

Last edited on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 08:48 pm by The Iron Duke



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 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 09:57 pm
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Sherman's men adored him because he didn't waste them in useless campaigns and battles. He won with them and beat the enemy w/ a minimum of casualties, on either side.

Sherman is one of those men who has his weaknesses. But I go by what the men who served under had to say, and frankly they adored "Uncle Billy." Much of the idea that Sherman made war on women and children is postwar Lost Cause propoganda. He destroyed the infastructure of the CS, hastening the end and he's hated for it even today.



 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 10:03 pm
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After reading the memiors I am tending to agree with Johan on this one.  Many of the things said of him are just not true.  He destroyed the military infrastructure on his march to the sea, anything that could be used for the military.  

Susan



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 Posted: Wed Aug 13th, 2008 11:20 pm
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The Iron Duke
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Sherman is certainly not as bad as he is sometimes portrayed but his men did get out of control and plunder the countryside. And his men were primarily responsible for what happened at Columbia.  Another example is the way his men behaved in Milledgeville which at the time was the capitol of Georgia.  To say that Sherman's men only targeted military infrastructure is just as disingenuous as the claim that he executed thousands of civilians and poured salt into the soil.

I also believe Sherman makes the claim in his memoirs that he wasn't surprised at Shiloh which is definitely not true.  Memoirs are always self-serving which is why I try to avoid them if possible.

Last edited on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 11:28 pm by The Iron Duke



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 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 12:00 am
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I just finished reading the fiction book The March by E.L.Doctorow. I thought it was a pretty good piece of CW fiction, though I think Doctorow sometimes made Sherman alittle too "thoughtful," maybe for the sake of a good fictional story. But the one thing I wondered about was Sherman's relationship with Kilpatrick (Kill-Calvary) during the March. The author kind of leaves it foggy. How did Sherman really feel about Kilpatrick's actions on the March? He was, after all, accomplishing that goal of destroying the CS army's infrastructure, wasn't he?

Pam



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 12:31 am
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"I know Kilpatrick is a hell of a damn fool but that is just the type of man I want for this expedition."

At Waynesboro, Georgia Kilpatrick was getting whipped so good by Wheeler's men that Sherman had to send over Jeff Davis's infantry as support. Later during the Carolinas campaign Sherman got completely fed up with Kilpatrick.



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 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 12:38 am
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As I recall Sherman called Kilpatrick a "damned fool...but just the kind of cavalry man I need." Tell you what, I'll look up the exact quote in my book on Kilpatrick. Maybe I can find something about their relationship as the Atlanta Campaign and subsequent "march" played out.

Iron Duke, it looks as if we were posting at the same time. :D

Last edited on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 12:40 am by CleburneFan



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 01:13 am
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Some quick thoughts grabbed from "The life of Union General Hugh Judson  Kilpatrick" by Samuel Martin.

1. General Sherman did not attend Kilpatrick's grand reunion for Civil War veterans that he hosted at his New Jersey farm on August 1887. Page 230

2. James H Wilson, cavalry division commander of the Army of the Potomac, questioned Sherman about whether Kilpatrick was qualified for the important  role he occupied in the Atlanta campaign. Sherman replied, "I know [that] Kilpatrick is a hell of a damned fool , but I want just that sort of a man to command my cavalry on this expedition." Later, however, Sherman that the slur was used because...that was what a good many of [my] officers were in the habit of calling [him]. Page 192

3. When Kilpatrick was relieved of duty after the disgraceful Dahlgren raid on Richmond, it was Sherman who gave him a reprieve and offered him a command in the his Atlanta campaign. Pages 235 & 236.

4. Sherman openly praised Kilpatrick for his performance in North Carolina in 1864, but in private warned him about his scandalous involvement with girls such as  Marie Boozer.  Page 226.

 My own personal impression is that Sherman did eventually feel quite embarassed by Kilkpatrick's shananigans.  I do wonder, however, if Sherman would have been more tolerant if KIlpatrick had been more effective, say, on the calibre of J.E.B. Stuart.

