The American Civil War did not involve genocide per se. But the attitude of some of the Northern commanders was far more genocidal than many contemporary Americans would like to admit.

By David C. Daniels, Editor and Publisher

The following statements of Union officers in their official reports reveal attitudes far different from how the war is presented in American history textbooks.

The longer the American Civil War lasted, the more Union generals acted as if they were conducting a crusade to crush the rebellious infidels. In a September 17, 1863, letter to Henry W. Halleck, the general in chief of the Union armies, Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman wrote: "The United States has the right, and ... the ... power, to penetrate to every part of the national domain. We will remove and destroy every obstacle - if need be, take every life, every acre of land, every particle of property, everything that to us seems proper."

Sherman's letter was so liked by Halleck that he passed it on to President Lincoln, who declared that it should be published. Sherman, in a follow-up to Halleck on October 10, 1863, declared: "I have your telegram saying the President had read my letter and thought it should be published. I profess ... to fight for but one single purpose, viz, to sustain a Government capable of vindicating its just and rightful authority, independent of ni--ers, (actual word used by General Sherman) cotton, money, or any earthly interest."

On June 21, 1864, before his bloody March to the Sea,
Sherman wrote to the secretary of war: "There is a class of people [in the South] men, women, and children, who

must be killed or banished before you can hope for peace and order." A few months later, Sherman informed one of his subordinate commanders: "I am satisfied ... that the problem of this war consists in the awful fact that the present class of men who rule the South must be killed outright rather than in the conquest of territory, so that hard, bull-dog fighting, and a great deal of it, yet remains to be done. Therefore, I shall expect you on any and all occasions to make bloody results."

On September 27, 1864, Sherman wrote to Gen. John Hood, the Confederate commander of the Army of Tennessee, and announced, "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."

On October 9, 1864, Sherman wrote to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant: "Until we can repopulate Georgia, it is useless to occupy it, but the utter destruction of its roads, houses, and people will cripple their military resources. I can make the march, and make Georgia howl."

Sherman lived up to his boast - and left a swathe of devastation and misery that helped plunge the South into decades of poverty.

Scorched-earth tactics were also used in the Shenandoah Valley in 1864-65. On September 28, 1864, Gen. Phil Sheridan ordered one of his commanders to "leave the valley a barren waste." General Grant ordered Union troops to "make all the valleys south of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad a desert as high up as possible ... eat out Virginia clear and clean ... so that crows flying over it for the balance of the season will have to carry their provender with them." Union Gen. Wesley Merritt proudly reported to Sheridan on December 3, 1864, that "the destruction in the valley, and in the mountains bounding it, was most complete."

Such tactics were typical towards the end of the war.



See THE "UNCIVIL" WAR page 2