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[415] and commissaries took in all live stock, hay, grain, meat, etc., and destroyed what they could not carry off. Then the men who skulked out of the ranks to forage on their own account, visited the houses and robbed them of whatever they fancied. Then the camp followers appeared to insult and abuse the helpless, smash furniture, rip open beds, break out windows, and end by applying the torch. When Lee invaded Pennsylvania his men foraged liberally, and in many cases cleaned out stores and houses, but where is the instance of an insult to a woman, or burning of a farm house? It cannot be shown that they destroyed what they could not remove. In scores of cases Lee guarded farms so rigidly that not a rail was taken for fire-wood.

The Federal who wants to learn what it was to license an army to become vandals, should mount a horse at Atlanta and follow Sherman's route for fifty miles. He will hear stories from the lips of women that will make him ashamed of the flag which waved over him as he went into battle. When the army had passed, nothing was left but a trail of desolation and depair. No house escaped robbery, no woman escaped insult, no building escaped the fire-brand, except by some strange interposition. War may license an army to subsist on the enemy, but civilized warfare stops at live-stock, forage and provisions. It does not enter the houses of the sick and helpless, and rob the women of finger rings and carry off their clothing.

In Sherman's official report of his march to Savannah, he says “We have consumed all the forage on a line of thirty miles front from Atlanta to Savannah; also all the sweet potatoes, cattle, hogs, sheep and poultry, and have carried away more than 10,000 horses and mules. I estimate the damage done to the State of Georgia at $100,000,000, $80,000,000 of which is simply waste and destruction.”

Does Lee's report of the Pennsylvania campaign contain any such figures? He had the same right to plunder, burn and destroy, as Sherman had, and yet, he did not destroy, outside of the town which Early burned, $200,000 worth of private property.

The march from Atlanta to Savannah was so little opposed, that it was a sort of holliday excursion to the Federals. He who desired to let himself loose, had only to leave the ranks. He could rob and burn, and Sherman had no reproofs. The more he destroyed, the greater hero he was. While only $20,000,000 worth of legitimate plunder could be laid hands on, these bummers were licensed to destroy four times that sum in private property, and they accomplished it in a manner to do credit to the savages of the West.

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W. T. Sherman (4)
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