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NH Civil War Gal

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I just started reading a book called "War Stuff" The struggle for Human and Environmental Resources in the American Civil War by Joan E. Cashin

Anyway, I got to a section that is real annoying and shameful - and both sides did it!

"Both armies alienated civilians, female and male, by their petty abuses of authority while foraging. It is remarkable how often they damaged kitchenware and cooking utensils during their freelance expeditions. Federal troops in Huntsville, Alabama, entered private homes, demanding to be fed, and then left broken pottery in their wake. Rebel soldiers did the same, even to families who supported their cause. In Hanover County, Virginia, Fanny Tinsley's neighbor willingly gave most of her food to Confederate troops who then borrowed her crockery and broke it, leaving shard of cups and glasses behind. Men from both armies grabbed coffee pots and forks from households wherever they went, which was galling to civilians, who of course wanted those objects for their own use."



I peeked ahead to the section on Timber resources and it ain't pretty.

But... why all the destruction? What's the point to terrify women no matter which army you're in? And why would you want to even help your own side if they are going to destroy your place?

The book already said that the different states citizenry feared the armies on both sides when they started coming.
 

Cavalry Charger

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I'm interested in this because I have been reading in Brook D. Simpson's Biography of Grant how Grant was adamant his soldiers treated the citizenry well, fully understanding this could otherwise turn them against the army. It's a very basic calculation to my mind. He also didn't hesitate to put the citizenry under notice if need be. Grant attempted to land somewhere smack dab in the middle of it all it seems.

I will endeavour to look up some quotes.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Yes, you do hear both cases. Remember the Confederate's note in someone's house at Gettysburg? It was a polite thank you. One of the seminary students ( or was it a professor? ) had a book returned to him, a civilian in another town had it handed to them as the army retreated with a request it get back to the owner. I'm showing my age to say their mothers did a good job somewhere.

IMO, same as today. Given the chance thoughtless people get some kick out of destroying property. We'll never make sense of the mindset because it makes no sense. Maybe it was a matter of having been ' let off their leash ' or men who acted the same way as civilians. There's an element that smells to me like bullying, breaking things because the owners couldn't do a thing about it.

Jerks are jerks. Traveling in packs just makes them a herd of pigs instead of individual swine.
 
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NH Civil War Gal

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I just typed in a lot, went to post it and it all disappeared. Will try this again.

Hopefully, the following will give us something constructive to chew on as I work my way through this book. I'm learning some things that had never occurred to me nor had I ever come across them before in historical writings.

1) Official policy had little impact on restraining armies on either side in the struggle.

2) Both armies destroyed, misused, and wasted material resources.

3) Military needs triumphed over civilian society and the prevalent values of antebellum culture. Both armies made maximum use of what Yankee Private Edgar Ely called the "stuff" of war. Most of the warriors privileged their own needs (blue or gray) over everything else.

4) Very few career officers served in the Civil War and West Point graduates who did serve did not always abide by procedure. I was very surprised to learn that very few career officers didn't serve.

5) The Confederacy never created a Supreme Court and neither Lincoln nor Davis got closely involved in setting policy on civilians and their resources (I'm thinking bread riot in Richmond).

6) John Pope in 1862 and Francis Lieber in 1863 gave their pronouncements that were ALSO supposed to give protections to noncombatants and the material environment but they sure didn't work well in practice. As the author says, "policy made a thin path on the voracious needs of the two armies, which had their own momentum independent of military directives."

7) Historians have generally assumed that the Yankee army after a bumpy start figured out how to supply its men while the Confederate army didn't. The fact is, neither army functioned very efficiently.

8) Volunteer quartermasters and commissary officers underwent little to no instruction and some of them didn't even know what power lay or didn't lay in the hands of fellow officers such as provost marshalls.

This is very interesting AND very terrible all at the same time:

"What is more, neither army had reliable mechanisms to discipline soldiers who violated procedure. The courts-martial, which happened quickly with no set procedures, rarely convened to address mistreatment of civilians or their property. In the entire war, the Northern military commissions tried only 13 Union soldiers for crimes against civilians or their property; scholar Robert Alotta estimates that 10 federal soldiers, total, were executed for plunder, pillage, or theft of civilian property. The establishment of the US Judge Advocate General's Department in 1862, intended to bolster the court-martial system, had little influence on the men in the field. No records survive for rebel courts-martial or executions and the Confederacy never created a judge advocate office, but the historical evidence suggests that the outcome was much the same."

