In Chapter Seven, Adams continues his modus operandi of cherry picking carefully selected parts of a body of work and trying to convince us it represents the whole. He also continues his infatuation with what the British thought. Chapter Seven talks about how his carefully selected British cartoonists viewed the war. Of course, he ignores cartoons that do not fit in with his agenda, as if they didn’t exist.
He starts Chapter Eight with a quote from former Chinese premier Zhu Rongii: “Abraham Lincoln, in order to maintain the unity of the United States … resorted to the use of force. … so, I think Abraham Lincoln, president, is a model, is an example.” [p. 109]
This comes from an April 8, 1999 press conference with Zhu and President Bill Clinton.
Q. Seven hours before you landed in Andrews Air Force Base yesterday, President Clinton made a foreign policy speech in which he mentioned the sending of carriers to the waters in the Taiwan Straits in March 1996. And he said that that move had helped maintain the security in the Taiwan Straits. So in your view, how do you see the effect of the military capabilities of the United States on the situation across the Taiwan Straits? And do you think there should be a timetable for the reunification of the mainland and Taiwan of China? And do you wish to pay a visit to Taiwan?
Premier Zhu. The policy of China and the reunification of the mainland and Taiwan of China is a very clear-cut one and the President, Jiang Zemin, has already expounded on China’s policy in this regard. So I don’t see the need for me to reiterate here.
Since the return of Hong Kong to the motherland, the policy of one country, two systems, Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong, Hong Kong enduring a high degree of autonomy, have been fully implemented, which is a fact there for the people in the entire world to see. And our policy for the reunification of China with Taiwan is more generous than our policy towards Hong Kong. That is to say, Taiwan will be allowed to maintain its army, and we’re also prepared to let the head of Taiwan come to the central government to serve as the deputy head.
But as for whether he or she is able to be the head, then I’m not sure. But I’m afraid it would not get enough votes. Nobody would vote for him.
On the question of the reunification, the Chinese Government has repeatedly stated that we strive for a peaceful reunification of the motherland. But we have never undertaken to renounce the use of force in this regard, because if we were to make such a pledge, make such an undertaking, then I’m afraid that Taiwan would be in the perpetual state of separation from the motherland.
Just now, in the Oval Office of President Clinton, I saw the portrait of President Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln, in order to maintain the unity of the United States and oppose independence of the southern part, he had resorted to the use of force and fought a war for that, for maintaining the unity of the United States. So I think Abraham Lincoln, President, is a model, is an example.
As for whether I’m going to visit Taiwan, since none of them have issued an invitation to me, so how can I go there and in what capacity should I go there? I hope you will also help me to think of this. [Laughter]
President Clinton. I think I have to say just one thing, if I might, since I got zapped by Abraham Lincoln. [Laughter] First of all, the United States has a “one China” policy, and I have reaffirmed that at every opportunity. I do so again today.
Secondly, we believe that this matter should be resolved peacefully. The facts of the relationship between Taiwan and China over the last 50 years are somewhat different than the facts leading up to the American Civil War, as I’m sure that you would all agree.
It does seem to me that China and Taiwan, apart from the blood ties of being Chinese— even the native Taiwanese—that you have a lot to offer each other, including economic power but beyond that as well.
And so I hope that we will see a resolution of this. And I think if the Premier is as humorous and clever in Taiwan as he is here, I think it would be a good thing for him to go. [Laughter]
Terry [Terence Hunt, Associated Press].
Premier Zhu. President Clinton’s black and blue. [Laughter]
So a Chinese politician takes the opportunity to twist history to his own agenda, the way politicians always do, and that’s supposed to say something about Lincoln? Sure.
Adams writes, “In the summer of 1862, Prince Napoleon and his companions traveled to the United States, first visiting the North and having conversations with Lincoln, Seward, and General Scott. They visited Northern military camps and noticed a large number of foreigners in the ranks–recent immigrants who had been attracted to the pay, many of whom could not speak English. Then the visitors traveled to Virginia, first under a Union escort and then by Confederate cavalry to the camps of Generals Johnston and Beauregard. Mingling with young confederate soldiers, they asked for their thoughts on the war. First, a soldier mentioned defending his homeland, Virginia, from foreign invaders: ‘We do not want to have anything to do with the Yankees, neither will we suffer a single Yankee foot on our territory; and they having once violated it, it is all over between us.’ Another remarked, ‘Have we not the right of separation, since we possess the right of union They very well know that, without us, their commerce is ruined for we are the cultivators. But we will no longer be cheated. We will continue the war two years–four, if necessary. … we will have nothing more to do with the Yankees.’ These ‘young Confederate soldiers,’ as they were described, had the issues of the war in good focus, from the South’s point of view. Defense–repelling foreign invaders–was the primary motive for these soldiers, and they ‘vowed a mortal hatred for the Yankees.’ And then came the economics, which even these young men were aware of: ‘Without us their commerce is ruined,’ and ‘we will no longer be cheated.’ ” [p. 109]
First, Adams shows his lack of historical knowledge. This was the summer of 1861, not the summer of 1862.
Second, he skips over the fact that the visitors noticed, in talking with the officers, that, “they cleverly avoided the slavery question.” [Charles Dickens, All the Year Round, Vol 7, p. 615]
Shall we see what else these soldiers had to say? “Look at Carolina, Georgia, and New Orleans, and you may see there what care we take of our slaves. If by chance one of them should fall sick, no means are spared towards his recovery. They are well lodged and fed; they work no more than is right, and they want for nothing. They are much more fortunate than the settlers and labourers out west. Yes! And with us they are far happier than black men in the North; where, it is true, they have liberty–but it is the liberty to die of hunger. [Ibid.] So how credible is this story? Let’s look at it this way. If these claims are right, then why did they send slave catchers into Northern states to forcibly bring escaped slaves back? Why did the underground railroad go in only one direction? Why didn’t free blacks in the North immediately head south of the Mason-Dixon Line to where they would be happy and cared for? Adams isn’t going to examine any of these questions. No. Here’s how he treats it: “They also discussed the slave issue, which these soldiers believed was really a nonissue. They then set forth the proslavery view. The slaves were happy, well fed, and well housed, wanting nothing; they were much better off than the blacks in the North, who had liberty but ‘liberty to die of hunger.’ But, of course, in the summer of 1862, emancipation was not an object of the war.” [p. 110] Again, this is the summer of 1861, not 1862. And notice how Adams doesn’t mention how this impeaches the statements of the confederates.
Adams writes, “Northern soldiers sang a ballad expressing what they were fighting for: ‘Union Forever, Union Hurrah!’ ” [p. 110] This is more of Adams’ incompetence. The song was written in 1862. Here are the lyrics:
Yes, we’ll rally ’round the flag, boys We’ll rally ’round again
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom
We will rally from the hillside
We’ll gather from the plain
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom
The Union forever! Hurrah, boys, hurrah!
Down with the traitors, up with the stars;
While we rally round the flag, boys, rally once again,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
We are springing to the call of our brothers gone before,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
And we’ll fill the vacant ranks with a million freemen more,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
We will welcome to our numbers
The loyal, true and brave
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom
And although they may be poor
Not a man shall be a slave
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom
So we’re springing to the call
rom the East and from the West
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom
And we’ll hurl the rebel crew
From the land we love the best
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom
Notice the song is talking about both slavery and Union.
Adams next claims, “Wars had been fought by people trying to withdraw from an imperial power, but this was a federation of sovereign states, a compact, or so the Founders said, and that makes ‘preserving the Union’ by violence and war a unique problem in the history of the justification for war. Could this motive make for a just war?” [p. 110]
Adams completely mischaracterizes the United States and the Founding Fathers.
Here’s what James Madison, principal author of the Constitution, said, “Applying a like view of the subject to the case of the U. S. it results, that the compact being among individuals as imbodied into States, no State can at pleasure release itself therefrom, and set up for itself. The compact can only be dissolved by the consent of the other parties, or by usurpations or abuses of power justly having that effect. It will hardly be contended that there is anything in the terms or nature of the compact, authorizing a party to dissolve it at pleasure.” [James Madison to Nicholas Trist, 15 Feb 1830]
Here’s what the Supreme Court said:
In Fletcher v. Peck, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, “But Georgia cannot be viewed as a single, unconnected, sovereign power, on whose legislature no other restrictions are imposed than may be found in its own constitution. She is a part of a large empire; she is a member of the American union; and that union has a constitution the supremacy of which all acknowledge, and which imposes limits to the legislatures of the several states, which none claim a right to pass.” [10 U.S. 87, 136]
In McCullough v. Maryland, Chief Justice John Marshall wrote: “In discusing this question, the counsel for the state of Maryland have deemed it of some importance, in the construction of the constitution, to consider that instrument, not as emanating from the people, but as the act of sovereign and independent states. The powers of the general government, it has been said, are delegated by the states, who alone are truly sovereign; and must be exercised in subordination to the states, who alone possess supreme dominion. *It would be difficult to sustain this proposition.* The convention which framed the constitution was indeed elected by the state legislatures. But the instrument, when it came from their hands, was a mere proposal, without obligations, or pretenses to it. It was reported to the then existing congress of the United States, with a request that it might ‘be submitted to a convention of delegates, chosen in each state by the people thereof, under the recommendation of its legislature, for their assent and ratification.’ this mode of proceeding was adopted; and by the convention, by congress, and by the state legislatures, the instrument was submitted to the people. They acted upon it in the only manner in which they can act safely, effectively and wisely, on such a subject, by assembling in convention. It is true, they assembled in their several states–and where else should they have assembled? No political dreamer was ever wild enough to think of breaking down the lines which separate the states, and of compounding the American people into one common mass. Of consequence, when they act, they act in their states. But the measures they adopt do not, on that account, cease to be the measures of the people themselves, or become the measures of the state governments.
