The link between Colonel Kit Carson`s "Scorched Earth Policy" and General William T. Sherman`s "Total War Strategy."

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Has anyone compared and contrasted Col. Kit Carson`s "Scorched Earth Policy" with General William T. Sherman`s "Total War Strategy" during the American Civil War? As the ACW was being waged and fought in the east from 1861 - 1865 the United States was still fighting the Plains Indian Wars on the western plains and American frontier against the Comanche, Apache, Navajo, Sioux, Kiowa, Pawnee, Arapaho, Cheyenne and other hostiles on the plains as U.S. cavalry and infantry were manning our frontier forts and outposts while protecting settlers who were heading west along the Oregon, Mormon and Santa-Fe trails, this as the American Civil War was raging on back east.

In 1863 Brig. General James Henry Carleton (California) and Colonel Christopher Houston "Kit" Carson were dealing with the Navaho nation who would not submit, so Carleton and Carson devised their "Scorched Earth Policy" in pacifying them. Basically they went on search and destroy patrols and relentlessly attacked the Navaho where ever they could find them in Arizona and New Mexico and burned their fields, killed their food sources, killed their horses, burned their villages and killed their warriors, being as terrifying to them as they could be.

This delivered them the result for which they were searching and the Navajo soon gave into the demands of Carleton and Carson. The following year in 1864, General William T. Sherman introduced his "Total War Strategy", first during the "Meridian Expedition" in February of 1864 across central Mississippi and then he perfected the strategy during his famous "March from Atlanta to the Sea" a few months later in November and December of 1864. In some of Sherman`s writings he stated that Kit Carson`s "Scorched Earth Policy" against the Navajo Nation influenced his own "Total War Strategy" against the Confederate States Army during the ACW.

Then in 1866 Sherman and Sheridan implemented his then perfected "Total War Strategy" during the Plains Indian Wars which delivered the desired effect and eventually brought the Indian Wars to a conclusion in 1890. In essence the Federal Government was fighting two Wars at the same time, the American Civil War (1861 - 1865) and continuing the Plains Indian Wars (1834 - 1890). How many of you have expanded your research to the Plains Indian Wars during the same time frame of the ACW? Numerous lessons learned from each theatre was shared and implemented with the other.

This is a companion to the thread below:

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/jefferson-davis-and-his-role-in-forming-the-first-and-second-united-states-cavalry-regiments-better-known-as-the-jeff-davis-regiments.155888/
 
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Below is what is written about the Navajo Campaign with Carleton and Carson regarding their "Scorched Earth Policy" on Wikipedia:

Campaign against the Navajo:

Carleton had chosen a bleak site on the Pecos River for his reservation, which was called Bosque Redondo (Round Grove). He chose this site for the Apaches and Navajos because it was far from white settlements. He also wanted these Apaches and Navajo to act as a buffer for any aggressive acts committed upon the white settlements from Kiowas and Comanches to the east of Bosque Redondo. He thought as well that the remoteness and desolation of the reservation would discourage white settlement.

The Mescalero Apaches walked 130 miles (210 km) to the reservation. By March 1863, four hundred Apaches had settled around nearby Fort Sumner. Others had fled west to join fugitive bands of Apaches. By middle summer, many of these people were planting crops and doing other farm work.

On July 7, Carson, with little heart for the Navajo roundup, started the campaign against the tribe. His orders were almost the same as those for the Apache roundup: he was to shoot all males on sight and take the women and children captives. No peace treaties were to be made until all the Navajo were on the reservation.

Carson searched far and wide for the Navajo. He found their homes, fields, animals, and orchards, but the Navajo were experts at disappearing quickly and hiding in their vast lands. The roundup proved frustrating for Carson. He was in his 50s, tired, and ill. By autumn 1863, Carson started to burn the Navajo homes and fields and remove their animals from the area. The Navajo would starve if this destruction continued. One hundred eighty-eight Navajo surrendered and were sent to Bosque Redondo. Life at the Bosque had turned grim; murders took place. The Apaches and Navajos fought. The water in the Pecos contained minerals that gave people cramps and stomach aches. Residents had to walk 12 miles (19 km) to find firewood.

Carson wanted to take a winter break from the campaign. Major General Carleton refused, ordering him to invade the Canyon de Chelly, where many Navajos had taken refuge. Historian David Roberts writes, "Carson's sweep through the Canyon de Chelly in the winter of 1863–1864 would prove to be the decisive action in the Campaign."

