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Sherman Burning Atlanta

Tigerace117

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Seeing as the Civil War seems to be a point of interest for many around here, what do y'all think about Sherman's decision to burn Atlanta?

Personally, I think it was the right move. Leaving a major enemy stronghold intact behind him as he continued his campaign would have been stupid. Not to mention the fact that he was able to march through the heart of the south and rip it out dealt a devastating blow to Confederate morale on top of the conventional blow.
 

Cryptic

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Seeing as the Civil War seems to be a point of interest for many around here, what do y'all think about Sherman's decision to burn Atlanta?

Personally, I think it was the right move. Leaving a major enemy stronghold intact behind him as he continued his campaign would have been stupid. Not to mention the fact that he was able to march through the heart of the south and rip it out dealt a devastating blow to Confederate morale on top of the conventional blow.

Objectively, I agree,- though subjectively, I am sympathtetic to the idea that states can seceed for any reason.

That aside, the amount of destruction caused by Sherman has been exaggerated. While he ordered enemy infrastucture destroyed and mass foraging to supply his men, crimes against civilians were very few and instances of the destruction of housing are exaggerated.

Sherman even ordered men caught looting for personal gain to be humiliated (whipped, then tied to wagons and forced to march in women's clothing or undergarmets). In other measures, he forbade army retribution when CSA units murdered union prisoners whom the union command determined to have "gone off the reservation" as they were no longer considered soldiers.

The state of South Carolina was espescially hated by union troops and Sherman did permit a certain level of personal pillage and looting as retribution. When it started to get out of control, he then ordered an end to the destruction. A selected brigade was used to restore order and its commander had permission to use the death penalty. A small number of union soldiers, escaped slaves, and opportunistic local white low lives found pillaging after the "retribution period" was then executed. Neither race, nor political loyalties mattered to Sherman as far as discpline went.

In short, Sherman was a modern commander who realized that war had economic and military objectives. He was careful with the lives of his men. Though he said "war is hell", he does not seem to have made it any more "hellish" than needed for his enemy.
 
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RJApple

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Seeing as the Civil War seems to be a point of interest for many around here, what do y'all think about Sherman's decision to burn Atlanta?

Personally, I think it was the right move. Leaving a major enemy stronghold intact behind him as he continued his campaign would have been stupid. Not to mention the fact that he was able to march through the heart of the south and rip it out dealt a devastating blow to Confederate morale on top of the conventional blow.

I have to admit it was a smart strategy. Not just the burning of Atlanta, but the entire campaign. While I do have some moral apprehensions about scorched earth tactics, such things are realities of war, and Sherman's troops could have been much harsher. Sherman himself, as far as we can tell at least, did not act out of pure cruelty (most of the time), but in an attempt to bring a swift end to the war and preserve the union.

EDIT: Just for the record, I'm a native of Georgia.
 

Grand Mal

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I have to admit it was a smart strategy. Not just the burning of Atlanta, but the entire campaign. While I do have some moral apprehensions about scorched earth tactics, such things are realities of war, and Sherman's troops could have been much harsher. Sherman himself, as far as we can tell at least, did not act out of pure cruelty (most of the time), but in an attempt to bring a swift end to the war and preserve the union.

EDIT: Just for the record, I'm a native of Georgia.

Not trying to derail an interesting thread, I just wanted to ask a native of Georgia- was it odd that when Atlanta had an NHL team, they called it the Flames? Is that something they'd want to commemorate?
 

Sherman123

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Seeing as the Civil War seems to be a point of interest for many around here, what do y'all think about Sherman's decision to burn Atlanta?

Personally, I think it was the right move. Leaving a major enemy stronghold intact behind him as he continued his campaign would have been stupid. Not to mention the fact that he was able to march through the heart of the south and rip it out dealt a devastating blow to Confederate morale on top of the conventional blow.

First of all people have the wrong impression in their heads. This wasn't Columbia where the city was literally consumed by a massive fire. Instead this was the targeted destruction of all the remaining military and industrial infrastructure left in the city in order to free Sherman of the need to devote a significant number of troops to occupy and guard these facilities. The city still existed after the razing was complete.

Was it the right move? Duh. Of course it was.
 

RJApple

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Not trying to derail an interesting thread, I just wanted to ask a native of Georgia- was it odd that when Atlanta had an NHL team, they called it the Flames? Is that something they'd want to commemorate?

