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November 12, 1864: The Destruction of Atlanta and Sherman’s March to the Sea

On November 12, 1864, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman ordered the destruction of the business district in Atlanta and the Union Army started their March to the Sea which ended just before Christmas in Savannah, Georgia. The march, also known as the Savannah Campaign, bolstered the Union Army and helped lead to the surrender of the Confederacy and the end of the Civil War five months later.

Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman

During the Civil War, Atlanta served as a hub for the Confederacy and a major transportation link for supplies and troops between the eastern seaboard and the west. After a five-month successful campaign from Tennessee through northwest Georgia, Union troops made their way to the doorstep of Atlanta in mid-July. Gen. John B. Hood decided to surrender the city and evacuate his Confederate troops on September 1, 1864. Before leaving, Hood ordered the depots destroyed to prevent them from falling into Union hands.

On September 2nd, Sherman captured the city, but with a tenuous supply line, he knew he couldn’t hold it for long. Sherman divided his army into two, sending half towards Nashville while some 60,000 remaining troops would join him on a march across Georgia.

Ruins of the depot, blown up on Sherman’s departure

Relying on a scorched-earth policy, Sherman ordered that all railroads, factories, and commercial buildings be destroyed before leaving the city. He wanted to obliterate anything that might be of use to the Confederate Army. Sherman also ordered civilians out of their homes and businesses and destroyed them if they contained anything that might aid the Confederates. Before it was over, 40% of the city (an estimated 3,000 buildings) lie in ruins. Much of the destruction was in the business district around Peachtree Street. Pvt. James H. Peterson from the 13th New Jersey Infantry recorded his observations in a pocket diary. “On Sunday November 15 we left Atlanta in going through the city we passed large buildings on fire…”

Sherman and his army, now cut off from any supply lines, headed towards the coast. They lived off the land, taking supplies from fields and farms as they beat a pathway of destruction towards Savannah. Along the way, they encountered pockets of Confederate resistance and destroyed railroad tracks and cut telegraph lines. Pvt. Peterson recorded that on November 26, “while we was skirmishing with the Rebels at Sandersville I was wounded in the leg by a ball.” Peterson ended up in a hospital outside of Savannah where on December 10th he wrote about the approaching Union Army, “The troops burnt the Charleston and Savanna Railroad we lay about 6 miles from Savannah in the Field Hospital we can hear the cannon the savanna River and the broadsides from the big guns very plain.”

Telegram to President Lincoln presenting the city of Savannah as a Christmas gift

On December 21st, after a march of 37 days and some 250 miles, Union troops entered Savannah. Just days before Christmas, Sherman sent a telegram to President Abraham Lincoln, “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the City of Savannah, with one hundred fifty guns and plenty of ammunition. Also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.”

The destruction of Atlanta and Sherman’s March to the Sea demoralized the Confederacy and contributed to the end of the Civil War in April 1865. To learn more about the destruction of Atlanta and the March to the Sea, search our Civil War records collection on Fold3 today!


  1. The much-reviled Germans did not wage this type of wanton total war and destruction against the ‘valiant’ French during the Franco-Prussian War of 1871. Whereas the Union and Conferate forces were steeped in common beliefs and patriotism up until the spring of 1861, the long antagonistic history between the German and the French peoples was a 1000+ year history of violent death and destruction. Why are Sherman’s actions uplifted and praised by modern American academia instead of being heaped with disdain for the unnecessary suffering laid upon a completely over-matched and destitute people…upon their erstwhile brothers and countrymen. Surely the near bloodless shelling of Ft Sumpter in April of 1861 did not warrant the Lincoln-Grant-Sherman ‘Total War’ of 1863-1865?

    • Are you aware that the VA will provide, free of charge, grave markers for unmarked graves of Confederate veterans? I would definitely look into that for the vandalized grave you mention. It would be marked “CSA” and inscribed with the Southern Cross of Honor. In my opinion as an American and a veteran myself, this is a very appropriate healing gesture that these stones are provided.

    • It was a shame to burn those beautiful old homes, a loss of architectural heritage for future generations

    • Your comparison of the “near bloodless” shelling of Fort Sumpter in April 1961 with the “wanton total war and destruction” of Sherman’s March to the Sea conveniently excludes the excruciatingly horrific battles in between. What about the burning of Chambersburg? The bloody battles of Antietam and Gettysburg? Ignoring those marks you a Confederate revisionist, rather than a student of history.

      Not a mention of the strategic bombing of cities in Japan, nor the firebombing of Dresden, Germany. War is hell. The Confederates brought it upon themselves, and woe be to them that do not think through waging war against a strategically and numerically superior foe. Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York lost far more soldiers collectively than the entire Confederacy. The Confederate leadership lost far more lives by not reading the writing on the wall. It has only itself to blame.

      Put your axe down, Son! You’re done grinding it.

    • right on!

    • Billy,
      The North deserved to lose that many soldiers since it was they that invaded a sovereign nation. Add to that fact, it was the North that provoked the war so that they could gain complete control of the tax base and economy. No axe is being grind here, and it is you Billy who needs to step away from revisionism and get the true facts about American History.

    • It makes me sick to read what he did, and to his fellow Americans. Only a sick evil mind could order that destruction. I suspect that the Union troops had no choice but to obey his orders. What a waste, of lives and provisions! I’m a Southerner, by birth and by choice, but i had ancestors on both sides of this war.

    • Bobby Sikes, I totally agree with your post. I can’t believe Sherman’s barbarism is celebrated. In my mind he was a thug with zero class or honor.

    • War is hell you do what has to be done to win.

    • You cannot fight a war based upon how much injury the enemy did to you in a prior battle. The purpose of combat is to win, not to fight on equal terms of injury. The destruction of Sherman was based on the idea of continuing to demoralize the confederate soldiers who were tired of the war by the time that Sherman began the march to the sea. Look at the destruction of Germany in WWII. War is a game of take-away.

    • They would be rightfully charged with war crimes today. Everything about that campaign was totally morally wrong.

  2. I live in Colorado where my grandfather moved his family from Memphis in 1935. He was born in 1882 raised on his family farm in Bullock County GA. His father had to rebuild that which his grandfather and great grandfather had built and watch Sherman burn to the ground. Grandpa had his own majestic story as a special agent with the Intelligence Unit of the IRS (hence, the move to Colorado), but having been to the farm, where Grandpa and his 9 brother’s and sisters were raised and all their aunts and uncles before them, doesn’t ease my feelings to Sherman in the least. By the way, my grandfather was William Emmanuel McElveen. He married Myrtle Theodosia Stacy. His father was Daniel R. McElveen and his mother was Maggie Warnock.

    • I also live in Colorado…my family has been here since the late 1800’s. My Sikes Family was from Middle Tennessee, they emigrated there from NC about 1800. My 3rd GrtGrandpa died of injuries in the Battle of Perryville and is buried at the Confederate Cemetery in Knoxville (his gravesite has been wantonly vandalized in the past couple of years and no longer has a marker); my 2nd GrtGrandpa was captured on Jan 1, 1863 near his home in Maury County and shipped north to the infamous Camp Douglas at the age of 14…he was out hunting and was not a soldier.
      Numerous great uncles and cousins shared their fate. My family NEVER owned slaves; their neighborhoods weren’t conducive to large-scale labor and they were poor dirt farmers.
      Our proud Southern families have had a 150 years of approbation heaped on them by their conquerors…it is far past time to recognize the truths of Lincoln’s War. Perhaps our northern brothers should review the violent genocide inflicted on New England’s Native Americans in the 17th and 18th centuries….WAR CRIMES!

    • Judy, in reading history and seeing movies about the civil war, people see somethng different than the problems that Sherman set into motion these many years ago. The buildings he destroyed were a statement that he wanted to make on the south. The killing of women and anyone who protested that what he was doing was wrong. Not counting the raping of women and young girls. Black and white. He and his men would take all the food and food supplies from the ones that were barely living on what little they had. Sherman was and is still a evil man in my opinion today. In trying to do research on my family history, it has been hard during that time to find records dating back because of Sherman’s march with all of the burning. Most of my people lived in his northwest march down to atlanta. So when I try and fine something, I’m reminded of who he was very clearly. Of course some of the courthouse burned because of being a wood building and wood stoves and early electric wiring also. Until the end of time or death of a person someone is going to blame the south or the north for all or like of something that happened during the Civil War.

  3. Sherman’s destruction didn’t stop at Savannah, he then turned north thru the Carolinas. He particularly blamed S.C. for the war and made an example out of Columbia, the capitol of S.C. My great great grandfather, Hezikiah Brock was captured in Chesterfield county, SC by Sherman’s men. He was then sent to a pow camp in Pt Lookout Maryland, where he died 3 months after the wars end. But after the war ended , the only way home was to walk, from Maryland to S.C. He was probably sick and unable to leave and died there in the camp.

    • I have often wondered where my relatives that served in the Confederacy and also died in Pt. Lookout were when they were captured by the Union Armies.
      In the same vein, I have relatives on the other side of my family from Ohio who served with the Union Army and were captured while in GA and spent way to long in Andersonville not that far from Sherman’s March.
      It makes for a long search of “rightness.” From my very long ago Mayflower ancestors to my Quaker ancestors that hid in the rushes of Long Island and Massachusetts to keep their families alive against the Puritans.
      Life is always a struggle of collective memory, of where you find yourself fitting. It is hard to determine how long you are going to be angry at those who have gone before, or those who are still living. It could be a father, a sibling, an ex-spouse, or someone who reminds you of any one of those. Is it worth staying angry forever, inflicting your pain on others who then have to determine and decide how they will respond, sometimes for years on end? I prefer to think not, but being on the latter “determining” side I sometimes find myself inappropriately responding in situations that don’t warrant the response. I am learning to separate my own anger from that which was unfairly inflicted upon me. It is a constant battle.

      Peace to you Robert.

    • Prisoners released from Point Lookout were given the choice of transport by ship or, could walk out if they were local.

    • D. Whitlock, that’s interesting, I”ve never heard that. But I do know my gg grandfather died at Pt Lookout, 2 -3 months after the war ended and is buried there.
      I”m curious if offered a return home why he would have remained.

  4. Probably time for a lot of people to get over it and move on. Both sides lost loved ones. A gg-uncle died at Nashville, his brother (my g-grandpa) was discharge with a disability in Nov. ‘62. Two other gg-uncles came home unwounded. They were all farmers, too.

