10 January 2017

The Joy of Fighting Back.  A New Blog Series.
Part 1: Strategery  


The following is taken from a single long letter General W.T. Sherman wrote to his superior in Washington, General Halleck, dated September 17, 1863.  The entire letter is featured in Chapter 13 of Sherman's Memoirs.  (He argues for a fourfold division of Southern white men in the interest of successful military operations against the Confederacy.)

I exhort y'all to read it, preferably instead of trying to infer a coherent domestic or foreign policy out of the President-Elect's tweets.

First.  The large planters, owning lands, slaves, and all kinds of personal property.  These are, on the whole, the ruling class.  They are educated, wealthy, and easily approached ... None dare admit a friendship for us, though they say freely that they were at the outset opposed to war and disunion.  I know we can manage this class, but only by action.  Argument is exhausted, and words have lost their usual meaning.  Nothing but the logic of events touches their understanding; but, of late, this has worked a wonderful change...

Second.  The smaller farmers, mechanics, merchants, and laborers.  This class will probably number three-quarters of the whole; have, in fact, no real interest in the establishment of a Southern Confederacy, and have been led or driven into war on the false theory that they were to be benefited somehow -- they knew not how.  They are essentially tired of the war, and would slink back home if they could...

Third.  The Union men of the South.  I must confess I have little respect for this class.  They allowed a clamorous set of demagogues to muzzle and drive them as a pack of curs ... They give us no assistance or information, and are loudest in their complaints at the smallest excesses of our soldiers.  Their sons, horses, arms, and every thing useful, are in the army against us, and they stay at home, claiming all the exemptions of peaceful citizens.  I account them as nothing in this great game of war.

Fourth.  The young bloods of the South:  sons of planters, lawyers about towns, good billiard-players and sportsmen, men who never did work and never will.  War suits them, and the rascals are brave, fine riders, bold to rashness, and dangerous subjects in every sense ... They hate Yankees per se, and don't bother their brains about the past, present, or future ... At present horses cost them nothing; for they take where they find, and don't bother their brains as to who is to pay for them; the same may be said of the cornfields, which have, as they believe, been cultivated by a good-natured people for their special benefit...

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