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War Crimes of William T. Sherman

by L.R. Olsen (website)

On February 17 the South Carolina Conservative Action Council met in Columbia, South Carolina to recognize the 146th anniversary of one of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s war crimes.

February 17, 1865, in the closing months of Lincoln’s War of Northern Aggression, General William T. Sherman destroyed Columbia, the capital city of South Carolina, burning it to the ground.  He planned this war crime in advance promising to “make Georgia howl” and “punish South Carolina as she deserves” for her “sins” against the Union.  With the blessing of President Abraham Lincoln, General Sherman and his 62,000 battle-hardened Union troops fulfilled his promise, raping, pillaging and burning their way through both states.

After willfully destroying Columbia, Sherman then tried to deflect responsibility onto the Confederates, claiming they set bales of cotton afire, destroying their own capital city at the orders of Confederate Lt. General Wade Hampton III.  Yet the last Confederate troops to leave the city insisted that they were given strict orders from Hampton that no cotton was to be fired.

Sherman later recanted this allegation.  In his Memoirs, Volume 11, page 287, he writes, “In my official report of this conflagration I distinctly charged it to General Wade Hampton, and confess I did so pointedly to shake the faith of his people in him, for he was in my opinion a braggart and professed to be the special champion of South Carolina.”

Two years later commander of the US 15th Corps, General Howard, also admitted to this heinous act.  He openly admitted that, “It is useless to deny that our troops burnt Columbia, for I saw them in the act.”

Even as late as 1965, one hundred years after the event, The State newspaper, Columbia’s daily paper, had a story clearly stating that drunken Union troops who were out of control destroyed Columbia during their rioting and looting of the doomed city.

Civilian homes were looted, graves desecrated, women, both white and black, raped and murdered, thousands of citizens, both white and black, left homeless and forced to forage for whatever morsel of food they could find in the rubble left in the wake of the marauders.

The descendants of these people have been told that their history is of no consequence.

The descendants of the people who were left to forage like animals have been told that their Heritage is not worthy of remembering or celebrating.

Most descendants of these suffering people don’t even know the truth about what happened on February 17, 1865, since history records that the destruction of Columbia is “controversial” and history is written by the victors.

Someone must remember Sherman’s savage act.

Someone must remember the bragging words of Thomas Ward Osborn, a Union Officer who served with Sherman and stated that “The city is built entirely of wood and is in the most excellent condition to burn.  The space on fire by midnight had housed thirty-five thousand people.  The flames rolled and heaved like waves of the ocean.  The scene is splendid, magnificently grand; the scene of pillaging, the suffering and terror of the citizens and of our frantic and drunken soldiers.”

The Heritage and history of our people is constantly under attack.  We’re regularly reminded about the terror of September 11.  The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the great Chicago fire of 1871 are forever burned in the memory of all Americans.  We certainly know about the attack at Pearl Harbor and who will ever forget those searing images of Hurricane Katrina?

Yet the willful and deliberate pillaging and destruction of an American city, inhabited by Americans who are raped and murdered, while tens of thousands of other Americans become homeless and destitute – these acts perpetrated by the heartless and inhuman act of their fellow Americans – this part of our history remains buried in the ash bin of time.

Someone must remember.  If not you, then who?