We had a hockey team? :shock:
 

Tigerace117

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I have to admit it was a smart strategy. Not just the burning of Atlanta, but the entire campaign. While I do have some moral apprehensions about scorched earth tactics, such things are realities of war, and Sherman's troops could have been much harsher. Sherman himself, as far as we can tell at least, did not act out of pure cruelty (most of the time), but in an attempt to bring a swift end to the war and preserve the union.

EDIT: Just for the record, I'm a native of Georgia.

Objectively, I agree,- though subjectively, I am sympathtetic to the idea that states can seceed for any reason.

That aside, the amount of destruction caused by Sherman has been exaggerated. While he ordered enemy infrastucture destroyed and mass foraging to supply his men, crimes against civilians were very few and instances of the destruction of housing are exaggerated.

Sherman even ordered men caught looting for personal gain to be humiliated (whipped, then tied to wagons and forced to march in women's clothing or undergarmets). In other measures, he forbade army retribution when CSA units murdered union prisoners whom the union command determined to have "gone off the reservation" as they were no longer considered soldiers.

The state of South Carolina was espescially hated by union troops and Sherman did permit a certain level of personal pillage and looting as retribution. When it started to get out of control, he then ordered an end to the destruction. A selected brigade was used to restore order and its commander had permission to use the death penalty. A small number of union soldiers, escaped slaves, and opportunistic local white low lives found pillaging after the "retribution period" was then executed. Neither race, nor political loyalties mattered to Sherman as far as discpline went.

In short, Sherman was a modern commander who realized that war had economic and military objectives. He was careful with the lives of his men. Though he said "war is hell", he does not seem to have made it any more "hellish" than needed for his enemy.

I actually heard he said that quote( war is hell) at the graduation ceremony of cadets at a military school in Michigan. Something along those lines, anyway.

As you guys said, his actions weren't from malice but rather trying to end the war as quickly as possible.
 

Tigerace117

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We had a hockey team? :shock:

Not trying to derail an interesting thread, I just wanted to ask a native of Georgia- was it odd that when Atlanta had an NHL team, they called it the Flames? Is that something they'd want to commemorate?

Flames is Calgary I'm pretty sure. Atlanta was the Thrashers, but they moved to Winnipeg a couple years ago.
 

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Seeing as the Civil War seems to be a point of interest for many around here, what do y'all think about Sherman's decision to burn Atlanta?

Personally, I think it was the right move. Leaving a major enemy stronghold intact behind him as he continued his campaign would have been stupid. Not to mention the fact that he was able to march through the heart of the south and rip it out dealt a devastating blow to Confederate morale on top of the conventional blow.

It was all part of a larger campaign (and goal.) Sherman knew if he could frighten the civilians of Georgia into questioning their Confederacy at that point in the war then he might obtain a geographical split to later exploit. The so called "march to the sea" idea of splitting off the Carolinas.

Burning what they did of Atlanta, which was more aimed at dealing with hostile people and to “make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war" was all about infliction of that fear. Not really all that honorable to go after civilians but then again the Civil War was not all that civil anyway. From either side. Hard to criticize the North for their actions and ignore how the South handled things.

The bigger goal was if Atlanta fell as it did, it might spread across the States and show the Confederacy they could not win. Not the most honorable decision made, but it makes sense why he ordered it.

It is like second guessing the US dropping atomics on Japan. Sure, we can debate it but we really gain little from the debate. We know why it happened.
 

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It was all part of a larger campaign (and goal.) Sherman knew if he could frighten the civilians of Georgia into questioning their Confederacy at that point in the war then he might obtain a geographical split to later exploit. The so called "march to the sea" idea of splitting off the Carolinas.

Burning what they did of Atlanta, which was more aimed at dealing with hostile people and to “make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war" was all about infliction of that fear. Not really all that honorable to go after civilians but then again the Civil War was not all that civil anyway. From either side. Hard to criticize the North for their actions and ignore how the South handled things.

The bigger goal was if Atlanta fell as it did, it might spread across the States and show the Confederacy they could not win. Not the most honorable decision made, but it makes sense why he ordered it.

It is like second guessing the US dropping atomics on Japan. Sure, we can debate it but we really gain little from the debate. We know why it happened.

No.... Sherman did not order Atlanta burned...

This article explains better than I can:
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/13/who-burned-atlanta/?_r=1

In fact the REAL rape of the land/cities happened when his men hit South Carolina... The heart of the Secession movement and the place where it all started.
 