Last edited on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 01:16 am by CleburneFan



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 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 01:50 am
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I am a bit confused here. Are you taking issue with my statement or just adding onto it?



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 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 02:00 am
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Thanks for the info, folks. Not knowing much about Kilpatrick (at least not as much as I should, calvary being my "weak spot") before I read the book, and seeing that Doctorow DID portray Sherman pretty much spot-on, it makes me want to read up on Kilpatrick, and the march in general. Like, was he really hunch-backed like the book makes him out to be? I can't tell in the pictures I've seen of him.

Just a conjecture here, but could the loss of Sherman's son Willie during the campaign have affected his judgement at all? Is it true that when he heard Confederate General Hardee's 16-year old son Willie had been killed at Bentonville, Sherman wrote to him with condolences, saying that they had both lost their sons of the same name, and the war had killed both boys, even though his son had been too young to fight? Sherman seemed always on the edge; I can't believe this did not affect his judgement in some way.

Pam

 

 



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 02:01 am
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The Iron Duke wrote: I am a bit confused here. Are you taking issue with my statement or just adding onto it?

I'm not sure of you are referring to Bama or to me. If you are replying to me, I was just adding more info about the relationship between Sherman and Kilpatrick.

Reading Martin's book, one gets the impression that Sherman championed Kilpatrick at first, but became disillusioned when such carelessness as the "shirt-tail skedaddle" and his flings with women camp followers caused scandals.

Last edited on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 02:13 am by CleburneFan



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 02:04 am
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Cleburne,

I was referring to Bama. No worries.



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 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 02:12 am
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pamc153PA wrote:  was he really hunch-backed like the book makes him out to be? I can't tell in the pictures I've seen of him.

Pam

 

 


Pam, Kilpatrick had very severe kidney problems. There were times when he was so incapacitated by the condition that he had to ride in a wagon. It is said the the kidney problems were caused by a really wild ride on horseback leaping over fences and riding full speed at Hanover, Pennsylvania during the Gettysburg Campaign. He eventually died from Bright's disease.

I can't find any mention that he was actually hunchbacked.  He did stand only five feet, five inches tall and weighed 140. There were shorter and lighter weight generals than he was however.



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 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 02:46 am
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First let us discuss what is a Total War? If it is defined as the novel approach of taking the war to the civilians as a first time ever as is often charged against Sherman... Well Sherman was neither the first or most brutal by any stretch of the mind. Such a charge requires either a willful ignorance of military history or not bothering to look at the last 2000 years or so of history.

Total War was waged, quite effectively, by the Romans & Mongols to name just two of the more effective practitioners of the ancient world. Then of coarse there were the French in Spain, English in India, Russians etc in a more 19th Century light.

The Romans gave us the idea of "abject lesson" w/ places like Carthage, Juerselum and the temple mount to name just two. We get the term decimate and depopulate from the Romans. Sowing salt on fertile ground and leaving no stone upon another as well as leaving a city or region empty of inhabitants. That is total war. Later putting a city to the sword was outright common and giving a city to the army for a couple days was how some armies of the Dark & Middle ages were paid! Noble Knights of the Crusades? Posh.

The Mongols took mobility & psychological Warfare to a whole new level... one that has never been surpassed; truly epitomizing the idea that wars are fought in the will. They encouraged the belief in the supernatural and demonic and scared the wits out of opponents... destroying EVERYTHING that resisted them. Total War? Absolutely and the standard by which the premise should be judged.

The French in Spain did everything Shermans men are accused of doing... and actually did it.   By what definition were these Total Wars? Well Total War equals treating enemy civilains as combatants and treating them as such. No quarter asked and none given... more like what happened to the Native Americans in the US or upon the battlefields of the Pacific in WWII than to the citizens of Georgia, SC & NC at the hands of Shermans men.
Frankly, NOT fighting a total war is a relatively new concept.  We must remember that history does not happen in a vacuum. What Shermans men did pales when compared to quite a few Armies prior; whether it be the French in Spain during the Napoleanic Wars or even the British in Denmark in that same time frame.

