Was Sherman a war criminal?

matthew mckeon

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It was because Sherman was frustrated on the battlefield by brilliant tacticians like Forrest that he turned his attention to waging war on noncombatants. This was a desperate move & quite unforgivable. In Savannah,Georgia he bragged that 80% of the devastation he had caused was " simple waste and destruction." And Sherman had the gall to call Forrest the "Devil", yet Sherman was the General without any Conscience because of his violent loathing of the South!
Well Hood shouldn't have hared off to Tennessee if he was so keen on fighting Sherman. Based on his pointless assaults against Thomas, Hood did a lot more damage to southerners than Sherman ever did.
 

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johan_steele

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Regardless of whether the CS was another country, the premise of the war was preserving the Union, and the Union was one geographically cohesive physical piece of land that included the 'country' of the CS. As a result, the Union had to treat the post-war South differently than Britain would have to treat a colony that wasn't physically part of the island of England.

I'm not sure I'm doing a good job of communicating my thoughts on this subject.
I think I get what you are trying for but I still don't agree. The Brits were less than polite in Ireland, Scotland or anywhere there was a Rebellion. The French as well in western France a soft revolt was put down rather brutally in Napoleans time.

What I'm trying to say is that the south got off very lightly when compared to any other Rebellion +/- 50 years I can think of in the world.

The march to the Sea & through the Carolinas has become legend/myth/propoganda by the Lost Cause. Shermans men liked Sherman because he tended not to waste them in bloody frontal assaults. His opponents did not hate him nearly so much as those fueled by the Lost Cause in later years. He was on good terms with two of the leading generals of the CS up until his death. Was he a great tactician? No but he didn't need to be as he was commanding Armies instead of Regiments and Divisions and he knew what it would take to break the Confederacy. He took the war to the enemy and ripped apart his back yard proving to the world the CS was done.

There are those who insist Sherman and his men raped, murdered, pillaged and looted their way across the south. That just isn't true and anyone who has studied it objectively knows it a bit of nasty fiction. Sherman targeted industry, infrastructure and the economy and he did it with the loss of relatively few lives.
 
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Well, the Confederate army did seize several hundred men, women and children during the Gettysburg campaign, and they did send them South to become slaves. Was Gen. Lee a 'war criminal'? Is that how he is ever described by anyone?
This is way off topic, but since its been said, I think we're entitled to evidence that this happened. It's got nothing to do with Sherman, of course, but if we're going to use it, let's please validate it.
 

Lost Cause

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Cassville was prone to name changes before and during the war. Rumor has it some renamed it Mannassas after the confederates had good luck there. If so that may be one reason the town got harsh treatment
Thank you for the information. I had not heard that before. As I recall, there is a large Confederate cemetery there.
 

diane

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Sherman actually loved the South, cried real genuine tears when he heard SC seceded. Part of his hardness was for that reason - he was making war on people he cared about and was angry they made him do it. He wasn't waging war on civilians because they were easier targets than soldiers, it was because they were the support system for their army and its other elements, as well as partisan/guerrilla entities. Sherman knew the CSA government was Baghdad Bob - they kept telling the people to hang in there, keep up the fight, all was won if they only pushed through, no Yankees around here. The main reason he was destroying Tennessee and Mississippi was because of the networks of support the rebels had there. The idea was to bring the truth home to the people of the Confederacy - that the war was lost and there was nothing they could do about it.
 

cash

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It was because Sherman was frustrated on the battlefield by brilliant tacticians like Forrest that he turned his attention to waging war on noncombatants. This was a desperate move & quite unforgivable. In Savannah,Georgia he bragged that 80% of the devastation he had caused was " simple waste and destruction." And Sherman had the gall to call Forrest the "Devil", yet Sherman was the General without any Conscience because of his violent loathing of the South!
Bwahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!! That's a good one. Thanks for the joke.
 

Lost Cause

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Well Hood shouldn't have hared off to Tennessee if he was so keen on fighting Sherman. Based on his pointless assaults against Thomas, Hood did a lot more damage to southerners than Sherman ever did.
Agreeable, however, that is primarily on hindsight. Based on the below correspondence between Grant and Sherman Nov 1-2, 1864, Hood attempted a cat and mouse game, that initially drew concern from Grant.
Sherman initially discussed the difficulty in pursuing Hood. I tend to believe Sherman apparently over dramatized the situation with Hood in order to sell his plan to march to the sea with Grant. Regardless, the planned destruction of Hood's army initially rested on the shoulders of Thomas, via Sherman, rather than Hood himself.

