Discussion Any Union attempts to diminish the Confederacy's munitions production?

Piedone

Corporal
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
If you don’t read entire books, rather than the Wikipedia snippets all too common, you will have the knowledge base necessary to make informed judgements. Until then, there is no way understand what informed contributors are talking about.
Well...this is indeed...well...may I call it a „snippy“ answer?

I‘d say it is rather obvious that nobody can claim to know who really was responsible for the burning - as all we can do is to speculate and evaluate - and given that even a informed contributor as you would probably not be able to do more than that.

Hence you have a (well informed) opinion - and a common reader as myself is able to understand that opinion (at least as long as you are bothering to present it in an understandable way).

Why should anybody be unable to understand you?

As far as the matter we are discussing is concerned:

1) You are saying that the burning was the consequence of confederate mismanagement and bad luck (what some others also do suggest - but others see here a higher responsibility of the Union forces, for both claims there are quite a lot of sources to be found)

2) You are saying that (regardless of the question of responsibility) no civilian in South Carolina had a right to lament - as they all were secessionist and were responsible for the war - and consequentially for the damages produced by this war (I‘d say that‘s quite an extremist view)

3) As Sherman didn‘t adopt many measures to control the situation in Columbia early it is obvious that he cannot evade criticism.

Hence his picture will actually and naturally stay ambiguous - which was just everything I was saying.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Well...this is indeed...well...may I call it a „snippy“ answer?

I‘d say it is rather obvious that nobody can claim to know who really was responsible for the burning - as all we can do is to speculate and evaluate - and given that even a informed contributor as you would probably not be able to do more than that.

Hence you have a (well informed) opinion - and a common reader as myself is able to understand that opinion (at least as long as you are bothering to present it in an understandable way).

Why should anybody be unable to understand you?

As far as the matter we are discussing is concerned:

1) You are saying that the burning was the consequence of confederate mismanagement and bad luck (what some others also do suggest - but others see here a higher responsibility of the Union forces, for both claims there are quite a lot of sources to be found)

2) You are saying that (regardless of the question of responsibility) no civilian in South Carolina had a right to lament - as they all were secessionist and were responsible for the war - and consequentially for the damages produced by this war (I‘d say that‘s quite an extremist view)

3) As Sherman didn‘t adopt many measures to control the situation in Columbia early it is obvious that he cannot evade criticism.

Hence his picture will actually and naturally stay ambiguous - which was just everything I was saying.
I would appreciate it very much if you would not tell me what I think. I do that all by myself.
 

Joseph A. Rose

Corporal
Joined
Jan 5, 2010
The Army of the Tennessee 1861-1865 Nothing But Victory by Steven E. Woodworth
Although the burning of Columbia seems to be rather unrelated to the original post, I don't think that Woodworth's book mentions the state of the wrappings around the cotton bales. Furthermore, he downplays how the federal soldiers were responsible for a great deal of the incendiarism. From Sherman on down, the Union army bore great guilt in the torching of the city, but Woodworth and a number of other historians don't want their readers to know this.
 

Joseph A. Rose

Corporal
Joined
Jan 5, 2010
Well...this is indeed...well...may I call it a „snippy“ answer?

I‘d say it is rather obvious that nobody can claim to know who really was responsible for the burning - as all we can do is to speculate and evaluate - and given that even a informed contributor as you would probably not be able to do more than that.

Hence you have a (well informed) opinion - and a common reader as myself is able to understand that opinion (at least as long as you are bothering to present it in an understandable way).

Why should anybody be unable to understand you?

As far as the matter we are discussing is concerned:

1) You are saying that the burning was the consequence of confederate mismanagement and bad luck (what some others also do suggest - but others see here a higher responsibility of the Union forces, for both claims there are quite a lot of sources to be found)

2) You are saying that (regardless of the question of responsibility) no civilian in South Carolina had a right to lament - as they all were secessionist and were responsible for the war - and consequentially for the damages produced by this war (I‘d say that‘s quite an extremist view)

3) As Sherman didn‘t adopt many measures to control the situation in Columbia early it is obvious that he cannot evade criticism.

