The fictitious “history” of the great conflict between the two sections of the (formerly) “united” States has been ongoing for a long, long time. The present narrative, however, has been changed greatly in the last decade or so. Older folks such as myself remember that the whole conflict was “summed up” in what became known as The Grand Bargain, a narrative that was “accepted” beginning in the late 19th and sustained through the 20th century until the rise of the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s. The Grand Bargain was an attempt at a reconciliation between the sides brought about through an understanding that the South fought bravely and nobly and her heroes were great “Americans” but that, in the end, it was better for all concerned that the “Union” (the government) won and that we went on to become a “great world power” etc. etc. At least that is certainly what I believed almost into the 21st Century.
But as I became more interested in – and knowledgeable about – Confederate hero and partisan Col. John Singleton Mosby, I began to research into his life and the matters that surrounded his service to the South. In this research I discovered a great many “facts” that had been deliberately hidden from the public because they contradicted the narrative produced by The Grand Bargain. And, of course, the more I learned, the more I wanted to know until I could no longer pretend that what had been presented as “history” was not only false, but a deliberate lie! And that, indeed, the cost to the people of the South in accepting the Grand Bargain was far more than the cost to the people of the North! Of course, the Grand Bargain ended with the rise of the Civil Rights movement because it became necessary to make the people of the South into heartless villains in defense of the goals and aims of that movement. As the new Millennia approached, it soon became obvious to Southern historians – or rather, honest historians – that very soon what little defense offered to the South under the Grand Bargain was to be completely nullified and the mindset demanded of most Americans would once again make of the South the worst of traitors and evil slaveholders.
Of course, as efforts to inflict this evil fiction upon the people grew, I did my best to respond to it when possible. One such instance presented itself in the review of a book put out by a group called H-NET in May of 2008. The book being reviewed was entitled: Diehard Rebels: The Confederate Culture of Invincibility, written by Jason Phillips and the review was by Susannah Ural Bruce of the Department of History, Sam Houston State University, hardly a “Yankee” institution! In her review, Ms. Bruce made the following statement under the heading: Why They Fought On: New Interpretations of Confederate Soldier Ideology.
In chapter 2, Phillips contends that the Confederate dehumanization of federal forces and Northerners in general also sustained their fighting spirit. While this tool is not unique to Southern soldiers, Phillips still proves its effectiveness for Confederate troops, and argues that their images of the enemy may have been more extravagant than most.
After reading the review, I determined to respond to the reviewer’s belief that the soldiers of the “Union army” had been unfairly “dehumanized” according to the book’s author:
“The author’s point about Confederates “dehumanizing” Union soldiers and the North is hardly difficult to understand. Almost from the beginning, Union armies stole whatever wasn’t nailed down including personal effects from civilians as well as what might be considered (in the broadest of senses) materials necessary to wage war.
And this propensity for thieving grew worse and finally became “total war” that included the burning, raping and killing of Southern civilians – male and female, young and old, black and white (Sheridan and Hunter in the Shenandoah, Sherman wherever he went) and a studied mistreatment of Confederate prisoners in such hell-holes as Ft. Douglas and Elmira (“Hell”mira) – see among other works, Dr. Brian Cisco’s “War Crimes Against Southern Civilians.”
These atrocities are well documented, but hardly well reported. Indeed, the only prison camp known by the public is Andersonville in the South where even the inmates admitted that the commander, Henry Wirtz, made efforts to alleviate suffering but was unable to make much headway because of the shortages of food, clothing and medicine suffered by the South. As well, Ulysses Grant’s declaration of an end to prisoner exchange condemned Union soldiers held in camps and prisons to remain there despite the desire by the South to exchange them. On the other hand, no such “shortages” accounted for the atrocious death rate in Elmira where the commander boasted that he had killed as many Confederate soldiers as most Union generals!
No, I would say the ‘dehumanization’ of the North by the South was well and truly earned and is STILL a well-guarded “secret” by ‘orthodox historians.’”
Now, I must speak well of the H-NET responder. Ordinarily – especially these days – such things are ignored by the establishment. The gentleman involved here responded and very quickly to my comment and for that I commend him. There is no sin in ignorance unless one chooses to remain in it. Below is his comment to me:
Dear Ms. Protopapas;
Given that the American Civil War still arouses strong feeling, I am going to have to ask that you try to “de-fang” the tone of your post a bit as well provide some citation for allegations of widespread Union atrocities; this should allow the ensuing discussion to stay scholarly in nature.
All the best,
Scott N. Hendrix, Ph.D.