From Sherman's memoirs:

CITY POINT, November 1, 1864—6 P.M.
Major-General SHERMAN:
Do you not think it advisable, now that Hood has gone so far north, to entirely ruin him before starting on your proposed campaign? With Hood's army destroyed, you can go where you please with impunity. I believed and still believe, if you had started south while Hood was in the neighborhood of you, he would have been forced to go after you. Now that he is far away he might look upon the chase as useless, and he will go in one direction while you are pushing in the other. If you can see a chance of destroying Hood's army, attend to that first, and make your other move secondary.
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.

My answer is dated:

ROME, GEORGIA, November 2, 1864.
Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, City Point, Virginia:
Your dispatch is received. If I could hope to overhaul Hood, I would turn against him with my whole force; then he would retreat to the south west, drawing me as a decoy away from Georgia, which is his chief object. If he ventures north of the Tennessee River, I may turn in that direction, and endeavor to get below him on his line of retreat; but thus far he has not gone above the Tennessee River. General Thomas will have a force strong enough to prevent his reaching any country in which we have an interest; and he has orders, if Hood turns to follow me, to push for Selma, Alabama. No single army can catch Hood, and I am convinced the best results will follow from our defeating Jeff. Davis's cherished plea of making me leave Georgia by manoeuvring. Thus far I have confined my efforts to thwart this plan, and have reduced baggage so that I can pick up and start in any direction; but I regard the pursuit of Hood as useless. Still, if he attempts to invade Middle Tennessee, I will hold Decatur, and be prepared to move in that direction; but, unless I let go of Atlanta, my force will not be equal to his.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
 
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I think I get what you are trying for but I still don't agree. The Brits were less than polite in Ireland, Scotland or anywhere there was a Rebellion. The French as well in western France a soft revolt was put down rather brutally in Napoleans time.

What I'm trying to say is that the south got off very lightly when compared to any other Rebellion +/- 50 years I can think of in the world.

The march to the Sea & through the Carolinas has become legend/myth/propoganda by the Lost Cause. Shermans men liked Sherman because he tended not to waste them in bloody frontal assaults. His opponents did not hate him nearly so much as those fueled by the Lost Cause in later years. He was on good terms with two of the leading generals of the CS up until his death. Was he a great tactician? No but he didn't need to be as he was commanding Armies instead of Regiments and Divisions and he knew what it would take to break the Confederacy. He took the war to the enemy and ripped apart his back yard proving to the world the CS was done.

There are those who insist Sherman and his men raped, murdered, pillaged and looted their way across the south. That just isn't true and anyone who has studied it objectively knows it a bit of nasty fiction. Sherman targeted industry, infrastructure and the economy and he did it with the loss of relatively few lives.
I've never commented on Sherman's march to the sea, so hopefully your "Lost Cause" comments are in response to others participating in this thread - I agreed with you that he was not a war criminal. It was a war - he tried to end it as quickly as possible and Lincoln wanted the same. My comments had to do with the geography of the ACW and how it was unlike any of the British situations involving islands or distant colonies. I would certainly rather be reconstructed by the 1865 Yankees than by Brits of any period, but the British are a poor measuring stick. I believe the North could have treated the South better after the war and would have been better off as a result - perhaps they could also have treated them a bit worse and gotten away with it.
 

johan_steele

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I've never commented on Sherman's march to the sea, so hopefully your "Lost Cause" comments are in response to others participating in this thread - I agreed with you that he was not a war criminal. It was a war - he tried to end it as quickly as possible and Lincoln wanted the same. My comments had to do with the geography of the ACW and how it was unlike any of the British situations involving islands or distant colonies. I would certainly rather be reconstructed by the 1865 Yankees than by Brits of any period, but the British are a poor measuring stick. I believe the North could have treated the South better after the war and would have been better off as a result - perhaps they could also have treated them a bit worse and gotten away with it.
I don't disagree.
 

johan_steele

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This is way off topic, but since its been said, I think we're entitled to evidence that this happened. It's got nothing to do with Sherman, of course, but if we're going to use it, let's please validate it.
Drew, you have been shown the evidence more than once but have chosen to ignore it; it's on another thread. If you want to revise that one search it up but don't act like it something new to you.
 
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Drew, you have been shown the evidence more than once but have chosen to ignore it; it's on another thread. If you want to revise that one search it up but don't act like it something new to you.
The accusation isn't new, the actual evidence will be. I've yet to see that.

Anyway, it's got nothing to do with Sherman and probably doesn't belong here. Doesn't mean anyone should sit quietly for it.
 

diane

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This is way off topic, but since its been said, I think we're entitled to evidence that this happened. It's got nothing to do with Sherman, of course, but if we're going to use it, let's please validate it.
Well, one thing's for sure - the black people ran away from Lee's army, and ran to Sherman's!
 



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