Hence his picture will actually and naturally stay ambiguous - which was just everything I was saying.
Piedone,

I've done a good deal of research on the burning of Columbia. You are quite correct in what you're intimating about the situation.

In my book, I write:
William Sherman, who pronounced during the Vicksburg Campaign that “this universal burning and wanton destruction of private property is not justified in war,” now did his best to shift culpability. The morning after, he told the Ursuline mother superior of “his regret at the burning of our convent, disclaimed the act, attributing it to the intoxication of his soldiers.” He admitted elsewhere that “our men have burnt Columbia,” blaming residents who had given them liquor. Lyman heard him boast at City Point headquarters: “Columbia!—pretty much all burned; and burned good.” But Sherman’s report to Halleck instead emphasized his orders to spare private property, Hampton’s guilt, and the efforts his generals made to extinguish the blaze, while imagining that “general good order prevailed.” Sherman falsely swore, “I declare in the presence of my God that Hampton burned Columbia, and that he alone is responsible for it,” wholly ignoring his army’s innumerable transgressions.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Although the burning of Columbia seems to be rather unrelated to the original post, I don't think that Woodworth's book mentions the state of the wrappings around the cotton bales. Furthermore, he downplays how the federal soldiers were responsible for a great deal of the incendiarism. From Sherman on down, the Union army bore great guilt in the torching of the city, but Woodworth and a number of other historians don't want their readers to know this.
Perhaps reading what Woodworth wrote would be a logical starting point for commentary on what he wrote.
 
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DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
Although the burning of Columbia seems to be rather unrelated to the original post, I don't think that Woodworth's book mentions the state of the wrappings around the cotton bales. Furthermore, he downplays how the federal soldiers were responsible for a great deal of the incendiarism. From Sherman on down, the Union army bore great guilt in the torching of the city, but Woodworth and a number of other historians don't want their readers to know this.
No, Woodworth does not downplay the involvement of Union soldiers. He gives a far more credible, and thorough, and balanced account than the partisan anti-Sherman version in your book.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
No, Woodworth does not downplay the involvement of Union soldiers. He gives a far more credible, and thorough, and balanced account than the partisan anti-Sherman version in your book.
Out of curiosity, I just reread Woodworth. I don't see any attempt to downplay the vengeful intent of the soldiers in Columbia & South Carolina in any way. Wade Hampton's cavalry had set the long piles of cotton bales ablaze as they retreated. Nobody disputes that. One Iowa soldier stated that whenever he entered a town during the March the first thing he did was fight the fires set by retreating CSA cavalry. Columbia was no exception. The local fire department was doing its very best to put out the cotton when the Hawkeyes entered the city. Despite the best efforts of General Hazen in particular, Columbia was going to burn one way or another. A roaring wind storm that had grown stronger as the day went on, which meant that once the cotton reignited there wasn't a whole lot that anybody could do to put it out. Interestingly enough, there was no civilian loss of life recorded due to the fire.

When they were marching through Georgia, time & again civilians asked Sherman's men why they weren't buying out South Carolina. It wasn't just the Yankees that wanted SC to suffer for starting the war.
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
Out of curiosity, I just reread Woodworth. I don't see any attempt to downplay the vengeful intent of the soldiers in Columbia & South Carolina in any way. Wade Hampton's cavalry had set the long piles of cotton bales ablaze as they retreated. Nobody disputes that. One Iowa soldier stated that whenever he entered a town the first thing he did was fight the fires set by retreating CSA cavalry. Despite the best efforts of General Hazen in particular, Columbia was going to burn one way or another.
I just reread Woodworth too. It's a good and fair account.
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
I‘d say it is rather obvious that nobody can claim to know who really was responsible for the burning
That's really the bottom line on Columbia. No one knows for sure. Many different types of people could have contributed to the blaze. Confederates, Federals, newly-free slaves, released criminals, released POW's, looters, etc.

