Jack Kershaw of Memphis, Tennessee, wants to file a class-action lawsuit against the US government for reparations. Not on behalf of the descendants of slaves but on behalf of Southerners of all races whose ancestors were the victims of the US government’s rampage of pillaging, plundering, burning, and raping of Southern civilians during the War for Southern Independence.
In 1860 international law — and the US government’s own military code — prohibited the intentional targeting of civilians in war, although it was recognized that civilian casualties are always inevitable. "Foraging" to feed an army was acceptable, but compensation was also called for. The kind of wanton looting and destruction of private property that was practiced by the Union army for the entire duration of the war was forbidden, and perpetrators were to be imprisoned or hanged. This was all described in great detail in the book, International
Law, authored by San Francisco attorney Henry Halleck, who was appointed by Lincoln as general in chief of the Union armies in July 1862.
International law, the US army’s own military code, and common rules of morality and decency that existed at the time were abandoned by the Union army from the very beginning. A special kind of soldier was used to pillage and plunder private property in the South during the war. In The Hard Hand of War
Mark Grimsley writes that the federal Army of the Potomac "possessed its full quotient of thieves, freelance foragers, and officers willing to look the other way," and that "as early as October 1861" General Louis Blenker’s division "was already burning houses and public buildings along its line of march" in Virginia. Prior to the Battle of First Manassas in the early summer of 1861 the Army of the Potomac was marked by "robbing hen roosts, killing hogs, slaughtering beef cattle, cows, the burning of a house or two and the plundering of others."
In Marching through Georgia
Sherman biographer Lee Kennett noted that Sherman’s New York regiments "were filled with big city criminals and foreigners fresh from the jails of the Old World."
Unable to subdue their enemy combatants, many Union officers waged war on civilians instead, with Lincoln’s full knowledge and approval. Grimsley describes how Union Colonel John Beatty warned the residents of Paint Rock, Alabama, that "Every time the telegraph wire was cut we would burn a house; every time a train was fired upon we would hang a man; and we would continue to do this until every house was burned and every man hanged between Decatur and Bridgeport." Beatty ended up burning the entire town of Paint Rock to the ground.
The Union army did not merely gather food for itself; it pillaged, plundered, burned, and raped its way through the South for four years. Grimsley recounts a first hand account of the sacking of Fredericksburg, Virginia, in December of 1862:
Great three-story houses furnished magnificently were broken into and their contents scattered over the floors and trampled on by the muddy feet of the soldiers. Splendid alabaster vases and pieces of statuary were thrown at 6 and 700 dollar mirrors. Closets of the very finest china were broken into and their contents smashed . . . rosewood pianos piled in the street and burned . . . Identical events occurred in dozens of other Southern cities and towns for four years.
Sherman was the plunder-in-chief, and he had three solid years of practice for his March to the Sea. In the autumn of 1862 Confederate snipers were firing at Union gunboats on the Mississippi River. Unable to apprehend the combatants, Sherman took revenge on the civilian population by burning the entire town of Randolph, Tennessee, to the ground. In a July 31, 1862 letter to his wife Sherman explained that his purpose in the war was "extermination, not of the soldiers alone, that is the least part of the trouble, but the people."
In the spring of 1863, after the Confederate Army had evacuated, Sherman ordered his army to destroy the town of Jackson, Mississippi. They did, and in a letter to General Ulysses S. Grant Sherman boasted that "The inhabitants [of Jackson] are subjugated. They cry aloud for mercy. The land is devastated for 30 miles around."
Meridian, Mississippi was also destroyed after the Confederate Army had evacuated, after which Sherman wrote to Grant: "For five days, ten thousand of our men worked hard and with a will, in that work of destruction, with axes, sledges, crowbars, clawbars, and with fire, and I have no hesitation in pronouncing the work well done. Meridian . . . no longer exists."
In Citizen Sherman
Michael Fellman describes how Sherman’s chief engineer, Captain O.M. Poe, advised that the bombing of Atlanta was of no military significance (the Confederates had already abandoned the city) and implored Sherman to stop the bombardment after viewing the carcasses of dead women and children in the streets. Sherman coldly told him the dead bodies were "a beautiful sight" and commenced the destruction of 90 percent of all the buildings in Atlanta. After that, the remaining 2,000 residents were evicted from their homes just as winter was approaching.
In October of 1864 Sherman even ordered the murder of randomly chosen citizens in retaliation for Confederate Army attacks. He wrote to General Louis D. Watkins: "Cannot you send over about Fairmount and Adairsville, burn ten or twelve houses . . ., kill a few at random, and let them know that it will be repeated every time a train is fired upon . . ." (See John Bennett Walters, Merchant of Terror: General Sherman and Total War
, p. 137).
