Looking back on the whole bloody mess, I truly believe that it was completely pointless EXCEPT as a maneuver to obliterate southern independence.

CSA Today

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Location
Laurinburg NC
Stephanie McCurry, Civil War Times, October 2012:
"It is one of the most impressive and - yes - unique features of our war; that the Lincoln administration was willing to bind itself to a set of regulations limiting the latitude of the Union army in its operations, including in occupied territory and guerrilla warfare. It says something profound."

-I'm amazed by such forbearance and magnanimity.

---------------

Union Death Squads in Middle Tennessee:

"...execution without trial had become commonplace in occupied Middle Tennessee. Not content with capturing and defeating various bushwhacker gangs, [General] Milroy still felt that the civilian base of support for such bands needed to be destroyed. He believed that his policy of 'fire and blood' was the best way to accomplish such a task. Milroy found allies among those individuals who had been affected by Hood's return to Tennessee in November and December 1864.

Moses Pitman was one of the pro-Union men who had been attacked by guerillas during the absence of Union troops from Tullahoma. His list of stolen and lost goods included several weapons, horses, and household goods. Pitman provided Milroy with a list of goods for which he was seeking restitution as well as a list of his neighbors who he felt deserved punishment for 'disloyal' actions.

Names of some disloyal citizens of the Fourth district Franklin County Tenn.
A narration of their crimes and the orders of Maj. Gen'l Milroy as to what
punishment they shall suffer for said crimes....

Joel Cunningham- He is a leader of a gang of bushwhackers 75 to 100 strong.
[Milroy's instructions:] Kill

Wesley Davis- Harbors bushwhackers.
Clean out [-confiscate property that can be removed and burn the rest]

Green Denison- A bushwhacker with Hays.
Kill

Jane Lipscum- A widow. Harbors bushwhackers.
Clean out

Curtis McCullum- Harbors bushwhackers and instigated his son and three others to murder in cold blood a Union man named Samuel Kennedy on Oct 15, 1864....
Hang and burn

Cynthia McCullum- Wife of the above and also instigated her son to murder Kennedy, the same remarks that apply to her husband apply also to her with double force. She is a very bad and a very dangerous woman.
Shoot if you can make it look an accident

Charlotte McCullum- An unmarried sister of the above and is almost as bad as her mother.

Burn everything

The list goes on for a total of 58 names....

Leroy Moore, Thomas Saunders, and William Saunders were three of the men that had been ordered to be executed...Leroy Moore was described as 'an old, white haired man' while Thomas Saunders was 'over 50 years of age,' and William Saunders was only 14. When the detail from the 42nd Missouri reached the Saunders house Moore was found to be visiting them. All three had their hands tied behind their backs and were forced to wade into a mill pond at Huffers Mill. They were then shot in the back and their corpses were guarded for three days before the families were allowed to remove them from the water. The method of their execution was the same as that styled 'barbaric' by General Slocum and General Thomas when three of their men were murdered at Mulberry in 1863. The three are still buried on the banks of the mill pond." -With Blood and Fire, pp. 115-117, 120
Apparently, William Firebug Sherman didn't get the word.
 

Potomac Pride

Sergeant Major
Joined
Oct 28, 2011
Location
Georgia
The civil war was no where close to total war
Some historians consider the actions of General Sherman during the war as an early example of total war. The forces of Sherman followed a “ scorched earth” policy during his March to the Sea through Georgia. The Union troops under his command destroyed military targets, public infrastructure, industry and civilian property.
 
Savage excerpt from Sherman's March 12, 1865 letter written "in the Field" at Fayetteville, NC to his wife Ellen Ewing Sherman (my bold):

"I fear the People along our Road will have nothing left wherewith to Support an hostile army, but I told them their sons & brothers had better stay at home to take care of the females instead of running around the Country playing soldiers. The same brags and boasts are kept up, but when I reach the path where the lion crouched I find him slinking away."
 
Last edited:

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
Some historians consider the actions of General Sherman during the war as an early example of total war. The forces of Sherman followed a “ scorched earth” policy during his March to the Sea through Georgia. The Union troops under his command destroyed military targets, public infrastructure, industry and civilian property.
Sure they do. Just like plenty of American historians claim that the rifle musket was a new weapon in 1861...
When someone only study US history they make stupid claims like it.

Anyone who read anything about the war against Napoleon in Spain will know that is was way way worse. With the executions of civilian being a common thing.

Anyone who ever read just a bit about how revolts was suppressed in Europe would know that executions of civilians was common.

Or just take quick look at the civil war in china during the same period.
It likely caused more death each year then the civil war did in 4.

Or how the british suppressed the revolt in India.