H-War List Editor
Now, though I was appreciative of his response – better than nothing, I agree! – still I did not consider my comment to be other than “scholarly in nature” and responded accordingly:
Defang? Since when do truth and facts have “fangs?”
Perhaps you mean that as most people have never heard about these atrocities – or at least heard of them as atrocities rather than simply (as at least one Union apologist has called them) “the hard hand of war,” that I should present these facts (yes, facts) as “blandly” as possible so as not to “offend” the sensibilities of those who have been raised on “orthodox history.” (And, by the way, I did cite Dr. Cisco’s book on atrocities committed against Southern civilians which is a scholarly work well researched and sourced.)
The problem is, so many people don’t want to hear about this. When Lincoln or Sheridan or Sherman are quoted, the actual words of these men are censored or criticized or disbelieved or excused or explained or dismissed out of hand as if they are being misquoted. If that is going to be the attitude, how is it possible to have a “scholarly discussion?” For instance, I’m sure there are those who will dismiss Dr. Cisco’s book immediately because he doesn’t fall into the accepted group of “historical scholars” whatever his credentials. It doesn’t matter how much research or proof Dr. Cisco has produced, the problem is that his conclusion is neither satisfactory nor desired and it is therefore rejected. That is not “scholarship;” that is censorship.
The author who has been critiqued has made a point that Confederates “dehumanized” Union soldiers and the people of the North and I would assume that that is a statement which is meant to be taken as that “dehumanization” was fallacious, mendacious and wicked. I simply pointed out that the behavior of the Union army under men like Hunter (a Virginian), Sheridan and Sherman (a true genocide), provided all the evidence that any reasonable person would need that their viewpoint about the Union and the army it sent against them was quite correct. The South didn’t dehumanize the North, the North acted in such a way that even the governments of Europe called them beasts and lamented that the United States had turned its back on all attempts to wage “humane war.” Indeed, when Hitler’s generals were asked where they learned their scorched earth strategy, they proudly pointed to William T. Sherman!
I cannot give you chapter and verse in all of this because with other projects, I have not taken the time to list every source. However, below I present some of the words of at least Sherman and perhaps others if I can find them. I don’t ask that you post them, I merely present them to you as what should be sufficient evidence that my point is well taken. Indeed, I would say unequivocally that it would be about as easy to “defang” reports of fascist and communist atrocities as it would be those committed in the name of restoring the Union and freeing the slaves!
I know that my point of view will not be accepted because it doesn’t fit the accepted version of what passes for “history” – that is, history written by the winner. And, of course, if you believe that the other members will be unable to come to grips with a dissenting opinion, feel free not to post it. I know from past experience just how dismissive, angry and upset supposed “scholars” can be when their nice, settled little world is challenged!
Thank you for your courteous attention.
Below are the list of “Quotes and Facts” I presented to Mr. Hendrix for his own edification and, I had hoped, the edification of anyone else interested in what happened rather than what we are told happened along with the source(s) of the information:
Sherman’s Lcust Strategy
This excerpt from the German-language magazine “Signal” from WW2 illustrates a concern that American “Yankee” troops in Europe might imitate the habits of the legendary war criminal Sherman. It is ironic though that the German Midwesterners of Sherman’s locusts were reportedly responsible for the worst of his pacification techniques.
Nonetheless, Europeans viewed Sherman and his war crimes with horror though Spain sent General Valeriano Weyler to Cuba in 1896 to brutally subdue the native freedom fighters – Weyler as a young officer had been military attache’ at the US Spanish legation during the War Between the States and served as an observer during Sherman’s march through Georgia, absorbing his tactics and the bummers daily routines. He knew quite well how to apply the same “war is hell” antidote to the Cuban independence movement.
“I begin to regard the death and mangling of a couple of thousand men as a small affair, a kind of morning dash.
(Hitler’s Wartime Picture Magazine, S.L. Mayer, “Our method of warfare is different from that in Europe. We are not fighting against enemy armies but against an enemy people; both young and old, rich and poor must feel the iron hand of war in the same way as the organized armies. In this respect my march through Georgia was a wonderful success.”
General Sherman to General Grant, End of January, 1865.
Both the date and the author of this letter must appear extraordinary to every European. How could an American general write such a monstrous thing just at that particular time? The most noble minds and hearts in Europe were then making every effort to humanize warfare as far as possible.