The Canyon de Chelly was a sacred place for the Navajo. They believed that it would now be their strongest sanctuary. Three hundred Navajo took refuge on the canyon rim at a place called Fortress Rock. They resisted Carson`s invasions by building rope ladders and bridges, lowering water pots into a stream, and keeping quiet and out of sight. These three hundred Navajo survived the invasion. In January 1864, Carson swept through the 35-mile (56 km) Canyon with his forces. The thousands of peach trees in the canyon were cut down. Few Navajo were killed or captured. Carson's invasion, however, proved to the Navajo that the United States could invade their country at any time. Many Navajo surrendered at Fort Canby.

By March 1864, there were 3,000 refugees at Fort Canby. An additional 5,000 arrived in the camp. They were suffering from the intense cold and hunger. Carson asked for supplies to feed and clothe them. The thousands of Navajo were led to Bosque Redondo. Many died along the way. Stragglers in the rear were shot and killed. In Navajo history, this horrific trek is known as Long Walk of the Navajo. By 1866, reports indicated that Bosque Redondo was a complete failure, and Major General Carleton was fired. Congress started investigations. In 1868, a treaty was signed, and the Navajo were allowed to return to their homeland. Bosque Redondo was closed.
 
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Both Carson`s and Sherman`s Policies were to achieve the same objective; that being to frighten the people into abandoning their cause, in the case of the Navajo submitting, giving up their ancestral lands and allowing themselves to be placed on Reservations and in the case of the Confederates giving up the Southern cause and accepting defeat. Sherman later wrote regarding his policy: "we were not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people.” Colonel "Kit" Carson and General James Carleton felt the same towards the Navajo and Apache.
 
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leftyhunter

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Both Carson`s and Sherman`s Policies were to achieve the same objective; that being to frighten the people into abandoning their cause, in the case of the Navajo submitting, giving up their ancestral lands and allowing themselves to be placed on Reservations and in the case of the Confederates giving up the Southern cause and accepting defeat. Sherman later wrote regarding his policy: "we were not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people.” Colonel "Kit" Carson and General James Carleton felt the same towards the Navajo and Apache.
In no way was Sherman has harsh towards the Southern as the US Army was towards the Navajos and Apaches. White Southern men were not rounded up and shot. Only some homes were burned. Southerners did not loose their lands or were rounded up in reservations. Do no not much similarly between Carson and Sherman.
Leftyhunter
 
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In no way was Sherman has harsh towards the Southern as the US Army was towards the Navajos and Apaches. White Southern men were not rounded up and shot. Only some homes were burned. Southerners did not loose their lands or were rounded up in reservations. Do no not much similarly between Carson and Sherman.
Leftyhunter
I think there will always be a difference of opinion regarding the South and the North`s perception of Sherman. To many in the south, Sherman was a monster and to the vast majority in the north he was a hero. I just think it is interesting that Sherman did state later in his writings that he was influenced by Carson`s policies against the Navajo. And adapted many of his methods, if not during the ACW then most certainly afterwards when he and Sheridan returned to the Plains Indian Wars. My personal opinion was that he had a heavy hand regarding both.
 
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Bruce Vail

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In no way was Sherman has harsh towards the Southern as the US Army was towards the Navajos and Apaches. White Southern men were not rounded up and shot. Only some homes were burned. Southerners did not loose their lands or were rounded up in reservations. Do no not much similarly between Carson and Sherman.
Leftyhunter
In no way was Sherman has harsh towards the Southern as the US Army was towards the Navajos and Apaches. White Southern men were not rounded up and shot. Only some homes were burned. Southerners did not loose their lands or were rounded up in reservations. Do no not much similarly between Carson and Sherman.
Leftyhunter
Yes, the "hard" war against the Confederates was not so hard on white civilians as it might have been. But the similarity between Sherman's tactics against the Confederates and the Native Americans is obvious. He was just far more harsh on the Indians than he ever was on white Confederates.
 
