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General Sherman's method of making war.

As General W. T. Sherman is so fond of coming to the front in denunciation of Confederate leaders and Confederate methods and motives in the conduct of the war, we feel called upon to put on record from time to time the truth about his methods of warfare, and instead of imitating his example and dealing in reckless assertions, we have generally sustained our arraignment by the most unimpeachable official records. We were, however, induced to publish in our issue of Match, 1884, a ‘Letter from one of Sherman's Bummers,’ which we received from a responsible source, and the authenticity of which we had no reason to question. But we have the following contradiction from Colonel Stone, formerly Assistant Adjutant-General Army of the Cumberland, which we cheerfully publish in our first issue after its receipt, as we are unwilling to do the slightest injustice even to the men who ‘made South Carolina howl.’ Although the letter was ‘not intended for publication,’ yet, as Colonel Stone gives us permission to do so, we deem it best to give the letter in full.

Letter from Colonel Stone.

Independence Square, Boston, March 19, 1885.
Rev. J. William Jones, D. D., Secretary Southern Historical Society, Richmond, Va..
Dear sir,—In the number of the Southern Historical so-Ciety papers for March, 1884, under the heading, ‘How they made South Carolina “ Howl” —Letter from one of Sherman's Bummers,’ you publish what purports to be ‘a letter found in the streets of Columbia after the army of General Sherman had left.’

The contents of the letter are enough to satisfy any unprejudiced mind that it could not have been written by any officer of General Sherman's command—except, possibly, as the broadest kind of a hoax. But conceding, for the moment, that such a letter might have been written by ‘one of “Sherman's bummers,” ’ it is demonstrable that the letter under consideration is not genuine. If any such letter exists, it is a forgery.

The statement is that it was ‘found in the streets of Columbia after the army of General Sherman had left.’ The last of that army left Columbia on or before February 21. This letter purports to be dated [440] ‘Camp near Camden, S. C., February 26, 1865.’ Camden is at least thirty miles east of Columbia, and on the opposite side of the Catawba river. By the roundabout course pursued by the army, it is double that distance. The crossing of the river occupied several days, and was effected twenty or thirty miles north of Camden. The waters were very high, and once across, there was no such thing as returning. Everybody and everything was moving away from Columbia as rapidly as possible. Only a small part of Sherman's army marched through or near Camden. The knowledge or consideration of these facts shows how improbable, if not absolutely impossible, it was, under the circumstances, that any letter written by one of ‘Sherman's Bummers,’ near Camden, South Carolina, could afterwards have found its way to the streets of Columbia.

It so happens, also, that no officer named Thomas J. Myers—the name purporting to be signed to the document you have reprinted— belonged to General Sherman's army. The records show that, throughout the war, there was but one officer in the military service of the United States with that name, and he was not in Sherman's army, and did not—as is implied in the direction, Boston, Mass., and the reference in the letter to the ‘Old Bay State’—belong to any Massachusetts regiment. ‘Alas,’ cries the weeping Thomas, ‘it (the captured jewelry) will be scattered all over the North and Middle States.’ It so happens, also, that of the ninety regiments of Sherman's army which might have passed on the march near Camden, South Carolina, but a single one—a New Jersey regiment—was from the Middle States. All the rest were from the West—never called the North, in the local idiom of Western people. A letter from the only Thomas J. Myers ever in the army would never contain such a phrase.

To crown all, Thomas J. Myers resigned from the military service on the 18th of February, 1865—eight days before the date of the pretended letter—while his regiment was in Northern Alabama.

I should not have taken pains to look up and analyze these facts if I did not think it matter for profound regret that a periodical, presumably published in the interest of historical truth, should give currency to this document. No possible good can come of its publication, if genuine, but much harm. It throws no light on one single fact or method by which the war was conducted. As to General Sherman's procedure, on his famous march, history will judge it on acknowledged and recorded facts—which are ample and accessible— not on any such irritating and preposterous assertions as are contained [441] in the document under consideration. General Sherman has never shrunk from any responsibility for his actions. The genuine recollections and experiences of men and women in that exciting and passionate time are legitimate and useful matters for publication, even when they reveal things which, in the cooler days of reason and law, everyone must regret, if not condemn—Inter arma, silent leges. Till men become perfect, war will be full, always, of cruelest outrages. When they do become perfect, there will be no war. So far as it may help to restrain men's passions or ambitions, and lead to the adoption of better methods for redressing wrongs, real or fancied, than killing and robbery—which all war is, in its last analysis—every tale of suffering, privation, injury, spoliation, may prove useful, and so its publication justifiable. But when, as certainly seems the case in this instance, nothing but the provocation and perpetuation of ill-feeling and bitterness can result, I submit that a periodical of the character of the Southern Historical papers might—as I am happy to see it does, in most instances—find better material than reprinting from obscure newspapers, matter which throws no real light on any single act or motive during the whole of the great contest.