The indiscriminate bombing of Southern cities, which was outlawed by international law at the time, killed hundreds, if not thousands of slaves. The slaves were targeted by Union Army plunderers as much as anyone. As Grimsley writes, "With the utter disregard for blacks that was the norm among Union troops, the soldiers ransacked the slave cabins, taking whatever they liked." A typical practice was to put a hangman’s noose around a slave’s neck and threaten to hang him unless he revealed where the household’s jewelry and silverware were hidden. Some slaves were beaten to death by Union soldiers.
General Phillip Sheridan engaged in the same kind of cowardly, criminal behavior in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in the autumn of 1864, after the Confederates had finally evacuated the valley. General Grant ordered him to turn the valley into a "desert," and he and his army did. A sergeant in Sheridan’s army, William T. Patterson, described the pillaging, plundering, and burning of Harrisonburg, Bridgewater, and Dayton Virginia:
The work of destruction is commencing in the suburbs of the town . . . The whole country around is wrapped in flames, the heavens are aglow with the light thereof . . . such mourning, such lamentations, such crying and pleading for mercy I never saw nor never want to see again, some were wild, crazy, mad, some cry for help while others throw their arms around yankee soldiers necks and implore mercy. (See Roy Morris, Jr., Sheridan
, p. 184.)
It is important to recognize that at the time the Valley was populated only by women, children, and old men who were too feeble to be in the army. In letters home some of Sheridan’s soldiers described themselves as "barn burners" and "destroyers of homes." One soldier wrote that he had personally burned more than 60 private homes to the ground, as Grimsley recounts. After Sheridan’s work of destruction and theft was finished Lincoln grandly conveyed to him his personal thanks and "the thanks of a nation."
Historian Lee Kennett, author of Marching through Georgia: The Story of Soldiers and Civilians during Sherman’s Campaign, wrote an article in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution last year in which he argued that Southerners had been too critical of Sherman. His book is very favorable to Sherman and Lincoln, but he nevertheless wrote on page 286 that:
Had the Confederates somehow won, had their victory put them in position to bring their chief opponents before some sort of tribunal, they would have found themselves justified (as victors generally do) in stringing up President Lincoln and the entire Union high command for violation of the laws of war, specifically for waging war against noncombatants.
If Mr. Kershaw’s lawsuit goes to trial, Lincoln and his high command will finally be put before a tribunal, of sorts. He probably has little if any hope of winning such a case (in federal court!), but the trial record would go a long way toward combating the whitewashing of history that has occurred for the past 140 years.
Sherman's men tearing up railroads on their way to Atlanta.
By Al Benson Jr.
In his book The History of the Confederacy 1832-1865 Clifford Dowdey on page 321, Mr. Dowdey made some interesting comments about some of the Yankee/Marxist generals involved in the War. He noted: “The Sheridans, Milroys and Hunters had a different kind of arrogance from the neo-prince-lings of the Cotton South. They had the arrogance of unrestrained might. Without regard for rights—of belligerents or fellow citizens or even of the so-called human rights.” Let alone the Union—these bully boys had a lust for physical violence and wanton destruction.”
Of William Tecumseh Sherman Dowdey wrote, on page 374, “He was the executioner of the sentence which the sitters-in-judgment wished to have carried out against the Southern people. He destroyed a civilization. To the South he remains a symbol of the wanton and ruthless brutality of a might which denied all human rights to its victims…All through the reign of terror (Sherman’s march) the coarsest of the Union soldiers displayed the lust to degrade and desecrate the symbols of a civilization superior to anything they had personally experienced. Class hatred had been localized into hatred of a section which represented the pride of the aristocrat. That pride they wanted to humble and, by humbling, establish their own superiority to it…Sherman’s glorified march set back the real cause of union by at least the fifty years he mentioned…Sherman struck the heaviest and most lasting blow for continuing division.” Considering some of the socialist and Marxist generals commanding his troops that should come as no real surprise.
Sherman had with him Brigadier General August Willich, called by his Communist comrades “the reddest of the red.” He also had Brigadier General Peter Osterhaus and Colonel Frederick Knefler. All three of these men are profiled in our book Lincoln’s Marxists. Also present in Sherman’s officer corps was Brigadier General John B. Turchin, the European officer who “turned his back” while his command destroyed the town of Athens, Alabama. Can there be any doubt that such men contributed to Sherman’s lust for the destruction of Southern private property—one of the major tenets of Marxism.
