Skip to comments.Yes, Yankees Were "Far Too Ruthless"
Posted on 02/16/2013 9:48:32 AM PST by Davy Buck
One of the things that was apparent as I researched the book on Lexington, Virginia and the Civil War, was the mistreatment of Lexington's citizens (Union and Confederate) by Union general David Hunter's army. As my memory was refreshed, I also recalled how a number of Civil War bloggers have downplayed this aspect of the war, even questioning the veracity of some of the claims of Southern civilians; while others took a "so what?" attitude and, in some cases, actually became cheerleaders in justifying such treatment for the "slave-holding rebels." They often sound more like advocates of revenge than they do objective historians . . .
(Excerpt) Read more at oldvirginiablog.blogspot.com ...
I don’t know of a war where there haven’t been some atrocities on both sides. I still believe the South was in the right on the issue of States rights and the legality of secession, but the Andersonville prison left an indelible stain on its legacy. Total war is wrought with depravity.
I too thought the headline was referring to Babe Ruth, until I started reading the article.
In response, all I can say is, “War is hell.”
What’s done is done and can’t be undone.
Beyond that its navel gazing.
I thinks it’s instructive and very current. Many Freepers believe that the Army would never turn it’s gun on citizens. However this book shows that it can, will, and has.
Andersonville is one of the best examples of corrupt history becoming believed by all. First of all, the prison really was awful. Abraham Lincoln was just about totally responsible. First he stopped prisoner exchanges. The South had almost nothing to give the prisoners. The commandant asked the Union if they would supply medicines etc. Lincoln refused.
Northern prisons were actually even worse than Andersonville. The big difference was the North brutalized Southern prisoners on purpose. There was one in Chicago which was probably the worst prison on either side.
The prison with the highest death rate of any Civil War prison was at Rock Island, Illinois.
“Ive been where you are now and I know just how you feel. Its entirely natural that there should beat in the breast of every one of you a hope and desire that some day you can use the skill you have acquired here.
Suppress it! You dont know the horrible aspects of war. Ive been through two wars and I know. Ive seen cities and homes in ashes. Ive seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is Hell!” -—William T. Sherman, to the graduating class of the Michigan Military Academy (19 June 1879)
That’s OK, I got even with those D*&% Yankees.
I stole one of their luscious babes for a bride and brought her back South.
That’ll teach ‘em!
I read the book years ago, still recall the atrocities today.
I read the book years ago, still recall the atrocities today.
You may be thinking of Camp Douglas or Elmira.
Andersonville was in a part of Georgia that hadn't been touched by Sherman, so far as I know. Florida, the "breadbasket of the Confederacy" wasn't all that far away, and surrounding farmers weren't in anything like the shape the prisoners of war were.
First, there were no documented atrocities by any Confederate field army. The commanders were manic on preventing looting, rape and theft. Second, Andersonville came about because Grant cancelled the policy of paroling prisoners. Yes, the conditions were horrible but not any more so than the federal prison near what became the Chicago Stockyards.
Lincoln would have had to be as dumb as a bag of rocks to agree to POW exchanges. When your manpower is a serious advantage you don’t give the other guy his troops back. As far as the CSA was concerned, they forgot the basic rule of warfare, Don’t Lose!
Actually all of the Confederacy was short on just about anything. Of course farmers typically ate better than people in cities or the Confederate army for that matter.
Something a lot of people don’t know is the locals around Andersonville did on their own initiative try to supply what they could to the prison.
I just recently read a history of a Confederate soldier named Flowers who served in the battle of Nashville. He said the entire Confederate army was literally starving. They made one last gasp attempt and when it failed, they basically surrendered because they were too sick and starving to go on.
He was imprisoned at Chicago. He said the Union officers were OK but the guards were the most evil people he ever encountered. They just took pleasure in torturing prisoners, would just for the fun of it, kick them, hit them etc.
The South has absolutely nothing to apologize in the treatment of prisoners.
The Unions treatment of Confederate prisoner is one of the great untold stories.
I have in the past studied about Rock Island. It was worse than Andersonville and the death rate was in fact the worst of any Civil War prison.