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I have to admit it was a smart strategy. Not just the burning of Atlanta, but the entire campaign. While I do have some moral apprehensions about scorched earth tactics, such things are realities of war, and Sherman's troops could have been much harsher. Sherman himself, as far as we can tell at least, did not act out of pure cruelty (most of the time), but in an attempt to bring a swift end to the war and preserve the union.

EDIT: Just for the record, I'm a native of Georgia.

I think that is a very fair summary of Sherman.

As for the scorched earth of Georgia, it was scorched by many men. The principal scorchers were union troops, both those acting on official orders and more wantonly destructive groups that had "gone off the reservation".

Confederate cavalry units were also responsible for a significant portion scorched things. Like the union troops, CSA units in the area engaged in officially santioned acts of foraging and/ or semi approved acts of select "pre-emptive" looting. Some CSA units screening Shermans march simply went rogue as discpline collapsed and turned into bandits.
 
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Grand Mal

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We had a hockey team? :shock:

Yeah, Atlanta Flames. They moved to Calgary, couldn't draw a crowd in Atlanta.
I guess I'm dating myself, this was in the '70s.
 

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Seeing as the Civil War seems to be a point of interest for many around here, what do y'all think about Sherman's decision to burn Atlanta?

Personally, I think it was the right move. Leaving a major enemy stronghold intact behind him as he continued his campaign would have been stupid. Not to mention the fact that he was able to march through the heart of the south and rip it out dealt a devastating blow to Confederate morale on top of the conventional blow.

I didn't like it at all, the scorched earth policy gave a lot of southern resentment that we live with today. They could have destroyed the infrastructure without all of the crusading village sacking and the heavy loss of life.
 

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I didn't like it at all, the scorched earth policy gave a lot of southern resentment that we live with today. They could have destroyed the infrastructure without all of the crusading village sacking and the heavy loss of life.

The South was going to be resentful no matter what. They lost the war, after all.
 

jet57

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The South was going to be resentful no matter what. They lost the war, after all.

They would have assimilated back in much easier had it not been for Sherman's policy and the radical punitive reconstruction. We have huge racial problems to day over that in my view. The black man got turned into a punching bag because of radical republicanism. Most southerners didn't own slaves and didn't care about it one way or another, but "overlordship" of the north changed their minds, and Atlanta was a key hot point.
 

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They would have assimilated back in much easier had it not been for Sherman's policy and the radical punitive reconstruction. We have huge racial problems to day over that in my view. The black man got turned into a punching bag because of radical republicanism. Most southerners didn't own slaves and didn't care about it one way or another, but "overlordship" of the north changed their minds, and Atlanta was a key hot point.

No sane general would have left a major rail center intact in his rear before setting out unsupported across the heartland of the country. It just doesn't work as a military tactic.
 

jet57

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No sane general would have left a major rail center intact in his rear before setting out unsupported across the heartland of the country. It just doesn't work as a military tactic.

You keep ignoring the obvious. Why is that?
 

jet57

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The obvious is that without the South's treason, it never would have happened in the first place.

Face Palm.jpg

You keep ignoring Sherman's scorched earth policy and the true resentment that came form that. That's the obvious.

The war was about fighting industrialists.
 

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I didn't like it at all, the scorched earth policy gave a lot of southern resentment that we live with today. They could have destroyed the infrastructure without all of the crusading village sacking and the heavy loss of life.

There wasn't a heavy civilian loss of life in either the Atlanta campaign or the March to the Sea or the March through the Carolinas.
 

Sherman123

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They would have assimilated back in much easier had it not been for Sherman's policy and the radical punitive reconstruction. We have huge racial problems to day over that in my view. The black man got turned into a punching bag because of radical republicanism. Most southerners didn't own slaves and didn't care about it one way or another, but "overlordship" of the north changed their minds, and Atlanta was a key hot point.

We didn't have radical reconstruction. It's what we needed. The South required overlordship from the rest of the Republic and sadly failed to properly receive it.
 

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"War is the remedy that our enemies have chosen, and I say let us give them all they want." --William Tecumseh Sherman
 

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Sherman's march to the sea (of which Atlanta was a part of) was necessary because the South still continued to keep fighting even when it became clear that they lost. But that operation ended up devastating the Southern economy and it lagged behind the rest of the country for decades after that. It was one of those damned if you do and damned if you dont decisions.
 
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