On the other hand, a 45-year old man in Ohio, America, the son of a lawyer of Puritan descent, General William Tecumseh Sherman had invented a new warfare that was directed against the enemy people, against the civilian population. Sherman was the inventor of locust strategy. His doctrine was: Where I have been the war has ceased because all forms of life no longer exist. It involves nothing more than the suppression of humane warfare.
The cruelties of the Marquis de Sade and the atrocities perpetrated by Jack the Ripper have never led to mass suggestion. Sherman’s strategy however, has been acclaimed as classical. After carrying out his acts of cruelty as a general, Sherman was appointed commander in chief of the (army of the) United States of America. His method has become the ideal. It first infected the Anglo-Saxon world; the great von Moltke ominously predicted at the end of the century that in future wars armies would not fight against one another but peoples.
Sherman’s strategy is the art of war employed by the unsuccessful. It is necessary to bear this in mind when considering Sherman’s methods. He was unsuccessful but by no means untalented. It was his fate always to fight against enemies better than himself. He never won a success against an enemy of equal strength.
We are discussing what is known as the War of Secession. “Secession” was what the ancient Romans used to call the effort to achieve independence. Superficially, this was being fought on the question of the abolition of slavery. Temperament and religious fanaticism converted it into one of the bloodiest massacres in history. In his book “Der Krieg ohne Gnade” (War Without Quarter), the Swiss historian Bircher says that force of arms alone could not decide the war. It was not until Sherman employed his locust strategy that the Northern States won the victory.
Sherman said it was foolish to continue the war in the manner of a usual campaign as had been the case so far. The way the war was being fought meant that you were continually dependent on the enemy. Whether you advanced or retreated, you always had to reckon with the enemy. The war could only be brought to a close by surprise operations, and such surprise operations could only be carried out if the enemy was prevented from sticking at your heels. Sherman said it was his intention to disappear without the enemy being in a position to follow him. It was necessary for him to destroy his supply base. “I will sow economic ruin throughout the country so that no soldier coming after me will find anything to eat.” (Sheridan voiced that same strategy during the burning of the Shenandoah in 1864 when he said that any crow flying over the desolated area would have to carry his own food! VHP)
Sherman consequently wrote to Grant as follows:
“Until we can repopulate Georgia, it is useless to defend it, but the complete destruction of its roads, its buildings, its population and its military resources is essential. The attempt to defend its roads costs us a thousand men every month and brings us no advantages. I can carry out the march and make Georgia howl.”
The truth is that Sherman wished to act on the offensive but not against the enemy’s army. He wished to make the land of Georgia howl, not the army of Georgia of which he was afraid. He was planning a bold crime and covertly (in a letter to Grant) indicated his intention in the words “This operation is not purely military and strategic.” He had become a violent criminal who wished to confer victory on his country’s politics whatever it cost the enemy. He had converted war from being an act of violence against an enemy army to an act of violence against an enemy people. He went even further and made it an act of total violence. Even violence has limits imposed on it by morality.
When he reappeared, Savannah fell and the world regarded this as a sign of Sherman’s bravery and of his military genius. During the time he spent in Georgia, Sherman enriched the history of tactics by only one feature, but that alone should have sufficed to exclude him from the company of gentlemen. He had prisoners of war put on carts which had to drive along in front of his own troops. If they were blown up, Sherman knew that a minefield lay ahead. He answered all protests against his cruel treatment of defenseless people with the icy coldness characteristic of all his writings.”
Sherman, as general-in-chief of the army, had much to do with post-war Indian campaigns. This is covered in Michael Fellman’s book, CITIZEN SHERMAN (Random House, 1995). Sherman wrote in 1866, “It is one of those irreconcilable conflicts that will end only in one way, one or the other must be exterminated …” And again, “We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to the extermination, men, women and children.” [p. 264] Sherman became Sheridan’s superior, and biographer Fellman has this to say [p. 271]: “Although Sherman had not ordered an extermination campaign in so many words, he had given Sheridan prior authorization to slaughter as many women and children as well as men Sheridan or his subordinates felt was necessary when they attacked Indian villages. However many they killed, Sherman would cover the political and media front. They were freed to do anything. At the same time, Sherman maintained personal deniability – he could assert in any public forum that he had not ordered any atrocities that might occur.”
“To the petulant and persistent secessionists, why death is mercy, and the quicker he or she is disposed of the better. Satan and the rebellious saints of Heaven were allowed a continuous existence in hell merely to swell their punishment. To such as would rebel against a Government so mild and just as ours was in peace, a punishment equal would not be unjustified.”
