Was Sherman a war criminal?

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Just out of curiosity. Henry Wirz was executed for his supposed war crimes. Captain Champ Ferguson's crimes war far less severe. I guess to the victors go the spoils... the cover ups...
Neither was charged with war crimes. The term wasn't known then.
 

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What do Wirz and Fergusson have to do with Sherman's guilt or innocence?

I would be happy to read anything you have on the issue of Wirz's innocence (I haven't studied his trial much and thus would love to see any reading suggestions), but I fail to see how it is relevant.
Just another distractor.
 
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godofredus

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Wirz was a foreigner and had no friends as all, north or south. Guilty or not guilty, he became the perfect scapegoat.
All the other confeds got a pass / get out of jail free card. The worse case was Salisbury Prison in NC,

There were nine commandants during the Prison’s existence. Perhaps the most noted was Major John Henry Gee of Florida. In 1866 Major Gee was tried for war crimes in Raleigh, North Carolina and found innocent. Gee was the only commandant brought to trial other than Wirz of Andersonville who was found guilty and hanged. The entire transcript of Gee’s trial can be read in Annette G. Ford’s book, The Captive. http://www.salisburyprison.org/PrisonHistory.htm and http://jicj.oxfordjournals.org/content/8/4/1059.abstract. General George Pickett was another one who got off, probably with help from his old West Point classmate, Grant.

Of course these cases have nothing to do with Sherman, except it shows the USA was quite ready to forgive the Confed traitors, only to see the hand held out in friendship bitten quite frequently.
 

diane

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I have to say maybe Wirz can be defended but it's really hard to work up a defense for Champ! But, lumping Sherman in with prison camp commandants and irregulars/guerrillas (albeit a legit captain - which was what got him hung) is really stretching for a long reach while standing on the edge of a rickety three-legged stool... Sherman was a real, live, bona fide Union general in command of a real, live, bona fide Union army called the Army of the Tennessee, and his government was really sure he was really one of its generals!
 
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Nathanb1

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I have to say maybe Wirz can be defended but it's really hard to work up a defense for Champ! But, lumping Sherman in with prison camp commandants and irregulars/guerrillas (albeit a legit captain - which was what got him hung) is really stretching for a long reach while standing on the edge of a rickety three-legged stool... Sherman was a real, live, bona fide Union general in command of a real, live, bona fide Union army called the Army of the Tennessee, and his government was really sure he was really one of its generals!
Oh. Like Pickett.
 

matthew mckeon

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What did Sherman actually do? Burn down some houses and rip up some railroads. I mean, no death squads or anything. How is he any different than what Raphael Semmes did at sea? Heck, he's a million times better than any side in WWII. If he shortened the war, avoiding a few more glorious bayonet charges, which meant thousands of young men being spared, he should get some sort of humanitarian prize.

I'm not betting he would get one of these prizes, but he has a better claim than some.
 
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AndyHall

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"How is he any different than what Raphael Semmes did at sea?"

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Not an unfair comparison, IMO. Semmes (and other Confederate raiders) waged war almost exclusively against unarmed, civilian targets. He destroyed millions in private property, attacking targets that could not defend themselves. He left many hundreds, perhaps thousands, financially ruined, destitute and without employment. While there was plenty of rancor and accusations about Semmes being a "pirate," at the end of the day his actions were recognized as guerre de course, a usual and accepted part of warfare.
 
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Nathanb1

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Sherman sure made a lot of people pretty mad at him, but we shouldn't view him as a war criminal. I have not heard of his men assassinating Confederate soldiers after they had surrendered as at Fort Pillow. Forrest was not brought up on charges, so why would Sherman be?
Forrest wanted to have a hearing, in fact. There was that little Senate hearing thing, too.

No charges.
 
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diane

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I wonder what you would charge Sherman with, to make him a war criminal. Granted, there weren't too many laws about civilized warfare, but what few there were he didn't violate. Foraging, destroying items useful to the enemy, burning up things useful to them - everything was within the recognized boundaries. Johnston did a scorched earth type of retreat through Mississippi, kind of took a cue from the Russians making it tough on Napoleon - nobody's said he did anything criminal. Even expelling the civilians from Atlanta was within recognized boundaries.
 

Nathanb1

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Strange coincidence here....and I don't believe in coincidences too much. Yesterday's Facebook post from Mark Lemon of Acworth, GA included the following:

A most remarkable historical incident, never before published, involving the war criminal Sherman, and my great great grandmother right here in Acworth
Mr. Lemon is a well-known artist who has done some remarkable research and art on the Alamo.
 

Barrycdog

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General Sherman also wrote to U.S. Brigadier General Louis Douglass Watkins at Calhoun, Georgia, on Oct. 29, 1864: "Can you not send over to Fairmount and Adairsville, burn 10or 12 houses of known secessionists, kill a few at random and let them know it will be repeated every time a train is fired upon from Resaca to Kingston."
 
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Barrycdog

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Strange coincidence here....and I don't believe in coincidences too much. Yesterday's Facebook post from Mark Lemon of Acworth, GA included the following:



Mr. Lemon is a well-known artist who has done some remarkable research and art on the Alamo.
What coincidence is that?
 

Elennsar

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General Sherman also wrote to U.S. Brigadier General Louis Douglass Watkins at Calhoun, Georgia, on Oct. 29, 1864: "Can you not send over to Fairmount and Adairsville, burn 10or 12 houses of known secessionists, kill a few at random and let them know it will be repeated every time a train is fired upon from Resaca to Kingston."
Source?

Is it in the Official Records? If so, where?
 
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Barrycdog

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Source?

Is it in the Official Records? If so, where?
O.R.--SERIES I--VOLUME XXXIX/2 [S# 79] UNION CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN KENTUCKY, SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA, TENNESSEE, MISSISSIPPI, ALABAMA, AND NORTH GEORGIA (THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN EXCEPTED), FROM OCTOBER 1, 1864, TO NOVEMBER 13, 1864.--#20 O.R.--SERIES I--VOLUME XXXIX/2 [S# 79] UNION CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN KENTUCKY, SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA, TENNESSEE, MISSISSIPPI, ALABAMA, AND NORTH GEORGIA (THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN EXCEPTED), FROM OCTOBER 1, 1864, TO NOVEMBER 13, 1864.--#15 O.R.--SERIES I--VOLUME XLIV [S# 92] NOVEMBER 15-DECEMBER 21, 1864.
 
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Elennsar

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