Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 12.djvu/317

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


Sherman's March from Atlanta to the Coast. 30T

preferred to " march through that State smashing things to the sea." Unfortunately for the prosperity of Georgia, the good order of her plantations, and the peace of her defenseless women and children, he was able, almost unmolested, to carry into merciless execution this intention so ruthlessly formed. That he could thus easily compass the desolation of this Egypt of the South argued most plainly the growing weakness of the Confederacy — sore pressed at all points, isolated on every hand, overwhelmed by numbers, and despoiled of her defenders — and gave painful token that the aspirations which her sons had cherished in tears, agony, and blood, for right and liberty and independence, were doomed to early disappointment.

The student of history searching among the annals of modern warfare for examples of moderation, humanity, justice, honor, and a chivalrous recognition of the rights of an enemy, will turn with re- gret and disappointment from the pages containing a true narrative of "Sherman's March to the Sea."

It really seems as if the Federal General on this occasion sought to rival the conduct of Prevost when, in 1779, he raided through the richest plantations of South Carolina. Behold the picture painted by the historian, Bancroft : ' ' The British forced their way into al- most every house in a wide extent of country ; sparing in some measure those who professed loyalty to the king, they rifled all others of the money, rings, personal ornaments and plate, stripped houses of furniture and linen, and even broke open tombs in search of hid- den treasure. Objects of value, not transportable by land or water, were destroyed. Porcelain, mirrors, windows, were dashed in pieces, gardens carefully planted with exotics were laid waste, domestic animals, which could not be used or carried off, were wantonly shot, and in some places not even a chicken was left alive. * * Fugi- tive slaves perished of want in the woods, or of fever in the British camp. "*

The enormities of 1779 committed by the British soldiers in their effort to perpetuate English rule over a colony then in open revolt against the Crown which had planted and nurtured it, were more than repeated by the United States troops in their attempt in 1S64 to subjugate and drive back into the Federal Union a sovereign State which had withdrawn from a political compact into which she at first voluntarily entered, and from which, more than three years before,

  • " History of the United States," vol. x, p. 294, Boston, 1874.