“From these conventions, the constitution derives its whole authority. The government proceeds directly from the people. . . . *The constitution, when thus adopted, was of complete obligation, and bound the state sovereignties.*” [17 U.S. 316, 402-404]
Marshall further ruled, “The government of the Union, then, is, emphatically and truly, a government of the people. In form, and in substance, it emanates from them. Its powers are granted by them, and are to be exercised directly on them, and for their benefit.” [17 U.S. 316, 404-405]
And, “If any one proposition could command the universal assent of mankind, we might expect it would be this–that the government of the Union, though limited in its powers, is supreme within its sphere of action.” [17 U.S. 316, 405] The makeup of the Union, without doubt, is within the sphere of action of the Federal Government. We can see this from the fact that Congress admits new states into the Union, and the Federal law admitting those new states is signed by the President.
In Gibbons v. Ogden, the Court ruled, “When these allied sovereigns converted their league into a government, when they converted their Congress of Ambassadors, deputed to deliberate on their common concerns, the whole character in which the States appear, underwent a change.” [22 U.S. 1, 187]
And in Cohens v. Virginia the Court ruled, “That the United States form, for many, and for most important purposes, a single nation, has not yet been denied. In war, we are one people. In making peace, we are one people. In all commercial regulations, we are one and the same people. . .. America has chosen to be, in many respects, and to many purposes, a nation; and for all these purposes, her government is complete; to all these objects it is competent. The people have declared, that in the exercise of all the powers given for these objects, it is supreme. . . . The constitution and laws of a State, so far as they are repugnant to the constitution and laws of the United States, are absolutely void. These States are constituent parts of the United States. They are members of one great empire.” [19 U.S. 264, 413-414]
In that same ruling, the Court said “The people made the constitution, and the people can unmake it. It is the creature of their will, and lives only by their will. But this supreme and irresistible power to make or to unmake, resides only in the whole body of the people; not in any sub-division of them. The attempt of any of the parts to exercise it is usurpation, and ought to be repelled by those to whom the people have delegated their power of repelling it.” [19 US 264, 389]
Adams claims Europeans “watched the savagery of the conflict with horror.” [p. 110] They must not have watched their own wars, then, if they viewed the American Civil War “with horror.” Of course, Adams is simply lying. Some Europeans may have viewed this conflict with “horror,” but he’s making an overall statement of Europeans in general.
Adams writes, “What principles of international law are at issue in the Civil War?[p. 110] And this guy claims to be a lawyer? I suppose he has never heard that a nation has the right to defend itself. I wonder which law school he went to so I can warn potential students not to go there. “There is no rule in international law against civil wars. Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter prohibits the use or threat of force in international relations only. It is possible that each side will regard the other side as traitors from the point of view of municipal law, but neither the insurgents nor the established authorities are guilty of any breach of international law.” [Michael Akehurst, A Modern Introduction to International Law, Fully Revised Third Edition, p. 259] There is a prohibition in modern times against repression of people under colonial rule. That does not describe the confederates.
Adams writes, “In the early seventeenth century, Hugo Grotius, a Dutch lawyer, came forth with The Law of War and Peace, which was translated into English in 1646. It immediately became the bible of the law of nations and found its way into the courts, libraries, and governments of Europe. Grotius soon became ‘the father of modern international law.’ Grotius held that states, like people, are bound by a code of law, with duties and prohibitions that are universal, reasonable, and unchangeable. One nation, for example, may not attack another. After reviewing the practices of ancient nations, philosophers and legists, Grotius concluded that ‘authorities generally assign to wars three justifiable causes: defence, recovery of property, and punishment.’ ” [pp. 110-111]
Adams, for being a lawyer, is remarkably ignorant regarding the law. “Congressmen and generals generally consulted the works of the Swiss jurist Emmerich de Vattel. First published in 1758, his magnum opus, The Law of Nations, still remained a standard authority on the subject.
“Legal scholars in the field of international law draw a distinction between lex lata–the law as it is, expressed through treaties and protocols, and lex ferenda–the law as it ought to be. In relation to the law of land warfare, the first category acquired no substantial body of material until the Hague Conventions of 1899. Vattel’s work, like that of other commentators, fell largely into the second category. Less a compendium of binding international agreements than a lengthy essay in practical moral philosophy, its influence derived from the belief, dating back to classical times, that certain fundamental moral ideas were self-evident.” [Mark Grimsley, The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865, p. 14] Adams, then, is trying to pass off Grotius as the determinant of what is legal and illegal in warfare when Vattel was the current standard and neither one of them were actually authoritative on what the law really was.
Adams claims, “At West Point cadets were taught the principles of Grotius and international law under General Order no. 12, by none other than Lincoln’s top commander, General Henry Halleck, who wrote the book.” [p. 111]
According to The Centennial of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Volume 2, p. 121, Halleck’s book on international law, published in 1861, was not a part of the Academy’s curriculum until 1866. Halleck was only General-in-Chief from 1862 to 1864, when U.S. Grant was promoted to Lieutenant General. There is no reference at all to a “General Order no. 12.” There is no reference to it in John Marszalek’s biography of Halleck. There is no mention of it in Stephen Ambrose’s history of West Point. Adams, of course, doesn’t give a citation for the existence of General Orders No. 12 at West Point. Adams writes, “No general during the Civil War can claim ignorance of the laws of war, especially the laws against the plunder and devastation of private property.” [p. 111]
Adams writes, “Here is an excerpt from General Order no. 12, written by Halleck on the wanton plunder of private property: ‘The inevitable consequences … are universal pillage and a total relaxation of discipline; the loss of private property, and the violation of individual rights … and the ordinary peaceful and noncombatants are converted into bitter and implacable enemies. The system is, therefore, regarded as both impolitic and unjust, and is coming into general disuse among the most civilized nations.’ ” [p. 111] Again, he makes no citation. This is found in Halleck’s book, Elements of International Law and Law of War, published in 1861, on page 211. Let’s see what Halleck says in context, though, which is something Adams won’t do:
“We have a right to make the enemy’s country contribute to the expenses of the war. Troops, in the enemy’s country, may be subsisted either by regular magazines, by forced requisitions, or by authorized pillage. It is not always politic, or even possible, to provide regular magazines for the entire supplies of an army during the active operations of a campaign. Where this cannot be done, the general is obliged either to resort to military requisitions, or to entrust their subsistence to the troops themselves. The inevitable consequences of the latter system are universal pillage, and a total relaxation of discipline; the loss of private property, and the violation of individual rights, are usually followed by the massacre of straggling parties, and the ordinary, peaceful and non-combatant inhabitants are converted into bitter and implacable enemies. The system, is therefore, regarded as both impolitic and unjust, and is coming into general disuse among the most civilized nations,–at least for the support of the main army. In case of small detachments, where great rapidity of motion is requisite, it sometimes becomes necessary for the troops to procure their subsistence wherever they can. In such a case the seizure of private property becomes a necessary consequence of the military operations, and is, therefore, unavoidable.” [Henry W. Halleck, Elements of International Law and Laws of War, pp. 210-211] Halleck isn’t talking about “the wanton plundering of private property” as Adams claims. He’s talking about subsisting an army on the population. The practice may be “impolitic,” it may be “unjust,” and it may be falling into “disuse,” but it is still legal, according to Halleck. Halleck’s book, of course, falls into the same category as Grotius and Vattel–a commentary, not the law as it was.
Adams claims, “Halleck remained general in chief until Lincoln fired him in 1864 and appointed Grant as top commander.” [p. 112] This is not correct. Halleck wasn’t fired. He remained in Washington. Grant was general-in-chief, but Halleck remained on duty in his same office and doing almost the same thing he had been doing, which is acting like a chief clerk.
Adams says, “It was under Grant that the Lieber Code, now in the hands of all leading officers, was disregarded, and pillage and plunder became the general order of the final year of the war. Sherman and Sheridan could not possibly have undertaken their devastation of the South if they had followed this new military code on the laws of war. They also turned away from their education at West Point and the laws of war they had learned there under Halleck.” [p. 112] Here we have another claim that perfectly encapsulates the utter unreliability of anything Adams claims. Sherman and Sheridan were never educated by Halleck at West Point, and they didn’t violated the Lieber Code.