Polite conduct towards the civilians of an enemy simply did not exist. The idea that Sherman and his men were the first to turn "Total War" loose upon the world flies in the face of reality and of history. This was not history to the men of West Point, they were current events with many a nasty event as recent as the 1840's and 50's conducted by "civilized" nations.

Shermans men were relative saints when compared to the French, Germans or even Brits. Politness towards civilians is a relatively recent phenomenom in warfare... the evidence is simply the lack of mass graves or piles of bones throughout Georgia & the Carolinas. I guarantee that few descendents of those civilians in the above mentioned area have blue coated ancestors...

When looked at in a purely military sense the destruction wrought upon Georgia and South Carolina was largely of legitimate nature.  Mills, RR's, barns, livestock, bridges etc...
Much of the charges of mass looting is pure rhetoric with little foundation in reality. Simply put where did the loot go, how was it carried and where did it end up? The men did not carry it, if there were large amounts it never left Savannah (the records of postal shipments are available) and the men certainly didn't carry it w/ them through to the Grand Review. In short tons of loot never left Georgia & the Carolinas.

Why did General Sherman feel his campaign through Georgia and the Carolina’s was needed?  I suppose the one thing that Sherman knew beyond a shadow of a doubt was that the CS did not think they were beaten when he began his March to the Sea. By the time he was done... it was over. At the end the whole world knew it was over and there was no doubt in the mind of any foreign power either. When Sherman began that campaign the CS was still viable; no matter the reality of economics or strategic situation. While we in the 21st may easily conclude that the CS was beaten; the CS in 1864/65 certainly didn't believe it... and there was some question in the mind of the average Union soldier as well.

What Sherman and his men did was prove to the world and to the CS that the War was over. The armies of the CS were no longer capable of defending anything and certainly no longer capable of stopping 60,000 men from rolling through the middle of their country.

Without that campaign through Georgia and the Carolinas the CS may well have held on. Grant was stymied by Lee outside Petersburg and that was where the press saw and reported the war. Much as today the press were the eyes of the nation; they saw the war through their eyes and in their eyes the war was still front page news with Grant and Lee at Petersburg. The war was ended through that march by Sherman and his men.
What was the cost?  There were less than a thousand CS casualties prior to North Carolina; among both the military and civilian population.  Sherman lost less than 200 men. There is, of course, no figure on the dead and wounded freed slaves at Ebeneezer Creek.  But because they were black men, women and children attacked by Wheeler they are overshadowed by Sherman. Although Jeff Davis (the Union General) was as much at fault for ordering the pontoons pulled.

Shermans actions at the very least shortened the War by a year if not ended it. It is a fascinating campaign, as to it being the first time such tactics were used. It was not the US actions during the Seminole War, French in Spain, English in India and China in other words there was ample precedence within the 60 years prior to 1864 of much more brutal actions by European Armies against a civilian populace. Sherman’s march was nothing new to the world and hardly as brutal as a myriad of European campaigns.



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 02:47 am
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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
5000 horses
4000 mules
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.



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 03:07 am
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Johan-

  I would maintain that the cause of the Confederacy was not finally lost until Mr. Lincoln was re-elected. You can maintain that his re-election was ensured by Sherman's march and the capture of Atlanta. But if General McClellan had by some miracle  managed to win the election, there was still some hope (justified or not) that the war could be concluded without the complete defeat of the Confederacy.

  Sherman's march and the capture of Atlanta elevated the spirits of the northern soldiers and the general populace. It strengthened their desire to finally end the thing. So, I would not say that the southerners were frightened into submission. I would say that northern resolve to prevail was raised.