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Yes, the "hard" war against the Confederates was not so hard on white civilians as it might have been. But the similarity between Sherman's tactics against the Confederates and the Native Americans is obvious. He was just far more harsh on the Indians than he ever was on white Confederates.
In my opinion after 1854, during the Plains Indian Wars on the western frontier, through the American Civil War and then soon after the Civil War is when the U.S. cavalry had reached its zenith, regarding tactics and strategies. What was used during the Plains Indian Wars influenced how the Civil War was fought, if only regarding the cavalry, and then the experience gained from fighting the Civil War later influenced the Plains Indian Wars and the way it was fought until that war was finally brought to a close in 1890. What fascinates me most is the lingering question of if we had not fought the Indian Wars on the American frontier, would the U.S. dragoons, mounted rifles and cavalry ever have adapted to these different tactics and strategies on their own if left alone or would they have remained as the status-quo, being more European cavalry which was basically responsible for the dragoons and how they traditionally operated from the Revolutionary War to the Mexican War? I think that the lessons learned from fighting the Indian Wars significantly changed the way that we began to use cavalry through the Civil War and beyond.
 
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gary

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Before the Civil War, the United States army had several types of horse mounted units including dragoons, mounted riflemen and genuine cavalry. The 1st U. S. Cavalry was later renumbered the 4th U. S. Cavalry as it was the fourth in seniority with respects to the other mounted units. Even then it took some time before the scattered twelve troops of the 4th U. S. C. were consolidated and fought as a unit.

While the 4th served as part of Minty's Saber Brigade, most U. S. Cav. fought as dragoons (dismount to fight). Post Civil War this continued and the John Ford's sabre charges were a thing of the past (not that memory serves me with respects to John Ford cavalry fiims)
 
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Before the Civil War, the United States army had several types of horse mounted units including dragoons, mounted riflemen and genuine cavalry. The 1st U. S. Cavalry was later renumbered the 4th U. S. Cavalry as it was the fourth in seniority with respects to the other mounted units. Even then it took some time before the scattered twelve troops of the 4th U. S. C. were consolidated and fought as a unit.

While the 4th served as part of Minty's Saber Brigade, most U. S. Cav. fought as dragoons (dismount to fight). Post Civil War this continued and the John Ford's sabre charges were a thing of the past (not that memory serves me with respects to John Ford cavalry fiims)
I wrote the OP below, regarding that very thing Gary. This is an area that really interests me a great deal.

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/je...ter-known-as-the-jeff-davis-regiments.155888/
 
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"Hard war" has been going on since the Israelites conquered Palestine and no doubt long before that.
War for as long as anyone can remember has been horrifying... which is the original point. To the victor goes the spoils has long been the mantra of war. When you lost a war from the ancient times to well beyond the dark ages, the loser lost everything and became someone else`s possession being enslaved and forced to perform hard labor, the loser began speaking someone else`s language and hoisting someone else`s flag. Civilians have been targeted in war for as long as war has existed, a great example of this would be Genghis Khan and his Mongolian hordes using civilians as fodder. However in Europe war at some point in time became "civilized" and there were certain courtesies which had to be observed by all parties involved. So one could make the argument that what happened during the Civil War and during the Plains Indian Wars was just war reverting back to its original form. Now with the creation of the Geneva convention war has once again tried to become more civilized and acceptable to governing bodies such as the United Nations and N.A.T.O. As Sherman said 1,000 times: "War is h***" but then again that has always been the general idea right?
 
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thomas aagaard

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Has anyone compared and contrasted Col. Kit Carson`s "Scorched Earth Policy" with General William T. Sherman`s "Total War Strategy" during the American Civil War?/
As others have pointed out, There was no total war strategy during the civil war. So no.

The wars against the plain Indians was much closer to total war, then the war against the rebels.
 
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As others have pointed out, There was no total war strategy during the civil war. So no.

The wars against the plain Indians was much closer to total war, then the war against the rebels.
Actually, Sheridan's work in the Shenandoah Valley was much closer to total war than Sherman's March. "The Burning" was as close to total war as they came in that war.
 
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Actually, Sheridan's work in the Shenandoah Valley was much closer to total war than Sherman's March. "The Burning" was as close to total war as they cam in that war.
I agree, Sheridan's work in the Shenandoah Valley was a case of "total war" and it achieved its objective. Of course the term "total war" had a slightly different connotation back in the 19th Century than it does today. By todays standard the Atom Bombs dropping on Hiroshima and Nagasaki would be "total war". Sherman realized that the Confederate civilian population provided most of the supplies that Confederate forces needed to wage war against the Union. To speed the defeat of the Confederacy, Union forces needed to prevent Southern civilians from supplying their armies. The Northern military needed to wage war against both the Confederate military and Confederate civilians in that regard. Sherman`s strategy achieved the desired effect. While some Confederates remained committed to the struggle, other Confederates began to doubt the Confederacy's chance for victory over the Union. Numerous Confederates whom were fighting on the front lines began to get letters from home describing their plight and numerous men deserted the Confederate Army to go home and take care of their families because they thought they could better serve their families in that capacity than fighting the war. So Sherman's use of "total war" or "hard war", depending on how you prefer to classify it, helped the Union win the American Civil War.