Adams writes, “Years afte rthe war Sherman wrote a letter to a friend in which he acknowledged that he knew better–that at West Point he had been taught that the pillage he brought to the South was a crime, punishable by death: ‘I know that in the beginning I, too, had the old West Point notion that pillage was a capital crime, and punished it by shooting.’ ” [pp. 112-113]
As usual, Adams gives you this statement out of context. “From West Point in 1836 to Atlanta in 1864, he had come a distance, geographically and mentally. In those twenty-eight years he had experienced a number of events and each had left its mark. Now he was at the beginning of the full implementation of his concept of total war. Some twenty years later, after the march through Georgia and the Carolinas was lon gbehind him, Sherman would describe the major change that had occurred in his thinking:
” ‘I know that in the beginning, I too, had the old West Point notion that pillage was a capital crime, and punished it by shooting, but the Rebels wanted us to detach a division here, a brigade there, to protect their families and property while they were fighting. … This was a one-sided game of war, and many of us … kindhearted, fair, just and manly … ceased to quarrel with our own men about such minor things and went in to subdue the enemy, leaving minor depredations to be charged up to the account of the rebels who had forced us into the war, and who deserved all they got and more.’ ” ]Charles Edmund Vetter, Sherman: Merchant of Terror, Advocate of Peace, p. 245] As we can see, what Sherman was saying was quite a bit different than what Adams would like us to believe.
Adams claims, “Unfortunately, during the nineteenth century, Americans seemed to believe that they had a divine right to aggression. It was the destiny of the American people and government to rule over North America–all of it. And this was God’s plan. This made the war against Mexico justified, even though in Grant’s memoirs he condemned the war as one of aggression, and so did Lincoln as a congressman at the time. This may explain why so much has been written about who fired the first shot of the Civil War, as if that justifies the total war that engulfed America, even though that Fourth of July display of cannon at Fort Sumter didn’t hurt anyone. It was not Pearl Harbor.” [p. 113]
How many times can I point out Adams’ lack of character and integrity? The Mexican War, championed by the southerners he is whitewashing in this book, was fought to get territory for slavery. The fact that the confederates fired on Fort Sumter does indeed justify the United States putting down their illegal rebellion, and whether or not anyone died during the attack is immaterial. I’m reminded of the old “Perry Mason” series. “Objection, Your Honor, on the basis of that statement being incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial.” Adams also gives no agency at all to the confederates. He seems to think the war was carried on solely by the United States against the poor, unsuspecting, peace-loving confederates.
Adams claims, “Historians with a strongly Northern Lincoln-idolizing viewpoint do not realize the criminal element in the way the war was conducted–criminal by the laws of nations. The end clearly justified the means. Consider this observation by a prominent historian, Stephen Oates, who describes Lincoln’s method of warfare in glowing terms: ‘Lincoln’s armies were mopping up the Confederacy in all directions, waging scorched-earth warfare against the Rebel economy and civilian morale with ruthless efficiency. … Lincoln fully endorsed Sheridan’s burning of the Shenandoah Valley, Sherman’s brutal March to the Sea through Georgia, and the Carolina’s Brigadier General James H. Wilson’s destructive raid across Alabama. Such warfare earned Lincoln and his generals undying hatred in Dixie, but it brought victory.” [pp. 113-114] As usual, Adams excises an important phrase. In place of the ellipses should be: “Agreeing with Sherman’s idea that war was ‘all hell’ and should be ended as quickly as possible,” [Stephen B. Oates, “The Man at the White House Window,” Civil War Times, Vol 34, No. 5, Nov/Dec 1995, p. 62] By fighting a “hard war,” the Federals ensured it would be over as quickly as possible, thus ensuring less suffering and less destruction in the long run. Adams doesn’t want to tell that to anyone. His characterizing historians as “with a strongly Northern Lincoln-idolizing viewpoint” shows where he’s coming from, and looking at the Lieber Code shows the Federals didn’t conduct the war in a criminal way.
Here’s Adams again: “When a Southerner called Sherman a barbarian for what he was doing, Sherman replied that a commander ‘may take your house, your fields, your everything, and turn you out helpless to starve. It may be wrong, but that don’t alter the case.’ His acknowledgement that ‘it may be wrong’ may have come from his education at West Point, and contrary to the famous general’s excuse, it does alter the case–it makes Sherman a war criminal.” [p. 114]
Adams simply makes things up. Sherman wrote this in a letter to Dr. H. W. Hill in response to a petition, not in response to being called a barbarian:
Here’s what Sherman responded to:
A meeting of the citizens of Oak Ridge and Milldale precincts, at the suggestion of the military authorities, was held on the 4th day of September, 1863, at the former residence of R. L. Matthews, to form a civil society. Dr. H. W. Hill was elected chairman and J. W. Rice secretary.
On motion the chairman appointed J. E. Patterson, David Hopper, Rev. W. Harris, James Crouch, Rev. P. Harris, Madison Stephenson, and J. W. Parks a committee to draft resolutions.
On motion the chairman was added to the committee.
–It has always been the custom of civilized nations when they have conquered a country or a part of a country, and that country no longer offers any military resistance, to protect that country from further aggression and to provide the citizens with the temporary necessaries of life, and also to assist them in providing for themselves in the future. And whereas our county is now in possession of the military authorities of the United States, and consequently we have not only been despoiled of nearly all we possessed, but our families are daily exposed to injuries and insults from straggling soldiers and negroes, armed and unarmed, generally, we have no security or protection for the little we have left:
Resolved, first, We, as good, orderly, and quiet citizens, unite ourselves together and mutually promise to aid each other in pursuing our various avocations of life, and to protect each other in person and property, provided the means be put in our hands by the military authorities of the United States.
Resolved, second, We hereby request the proper military authorities to disarm or remove the armed negroes on Roach’s and Blake’s plantations, for reasons which are obvious. The said negroes have robbed peaceable white citizens of their money, clothing, buggies, and horses, for which they have obtained no redress. They have murdered citizens on Deer Creek, plundered their houses, and have driven a peaceable citizen from his home, who, to save his life, was forced to swim the Yazoo River at 3 o’clock in the morning, and committed acts of violence on the female part of his family.
Resolved, third, That the same authorities are requested to remove all negroes not belonging to plantations where they have located themselves, who are destroying stock and who are considered a nuisance to the neighborhood.
Resolved, fourth, The same authorities are requested to send suitable negroes to wait on the families who are rendered destitute and are sick, and consequently are unable to assist themselves.
Resolved, fifth, That the following questions be presented to the proper military authorities and a prompt answer requested, to be forwarded to the chairman of this meeting:
Question 1. What security the military authorities will afford the citizens for their lives from violence, and their property from destruction, and in what manner will they be protected?
Question 2. What facilities will be afforded them in planting or pursuing their avocations, and if in proportion to the extent of their operations formerly, or equally to all?
Question 3. What disposition will be made of the negroes who are remaining with their former owners; how those will be fed and clothed who may be hired by the citizens to work, and what will be done with the old and young who are unable to labor for their support,, and in what manner will the citizens be rid of those they do not desire to hire?
Question 4. Whether or not the citizens will be permitted to meet for the same purpose at a place of their choice without further consulting the military authorities?
Resolved, That four copies be made and sent to Generals Buckland, Corse, Sherman, and Grant. On motion the meeting adjourned.
H. W. HILL, Chairman. [OR Series I, Vol 30, Part 3, pp. 733-735]
Here is Sherman’s reply:
HEADQUARTERS FIFTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Camp on Big Black, September 7, 1863.
H. W. HILL, Esq.,
Chairman of Meeting of Citizens, Warren Co., Miss.:
SIR: The communication addressed to General Grant, myself, and other officers, in the nature of a petition is received. I think it proper and right that the property-holding classes of Warren County, and indeed of the whole State of Mississippi, should meet in their capacity as citizens to talk over matters, so that they may take any steps they deem to their interest, and if such meetings be open and with the knowledge of the nearest military commander, I will protect them whilst so engaged.
Your preamble, however, starts out with a mistake. I do not think any nation ever undertook to feed, supply, and provide for the future of the inhabitants of an insurgent district. We have done so here and in other instances in this war, but my reading has discovered no parallel cases. If you know of any, I will thank you for a copy of the history which records them. I know it is the purpose of the controlling generals of this war to conduct it on the most humane principles of either ancient or modern times and according to them. I contend that after the firing on our steam-boats navigating our own rivers after the long and desperate resistance to our armies at Vicksburg, on the Yazoo, and in Mississippi generally, we are justified in treating all the inhabitants as combatants and would be perfectly justifiable in transporting you all beyond the seas if the United States deemed it to her interest; but our purpose is not to change the population of this country, but to compel all the inhabitants to acknowledge and submit to the common laws of the land. When all or a part of the inhabitants acknowledge the just rights of the United States, the war as to them ceases. But I will reply to your questions in the order you put them.
First. The duty of the Government to protect and the inhabitants to assist is reciprocal. The people of Warren County have not assisted the United States much as yet, and are therefore not entitled to much protection. What future protection they receive will depend on their own conduct.
Second. The negroes, former slaves by inheritance or purchase, that now fill the country have been turned loose upon the world by their former owners, who by rebelling against the only earthly power that insured them the rightful possession of such property have practically freed them. They are a poor, ignorant class of human beings, that appeal to all for a full measure of forbearance. The task of providing for them at present devolves on the United States because, ex necessitate, the United States succeeds by act of war to the former lost title of the master. This task is a most difficult one, and needs time for development and execution. The white inhabitants of the country must needs be patient, and allow time for the work. In due season the negroes at Roach’s and Blake’s will be hired, employed by the Government, or removed to camps where they can be conveniently fed; but in the mean time no one must molest them, or interfere with the agents of the United States intrusted with this difficult and delicate task. If any of them are armed it is for self-defense, and if they mistake their just relation to the Government or the people, we will soon impress on them the truth.
