PoP's<br><b> War Crimes Against Southern Soldiers & Civilians</b>: October 2011


Charleston – Shelled, Sacked and Exterminated:

Most often left out of the army of Abraham Lincoln’s accomplishments is the sack and destruction of American farms, towns and cities – and the fate of American women and children left in the path of Northern armies consumed with hate. The unrestrained plundering of Southern homes in New Bern, Fredericksburg and elsewhere in 1862 continued unabated through the destruction and occupation of Charleston in 1865.

Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"

“The night of February 17-18 was one of horror and chaos, undoubtedly the worst ever experienced in the history of the city. There were more women in the city than usual, as those from the outlying plantations were sent in to get them out of the way of Sherman’s marauders.

As darkness approached, conditions became worse. No one dared to go to bed. Fires were breaking out all over the city, and since the white firemen, who acted in a dual capacity of militiamen, were gone, only Negro companies were left to fight them. [A]n explosion was caused by the blowing up of the [ironclad] Palmetto State at her wharf. This was the gunboat that the women of the State had financed by selling their jewelry.

[It was rumored] that unoccupied houses would be taken over by the Union troops, at which news women and children rushed back and barricaded themselves in their homes. The soldiers of the 21st US Colored Troops, who were in possession of the city, started on a tour of liberation – anything that was not nailed down was taken. They went everywhere breaking into homes and helping themselves to whatever they wanted, cursing and raving at the inhabitants all the while.

On February 28, General Order Number Eight was issued calling on the citizens of Charleston to take the oath of allegiance to the United States [government] and providing that no passes or favors would be given to those who refused to take it. The order also stated that no guards would be placed over the houses of citizens for the protection of private property, but that any person fearing molestation should display the United States flag in a conspicuous position and that any person who plundered a house would be punished. Nothing was said about what would happen to a person who plundered a house not flying the United States flag.

Apparently the order was ignored, and plundering continued unrestrained, for General Gillmore wrote from Hilton Head to General Hatch in Charleston: “I hear on all sides very discouraging accounts of the state of affairs in Charleston; that no restraint is put upon the soldiers; that they pilfer and rob houses at pleasure, that large quantities of valuable furniture pictures, statuary, mirrors, etc., have mysteriously disappeared – no one knows whither or by what agency…”

A month later Gillmore issued another order instruction the officers stationed in Charleston to return the silver, pianos, organs, pictures and works of art they had stolen. It appeared that, with the officers looting and nothing being done about it, it was perfectly all right for the soldiers to help themselves. It is not recorded that any of the material was returned, for the simple reason that none of it was.

That a single piece of furniture or silver survived is a miracle. The silver could be buried, and most of it was…Some paintings were rolled up and hidden in attics; most of the others usually had a bayonet thrust through the throat as if it was a man, or through the heart if it was a woman. Holes were shot through the furniture. The silver was usually located by the method of putting a rope around the neck of the person who knew where it was and gently raising him off the ground, then easing him back so that his feet barely touched.

Col. W.W.H. Davis of the 104th Pennsylvania…wrote: “The plunder was not all obtained by the soldiers, but officers received a fair share. Some of them sent north pianos, elegant furniture, silverware, books, pictures, etc., to adorn their New England dwellings.”

Possibly William Howard Russell, the war correspondent for the London Times, best expressed the feelings of hatred that existed in the North when he wrote: “The war which was made to develop and maintain Union sentiment in the South…is now to be made a crusade against slave holders, and a war of subjugation – if need be, of extermination.” Charleston to all extents and purposes was exterminated.

(The Siege of Charleston, 1861-1865, E. Milby Burton, USC Press, 1970, pp. 320-325)


Sheridan's 1864 campaign left Valley a 'barren waste'

Credit: The Pennsylvania State Archives
This photograph of Chambersburg after the July 30, 1864, burning is one of many taken in the aftermath. Photographs of Chambersburg in ruins circulated widely in the North and fueled calls for retaliation. That fall General Phil Sheridan's Union forces burned so many crops and barns in the Shenandoah Valley, that, as one observer put it, "a bird flying over the Valley, must carry it's own provender."

Sheridan's 1864 campaign
Written by
Charles Culbertson

For 13 days in 1864, columns of thick, black smoke — thousands of them — roiled skyward to foul the Shenandoah Valley's air and obliterate the autumn sun. Women and children, weeping and destitute, watched helplessly as soldiers torched their homes and belongings.

Horrified farmers saw their barns and mills consigned to the flames. Thousands of sheep, cattle and other livestock were gunned down in their tracks. Mountains of grain and feed were fired. Standing crops were burned to the ground. Homes were looted.

When the slashing and burning were over, the Breadbasket of the Confederacy was no more.

The Sept. 26-Oct. 8 Federal destruction of the Shenandoah Valley and its ability to support the Confederate military cause rivaled in severity Sherman's much ballyhooed "March to the Sea." In fact, the methodical, brutal campaign by Gen. Philip H. Sheridan in the Valley caused more damage and did more to hasten the end of the war than did Sherman's haphazard swing through Georgia.

While the great stronghold of Staunton had already fallen that summer, the Valley still provided plenty of sustenance for the Confederacy as well as a natural back door for invasions of the North. In the fall of 1864, Ulysses S. Grant, general-in-chief of the U.S. forces, decided to shut down the Shenandoah Valley once and for all.

"Give the enemy no rest," Grant told Sheridan in August 1864. "Do all the damage to railroads and crops you can. Carry off stock of all descriptions, and negroes, so as to prevent further planting. If the war is to last another year, we want the Shenandoah Valley to remain a barren waste."