Gen. William T. Sherman
Prof. Harry Stout of Yale University Divinity School recently acknowledged, “Sherman’s religion was America, and America’s God was a jealous God of law and order, such as all those who resisted were reprobates who deserved death.”
Below are the first two paragraphs of a letter written by Gen. Sherman to Major Sawyer dated January 31, 1864, in which Sherman writes from Vicksburg to the AAG Army of the Tenn., Huntsville, Alabama. Major Sawyer was with Sherman until the close of the war, by which time he has the rank of Colonel.
In my former letters I have answered all your questions save one, and that relates to the treatment of inhabitants known or suspected to be hostile or “Secesh.” This is in truth the most difficult business of our Army as it advances & occupies the Southern Country. It is almost impossible to lay down Rules and I invariably leave this whole subject to the local commander, but am willing to give them the benefit of my acquired Knowledge and experience.
In Europe whence we derive our principles of war Wars are between Kings or Rulers through hired Armies and not between Peoples. These remain as it were neutral and sell their produce to whatever Army is in possession. Napoleon when at War with Prussia, Austria and Russia bought forage & provisions of the Inhabitants and consequently had an interest to protect the farms and factories which ministered to his wants. In lake manner the Allied Armies in France could buy of the French Habitants, whatever they needed, the produce of the soil or manufactures of the Country. Therefore the General Rule was & is that War is confined to the Armies engaged, and should not visit the houses of families or private interests. But in other examples a different Rule obtained the Sanction of Historical Authority. I will only instance one when in the reign of William and Mary the English Army occupied Ireland then in a state of revolt. The inhabitants were actually driven into foreign lands and were dispossessed of their property and a new population introduced. To this day a large part of the North of Ireland is held by the descendants of the Scotch emigrants sent thereby by Williams order & an Act of Parliament.
The War which now prevails in our land is essentially a war of Races. The Southern People entered into a clear Compact of Government with us of the North, but still maintained through State organizations a species of separate existence with separate interests, history and prejudices. These latter became stronger and stronger till at last they have led to war, and have developed the fruits of the bitterest kind. We of the North are beyond all question right in our cause but we are not bound to ignore the fact that the people of the South have prejudices which form a part of their nature, and which they cannon throw off without an effort of reason, or by the slower process of natural change. The question then arises Should we treat as absolute enemies all in the South who differ from us in opinion or prejudice, kill or banish them, or should we give them time to think and gradually change their conduct, so as to conform to the new order of things which is slowly & gradually creeping into their country?
“Until we can repopulate Georgia, it is useless to occupy it, but the utter destruction of it’s roads, houses, and people will cripple their military resources….I can make the march, and make Georgia howl.”
“I have deemed it to the interest of the United States that the citizens now residing in Atlanta should remove, those who prefer it to go South and the rest North.”
“The Government of the United States has in North Alabama any and all rights which they choose to enforce in war – to take their lives, their homes, their lands, their everything, because they cannot deny that war does exist there, and war is simply power unrestrained by constitution or compact.”
Enemies must be killed or transported to some other country.
“The United States has the right, and … the … power, to penetrate to every part of the national domain…. We will remove and destroy every obstacle – if need be, take every life, every acre of land, every particle of property, everything that to us seems proper.”
Writing to his wife in 1862, Sherman said, “We are in our enemy’s country, and I act accordingly…the war will soon assume a turn to extermination not of soldiers alone, that is the least part of the trouble, but the people.”
On August 4, 1863, W. T. Sherman in Camp on Big Black River, Mississippi, wrote to Grant at Vicksburg, “The amount of burning, stealing and plundering done by our army makes me ashamed of it. I would rather quit the service if I could, because I fear that we are drifting to the worst sort of vandalism….You and I and every commander must go through the war, justly charged with crimes at which we blush.”
Federal Official Records ( O.R.) vol. XXIV, pt. III 574
“In his memoirs Sherman wrote that when he met with Lincoln after his March to the Sea was completed, Lincoln was eager to hear the stories of how thousands of Southern civilians, mostly women, children, and old men, were plundered, sometimes murdered, and rendered homeless. Lincoln, according to Sherman, laughed almost uncontrollably at the stories. Even Sherman biographer Lee Kennett, who writes very favorably of the general, concluded that had the Confederates won the war, they would have been ‘justified in stringing up President Lincoln and the entire Union high command for violation of the laws of war, specifically for waging war against noncombatants.'”
~ Dr. Thomas J. DiLorenzo
Sadly, I never heard back from Mr. Hendrix nor do I know if any of the above information was made available to the H-NET viewers. It is too bad if it was not because a great deal of what far too many people believe today was proved false within it. Again, it is no crime to be ignorant, but it is criminal to choose to remain so.