Third. Your third inquiry is embraced in the above. I don t know that any fixed and determined plan is matured, but some just and proper provisions will be made for the negro population of this State.
Fourth. Congress alone can appropriate public money. We cannot hire servants for the people who have lost their slaves, nor can we detail negroes for such purposes. You must do as we do, hire your servants and pay them. If they don’t earn their hire, discharge them and employ others. Many have already done this and are satisfied with the results.
Fifth. I advise all citizens to stay at home, gradually put their houses and contiguous grounds in order, and cast about for some employment or make preparations on a moderate scale to resume their former business and employment. I cannot advise any one to think of planting on a large scale, for it is manifest no one can see far enough in the future to say who will reap what you sow. You must first make a government before you can have property. There is no such thing as property without government. Of course, we think that our Government (which is still yours) is the best and easiest put in full operation here. You are still citizens of the United States and of the State of Mississippi. You have only to begin and form one precinct, then another; soon your country will have such organization that the military authorities would respect it. The example of one county would infect another, and that another, in a compound ratio, and it would not be long till the whole State would have such strength by association that, with the assistance of the United States, you could defy any insurgent force. The moment the State can hold an open, fair election, and send Senators and Members to Congress, I doubt not they would be received, and then Mississippi would again be as much a part of our Government as Indiana and Kentucky now are, equal to them in all respects, and could soon have courts, laws, and all the machinery of civil government. Until that is done, it is idle to talk, about little annoyances, such as you refer to at Deer Creek and Roach’s. As long as war lasts these troubles will exist, and, in truth, the longer the war is protracted, the more bitter will be the feeling, and the poor people will have to bear it, for they cannot help themselves.
General Grant can give you now no permanent assurance or guaranties, nor can I, nor can anybody. Of necessity, in war the commander on the spot is the judge, and may take your house, your fields, your everything, and, turn you all out, helpless, to starve. It may be wrong, but that don’t alter the case. In war you can’t help yourselves, and the only possible remedy is to stop war. I know this is no easy task, but it is well for you to look the fact square in the face and let your thoughts and acts tend to the great solution. Those who led the people into war promised all manner of good things to you, and where are their promises? A child may fire a city, but it takes a host of strong men to extinguish it. So a demagogue may fire the minds of a whole people, but it will take a host like ourselves to subdue the flames of anger thus begotten. The task is a mammoth one, but still you will in after years be held recreant if you do not lend your humble assistance. I know that hundreds and thousands of good Southern men now admit their error in appealing to war, and are engaged in the worthy effort to stop it before all is lost. Look around you and see the wreck. Let your minds contemplate the whole South in like chaos and disorder, and what a picture! Those who die by the bullet are lucky compared to those poor fathers and wives and children who see their all taken and themselves left to perish, or linger out their few years in ruined poverty. Our duty is not to build up; it is rather to destroy both the rebel army and whatever of wealth or property it rounded its boasted strength upon. Therefore don’t look to any army to help you; act for yourselves. Study your real duties to yourselves and families, and if you remain inert, or passively friendly to the power that threatens our national existence, you must reap the full consequences, but if, like true men, you come out boldly, and plainly assert that the Government of the United States is the only power on earth which can insure to the inhabitants of America that protection to life, property, and fame which alone can make life tolerable, you will have some reason to ask of us protection and assistance, otherwise not.
General Grant is absent. I doubt if he will have time to notice your petition as he deals with a larger sphere, and I have only reduced these points to writing that your people may have something to think about, and divert your minds from the questions of cotton, niggers, and petty depredations, in which the enemies of all order and all government have buried up the real issues of this war.
I am, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding. [Ibid., pp. 401-404]
As we can see, as usual the truth is not what Adams writes. And writing this letter doesn’t make Sherman a war criminal. That Adams thinks it does says more about his own incompetence as a lawyer than it does about Sherman.
Adams next writes, “Writing to General Halleck in September 1864, amid his infamous destruction of civilian property and life, Sherman again excused himself: ‘If people [civilians] raise a howl against my barbarity and cruelty I will answer them that war is war.’ ” [p. 114]
Once again, Adams is lying about the context. Here’s the actual message to Halleck:
NEAR LOVEJOY’S, GA., September 4, 1864–9 a.m.
Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D.C.:
The Twentieth Corps now occupies Atlanta and the Chattahoochee bridges. The main army is now here, grouped below Jonesborough. The enemy holds a line facing us, with front well covered by parapets, and flanks by Walnut Creek on the right and a confluent of Flint River on his left,. His position is too strong to attack in fronts and to turn it would carry me too far from our base at this time. Besides, there is no commensurate object, as there is no valuable point to his rear till we reach Macon, 103 miles from Atlanta. We are not prepared for that, and I will gradually fall back and occupy Atlanta, which was and is our grand objective point, already secured. For the future I propose that of the drafted men I receive my due share, say 50,000; that an equal or greater number go to General Canby, who should now proceed with all energy to get Montgomery and the reach of the Alabama River above Selma; that when I know he can move on Columbus, Ga., I move on La Grange and West Point, keeping to the east of the Chattahoochee; that we form a junction, repair roads to Montgomery, and open up the Appalachicola and Chattahoochee Rivers to Columbus, and move from it as a base straight on Macon. This campaign can be made in the winter, and we can safely rely on the corn of the Flint and Chattahoochee to supply forage. If the Tensas Channel of the Alabama can be used, General Gardner, with the rebel garrison, could continue to hold Mobile for our use when we want it. I propose to remove all the inhabitants of Atlanta, sending those committed to our cause to the rear, and the rebel families to the front. I will allow no trade, manufactories, nor any citizens there at all, so that we will have the entire use of railroad back, as also such corn and forage as may be reached by our troops. It’ the people raise a howl against my barbarity and cruelty I will answer that war is war, and not popularity-seeking. If they want peace they and their relatives must stop war.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General. [OR Series I, Vol 38, Part 5, p. 794]
So Sherman was talking about removing the civilians from Atlanta in preparation for his leaving on his march to the sea, not “amid” any “destruction of civilian property and life.” Adams simply fabricates things.
Adams writes, “This is the same general who later, in the Indian wars, used the same philosophy when he said, ‘The only good Indian is a dead Indian,’ which he meant literally.” [p. 114]
Yet again, Adams fabricates. That phrase is attributed to Sheridan, not Sherman, and neither of them actually said it. Sheridan reportedly said, in response to Toch-a-way saying he was a “good Indian,” “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.” Sheridan always denied saying it. So not only did Sherman not “mean it literally,” he never even said it.
Adams writes, “Incidentally, I am not the only historian to see the commission of war crimes by Sherman and his confederates in arms. Otto Eisenschiml, writing in the January 1964 issue of Civil War Times, less than twenty years after the Nuremberg war crimes trials, asserted that Sherman should have been hanged as a war criminal.”
Adams is once again trying to deceive us. First of all, he’s the furthest thing from a historian. Secondly, Otto Eisenschiml, the guy who cooked up the cockamamie claim that Edwin Stanton was in on Lincoln’s assassination, is no real historian either. Thirdly, Eisenschiml didn’t say Sherman should have been hanged:
“What would have happened to Sherman, had he lived in the 20th century, and had found himself on the losing side? Most likely the victors would have tried him on charges that:
“1–He had advocated a mass transplanting of four million Northerners into enemy territory, displacing the same number of Southerners, who were to be deprived of their property and means of livelihood, and left to shift for themselves.
“2–He had advocated the outright killing of all Southern men and women aof the ruling class.
“3–He was guilty of wholesale devastation and confiscation of private property, far beyond what he could use for the sustenance of his army.
“4–He had encouraged and incited his troops to cruelty toward noncombatants. (Unlike the defendants in the Nuremberg trials after World War II, he could not have claimed to have acted in obedience to orders from higher-ups.)
“5–He had destroyed an entire town, because guerrillas had shot at boats in its vicinity.
“Whether Sherman would have gone through with his proposed barbarities, if he had had the power to do so, is a moot question. I do not think he would have but an inimical court could not have been expected to give him the benefit of the doubt and probably would have sentenced him to be hanged as a war criminal.” [Otto Eisenschiml, "Sherman: Hero or War Criminal?" Civil War Times Illustrated, Vol. 2, No. 9, January, 1964, p. 36]
Note that Eisenschiml said a hypothetical 20th century court “probably would have sentenced him to be hanged,” not that Sherman “should have been hanged.” And Eisenschiml’s conclusion is as flawed as his crackpot theory about Stanton. No civilian deaths outside the accepted rules of war of the time can be attributed to deliberate actions by Sherman. Sherman’s actions were within the bounds of the Lieber Code. And two of the alleged “charges” were for things that Sherman said and were never done. Is Adams endorsing the concept of hanging a man for what he writes?
