Thomas J. DiLorenzo is professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln; ;Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe, How Capitalism Saved America, Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution – And What It Means for America Today. His latest book is Organized Crime: The Unvarnished Truth About Government.Professor DiLorenzo is a friend of The Confederate Society.
“[F]rom the military policies of Sherman and Sheridan there lies but an easy step to the total war of the Nazis, the greatest affront to Western civilization since its founding.”
–Richard M. Weaver, The Southern Essays of Richard M.
Weaver, pp. 168-169.
Having lied about secession, states’ rights, the origins of the Constitution, Lincoln, and just about everything having to do with the American “Civil War” for many generations, the Lincoln cult is now hard at work on its biggest lie of all: that General William Tecumseh Sherman’s famous “march to the sea” did not negatively affect Southern civilians or their property.
In a November 14 New York Times article one Alan Blinder wrote of “an expanding body of more forgiving scholarship about the general’s behavior.” In its ten thousandth attempt (at least) to mentally “reconstruct” Southerners, the government-funded Georgia Historical Society, in cahoots with the Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum, recently paced a marker in Atlanta “near the picnic tables at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum” that is supposedly “a reassessment of Sherman” that has been “decades in the making” by the Lincoln cult.
Sherman was not “gratuitously destructive,” says the marker. He only targeted “military infrastructure.” Of course, in reality Sherman considered every Southern person, every acre of Southern land, every house, every barn, every blade of grass, every farm animal, and even every family pet as part of the Confederacy’s “military infrastructure.” Honest historians have documented this in spades for the past 150 years. It is also documented beyond all doubt by the U.S. government’s own Official Records of the war.
Nevertheless, the Lincoln cultists now dismiss the extraordinarily well-documented history of Sherman’s army’s pillaging, plundering, raping, and murdering of Southern civilians as “fables” and mere “family accounts of cruelty.” One source of such talk is John F. Marszalek, the executive director of the “Mississippi-based Ulysses S. Grant Association.” (A Grant museum in Mississippi is not unlike having a pro-Hitler Museum in Auschwitz, Poland). “The facts are coming out,” Marszalek ludicrously proclaimed to the Times. Sherman’s behavior “hastened . . . the reunification of the union,” the marker at the Jimmy Carter shrine absurdly announces. Yes, just as the German blitzkrieg “united” Germany with Poland and France during World War II, or how Soviet tanks “united” Eastern and Central Europe during the Cold War.
It is child’s play to prove what a pack of liars this new generation of Holocaust deniers are. It does require a little effort, however, which is probably what the Deniers are depending on when they spread their lies in places like the picnic area at the Jimmy Carter shrine. For example, consider just a few of the facts taken from the U.S. War Department publication,War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, as discussed in Walter Brian Cisco’s outstanding work of scholarship, War Crimes Against Southern Civilians.
From the Official Records, a Colonel Adin Underwood of Massachusetts described Sherman’s gratuitous bombing and burning of Atlanta after the Confederate Army had left the city as having burned to the ground “37 percent of the city” according to Sherman’s military engineers. This included many private homes and even churches.
An Ohio infantryman is quoted as describing “an ocean of fire” all throughout Atlanta. Eventually, at least “two-thirds of Atlanta lay in ashes” according to the Official Records. A Major Nichols was told that “the holocaust devoured no fewer than five thousand buildings.”
When Sherman’s chief military engineer, Captain O.M Poe, voiced dismay over seeing so many corpses of women and children in the streets of Atlanta, and informed Sherman that the day-and-night bombardment of the city was of no military significance, Sherman coldly called the corpses “a beautiful sight” that would quicken the ending of the war (Michael Fellman, Citizen Sherman, p. 184). There were approximately 4,000 private homes in Atlanta before Sherman’s bombing, with only around 400 left standing.
Sherman left a paper trail that was obviously intended to cover his murderous tracks, but at times he issued direct orders to murder civilians. Bothered by his inability to apprehend Confederate snipers who had been shooting at his railroad trains, he sent the following order to a General Louis D. Watkins: “Cannot you send over about Fairmount and Adairsville, burn ten or twelve houses of known secessionists, kill a few at random, and let them know it will be repeated every time a train is fired on . . ?” (John Walters, Merchant of Terror: General Sherman and Total War, p. 137). In order to carry out such war crimes, Sherman biographer Lee Kennett writes of how “the New York regiments were . . . filled with big city criminals and foreigners fresh from the jails of the Old World.” It took a special kind of “soldier” to carry out Sherman’s war crimes. (Lee Kennett, Marching Through Georgia, p. 279).