That such men would comprise part of Sherman’s command is borne out by Sherman’s own proclivities toward military dictatorship. In his book Citizen Sherman published in 1995, Michael Fellman has noted in several places that Sherman was a proponent of military dictatorship. On pages 59-60 Fellman observed: “His rejection of democracy and his semi-secret reactionary faith in a military seizure of power deepened through the secession crisis and into the opening stages of his involvement in the Civil War.” His interest in military dictatorship went far beyond the opening stages of the War. After the fall of Vicksburg Sherman wrote to his brother and said: “A government resting immediately on the caprice of a people is too unstable to last…All must obey, Government that is, the executive, having no discretion but to execute the law must be to that extend despotic.” And then he told his brother, who, in his own right, had a dictatorial mindset, “If Congress don’t provide, the Army will’” by which he meant provide a dictatorship.’” Many “historians” would rather not write about this and so if they don’t downplay it they just ignore it. The public doesn't need to know this if knowing it will interfere with the agenda. I must admit, until I read Fellman’s book, I had never come across this. And Fellman has noted that, although Sherman never made public his thoughts on military dictatorship and kept them private, “…he often acted on those same impulses…As he gained larger commands he imposed his authority with increasing energy.” His threats “…demonstrated Sherman’s willingness to issue repressive orders and his authoritarian bent” and that included censoring local newspapers.
Sherman displayed little of the humanitarian impulse with either Southerners or Indians. Burke Davis told us in his book Sherman’s March that, at a certain point, Sherman was beginning to develop his theory of total war and he sought to make the War to horrible that “…the rebels would never again talk up arms. The Southern people, he said, though they ‘cannot be made to love us, can be made to fear us, and dread the passage of troops through their country.’”
Not only did Sherman have fascist tendencies regarding army control of the country, he had a hard time getting along with his wife also. Fellman stated that: “…the quarrels of their marriage would rigidify into fairly violently expressed rituals of mutual recrimination, punctuated from time to time by protestations of admiration and affection…They were hurt and angry to be apart—being together made them hurt and angry as well.” His wife was a traditional Roman Catholic while Sherman was what was described as a “Jeffersonian deist.” Never the twain shall meet—and they didn't. Sherman, at one point, said that “I believe in good works rather than faith.” Problem was, Sherman got it exactly backwards. He surely did not display much in the area of “good works” while his bummers were sacking and terrorizing Georgia. But, then, maybe he considered making war on civilians in Georgia and South Carolina to be among his “good works.”
After the War was over and he had successfully burned and destroyed a good part of the South, Sherman then had to deal with those nasty Indians out west who wanted to hang onto their land. His policy was one of indiscriminate extermination. He didn't care who his men killed, men, women or children. All were fair game for Sherman’s “western bummers.”
In regard to the Sioux Indians Sherman, according to Fellman, said “We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men women and children…I suppose the Sioux must be exterminated for they cannot and will not settle down, and our people will force us to it.” Good old Cump Sherman—the reluctant exterminator! Fellman noted of Sherman: “Yet however mutely or overtly he might express it, genocide was one of the poles of his agenda, one he would never entirely adopt nor completely reject. Extermination if need be; displacement for certain.”
So we have General Sherman, a man who contributed mightily to the destruction of Southern civilization, who was willing not only to exterminate Southerners and ruin their land and who had the same inclinations toward the Indians in the West, a man who could not get along with his wife, who was basically an agnostic at best, a man who favored military dictatorship over representative government (and he wasn't the only Yankee general who held those sentiments) and this is the man we are all supposed to consider a hero. You’ll pardon me if I disagree. War criminal yes, hero—no!
And the same people who tell us we should forget all this and just put it in back of us are the same people who are trying to tear down our flags and symbols and denigrate those among our generals who actually were heroic men. Problem is, too many Southern folks are willing to go along with all this. They want their “Southern heritage” without any Confederate flags or gray uniforms or streets named after Stonewall Jackson. The word “Confederate” is like a cuss-word to them—they wouldn't be caught dead uttering it. Because they are willing to sell out their heritage they will lose it. And disturbed men like Sherman will end up with statues all over the South because more Southern folks wouldn't stand up and call a spade a spade. Sherman was partly responsible for starting the cultural genocide in the South and his spiritual ancestors will try to complete it. Will we let them?
Future governor of North Carolina, Quaker and Unionist Jonathan Worth, believed his State was driven out of the Union by Lincoln’s actions, which was forcing his fellow citizens to not only violate the United States Constitution by allowing a president to raise an army, but to also wage war against other States. On 30 May 1861 he wrote: “We are in the midst of war and revolution. North Carolina would have stood by the Union but for the conduct of the national administration, which for folly and simplicity exceeds anything in modern history.”