  5. I tried very hard all day to ignore some of the replies, but as a Black American who proudly served my country, the United States of America, for more than 20 years, as an enlisted man and a commissioned officer, and another 12 years as a civilian, in such places as Panama, Honduras, Korea, the Persian Gulf and Taiwan, just to name a few, I can not be silent in the face of some of the BS in some of these replies. I was born and raised in the south, and retired in the south, and there is nothing to be proud of in anyone who supported the Confederacy. First of all they weren’t serving their country…they were traitors to their country because there was no country known as the south. The country they lived in and betrayed was the United States of America. Secondly, the story that they were defending their homes and their way of life as some noble cause is a lie. The Confederacy was created, and the war was started, to perpetuate the barbaric and inhuman institution of slavery. And in fighting for and/or supporting the Confederacy those southerners were contributing to the enslavement (without compensation), murder, rape, destruction of African and Black American families and the totally inhumane treatment of millions of human beings, and if you have pride in that legacy then that speaks volumes about not only your ancestors, but also you. You have no right to complain about how traitors to the United States, and supporters of the inhumane barbaric sinful enslavement of millions of human beings were treated or how the Union/American forces delivered justice. Barbarity was met with justice. But I guess that the lives of millions of Black people aren’t worth as much as the lives of thousands of whites and the loss of their property. Property that Black people and Native Americans (who the land actually belonged to) weren’t allowed to own, because neither race of people were even allowed to own their own lives. Stop telling lies about the nobility of the southern cause and the supposed “War of Northern Aggression”, and accept the truth as proven and documented in many academic studies related to the Civil War and the Confederacy. America and Americans need to move on from the inhumanity and brutality of slavery, the Confederacy and the Civil War, if we are going to become the America documented in the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution and its Amendments, and the only way to do that is through the truth…not through some lies to try to cover up the inhumanity of white southerners who supported the Confederacy and betrayed the United States of America.

    • Robert, you bring up Native Americans quite a bit. Was the Confederacy to blame for mistreatment of Native Americans to any significant degree, compared to the USA as a whole?

      You are aware that the United States Constitution that you swore an oath to defend was written at a Constitutional Convention presided over by a slave owner? That the body of the Constitution itself, while not mentioning slavery by name, clearly sanctions it?

      Are you aware that the Declaration of Independence was written by a slave owner?

      You sound pretty resentful, which is understandable in a way, but I can’t understand the logic of how you focus your anger.

    • Yes, John. All of those facts are available in any competent reading of history. We’re giving back Manhattan to the Native Americans. We good?

    • Robert, first of all I sincerely thank you for your service to our country. Having read some of your posts it is obvious that you have done quite a bit of study on the Civil War (I dislike the term but it is convenient). Thus it is surprising that you categorize those who fought for the Confederacy as “traitors”. You surely know that once the southern states seceded, as allowed by the constitution, and formed their own government, they became a sovereign nation.
      We can argue all day about the causes of the War but it boils down to two basic facts: Slavery was the main (not the only) cause of secession; Lincoln’s invasion of the south was the main cause of the War. Southern men went to war to defend their homeland. I can understand how that this may be construed as indirect support of slavery but as many on this site have stated, most did not own slaves. To condemn them all for the crime of slavery is unjust. If someone must be blamed for continuing the wicked institution of slavery and leading the states to secession, then blame the politicians, not the men who fought honorably to defend their country. And please do not refer to our Confederate ancestors as traitors.

    • Robert, I agree with your views of the south’s intent to destroy the United States. They were traitors to our Constitution. My family fought on both sides in that war, and some still do not talk to the other side. Some of my GA kin were conscripted right off a farm, and warning their TN kin to stay away from GA. Its foolish war was to preserve slavery. After moving from DC to NC 5 years ago I see segregation still exists in the form of charter schools and in efforts to prevent voting rights in the form of gerrymandering into a one party state. No democracy exists in NC. Yes, I have lived coast to coast and in between. Am now 75 years. South is stuck in the past.
      I treasure your service. Thank you.

    • Thanks for your service to your country, your argument is well thought out. So most people won’t reply to it. But it is always hard to have outsiders tell you how to live. That is why I think so many southerners have a hard time excepting it, even over a hundred years have passed. My family was a new integrated family so they sent two of their children to fight for their new country, and to the south. In case the south won. So not all people were in favor of slavery, just seeing as another conflict. It were I heard the expression started: rich man’s war poor man’s fight. Thanks again for your service, may we one day nove on from this.

  6. And just because your family didn’t own slaves doesn’t diminish their support of slavery, because the southern politicians seceded from the United States of America to be able to continue the barbaric institution of slavery, and by fighting for and/or supporting the Confederacy southern whites supported the continuation of the inhumane institution of slavery in the southern states. They are just as guilty as the slaveowners.

    • Black people were slave owners too, people forget the inhumanity was on a lot of sides.

    • Lynn, I watched Louis gates show the other night and was astonished to learn that a significant per cent (over 20%) of slave holders in LA were black masters. I realize much of the slave trade originated in Africa from tribal conflicts and conquests and the losers or captives being indentured or sold into slavery. Does not make things right, but historically correct is important when inflammatory and unjust practices like enslavement are discussed. History is something where we need the facts, so as to avoid repetition of the onerous means that produced awful ends.

    • On my mother’s side, one of my great grandfathers was on Sherman’s march through the south, and the sacking of Atlanta, and at Lincoln’s review in Wash. DC. He was a forager, so he probably got to “rape and pillage” (though I don’t think he would have done much raping). His brother was in the same company, and was killed towards the end of the war. My great-grandpa also had three cousins who enlisted, who were all killed in the war, one dying in Andersonville prison. All of these enlisted particularly to free the slaves. Their church was abolitionist. I am proud of what my family gave to stop the abomination of slavery. My other great grandpa on my mother’s side fought in Mississippi, with the 2nd Iowa cavalry. I do not know if he was an abolitionist or not. He was at the battle for Island 10, and Corinth. On my father’s side, I think I have only 1 great-great grandpa that enlisted, not until 1864, with the 1st Iowa cavalry, and he was stationed in Texas, I believe. I am very glad that my relatives fought to free yours. His wife (though they had not yet married) was from a Quaker family, who had a station on the underground railroad.
      I have no sympathy for supporters of the south, though I abhor the fruits of war, and the enmities of the Civil War are still effecting families today, as can be seen by these posts. I don’t understand why so few of the descendants of slaveholders can’t admit that their ancestors were in the wrong, and accept that they also lost the war. I cannot imagine this nation, had the south won the war. A United States and a Confederacy of Southern States could not exist side by side, and certainly not in this age.

    • The northern states had slaves but it isn’t mention in civil war

  7. Well my ancestry, aside from later immigration, is entirely Northern. My great-great grandfather Chauncey Barnett came from an area of Vermont/New Hampshire that was a real hotbed of Abolitionist sentiment. He joined the Union Army not once, but twice, voluntarily. During his first enlistment he was shot completely through the abdomen at Seven Pines… the musket ball entered his chest a couple inches below the left nipple, and exited lower down on his back, closer to the spine. He lay in a swamp for hours with this wound, before being taken to a hospital where they pulled a silk cloth soaked in turpentine completely through his body. Back in an age before antibiotics (not to mention how no large arteries or critical organs were damaged) I think it would be safe to say that 98 out of 100 men shot the same way would not survive. Yet somehow he did, and went on to enlist again in a different state.

    Another semi-ancestor of mine was my great-great-grandmother’s first husband. He joined the Union forces and died just before the war ended, far from any combat area in a camp near Cairo, Illinois. Of “chronic diarrhea.” He left 4 children unsupported.

    As I believe Sherman said, “War is all hell.”

    I don’t see that Sherman’s “March to the Sea” was any worse than the atomic bombings of Japan, which I agree with 100% as a necessary measure to avoid much greater U.S. military and Japanese civilian deaths that would have occurred in the case of an invasion of the Japanese mainland. Which invasion an uncle of mine was in training for, and would probably have been killed taking part in. As with Sherman, a state of war existed; the goal was to end the war quickly.

    One would be hard pressed to look back through history and find any rebellion anywhere where the defeated rebels were treated as kindly as in the American Civil War. The only thing I’m aware of that comes close was the Japanese Boshin War, which took place right after our Civil War. The generous treatment of the leaders of the short-lived “Ezo Republic” was probably intentionally modeled after our recent treatment of Confederate leaders. But in that case it was a lot easier to be generous, as very few people had been killed in the war. Generally throughout history, rebels were executed after they surrendered. Not allowed to keep their swords and horses and return to their homes.

    On the other hand, I find it to be very disturbing that political posturing has now made it fashionable to tear down Confederate monuments. Those patriots who heap such scorn upon the Confederacy better remember that slavery legally existed far longer under the United States Constitution than under the Confederate Constitution. In fact slavery continued to exist legally in the USA after the Confederacy was destroyed. Washington was a slave owner; do we tear down the Washington Monument? Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner; was everything HE did tainted by evil… including the Declaration of Independence?

    No, I think there was good and bad in Jefferson, and similarly good and bad in Lee. Slavery was a terrible thing, a horrible injustice, but the Confederacy did not invent slavery out of nothing in 1861. Nor did the USA in 1776 or 1789. It was something the British left us, a nearly-fatal flaw in our nation’s DNA that we Americans sorted out at great expense of blood on both sides. And we sorted it out. There is no need for and no advantage in blaming each other for it now, or for blaming Lee more than Washington. They were both flawed, both did what they thought was right, and I’m not ashamed to say I love them both for their good parts.

    Curiously, at some point during the Civil War my great-great grandfather had an opportunity to become close friends with a Confederate soldier. Possibly they were in a hospital together. About 25 years later my great-great grandfather’s war wound was giving him trouble. The cold air of Northern winters sometimes caused him to cough up blood. So he finally abandoned my great-great grandmother and their two kids and went south to Louisiana and found that old enemy of his, and married the guy’s daughter. Sure I could be resentful of him leaving that woman and her two children — one of them my great grandfather — without support and living in poverty, while he ran off with another woman less than half his age. But I can’t put myself into his shoes… I suppose he had his reasons for what he did, and I have nothing but admiration for him now. In fact I named my own son after him.