Your periodical is taken by a society of which I am a member, but I did not happen to see the March number earlier, or I should have earlier written you. I do not write now for publication—though to that I have no objection—but simply to give you the facts, and let your own sense of justice decide what you will do.

Very respectfully yours,

Henry Stone, Late Brevet-Colonel U S. Volunteers, and A. A. G. Army of the Cumberland.

We are frank to admit that Colonel Stone seems to make out his case against the authenticity of this letter, and we regret having republished it.

But as showing the method and spirit in which General Sherman conducted his campaigns, we reproduce the following from the Southern Magazine of May, 1873:

Gleanings from General Sherman's despatches.

Those thick, loosely-bound octavos, printed on soft and rather dingy paper, which Congress publishes and distributes under the name of Public Documents, are not generally considered very entertaining [442] reading. But there are exceptions; and one of these is the Report of the Joint Committee of Congress on the Conduct of the War. Indeed, compared with such mild pastorals as ‘Some Account of the Cheese Manufacture in Central New York,’ or ‘Remarks on the Cultivation of Alfalfa in Western Tennessee,’ it is quite luridly sensational, and in parts reminds us of those striking Reports of the Duke of Alva to his royal master, which have been disinterred in the dusty archives of Simancas.

As a study of congressional nature, military nature, and human nature generally in its least attractive aspects, these eight stout volumes are richly worth perusal. Here the reader is allowed to peep behind the scenes of that portentous drama; here he may see the threads of the intrigues that centred in Washington; may hear a petty newspaper correspondent demonstrating with an animation that we can scarcely ascribe to fervid patriotism, the incapacity, the ignorance, and even the doubtful ‘loyalty’ of the commander--in chief; may see private malignity and vindictiveness putting on grand Roman airs, and whispering delators draping themselves in the toga of Brutus.

However, it is not with these aspects of the report that we at present have to do, but with the despatches of General Sherman on his march through Georgia and South Carolina. A great deal of fiction, and some verse,1 we believe, have been written about this famous march or grand foray; but here we have the plain matter-of-fact statement of things as they were, and they form a luminous illustration of the advance of civilization in the nineteenth century as exemplified in the conduct of invasions, showing how modern philanthropy and humanitarianism, while acknowledging that for the present war is a necessary evil, still strive to mitigate its horrors, and spare all avoidable suffering to non-combatants. For this purpose we have thought it worth while to reproduce a few of the most striking extracts, illustrating the man, his spirit, and his work.

A kind of key-note is sounded in the despatch to General Stoneman of May 14th, which, after ordering him ‘to press down the valley strong,’ ends with the words, ‘Pick up whatever provisions and plunder you can.’

On June 3d the question of torpedoes is discussed, and General [443] Stedman receives the following instructions: ‘If torpedoes are found in the possession of an enemy to our rear, you may cause them to be put on the ground and tested by wagon-loads of prisoners, or, if need be, by citizens implicated in their use. In like manner, if a torpedo is suspected on any part of the railroad, order the point to be tested by a car-load of prisoners or citizens implicated, drawn by a long rope.’ ‘Implicated,’ we suppose here means ‘residing or captured in the neighborhood.’

On July 7th we have an interesting despatch to General Garrard on the subject of the destruction of the factories at Rosswell. ‘Their utter destruction is right, and meets my entire approval; and to make the matter complete, you will arrest the owners and employees and send them under guard, charged with treason, to Marietta, and I will see as to any man in America hoisting the French flag, and then devoting his labor and capital to supplying armies in open hostility to our government, and claiming the benefit of his neutral flag. Should you, under the impulse of anger, natural at contemplating such perfidy, hang the wretch, I approve the act beforehand. * * I repeat my orders that you arrest all people, male and female, connected with those factories, no matter what the clamor, and let them foot it, under guard, to Marietta, whence I will send them by cars to the North. Destroy and make the same disposition of all mills, save small flouring mills manifestly for local use; but all saw-mills and factories dispose of effectually, and useful laborers, excused by reason of their skill as manufacturers from conscription, are as much prisoners as if armed.’