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"Unsurpassed Valor, Courage and Devotion to Liberty"
If it was unconstitutional, did the opponents of secession have the right to combat it with equally unconstitutional measures? Was the president’s subsequent response any less illegal than the actions of the secession conventions, merely because his actions followed theirs chronologically?
Beyond the question of right, was it wise to meet secession with extralegal force? Was the preservation of the national borders worth the precedent of the chief executive initiating warfare, arbitrarily suspending civil liberties, jailing thousands on suspicion or political whim, using the military to manipulate elections, and even overthrowing the legitimate governments of States?
Perhaps most relevant then and now, especially considering the potential for the repetition and expansion of those infringements under increasingly numerous and nebulous emergencies, is the question of whether those infringements were even necessary.
Did the permanent weakening of America’s best protection against tyranny not exceed the violence done to the Constitution by the secession of seven States, and might that fundamental document not have survived in firmer health with the remaining twenty-seven States adhering to it all the more strictly?
For that matter, would the bifurcation of the United States have been worse than the war waged to prevent it? The instinctive reply (after requisite reference to the abolition of slavery) asserts that the precedent of secession would have led to further divisions, until the former nation had been thoroughly Balkanized; Lincoln himself alluded to that potential fragmentation in his first inaugural.
Yet the very choice of the pejorative “Balkanized,” which is so often employed in that argument, carries an assumption that a continent of smaller republics would not have been preferable. Nationalist advocates can and have produced abundant evidence of economic and social development under the reconstructed United States, but that evidence does not necessarily suggest that equivalent development would have been impossible under another political and geographic configuration.
Although it would likely have increased internal tension in the North, unopposed secession in 1861 ought, at least initially, to have eased the conflict between the sections – rather than aggravating it, as “Balkanization” implies.
Disunion would have made slavery a national issue within the Confederate States, rather than a divisive sectional problem within the United States, thereby eliminating what Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. considered one of the foremost impediments to a peaceful, internal solution for that evil. The obstacles to proving any hypothesis of separation as a viable alternative apply equally to any assertion of it as an unacceptable solution.
If Lincoln considered the issue of secession negotiable at some point on a scale of increasing resistance, it seems that such devastating mortality would have figured fairly high on that scale. Had he been able to foresee the harvest of death his choices would yield, anyone as reasonable as the sixteenth president might understandably have opted against the carnage and accepted the departure of seven fractious provinces in return for a smaller but more peaceable federation.
Of course he owned no such foresight; the resort to arms seldom fails to inflict far greater suffering than either belligerent expects, but it took a peculiar blend of circumstances to turn the American Civil War into an unpredictable bloodbath.
It was Lincoln, however, who finally eschewed diplomacy and sparked a confrontation when he fully understood the volatility of the situation. Although he avoided the political blunder of firing the first shot, he backed himself into a corner from which he could escape only by mobilizing a national army, and thereby fanning the embers of Fort Sumter into full-scale conflagration.
(Mr. Lincoln’s War, William Marvel, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006, pp. xv-xvii)
By Al Benson Jr.
In the Holy Scriptures, Jesus Christ speaks in John 14:6 and says “I am the way; the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” That’s a pretty straight forward statement. He is saying that no man ever gets to God, except through Him. Down through the centuries people, not willing to come to Christ, have continued to try other ways. There is a reluctance in men, because of their sin, to accept the truth. They always want to do it “their way.” And often to do it “their way” they will invent new ideologies (which they claim are not religious, but really are) which ultimately destroy the lives of millions. Marxism is one such ideology. Most naïve folks today think that because the Berlin Wall was torn down that communism is dead. I hate to disappoint you, but it ain’t so Marxist ideology (theology) is alive and well on many college campuses in this country and lots of other places and it has a pretty good toe hold in Washington. But, then, that is nothing new.
I read an interesting and penetrating article recently on http://www.americandailyherald.com
written by Christopher C. M. Warren and published on Friday, June 8, 2012 called Karl Marx and the Communist Religion of Hate. In part Mr. Warren stated: “The thesis of this short paper is that Karl Marx, the founder of communism, was a man of profound religious beliefs who formed what basically amounts to an ‘anti-Christian religion’. Why he became anti-Christian is the central mystery of his life. Both Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the founders of Communism, grew up in wealthy families far removed from a life of poverty and is one of the contradictions to be found in the lives of communist leaders. Their successors—Lenin, Trotsky and the others who led the Bolshevik Revolution in Russian in 1917—became multi-millionaires…As one historical commentator notes: ‘Running left-wing movements has always been the prerogative of spoiled rich kids. This pattern goes all the way back to the days when an over-indulged and affluent young man named Karl Marx combined with another over-indulged youth from a wealthy family named Friedrich Engels to create the Communist ideology.” There is some doubt as to who actually created the Communist ideology and if you look at the people who hired Marx to write The Communist Manifesto you have to conclude the ideas were not totally his but he shared their worldview.