It was not common during the civil war. Captured rebel soldiers was send home at the end of the war... they where not put up against a wall and shot for treason.

The civil war was no more a total war than the Napoleonic wars where... or a lot of other wars across the musket period where.
 

Potomac Pride

Sergeant Major
Joined
Oct 28, 2011
Location
Georgia
Savage excerpt from Sherman's March 12, 1865 letter written "in the Field" at Fayetteville, NC to his wife Ellen Ewing Sherman (my bold):

"I fear the People along our Road will have nothing left wherewith to Support an hostile army, but I told them their sons & brothers had better stay at home to take care of the females instead of running around the Country playing soldiers. The same brags and boasts are kept up, but when I reach the path where the lion crouched I find him slinking away."
How considerate of the General.
 
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
Some historians consider the actions of General Sherman during the war as an early example of total war. The forces of Sherman followed a “ scorched earth” policy during his March to the Sea through Georgia. The Union troops under his command destroyed military targets, public infrastructure, industry and civilian property.

I keep hearing the claim about civilian property, has anyone any census or land records data to back this up?
 

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Central Massachusetts
In a twisted, cart-before-the-horse sense, the title of this thread is not inaccurate.

Defending the integrity of the United States and its Constitution demanded the "obliteration" of confederate pretensions to independence. It's the defense of the republic that was the "point" of the "whole bloody mess," not obliterating the fraudulent bad idea that was the CSA.

But, looking at it from where we stand today, I personally believe that the ending of legal race slavery in the United States is the only thing that justifies the whole four years of blood and destruction and gives them meaning.
 
Last edited:

Zack

Corporal
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Location
Los Angeles, California
You should google "The Burning of Atlanta 1864"

Jury's out on this one. Atlanta burned for a number of reasons. Industrial parts were deliberately destroyed by the Union under orders from Sherman, who did not want to leave a garrison. One factory contained unexploded ammunition hidden by the evacuating Confederates that the Union was not aware of, but the explosions did not seem to start too bad of a fire. Some houses were destroyed by Hood during the battle and evacuation. The destruction of railroad cars by Hood's men caused ammunition inside to explode, sending sparks into nearby houses and starting fires. Drunk federal soldiers torched houses. Civilian looters torched houses.

At least 400 buildings were not damaged by the time Sherman left. Perhaps 200 acres burned. I've seen estimates of about 40% of the city destroyed but we'll probably never know. That number also does not indicate what percentage of the destruction was the industrial/war-making section of the city and what part was civilian houses.

The city was also looted by civilians from the countryside once Sherman had left.

Sources - John Marszalek bio of Sherman; Burke Davis; Noah Andre Trudeau
 
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
You should google "The Burning of Atlanta 1864"

So to be clear I am asking for evidence of the destruction of specifically civilian property and your answer is "Hey look over there at something bright and shiny". Seriously if there was a systematic campaign of destruction of civilian property it would show up in county records.

Now I am not saying that there was not, I am saying do you have any evidence? You are basically saying no while pretending not to.

Maybe somebody has done the research and can demonstrate a sudden disappearance of civilian homes and outbuildings between 1860 and 1870 which would be evidence for a systematic campaign against such or maybe the census and land records do not contain such absences in remarkable numbers which would rather suggest the absence of any kind of systematic campaign of destruction.
 

19thGeorgia

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Union Death Squads in Middle Tennessee:

"...execution without trial had become commonplace in occupied Middle Tennessee. Not content with capturing and defeating various bushwhacker gangs, [General] Milroy still felt that the civilian base of support for such bands needed to be destroyed. He believed that his policy of 'fire and blood' was the best way to accomplish such a task. Milroy found allies among those individuals who had been affected by Hood's return to Tennessee in November and December 1864.
...and Middle Tennessee wasn't the only place.
 

Fairfield

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
...and Middle Tennessee wasn't the only place.
Alas, the atrocities and evil deeds of wartime are not one sided. Those were terrible times for civilians of all persuasions. One of the basic points of studying history is to learn. There is an old French saying that if all wrongs were done by only one, quarrels would be sooner mended.
 

Rebforever

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Oct 26, 2012
So to be clear I am asking for evidence of the destruction of specifically civilian property and your answer is "Hey look over there at something bright and shiny". Seriously if there was a systematic campaign of destruction of civilian property it would show up in county records.

Now I am not saying that there was not, I am saying do you have any evidence? You are basically saying no while pretending not to.

Maybe somebody has done the research and can demonstrate a sudden disappearance of civilian homes and outbuildings between 1860 and 1870 which would be evidence for a systematic campaign against such or maybe the census and land records do not contain such absences in remarkable numbers which would rather suggest the absence of any kind of systematic campaign of destruction.
Have you looked up the county records?
 
