Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 29.djvu/133

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Report of History Committee of Grand Camp C. V. 117


But whilst no one will dispute the fact that Sherman has a clear title to the distinction we have accorded him in this report, yet, un- fortunately for the people of the South, he has other willing and efficient aids in -his work of devastation, destruction and vandalism; and we must now take up, for a time, the work of his ' ' close second, ' ' General Philip H. Sheridan. This officer is reputed to have said that the true principles for conducting war are

"First. Deal as hard blows to the enemy's soldiers as possible, and then cause so much suffering to the inhabitants of the country that they will long for peace and press their government to make it." " Nothing" (he says) " should be left to the people but eyes to lament the war.' }

He certainly acted on the last of these principles in his dealings with the people of the beautiful Valley of Virginia, which, by his vandalism, was converted from one of the most fertile and beautiful portions of our land into a veritable ' ' valley of the shadow of death. ' ' He actually boasted that he had so desolated it, that "a crow flying over would have to carry his own rations."

In Sheridan's letter to Grant, dated Woodstock, October 7, 1864, he says of his work:

11 In moving back to this point the whole country, from the Blue Ridge to the North Mountain, has been made untenable for the rebel army.

" I have destroyed over 2,000 barns filled with wheat and hay and farming implements; over 70 mills filled with flour and wheat; have driven in front ofthe army over 4,000 head of stock, and have killed and issued to the troops not less than 3,000 sheep. This de- struction embraces the Luray Valley and Little Fort Valley, as well as the main valley.

" A large number of horses have been obtained, a proper estimate of which I cannot now make.

"Lieutenant John R. Meigs, my engineer officer, was murdered beyond Harrisonburg, near Dayton. For this atrocious act all the houses within an area of five miles were burned."

It is not generally known, we believe, that this policy of devasta- tion on the part of Sheridan was directly inspired and ordered by General Grant, who, in his Memoirs, writes with great satisfaction