The moment the South proved a forced to be reckoned with,was when Total war became essentially inevitable.They were either going to roll over for the Federal government or they were going to drive it off.
Winning a string of battles and fighting it to a standstill is nice and all but it is going to lead to harsher and stronger measures from the opposition.
The South was a victim of its own success,while I find slavery appalling,it had better infantrymen and officers(senior and junior)then the North.
Something’s not right with the Stephen Davis’s bio. He lists a PhD, but not the school he received it from, while his graduate work at UNC seems to have been truncated with the consolation-degree of an MA. Then, of course, he appears to have been a lifelong Confederacy fan, who has worked in furthering the legacy of his preferred ‘side’.
I suspect there’s good reason his monograph hasn’t got more attention.
“First, there were no documented atrocities by any Confederate field army. The commanders were manic on preventing looting, rape and theft.”
——How sure are you of that statement...’no documented atrocities by any Confederate field army’? Please define atrocities, so I can understand what you mean,because I can name a several of what I would consider ‘atrocities’.
“Second, Andersonville came about because Grant cancelled the policy of paroling prisoners. Yes, the conditions were horrible but not any more so than the federal prison near what became the Chicago Stockyards.”
-——Agreed. My grgruncle was in one of the Unions prisons...he died a few years later from the treatment there.
Ah, and from that practical perspective I would have been in his camp. The South taking on the North was folly, as the North was industrialized and heavily populated. The South agrarian.
Nothing has really changed from that perspective. To take on the Sea Boards as I understand current political power would be folly for the internal States.
But I am very much against Washington power, pro States rights. But also very realistic that the idea of a voluntary Union was decided in 1860 at the estimated cost of 620,000 dead Americans. That was a full 2% of the population. If we lost 2% today that figure would be around 6,400,000 dead. Don’t forget this is just the dead. Does not count the disfigured, the PTSD induced suicides after the war, the folks who never regain their health, the lost limbs.
For a price, sure. And that could have helped those who had money or something to barter. Don't assume it was a humanitarian operation, though.
The South has absolutely nothing to apologize in the treatment of prisoners.
"Absolutely nothing." Sounds like false bravado.
I think that the Yankees just ruthless enough to win.
For perspective, France and Germany each lost 4% of total population in WWI. Although each reacted differently, the trauma of WWI was devastating to both countries.
Grant seemed to parole prisoners to the point of his disadvantage. Many of them took up arms again.
I proposed to my sweetie on the 4th of July in the middle of the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium.
Garde la Foi, mes amis! Nous nous sommes les sauveurs de la République! Maintenant et Toujours!
(Keep the Faith, my friends! We are the saviors of the Republic! Now and Forever!)
LonePalm, le Républicain du verre cassé (The Broken Glass Republican)
Don’t forget Fort Pillow.
BS. Farmers living around Andersonville offered to donate food, and the commanders turned their offer down. South Georgia was a very plentiful area.
It was not the food shortages, however, that took such a toll. It was the lack of shelter and the contaminated water supplies that cost the most lives, and with that as well, the camp commanders could have done much better, but didn't even try.
The only effective limitation on this was the initial US Army field retaliation, which involved about 20-40 expedient hangings of newly captured Confederate personnel. This retaliation ceased immediately on Lincoln's orders, but pretty much deterred further atrocities by CSA personnel against colored troops (they were instead enslaved), excepting Forrest's who continued to murder quite a few captured colored troops for the rest of the war.
Civil wars are always ugly. The Confederates would not surrender and had to be destroyed inch by bloody inch. Tough for them. The North was outright nice compared to what Europeans would have done in the face of a refusal to surrender.
And the South didn't try guerrilla warfare only because they knew how the North would use colored troops.
Actually the South used guerrilla tactics quite a bit. Stand Watie a Cherokee General in the Confederate Army used them effectively. Probably the most successful partisan Ranger ever was Confederate John Mosby. My Mother’s GGsomething belonged to Laird’s Rangers and she had another kinsman serve in the Alabama Partisan Rangers.
George Custer started the hanging of prisoners but John Mosby made him think again. Custer captured a small number of Mosby’s men and hanged them. Mosby who had always just released his prisoners via parole and promise they would not fight again, went out and captured a whole bunch of Custers men and handed 10 for every one Custer had done the same to.