  8. Here is how the glorious Yankee’s treated civilians.
    In 1864 Mary Ann “Polly” Smith was living in Roswell, Ga. married to Benjamin Sumner. She was arrested along with 400 other women and children by Yankee General Kenner Garrard on the orders of Sherman. During the attack on Atlanta Garrard was sent to find a crossing over the Chattahoochee River. Garrard’s cavalry arrived in Roswell in July 1864 and stumbled upon the three textile mills in full production. General Sherman ordered everyone connected with the mills to be arrested and charged with treason. Theophile Roche, the mill manager and a French citizen had been employed by the cotton mills and later the woolen mill. In an attempt to save the mills from the torch he flew a French flag in hopes of claiming neutrality. For two days the mills were spared but after it was proven that the claim of being neutral was false [The letters “CSA” (Confederate States of America) were found on cloth being produced]. The mills were burned by Union forces on July 7, 1864. The mill workers, mostly women and children since the men were away fighting the war were arrested, charged with treason, held overnight, in the Town Square until they could be sent by wagons to Marietta and transported by train to the North to uncertain fates. Some were sent to Indiana, some to Illinois and some were put on a boat and sent toward Louisville, Ky. Mary Ann “Polly” was old, feeble and confined to a rocking chair and while they were carrying her off the boat she was dropped and evidently died from her injuries. Her daughter, Margaret Dorothy (Sumner) Wood, was also arrested and she died on the boat as they approached Louisville, Ky., both are buried in Louisville, Ky. Those arrested were never tried for the crime for which they were accused, and many never returned. One of the women involved in this tragedy was pregnant and working as a seamstress at the mill. She was sent north to Chicago and left to fend for herself. It would take five years before she and her daughter would return, on foot, to Roswell, only to find that her husband had remarried because he thought she was dead. Only the 1853 mill was rebuilt after the war and used until destroyed by fire again in 1926. The original covered bridge was also built in 1857 by the Roswell Manufacturing Company. It was burned twice, once by each side during the war and finally rebuilt after the war. Today, a monument honoring the 400 lost mill workers keeps their memory alive in Old Mill Park on Sloan Street in Roswell, Ga.

    • the illustrious Ken Burns somehow overlooked this story…thank you for bringing the terrors as felt by these civilians to life.

    • Dear Douglas-The Yankees burned down my GGM home and her parents, she was a widow with a seven year old child, her husband was killed in the war and had no one to help her but she was a good and kind lady who was helped by a servant to escape. To me Sherman was nothing more than an arsonist in a uniform, a killer of women and children. I can understand that a vital military target must be taken out and civilian fatalities do occur, but Sherman was a brutal maniac who just wanted to act like a god and burn down everything-big man on the campus. Since he likes Fire, perhaps there is another place for him.
      I’m from Georgia also, now live in Texas. My ancestors were Moore, Smith Short. Kellum< Bunn.

  9. To be clear, when I served in the military my desire to serve was not to protect the America where slavery and discrimination had been a major part of it’s creation and development, or to honor any of the people who played a part in that sordid history. I served to try to do my small part to insure that my family, and other families who sincerely believe/believed in and practiced equality in their lives, continued to survive and thrive, and to help insure that America continued to exist so that it could continue to progress to the point where it lived up to the ideals written in it’s founding documents. In other words my military service was not to protect the America of the past or even the present (at the time), but rather to do my small part to help insure that America continued to exist so that it could become the America that I hoped it one day it would be for my descendants and for others Americans who truly believe in the equality of all Americans. And when I made statements about the terrible things that were done to Native Americans I was referring to the role that was played by whites who settled in the southeast US prior to the Confederacy. But it was those same whites, and/or their descendants, who comprised the Confederacy, because a country is principally made up of people, the land they occupy, and the philosophy, customs and principles that bind them. So even though most of the damage done to Native Americans from the southeast had taken place prior to the creation of the Confederacy, those people who made up the Confederacy took part in, and/or supported, the decimation and robbery of Native Americans, or help continue the decimation and robbery of Native Americans. Southern settlers took the most fertile lands in the US (the southeast) away from Native Americans, and never made any efforts to give Native Americans their land back or fair compensation for the land. And it is estimated that 8 to 11 million Native Americans were either murdered by white settlers, or died from diseases as as result of contact or mistreatment by white settlers. And though not all of that estimated 8 to 11 million Native Americans lived in the southeastern US, there were probably millions of Native Americans living in the south who suffered and died as a result of contact with white southerners. And the Confederacy was created, in part, to continue the status of white supremacy over non-whites. Yes, I hold some resentment when it comes to how my ancestors, other people of color, and me personally, have been treated because of the color of our skin. I also feel some resentment about how non-christians have been treated in America, and how others who are determined to be somehow “different” from the majority in this country have been discriminated against. And I realize that America will never truly become the country that it should be, as stated in it’s founding documents, until the majority:
    1. Are willing to honestly and sincerely recognize and accept the inhumanity that has taken place throughout the history of this nation
    2. Stop perpetuating the lies about the nobility of the Confederacy and/or those who supported it
    3. Recognizes that symbols that glorify the Conferderacy and/or it’s supporters are hurtful and remind millions of Americans of the barbaric treatment and white supremacy that the Confederacy was created to continue
    4. Has open and honest discussions about the inhumane treatment that minorities have experienced, and still experience, in the US
    5. Help develop, implement and practice real solutions that insure the equality of all US citizens

    It is true that the US government, and many of it’s citizens started, and/or continued, barbaric and inhumane treatment towards people of color in America. And that many Europeans started the barbarity and inhumanity before America existed as a nation. None of that diminishes, in any way, the suffering experienced by millions of Africans and Black Americans as a result of slavery and discrimination, and by the inhumane treatment and robbery of millions of Native Americans, caused and/or continued by white southerners, and later by the Confederacy. Though the Confederacy lasted less than 5 years what cost can be assessed, or impact can be determined, to the 4 million Black Americans suffering in slavery for those few years, or to the hundreds of thousands of Native Americans who did not have use of the fertile land to feed their families that had once belonged to their ancestors, and the suffering of these removed Native Americans to barren lands without adequate shelters and tools to feed themselves? What price can be put on the negative impacts of those few years to the 4 million Black Americans in slavery and the hundreds of thousands of Native Americans who did not have the use of their ancestral lands during the time the Confederacy existed?
    And why is it considered noble when settlers resented taxation by a distant monarch, or when they resented threats to the continuation of the southern way of life (i.e., the continuation of white supremacy that existed in the south before and during the Confederacy), but when a person of color feels some resentment for the enslavement, rape, murder, robbery and denial of the civil and God given rights of their ancestors it is somehow not acceptable behavior? I don’t need anyone to answer that question to me, but rather, answer it to yourself.
    I was born less than 90 years after the Civil war and slavery, and grew up in the segregated south. I heard the stories told by the elders in my family about how our ancestors (both Black Americans and Native Americans) were mistreated, and I personally experienced overt discrimination myself in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. But in spite of that I still served because I wanted to do my part to help America become what the founding documents state it should be, for all Americans. I didn’t serve my country for the slave owners who wrote and/or signed the founding documents, or the white supremacists who ran this country throughout most of it’s history. I served in spite of them and because of their hypocrisy. I fully recognize and understand the ugly truths about America and many Americans, but I also fully recognize, understand and support the concept of America as stated in the founding documents. It is that concept of America that inspired me to serve my country as both a serviceman and as a civilian, and it is that concept that still makes me love my country…my home…despite the bad that has happened in America. I served because I want America to be a free and equal safe haven for all Americans. I have said what I have to say about this, and now I’m done.

    • Robert: History can be a harsh handmaiden and can be difficult to understand at times.. I am also a retired military member and white. I have been a student of history and a family researcher for over 40 years.. My family arrived in 1666 on the east shore of Maryland.. Some were slave holders , most not, some became Quakers and went to Indiana & Illinois where some assisted in the work of the underground railroad.. The history of slavery is a difficult subject but must be understood in its full context. Slavery was practiced in Africa long before the white man showed up. If you read the history of Mali you will be surprised at the tens of millions of blacks sold by blacks to the Arabs… The trail of bones north thru the desert often took 20% death toll. When they arrived according to the history the males were castrated. Slavery is still practiced in Africa.. In Sudan the asking price is as low as $50. See BBC documentary. Also another book I think you may find interesting on the Slave trade by the Slave ships our of Boston Mass. written by a black professor from Howard University Larry Koger titled [Black SLAVE OWNERS ] Free Black Slave Masters in South Carolina 1790-1860. His multi year research of the slave records found some rather interesting data.. His research showed that there were more black slave masters in South Carolina than white owners..Some quite wealthy ISBN 13: 978-1-57003-037-6 PBK
      Slavery is wrong in all of its forms… It was wrong them and wrong today..

    • Thank you, Sir. A most succinct and well-referenced reply for us all. I my undergrad degree was Am.History, however my eclectic brain rarely stays on one subject as well as yours. Much appreciated.

    • Robert, you seem like a very admirable person, and except for pointing out that Native Americans were treated pretty much the same way everywhere in the USA, I can’t really argue with most of what you say. I can see how black people today would very understandably focus on the large and glaring “bad side” to even the most gallant Confederate leaders. I can see how they would be angered by Confederate monuments which I view as innocent historical markers.

      The Civil War is a complex issue, but it did have a core. I do agree with Lincoln that it was better to hold the Union together, but I don’t agree that secession was actually an illegal act. And I do think there were real issues about state’s rights. But clearly slavery was the dust particle around which the hailstone of state’s rights condensed. To deny that is crazy. So yes, it is probably correct to say that while the USA as a whole was “afflicted with” slavery, the CSA was created specifically to defend slavery. Southerners objected to Northerners nosing in on their affairs; what other affairs besides slavery did Northerners have any motivation to nose in on?

      I guess what we view as acceptable or normal depends partly upon what we grew up with, and partly upon what is convenient for us. Just as I grew up seeing the “Dukes of Hazzard” on TV and thinking that was OK, those who grew up surrounded by slaves and slavery were automatically predisposed to accept it as normal. Add to that the persistent pressure that was applied to one’s moral compass by the fact that slavery was profitable, and it was inevitable that some excuse would be found to view it as a “positive good.”

      I don’t want to seem to assume anything about your political beliefs, and I don’t want to enter into a discussion about modern-day partisan politics, but within my own mind I always compare slavery in 1860 with the abortion issue today. I think I read recently that over 50% of Americans think abortion should be legal without any sort of court process. I’m just astounded by that. If it wasn’t already obvious 1000 years ago, then modern knowledge of DNA has made it absolutely clear to everybody with an 8th grade education exactly when a unique individual is formed. And yet because we grew up with abortion, and because abortion is convenient, all the focus is on the rights of the mother and not on the rights of the child. To me, this just proves how far our social environment can distort our sense of right and wrong.