On the same day he further enlarges on this subject in a despatch to General Halleck:

General Garrard reports to me that he is in possession of Rosswell, where were several very valuable cotton and wool factories in full operation, also paper mills, all of which by my order, he destroyed by fire. They had been for years engaged exclusively at work for the Confederate Government; and the owner of the woollen factory displayed the French flag, but as he failed also to show the United States flag, General Garrard burned it also. The main cotton factory was valued at a million of United States dollars. The cloth on hand is reserved for the use of the United States hospitals; and I have ordered General Garrard to arrest for treason all owners and employees, foreign and native, and send them to Marietta, whence I will send them North. Being exempt from conscription, they are as much governed by the rules of war as if in the ranks. The [444] women can find employment in Indiana. This whole region was devoted to manufactories, but I will destroy every one of them.’

There are two points especially worth notice in this dispatch. The first, that since these men and women, by reason of sex, or otherwise, are exempt from conscription, they are therefore as much subject to the rules of war as if in the ranks. Why not do less violence to logic, and state frankly that factory hands were in demand in Indiana? The next point is, that the Rosswell factories, whether French property or not, were destroyed because they were making cloth for the Confederate government, followed presently by the declaration that every manufactory in that region shall be destroyed, evidently without reference to its products or their destination. How much franker it would have been to have added to his last sentence, ‘and thus get rid of so many competitors to the factories of the North.’ The South must learn that while she may bear the burden of protective tariffs, she must not presume to share their benefits. Another dispatch to General Halleck, of July 9th, again refers to these factories. After referring to the English and French ownership, comes this remark: ‘I take it a neutral is no better than one of our own citizens, and we would not respect the property of one of our own citizens engaged in supplying a hostile army.’ This is the kind of logic proverbially used by the masters of legions.

A dispatch to General Halleck of July 13th, gives General Sherman's opinion of two great and philanthropic institutions. Speaking of ‘fellows hanging about’ the army, he says: ‘The Sanitary and Christian Commissions are enough to eradicate all trace of Christianity from our minds.’

July 14th, to General J. E. Smith, at Alatoona: ‘If you entertain a bare suspicion against any family, send it to the North. Any loafer or suspicious person seen at any time should be imprisoned and sent off. If guerillas trouble the road or wires they should be shot without mercy.’

September 8. To General Webster, after the capture of Atlanta: ‘Don't let any citizens come to Atlanta; not one. I won't allow trade or manufactures of any kind, but will remove all the present population, and make Atlanta a pure military town.’ To General Halleck he writes, ‘I am not willing to have Atlanta encumbered by the families of our enemies.’ Of this wholesale depopulation, General Hood complained, by flag of truce, as cruel and contrary to the usages of civilized nations, and customs of war, receiving this courteous and gentlemanly reply (September 12)—‘I think I understand [445] the laws of civilized nations and the “customs of war” ; but if at a loss at any time, I know where to seek for information to refresh my memory.’

General Hood made the correspondence, or part of it, public, on which fact General Sherman remarks to General Halleck, ‘Of course he is welcome, for the more he arouses the indignation of the Southern masses the bigger will be the pill of bitterness they will have to swallow.’

About the middle of September, General Sherman being still at Atlanta, endeavored to open private communication with Governor Brown and Vice President Stephens, whom he knew to be at variance with the Administration at Richmond on certain points of public policy. Mr. Stephens refused to reply to a verbal message, but wrote to Mr. King, the intermediary, that if the General would say that there was any prospect of their agreeing upon ‘terms to be submitted to the action of their respective governments,’ he would, as requested, visit him at Atlanta. The motives urged by Mr. King were General Sherman's extreme desire for peace, and to hit upon ‘some plan of terminating this fratricidal war without the further effusion of blood.’ But in General Sherman's dispatch of September 17th to Mr. Lincoln, referring to these attempted negotiations, the humanitarian point of view is scarcely so prominent. He says, ‘It would be a magnificent stroke of policy if I could, without surrendering a foot of ground or of principle, arouse the latent enmity to Davis of Georgia.’

On October 20th he writes to General Thomas from Summerville, giving an idea of his plan of operations: ‘Out of the forces now here and at Atlanta I propose to organize an efficient army of 60,000 to 65,000 men, with which I propose to destroy Macon, Augusta, and, it may be, Savannah and Charleston. By this I propose to demonstrate the vulnerability of the South, and make its inhabitants feel that war and individual ruin are synonymous terms.’

