William Norman Grigg
May 29, 2010
“The Vendee is no more, my republican comrades…. The streets are littered with corpses which sometimes are stacked in pyramids. Mass shootings are taking place in Savenay because there brigands keep turning up to surrender…. [P]ity is incompatible with the spirit of revolution.”
– General François-Joseph Westermann, commander of the “infernal column” that slaughtered tens of thousands of Vendean secessionists during the French Revolution
“[F]or five days, ten thousand of our men worked hard and with a will, in that work of destruction, with axes, sledges, crowbars, clawbars, and with fire…. Meridian no longer exists.”
– Union General William T. Sherman, reporting on the federal destruction of Meridian, Mississippi in 1862
“We must kill three hundred thousand [as] I have told you so often, and the further they run the harder for us to get them….”
“I was satisfied, and have been all the time, that the problem of 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….”
– William T. Sherman, the Union Army’s General Westermann, in separate letters to his wife Ellen and to General Philip Sheridan, as quoted in The Soul of Battle by Victor Davis Hanson
William Sherman’s march to the sea, writes Victor Davis Hanson approvingly, was a war of “terror” intended to destroy an aristocratic Southern culture he hated because of its impudence in resisting the central government’s authority.
Although rarely acknowledged as such, Sherman could be considered America’s first “civil rights” crusader. This isn’t an endorsement of Sherman; it’s an indictment of contemporary “civil rights” ideology.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
While it’s true that Sherman never descended to the depths of mass-murdering depravity plumbed by Westermann and his army of berserkers, he was prepared, by his own repeated admissions, to annihilate civilians by the hundreds of thousands in order to vindicate Washington’s supposed authority.
Those who didn’t render immediate and unqualified submission, he warned, would be “crushed like flies on a wheel.”
Following Appomattox, Sherman’s genocidal skill-set proved useful to the corporatist federal railroad combine, which required the removal of the Plains Indians from land that it coveted but couldn’t be troubled to purchase on honest terms. In carrying out that task Sherman abandoned what little restraint he had exercised in dealing with white southerners. In the meantime, the war of federal consolidation and cultural liquidation against the South continued by way of what was euphemistically called “Reconstruction.”
In theory, “Reconstruction” was the process of re-integrating the rebellious states into the One Holy Eternal Union. In practice, it was a reign of terror and plunder swaddled in the rhetoric of righteousness and carried out through the apparatus of military dictatorship.
“After the Civil War, radical Republicans sought to drastically alter the social and political structures of the states of the former Confederacy,” notes historian Benjamin Ginsberg of Johns Hopkins University in his book The Fatal Embrace. “The sought to establish a regime that would break the political power of the planter class that had ruled the region prior to the war.”