  10. Well Sherman must have had a wild hair up his butt that day.

    But on the other hand Sherman later agreed to surrender terms for Confederate General Joseph Johnston that went way beyond even Grant’s terms for Lee in their generosity, and which got Sherman in trouble with his superiors in Washington. And even more amazing, Sherman agreed to these terms immediately after learning of Lincoln’s assassination, and before he could have learned of the exact circumstances of the assassination. I imagine many men would have been vindictive at that point, not conciliatory.

    • To clarify, I meant this as a reply to Douglas R. Smith’s comment about the Roswell cotton mills. I don’t know how it ended up down here.

  11. I too have studied US history, and in particular slavery in America and Africa. First of all, because someone else does a heinous act doesn’t lend justification for someone else to do it. So, though some in Africa may have practiced slavery, it in no way justifies, excuses or pardons the inhumane acts associated with the American institution of slavery. Two wrongs don’t make a right. And I have some resentment towards my ancestors in Africa for participating in the English and American slave trade, but that in no way excuses the inhumanity associated with the British/American institution of slavery. Two wrongs don’t make a right. And I want to make a clear distinction about myself…my ancestors were African, British and Native Americans according to DNA tests performed by Ancestry and National Geographics, but I am not African and I am not British. I am a proud Black American. I must also bring out some facts that I learned in my studies about slavery that show that there were clear differences between the British/American institutions of slavery and slavery practiced by Africans hundreds of years ago:
    1. British/American slavery was based on race, racial differences and the belief that whites were superior to Africans, even to the point of believing that Africans were closer to being animals than they were to being human. It is documented that many white slave owners dressed their slaves in rags, gave them inferior food, and often served the food to their slaves in the same troughs that they fed their animals from.
    2. African slavery was usually based on either enslaving an enemy who fought their tribe/family in a war, or who posed a threat of attacking their tribe/family, or to provide slaves from another tribe to white slave traders so that their tribe/family wouldn’t become slaves because the Africans knew that whites had superior firepower and the will to use inhumane brutality to get slaves.
    3. Many British/American slave owners raped female slaves to produce more slaves/property/fortune for the white slave owner. In my research I have found no information that Black American slave owners mistreated their slaves, but treated them more like indentured servants. I also found no information that Black American slave owners sold slave family members apart, as was a common practice of white slave owners. And I found no information where African slave owners taped their female slaves because they did not want to mix their family with that of their enemies.

    I’m sure there are many other differences between the British/American institutions of slavery versus the African practice of slavery of the past, but those are the main differences that come to mind. As far as modern day slavery in Africa is concerned I don’t have a remote or minuscule connection to that because I am not African. But slavery is wrong no matter who does it, and because Africans practiced slavery in the past or in the present does in no way justify the British or American institutions of slavery or in any way excuse the brutality or inhumanity of those who participated in the institution or supported it by fighting in the Civil War to continue slavery or by providing material support to the Confederate war effort to continue slavery in the south. And yes, it was treason for those southern states (and their supporters) that left, and fought against, the Union, which was the United States of America. How can anyone with a rational mind and a caring heart defend the south, and southerners who supported the south, who practiced and/or supported the brutal and inhumane enslavement of other human beings? Just because they are your family? What about the families of the estimated 8 million Africans and Black Americans who died as a result of the American slave trade? What about the 4 million Black Americans who were slaves when the Civil War started, who were not paid for their work, many of who were raped, tortured, worked from sun up to sun down, not allowed to learn, not allowed to own property, given substandard food/shelter/clothing, not allowed to practice their cultures, and 60 thousand of who were forced to directly support the Confederate war effort to keep them slaves. And before anyone foolishly says that these Blacks willingly supported the Cofederate war effort I say that a slave, who does not own their own life, and who is owned by someone who can torture them, murder them sell them, and do the same to their family, and who can rape their wives and their mothers and their daughters, was in no position to refuse to support the Confederacy. And when trying to justify those who supported the Confederacy and the continuation of slavery ask yourself “would I want to be a slave or would I want my family to be slaves or would I have wanted my ancestors to be slaves”?

  12. Where you see the word “taped” I meant “raped”, and where you see the word “Cofederate” I meant “Confederate”.

  13. The states had, and have, no states rights to enslave, murder or rape anyone, or to support the continuation of any of those actions. It goes against basic human rights, the Constitution of the United States, and the laws of the Creator. The southern states did not have any “states rights” to leave the United States of America to continue the institution of slavery.

    It was President Lincoln who pushed for reconciliation with the south instead of being vindictive towards the south. He was asked something like (not a verbatim quote) “how could he speak of reconciliation with the southern enemies”? And his reply (once again not a verbatim quote) was something to the effect of “Don’t I defeat my enemies by making them my friends?” President Lincoln was well respected by most of his military commanders, and they used his philosophy in dealing with the south when the war was almost over and after the war had ended. They were more civil than many southerners were, according to documented history, where southerners killed federal agents and freed Blacks and other white southerners who supported equal rights for Black Americans. The burned the homes of Black Americans, murdered/lynched Black men/women/children (including the elderly), and committed countless other crimes against freed Blacks and whites who supported their equality. The bottom line is that people who have been told by family and friends, passed down from generation to generation, that the brutal and inhumane things their ancestors did were okay, are not going to accept, believe or feel remorse for, anything that doesn’t support their beliefs, no matter how many facts/truths to the contrary are presented to them. And if the truth is not acknowledged, accepted, honestly and intelligently discussed, real solutions developed and implemented, and the perpetuation of southern lies are dispensed with, America will always have a race problem, and America will never become the America documented in the US Constitution. Some people are okay with that, but I served with the hope that my service would in some way help America to one day become a place of truth and equality for all of it’s citizens.

  14. Anyone interested in Native American History should read John G. Burnett’s story of the removal of the Cherokee’s, 1838-39. Burnett served with McClellan’s Co., 2nd Regiment, 2nd Brigade, Mounted Infantry.
    NOTES: The last Confederate General to surrender was General Stand Watie/Wattie, a Cherokee. He commanded the Cherokee Braves all through the CW. A note worth mentioning. Mary Ann “Polly” in the Roswell Mills Story was also Cherokee by blood.

    Me, I’m American by birth, Cherokee by blood, Southern by the grace of God and a Vietnam Veteran, and I’m still waiting for my reparations; my 80 acres and my two buffalo.
    When Sherman left Savannah and headed North he had so many “camp followers” that he couldn’t feed them all on what he stole along the way. He then turned his Calvary around and stopped them. This is the origin of “a mule and 40 acres”, so they could feed themselves. Of course the 40 acres and the mule he was giving away belonged to someone else but hey, that didn’t matter.

    • My memory is that Sherman’s efforts to get rid of the (black) “camp followers” included cutting/destroying a bridge that his army had just finished crossing… with the result being that many black folks fell or jumped into the river and drowned. Sherman wasn’t trying to kill the blacks, of course, but he was trying to win the war and he was willing to take drastic action to see that that happened. He faced hard decisions, and he readily made them.

  15. In my research no Black Americans received 40 acres of land and a mule. As a matter of fact freed slaves only had the clothes on their backs, and many ended up as sharecroppers on the same plantations that they were slaves on. And southern whites made it almost impossible for freed slaves to own property because many government agents were either killed or forced to return to the north due to threats to their safety. And most banks wouldn’t loan money to freed slaves to purchase land. Most freed slaves were concerned about finding immediate housing and, and the only place that could provide these basic necessities was the plantations because the freed slaves had no money, property or collateral. And the system of sharecropping kept the freed slaves in bondage because they had to pay the plantation owners to work the land and a share of the proceeds from the sale of any crops they produced. They also had to pay the plantation owners for the purchase or rent of tools, seed, and the houses they lived in, usually with high interest rates associated with anything they had to rent or purchase on credit. And remember, these freed slaves were starting off with nothing to purchase or barter for the things they needed to live and support their families. So having to borrow, pay high interest rates, and purchase on credit kept these freed slaves in another form of bondage to the plantation owners.
    I completely agree that Native Americans were also subjected to cruel, brutal and inhumane treatment at the hands of European settlers and Americans. They had their land stolen, many were force marched to lands with very little water or materials to construct adequate housing, limited wildlife for food, and that was unsuitable for farming in many cases. And estimates of between 8 million and 11 million Native North Americans were killed or died from diseases as a result of contact with Europeans and American settlers and/or military. And Native Americans have never been compensated for their loss of life, limb, or land. Open and honest discussions on race, race relations, and solutions to the issues related to race relations in America must take place in order for America to live up to the tenets contained in the US Constitution and it’s amendments. This discussion and solutions must address bigotry and racism directed at all minorities in America.

    • “40 acres and a mule,” but few of us have read the Order itself. Three of its parts are relevant here. Section one bears repeating in full: “The islands from Charleston, south, the abandoned rice fields along the rivers for thirty miles back from the sea, and the country bordering the St. Johns river, Florida, are reserved and set apart for the settlement of the negroes [sic] now made free by the acts of war and the proclamation of the President of the United States.”
      Section two specifies that these new communities, moreover, would be governed entirely by black people themselves: ” … on the islands, and in the settlements hereafter to be established, no white person whatever, unless military officers and soldiers detailed for duty, will be permitted to reside; and the sole and exclusive management of affairs will be left to the freed people themselves … By the laws of war, and orders of the President of the United States, the negro [sic] is free and must be dealt with as such.”
      Finally, section three specifies the allocation of land: ” … each family shall have a plot of not more than (40) acres of tillable ground, and when it borders on some water channel, with not more than 800 feet water front, in the possession of which land the military authorities will afford them protection, until such time as they can protect themselves, or until Congress shall regulate their title.”
      With this Order, 400,000 acres of land — “a strip of coastline stretching from Charleston, South Carolina, to the St. John’s River in Florida, including Georgia’s Sea Islands and the mainland thirty miles in from the coast,” as Barton Myers reports — would be redistributed to the newly freed slaves. The extent of this Order and its larger implications are mind-boggling, actually.

  16. November 12, 1864: The Destruction of Atlanta and Sherman’s March to
    the Sea | Fold3 BlogFold3 Blog

  17. Unfortunately President Andrew Johnson vetoed the Reconstruction Act of 1866, and opposed all legislation and actions to give freed Black Americans the same (equal) rights that whites enjoyed. So no freed Blacks, that I know of, received any of this land. And since I have traveled to most of the areas mentioned in the “Order” (i.e., 40 Acres and a Mule), to include the barrier islands of Georgia, I can tell you there are no towns/cities governed and/or administered, or settled, solely by Black Americans. There are urban and rural neighborhoods that are predominantly one race or another, but that can be found in any town/city in America. In my research I found that many of the federal agents sent to the south to administer the Reconstruction after the Civil War were either run out of the south as a result of threats to their lives by southerners, or they were murdered by southerners, in some cases by local law enforcement or with their knowledge. With no support from from the President, or many in local governments in the south, and many individual citizens, Reconstruction was doomed to failure.