That ended the murder of prisoners by Custer.
You have it exactly backwards. It was the Union which began the murder of prisoners and the Confederates who put a stop to it since they had far more Union prisoners than vice versa, especially early in the war.
First, Forrest tried to stop the Fort Pillow massacre. That’s based on Union testimony. Second, the Fort Pillow massacre pales in comparison to Union atrocities in the Shenandoah Valley and Georgia. Third, why should the south have “surrendered”? The states of the Confederacy exercised their right to leave the United States. Fourth, it was not a “civil war”. Check the definition. Lincoln systematically violated the Constitution.
Unfortunately, Andersonville doesn’t actually stand out in it’s depravity, Union prisons were just as bad sometimes, but not as publicized.
heehee, you go!
Kindle has many great free books available
about the Civil War, many of them being autobiographies and diaries.
Have read about 5 dealing with Andersonville and it never ceases to amaze me how cruel humans can be to each other.
I am old enough to remember relatives , (several born in the 1800’s) that had a serious mistrust of anyone from the north. Pretty much the same today, just not as militant about it.
Especially once it's full of "Dream Act" recipients.
Law of unintended consequences....Booth killed the only sensible man, thereby uplifting Johnson to POTUS and the South was worse for wear.
Reconstruction would’ve been far less brutal if Lincoln had survived to remain POTUS, IMHO.
At Andersonville the black troops were treated better than were the Tennessee Unionists according to the first hand account book, Life In Rebel Prisons written and published in 1865.
I hadn't heard about the 6th Tennesee Cavalry. Can you post a link about the incident? Some of those Southern Unionist vs. Southern Confederate battles got really mean for local reasons.
Your definition of atrocity wins you a “global alarming” award. I bet ya also want to ban guns.
The CSA had some excuses for poor conditions in its POW camps. The North had none. And the North treated black refugees fleeing slavery with savage indifference, and overt hostility, bordering on genocide. Those here who decry the deliberate devastation policies in the Shenandoah Valleys and elsewhere wouldn't know real evil if it kissed them. Read:
Sick from Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction by Jim Downs.
Disease was rife in any large assembly of soldiers or prisoners. Medical knowledge wasn't what it is today. Doctors were needed at the front and in medical hospitals. Heating cost and sanitation much money at a time when the army was the top priority.
Even with good heating, those who weren't accustomed to Northern climates would suffer. So far as I know, though, you didn't see men reduced to ragged skeletons in Northern prisoner of war camps as they were at Andersonville.
And the North treated black refugees fleeing slavery with savage indifference, and overt hostility, bordering on genocide.
Compared to what? Compared to slavery? Providing for thousands of runaway slaves can't have been easy. Still, they were fed and housed and even taught to read and write. I'd go easy with the "genocide" if I were you.
More ex-slave refugees died of disease, exposure and starvation (@ 400,000 total) than soldiers died on either side from any cause (250,000 CSA, 350,000 Union). Union neglect of ex-slaves fleeing behind their lines was at least as lethal as Civil War combat to both sides combined.
Sick From Freedom explains this in detail. Or read the review at the Journal of Military History.
Better, buy the book from Amazon - the Kindle edition is only $12.09, and you can read it on your computer with the free Kindle application.
Thud...F-105....my Father destroyed Colonel Miller's nose film after he strafed Haiphong Harbor and the Russian ships...Little personal history. Dad was the crew chief for Miller's F-105.
“In response, all I can say is, War is hell.”
As a Southerner, Gotta agree. We can study the war for future reference but war is Hell and there is no such thing as “war crimes”. War is nothing but what would be crimes outside of war.
Yes, Yankees Were “Far Too Ruthless”
That’s why they won. Were it fought by today’s “Rules of Engagement,” the Civil War would not yet be over.
Total war is wrought with depravity.
War should be executed in a manner which is vicious, brutal and short. Viciousness and brutality will ensure it is short.
I would have been in a pickle.
Slavery bad. Andersonville horrible. Secession fine. Plus I live in Texas... I’d probably just shut up on politics