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 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 01:50 am
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The Iron Duke
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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.



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 02:49 pm
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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



 Posted: Thu Aug 14th, 2008 03:31 pm
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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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