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[314] God, destroy it all! Hence my objection to Sherman's plans was based upon my conviction that such plans were not at that time, and never had been, necessary. Yet such plans are legitimate and often necessary, and no man is wise enough to tell in advance whether they may prove to be necessary or not. The surest way to reach results is the way Sherman adopted. In either a civil or a foreign war, such methods may be very bad policy; but very few men are cool-headed enough in civil war, even if wise enough, to see what good policy dictates, and this is even more true of men at a distance than of those at the front. Men who have been fighting most of the time for three or four years generally become pretty cool, while those in the rear seem to become hotter and hotter as the end approaches, and even for some time after it is reached. They must in some way work off the surplus passion which the soldier has already exhausted in battle. Whatever may be true as to Sherman's methods before Lee surrendered, the destruction inflicted on the South after that time was solely the work of passion, and not of reason. Of this last Sherman was innocent.

Sherman's destruction of military supplies and railroads did undoubtedly render impossible any great prolongation of the war, if that would otherwise have been possible; but it did not materially hasten the actual collapse of the rebellion, which was due to Grant's capture of Lee's army. Besides, if Grant had not captured Lee, Sherman would. Lee could not possibly have escaped them both. Hence Sherman's destruction of property in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina did not hasten the end of the rebellion. If General Sherman was, at the time he planned his march to the sea, informed of the nearly bankrupt condition of the United States treasury, that fact went far toward justifying his action in leaving as small a force as possible with Thomas, and even in starting on his march before Thomas was fully ready to meet Hood. For to make

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William T. Sherman (7)
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