Beginning at Staunton and working down the Valley to Winchester, Sheridan's men torched barns, mills, factories, warehouses, sheds, bridges — anything that could remotely be of use to the Confederate cause. Livestock was confiscated and whatever could not be used by the Federal army was killed. Farm implements of every description were smashed, burned or otherwise rendered useless.

One Federal soldier wrote of standing on a hill at night and seeing so many fires stretching from horizon to horizon that it appeared as if the stars had fallen from the sky.

While the decision to starve out the Confederate army by burning its breadbasket was sound, historians still argue about the necessity of laying waste to homesteads occupied by nothing more combative than women and children.

Tales of Yankee depredations abound. Women living alone watched helplessly as soldiers barged into their homes and stole whatever they wanted. Furniture and valuable heirlooms were smashed. What stores of food the women had managed to salvage were confiscated or destroyed.

And, in the worst instances, Union soldiers callously set fire to the homes themselves, instantly turning innocent women and children into starving refugees.

In Staunton, one of its two newspapers — the Spectator — had been destroyed in June when Union troops invaded the town, but the Vindicator had hidden its type and machinery and had survived. The Valley going up in flames did little to subdue the Vindicator editor's Confederate zeal.

"This war has been declared by the Yankee administration to have been commenced against those in arms against the government of the United States," he wrote. "But now Grant, wearied and sick of fighting the veterans of Lee with no avail, has turned his arms against the women and children of our land, hoping, doubtless, that he may gain a glorious victory (!) over them, a result already discovered by him impossible to be attained over the former."

He claimed that the campaign only harmed already poverty stricken civilians and that Confederate soldiers could draw their rations from other "equally plenteous sources." He predicted there would be, someday, retribution.

There already was, to an extent. Any Union soldier who strayed from the main body of his command — whether on purpose to forage or accidentally — rarely returned alive. Angry Southern bushwhackers and partisans invariably killed them, making the Yankee incursion into the Valley a deadly proposition.

The Vindicator's editorial defiance aside, Sheridan's burning of the Valley did destroy much of the Confederacy's ability to wage war. The final Confederate resistance was at Waynesboro in March the following year, with the end of the war coming just a month later.

Posted with permission,
The Leader & Author, Charles Culbertson


A Little More About "Uncle Billy"

by Al Benson Jr.

Professor Thomas DiLorenzo recently did an article about that grand arsonist of Georgia, William Tecumseh Sherman that appeared on and DiLorenzo had this to say about the man: "William Tecumseh Sherman was indeed the founding father of terrorism perpetuated by the U.S. government and disguised by the language of 'collective security.'"

DiLorenzo quoted from a book I have several times quoted from, "Citizen Sherman" which is a biography of Sherman with all the warts showing that contemporary "historians" work so hard to cover up. The book's author, William Fellman, has quoted Sherman as saying: "To the petulant and persistent secessionists, why death is mercy, and the quicker he or she is disposed of the better...Until we can repopulate Georgia, it is useless to occupy it, but the utter destruction of its roads, houses, and people will cripple their military resources." And Professor DiLorenzo noted that "Sherman was referring to his plans for the civilian population of Georgia after the Confederate Army had left the state." Sounds to me like Sherman would have loved to exterminate the population of Georgia just for the heck of it even if there had not been an army to oppose him.

Some modern "historians" (and I used that word loosely) have written articles about how what Sherman did to Georgia was really a wonderful event for that state. You have to wonder what they would have felt had such atrocities occurred in their back yards--but then we are not supposed to consider that.

Sherman even wrote to his wife about his wonderful plans for a holocaust in Georgia. On July 31, 1862 he wrote a darling little remembrance to his wife in which he stated that "the war will soon assume a turn to extermination not of soldiers alone, that is the least part of the trouble, but the people...There is a class of people, men, women, and children, who must be killed." I have to submit that Sherman sounds more like a homicidal murderer than the general of an army, but, then, that's what Lincoln wanted.

People today are taught in those brain laundries we call public schools just how warm and wonderful "Honest Abe" and all his stalwart Union generals were, freeing the slaves and all that other poppycock. Somehow the fairy tales of the "historians" fail to square with the real truth. Maybe Professor DiLorenzo could write a book called "The Real Sherman." About the most charitable thing you could say of Sherman was that he might well have been the spiritual ancestor of Hitler.


Look to the South

Look to the South and you who went with us through that land can best say if they have not been fearfully punished. Mourning is in every household, desolation written in broad characters across the whole face of their country, cities in ashes and fields laid waste, their commerce gone, their system of labor annihilated and destroyed. Ruin and poverty and distress everywhere, and now pestilence adding to the very cap sheaf of their stack of misery...Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, the man who left a 60 mile wide, 300 mile long path of death and desolation across GA and up through SC.

I have destroyed over 2,000 barns filled with wheat, hay and farming implements; over 70 mills filled with flour and wheat, and have driven in front of the Army over 4,000 head of stock and have killed and issued to the troops not less than 3,000 sheep. Tomorrow I will continue the destruction down to Fisher’s Mill. When this is completed, the Valley from Winchester to Staunton, 92 miles, will have but little in it for man or beast.....from an Oct. 7, 1864 report to Gen. Grant from Gen. Sheridan.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo, economics professor at Loyola College in Baltimore and historian and writer, tells us that Sherman once wrote to his wife that his purpose was the "extermination, not of soldiers alone...but of the people" of the South. Sherman often ordered his soldiers, many of whom were street criminals from Northern as well as European cities, to shoot civilians at random. He ordered his men to burn entire towns in Tennessee and Mississippi and of course Georgia. And the thousands of letters and diaries that survived the war attest to the rape of both black and white women by Sherman's men.
PoP Aaron
The Southern American


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In 1866, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton reported that according to the Commisary General of Prisoners,
over 26,000 Confederate POWs died in prisons and hospitals.