  With the re-election of Mr. Lincoln, it was clear that the war would be pursued until total victory, and the hopes of the southerners for independence were finally and completely dashed forever.



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 03:58 am
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The idea of Union is to displace its citizens and destroy towns?

There are a number of new books out there that argue that Sherman's depredations only emboldened the home front instead of weakening it.



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 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 04:04 am
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I think you have it about right, Fan. Sherman wanted an agressive "damned fool," riding against Wheeler. However, Kilpatrick proved to be too much of a damned fool and Sherman had to figure out a way to admit that he was really wrong in asking for him. He might have been better served by a Wilson or a Custer. Kilpatrick was just too problematic.

ole



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 04:17 am
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Sherman's march and the capture of Atlanta elevated the spirits of the northern soldiers and the general populace. It strengthened their desire to finally end the thing. So, I would not say that the southerners
Excellent subject, TD. Will quarrel with you tomorrow. Tonight is going away rapidly.

ole



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 04:21 am
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I stand with my original statement...he was a war criminal!
Will get to you later, as well.

ole



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 04:27 am
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  Now where did I put my entrenching tool........?    :?



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 04:33 am
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Sorry, but on this one I go with my family

If yours is anything like mine, Mother's statements cannot be corroborated by older brothers and sisters. There's not much fact in any of the stories. Most of what I recollect that she told me are thoroughly pooh-poohed by the elder sibs. So either I don't recollect properly or the Mom lied to me.

A favorite tale is that I could sing the entire "You are my Sunshine," song before I was one. Repeat that to any of the four older sibs and you get a smirk -- meaning Mother was telling tales again.

Can't say that your family lied, but the tales do get embellished some. Family tales are the least reliable form of historical lore.

ole



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 04:36 am
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Now where did I put my entrenching tool........?  
In the closet; behind the umbrella.

ole

(That's where I find everything I misplace.) 



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 12:42 pm
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The CS was destroyed in the field by US arms not by US politicians. The CS failed as much from the failure of its politicians as the men in the field. Davis bragged about how Sherman would be destroyed. Sherman & his men made him out to be a liar and a damned fool. His army also proved the CS to be nothing more than a hollow shell. He proved once and for all that the CS could not protect its borders, infrastructure etc. And every voice that howled for food or protection from the CS knew it would not be done. Their govt had failed them.

In other words Sherman and his men ripped the guts out of the CS, won the war for the US in the mind of the CS.

The idea that Sherman actualy emboldoned the CS doesn't matter one way or the other, they couldn't win any more and everyone from the private in the trenches to Lee knew it. And then Sherman and his boys turned north in SC. Every soldier in the lines of Petersberg and civilian in the country knew he was going to meet up w/ Grant and he was going to do to SC, NC & VA what had been done to that 60 mile wide swath through Georgia on his way to Petersberg. Lee couldn't break away from Petersberg w/out being effectively losing Richmond and half his army. Hoods was all but destroyed and Price... had just been run out of Missouri. Lee's army was melting away.
There wasn't anything the CS could or would do to stop him and everyone knew it. The CS wasn't able to put a sizeable force of anykind in front of Sherman again until the Bentonville NC area, letting Sherman rip the guts out of SC, again proving the CS to be little more than an empty shell. W/ Wilson cutting through Alabama as well... there can be no doubt that the will of the CS was broken. Emboldened... I don't see it.



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Talk about learning a alot about a subject in just a few short hours! Thanks, folks, for the mini-lesson!

Johan, I ALWAYS come away from reading your posts with facts and opinions that remind me that I have MUCH to learn, and spur me on to do so. That, combined with everyone else's views, facts, opinions, etc., remind me that this is a terrific source to turn to on a subject that I love.

This also reminds me that history is really often a "If this. . . then that" scenario. If the stars were aligned right, then this is the result; if not, then another result occurs. Sometimes its purposeful, sometimes random. I think the irony and the randomness of the actions of the players in the CW--both sides--is what keeps us revisiting the action.