Adams writes, “Another Union officer, Joshua Chamberlain (a brigadier general who later became governor of Maine), wrote in a letter to his sister after having burned out women and children from their homes near Petersburg, Virginia, on order from General Grant: ‘I am willing to fight men in arms, but not babes in arms’ (14 December 1864).” [pp. 115-116]
Adams again shows lack of credibility.
Here’s what Chamberlain wrote:
“The Rebels sent a large force to cut us off, but we out marched & out witted them. Our stragglers fared hard when caught by the enemy’s scouts & guerrillas. In fact they were murdered–their throats cut from ear to ear. Several of our men were found in this condition who had straggled a little from the column to cut a corner or something of that sort. In retaliation our men on our return burnt almost every house on the road. This was a hard night. Our men got very much exasperated & one day when I brought up the rear, I saw sad work in protecting helpless women & children from outrage, when the Rebels had been firing from their houses on us, & the men were bent on revenge. I invariably gave them the protection which every man of honor will give any woman as long as she is a woman. But I have no doubt they were all ‘burnt out’ before the whole army got by. It was sad business. I am willing to fight men in arms, but not babes in arms. [ill.] Lawrence.” [Chamberlain to sister Sae, 14 Dec 1864 in Mark Nesbitt, Through Blood & Fire: Selected Civil War Papers of Major General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, pp. 144-145]
As we can see, Adams fabricated a claim again. This was not done on the orders of General Grant but rather in retaliation for war crimes committed by confederates. Retaliation is an accepted measure.
Adams claims, “Finally, as a postscript to Sherman and Sheridan’s barbarism toward the South, Sherman wrote to Sheridan in 1868 concerning Sheridan’s assualts on the Indians, telling him to act with all the vigor he had shown in the Shenandoah Valley during the final months of the Civil War. And Sherman promised to cover for him if the press started writing about ‘atrocities.’ ” [p. 116] As usual, Adams provides no citation to back up his claim.
Here’s a letter from Sherman to Sheridan I found:
“As to extermination, it is for the Indians themselves to determine. We don’t want to exterminate or even fight them. At best it is an inglorious war, not apt to add much to our fame or personal comfort; and for our soldiers, to whom we owe our first thoughts, it is all danger and extreme labor, without a single compensating advantage . . . . As brave men and as the soldiers of a government which has exhausted its peace efforts, we, in the performance of a most unpleasant duty, accept the war begun by our enemies, and hereby resolve to make its end final. If it results in the utter annihilation of these Indians it is but the result of what they have been warned again and again, and for which they seem fully prepared. I will say nothing and do nothing to restrain our troops from doing what they deem proper on the spot, and will allow no mere vague general charges of cruelty and inhumanity to tie their hands, but will use all the powers confided to me to the end that these Indians, the enemies of our race and of our civilization, shall not again be able to begin and carry on their barbarous warfare on any kind of a pretext that they may choose to allege. I believe that this winter will afford us the opportunity, and that before snow falls these Indians will seek some sort of peace, to be broken next year at their option; but we will not accept their peace, or cease our efforts till all the past acts are both punished and avenged. You may now go ahead in your own way and I will back you with my whole authority, and stand between you and any efforts that may be attempted in your rear to restrain your purpose or check your troops.” [William T. Sherman to Philip H. Sheridan, October 15, 1868, in Horace L. Moore, “The Nineteenth Kansas Cavalry,” Transactions of the Kansas State Historical Society, Volume 6, p. 37] The truth again is much different than what Adams would like us all to believe.
Adams claims, “Sherman, as commander over the forces against the Indians, after the Civil War, sent a letter to President Grant: ‘We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women, and children. Nothing else will reach the root of this case.’ ” [p. 116] Without the context, it looks bad, just as Adams intended. But let’s restore the context.
Here’s the letter:
“General: Just arrived in time to attend the funeral of my adjutant general, Sawyer. I have given general instructions to General Cooke about the Sioux. I do not yet understand how the massacre of Colonel Fetterman’s party could have been so complete. We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women, and children. Nothing less will reach the root of this case.” [William T. Sherman to U. S. Grant, December 28, 1866, in Congressional Globe, Vol. 58, Part 3, p. 1689]
As Lloyd Lewis puts it, “A massacre of soldiers by Indians, under circumstances which Sherman regarded as treacherous [the Fetterman Massacre], prompted him to inform Grant on December 28th, ‘We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women, and children.’ As always, his bite did not measure up to his bark, but his violent words were thrown back at him by Eastern humanitarians in the succeeding decade. Six years later his old-time Abolitionist enemy, Wendell Phillips, was telling newspaper reporters that ‘Sherman is for exterminating Indians.’ Sherman answered hotly, branding the accusation ‘a most impudent fabrication throughout’ and denying that he had ever ‘favored wanton destruction of human life in any instance.’ His only policy, he said, had been to compel Indians to remain on their reservations.” [Lloyd Lewis, Sherman: Fighting Prophet, p. 597] Nothing ever came of this letter regarding what Sherman wrote about the Sioux.
Adams says, “Sherman was to call the massacre of all American Indians his ‘final solution to the Indian problem,’ a phrase the Nazis were to use for the Holocaust. Just before Sherman died in 1891 he complained bitterly about civilian interference in his Indian policies, which had prevented him from getting ‘rid of them all.’ ” [p. 116] Adams cites the Wilson Quarterly, Winter 1999, p. 6. I can see no articles there that would indicate any authoritative commentary on Sherman and the Indians.
Adams agrees with Michael Fellman’s interpretation. Fellman says, “In 1868, when Grant went to the White House [Fellman is wrong here. Grant didn't take office until 1869.], Sherman came to Washington as commanding general and gave his full authorization to Phil Sheridan, his replacement on the ground in the West, to continue along the same lines. Thus the great triumvirate of the Union Civil War effort formulated and enacted military Indian policy until reaching, by the 1880s, what Sherman sometimes referred to as the ‘final solution of the Indian problem,’ which he defined as killing hostile Indians and segregating their pauperized survivors in remote place where they would not threaten white settlers.” [Michael Fellman, Citizen Sherman: A Life of William Tecumseh Sherman, p. 260] Fellman cites Sherman to Frederick T. Grant, December 27, 1875 and Sherman to Sheridan, September 26, 1872 [p. 452, n.1] I don’t have access to these letters right now to see how they were used for this view.
John Marszalek writes, “Like many other Americans, Sherman held contradictory views toward the Indians. On the one hand, he felt sorry for them as individuals and insisted that whites should be fair to them but they exasperated him because of their stubborn opposition to the movement of white society and because of the pathos their condition often engendered. He viewed them as stubborn children who needed disciplining. Their way of life represented the kind of anarchy he had feared all of his life; their mobility and closeness to nature appeared at odds with stability and order. He did not want to exterminate them, but he hoped they would become productive members of society. And to Sherman, ‘productive’ meant doing things the white man’s way. If they did, he would support them, even against white interlopers. If they did not, he would use all the force he could muster to teach them proper behavior.” [John F. Marszalek, Sherman: A Soldier’s Passion for Order, p. 379]
Adams now writes, “Ulysses S. Grant, as commander of all Union armies, sent an order to General Sheridan on 16 July 1864 concerning the Confederate colonel John Mosby, whose raids behind Union lines diverted as many as 30,000 Union troops trying to track him down. Ordered Grant, ‘Where any of Mosby’s men are caught, hang them without a trial.’
“Ten days later, Grant issued another war crimes-type order to Sheridan: ‘If the war is to last another year, we want the Shenandoah Valley to remain a barren waste.’ Sheridan had already burned everything in sight.” [p. 116]
In the first place, Mosby’s men were irregulars, and as such they operated on the fringes of being legal combatants. In the second place, attacking the food source of an enemy army is well within the rules of warfare.
“Grant preferred turning up the pressure on the Confederates. Tired of the activities of John S. Mosby and his partisan rangers in disrupting Union communication and supply lines and in picking off errant Yankee detachments, he directed Sheridan to execute any of Mosby’s men who were not in uniform when captured; he also suggested that the families of Mosby’s raiders be detained ‘as hostages for good conduct of Mosby and his men.’ A cavalry division should strip Loudoun County of food, animals, and slaves and take as prisoners all adult males under fifty capable of bearing arms. Later he modified these orders to allow for the compensation of loyal citizens and the exemption of Quakers from arrest. Although eager to make sure the area ‘should not be capable of subsisting a hostile Army,’ he added, ‘At the same time we want to inflict as little hardship upon Union men as possible.’ One did not want to injure friends when striking at the enemy; Grant was no advocate of indiscriminate warfare. That he was in favor of harsh measures, however, was evident in a late August directive: ‘Do all the damage to rail-roads & crops you can. Carry off stock of all discreptions [sic] and negroes so as to prevent further planting. If the War is to last another year we want the Shenandoah Valley to remain a barren waste.’ ” [Brooks D. Simpson, Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865, p. 376]
Here are some of the orders from the OR:
CITY POINT, August 16, 1864–1.30 p.m.
(Received 6.30 a.m. 17th.)