    • I was the first to post on this fine non-partisan well-written brief synopsis of Sherman’s victorious waging of the Battle of Atlanta, and then his wanton destruction of the city Atlanta and the expulsion of thousands of its occupants. The piece wasn’t about the war itself, and it certainly doesn’t raise the very complicated aspects of the world-wide history of slavery. It is proper that the political issues are not the focus of this blog. I now must apologize for including a passing comment on my family not owning slaves.

      Nothing that you have said addresses the pretty much unheard of complete destruction of a thriving city in 1864. Such actions weren’t taken in the Napoleanic Wars; the Mexican American War; the Crimean War; the Franco-Prussian War, the Spanish-American War; or the Boer War. Why do Americans accept that Lincoln-Grant-Sherman chose this moment in time to institute the novel concept of “Total War” to the 19th century. Your allusion to the atomic bombing of Japan is silly; the saturation bombing of Germany and Japan would be far more akin to the destruction of Atlanta, but even these weren’t up close and personal. Although he would rate as one of my favorite Civil War generals, Sherman was tactically and morally wrong in this action. He took an early end to the suffering of the nation off of the table.

      Robert, you have continually whimpered and whined in every post; get over it! You, your parents or your grandparents, were not American slaves. All we have are anecdotal stories perpetuated by the victim-hunters to tell the story of slavery. A virile black male of about 20-25 years of age was worth upwards of $2,000 in 1860 dollars; I have lived most of life in rural Colorado, and agricultural people take very good care of their expensive equipment. There were aberations to the expected decent treatment of the workers, but these slaves represented by far, the greatest asset of that class of Southerner. Harriet Tubman’s work was FICTION! Slavery as an American mode of agriculture had seen its day; that is why some Southerners were looking for new lands…the old South was destroyed by its labor intensive economy and as early as the 1840’s, folks were looking for alternatives. A secondary problem was what to do with the 3.5M freed slaves…Lincoln was an enthusiastic proponent of transporting them back to Africa.

      After reading your posts…I wish he would have been successful.

      By the way, I have 6 half-Navajo grandkids and your equating in any way the genocide unleashed by the US government against its Native peoples with the Constitutionally maintained existence of British slavery is abhorent. There were still Navajo slaves being held in Colorado’s San Luis Valley as late as 1900. FDR’s government was still abusing the reservation system in the 1930’s. The treatment of our aboriginal peoples is America’s “Original Sin”, and don’t you ever forget that!

    • “After reading your posts…I wish he would have been successful.”

      Bobby Sikes… What was THAT? What a disgusting thing to say, and what a personal and hateful tone to introduce into the discussion here.

      And how is the atomic bombing of totally random women and children by a major and closely-directed program of the U. S. Government morally different/superior to Sherman’s men exercising (and possibly abusing) individual judgement on the ground when actually engaging individual enemy people? At least in Sherman’s case we can expect that SOME of the killing might have been individually justified, and any that wasn’t were wrongs or war crimes committed by individual bad people and not official government policy. And yet I stand by my statement that the atomic bombings were entirely justified as an efficient and relatively humane way to end WW2.

      I also find it ironic that after objecting to Robert’s “whimpering and whining” about bygone and un-undoable things, that you end your post with exactly the same type of complaint.

  18. Bobby Sikes, don’t tell me to get over the enslavement of my ancestors, and don’t tell me to get over what happened to my ancestors. No, I, my parents, nor my grandparents were slaves, but I did have great grandparents who were slaves, who were still alive when I was a young boy. They told me, and the other kids in our family about their terrible treatment during slavery, and one even showed us the scars left on his back from being whipped. And a great grandmother of mine who was freed from slavery as a very young child was taken care of by an older freed female because all of my great grandmother’s family had been sold off, and she didn’t know where to, and never found out, so she never saw her family again. When my ancestors were released from slavery they had nothing; no money, no homes, no food or water, no job skills, no education, no land, no tools. All they had was the torn and tattered clothes on their backs. This started my family out in complete poverty, which continued to have a significant impact on several generations of my family, to include myself and the other children in my family in my generation. Starting off in total poverty, along with having no education, and the Jim Crow laws and segregation in the south prevented my family from building even a very minuscule amount of wealth until my generation were in our 50s in age. Whining…the impacts of slavery were felt throughout my family for multiple generations…including my generation. Your comments display ignorance of the long term impact of slavery on Black families, and a lack of empathy for the damage slavery caused to the Black family. And my comments about Native Americans was agreement about how terrible Native Americans were treated in this country. But for you to say that there can be no comparison between the treatment of Native Americans and Africans and Black Americans again shows your level of ignorance about their history and treatment. Both Native Americans and Blacks suffered deaths in the millions as a result of contact with whites, either through murder, warfare or disease. Both groups were forcibly removed from their native lands. Both groups were prevented from practicing their cultures for hundreds of years. Neither group was ever fairly compensated for the loss of the lives of their family members or the loss of their lands. And their are other similarities in how bad Native Americans and Blacks were treated. And I have every right to make a comparison between the two groups, because as I stated in an earlier post my that one of my paternal great grandmothers was full blooded Native American (Cherokee/Catawba), her children (which included one of my grandmothers) were half Native Americans.

    Attitudes like yours is one of the reasons there hasn’t been an open and honest discussion to the problems associated with race in America, and as a result these problems are still prevalent in this country. When people try to downplay the long term multigenerational impacts of slavery on Black families in America that shows a lack of knowledge about slavery and a lack of caring about the health and wellbeing of almost 40 million fellow Americans. You need to listen, and learn!

  19. This is suppose to be a site for discussion and to learn . Why do some take it as an opportunity to verbally attack others? Do you really think you are the store house of all knowledge? Do you think no one has a right to expression unless it supports your view point? Get over it, stop taking everything a total stranger says as an insult to you and your beliefs. Let’s us this site for the purpose it was intended, I can go on Face Book and argue with someone any time I feel the need.

  20. Bobby Sikes, I just reread your post, and the way you talk about slaves, as if they were a fool or piece of equipment is abhorrent. These were human beings who should have never been made slaves in the first place! And so many studies and so much research has been done on slavery, and the facts state unequivocally that many slaves received inhumane treatment, to include murder, rape, torture and starvation at the hands of the slaveowners or their overseers.
    And then your statement about how you wish Lincoln had been successful in sending the freed Black people to Africa wreaks of racism. Black Americans helped build this country from its infancy to what it is today through their blood, sweat, tears, toil and lives. Blacks fought and died for the colonies and this country in every war it has been involved in. Many members of my family have honorably served in the US military, to include a great great uncle (Spanish/American War), a grandfather (WWI), my father (33 years, & WWII), my brother (22 years), and myself (21 years, Persian Gulf). And Black Americans have contributed inventions, developed processes and procedures, and made scientific discoveries that have made significant contributions to making America the great country that it is today.

    Your last post is sickening! I won’t waste any more of my time on someone like you.

    • And that’s exactly why I’m grateful that for a time it was legal to have slaves in our country. I firmly believe that blacks have contributed enormously to our common American experience. Without slavery there would have been very few black persons in this country, because they never could have afforded to pay their way to get here because of their economic and educational status in their home countries. I’m grateful that our great country had slavery in its history, because otherwise we would not have the benefit of all the contributions which black people have made to our common American experience. That’s why history is good to study — it tells us why we are what we are.

  21. I meant “tool” instead of “fool”.

  22. I agree that this site should be one that fosters learning, and most of my comments were not directed at any individual. They were general in nature based on study and research on slavery that I’ve done over more than 45 years on my own and while attending academic institutions. However, when someone writes something that is racist, insulting or inaccurate they should be corrected, which is learning, if they have an open mind and accept the facts. There should be no argument that British and American slavery was inhumane and one of the darkest blights on American values. That is a fact, proven by extensive study and research. At any rate, I do understand your point about arguing back and forth, and about the need for this site to be about learning, but sometimes learning will involve differences of opinions. At any rate I do understand, and agree with, your point about discussion, learning and arguing, and will try to focus on the learning in the future.

    • Robert, I was away from this discussion for a few days. Reading through it now, I guess there are a bunch of things you said which I could nitpick about, but I’m just going to limit this to one. You said or seemed to say that African slaveholders or slavetakers had some moral objection to mixing their blood with that of their enemies.

      While in no way am I saying two wrongs equal a right, I find this assertion of yours to be pretty far out there… and clearly the product of bias on your part. Are you telling me that black Africans in recent conflicts (of the last 30 years or so) there also did not rape their enemies? Or are you telling me that there has been a change in attitude in Africa?

  23. I find it interesting that in modern usage the word “state” has two very different meanings which we Americans immediately tell apart by context.

    One meaning is the original: a “state” is a nation — a geographical area with a people sharing common culture who join together to form a sovereign government.

    The other meaning has, I believe, almost entirely taken root since the Civil War: a “state” is merely a subdivision of government, not much different from a “county” or a “township.”

    There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that says states can’t leave. We have been somewhat brainwashed by the Pledge of Allegiance etc. since the Civil War, so it is hard for us to understand how someone like Lee might have felt when forced to choose between his home state and the Union. I feel it is unfair to judge those men with our 20/20 hindsight, not to mention our newly-made rules. Maybe BECAUSE OF the Civil War we could more or less say the issue of secession has NOW been resolved, but we can’t apply that law going backwards.

    Say, as long as everybody else is whining… I’m an agnostic and I’m deeply offended every time I see “In God We Trust” on a penny. Why aren’t my beliefs honored/respected the same way everyone else’s are? Why am I a second-class citizen in my own country?

    The stick has a short end for everybody!

