A Serious Discussion of Yankee Atrocities in Central Virginia

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jgoodguy

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#4
My point of view is that there were atrocities committed on both sides because bad things happen in war, and if you don't want bad things to happen, then don't start a war.
I agree with that. Some fellow said "War is hell". He was right.

Looking for a list of the "of Yankee atrocities in Central Virginia" Cash knows about Civil War era Military Law and I am not too bad at it myself. Looking forward to an interesting discussion.
 

zburkett

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#5
I had not intended to start a new thread about Yankee atrocities but was responding to a statement Cash made that all of us opposed to the removal of Confederate statues were not serious students of history. Since it got moved here as a new thread, and in the interest explaining why native Southerners sometimes feel the way we do, discussing the wartime behavior of Yankee soldiers is in order.
At present I'm reading Eric Wittenberg's excellent "Glory Enough for All" about the battle of Trevilian Station. He states "Sheridan's large mounted horde swept across central Virginia like a plague of locusts. Once quite and peaceful, rural Lousia County turned into a place where ugly incident followed ugly incident, both sides committing atrocities. One officer of the Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry recalled that Sheridan's troopers literally 'cleaned out' everything edible for man or beast, 'operating over strips of country for miles wide, all along the line of march, both right and left. There were rather rough deeds perpetrated by us in Virginia, at this time , out of sheer necessity." The residents were often entirely destitute of provisions, leaving them with 'fair prospects of famine. We were obliged to appropriate to our own uses, all they had. We came down upon them like swarms of locusts, eating up the very seed for their next harvest."
In the above post Cash seems to justify Yankee atrocities because Confederates fired the first shot. Even if he is right, the fact that our grandparents and great-grandparents were starved has a effect on how we view the war.
 
#7
I had not intended to start a new thread about Yankee atrocities but was responding to a statement Cash made that all of us opposed to the removal of Confederate statues were not serious students of history. Since it got moved here as a new thread, and in the interest explaining why native Southerners sometimes feel the way we do, discussing the wartime behavior of Yankee soldiers is in order.
At present I'm reading Eric Wittenberg's excellent "Glory Enough for All" about the battle of Trevilian Station. He states "Sheridan's large mounted horde swept across central Virginia like a plague of locusts. Once quite and peaceful, rural Lousia County turned into a place where ugly incident followed ugly incident, both sides committing atrocities. One officer of the Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry recalled that Sheridan's troopers literally 'cleaned out' everything edible for man or beast, 'operating over strips of country for miles wide, all along the line of march, both right and left. There were rather rough deeds perpetrated by us in Virginia, at this time , out of sheer necessity." The residents were often entirely destitute of provisions, leaving them with 'fair prospects of famine. We were obliged to appropriate to our own uses, all they had. We came down upon them like swarms of locusts, eating up the very seed for their next harvest."
In the above post Cash seems to justify Yankee atrocities because Confederates fired the first shot. Even if he is right, the fact that our grandparents and great-grandparents were starved has a effect on how we view the war.
Sorry, don't see any atrocity in seizing food and other items that an army can use and that could be used by its opponent's forces. This was allowed under the contemporary laws of war.
 
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#8
Sorry, don't see any atrocity in seizing food and other items that an army can use and that could be used by its opponent's forces. This was allowed under the contemporary laws of war.
It was a little more than just "seizing food and other items".

From the Link:

--"Sheridan launched what would become known as the Burning, a 12-day period when Union forces brought war to the residents of the valley. Mills, barns, homes, crops, supplies and anything considered a possible aid to the Confederate effort was systematically torched by Union cavalry.

No amount of mothers’ crying and children shrieking would deter the soldiers, who quickly got used to the response and efficiently went about their business.

It was total war.

The destruction was part of Grant’s new war plan. By bringing the war to civilians, he believed, he could end the conflict more quickly because the Southern army could not sustain itself without a stable food supply. Grant’s order was to “eat out Virginia clear and clean.”

He later expanded on that, saying, “if the war is to continue another year, we want the Shenandoah Valley to remain a barren waste.”

In the valley, as winter was coming on, the destruction included food of any description as well as the means to make food. Wheat was burned in the fields and in the barns. Mills used to grind grain into flour were destroyed.

Thousands of farm animals were either slaughtered in their pens or taken for the army’s use. Horses were rounded up.

Furnaces that produced iron for military use were wrecked. Tanneries were burned.

Although Sheridan’s orders directed soldiers to leave houses alone, many were burned either on purpose or by accident when fire spread from farm buildings. If the occasional officer was persuaded to spare a house, the next one through might not be so kind."--

https://www.washingtonpost.com/life...7ec46c-349b-11e4-9e92-0899b306bbea_story.html
 
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#10
It was a little more than just "seizing food and other items".

From the Link:

--"Sheridan launched what would become known as the Burning, a 12-day period when Union forces brought war to the residents of the valley. Mills, barns, homes, crops, supplies and anything considered a possible aid to the Confederate effort was systematically torched by Union cavalry.