Commanding, &c., Winchester, Va.:
Fitz Lee’s division is not in the Valley. We took quite a number of prisoners from it yesterday north of the James. Kershaw’s division has gone to the Valley, and probably two brigades of Wilcox’s division. Some cavalry has gone, but I do not know whose. I would not advise an attack on. Early in an intrenched position, but would watch him closely with the cavalry, and if he attempts to move north follow him. The 100-days’ men will have to be discharged at the expiration of their time unless there is a pressing necessity for detaining them for a few days on account of immediate active hostilities. The families of most of Mosby’s men are known, and can be collected. I think they :should be taken and kept at Fort McHenry, or some secure place, as hostages for the good conduct of Mosby and his men. Where any of Mosby’s men are caught hang them without trial.
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
[OR Series I, Vol 43, Part 1, p. 811]
CITY POINT, September 4, 1864–10 a.m.
(Received 12 m.)
In clearing out the arms-bearing community of Loudoun County, and the subsistence for armies, exercise your own judgment as to who should be exempt from arrest, and as to who should receive pay for their stock, grain, &c. It is our interest that that county should not be capable of subsisting a hostile army, and at the same time we want to inflict as little hardship upon Union men as possible.
U.S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
[OR Series I, Vol 43, Part 1, p. 22]
CITY POINT, VA.. August 26, l864–2.30 p.m.
(Received 12.10 a.m. 27th.)
Halltown, Va. :
I telegraphed you that I had good reason for believing that Fitz Lee had been ordered back here. I now think it likely that all troops will be ordered back from the Valley except what they believe to be the minimum number to detain you. My reason for supposing this is based upon the fact that yielding up the Weldon road seems to be a blow to the enemy he cannot stand. I think I do not overstate the loss of the enemy in the last two weeks at 10,000 killed and wounded. We have lost heavily, mostly in captured, when the enemy gained temporary advantages. Watch closely, and if you find this theory correct push with all vigor. Give the enemy no rest, and if it is possible to follow to the Virginia Central road, follow that far. Do all the damage to railroads and crops you can. Carry off stock of all descriptions, and negroes, so as to prevent further planting. If the war is to last another year, we want the Shenandoah Valley to remain a barren waste.
U.S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General
[OR Series I, Vol 43, Part 1, pp. 916-917]
Adams says, “Distinguished military historian B. H. Liddell Hart observed that the code of civilized warfare which had ruled Europe for over two hundred years was first broken by Lincoln’s policy of directing the destruction of civilian life in the South. ‘This policy’ he wrote, ‘was in many ways the prototype of modern total war.’ ” [p. 116]
Adams’ description is unreliable. Liddell Hart, in talking about World War I, wrote, “Once war broke out, it developed the characteristics foreshadowed by the trend of ideas in the previous century, and produced a degeneration of civilized standards of behavior that was in many ways worse than that which had marked the Revolutionary-Napoleonic wars. A large-scale landmark in the ‘Great Decline’ was created fifty years before 1914 in the American Civil War. This was in many ways the prototype of modern ‘total war’ The devastation of Georgia by Sherman and of the Shenandoah Valley by Sheridan, were designed to undermine the resistance of the [Confederates].” [B. H. Liddell Hart, The Revolution in Warfare, p. 72]
Liddell Hart is not describing destruction of civilian life, but rather destruction of the means of carrying on warfare, which included the support structure that provided sustenance to the hostile army.
In discussing Atlanta, Adams writes, “When General Sherman gave his order to burn Atlanta, with the option for the local residents to leave and avoid cremation, confederate General Hood, under a flag of truce, sent a letter to Sherman protesting the order: ‘And now, sir, permit me to say that the unprecedented measure you propose transcends, in studied and ingenious cruelty, all acts ever before brought to my attention in the dark history of war. In the name of God and humanity I protest’ (9 September 1864).
“Sherman replied that the Southerners were the bad guys and they had done a lot of bad things, like commissioning privateers, seizing federal forts and arsenals, confiscating all debts due Northern merchants for goods had and received, trying to force Missouri and Kentucky into the Confederacy, and falsifying the voting in Louisiana, so Southerners should not make ‘hypocritical appeals to God and humanity.’ Sherman seemed to be saying that in a war the good guys do not have to observe the laws of civilized warfare; otherwise, why the laundry list of Confederate sins?” [pp. 116-117]
Adams is lying again. He is deliberatly mischaracterizing what Sherman said.
Here is the trail of correspondence.
Sherman sent all the correspondence to Halleck with this covering letter:
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, Atlanta, Ga., September 20, 1864.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, Chief of Staff, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: I have the honor herewith to submit copies of a correspondence between General Hood, of the Confederate army, the mayor of Atlanta, and myself touching the removal of the inhabitants of Atlanta.
In explanation of the tone which marks some of these letters I will only call your attention to the fact that after I had announced my determination General Hood took upon himself to question my motive. I could not tamely submit to such impertinence, and I have seen than in violation of all official usage he has published in the Macon newspapers such parts of the correspondence as suited his purpose. This could have had no other object than to create a feeling on the part of the people, but if he expects to resort to such artifices I think I can meet him there too. It is sufficient for my Government to know that the removal of the inhabitants has been made with liberality and fairness; that it has been attended by no force, and that no women or children have suffered, unless for want of provisions by their natural protectors and friends. My real reasons for this step were we want all the houses of Atlanta for military storage and occupation. We want to contract the lines of defenses so as to diminish the garrison to the limit necessary to defend its narrow and vital parts instead of embracing, as the lines now do, the vast suburbs. This contraction of the lines, with the necessary citadels and redoubts, will make it necessary to destroy the very houses used by families as residences. Atlanta is a fortified town, was stubbornly defended and fairly captured. As captors we have a right to it. The residence here of a poor population would compel us sooner or later to feed them or see then starve under our eyes. The residence here of the families of our enemies would be a temptation and a means to keep up a correspondence dangerous andil population calls for provost guards, and absorbs the attention of officers in listening to everlasting complaints and special grievances that are not military. These are my reasons, and if satisfactory to the Government of the United States it makes no difference whether it pleases General Hood and his people or not.
I am, with respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding.
In his letter to Hood announcing he was moving the families, Sherman said:
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Atlanta, Ga., September 7, 1864.
General HOOD, Commanding Confederate Army:
GENERAL: I have deemed it to the interest of the United States that the citizens now residing in Atlanta should remove, those who prefer it to go south and the rest north. For the latter I can proivde food and transportation to points of their election in Tennessee, Kentucky, or farther north. For the former I can provide transportation by cars as far as Rough and Ready, and also wagons; but that their removal may be made with as little discomfort as possible it will be necessary for you to help the families from Rough and Ready to the cars at Lovejoy’s. If you consent I will undertake to remove all families in Atlanta who prefer to go South to Rough and Ready, with all their movable effects, viz, clothing, trunks, reasonable furniture, bedding, &c., with their servants, white and black, with the proviso that no force shall be used forward the blacks one way or the other. If they want to go with their masters or mistresses they may do so, otherwise they will be sent away, unless be men, when they may be employed by our quartermaster. Atlanta is no place for families or non-combatants, and I have no desire to send them North if you will assist in conveying them South. If this proposition meets your views I will consent to a truce in the neighborhood of Rough and Ready, stipulating that any wagons, horses, or animals, or persons sent there for the purpose herein stated shall in no manner be farmed of molested, you in your turn agreeing that any cars, wagons, carriages, persons, or animals sent to the same point shall not be interfered with.
Each of us might send a guards of, say, 100 men, to maintain order and limit the truce to, say, two days after a certain time appointed. I have authorized the mayor to choose two citizens to convey to you this letter and such documents as the mayor may forward in explanation, and shall await your reply.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding.
Hood responded in this letter:
HDQRS. ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE, OFFICE CHIEF OF STAFF, September 9, 1864.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN,
Commanding U. S. Forces in Georgia:
GENERAL: Your letter of yesterday’s date [7th] borne by James M. Ball and James R. Crew, citizens of Atlanta, is received. You say therein ” I deem it to the interest of the United States that the citizens now residing in Atlanta should remove,” &c. I do not consider that I have any alternative in this matter. I therefore accept your proposition to declare a truce of two days, or such time as may be necessary to accomplish the purpose mentioned, and shall render all assistance in my power to expedite the transportation of citizens in this direction. I suggest that a staff officer be appointed by you to superintend the removal from the city to Rough and Ready, while I appoint a like officer to control their removal farther south; that a guard of 100 men be sent by either party, as you propose, to maintain order at that place, and that the removal begin on Monday next. And now, sir, permit me to say that the unprecedented measure you propose transcends, in studied and ingenious cruelty, all acts ever before brought to my attention in the dark history of war. In the name of God a humanity I protest, believing that you will find that you are expelling from their homes and firesides the wives and children of a brave people.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. B. HOOD, General.
[Ibid., p. 415]
Here is the response Sherman gave, which Adams misrepresented:
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Atlanta, Ga., September 10, 1864.