  24. John L.,
    If you had read my words correctly you would have realized that I said in reference to slavery practiced by Africans, in my Nov. 3, 2019, 8:58 PM comments) that “slavery is wrong no matter who does it”. This includes whether the slavery was practiced by white slaveowners, Black American slaveowners, or African slaveowners.
    I never said that African slaveowners had a “moral” objection to mixing their blood with that of their enemy’s. I didn’t give any reason why they didn’t want to mix their blood. I simply stated that I knew of no instances of African slaveowners raping their slaves, and the reason given was that they didn’t want to mix their family’s blood with that of their enemy’s. This actually was taught to me, and documented in a textbook, in a Black history course I took while working on my Bachelor’s Degree. If my memory serves me correctly the reason given was that a defeated tribe was thought to be a weaker tribe. And that mixing the victorious tribe’s blood with the defeated tribes blood would weaken the victorious tribe, making them susceptible to being defeated in the future. I neither agree, nor disagree, with that line of thinking. I’m simply stating what my professor (who had done extensive research and study on African history) taught, and what was documented in a textbook that was approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and by the state university system administration.
    As far as modern day slavery in Africa is concerned the only comment I made was that “I don’t have a remote or minuscule connection to that because I am not African. But slavery is wrong no matter who does it…”. I didn’t comment at all as to whether or not modern day slavers raped their slaves, or whether they have changed their attitudes in Africa, because I am not African, nor have I done any research on the subject of modern day slavery in Africa. I am a Black “American”, and claim no connection with the actions that modern day Africans commit. But again I did state that I believe that slavery is wrong no matter who practices it. I have no idea if attitudes have changed in Africa. I know, from living more than 65 years, that some attitudes have changed in America during my lifetime, while some others have stayed the same. And I believe the same is possible in Africa, but I don’t know for sure, so I can’t, and didn’t, make a definitive statement about that.
    And as far as judging Robert E. Lee and the other confederates is concerned my attitude (judgement if that’s what you want to call it) towards them is that the south seceded from the Union so they could continue the inhumane institution of slavery. Slavery is wrong, whether it was practiced yesterday, 150 years ago, or two thousand years ago. And especially so when the institution of slavery was as inhumane as was the case in America. And white supremacy is also wrong. The supremacy of any race over another is wrong. So, that means that the defenders of that way of life were wrong…whether by today’s moral standards or moral standards of the past. Just because something is legal does not make it morally right. Slavery is morally wrong period…past, present and future.
    Webster defines traitor as “one who betrays their country”, and treason as “the offense of trying to overthrow the government to which one owes allegiance”. As we know each state had legally designated representatives to help write, and approve the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, there by documenting each state’s allegiance to the Union (the United States of America). Seceding from the United States of America AND declaring war against the United States of America were treasonous actions taken by traitors. No one forced the south to sign the Declaration of Independence or the US Constitution. They were directly involved in the creation and approval of both of those documents, and set precedents by providing troops to support the war effort against the British in the war for Independence, 1812 and Mexico, and by subordinating their states to the leadership of the federal government in existence at those times, and other times between Independence and the Civil War. The south pledged their allegiance to the United States of America by helping to create and approve/ratify the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.

    • Well Robert, if you read correctly, I did say that you “seemed to say” something. So now your actual reason was that they considered the slaves to be fundamentally inferior beings to themselves? Interesting… “if” you brought this point up in an effort to depict black African slaveholders as somehow a little bit better than white American slaveholders, then it is not working out very well for you. Or maybe you had some other reason for bringing it up? I’m all ears.

      And speaking of reading words correctly, please point out where I said that you said slavery was NOT wrong, no matter who practiced it. You object to others putting words in your mouth, right? So do I.

      My point in bringing up modern events in Africa had nothing particular to do with modern slavery there, though I suppose it does exist. And I’m not calling on your personal experience as an African, just because you are black. I’m merely saying that it is very well documented that rape (along with machete hacking) is a pretty common occurrence in the various civil wars and other conflicts there. There does not seem to be any hesitation to commit rape there nowadays, defeated foe or not.

      In fact I would say that your talk of “I couldn’t find any documentation of this, I couldn’t find any evidence of that” is nonsensical… nothing more than clogging up the discussion here with bulky but worthless arguments. I can’t find any direct evidence that wooly mammoths peed in the woods, but that does not mean they did not. I hope I will not be perceived as racist when I say that I don’t think the average African tribe of 250 years ago left behind libraries of diaries and legal documents.

      You being a student of history, I think you’d better take another look at the Declaration of Independence. The heading at the top of it says “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.” Notice the word “united” is NOT capitalized, while the word “States” is? Why do you think they did that? In such a visible and important place?

      Then the final paragraph says:

      “…declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.”

      Note the PLURAL “States.” And note the powers that those plural “Free and Independent States” claim. Clearly, the states separately had these powers, not collectively. So don’t even bring up the Declaration of Independence in a talk about the “treason” of secession… you may or may not find an argument elsewhere, but you sure aren’t finding one in there.

  25. Well, this post has certainly opened a can of worms.Now after all the knee jerk replies back and forth maybe we can get back to using this site for it’s intended purposes.
    Look people you can get nasty, call names whatever you want to do with total strangers you will never know or meet, if you really need that try Facebook.

  26. As I understand this site it should be a site where one can learn about and discuss historical truth, and it can also serve as a source for information on one’s heritage. I support that 100%. But when myths about the southern cause are discussed as if they were historical facts, or the tragedy of slavery is glossed over, or slaveholders are talked about as heroes, or people bemoan the loss of material things while ignoring the greater loss of life, I will not be silent because those untruths are not what learning is about, and the loss of life can never be truly measured or subordinate to the loss of material things. And more people should speak up when the truth isn’t spoken. Then maybe people would stop trying to pass on myths and folklore as the truth, and this site can be enjoyed as the learning tool it was meant to be.

    • Well you assert one thing is true, and you assert something else is a myth, and then you base all your harsh moral verdicts and inflammatory labels upon the assumption that you are never wrong in your assertions.

      I think I’m about the only one here who entered the stage with a balanced and conciliatory tone, the only one here who conceded a point gracefully, the only one here who complimented an opponent.

      Then I get told I can’t read correctly.

  27. It is true that slavery is wrong in every sense of the word. However it must be remembered that the Dutch bought their slaves from African black people who rounded up the unfortunate people to enrich their own pockets. The tragedy occurred when those who were bought were placed on the block to be sold to the highest bidder. But it must also be remembered that slavery was not limited to the South. Benjamin Franklin owned slaves, as of course did George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and others. in 1790, only Massachusetts did not practice slavery. In 1700, 42% of New York men owned slaves. It is also true that letters have proven that in some families of the south, slaves were treated as members of the family, EXCEPT that they were not free, wrong again, but in numerous families, slaves were freed at the death of the owner. One of the biggest concerns was what would happen to the slaves if they were freed to society. The Simpson brothers, as CSA soldiers, saw that the servants they brought with them were PAID for their service and drew the same rations, so that they could send money home to their families. Read FAR FAR from HOME. In every letter home, the brothers asked to give their best regards to the “servants”.
    Of course that does not justify slavery but it cannot rest entirely on the shoulders of the southerners. 74% of all southern families did not own slaves, and only 15 southern slaveholders owned more than 500 slaves. Still it is wrong, of course it is wrong. But let’s remember to keep the facts straight. Just before the Confederate War, the largest slaveholder in South Carolina was a black man. Rome and many of its conquered areas were built by slave labor. Gladiators were glorified slaves. Tragically slavery has been a fact of life for many centuries, and while it was and is still morally reprehensible and wrong, it has not ended.

  28. To Bobby, read about Andersonville Prison. My uncles were there.

    • Ellen, did you ever wonder why Gen. Sherman declined to send some of his 120,00 plus troops South 140 miles and liberate Andersonville Prison since it was guarded by very few troops.
      Two of my greatest-great uncles are buried at these prisons, one at each.
      Camp Douglas, in Chicago, Illinois, sometimes described as “The North’s Andersonville,” was one of the largest Union Army prisoner-of-war camps for Confederate soldiers taken prisoner during the American Civil War. Based south of the city on the prairie, it was also used as a training and detention camp for Union soldiers. The Union Army first used the camp in 1861 as an organizational and training camp for volunteer regiments. It became a prisoner-of-war camp in early 1862. Later in 1862 the Union Army again used Camp Douglas as a training camp. In the fall of 1862, the Union Army used the facility as a detention camp for paroled Confederate prisoners (these were Union soldiers who had been captured by the Confederacy and sent North under an agreement that they would be held temporarily while formal prisoner exchanges were worked out).
      Camp Douglas became a permanent prisoner-of-war camp from January 1863 to the end of the war in May 1865. In the aftermath of the war, Camp Douglas eventually came to be noted for its poor conditions and death rate of about seventeen percent, although it is possible a higher rate occurred. Some 4,275 Confederate prisoners were known to be re-interred from the camp cemetery to a mass grave at Oak Woods Cemetery after the war.
      Elmira Prison, NY, was originally a barracks for “Camp Rathbun” or “Camp Chemung”, a key muster and training point for the Union Army during the American Civil War, between 1861 and 1864. The 30-acre site was selected partially due to its proximity to the Erie Railroad and the Northern Central Railway, which crisscrossed in the midst of the city. The Camp fell into disuse as the war progressed, but its “Barracks #3” was converted into a military prison in the summer of 1864. It was the prison holding the largest number of Confederate POW’s. Its capacity was 4,000, but it held 12,000 within one month of opening. A different source says that Camp Rathbun had a capacity of 6,000 recruits, but that it was turned into a prison for 10,000 and “the Union Commissary General was given just 10 days to make it happen.
      The prison camp, in use from July 6, 1864, until July 11, 1865 (date of last arrival), was dubbed “Hellmira” by its inmates. During those 12 months, 2,970 of the 12,100 prisoners died from a combination of malnutrition, continued exposure to harsh winter weather, and disease from the poor sanitary conditions on Foster’s Pond, combined with a lack of medical care.

  29. My Great Great Grandfather was born in Concord VA (10 miles from Appomattox Courthouse), the grandson of a a revolutionary war veteran (hero) Sgt. Sampson Evans, of the Va Rifle Company commanded by Colonel Lynch. Sampson fought the British from July 1776 until Dec.1777 as a member of the PA Militia. His family moved (forced out of PA by Quakers and Loyalists) to VA where Sampson joined the VA Rifle Company and fought at Guilford Courthouse and Yorktown. E.P. Evans joined the 7th VA Artillery in 1863 at the age of 37. E.P. was captured at Cold Harbor, and spent 1.5 years in a Union prison. Upon returning home found his home burned and his wife and two children dead as result of Union soldier raids. His friend, Wil Hubbard, had died during the war, but his wife and two sons had survived. He married Wil’s widow Clementine and moved to Denver. There he became a butcher while Clementine ran thie home as a boarding house. My Great Grand dad met one of E.P.’s daughters while boarding and the rest is history. EP ‘s gravesite at Riverside Cemetery has also been vandalized. He had a bronze or brass headstone and some low life stole it for scrap. I will contact VA and see if they will replace his headstone. and note his CSA service too.

