“Can you get near Enough to Throw Shells into the City?”

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:
“Can you get near Enough to Throw Shells into the City?”

Show Summary Details


This chapter looks at Abraham Lincoln's policy toward the deliberate killing of civilians, the hallmark of twentieth-century “total war.” Maryland did not secede and Baltimore was not bombarded. It was not until more than a year later that Lincoln again considered the bombardment of a hostile city. In war, there may be other reasons to kill civilians aside from revenge. Lincoln could overcome his visceral aversion to killing reprisal prisoners if a military commander convincingly asserted a military necessity to carry out the execution, as General Rosecrans did in Missouri. The political and military disadvantages of killing Jefferson Davis and burning Richmond clearly outweighed the insubstantial benefits, as both Lincoln and Stanton would have seen. All the survivors of Colonel Ulric Dahlgren's band of raiders insisted he had never actually told them to kill Davis or burn Richmond.

Keywords: Abraham Lincoln; policy; killing; total war; Jefferson Davis; Richmond; Ulric Dahlgren

Chapter.  7568 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at University Press of Kentucky »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.