Dispatch of October 22d to General Grant: ‘I am now perfecting arrangements to put into Tennessee a force able to hold the line of the Tennessee, while I break up the railroad in front of Dalton, including the city of Atlanta, and push into Georgia and break up all its railroads and depots, capture its horses and negroes, make desolation everywhere; destroy the factories at Macon, Milledgeville and Augusta, and bring up with 60,000 men on the sea-shore about Savannah or Charleston.’

To General Thomas, from Kingston, November 11: ‘Last night [446] we burned Rome, and in two more days will burn Atlanta’ (which he was then occupying).

December 5th: ‘Blair can burn the bridges and culverts, and burn enough barns to mark the progress of his head of column.’

December 18th. To General Grant, from near Savannah: ‘With Savannah in our possession, at some future time, if not now, we can punish South Carolina as she deserves, and as thousands of people in Georgia hope we will do. I do sincerely believe that the whole United States, North and South, would rejoice to have this army turned loose on South Carolina, to devastate that State in the manner we have done in Georgia.’

A little before this he announces to Secretary Stanton that he knows what the people of the South are fighting for. What do our readers suppose? To ravage the North with sword and fire, and crush them under their heels? Surely it must be some such delusion that inspires this ferocity of hatred, unmitigated by even a word of compassion. He may speak for himself: ‘Jeff. Davis has succeeded perfectly in inspiring his people with the truth that liberty and government are worth fighting for.’ This was their unpardonable crime.

December 22d, to General Grant. ‘If you can hold Lee, I could go on and smash South Carolina all to pieces.’

On the 18th, General Halleck writes: ‘Should you capture Charleston, I hope that by some accident the place may be destroyed; and if a little salt should be sown upon its site, it may prevent the growth of future crops of nullification and secession.’

To this General Sherman replies, December 24th:

This war differs from European wars in this particular—we are not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people; and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war, as well as their organized armies.

I will bear in mind your hint as to Charleston, and don't think “salt” will be necessary. When I move, the Fifteenth Corps will be on the right of the right wing, and their position will bring them naturally into Charleston first; and if you have studied the history of that corps, you will have remarked that they generally do their work up pretty well. The truth is, the whole army is burning with an insatiable desire to wreak vengeance upon South Carolina. I almost tremble for her fate, but feel that she deserves all that seems in store for her.

I look upon Columbia as quite as bad as Charleston, and I doubt [447] if we shall spare the public buildings there as we did at Milledgeville.

And now we look with interest for the dispatches that would settle the vexed question as to whether Sherman, or his officers, acting under his orders, burned Columbia on the 17th of February. Unfortunately, a paternal government, not thinking it good that the truth should be known, has suppressed all the dispatches between the 16th and the 21st, and every other allusion to the transaction.

On the 23d he writes to General Kilpatrick: ‘Let the whole people know the war is now against them, because their armies flee before us and do not defend their country or frontier as they should. It is pretty nonsense for Wheeler and Beauregard and such vain heroes to talk of our warring against women and children. If they claim to be men, they should defend their women and children and prevent us reaching their homes.’

If, therefore, an army defending their country can prevent invaders from reaching their homes and families, the latter have a right to that protection; but if the invaders can break through and reach these homes, these are justified in destroying women and children. Certainly this is a great advance on the doctrine and practice of the dark ages.

Another extraordinary moral consequence flows from this insufficiency of the defence: ‘If the enemy fails to defend his country, we may rightfully appropriate what we want.’ Here now is a nice question of martial law or casuistry, solved with the simplicity of an ancient Roman. In other words: ‘When in the enemy's country, the army shall be strictly careful not to seize, capture, or appropriate to military or private uses, any property—that it cannot get!’ Hans Breitmann himself would have respected that general order.

‘They’ (the Southern people) ‘have lost all title to property, and can lose nothing not already forfeited.’ What, nothing? Not merely the houses we had built, the lands we had tilled, the churches we worshipped in—had we forfeited the right to drink of the streams, to behold the sun, to breathe the free air of heaven? What unheard of, what inconceivable crime had we committed that thus closed every gate of mercy and compassion against us, and provoked an utterance which has but one parallel—the death-warrant signed by Philip II against all the Netherlanders? General Sherman has himself told us what it was: we had dared to act on ‘the truth that liberty and government are worth fighting for.’ [448]

On March 15th he writes to General Gillmore, advising him to draw forces from Charleston and Savannah (both then in Federal hands) to destroy a railroad, etc. ‘As to the garrisons of those places I don't feel disposed to be over generous, and should not hesitate to burn Savannah, Charleston and Wilmington, or either of them, if the garrisons were needed.’