"The many soldiers in both armies who admitted violating regulations in their wartime or postwar writings correctly assumed that there would be no punishment."
 

John Winn

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It is a sad reality that men on both sides mistreated civilians. I think when you have that many men in one place the bad apples are going to be noticed. Add the elements of deprivation and boredom and revenge and bad things are just going to happen. As has been noted, examples of kindness and consideration are also found but, as with the news, we seem somehow to remember more the examples of bad behavior than the good (sort of like Mark Twain's statement that a newspaper story's importance is inversely proportional to it's popularity).

War is heck.
 
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Drew

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I'm interested in this because I have been reading in Brook D. Simpson's Biography of Grant how Grant was adamant his soldiers treated the citizenry well, fully understanding this could otherwise turn them against the army. It's a very basic calculation to my mind. He also didn't hesitate to put the citizenry under notice if need be. Grant attempted to land somewhere smack dab in the middle of it all it seems.

I will endeavour to look up some quotes.
OK, U.S. Grant is now the "gentleman warrior," according to Brooks Simpson. What a bunch of balderdash.

Thanks for posting, though. It's good to see history re-written before our eyes.
 

Drew

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6) John Pope in 1862 and Francis Lieber in 1863 gave their pronouncements that were ALSO supposed to give protections to noncombatants and the material environment but they sure didn't work well in practice. As the author says, "policy made a thin path on the voracious needs of the two armies, which had their own momentum independent of military directives."
Union General John Pope laid waste to communities in Virginia with his Army. This is the guy that started it.

General Lee referred to him as, "the Miscreant."

Lee destroyed Pope at the Second Battle of Manassas and deservedly so.

Re-writing history to make this guy (Pope) a compassionate, caring, Yankee leader is beyond dishonest. I am sick that it's even being suggested here.

He was a thug, that's it and he got his comeuppance.
 

Cavalry Charger

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OK, U.S. Grant is now the "gentleman warrior," according to Brooks Simpson. What a bunch of balderdash.

Thanks for posting, though. It's good to see history re-written before our eyes.
You're welcome, but I wasn't done yet ... I will find some quotes to add.
 
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DanSBHawk

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Union General John Pope laid waste to communities in Virginia with his Army. This is the guy that started it.

General Lee referred to him as, "the Miscreant."

Lee destroyed Pope at the Second Battle of Manassas and deservedly so.

Re-writing history to make this guy (Pope) a compassionate, caring, Yankee leader is beyond dishonest. I am sick that it's even being suggested here.

He was a thug, that's it and he got his comeuppance.
Didn't take long to get to the finger-pointing.
 

Drew

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Didn't take long to get to the finger-pointing.
Not sure what you mean by "finger pointing."

Fact is, John Pope abused the Virginia countryside before he was crushed by Lee's Army at the Second Battle of Manassas.

If you're proud of Pope, that's on you.
 
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Union General John Pope laid waste to communities in Virginia with his Army. This is the guy that started it.

General Lee referred to him as, "the Miscreant."

Lee destroyed Pope at the Second Battle of Manassas and deservedly so.

Re-writing history to make this guy (Pope) a compassionate, caring, Yankee leader is beyond dishonest. I am sick that it's even being suggested here.

He was a thug, that's it and he got his comeuppance.
I don't see anything in @NH Civil War Gal 's comment that you quoted that warrants the above response. She nor the author has suggested that Pope was "compassionate" or "caring." Quit making things up.
 
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Lubliner

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I just started reading a book called "War Stuff" The struggle for Human and Environmental Resources in the American Civil War by Joan E. Cashin

Anyway, I got to a section that is real annoying and shameful - and both sides did it!

"Both armies alienated civilians, female and male, by their petty abuses of authority while foraging. It is remarkable how often they damaged kitchenware and cooking utensils during their freelance expeditions. Federal troops in Huntsville, Alabama, entered private homes, demanding to be fed, and then left broken pottery in their wake. Rebel soldiers did the same, even to families who supported their cause. In Hanover County, Virginia, Fanny Tinsley's neighbor willingly gave most of her food to Confederate troops who then borrowed her crockery and broke it, leaving shard of cups and glasses behind. Men from both armies grabbed coffee pots and forks from households wherever they went, which was galling to civilians, who of course wanted those objects for their own use."



I peeked ahead to the section on Timber resources and it ain't pretty.

But... why all the destruction? What's the point to terrify women no matter which army you're in? And why would you want to even help your own side if they are going to destroy your place?