You should google "The Burning of Atlanta 1864"

Atlanta was a strategic point. It was a major military storage center, a major Confederate troop base, and the major military transportation hub of the South. Its residents were hostile to the Federal government. Whether you like it or not, Sherman's actions were entirely justified by military necessity and were completely legal and an acceptable action under the recognized international laws of war in effect during the 19th century. Sherman corresponded with the Mayor of Atlanta giving him warning and opportunity to evacuate all civilians so they would not be harmed or killed when the Confederate forces, which were using Atlanta as a military facility, were fired upon by Federal troops. Any ire that one harbors in this matter should be directed at Hood and the mayor for their inactions rather than at Sherman for doing his job.

When the mayor of Atlanta protested about the evacuation orders, Sherman replied that: "[y]ou cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace. But you cannot have peace and a division of our country. If the United States submits to a division now, it will not stop, but will go on until we reap the fate of Mexico, which is eternal war. The United States does and must assert its authority, wherever it once had power; for, if it relaxes one bit to pressure, it is gone, and I believe that such is the national feeling. This feeling assumes various shapes, but always comes back to that of Union. Once admit the Union, once more acknowledge the authority of the national Government, and, instead of devoting your houses and streets and roads to the dread uses of war, I and this army become at once your protectors and supporters, shielding you from danger, let it come from what quarter it may. I know that a few individuals cannot resist a torrent of error and passion, such as swept the South into rebellion, but you can point out, so that we may know those who desire a government, and those who insist on war and its desolation... You might as well appeal against the thunder-storm as against these terrible hardships of war. They are inevitable, and the only way the people of Atlanta can hope once more to live in peace and quiet at home, is to stop the war, which can only be done by admitting that it began in error and is perpetuated in pride... Now that war comes to you, you feel very different. You deprecate its horrors, but did not feel them when you sent car-loads of soldiers and ammunition, and moulded shells and shot, to carry war into Kentucky and Tennessee, to desolate the homes of hundreds and thousands of good people who only asked to live in peace at their old homes, and under the Government of their inheritance... We don't want your Negroes, or your horses, or your lands, or any thing you have, but we do want and will have a just obedience to the laws of the United States. That we will have, and if it involved the destruction of your improvements, we cannot help it."
Gen. Sherman to the James Calhoun, Mayor of Atlanta Sept. 1864
 

Piedone

Corporal
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
In a twisted, cart-before-the-horse sense, the title of this thread is not inaccurate.

Defending the integrity of the United States and its Constitution demanded the "obliteration" of confederate pretensions to independence. It's the defense of the republic that was the "point" of the "whole bloody mess," not obliterating the fraudulent bad idea that was the CSA.

But, looking at it from where we stand today, I personally believe that the ending of legal race slavery in the United States was the only thing that justified the whole four years of blood and destruction and gave them meaning.
Now THIS point made me think a lot - and the more I pondered on it the more I fell in love with that point:

In sports and war everybody (without almost any exception) sides with a team and then there‘s only that „you guys destroyed our sandcastle...“ „yeah, but you guys took the sandmoulds away before...“ „yeah, and very well we did, because grandma GIFTED it to us...“ - and then everything becomes a merry-go-round (once again).

This leads to nothing - as everybody involved in a war gets his fingers dirty and you can’t clean fingers with subsequent justifications, saying: „It looks like dirt but it ain‘t because we were right“.
Maybe a side was right or at least fought for something MORE people will acclaim to - but dirty their fingers became also.

But the end of slavery THAT‘s the real thing.
And (with rather rare exceptions) nobody had it really on his schedule when war began.
But crisis and conflicts are speeding up things - ideas that normally would take decades to settle in people‘s minds become thinkable and acceptable - even the most racist people in the US...in the end even the Confederates realized what a tremendous potential would be wasted when keeping Africans still enslaved.

It might well have taken fifty peaceful years to get to the very same point where the war took society (North and South) in four years to.

A thing that‘s still hard to conceive to me is that roll-back after the war - but it might have been a consequence of too many people taking offense about who took the sandmoulds first....
 

yankeesfan65

Cadet
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
The civil was fought over slavery, period. The south could see that slavery as an institution, would always be in their eyes, be under threat from the northern states. This wasn't a new concern by the south, but finally came to a head with the election of Lincoln and the republican abolitionist party. So leaving and forming their own country, would be the only way to protect silvery once and for all.

But the union didn't fight over slavery. They fought to preserve the union. So if the south had stayed, no civil war. But the south was by this time so fearful about slavery. They had, in their view no choice but to succeed.
 
Top