We do know that the Union Army fought the fire and tried to bring it under control.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
That's really the bottom line on Columbia. No one knows for sure. Many different types of people could have contributed to the blaze. Confederates, Federals, newly-free slaves, released criminals, released POW's, looters, etc.

We do know that the Union Army fought the fire and tried to bring it under control.
Woodworth gives all of them equal billing in his rendition. Reaping the whirlwind comes to mind.
 

Piedone

Corporal
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
Piedone,

I've done a good deal of research on the burning of Columbia. You are quite correct in what you're intimating about the situation.

In my book, I write:
I do thank you very much for your kind remark, saying that I am not completely in the wrong box - as I was only assuming on the base of limited knowledge.

I heard from your book „Grant under Fire“ - which (from what I read about it) I deem extremely interesting and I have it indeed on my reading list.

As an european I am unfortunately not broadly-read enough regarding the Civil War as one should maybe be - hence I have to declare that I overlooked your book about Sherman (as you were most probably not talking of „Grant under Fire“?) Could you please give me the title of your book?

Generally I am of the opinion that our picture is still heavily influenced from authors of former times and needs a bit of a overhauling. My interest for the Civil War was eg incensed rather a longer time ago by D.S.Freeman - and although I am always trying to follow the current debate(s) I still deem it somehow hard to relinquish parts of the picture Freeman so artfully painted...
 

uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
I proposeIt is interesting, you must have documentation that all of us would like to see. The communications between Grant & Sherman is public record . None of the goals you have alluded to are contained in their discussion.

Sherman’s orders explicitly forbade attacking the civilian population. That is a matter of public record. Apart from post war tropes, where have you found documentation ordering an attack on civilians as a goal of the Msrch to the Sea?

What is the first rule of asking questions? I am asking for pre-1865 documentation, not post war tropes.
I propose we break up the railroad from Chattanooga. and strike out with wagons for. . .Savannah. Until we cab repopulate Georgia, it is useless to occupy it, but the utter destruction of its roads, houses and people will cripple their military resources. Letter from Sherman to Grant.

This movement is not purely military or strategic, but it will illustrate the vulnerability of the South. Sherman lectured Halleck on October 19. The rich planters. . .don't know what war means. [but] when they see their fences and corn and hogs and sheep vanish before their eyes they will gain something more than a mean opinion of the Yanks. His army would inflict not military defeat on a Confederate army, but intentionally humiliating destruction on the peaceful, cultivated Southern landscape and her people. "Even now our poor mules laugh at the fine corn-field, and our soldiers riot on chestnuts, sweet potatoes, pigs, chickens, etc. "He intended to be as thorough as possible He intended to be as thorough as possible, not merely raking the surface of the Southern spirit. On October 19, the same day he wrote to Halleck, he wrote to the Union commander back at Nashville, "I am going into the very bowels of the Confederacy, and propose to leave a trail that will be recognized fifty years hence." As Hood moved north, Sherman noted with pleasure to Thomas, "already the papers in Georgia Begin to Howl at being abandoned, and will howl still ore before they are done." howl like mortally eviscerated animals. victims of the sort of abandonment he knew in his bones.

To George Thomas he wrote on October 29, "I propose to demonstrate the vulnerability of the South, and make its inhabitants feel that war and individual ruin are synonymous terms." On November 8, in a letter to Grant that is now legend, Sherman wrote, "If we can march a well appointed army right through [Jefferson Davis's] territory, it is a demonstration to the world, foreign and domestic, that we have a power which Davis cannot resist. This may not be war, but rather statesmanship," Sherman argued. All of the above form Citizen Sherman by Fellman pages 186-189

Yes snarky Sherman talked. Reminds me of some on here who Wink, Nod and imply the South made him do it. However Cling to the Yankee Myth that he didn't. Too Funny.

So if it didn't make the ORs, it didn't happen. How Silly.
 

Joseph A. Rose

Corporal
Joined
Jan 5, 2010
I propose we break up the railroad from Chattanooga. and strike out with wagons for. . .Savannah. Until we cab repopulate Georgia, it is useless to occupy it, but the utter destruction of its roads, houses and people will cripple their military resources. Letter from Sherman to Grant.