No amount of mothers’ crying and children shrieking would deter the soldiers, who quickly got used to the response and efficiently went about their business.
Still not an atrocity.
 
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#11
It was a little more than just "seizing food and other items".

From the Link:

--"Sheridan launched what would become known as the Burning, a 12-day period when Union forces brought war to the residents of the valley. Mills, barns, homes, crops, supplies and anything considered a possible aid to the Confederate effort was systematically torched by Union cavalry.

No amount of mothers’ crying and children shrieking would deter the soldiers, who quickly got used to the response and efficiently went about their business.

It was total war.

The destruction was part of Grant’s new war plan. By bringing the war to civilians, he believed, he could end the conflict more quickly because the Southern army could not sustain itself without a stable food supply. Grant’s order was to “eat out Virginia clear and clean.”

He later expanded on that, saying, “if the war is to continue another year, we want the Shenandoah Valley to remain a barren waste.”

In the valley, as winter was coming on, the destruction included food of any description as well as the means to make food. Wheat was burned in the fields and in the barns. Mills used to grind grain into flour were destroyed.

Thousands of farm animals were either slaughtered in their pens or taken for the army’s use. Horses were rounded up.

Furnaces that produced iron for military use were wrecked. Tanneries were burned.

Although Sheridan’s orders directed soldiers to leave houses alone, many were burned either on purpose or by accident when fire spread from farm buildings. If the occasional officer was persuaded to spare a house, the next one through might not be so kind."--

https://www.washingtonpost.com/life...7ec46c-349b-11e4-9e92-0899b306bbea_story.html
If it was total war, there wouldn't have been civilians around to starve. Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan were depriving the enemy of resources and urging the civilian population to turn against the Confederacy. I just don't see how that is an atrocity. It's war.

Ryan
 
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#12
Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan were depriving the enemy of resources and urging the civilian population to turn against the Confederacy.
Not a chance in my book. I would refuse to coward out and give up. Don't forget, as much as many or most were against Slavery, they still loved and were dedicated to their homeland and were definitely not happy with the way Lincoln was handling it.

To add a little extra, try to imagine being in their shoes back then or even if something similar were to happen to you in your hometown today.
 

jgoodguy

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#13
had not intended to start a new thread about Yankee atrocities but was responding to a statement Cash made that all of us opposed to the removal of Confederate statues were not serious students of history. Since it got moved here as a new thread, and in the interest explaining why native Southerners sometimes feel the way we do, discussing the wartime behavior of Yankee soldiers is in order.
I agree and one of the functions of Staff is to foster conversations. Sometimes with prompting.
At present I'm reading Eric Wittenberg's excellent "Glory Enough for All" about the battle of Trevilian Station. He states "Sheridan's large mounted horde swept across central Virginia like a plague of locusts. Once quite and peaceful, rural Lousia County turned into a place where ugly incident followed ugly incident, both sides committing atrocities. One officer of the Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry recalled that Sheridan's troopers literally 'cleaned out' everything edible for man or beast, 'operating over strips of country for miles wide, all along the line of march, both right and left. There were rather rough deeds perpetrated by us in Virginia, at this time , out of sheer necessity." The residents were often entirely destitute of provisions, leaving them with 'fair prospects of famine. We were obliged to appropriate to our own uses, all they had. We came down upon them like swarms of locusts, eating up the very seed for their next harvest."
Eric is an excellent author. A brief description:
Battle of Trevilian Station
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Commanders and leaders
Philip Sheridan Wade Hampton
Fitzhugh Lee
Strength
9,286 [2] 6,762 [2]
Casualties and losses
1,512
total
(150 killed;
738 wounded;
624 captured/missing)[3][4] 813 total[4]
The Battle of Trevilian Station (also called Trevilians) was fought on June 11–12, 1864, in Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Overland Campaign against Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Union cavalry under Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan fought against Confederate cavalry under Maj. Gens. Wade Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee in the bloodiest and largest all-cavalry battle of the war.
Sheridan's objectives for his raid were to destroy stretches of the Virginia Central Railroad, provide a diversion that would occupy Confederate cavalry from understanding Grant's planned crossing of the James River, and to link up with the army of Maj. Gen. David Hunter at Charlottesville. Hampton's cavalry beat Sheridan to the railroad at Trevilian Station and on June 11 they fought to a standstill. Brig. Gen. George A. Custer entered the Confederate rear area and captured Hampton's supply train, but soon became surrounded and fought desperately to avoid destruction.
On June 12, the cavalry forces clashed again to the northwest of Trevilian Station, and seven assaults by Brig. Gen. Alfred T. A. Torbert's Union division were repulsed with heavy losses. Sheridan withdrew his force to rejoin Grant's army. The battle was a tactical victory for the Confederates and Sheridan failed to achieve his goal of permanently destroying the Virginia Central Railroad or of linking up with Hunter. Its distraction, however, may have contributed to Grant's successful crossing of the James River
In the above post Cash seems to justify Yankee atrocities because Confederates fired the first shot. Even if he is right, the fact that our grandparents and great-grandparents were starved has a effect on how we view the war.
First establish the "Yankee atrocities". Second, war is an unpredictable enterprise, had the Confederacy one in some timeline, your ancestors would be telling how their sacrifices won the war. Third don't start a war if avoidable because losing is unpleasant.
 