As clear an explanation of the brutal nature of Sherman as I’ve ever read. And, yes, had the south won, the trials for ALL of these union war criminals should have proceeded.
God bless those southerners who endured those days and those who fought to defend against this evil.
And beware the “fox” in the hen house. Though praised as conservative and “American” some of the most fraudulent, deceitful if not downright untutored, unread or even flat-lined-stupid are the misfits of history’s record on Fox Cable such as : Hanson, Levine, Carlson, Hannity, Kilmeade (the chuckle child) and various clowns from faux conservative “news” and comment sites and sources. Beware these people like the Covid Vaccination. Most of the media has the stench of an historical skunk—that is, it is natural to them. But Fox’s historical stench is from rot.
Absolutely! They are all Lincolnites to the extreme, never missing a chance to bow at the tyrants’ shrine. Being anti-southern is in their DNA – especially Kilmeade who clearly enjoys taking jabs at Confederate history and the flag. Unfortunately, they are prime representatives of today’s Republican “conservative” party and why we as southerners have no home in politics and are not represented. I include my copperhead, northern friends in our lot as well. We probably haven’t been represented since the 90’s, when only a few dared to tell real southern history and defend the south. (Ron Paul comes to mind).
Yet, the Republicans bank on and expect our votes, arrogantly taking them for granted, doing nothing to really earn them. It’s a vain exercise to think they will ever change. Those votes ultimately serve only to preserve their continued existence.
It is truely amazing how one’s heart leaps for joy when truth is spoken!
Thank you sir,
R.E. Lee “Marse” Wolfe
I’ve experienced what Ms. Protopapas did in this case repeatedly with Northerners. When presented with well established, well known facts about the war and that era they simply shut down/shut up and one never hears from them again. Also, they keep coming up with ever more strange ideas, like that the Union soldiers were unfairly characterized. To borrow President Reagan’s saying, “The know so much that isn’t so.”: and they clearly wish to remain wrong on the facts. I don’t expect it is ever going to change. They seem to have some psycholgical need to feel like they are good people vicariously from events from 150+ years ago.
Amen, Paul!!! I agree completely. Fox could fairly be characterized as The anti-Southern Bigot Channel.
Yankee General Sherman’s moral depravity was only matched by his capacity for cruelness, obvious by his words that explained his actions.
Thanks Valerie, for another outstanding article and your wonderfully unrelenting attempt to set the record straight regarding our long-suffering Southern people!
Official U.S. Policy on Confederate POWs:
“Rebel prisoners in our hands are to be subjected to a treatment finding its parallels only in the conduct of the savage tribes and resulting in the death of multitudes by the slow but designed process of starvation and by mortal diseases occasioned by insufficient and unhealthy food and wanton exposure of their persons to the inclemency of the weather.”
– Preamble to H.R. 97, passed by both Houses
Rest assured, the devil is getting his due, with sherman on a rotisserie
this is what i cant stand about the filth in that city. i assume grant, who i have read didn’t free his inherited slaves unit the 13th amendment, approved the hessian style murder of southern civilians (i know, the video game definition of collateral damage these days), grants statue stands in dc while in raleigh nc a plain old obelisk that says “to the confederate dead” is allowed to be torn down as police say that have no interest in doing anything about it. northern educators “confine the negro to the south”, northern abolitionisists “the freed negro will go the way of the dodo bird”, assassinated republican presidents “get all the blacks out of here as they cant breed with whites and shouldn’t be equal…and yeah, root, hog, or die….tee hee”, northern senator types “keep the pestilential presence of the negro out of the midwest”, Oregon “just ban black…period”. I’m sorry…my freed black ancestors on my dads side owned and sold slaves and loved their white neighbors circa 1790.
stirring yankee support https://www.loc.gov/item/2008661751/
So how has anything changed, are we not living under tyranny today, from the descendants of this accursed brood?
We will never be free of the torment so long as they exist in the world.
As sad as all these facts are, even more so the fact that these crimes are still being perpetuated to this day. The degradation of our Southern states and her citizenry by our so called “fellow” countrymen from the north have truely done nothing to lessen the burden or hardships inflicted upon her 160 years ago.
Many are the carpetbaggers and scalawags of our own time. In order for our “fellow” countrymen from the north to understand the south and her heart, they themselves must possess one.
As I remain,
R.E. Lee “Marse” Wolfe