General J. B. HOOD, C. S. Army, Commanding Army of Tennessee:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of this date [9th], at the hands of Messrs. Ball and Crew, consenting to the arrangements I had proposed to facilitate the removal south of the people of Atlanta who prefer to go in that direction. I inclose you a copy of my orders, which will, I am satisfied accomplish my purpose perfectly. You style the measure proposed “unprecedented,” and appeal to the dark history of war for a parallel as an act of “studied and ingenious cruelty. “ It is not unprecedented, for General Johnston himself, very wisely and properly, removed the families all the way from Dalton down, and I see no reason why Atlanta should be excepted. Nor is it necessary to appeal to the dark history of war when recent and modern examples are so handy. You, yourself, burned dwelling-houses along your parapet, and I have seen to-day FIFTY houses that you have rendered uninhabitable because they stood in the way of your forts and men. You defended Atlanta on a line so close to town that every cannon shot and many musket shots from our line of investment that overshot their mark went into the habitations of women and children. General Hardee did the same at Jonesborough, and General Johnston did the same last summer at Jackson, Miss. I have not caused you of heartless cruelty, but merely instance these cases of very recent occurrence, and could go on and enumerate hundreds of others and challenge any fair man to judge which of us has the heart of pity for the families of a “brave people. ” I say that it is kindness to these families of Atlanta to remove them now at once from scenes that women and children should not be exposed to, and the “brave people” should scorn to commit their wives and children to the rude barbarians who thus, as you say, violate the laws of war, as illustrated in the pages of its dark history.
In the name of common sense I ask you not to appeal to a just God in such a sacrilegious manner; you who, in the midst of peace and prosperity, have plunged a nation into war, dark and cruel war; who dared and badgered us to battle insulted our flag, seized our arsenals and forts that were left in the honorable custody of peaceful ordnance sergeants; seized and made “prisoners of war” the very garrisons sent to protect your people against negroes and Indians long before any overt act was committed by the, to you, hated Lincoln Government; tried to force Kentucky and Missouri into rebellion, spite to plunder; falsified the vote of Louisiana, turned loose your privateers to plunder unarmed ships; expelled Union families by the thousands; burned their houses and declared by an act of your Congress the confiscation of all debts due Northern men for goods had and received. Talk thus to the marines, but not to me, who have seen these things, and who will this day make as much sacrifice for the peace and orn Southerner among you. If we must be enemies, let us be men and fight it out, as we propose to do, and not deal in such hypocritical appeals to God and humanity. God will judge us in due time, and He will pronounce whether it be more to fight with a town full of women, time to places of safety among their own friends and people.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding.
[Ibid., p. 416]
As we can see, Adams completely ignored the first part of the letter in which Sherman showed that what he was doing was acceptable to the Rebels as within the laws of warfare. What Adams claims as Sherman’s justification was in reality Sherman pointing out hypocrisy to Hood. And Adams is completely wrong when he claimed this was when Sherman “gave his order to burn Atlanta.”
Incidentally, here are the orders to which Sherman referred in his letter to Hood:
SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS., In the Field, Atlanta, Ga., Numbers 70. September 10, 1864.
I. Pursuant to an agreement between General J. B. Hood, commanding the Confederate forces in Georgia, and Major General W. T. Sherman, commanding this army, a truce is hereby declared to exist from daylight of Monday, September 12, until daylight of Thursday, September 22, being ten full days, at the point on the Macon railroad known as Rough and Ready, and the country round about for a circle of two miles’ radius, together with the roads leading to and from in the direction of Atlanta and Lovejoy’s Station, respectively, for the purpose of affording the people of Atlanta a safe means of removal to points south.
II. The chief quartermaster at Atlanta, Colonel Easton, will afford the all the people of Atlanta who elect to go south all the facilities he can spare to remove them comfortably and safely, with their effects, to Rough and Ready, using cars and wagons and ambulances for that purpose, and commanders of regiments and brigades may use their regimental and staff teams to carry out the object of this order, the whole to cease after Wednesday, the 21st instant.
III. Major-General Thomas will cause a guard to be established on the road, out beyond the camp-ground, with orders to allow all wagons and vehicles to pass that are manifestly used for this purpose without undue search, and Major-General Howard will send a guard of 100 men, with a field officer in command, to take post at Rough and Ready during the truce, with orders, in concert with a guard of like size from the Confederate army, to maintain the most perfect order in that vicinity during the transfer of these families. A white flag will be displayed during the truce, and the guard will cause all wagons to leave at 4 p. m. on Wednesday, the 21st, and the guard to withdraw at dark, the truce to terminate the next morning.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp.
The mayor of Atlanta and two members of the town council wrote Sherman asking him to reconsider his decision.
ATLANTA, GA., September 11 1864.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN:
SIR: We, the undersigned, mayor and two of the council for the city of Atlanta, for the time being the only legal organ of the people of the said city to express their wants and wishes, ask leave most earnestly, but respectfully, to petition you to reconsider the order requiring them to leave Atlanta. At first view it struck us that the measure would involve extraordinary hardship and loss, but since we have seen the practical execution of it so far as it has progressed, and the individual condition of the people, and heard their statements as to the inconveniences, loss, and suffering attending it, we are satisfied that the amount of it will in the aggregate consequence appalling and heart-rending. Many poor women are in advanced state of pregnancy; others now having young children, and whose husbands, for the greater part, are either in the army, prisoners, or dead. Some say, ” I have such an one sick at my house; who will wait on them when I am gone?” Others say, “what are we to do? We have no house to go to, and no means to buy, or rent any; no parents, relatives, or friends to go to. ” Another says, “I will try and take this or that article of property, but such things I must leave behind, though I need them much. ” We reply to them, “General Sherman will carry your property to Rough and Ready, and General Hood will take it thence on,” and they will reply to that, “but I want to leave the railroad at such a place and cannot get conveyance from there on. “
We only refer to a few facts to try to illustrate in part how this measure will operate in practice. As you advanced the people north of this fell back, and before your arrival here a large portion of the people had retired south, so that the country south of this is already crowded and without house enough to accommodate the people, and we are informed that many are now staying in churches and other outbuildings. This being so, how is it possible for the people still here (mostly women and children) to find any shelter? And how can they live through the winter in the woods? No shelter or subsistence, in the midst of strangers who know them not, and without the power to assist them much, if they were willing to do so. This is but a feeble picture of the consequences of this measure. You know the woe, the horrors and the suffering cannot be described by words; imagination can only conceive of it, and we ask you to take these things into consideration. We know your mind and time are constantly occupied with the duties of your command, which almost deters us from asking your attention to this matter, but thought it might be that you had not considered this subject in all of its awful consequences, and that on more reflection s people an exception to all mankind, for we know of no such instance ever having occurred; surely none such in the United States, and what has this helpless people done, that they should be driven from their homes to wander strangers and outcasts and exiles, and to subsist on charity? We do not know as yet the number of people still here; of those who are here, are satisfied a respectable number, if allowed to remain at home, could subsist for several months without assistance, and a respectable number of the number for a such longer time, and who might not need assistance at any time. In conclusion, we most earnestly and solemnly petition you to reconsider this order, or modify it, and suffer this unfortunate people to remain at home are enjoy what little means they have.
JAMES M. CALHOUN, Mayor.E. E. RAWSON, S. C. WELLS, Councilmen.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Atlanta, Ga., September 12, 1864.
JAMES M. CALHOUN, Mayor,
E. E. RAWSON, and
S. C. WELLS,
Representing City Council of Atlanta:
GENTLEMEN: I have your letter of the 11th, in the nature of a petition to revoke my orders, and give all the inhabitants from Atlanta. I have read it carefully, and give full credit to your statements of the distress that will be occasioned by it, and yet shall not revoke my orders, simply because my orders are not designed to meet the humanities of the case, but to prepare for the future struggles in which millions of good people outside of Atlanta have a deep interest. We must have peace, not only at Atlanta but in all America. To secure this we must stop the war that now desolates our once happy and favored country. To stop war we must defeat the rebel armies that are arrayed against the laws and Constitution, which all must respect and obey. To defeat these armies we must prepare the way to reach them in their recesses provided with the arms and instruments which enable us to accomplish our purpose. Now, I know the vindictive nature of our enemy, and that we may have years of military operations from this quarter, and therefore deem it wise and prudent to prepare in time. The use of Atlanta for warlike purposes is inconsistent with its character as a home for families. There will be no manufactures, commerce, or agriculture here for the maintenance of families, and sooner or later want will compel the inhabitants to go. Why not go now, when all the arrangements are completed for the transfer, instead of waiting till the plunging of contending armies wines of the past month? Of course, I do not apprehend any such thing at this moment, but you not suppose, this army will be here until the war is over. I cannot discuss this subject with you fairly, because I cannot impart to you what I propose to do, but I assert that my military plans make it necessity for the inhabitants to go away, and I can only renew my offer of services to make their exodus in any direction as easy and comfortable as possible. You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty and you cannot refine it, and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace. But you cannot have peace and a division of our country. If the United States submits to a division now it will not stop, but will go on until we reap the fate of Mexico, which is eternal war. The United States does and must assert its authority wherever it once had power. If it relaxes one bit to presume it is gone, and I know that is the national feeling. This feeling assumes various shapes, but always comes back to that of Union. Once admit the Union, once more acknowledge the authority of the National Government, and instead of devoting your houses and streets and roads to the dread uses of war I and this army become at once your protectors and supporters, shielding you from danger, let it come from what quarter it may. I know that few individuals cannot resist a torrent of error and passion such as swept the South into rebellion, but you can part so that we may know those who desire a government and those who insist on war and its desolation. You might as well appeal agains the thunder-storm as against these terrible hardships of war. They are inevitable, and the only way the people of Atlanta can hope once more to live in peace and quiet at home is to stop the war, which can alone be done by admitting that it began in error and is perpetuated in pride.