Such are some of the results of our gleanings in this field. Is it any wonder that after reading them, we fervently echo General Sherman's devout aspiration: ‘I do wish the fine race of men that people our Northern States should rule and determine the future destiny of America?’


We have already published [see Vol. VII, pp. 155, 185, and 249; Vol. VIII, p. 202; Vol. X, p. 109, and Vol. XII, p. 233] the most conclusive proof that General Sherman was responsible (at the bar of History and at the bar of God) for the burning of Columbia.,

But we mean to give, from time to time, cumulative proof of this, and accordingly we deem the following able editorial review in the Charleston News and Courier worthy of a place in our records:

Who burned Columbia?—General Sherman's latest story examined.

Usually there is little to be gained by the re-opening of discussions which were supposed to have been closed until the final account should be made up by an impartial historian of the War between the States; but the desire to avoid heart burnings and bickering will not excuse an acquiescence in historical untruth, or justify silence when old calumnies are revived for the injury of the South and the glorification of egotistical generals of the Union army. General Sherman is responsible, then, for bringing to the front again the burning of Columbia, an act which, with the devastation that preceded and followed it, had only one parallel in the bloody story of the war—the devastation of the Valley of Virginia by Sheridan. Fortunately, the means are at hand for weighing General Sherman's statements, and there is reason to hope that the whole subject will be scrutinized with less prejudice than was possible ten or fifteen years ago. General Sherman's latest statement touching the burning of Columbia, made at an Army Reunion at Hartford last week, is as follows: [449]

‘The fire originated in Richardson street, near where I saw with my own eyes burning cotton bales, which had been set on fire by Confederate cavalry. I was supreme in command inside of Columbia during the night of the conflagration, and I allow no man, not even Jeff. Davis, to question my statement of facts as seen by myself. The fire in Columbia on the night of February 17, 1865, in my judgment then and now, was caused by particles of burning cotton blown against a fence and sheds, which spread to the houses and finally consumed the centre, but not the whole of the town. The cotton was unquestionably set fire to by Confederate cavalry, which fire was partially subdued by our troops in the day time, whilst the trains of General Logan's corps were passing. But after the trains had passed and the night began, the men ceased to carry water. The fire spread anew, and finally reached a shed or fence. Houses, built of pitch pine, burned with rapidity and fury under a tornado of wind. What of Columbia remained the next morning was wholly due to General Logan's troops. Without them not a house would have escaped. Had I intended to burn Columbia I would have done it, just as I would have done any other act of war, and there would have been no concealment about it.’

This statement is, that the cotton, or some cotton, in Columbia, was set fire to by the Confederate cavalry; that the fire was subdued by General Logan's corps, ‘the Fifteenth’; that when the Federal soldiers ceased to carry water, at night, the fire broke out anew and spread rapidly, and that what of Columbia remained the next morning was wholly due to Logan's troops. The first fact is as to the burning of cotton by the Confederate cavalry.

General Hampton, in a letter dated April 22d, 1866, published in an account of the burning of Columbia, written in 1866 by Dr. W. H. Trezevant, and published in that year, says that he was directed by General Beauregard, his superior officer, on the morning that the Union forces came in, ‘to issue an order that the cotton should not be burned,’ and that there was ‘not a bale on fire’ when the Federals entered the town. General Beauregard says that this statement is correct, and that ‘the only thing on fire, at the time of the evacuation, was the depot building of the South Carolina railroad, which caught fire accidentally from the explosion of some ammunition ordered to be sent towards Charlotte, North Carolina.’ Mayor Goodwyn and Aldermen Stork and McKenzie certify that General Stone was in possession of the city an hour before General Sherman arrived, and that when they passed the cotton with Stone it was not [450] on fire, and that ‘it did not take fire for some time after the authority was vested in him.’ Alderman Stork says further, that ‘he saw the Yankee soldiers light their cigars and throw the matches in among the cotton,’ and Captain Pratt, of the Union army, said to Alderman McKenzie: ‘I wish you had burned the whole (of the cotton); it would have saved us trouble, as our orders are to burn all the cotton in town.’ Moreover, Alderman McKenzie says it was some time after his return with Stone and Pratt that the cotton was on fire, and when the alarm was given be went to the spot and extinguished the fire, so that it did not at any time blaze out again. The Rev. Mr. Shand, of Columbia, says that the fire in the cotton originated from the fire of the cigars of the Union soldiers, and that “neither sparks nor flames were extended to the neighboring buildings, and no damage was done, ‘except to the cotton.’” In fact, the cotton which Sherman saw, and to which he alludes, was extinguished by one o'clock, and never again ignited. The gentlemen whose statements we have given are living, with one exception. Hundreds of witnesses will substantiate their assertions. It should be noted also that Colonel Conyngham, United States Army, and Major Nichols, of Sherman's staff, in their published accounts of the occupation of Columbia, show that the fire which ravaged the town commenced after dark. How, then, did that fire originate?