Pam



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http://www.amazon.com/When-Sherman-Marched-North-Sea/dp/0807856592/ref=sr_1_20?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1218727815&sr=8-20



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Johan-

  You may say that the CSA was destroyed in the field by Union armies, not politicians. I would answer that this end was achieved through the steadfastness of one politician- Abraham Lincoln.

  In the beginning there was considerable sentiment to: "Let the wayward sisters go." This appeared in some papers before the: "Forward to Richmond" stuff. But Mr. Lincoln used and shaped events and was able to motivate the people of the north to raise a massive army and prosecute a war against the south.

  The war, as most wars are, was longer and more bloody than either side imagined. The question in the north became: "Is this war worth it?" Mr. Lincoln was unwavering throughout, but the question remained.

  I believe that the question wasn't answered until 1864. Thats what the election of 1864 was about. Lincoln in the beginning of the year thought that he would lose the election. Even late in the year he feared that he would lose the election. But by then the fortunes of war had turned sharply in favor of the Union. The northern people answered the question decisively at the ballot box, and the contest was decided. The Confederacy was doomed.

  At the peace conference in February of 1865, Alexander Stephens reportedly asked Mr. Lincoln what conditions were necessary to restore the peace. Mr. Lincoln is said to have passed him a piece of paper that had one word written on it: "Union ! "

"War is merely a continuation of politics." - Carl Phillipp Gottlieb von Clausewitz



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 05:13 pm
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The idea that the mouse was emboldened to attack the lion is a new one for me, but I suppose it could have some truth to it. Civilian resentment was certainly a factor, but I'm kinda wondering if that resentment manifested itself against the effete Confederate government rather than the soldiers who, after all, were doing what soldiers do.

ole



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 05:23 pm
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And here I'll have to take off after my good friend Johan Steele.

Jefferson C. Davis is almost always referred to in Johan's posts as the "Union dirtbag." I figure that's a bit unfair.

If I'm a general with a pontoon bridge upon which I've just crossed a raging Ebenezer Creek, I'm going to take that bridge with me before Wheeler uses it to cross after me.

I'm always amused with Sherman's reply when asked why Davis took up the bridge when he did: "I suppose he wanted it." (Or something like that.)

We don't know how many slaves left behind were killed by Wheeler's men -- or even if any were killed. We can be quite certain that all were trundled back to their masters. And J.C. Davis is the criminal?

Sorry. That dog don't hunt.

ole



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 08:43 pm
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You've again captured the essence, Fan. Kilpatrick lookd very much like exactly the kind of "damned fool" Sherman wanted to lead his cavalry. The tea leaves lied.  Kilpatrick was nowhere near what Sherman had in mind. Kilpatrick was a "damned fool" in every sense of the word (words?).  Sherman had in mind a cavalry leader who'd fight every other horseman in sight. He was deceived. Kilpatrick was more concerned with engaging rebel ladies in one-on-one combat. Although Sherman was not exactly a prude, he did hold rather sacred the idea that gentlemen and ladies had a sacrosanct code of conduct.

I don't know when Sherman figured out his great mistake, or even if he did. But when he had finished with messing up Georgia, he was no friend of Kilpatrick. The man was useless and it showed.

Nest post will have something of what I really mean.

ole



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 Posted: Fri Aug 15th, 2008 12:57 pm
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TD, to a degree I would agree w/ you. But as a note even if Lincoln had lost by the time the new President would have taken office the CS was a broken wreck due to Shermans march through Georgia. And even if a peace deal of some sort would have been brokered in the Spring of 65... the CS didn't have a whole lot left to bargain with. The CS had been spilt numerous times, it was no longer a continuos country; it had been carved up.

The men in the field won the war, while Lincoln had the steadfastness and intestinal fortitude to keep going forward.