We don’t want your negroes or your horses or your houses or your lands or anything you have, but we do want, and will have, a just obedience to the laws of the United States. That we will have, and if it involves the destruction of your improvements we cannot help it. You have heretofore read public sentiment in your newspapers that live by falsehood and excitement, and the quicker you seek for truth in other quarters the better for you. I repeat then that by the original compact of government the United States had certain rights in Georgia, which have never been relinquished and never will be; that the South began war by seizing forts, arsenals, mints, custom- houses, &c., long before Mr. Lincoln was installed and before the South had one jot or tittle of provocation. I myself have seen in Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi hundreds and thousands of women and children fleeing from your armies and desperadoes, hungry and with bleeding feet. In Memphis, Vicksburg, and Mississippi we fed thousands upon thousands of the families of rebel soldiers left on our hands and whom we could not see starve. Now that war comes home to you, you feel very different. You deprecate its horrors, but did not feel them when you sent car-loads of soldiers and ammunition and molded shells and shot to carry war into Kentucky and Tennessee, and desolate the homes of hundreds and thousands of good people who only asked to live in peace at their old homes and under the Government of their inheritance. But these comparisons are idle. I want peace, and believe it can now only be reached through union and war, and I will ever conduct war with a view to perfect an early success. But, my dear sirs, when that peace does come, you may call on me for anything. Then will I share with you the last cracker, and watch with you to shield your homes and families against from every quarter. Now you must go, and take with you the old and feeble, feed and nurse them and build for them in more quiet places proper habitations to shields them against the weather until the had passions of men cool down and allow the Union and peace once more to settle over your old homes at Atlanta.
Yours, in haste,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding.
Adams writes, “There were voices in the North protesting the inhumanity of Sheridan and Sherman’s war policy. A Northern general, Don Buell, resigned the army in protest: ‘I believe that the policy and means with which the war was being prosecuted were discreditable to the nation and a stain on civilization.’ ” [p. 117]
BEDFORD SPRINGS, Wednesday, July 10, 1864.
DEAR SIR: The public have seen no official announcement of the fact — though it is, no doubt, by this time very generally known — that I have resigned my commission in the army. I have several times since been assured that my personal friends, and many who, without the claim of personal acquaintance, have taken an interest in my official career, feel that some explanation of the circumstances and motives of my action is due to them. Accepting this claim upon me, I have already answered some of my friends in substance as I do you now.
It is perhaps unnecessary to enter into an exposition of the circumstances of my supersedure in Tennessee in the Fall of 1862, since the particulars, though not without a certain value, involve interests of my own with which it is not my wish to weary you. As far as facts are concerned, it will suffice for the present to say, that after the adjournment, about the 1st of May, 1863, of the “Commission” which investigated my campaign, my correspondence with the department was confined to a monthly report made to the Adjutant-General that I was waiting the action of the War Department on the proceedings of that Commission; that about the fifth week of April last, I was offered, command under Gen. SHERMAN, my junior, which I declined; that a month later I was again offered command under Gen. CANBY, also my junior, which I declined; that about three weeks later I received notification that I was mustered out of my rank as Major-General of Volunteers, and that on the same day I sent in my resignation as Colonel in the Adjutant-General’s Department of the regular army.
The impulses of most men would approve my course in this matter, if it even rested on no other ground than a determination not to acquiesce in any measure that would degrade me; but I had a higher motive than that I believed that the policy and means with which the war was being prosecuted were discreditable to the nation, and a stain upon civilization; and that they would not only fail to restore the Union, if, indeed, they had not already rendered its restoration impossible, but that their tendency was to subvert the institutions under which the country had realized unexampled prosperity and happiness; and to such a work I could not lend my hand.
While there may have been more or less of personal ambition mixed up in the movement of secession as there must generally be in the management of political affairs, yet I do not doubt that it was mainly determined by an honest conviction in the minds of those who engaged in it, that the control of the Government has passed permanently into the hands of a sectional party which would soon trample on the political rights of the South. This apprehension was shared in by a very large portion of the people who did not favor secession, and who were so anxious for the preservation of the Union that even coercive measures, if tempered by justice and mercy, would not have estranged them. Under these circumstances the use of military force to put down armed resistance was not incompatible with a restoration of the Union with its former glories and affections, provided the means were employed in such a manner as to convince the people that their constitutional rights would be respected. Such a policy, therefore, in the use at force, if force must be resorted to, had the manifest advantage of weakening the power of the rebellion and strengthening the Government, independently of the moral force which dignity and justice always lend to authority.
A policy which recognized these principles was wisely declared by Congress in the beginning of the war: and from a fervent desire for the preservation of the Union, in which pride of country and all my interests as a citizen centred, not less than from a natural impulse, I gave that policy my earnest support. Unfortunately it was too often cheated of its due effect by the intrusion of sectional rancor, and the injudicious or unfaithful acts or agents of the Government; and when, at the expiration of a year, a system of spoliation and disfranchisement was inaugurated, the cause was robbed of its sanctity, and success rendered more difficult of attainment.
You have, in these few lines, an explanation of the motives of my conduct while I was in command, as well as of the step which, after twenty-three years of service, has closed my career as a soldier, and broken up the professional habits and associations to which I was educated, and in which I have passed the larger portion of my life. I am very far from casting unfavorable reflections upon the thousands in the Service, who, perhaps, with views similar to my own have not chosen my course. Few of them have been similarly situated; and I rather commend the patience with which they have struggled on in positions which must otherwise have been filled by less scrupulous men, and in which they might mitigate some of the calamities which they yet could not wholly prevent. Very truly yours,
Quite obviously, a major consideration in Buell’s “higher motive” in resigning was the attack on slavery by the US Government. “For Buell, the trouble with Federal hard war policy was that it treated Southern civilians as implacable enemies, not as alienated Americans, and so intensified a resistance that otherwise might have softened.” [Mark Grimsley, The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865, p. 182] What Prof. Grimsley shows in his book is the utter failure of a conciliatory policy in softening resistance.
Adams says, “As Sherman and Sheridan were undertaking the devastation of civilian life and property, sixteen European nations met in Geneva, Switzerland, to codify the laws of war in what we call the first Geneva Convention on War. Three other such conventions were held, the last in 1949 after World War II. These conventions did not really create any new law; they simply codified the laws of war, as our codes centralize common law.” [p. 117]
Adams continues, “The civilized world was motivated by the suffering of injured soldiers during the Crimean War, which had just recently ended. They were equally motivated by what the Northern armies in America were doing to the civilian population in the South.” [pp. 117-118]
Adams claims, “To this day, the names of Generals Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan are spoken of with hatred and contempt by the descendants of the civilian population who experienced the modern Western world’s first massive ethnic cleansing and plunder of a civilian population, contrary to the morality as well as the laws of nations.” [p. 118]
Adams writes, “The conventions codifying the century-old laws of war at Geneva (1863) and The Hague (1899) decreed:
“1. Attacking defenseless cities and towns was a war crime.
“2. Plundering and wantonly destroying civilian property was a war crime.
“3. Only necessities could be taken from a civilian population, and they had to be paid for.
“These rules, when applied to the Northern generals, made their behavior criminal by the laws of nations.” [p. 118]
Adams of course provides no source for his claim about what inspired the Geneva Conventions. The 1864 Geneva Convention dealt with treatment of the wounded. I’ve thus far seen no credible evidence to back up Adams’ claims about what led to the Geneva Conventions. Also, there was no ethnic cleansing in the US Civil War. Adams is just fabricating more claims.
Adams claims, “In The Laws of War (1994), three American scholars commented on this line of thinking: ‘Most of the actions today outlawed by the Geneva Conventions have been condemned in the West for at least four centuries.’ ‘These laws of war that condemned what Sherman and Sheridan did were ‘self-evident and unalterable’ features of the laws of war that crystallized in early modern Europe and survived virtually intact down to our day,’ wrote Geoffrey Parker, professor of military and naval history at Yale University.” [p. 118]
Michael Howard and Geoffrey Parker are British, not American, and Parker’s essay doesn’t mention Sherman and Sheridan.
Adams writes, “Lincoln had to find another excuse for his military assault on the South besides the Sumter episode. The only way he could do that with some semblance of lawfulness was to deny these states their sovereignty, to deny any right to withdraw from the Union, and to deny their right to ‘the consent of the governed’ in their affairs with the Union. They were not freedom fighters, fighting for their independence–they were traitors and conspirators, and he was merely putting down an unlawful rebellion.” [p. 121]
Lincoln wasn’t the first one who denied there was a right to unilateral secession or that the states were not completely sovereign. That was done long before Lincoln.
And states opposed secession before Lincoln was even inaugurated:
There are even more parts to this chapter in which Adams demonstrates his lack of credibility, but this is probably long enough as it is. Maybe I’ll get to the remaining pages in the chapter at a later date.