The book already said that the different states citizenry feared the armies on both sides when they started coming.
I tried to see if the book you had, distinguished between private property and public property, and did not find any definition. Sure thing orders were given for not burning fencing rails from the farms, and sometimes disobeyed. Depending how far up the chain of command the knowledge traveled meant much. A captain could reprimand his corporal or the sergeant, and then sit on it so the Major doesn't know. General pilfering was a detriment to troop morale, and caused dereliction, such as the confederates at Sherman's Shiloh camp.
I find myself disagreeing with the number of executions, when one adds in public property. In Missouri at the beginning of the war, when railroads and small towns were burnt and laid waste, courts-martial trials were frequent. Numerous stores were robbed in Kentucky later on, and Court House Squares were fair game when occupied by an enemy (of the people, claim).
Lubliner.
 

Drew

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I don't see anything in @NH Civil War Gal 's comment that you quoted that warrants the above response. She nor the author has suggested that Pope was "compassionate" or "caring." Quit making things up.
Glad you agree, John Pope was neither "compassionate" nor "caring."

He was also a lousy General, when faced with an actual Army and not civilians. The former did not work out well for him.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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The author makes a point that the military and civilians populations were in some respects fascinated with each other. Many civilians while not in combat, were deeply involved in war-making. A few citizens benefited from relationships with the military but a much greater number relinquished food, timber, and housing to the war. And.... "Many of them did not even understand the specifics of military policy, for either army. In this terrible struggle, the civilian population lost."

When the American man put on uniforms, many of them experienced an abrupt shift in their outlook about human conduct and material things. Many soldiers felt free to assume they could take whatever resources they wanted, freed from antebellum values of stewardship and community and some of them relished defying authority.

Esther H. Hawks, the Union doctor working in South Carolina, stated that federal troops delighted in destroying things because they were away from the "refining influences of home" and coping badly with the war's privations.

One Union soldier, appalled by the looting in Virginia in 1862, remarked that "the genius of destruction is let loose in war" and "Soldiers acquire a passion for destruction."

The men (on either side) who were appalled by the sheer waste or the wanton looting were frequently overruled, ignored, or shouted down.

"Confederate soldier, J.M. Waddill argued that stealing while in the army was not the same as in civilian life, he expressed the views of many troops from the South and the North."

I'm going to be gone all day today for the 4th so I won't be able to answer till tomorrow, just to let you know.
 
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Glad you agree, John Pope was neither "compassionate" nor "caring."

He was also a lousy General, when faced with an actual Army and not civilians. The former did not work out well for him.
I don't disagree and that's the point made in @NH Civil War Gal 's comment when stated that "they sure didn't work well in practice."
 

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Unfortunately, these type of petty and more serious acts of pillage and violence against civilians were committed by both sides and against their own compatriots in many cases.
 

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The First Battle of Boonville, Mo., one of the first fights of the CW, occurred on June 17, 1861. After the battle was over, the town was garrisoned by both Federal and State troops, and one of those state troops was a newly form regiment from Iowa. I'm not sure if I remember what Iowa regiment it was,(maybe the third Iowa?), but I do remember a letter one of the members of the unit sent back to his brother in Iowa. He said something to the effect that, "You better hurry and join up, your missing a great deal of fun. We take everything we need from the pukes." ("pukes" was a derogatory term for Missourians). This Iowa regiment had formed less than 3 months previous, and hadn't taken part in the battle. They wouldn't do any fighting until they left Boonville to fight at Wilson's Creek. When they left the town, hardly any of the local farms had horses, wagons or food left, they had all been taken by the army. And while Missouri technically remained in the Union, and supplied more union troops per capita than any other Union state, it was a slave state, so perhaps that was one reason why it's population was treated so roughly.
 
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Unfortunately, these type of petty and more serious acts of pillage and violence against civilians were committed by both sides and against their own compatriots in many cases.
The following is a letter from a Mississippi judge complaining to Jefferson Davis about the depredations and behavior of Confederate soldiers within the state and comparing their destruction of property as being no different than that of the "Yankee" troops:

March 14, 1864.

JEFFERSON DAVIS,
President, &c.:

DEAR SIR: At the risk of being adjudged presumptuous, I have resolved to offer you some facts and suggestions. I do so because I know that you cannot know the status of the public feeling and mind in every locality, and the extent to which they are drifting. Mississippi is in a most deplorable condition, and is rapidly tending to the most deplorable disgrace. Very many of the middle class, a large number of the more intelligent, and nearly all of the lower class of her people are drifting to the Yankees. The more they are abused by the Yankees, the more they strive to go with them. These are facts that can be proved beyond all question. Desertion from the army, trading with the enemy, and the removal of deserters and their families into the lines and supposed lines of the enemy is now the order of the day, and the citizen who opposes these things stands almost alone and in great personal danger.

