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Referring to the railroad I was substantially following, Sherman suggested that great attention should be paid to the destruction of this road. Besides burning bridges and trestles, the iron should be carefully twisted and warped, so that it would not be possible ever to use it again. To this end, our rate of travel should be reduced to ten miles a day.

One or two harsh measures may be inserted to modify somewhat the feeling that has existed, that our foraging soldiers too often exceeded their instructions. They were directed by Sherman “to capture wagons; to bring their plunder to camp, after which the wagons should be burned.” Also: “Wherever such obstruction occurs (referring to citizens destroying bridges, culverts, etc.), the commanding officer of the troops present on the spot will deal harshly with the inhabitants near by, to show them that it is for their interest not to impede our movements.”

Again, we noticed how the burning of cotton, already imperatively directed, was again emphasized by our general: “Should the enemy burn forage and corn on our route, houses, barns, and cotton gins must also be burned to keep them company.”

These implicit instructions, together with the wellknown expression of our general, “to forage liberally on the country,” caused irregularities almost beyond the power of control, so that very soon, so far as my wing was concerned, I was obliged to stop the burning of mills, except by my own direct orders. And I issued these restrictive words:

The attention of the corps commanders and the commanders of unattached regiments and detachments is called to the irregularities existing in foraging, and the manner in which this privilege is often

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W. T. Sherman (2)
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