  30. I wonder how many American citizens are aware that Abraham Lincoln was actually an Englishman, born and bred tin England, His family were great friends of the Aristocracy over here. They emigrated to the US many years ago..

    • None. He wasn’t. Had the South not fired on Ft. Sumpter, perhaps there would not have been a war. If the South had not erected memorials to their fallen leaders in the early part of the 20th century, perhaps people would have been able to put this war behind them. Germany, Italy and Japan have been able to put their losses behind them and work with the US on reciprocal trade and peace pacts. Why can’t the South do the same? The South lost. No idols to the losers, no talk of moral superiority, no wishful thinking can change that.

  31. Many of my ancestors lived in the area around Atlanta, Georgia . One in my direct line of descent is Zachary Wade who came to Colonial America as an indentured servant. He served his 8 years and was given 50 acres of land, now known as Wades Point, Maryland. At one time he owned six miles of land along the Potomac River. His name is on a monument near the elipse in Washington, DC as one of the origiginal land patent owners of land in DC. One of his decendants and my4th Great Grandfather was Hiram Wade of Stone Mountain, Georgia. He died at the Battle before Richmond and is buried in the Hollywood Cemetary in the Confederate Soidier section. His wife Cynthia Caroline Wade writes that when Sherman came through on his march to the sea, they grabed an old mule and what they could carry and headed to the “bottom lands” to hide out. When the soldiers had passed they returned home to find everything gone. They found one egg under the smokehouse which they gave to the baby ( my gggGrandmother). They scraped the bottom of the smokehouse to get salt and pork fat droppings. Cynthia Carolyn raised three daughters, with nothing. To my knowledge, they had no slaves but rather were simple farmers in Stone Mountain, Ga.

  32. Slavery and Social-Economic differences made tempers run very high…also the early losses to Robert E. Lee in the early part of the war.

    The civil war should not have ever taken place…it was caused by the same problems we have today. Politicians on two ends of the spectrum and no one willing to meet in the middle.

    It’s ugly, it’s stupid, and it causes lives and livelihoods to be destroyed.

  33. I will be glad when we move on to another topic and get away from all this high school drama attacking everyone with a view different from our own.
    This gets sooooo boring

    • Personally I find it interesting to hear or see other people’s points of view. Many interesting family stories have been told here, and some little known events have come to my attention. There is nothing wrong or boring about vigorous debate, though this is clearly not the place to discuss issues of modern politics not related in some way to the historical subject at hand. Of course I don’t want to see personal attacks, and am not going to be insulted personally myself without calling it.

      If you don’t want to discuss things, I’m not sure why you are in the comments. If everybody just nodded their heads in agreement… THAT would be boring.

    • Your beginning comments were very well spoken, but then you had to stoop to the level of your last comment. Why is that so important to you? Why not just scroll on?

    • I have no idea what “last comment” you are referring to, which you find so disappointing.

  34. Nothing revisionist about factual history, Sherman’s bummers committed all kinds of atrocities against the citizens of Georgia and South Carolina – look it up. Comparing bloody battles between armies to wanton destruction of property and violence against civilians is asinine and demonstrates a woeful ignorance of history.

  35. Response to Billy Bikes
    Your points are well taken; the intentional wanton destruction of Chamberburg Pa by the Confederate general Early was an egregious act. It very well would qualify as a “war crime”, as would Burnside’s earlier destruction of Fredricksburg Va or Grant’s earlier destruction of Vicksburg Ms or Sherman’s destruction of Jackson Ms. The scale of the destruction is somewhat skewed in that Atlanta was about twice the size of Chamberburg and the destruction was more widespread and complete. The destruction that Sherman soon inflicted upon Columbia SC was probably the most criminal of all of these. My point was that this kind of destruction was not the norm of 19th century “civilized” warfare; Total War was not generally waged by Western nations against each other.
    I did mention the British bombing campaigns of Bomber Harris, the Blitz, the destruction of the cities of Europe and Japan. My opinion…I am not a historian nor have I ever claimed to be one of you…is that the American Civil War broke down the civilized constraints that were the norm in the 18th and 19th century. Small villages and towns had always been subject to destruction, but cities had had not. The use of atomic weapons to end WWII may be troubling, but in the modern age of Total War this type of killing and destruction is somewhat acceptable.
    The Battles of Gettysburg, of Sharpsburg, and the rest were fought by opposing forces, and the death and destruction was part and parcel of the actual waging of war. The South should have weighed this into its decision to oppose Lincoln’s movement of troops into Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri. The industrial North had a population of about 23M with tens of thousands of new immigrants each year; the agricultural South had fewer than 9M free folks. What in the hell were the fire-eaters of the South thinking…the writing was on the wall!
    I am not grinding “an axe”; I fully recognize the folly of the South.

    But your claiming me as your “Son” is somewhat troubling…

  36. Lincoln started a fight that continues today. Southern images are still being destroyed.

  37. Lee: I missed that article in the constitution that states were free to leave the union.Please cite the reference.


  38. I think I’m going to leave this page while you girls fight it out in the school yard over the Civil War. This is not what I joined this site for.

    • Seems like YOU are the one making immature personal attacks here. School girls? Really?

    • Thanks for proving my point. Interesting how you feel you were singled out.

    • Where did I say the attacks singled me out?

    • Attacks? Don’t you have something better to do? Actually, I agreed with most of your posts, very informed. But now you are having a knee jerk reaction that you are being attacked.

    • I previously called out Bobby Sikes when he made a personal attack on Robert, which had nothing to do with me. Interesting how you think I took your insulting comments to be aimed at me personally, just because I objected to them. If it is not aimed at me, I should not object? They came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew?

      I’m just puzzled why you seem to be making broad insults against everyone who expresses an opinion here, rather than just don’t read it. I feel I’ve learned a few things about history from some of the more “Confederate” viewpoints here, and I feel I’ve gained some insight and empathy into the black point of view from Robert.

  39. The SLAVE Holders got what they pity for those who would Enslave Human Beings or Fight to Defend the Abomination of Slavery.Sherman did a good job burning these Traitors out.

    • Bob, what about the Southerners who were opposed to slavery but fought for the Confederacy for other reasons? What about the southern slave owners who sided with the Union because their ancestors had fought on the American side in the American Revolution? What of the Union office wagers who owned slaves–like Ulysses S. Grant? What of Confederates like General Robert E. Lee and General Nathaniel Bedford Forrest who freed their slaves before the end of the war? What of slave owners who were kind to their slaves? And what of Confederate leaders like Jefferson Davis and General Patrick Cleburne who supposedly claimed the Confederacy WASN’T waging the war over slavery? Did Sherman do “a good job burning these ‘traitors’ out?”.

    • RIGHT ON!

  40. Gen. Sherman was very clear about his approach to warfare, even before the war started. He believed it was necessary to cause devastating harm to the enemy to force him to surrender. He was far ahead of his time, because the concept of total warfare did not become acceptable until the Boer War, when the British invented the “concentration camps” to imprison the Boer’s women and children while they burned down their farms. Atlanta was a major production center, and the civilian population there was a major asset to the Confederacy. General Curtis LeMay firebombed Japan for the same reason; to target the civilian population. Without homes, without businesses, the civilian population becomes a detriment. Workers are now refugees, draining resources and providing nothing to the war effort. Soldiers in the front lines must now worry about their wives and children, devastating their morale. There is no “right” or “wrong” to it. If you fight a war you must be in it to win it, and killing women and children is part and parcel of warfare. We like to dress it all up with chivalry, but basically you are there to murder the other fellow, rape his wife, kill his children, and take all his stuff. Jane Goodall and others have observed this behavior in chimpanzees. They do just that. We are no different from them. Just apes with nuclear weapons!

    • Aldo,
      I’m really struggling here to not say what I really think about your comments. Firstly, real soldiers kill to keep from being killed. I agree with you that we were in it to win it in Vietnam. Unfortunately, the suits and ties in D.C wouldn’t allow us to do that. I had the honor and pleasure to serve with the very best troops that America has ever fielded, the Army Special Forces. I have seen with my own eyes a SF soldier (ten times tougher than individuals such as yourself will ever hope to be) fall to his knees and weep because he thought that his actions were responsible for injuring a child and an innocent female. In summation, your comments are total nonsense. I’m now going to take my leave from this topic but I wish to leave you with this thought and an old saying “It’s better to be thought a damn fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”.

    • When I was in the Army they taught me not to rape women or kill children, and taught me to stop such activities on the part of my fellow soldiers, including my leaders, even to the point of killing THEM.

      I have no beef with Sherman overall, but don’t come on here telling me that the fully intentional rape and murder of civilians is an acceptable part of war. Much less the purpose of a soldier.

  41. “The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded.” Montesquien – from Spirit of the Laws.

    “If a historian understands the past he will have acquired in the process a feel of the future.” Barbara W. Tuchman

  42. No historical narrative is entirely neutral, but it can be accurate, as this is. As a child of Mississippi, it is so refreshing to see this history told from the perspective of our nation, the United States of America, rather than from the enemy position, that if the confederacy. Thank you.

  43. We have to put the past behind us and move on with our future. My great grandfather was captured outside of Atlanta and then held as a POW at Camp Chase The conditions in the northern prison camps were similar to the Nazis I don’t know how he was still alive at the end of the war. Many didn’t make it and are buried there. What the north did to the South is impossible to understand, So many had no home or land because of their harsh treatment and high taxes imposed on the Southern property by the North. That is why many left the Southland. They lost all! It was a awful war and slavery is not to be condoned. However, slavery in various forms still goes on today. This is what needs to be addressed today. Put the past behind you.

  44. I come from that part of Virginia that became W. Va. in April of 1863. I had family fight on both sides during the war. The most famous one rode with the 10th Va Cavalry at Gettysburg. Despite this I still agree with what Sherman did in. GA., to destroy everything that could be of use by the enemy, including the morale of the civilian population despite the consequiences.
    I also believe that Lee, Longstreet, Jackson, Pickett, Stuart and any other Confederate officer who served in the Union Army before the war should have been arrested after the war and tried for treason.

    • Then you are historically ignorant and show your hatred for southerners. These great men SERVED THEIR HOME STATES and should be honored for it. Lee lost Arlington. He paid enough.

