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Monday, August 19, 2013

No Justice, No Peace - By Thomas DiLorenzo

The Other Reparations Movement
August 19, 2002

Jack Kershaw of Memphis, Tennessee, wants to file a class-action lawsuit against the US government for reparations. Not on behalf of the descendants of slaves but on behalf of Southerners of all races whose ancestors were the victims of the US government’s rampage of pillaging, plundering, burning, and raping of Southern civilians during the War for Southern Independence.

Sherman the Mass Murderer
In 1860 international law — and the US government’s own military code — prohibited the intentional targeting of civilians in war, although it was recognized that civilian casualties are always inevitable. "Foraging" to feed an army was acceptable, but compensation was also called for. The kind of wanton looting and destruction of private property that was practiced by the Union army for the entire duration of the war was forbidden, and perpetrators were to be imprisoned or hanged. This was all described in great detail in the book, International Law, authored by San Francisco attorney Henry Halleck, who was appointed by Lincoln as general in chief of the Union armies in July 1862.

International law, the US army’s own military code, and common rules of morality and decency that existed at the time were abandoned by the Union army from the very beginning. A special kind of soldier was used to pillage and plunder private property in the South during the war. In The Hard Hand of War Mark Grimsley writes that the federal Army of the Potomac "possessed its full quotient of thieves, freelance foragers, and officers willing to look the other way," and that "as early as October 1861" General Louis Blenker’s division "was already burning houses and public buildings along its line of march" in Virginia. Prior to the Battle of First Manassas in the early summer of 1861 the Army of the Potomac was marked by "robbing hen roosts, killing hogs, slaughtering beef cattle, cows, the burning of a house or two and the plundering of others."

In Marching through Georgia Sherman biographer Lee Kennett noted that Sherman’s New York regiments "were filled with big city criminals and foreigners fresh from the jails of the Old World."

Unable to subdue their enemy combatants, many Union officers waged war on civilians instead, with Lincoln’s full knowledge and approval. Grimsley describes how Union Colonel John Beatty warned the residents of Paint Rock, Alabama, that "Every time the telegraph wire was cut we would burn a house; every time a train was fired upon we would hang a man; and we would continue to do this until every house was burned and every man hanged between Decatur and Bridgeport." Beatty ended up burning the entire town of Paint Rock to the ground.

The Union army did not merely gather food for itself; it pillaged, plundered, burned, and raped its way through the South for four years. Grimsley recounts a first hand account of the sacking of Fredericksburg, Virginia, in December of 1862:

Great three-story houses furnished magnificently were broken into and their contents scattered over the floors and trampled on by the muddy feet of the soldiers. Splendid alabaster vases and pieces of statuary were thrown at 6 and 700 dollar mirrors. Closets of the very finest china were broken into and their contents smashed . . . rosewood pianos piled in the street and burned . . . Identical events occurred in dozens of other Southern cities and towns for four years.

Sherman was the plunder-in-chief, and he had three solid years of practice for his March to the Sea. In the autumn of 1862 Confederate snipers were firing at Union gunboats on the Mississippi River. Unable to apprehend the combatants, Sherman took revenge on the civilian population by burning the entire town of Randolph, Tennessee, to the ground. In a July 31, 1862 letter to his wife Sherman explained that his purpose in the war was "extermination, not of the soldiers alone, that is the least part of the trouble, but the people."
In the spring of 1863, after the Confederate Army had evacuated, Sherman ordered his army to destroy the town of Jackson, Mississippi. They did, and in a letter to General Ulysses S. Grant Sherman boasted that "The inhabitants [of Jackson] are subjugated. They cry aloud for mercy. The land is devastated for 30 miles around."

Meridian, Mississippi was also destroyed after the Confederate Army had evacuated, after which Sherman wrote to Grant: "For five days, ten thousand of our men worked hard and with a will, in that work of destruction, with axes, sledges, crowbars, clawbars, and with fire, and I have no hesitation in pronouncing the work well done. Meridian . . . no longer exists."

In Citizen Sherman Michael Fellman describes how Sherman’s chief engineer, Captain O.M. Poe, advised that the bombing of Atlanta was of no military significance (the Confederates had already abandoned the city) and implored Sherman to stop the bombardment after viewing the carcasses of dead women and children in the streets. Sherman coldly told him the dead bodies were "a beautiful sight" and commenced the destruction of 90 percent of all the buildings in Atlanta. After that, the remaining 2,000 residents were evicted from their homes just as winter was approaching...  Finish reading>>