Mr. Shand, a venerable Episcopal clergyman, says in his account of the burning, that at eight o'clock at night rockets were seen to ascend, and ‘immediately thereafter a fire broke out in the central portion of the city, near the market, and soon assumed alarming proportions.’ Then he noticed ‘fresh flames bursting out on the east, west and south, at points very distant from each other, and not possibly caused by the communication of flames from one to another.’ The Rev. William B. Yates, a well-known Episcopal clergyman, says he was in his yard when the fatal rocket went up, and one of the Union soldiers exclaimed, ‘Now, you will see hell.’ Asking what this meant, he was told: ‘That is the signal for a general setting of fire to the city.’ Immediately thereafter, a number of fires could be seen in every direction. Mr. Shand saw the soldiers attempt to set fire to one of his outhouses. Alderman Stork also saw them set fire to the cotton and to private houses. Soldiers told Captain Stanley, a veteran of the Mexican war, who is still living, that ‘they would give them (the Columbians) hell to-night,’ and that the arrangements for burning the city were all made over the river before the troops came in. It is, in fine, as well established as any fact [451] can be that the cotton which did burn was set fire to by the Union soldiers; that this fire did not cause the general conflagration, and that the town was set fire to by Federal soldiers, at one time and in different places, and apparently at a given signal. Nay, in Dr. Trezevant's pamphlet General Sherman is quoted by Mayor Goodwyn as telling him, the morning after the city was burnt, that he ‘regretted very much that it was burned, and that it was the Mayor's fault in suffering liquor to remain in the city when it was evacuated.’ There was no word then of Hampton's cavalry and Confederate cotton. How, too, was the fire stopped? At three or four o'clock the next morning General Sherman gave this order to Captain Andrews: ‘This thing has gone far enough. See that a stop is put to it. Take Wood's division, and I hold you and them responsible, if it is not arrested.’ The fire then was quickly stopped. By his own showing, General Sherman allowed the fire to go on for hours, when he could have caused it to be extinguished. This, however, is not the question at issue.

There is, on the face of it, nothing improbable in the burning of Columbia with at least the acquiescence and assent of Sherman. It is not an isolated case. If Columbia alone had been burned, it might remain, to the North, a question of veracity between Hampton and Sherman, between ‘Rebel’ civilians and ‘Union’ soldiers. The chances in that case would favor implicit confidence in the North in the statements of the latter. But wherever Sherman's army went, in South Carolina, they burned, ravaged and destroyed. This was so in Blackville, Lexington, Winnsboroa and other places. When Confederate soldiers were absent, Sherman's army touched nothing that it did not destroy. Our reliance here is not on Southern testimony, though it were easy to find hundreds of our people who saw, and who suffered by, the work of devastation. There was not a town or village in the State which Sherman reached where the gaunt chimneys, rising from smoking ruins, did not stand as monuments of the victories of his legions over sad-eyed women and wailing children. Colonel Conyngham, United States Army, in his ‘History of Sherman's Great March,’ says: ‘There can be no doubt of the assertion that the feeling among the troops was one of extreme bitterness towards the people of South Carolina. It was freely expressed as the column hurried over the bridge at Sister's Ferry, eager to commence the punishment of the original Secessionists. Threatening words were heard from soldiers who prided themselves on conservatism in houseburning while in Georgia, and officers openly confessed their fears that the coming campaign would be a wicked one. Just or unjust [452] as this feeling was toward the country people in South Carolina, it was universal. I first saw its fruits at Purisburg, where two or three piles of blackened bricks and an acre or so of dying embers marked the site of an old revolutionary town; and this before the column had fairly got its hand in.’ Again: ‘The ruined homesteads of the Palmetto State will long be remembered. The army might safely march the darkest night, the crackling pine woods shooting up their columns of flame, and the burning houses along the way would light it on. * * * As for the wholesale burnings, pillage, devastation committed in South Carolina, magnify all I have said of Georgia some fifty-fold, and then throw in an occasional murder, “just to bring an old hard-fisted cuss to his senses,” and you have a pretty good idea of the whole thing. Besides compelling the enemy to evacuate Charleston, we destroyed Columbia, Orangeburg, and several other places, also over fifty miles of railroad, and thousands of bales of cotton.’ Major Nichols, of General Sherman's staff, in his History, under date of January 30, 1865, says: ‘The actual invasion of South Carolina has begun. The well-known sight of columns of black smoke meets our gaze again. This time, houses are burning, and South Carolina has commenced to pay an instalment, long overdue, on her debt to justice and humanity. With the help of God, we will have principal and interest before we leave her borders.’ This is Federal testimony. And why should not officers and men have acted in the way described? General Sherman was in supreme command. Had they aught to fear from him? They came into South Carolina with the determination to make an example of the Palmetto State. Is it credible that they drew the line at Columbia and spared the Capital, when nothing else was left unscathed? General Sherman himself shall answer.