  45. I have read all the posts with great interest as a follower of history. I live in Wales in the United Kingdom so have no great axe to grind about the American Civil War. All war brings out atrocities on both sides which takes a number of generations to be in the distant past and not of conflict. Sherman’s destruction of Atlanta was probably the first recorded instance of total war but remembering it does not mean condoning it. Too many people judge actions in the past with the opinions of the present. Try and move on

    • I am sure that there are many traditional Welshmen that still hold the memory of the excesses of Edward I in total disgust and approbation? My ancestors are Irish, and there are no Cromwell apologists among the living family.

  46. Mine was the original post on this historically correct article about a campaign taking place in Nov 1864. I didn’t intend to sanctify all war by removing the violence and destruction, but I did want to call attention to the fact that “Total War” as leveled against the Confederates was not the norm as accepted by civilized nations in the mid 19th century. After the scorched earth policies of England toward the Boers and the completely inhumane wastage of WWI and WWII, Sherman’s actions pale in scale. But the Prussian Kaiser, or Winfield Scott didn’t fight their wars as Lincoln’s generals fought his…and their victories were just as complete.
    Sherman’s campaign was waged in large part against the civilians, which was not an accepted mode of warfare. His later destruction of Columbia, SC, was even more devastating than Atlanta. If the citizens complained too much, Sherman threatened to return and not leave 2 stones stacked upon one another. What is acceptable, and even lauded today (“Shock and Awe”, “Rolling Thunder”) was not proper use of power in 1864. His goal of defeating the rebel army at Atlanta was complete…he would be unchallenged for the most part by organized troop formations until he ended up in NC in the spring of 1865…the South was defeated!.
    Even with our modern 21st century acceptance of total war, Lincoln, Grant, Sheridan, and Sherman would be subject to a “war crimes tribunal”. Contrary to many of your posts, morality and ethics do have a place in warfare between civilized societies.

    • As a South Carolinian I have always heard that Grant/ Sherman blamed S.C. for the war and that’s why he unleashed his troops to plunder and burn Columbia.

    • Judge…Jury….Executioner; today he would be War Criminal!


    My Dear Wife,

    I have no time for particulars. We have had a glorious time in this State. Unrestricted license to burn and plunder was the order of the day. The chivalry have been stripped of most of their valuables. Gold watches, silver pitchers, cups, spoons, forks, and so forth are as common in camp as blackberries. The terms of plunder are as follows: the valuables procured are estimated by companies. Each company is required to exhibit the result of its operations at any given place. One fifth and first choice falls to the commander in chief and staff; one fifth to corps commander and staff; one fifth to field officers; and two fifths to the company.

    Officers are not allowed to join in these expeditions unless disguised as privates. One of our corps commanders borrowed a rough suit of clothes from one of my men and was successful in his place. He got a large quantity of silver among other things, an old milk pitcher, and a very fine watch from a Mr. DeSaussure of this place. DeSaussure is one of the first families of South Carolina and was made to fork out liberally.

    Officers over the rank of captain are not made to put their plunder in the estimate for general distribution. This is very unfair and for that reason in order to protect themselves the subordinate officers and privates keep everything back that they can carry about their persons such as rings earrings, breastpins, and so forth; of which, if I live to get home, I have a quart – I am not joking – I have at least a quart of jewelry for you and the girls and some No. 1 diamond pins and rings among them.

    General Sherman has gold and silver enough to start a bank. His share in gold watches and chains alone at Columbia was two hundred and seventy five. But, I said I could not go into particulars. All the general officers and many besides have valuables of every description down to ladies pocket handkerchiefs. I have my share of them too. We took gold and silver enough from the d_ _ _ _ d rebels to have redeemed their infernal currency twice over. I wish all the jewelry this army has could be carried to the Old Bay State. It would deck her out in glorious style, but alas, it will be scattered all over the North and Middle States.

    The d_ _ _ _d _iggers, as a general thing, preferred to stay at home particularly after they found out that we wanted only the able bodied men and to tell the truth the youngest and best looking women. Sometimes we took them off by way of repaying influential Secessionists. But, a part of these we managed to lose sometimes in crossing rivers – sometimes in other ways.

    I shall write you again from Wilmington, Goldsboro, or some other place in North Carolina. The order to march has arrived and I must close hurriedly. Love to grandmother and Aunt Charlotte. Take care of yourself and the children. Don’t show this letter outside of the family.

    Your affectionate husband Thomas J. Myers, Lieutenant

    PS: I will send this by flag of truce to be mailed, unless I have an opportunity of sending it to Hilton Head. Tell Lottie I am saving a pearl bracelet and earrings for her. But, Lambert got the necklace and breastpin from the same set. I am trying to trade him out of them. These were taken from the Misses Jamison, daughters of the President of the South Carolina Secession Convention. We found these on our trip through Georgia. TJM

    In his memoirs Sherman says that war is hell. I am inclined to the belief that some of his house burning bummers, who were killed with torches in their hands, are still in the fire department presided over by his Satanic Majesty.

    Source: “Butler and his Cavalry in the War of Secession, 1861-1865” (page 453-454) by Ulysses Robert Brooks, published in 1909.

    • Thank you…that should just about close the book on Sherman as an 19th century “War Criminal”! and to his vaunted commanders Grant and ‘Honest Abe’

  48. My great great grandfather fought in Hamptons Legion and later on Wade Hamptons cavalry. I have found that he was trying to get compensated for the slaves he had freed so that they could change to mechanism. Perhaps if the Union had offered compensation to owners to encourage them to free and then care for former slaves they would have avoided all the bloodshed. By the way Lincoln’s wife’s family owned slaves and did not free them until wars end. In this manner slavery would have died of natural causes…..

  49. OK boys and girls, the Civil War began in 1861, the Emancipation wasn’t until 1863. There were slaves in the Northern states, 4 states, the E.P. freed slaves in “the rebellious states”, the South. The South had succeeded and was a separate nation which Lincoln had no authority in. That would be like the U.S. passing legislation for France, Mexico, etc. Grant and Sherman both owned slaves. There were mass lynchings in NYC of blacks on the streets, locals being out raged over going to war.
    So how was the Civil War over slavery when the E.P. wasn’t until 2 yrs later? Lincoln needed a rallying point and slavery was it. And why did he not free slaves in the Northern states? Why did Grant and Sherman own slaves while fighting in the Union Army? These are facts that can be verified, if you are willing to put forth the effort. Now, I”m sure someone will jump on this and call me a racist, that I supported slavery in the South, etc. Nope, just facts and history and slavery was on it’s way out as it got too expensive to maintain the system.

  50. I am descended from many Confederate Veterans and a couple with Union sympathies. I value the service of all the veterans, regardless of side, equally, although my heart lies with the Confederate.

    As for Sherman, it is hard to understand today how to “justify” his tactics unless you take a couple of things into account. One, his actions definitely hastened the end of the war, and, undoubtedly, ending up sparing many additional deaths and casualties (as did the bombing of Hiroshima). Two, in order for him to successfully obtain his objectives and capture Savannah, his tactics were necessary in order to maintain, sustain and equip his Army on the 250 mile journey. Did it cause bitterness for years to come (and even today?)? Certainly. But, like the war itself, it isn’t an argument that can simply be described as right or wrong depending upon where your sympathies lie.

    As for this thread, a lot of bickering, complaining and irresponsible comments all around. Unionists with vile comments towards Rebels and vice versa. There’s no need for it, only for reconciliation, after all, we’re all Americans.

    The War between the states was brutal and it’s causes complex. It is correct to say that slavery was a major CAUSE of the war, but, it is not correct to say the war was fought OVER slavery. Slavery was divisive surely, and at the time mostly contained in the secessionist states. However, it was the US Government that had kept slavery legal after inheriting its existence from the British although outlawing the international slave trade soon thereafter. There was no governmental push to abolish slavery, only to limit it to states where it already existed. This, then, is the crux of the matter as this put a dominant political party in danger of becoming a minority and losing associated power. The fear of this loss of power snowballed down to the power brokers at the state level until secession became a reality. These people are the ones we should be angry with – Politicians, whose need for power is greater than the welfare of their constituents. Indeed, were Union soldiers joining to fight and die to end slavery? No, but to preserve the Union. Were Southern soldiers enlisting to fight and die to preserve slavery? No, but to fight for independence, states rights and, as they believed, to fight an Army on their soil. Slavery, vis-a-vis the Emancipation Proclamation, was a tool employed to win the war.

    Was slavery right? No. But, it was a much more complicated issue than your personal opinion of right vs wrong. It had started long before the United States were formed or the Confederacy was even thought about. It was inherited from the British Colonies. In 1750 nearly half of New York households owned slaves. It was not a Confederate issue, but an American issue. Slavery didn’t prove profitable in the North and after the cotton gin invention, slaves were sold or moved by Northerners to the Southern states (so, who is more guilty the seller or the buyer?).

    Regardless, it was about economics and profit. When it became unprofitable in the North then abolitionist voices became loudest and states made laws regarding the ending of slavery. By the 1920s, tractors had become commonplace. Soon, thereafter, slavery would have become unprofitable in the South as well. Why make this point? Although slavery would have continued another 60-70 years, would that have been better than a million Americans dying in a war? Hard question with no easy answer. Also, in addition to the million or more soldiers killed, wounded or maimed, our country went through a very dark period during Reconstruction that exacerbated racism.

    Reconstruction, in my opinion, did more to polarize the American people and the races than the war itself. Due to its policies the bitterness between regions was magnified and the newly freed slaves were setup for failure by the carpetbagger politicians. Again, although wrong, the KKK was a by-product of Reconstructionist policies. In the states where slavery ended “on its own”, the problems you saw in the South during and after Reconstruction were minimal. Even in the South, there were free blacks prior to the war. On a personal note, my 4x great grandfather, Morris Evans, was a free black man living in Wake County North Carolina. His father and he both served in the Revolutionary war and were granted freedom and land becoming prosperous.

    To wrap it up, learn more, listen more and unite. We are all Americans and we should all strive to become brothers regardless of ancestry, regional affiliation or even race. Especially race. Politicians and pawns with loud microphones still only want to divide us in order to gain or maintain power. Love our history. Embrace it, don’t erase it. We are Americans and, although we have flaws and have been a work in progress, we are by far the greatest nation on this earth.

    • Confederate veterans were not citizens of our country, the USA. They were citizens of their own country, the CSA. Which depended upon White Supremacy and slavery, and which was dismantled after the war. Confederate veterans had been the enemy of our country. The protracted war was brought to an end by a horrible, intentional devastation. Much like the atomic bombings of Japan prevented endless loss of lives.

    • I can agree with pretty much all you have said. Though I have respect for the Confederates, and feel sympathy for their losses, in no way does that mean I do not accept blacks as my equals today.