#14
Not a chance in my book. I would refuse to coward out and give up. Don't forget, as much as many or most were against Slavery, they still loved and were dedicated to their homeland and were definitely not happy with the way Lincoln was handling it.
Doesn't matter if they owned slaves or not. They supported the Confederacy. A portion of their goods were used by the Confederacy and their men fought for the Confederacy.

edit- corrected spelling.
 

jgoodguy

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#15
Add Hunter's Raid to extreme destruction on Virginia as well.
The Valley and "Scorched Earth"
The Valley and "Scorched Earth"[edit]
In the Valley Campaigns of 1864, Union Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel was ordered by Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to move into the Shenandoah Valley, threaten railroads and the agricultural economy there, and distract Robert E. Lee while Grant fought him in eastern Virginia. Sigel did a poor job, losing immediately at the Battle of New Market to a force that included cadets from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI). Hunter replaced Sigel in command of the Army of the Shenandoah and the Department of West Virginia on May 21, 1864. Grant ordered Hunter to employ scorched earth tactics similar to those that would be used later in that year during Sherman's March to the Sea; he was to move through Staunton to Charlottesville and Lynchburg, "living off the country" and destroying the Virginia Central Railroad "beyond possibility of repair for weeks." Lee was concerned enough about Hunter that he dispatched a corps under Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early to deal with him
n June 5, Hunter defeated Maj. Gen. William E. "Grumble" Jones at the Battle of Piedmont. Following orders, he moved up the Valley (southward) through Staunton to Lexington, destroying military targets and other industries (such as blacksmiths and stables) that could be used to support the Confederacy. After reaching Lexington, his troops burned down VMI on June 11 in retaliation of that institution sending cadets to fight at New Market. Hunter ordered the home of former Governor John Letcher burned in retaliation for its absent owner's having issued "a violent and inflammatory proclamation ... inciting the population of the country to rise and wage guerrilla warfare on my troops."[16] Hunter also wreaked havoc on Washington College in Lexington, later Washington and Lee University. According to Fitzhugh Lee's biography of his uncle, Robert E. Lee, "[Hunter] had no respect for colleges, or the peaceful pursuits of professors and students, or the private dwellings of citizens, though occupied by women and children only, and during his three days occupancy of Lexington in June, 1864, the college buildings were dismantled, apparatus destroyed, and the books mutilated."[17]
Hunter's campaign in the Valley came to an end after he was defeated by Early at the Battle of Lynchburg on June 19. His headquarters was at Sandusky House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, and now operated as a house museum. Grant brought in Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan, making him Hunter's subordinate, but making it clear that Sheridan would lead the troops in the field and that Hunter would be left with only administrative responsibilities. Hunter, feeling that Grant had a lack of confidence in him, requested to be relieved.[18] He would serve in no more combat commands. He was promoted to brevet major general in the regular army on March 13, 1865, an honor that was relatively common for senior officers late in the war.
 
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#18
Not a chance in my book. I would refuse to coward out and give up. Don't forget, as much as many or most were against Slavery, they still loved and were dedicated to their homeland and were definitely not happy with the way Lincoln was handling it.

To add a little extra, try to imagine being in their shoes back then or even if something similar were to happen to you in your hometown today.
Oh, I understand that they weren't happy. But that's war. Their supplies were aiding the Confederacy and so became a military target for capture or destruction.

In all fairness, this was not a new phenomenon in America. It was the same strategy used against the Native Americans going back a couple hundred years prior to the Civil War. Heck, Washington ordered the Sullivan-Clinton Expedition against the Iroquois Confederacy and tories in New York. He didn't get the nickname "Town Burner" for nothing.

Ryan
 
#19
Just wondering if you read my last line that I added a little later in post #12?
I just now went back and read the added line. Unfortunately civilians suffer during war especially when the war is brought to their homes, but that does not change the fact that what the Federal troops did was not illegal or an atrocity.
 

jgoodguy

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#20
Doesn't matter if they owned slaves or not. They supported the Confederacy. A portion of their goods were used by the Confederacy and their men fought for the Confederacy.

edit- corrected spelling.
Another way war is unfair is that under the laws of war anyone under the sovereignty of an enemy is an enemy with limited rights. Worst in the late 18th century when civilians could be executed out of hand like when civilians were herded into river barges in the Drownings at Nantes and drowned. In the US Civil War, the General Orders No. 100 : The Lieber Code was developed to mitigate brutality. Of Civil Wars in general, it is hard to find one where out and out brutality was so mitigated by both sides as in the American Civil War.
 
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