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Ole, I call Jeff Davis (the Union one) a dirtbag for a variety o reasons. Not the least of which was his pulling of those pontoons. THe Union soldiers who pulled the pontoons did so knowing full well Wheelers men were right behind the "contrabands," they could see them. Every man in the Army knew full well what it meant to be captured by Wheelers men. Could runaway slaves expect better than US soldiers? They watched it happened to Southern Civilians after those bridges were pulled.

To paraphrase a US officer who witnessed it. Wheelers men never charged US soldiers half so well as those people at Ebeneezer. Thousands jumped into that creek trying to escape and large number drowned. Initially, at least, Wheelers men charged in w/ sabres flying and guns blazing... into unarmed civilians which included large numbers of women and children. US troops from the oter side of the creek provided what covering fire they could with some very real effect unhorsing several of Wheelers men. But they were ordered to move on, by Davis. We'll probably never know the extent of the dead there as it wouldn't be something the Lost Cause would be proud of (actually it would, but never to be admitted out loud) and it certainly wouldn't be something the US would be proud of either. Over the years I've seen research that would say as few as 20 to over 2000 black people died. My hero Battalion says none, that they were all rounded up and returned to slavery... I think the truth sits somewhere in between. I don't know, but I've read of men seeing the creek "choked" with the dead after the "fight" there and their bodies forming a damn.

I blame Davis for letting those people face such a fate. Because he knew what was going to happen when those pontoons were pulled. Was it the militarily correct thing to do? I don't know. But Ebeneezer is just one more incident that makes me call Jeff Davis (the US one) a real dirtbag.



 Posted: Fri Aug 15th, 2008 01:26 pm
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Johan-

  Okay- we agree to some degree. We agree that, militarily, the Confederacy was defeated by late 1864. But the Confederates were still fighting. The most important factor at that point was the national will of the United States Government and populace.

  First of all, I would maintain that if it was not for the fact that Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860, the Federal armies probably would not have been in the field in 1861 to begin with, or pursued their military objectives as continually as they did. The democrats certainly should have won in 1860, but they chose to split their party, thus allowing Mr. Lincoln to win with less than 40% of the vote. If a democrat had been elected instead of Mr. Lincoln, the whole affair would have been different.

  As for 1864- if Mr. Lincoln had lost the election, it would have indicated that the northern people had a different mindset than the one they actually had. What a President McClellan would have done can only be speculated on, but a look at the Democratic Platform in 1864 indicates that it called for an immediate ceasefire.

Democratic Party Platform, 1864   (See Paragraph 2)

  The Platform assails the war as a failure and destroyer of the Constitution. It calls for a convention of the states in order to achieve unity. How that might have played out is anyone's guess.

  My argument is that if the northern people were of the attitude to buy that in 1864, and a ceasefire had taken place, then ultimately it might not have mattered that the Confederacy was defeated militarily. But the people in the north by that time were not willing to accept that. A small majority of civilians, 53%, voted for Mr. Lincoln. More significantly, 78% of Union soldiers voted for him. There was only one way that they wanted the conflict to end. Many of them would have said that it was politicians who got them into that mess, and they weren't going to leave it to politicians to mess it up again in the end.



 Posted: Fri Aug 15th, 2008 05:58 pm
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Not to mention that Davis is the general that got away with murdering his commander.



 Posted: Fri Aug 15th, 2008 06:42 pm
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THe Union soldiers who pulled the pontoons did so knowing full well Wheelers men were right behind the "contrabands," they could see them.
Yup. But militarily, it was a proper decision. Wheeler's boys could have crossed the bridge as easily as the contrabands, set up a beach-head, and taken a number of Davis's boys to the same place the contrabands were headed.

And yes, it was a horrible decision to have to make. Trading a dozen or so soldier lives for a hundred or so civilian impediments would make more sense today, but I'd hold a Corps Commander in very low esteem for bringing on a battle when there was nothing to be gained by it.

The accounts bear up the fact that Wheeler's boys did a little killing. We may never know how much killing there was and how much dying by being forced into the Creek or desperately leaping into it.