The historical commentator’s quote continued: “The phoniness of the claim to be a movement of the working class was blatant from the beginning. When Engels was elected as a delegate to the Communist League in 1847, in his own words, ‘a working man was proposed for appearances sake, but those who proposed him voted for me.’ It may have been the first rigged ‘election’ of the Communist movement but it was certainly no the last…”
Mr. Warren has noted: “Marx’s followers pursued an anti-Christian Utopia that—from the beginning—focused on political power, not on meeting the needs of the poor. Like today’s seductive vision of change, their socialist/communist transformation required a ‘crisis’ and a ‘pirpose’ that would capture public attention.” Almost sounds as if he is referring to our current “hope and change” fantasy.
In regard to a poem Marx wrote, Mr. Warren said: “Marx was 18 when he wrote these things. His life’s program had already been established. There was no word about serving mankind, the proletariat, or socialism. He wished to bring the world to ruin. He wished to build for himself a throne whose bulwark should be human fodder.” So Marx’s anti-Christian religion was built on the misery of others and on his own personal selfishness. Marx and Engels were, basically, spoiled brats who should have been taken to the woodshed when they were young enough for it to have done some good.
Whittaker Chambers in his informative book Witness has observed that Communism and Christianity are two “irreconcilable faiths.” On page 712 he gives a quote from someone else—“The problem of Communism is not an economic problem. The problem of Communism is the problem of atheism.” Upon reading that many will think that atheists have no religion, which is not accurate. Their guiding theology is that Jesus is not the Christ, is not Lord. And it would seem that this is the theology that holds sway in Washington, regardless of who we elect to any office. That tells you something. It tells you that even if you vote and elect “conservatives” they will have no influence over the direction the government goes in.
A European Mr. Chambers referred to as “Smetana” once told him “You don’t understand the structure of American society or you would not ask such a question. In the United States the working class or Democrats. The middle class are Republicans. The upper class are Communists.” If you understand who constitutes the upper class to be members of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission then you are not far off the mark.
I think, from reading his book, there were a lot of things Mr. Chambers did not realize. He found that, when he tried to expose the Communists he had worked with for years, the government in Washington, as a whole, was not interested. Chambers was horribly smeared by the media, who always defended the Communists and were merciless against any anti-Communist and especially against those who exposed what the Reds were doing in the US government. Communist espionage in the US government was the sacred cow—it was not to be touched and when you started to expose Communists like Alger Hiss or Harry Dexter White and some others then you had to be stopped at any cost. Chambers clearly saw the struggle against communism as a battle between “two irreconcilable faiths” and I can not disagree with him. The Communists today still continue to attack anything they perceive as Christian. In that they carry out the agenda of those in back of them as well as their own. As the Scripture truthfully states that Jesus is Lord so the ruling elite in this country and others will oppose that truth because what they really want is a world the worships them and their authority. They want to be gods and to accomplish that they must remove God from his throne so there will be room for them on it.
Their only problem is that it will never work, but yet they will, and have, ruined millions of lives in their attempts, both their own disciples and those who dared to oppose them.
I recall talking to a man, probably 30 years ago now, as we sat in my living room over coffee. I told him of my Christian understanding of Communism and that, because of that, I had to oppose it in any lawful way I could. I never forgot his comment to me. He said “ You are going to lose, you know that don’t you?” To which I replied “Whether I win or lose is not the case. It’s a matter of doing what’s right.” He seemed to accept that answer.
Whittaker Chambers felt the same way. He felt that, in the end, he would lose, that, looking at the country as it was in his day, the Communists would win. Yet he decided to expose them anyway—because it was the right thing to do.
You cannot compromise with an anti-Christian faith. You cannot just sit it out and hope it will go away, or just sit it out because to expose it is a “negative” reaction and you don’t want to deal in negatives. Anti-Christianity needs to be exposed. Just possibly in the exposure, some of those who are anti-Christian may be led to repentance and thereby get their lives straightened out. But in all of it we must point to the fact that Jesus IS the way to God and so, in God’s time all the schemes of the Communists and One World crowd will fail and maybe the Lord will exercise His sovereign control by using His people to expose the evil.