Many of the men not liable to military service and nearly all the women are openly at work to weaken our army, procure desertion, and assail the Confederacy, unless this things is speedily arrested. the army and people of Mississippi will soon be so demoralized that no remedy can be found; no temporizing policy will answer. The most radical and severe treatment is required. The women and non-combatants must be handled speedily and roughly. Deserters must be put to death or in service most remote from their homes. I know many deserters now in desertion for the fourth, fifth, and sixth times who have never been punished. I am glad to see that the writ of habeas corpus is suspended in certain cases, and hope the offenders will be promptly arrested.

Our only salvation is in the most rigid and energetic efforts. Let those who trade with the enemy, those who desert the army, those who give aid and comfort to deserters, those who assail the Confederacy, early feel the hospitalities of the prisoners and short rations. The State in now under the tacit rule of deserters, thieves, and disloyal men and women. The lower and middle tier of counties are vastly rotten. Confederate muskets, rifles, and cartridges are in every disloyal house, and defiance bid to the powers that be.

Many of our soldiers who remain in or along with the service are as destructive to property as the Yankee; they steal, destroy, and appropriate without restraint; everything useful or valuable to the citizen that can be reached by them is grasped. Open-day and mid-night robbery is practiced every day and night in every neighborhood by deserters, pretended soldiers, and soldiers with their commands. Officers in command are much to blame for this, and they alone can correct it, yet they often in effect encourage it. Privates steal, and soldiers refuse to give up the property when identified by the citizens, and even punish the citizens for making claim to it. The discipline is awfully bad. These things tend to desired and disaffect our best citizens, and are swelling the tide against us.

I have admired your and the broad liberty allowed to all, but it has ceased to be appreciated or improved. It is now simply casting pearls before swine, and is used to sap the Government and outrage the families of the good and true. I now hope to see an iron rule enforced with iron hand and hearts of stone. Mississippi is almost a Sodom and Gomorrah; the purifying element is with you, and the day of our salvation, if neglected for a day, is forever gone. I am no alarmist, but tremble in view of a just comprehension and full knowledge of the extent, depth, and magnitude of these evils.

The cavalry sent among us to arrest conscripts and deserters have been a nuisance to the cause and country in a large degree. They spend a large part of their time in gaming parties, drunkenness, marrying, horse-racing, and stealing.

Captain Jonathan Davis, of Twentieth Mississippi regiment, Walthall's brigade, now with his company, was the only recruiting officer in my knowledge who did his duty, and when here, did rid the country of conscripts and deserters when all others had signally failed because they were failures anyway.

I trust, amid our gloom, that a better day will soon dawn upon us. Accept my highest confidence in your integrity, firmness, and ability, and best wishes for you and our cause.

Truly, &c.,
R. S. HUDSON,
Judge Fifth District of Mississippi.

[Indorsement.]
Respectfully referred by direction of the President to Lieutenant General L. Polk for perusal, &c.

O.R. Series I, Vol. XXXII, Pt. III, pp. 625-627
 

Cavalry Charger

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You're welcome, but I wasn't done yet ... I will find some quotes to add.
"And he began looking into what might be going on at Fort Henry. Grant had issued orders against pillaging and pilferng in the aftermath of the capture of Donelson, but as he moved south toward Nashville he was unable to supervise afairs in his rear. Although displeased by reports that captured goods had disappeared from Fort Henry, he realized there was truth to them; new orders that Grant issued after rejoining his army made clear that such behavior would not be tolerated. Nevertheless, he thought such accusations exaggerated, and pointed to 'jealous and disappointed persons' as the source of much of his troubles.

Grant soon found himself tangled in other difficulties. In the wake of Donelson's surrender he had authorized McClernanad to make use of slave labor to fortify his new position. One expedition went far beyond Grant's intentions, seizing old men, women, and children while wantonly destroying property. Such acts violated Halleck's orders, and the captives were soon returned. Grant lectured McClernand: 'It leads to constant mistakes and embarassment to have our men running through the country interrpeting confiscation acts and only strengthens the enthusiasm against us whilst it has a demoralizing influence upon our own troops.'"

Ulysses S. Grant, Triumph over Adversity, Brooks D. Simpson, p.125.
 
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