The Official Records also record how federal soldiers extorted money from Southern civilians by demanding “insurance” payments to avoid having their homes ransacked and burned down. A Major James Austin Connolly is quoted in the following way in response to reports that Southerners were hiding their valuables from thieving U.S. Army soldiers:
“Let them do it if they dare. We’ll burn every house, barn, church, and everything else we come to; we’ll leave their families homeless without food; their towns will all be destroyed and nothing but the most complete desolation will be found in our track. “
The Official Records also write of how Northern reporters associated with Republican Party newspapers often accompanied Sherman’s “bummers” as they were called, and then entertained the folks up North with tales of their raping, pillaging, plundering, burning, and murdering. One Northern reporter is quoted s saying of Sherman’s rampaging looters:
“If the spoil were ample, the depradators were satisfied, and went off in peace; if not, everything was destroyed . . . . Hogs were bayoneted to bleed; chickens, geese, and turkeys knocked over and hung in garlands . . . cows and calves . . . are shot . . . . the furniture [of private homes] is smashed to pieces, music is pounded out of . . . pianos with the ends of muskets.”
Another federal soldier is quoted as saying “I rather feel sorry for some of the women who cried and begged so piteously for the soldiers to leave them a little,” but nevertheless, “extermination [of the civilian population] is our only means now.”
When Sherman reached Hardeeville, South Carolina, one of his bummers is quoted in the Official Records as saying that “In a few hours a town of half century’s growth is thus leveled to the ground.” This even included a church where “First the pulpit and the seats were torn out . . . . Many axes were at work.” This is undoubtedly an example of what the Lincoln cult means when they refer to “military infrastructure.”
One of Sherman’s degradations was known as his “war on dogs.” A U.S. Army Colonel is quoted in the Official Records as saying, “We were determined that no dogs should escape . . . we exterminate all. The dogs were easily killed. All we had to do was to bayonet them.”
By the time Sherman was done with South Carolina, one of his officers boasted in the Official Records that “We have . . . burnt one city, the capital, and most of the villages on our route as well as most barns, outbuildings and dwelling houses, and every house that escaped fire has been pillaged.” This was no “family myth,” as the Lincoln cult shamelessly claims, but the words of a senior officer in Sherman’s army.
Sherman’s “march to the sea” was nothing new: he had been waging total war on the civilian population of the South for years. In 1862 he ordered the complete destruction through fire of the town of Randolph, Tennessee, near Memphis. Around that time, Sherman wrote a letter to his wife saying that “extermination, not of soldiers alone, that is the least part of the trouble, but the people” in general, was his intention. (Cited in John Walters, Merchant of Terror, p. 61).
In 1863 Sherman ordered the systematic bombardment of Jackson, Mississippi every five minutes, day and night. The city was sacked, looted, and destroyed, after which Sherman boasted in a letter to Grant that “the [civilian] inhabitants are subjugated. They cry aloud for mercy. The land is devastated for 30 miles around.” (Cited in Walters,Merchant of Terror, p. 101). He also boasted of the complete destruction of Meridian, Mississippi: “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.” (Walters, Merchant of Terror, p. 116). This, too, took place after the Confederate Army was long gone from the area.
James McPherson estimated that some 50,000 Southern civilians perished during the War to Prevent Southern Independence, but the true figure is probably much higher. Sherman himself boasted of how his “bummers” destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of private property and walked off with hundreds of millions of dollars more. There are thousands of pictures of the burned out Southern landscape in the wake of Sherman’s “march” in addition to all the Official Records that record his war crimes.
But of course in war, the victors are never prosecuted. This probably explains why Sherman – and all the other Union Army top command, including Lincoln himself, became more and more murderous when it came to Southern civilians in the latter years of the war. They all understood that if the South was victorious, it would have been well within its rights to hang all of them as war criminals.
In the past, before the Lincoln cult commenced its current campaign to whitewash Sherman’s reputation, some cultists admitted this. Sherman biographer Lee Kennett wrote 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 . . . in stringing up President Lincoln and the entire Union high command for violation of the laws of war, specifically for waging war against noncombatants.” (Lee Kennett, Marching Through Georgia, p. 286). This proves that the Lincoln cultists know these facts but are once again doing everything they can to confuse and misinform the American public about their own country’s history. As such, it is not an exaggeration to label them as the new generation of holocaust deniers.