In the Memoirs of General William T. Sherman, By Himself, (page 226) we find a dispatch of General Sherman to General W. H. Halleck, dated Headquarters in the Field, Savannah, December 24, 1864. It is given in full. General Sherman says:

This war differs from European wars in this particular: We are not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war, as well as their organized armies. I know that this recent movement of mine through Georgia has had a wonderful effect in this respect. Thousands who had been deceived by their lying newspapers to believe that we were being whipped all the time now realize the truth, and have no appetite for a repetition of the same experience. To be sure Jeff. Davis has his people under pretty good discipline, but I [453] think faith in him is much shaken in Georgia, and before we have done with her, South Carolina will not be quite so tempestuous.

I will bear in mind your hint as to Charleston, and do not think “salt” will be necessary. When I move, the Fifteenth Corps will be on the right of the right wing, and their position will bring them into Charleston first; and if you have watched the history of that corps, you will have remarked that they generally do their work pretty well. The truth is, the whole army is burning with insatiable desire to wreak vengeance upon South Carolina. I almost tremble at her fate; but feel that she deserves all that seems in store for her.

This is susceptible of but one meaning: That General Halleck had hinted that Charleston should be laid in ashes, and the ruins sowed in salt. Sherman avows that he was ready for this, and that nothing was too bad for South Carolina. But for what follows, it might have been urged that Charleston was especially singled out as the scapegoat of the State. In the very same letter from which we have quoted, Sherman says: ‘I look upon Columbia as quite as bad as Charleston.’ Mark Sherman's words, and the wholesale destruction of property in South Carolina. Join to this fact that it was the Fifteenth Corps that entered Columbia and occupied it. Can it be doubted, for a moment, that the corps again did its work ‘pretty well,’ and that Sherman acted upon the feeling, which animated him from the moment that he crossed the State line, that South Carolina deserved all that was in store for her, by reason of his own wishes and the insatiable desire of his troops for vengeance!

General Sherman forgets—or he says what is untrue. We are constrained to believe that he wilfully mis-states the facts. This we believe, because he has done it before. In his Memoirs (page 287) and, in substance, in his Hartford speech, General Sherman says that the fire which destroyed Columbia was ‘accidental’ On the same page he says: ‘In my official report of this conflagration I distinctly charged it to General Wade Hampton, and confess I did so pointedly, to shake the faith of his people in him, for he was in my opinion a braggart, and professed to be the special champion of South Carolina.’ Knowing, by his own account, that the fire was accidental, General Sherman charged it on General Hampton—not because he believed him to be guilty, but to shake confidence in him. Even our Northern brethren, or some of them, will reluctantly admit that a commanding general who will boast that he accused an opponent of a crime of which he knew him to be innocent is capable, at this late day, of lying squarely to gratify his spite and save himself from blame.

1 One of these poems, ‘Marching through Georgia,’ we learn by the evidence, was a favorite canticle of Murray, the kidnapper and butcher of captive Polynesians. The poet had certainly found one congenial reader.

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