Finally, "choked" with bodies is higly emotional and subjective. I give it the same credence I give to tales of the thousands of rapes and beastly destruction during Sherman's romp.

ole



 Posted: Fri Aug 15th, 2008 06:52 pm
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My argument is that if the northern people were of the attitude to buy that in 1864, and a ceasefire had taken place, then ultimately it might not have mattered that the Confederacy was defeated militarily.
I believe Johan is focusing on the time that must elapse between the election and when the new president takes his seat. It would have been an interesting 4 months. Lincoln is still CnC and the war machine takes its orders from him.

Congress still has to pass funding bills, but did the '64 election put both houses in a telling majority?

ole



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ole-

  The Republican party had a hard time in the 1862 mid term elections, but they gained strongly in 1864. So, yes, the Republicans has a huge majority after the 1864 elections.

United States House of Representatives elections, 1864 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  This does not change my argument about what would have happened if the northern people had rejected Mr. Lincoln in the 1864 election. I would maintain that in that case, the huge Republican majority would not have been elected either. :)



 Posted: Sat Aug 16th, 2008 12:26 am
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Nor does it change my argument that Lincoln would still have been CnC until March.

ole



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ole-

  I don't see anyone arguing that Mr. Lincoln, if he had lost the election in 1864 would not have been president until March of 1865. I'm sure that it would have been : "an interesting four months." To imagine what might have happened then is a speculation on top of a speculation. My guess is that President Lincoln could not have accomplished anything that a President McClellan could not have undone.



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My guess is that President Lincoln could not have accomplished anything that a President McClellan could not have undone.

That would all depend on the congress.

True, Mac semi-repudiated his party's platform: the negotiated-peace part but, upon Mac's inauguration, Lee is trapped and starving in Petersburg, Sherman is working on trapping JEJ, and Wilson is troubling Alabama. It would take a majority of oblivious doves to negotiate when an slam-dunk victory was so close at hand.

Even if the Democrats had been in power, there's still a nation who had given their sons, fathers, brothers, and extended families in the four-year effort to win. I simply don't see that voting public as wimping out at the last moment. That would be like expecting a fighter, after having beaten his opponent until he can't raise his arms, to declare the fight a tie in the 12th round.

Just a thought.

ole

Last edited on Sat Aug 16th, 2008 02:03 pm by ole



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ole-

  We're discussing something that might have happened IF the northern people had had a different mindset than the one it actually had.

  To me, the Democratic Platform (semi-repudiated by McClellan) clearly advocated wimping out. While Lincoln won the election easily, McClellan still got 45 % of the vote. That seems to indicate that a substantial segment of the populace wanted the war ended, whether by total victory or not.

  My view is that IF a majority of civilians and soldiers had voted against Mr. Lincoln, it would have limited his chances of ending the war outright by March 4th. If a President McClellan had chosen to follow his party's official position, then there might have been a different outcome in the end.

  Winning on the battlefield isn't always enough to achieve one's national objectives if the political will to see the thing through isn't there. We've seen this in our own history in the 20th century.

  Having said that, the whole situation being discussed is meaningless, since the majority of the northerm people were in NO mood to quit without a decisive ending. There was more of a feeling then that a project begun should be carried through to a satisfactory conclusion. We would never have become the greatest nation in the world if we had been a nation of wimps.

Last edited on Sat Aug 16th, 2008 02:37 pm by Texas Defender



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My view is that IF a majority of civilians and soldiers had voted against Mr. Lincoln, it would have limited his chances of ending the war outright by March 4th.
It would have given him some problems, but until Mac took office, he was even more powerless than Lincoln. 

If a President McClellan had chosen to follow his party's official position, then there might have been a different outcome in the end.


"Might have been" seems to pile suppositions on suppositions.

Somewhere in there we seem to be agreeing, but we just haven't gotten the words right.

ole



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