In the mid-19th century, scholars identified "total war" as a separate class of warfare. In a total war, to an extent inapplicable in less total conflicts, the differentiation between combatants and non-combatants diminishes, sometimes even vanishing entirely, due to the capacity of opposing sides to consider nearly every human resource, even that of non-combatants, to be a part of the war effort. Total war is warfare that includes any and all civilian-associated resources and infrastructure as legitimate military targets, mobilizes all of the resources of society to fight the war, and gives priority to warfare over non-combatant needs. The Oxford Living Dictionaries defines "total war" as "a war that is unrestricted in terms of the weapons used, the territory or combatants involved, or the objectives pursued, especially one in which the laws of war are disregarded."

By this definition actions that may characterize a 19th century concept of "total war" include: Strategic bombing or cannonading, Blockade and sieging of population centers such as Lincolns Blockade of southern ports and the sieges of Vicksburg, Atlanta and Savannah, scorched earth policy as with the "March to the Sea", raiding and foraging of civilian homes and any destruction of said homes... It all comes down to how you classify "total war" to be.
 
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Carronade

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As others have pointed out, There was no total war strategy during the civil war. So no.

The wars against the plain Indians was much closer to total war, then the war against the rebels.
Agreed. A lot of people would have been happy to see the Indians totally exterminated. I don't think northerners felt quite that strongly about southerners.
 
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leftyhunter

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I think there will always be a difference of opinion regarding the South and the North`s perception of Sherman. To many in the south, Sherman was a monster and to the vast majority in the north he was a hero. I just think it is interesting that Sherman did state later in his writings that he was influenced by Carson`s policies against the Navajo. And adapted many of his methods, if not during the ACW then most certainly afterwards when he and Sheridan returned to the Plains Indian Wars. My personal opinion was that he had a heavy hand regarding both.
Not sure if Sherman had a heavy hand. Foraging is perfectly acceptable in war time. Sherman's men did not capture free blacks and return them to slavery as did the AnV in Pennsylvania during the Gettysburg Campaign. We have had many Sherman bashing thread's and the notion that Sherman burned every home he could find was debunked.
A true example of old school harsh war would be when the Roman's salted the field during the Punic Wars. Yes raped occurred among Sherman's men but some culprits were executed. Rapes always occur in military operations or in ordinary civilian life as well.
Leftyhunter
 
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Not sure if Sherman had a heavy hand. Foraging is perfectly acceptable in war time. Sherman's men did not capture free blacks and return them to slavery as did the AnV in Pennsylvania during the Gettysburg Campaign. We have had many Sherman bashing thread's and the notion that Sherman burned every home he could find was debunked.
A true example of old school harsh war would be when the Roman's salted the field during the Punic Wars. Yes raped occurred among Sherman's men but some culprits were executed. Rapes always occur in military operations or in ordinary civilian life as well.
Leftyhunter
Thanks Lefty... War has always been harsh, which has been the point of it... One empire`s expansion coming at the fall or even extinction of another`s empire which was lost in war. You used the Punic Wars as your example, when the Punic wars were fought by the Romans, they saw a great threat to their own empire by Carthage and had no choice but to confront it, but at that time it was just considered war, as "total war" was not even a concept during that time in our history, as it was a given to destroy your enemy, to include civilians, by any means possible. Wars of old were simply meant to utterly destroy the enemy, quite different than what they have become today, seemingly always ending with police actions and nation building, often times resulting in greater nations being built for the losers than what they had before the wars were fought, which never would have entered the minds of ancient warriors. So by using the standard of more ancient wars the American Civil War was no where near being as extreme in terror and complete destruction of population centers where civilians were living. Regarding the Plains Indian Wars, that was war reverting to its old form... Losing had consequences and part of that was complete submission to the victor with all lands and treasure being taken by the victor as the spoils of war, which has long been the standard of war, going back for as long as wars have existed and were fought from the very beginning of mans history.
 
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