This movement is not purely military or strategic, but it will illustrate the vulnerability of the South. Sherman lectured Halleck on October 19. The rich planters. . .don't know what war means. [but] when they see their fences and corn and hogs and sheep vanish before their eyes they will gain something more than a mean opinion of the Yanks. His army would inflict not military defeat on a Confederate army, but intentionally humiliating destruction on the peaceful, cultivated Southern landscape and her people. "Even now our poor mules laugh at the fine corn-field, and our soldiers riot on chestnuts, sweet potatoes, pigs, chickens, etc. "He intended to be as thorough as possible He intended to be as thorough as possible, not merely raking the surface of the Southern spirit. On October 19, the same day he wrote to Halleck, he wrote to the Union commander back at Nashville, "I am going into the very bowels of the Confederacy, and propose to leave a trail that will be recognized fifty years hence." As Hood moved north, Sherman noted with pleasure to Thomas, "already the papers in Georgia Begin to Howl at being abandoned, and will howl still ore before they are done." howl like mortally eviscerated animals. victims of the sort of abandonment he knew in his bones.

To George Thomas he wrote on October 29, "I propose to demonstrate the vulnerability of the South, and make its inhabitants feel that war and individual ruin are synonymous terms." On November 8, in a letter to Grant that is now legend, Sherman wrote, "If we can march a well appointed army right through [Jefferson Davis's] territory, it is a demonstration to the world, foreign and domestic, that we have a power which Davis cannot resist. This may not be war, but rather statesmanship," Sherman argued. All of the above form Citizen Sherman by Fellman pages 186-189

Yes snarky Sherman talked. Reminds me of some on here who Wink, Nod and imply the South made him do it. However Cling to the Yankee Myth that he didn't. Too Funny.

So if it didn't make the ORs, it didn't happen. How Silly.
Woodworth tried to diminish Sherman's and the Union army's guilt in the torching of the city. After yet another perusal of his tome, I can show how he unreasonably minimized the Union army's responsibility for Columbia's destruction. In my research, I have compiled a long list of primary sources, many from the North, which have stated that US soldiers started the fires, but Woodworth merely admits to their being "among" the other incendiaries (i.e., freed slaves, freed PoWs, freed jail inmates), with the Confederates who set cotton fires as the main culprit.

Nothing but Victory: The Army of the Tennessee, 1861-1865 Page 618: cotton bales lit by CSA were "still smoldering"; then the fire co. with an engine tried to extinguish "blazing fiber" in the streets; Page 619: "fire far from completely extinguished"; "burning heaps of cotton in many of its streets"; before US army arrival there was cotton strewn all around; arriving 15th AC marched windward of "burning cotton"; implies PoWs wanted to burn the town; Page 620: mentions alcohol & drunken soldiers; nothing looked seriously amiss in the hours before sunset; "several fires had already occurred" around the city but US men quickly put them out; around sundown General Hazen noticed several fires; Page 621: drunken soldiers, stragglers, citizens, freed slaves, and jail inmates who roamed streets; the cotton fires never died and the wind made them blaze merrily and the fire spread to nearby buildings; by 8 pm the fires spread out of control; drunken soldiers had trouble fighting fires and there were some whose agenda was not saving Columbia; Page 622: soldiers tried a fire engine "but someone cut the hose" (omitting how the US soldiers ruined the hose); helpful soldiers & rioting soldiers but some were civil; Page 623: soldiers fought fires and got city under control; Woodworth mentions the arguments over fires' origin: one man said the origin was in the high wind which fanned the "smoldering cotton" into a fire, Logan & Hazen said drunk soldiers, a major thought it was the PoWs, Woods blamed burning cotton perhaps aided by criminals and further by drunken slaves and soldiers, eyewitness testimony establishes smoldering cotton as primary source, eyewitnesses claim to have seen soldiers & jail inmates set fires, there is no doubt that AotT men "were among the incendiaries" but the majority remained in camps or helped out.
 
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