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Some of our contemporaries publish a statement that General Sherman, in conversation with a lady in Fayetteville, said that if the results of his late visitation of the South did not restore its people to loyalty, he should, on his next invasion, burn every house to the ground, and if that did not work a cure he would put all the inhabitants to death, without regard to age or sex. If anything were necessary to render his next visitation a rather more difficult one than the last, this timely announcement has secured that result. He never could have advanced far into Georgia if the inhabitants had laid waste the country before him as he traveled. Even Napoleon quailed in his march upon Moscow when he saw that the people were acting upon a maxim once announced by himself, that "an army cannot exist among ruins." Sherman is not Napoleon. Nor have our own countrymen, we admit, acted, as yet, with the desperation of Russians. But Sherman has now furnished them the incentives to that desperation, and if their houses are to be burned, they will burn them themselves, and make the country a desert before him. If the men, women and children are to be put to death, they will prefer to die with arms in their hands rather than be shot down like dogs. The common instincts of humanity render that much certain. And it is equally clear that, when prudential reasons against retaliation have been thus summarily removed, retaliation will at last begin in earnest, and when Sherman comes as "a savage," as he promises, he will be met by savages, who will make no farther appeal to civilization, but quietly accept the wild-beast issue which is forced upon them by the invaders. It really seems as if the mode of conducting this war had been shaped for no other purpose than to render a restoration of the old Union impossible. Suppose that a policy had been adopted of conducting the war according to the usages of civilized people; that the Federal armies had contented themselves with fighting Confederate armies, and taking every military advantage for putting down "the rebellion," but at the same time had respected private property; had neither burned dwelling-houses nor mills; had interfered in no way with any peaceful non-combatant; had permitted no outrages to men nor insults to women, but had relied solely upon their superior military strength, and the skill of their generals, and the valor of their troops, to end the war! We do not say this would have satisfied the malignity of the people; but if the object of the war was the restoration of the Union, would not this have been the most efficient means? Is it not obvious either that the war was intended for no such purpose, or that whatever was intended, the mode of conducting it could have no other effect than to render such an event impossible? After what has occurred for four long years, the future unity of America is a dream of maniacs. Subjugated we may be, or even exterminated, but the worshippers of the Old Union have shivered into irreparable fragments the object of their idolatry.
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