“War, at the Best, Is Terrible”

Burrus M. Carnahan

in Lincoln on Trial

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780813125695
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813135380 | DOI:
“War, at the Best, Is Terrible”

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This chapter elaborates Abraham Lincoln's policy toward bombardment of cities. It is noted that, at the time of the Civil War, army commanders had no recognized obligation to ensure that enemy civilians did not starve. It is also stated that a Confederate government which could not protect its citizens' property would lose legitimacy. Union lack of discipline had become a way to make a political point about the powerlessness of the Confederate government. The Confederate destruction of forage at Sandersville was not the act of local civilians, guerrillas, or bushwhackers. In the case of President Lincoln and General Sherman in Georgia, based on the general's very limited sharing of plans with Washington, Lincoln had no reason to expect more damage to civilian property than would be normal whenever a Civil War army moved through a populated countryside.

Keywords: Abraham Lincoln; Civil War; enemy civilians; devastation; command responsibility; General Sherman; Confederate government; civilian property

Chapter.  9320 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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