Malice Toward All, Charity Toward None: The Foundations of the American State

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"Americans are forever proclaiming our boastful aspersions to the world . . . that our government was based on the consent of the people,” though in fact “it rests upon force, as much as any government that ever existed.”

~ Letter from Robert E. Lee to E.G.W. Butler, Oct. 11, 1867

"[H]ad the Confederates somehow won, had their victory put them in position to bring their chief opponents before some sort of tribunal, they would have found themselves justified . . . in stringing up President Lincoln and the entire Union high command for violation of the laws of war, specifically for waging war against noncombatants.”

~ Lee Kennett, Marching through Georgia: A Life of William Tecumseh Sherman, p. 286

In his book Battle Cry for Freedom: The Civil War Era (p. 619), Lincoln cultist James McPherson wrote that some 50,000 Southern civilians perished during the War to Prevent Southern Independence. Others have made estimates that are much higher. The only way this could be possible is that if thousands were murdered in cold blood by the U.S. Army. This is a shocking claim, and it will be shocking to most because such statistics say little about the actual horror of mass murder at the hands of the state. Moreover, the state always has its court historians and paid propagandists who put such statistics "in proper perspective," so that they will not alarm us. (Thomas Sowell comes to mind as a contemporary commentator who has repeatedly belittled the number of Americans killed in Iraq in the past four years by comparing it to the number of deaths in World War II.)

The state funding and control of higher education that have produced the totalitarian regime of political correctness has all but guaranteed that there will be few (if any) publications that illuminate, rather than obfuscate, some of the more devious deeds of the American state throughout its history. But historian Walter Brian Cisco, who is not an academic and is not on any state payroll, has recently written a book — War Crimes Against Southern Civilians — that blows the lid off the conspiracy of silence about the violent, mass-murdering origins of the American Leviathan state (or "The New Birth of Freedom," as both left-wing and right-wing statists put it).

In the name of "restoring the union" the U.S. Army, under the micromanagement of Abraham Lincoln, waged war on its own people, shelling and burning entire cities populated only by civilians and engaging in acts of plunder, forced evacuation, and mass murder. It is all documented in gory detail by Mr. Cisco, who quotes conservative icon Richard M. Weaver in his introductory chapter as having remarked that "from the military policies of Sherman and Sheridan there lies but an easy step to total war of the Nazis, the greatest affront to Western civilization since its founding."

Lincoln cultists are fond of dismissing all of this by reciting Sherman’s "war is hell" slogan. But as Cisco points out, murders, rapes, and robberies are also inevitable in human society, and are likely to happen much more often if we cease to regard them as reprehensible. Those who idolize General Sherman in this way are not "hearing the totalitarian echo in their words."

Lincoln was always aware of what was going on; waging war on civilians — his own citizens — was his own policy from the very beginning, as Cisco proves. In May of 1861, for example, Captain Nathaniel Lyon recruited some seven thousand new German immigrants (mostly without uniforms) to eliminate suspected secessionists in St. Louis. They rounded up some six hundred men and paraded them through the streets playing the Star Spangled Banner (which must have been completely foreign to the mostly non-English speaking Germans). When the citizens of St. Louis protested, the recruits fired on them, killing twenty-eight civilians and wounding seventy-five. Lyon was promoted to brigadier general a week later, while some ten thousand civilians fled St. Louis.

By 1863 Missouri, under U.S. Army occupation, was a place were "arson, theft, and murder became so common that vast sections of the state were uninhabited." Cisco quotes Union General James H. Lane as saying, "We believe in a war of extermination. I want to see every foot of ground in Jackson, Cass and Bates counties burned over — everything laid waste."

Another practice of the Union Army that is reminiscent of totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century was forced relocation of suspected dissenters. Cisco gives chapter and verse of how this occurred in Missouri, Tennessee, and elsewhere, as thousands of civilians were forced to leave their homes. This even included Ohio Congressman Clement Vallandigham.

Plunder and pillage was also the Official Policy of the Lincoln regime from the start of the war, as Cisco shows. Before being defeated in the Battle of Fredericksburg the Union Army occupied the town for a short while. Cisco quotes a Union Army officer as saying that "the men had emptied every house and store of its contents, and the streets, as a matter of course, were filled with chairs and sofas, pianos, books, and everything imaginable. . . ."

An entire chapter is devoted to the sacking of Athens, Alabama, in 1862. Every store and shop in the town was looted, along with most private homes, where U.S. troops went about "stealing what they wanted and destroying the rest."

The commanding officer in charge, a Russian immigrant named Col. John Turchin, told his soldiers that he would shut his eyes while they went about plundering the town. That was the way of the Russian Cossacks, he said. One of Turchin’s superior officers, General Don Carlos Buell, relieved Turchin of his brigade command for committing such crimes against civilians. But he was overruled by the Lincoln regime, which promoted him to the rank of brigadier general instead.

Cisco also describes the shelling of civilian-occupied cities like Charleston, South Carolina by the Federal Army. "[D]uring one nine-day period in January no fewer than 1,500 shells fell on the city. Later, a single gun nearby threw 4,253 missiles into Charleston. . ." (Much of Cisco’s information comes from the U.S. Government publication, War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.) This is how many of those 50,000 Southern civilians were killed.

Atlanta was shelled by Sherman for days after the Confederates evacuated the city and left it defenseless. Cisco describes how a Mr. Warner had a shell crash "into his home . . . . Both his legs were severed by the missile and he died within two hours. Warner’s six-year-old daughter was cut in two by the same shot." Sherman ordered more and more artillery to be shipped to Atlanta, "with which we can pick out almost any house in the town," he said. After the shelling stopped Sherman ordered the remaining surviving civilians to evacuate their homes just as winter approached and the land all around had been stripped of food by the army. The city was then burned. An "ocean of fire" covered the city, according to one Union officer, "leaving nothing but the smoldering ruins of this once beautiful city."

Cisco also details the war on civilians in the Shenandoah Valley, conducted by such cowardly murderers of women and children as Sheridan and Custer. "Unable to vanquish Robert E. Lee on the battlefield," wrote the editor of the Staunton, Virginia newspaper, "Grant has turned his arms against the women and children of our land."

War Crimes Against Southern Civilians is a must-read for anyone who wants to educate themselves about Sherman’s "March to the Sea." (For the cartoonish version, see the History Channel rendition.) The true story is a story of the continued plunder and rape of the civilian population, along with the gang rape of mostly black women by Federal soldiers under Sherman’s command. "Female servants were taken and violated without mercy" by Federal soldiers, wrote a war correspondent.

South Carolinians were so hated by Lincoln’s army that they even killed every dog in sight upon reaching the state on the "march." "The dogs were easily killed. All we had to do was to bayonet them," boasted one brave Union soldier.

Cisco also proves what delusional liars such Lincoln (and Sherman) cultists as Victor Davis Hanson are. Hanson has claimed in print that Sherman was some kind of egalitarian who was motivated by indignation over the degree of racial inequality in the South. The truth, of course, is that Sherman was every bit as much a racist and white supremacist as were virtually all other white Northerners, including Lincoln. He was also an anti-Semite, and of course hated red-skinned people almost as much as he hated South Carolinians — and would later kill them in even greater numbers.

Cisco documents "Abuse of African-Americans" by Sherman’s army in his final, stomach-turning chapter. Slaves were raped, pillaged, and murdered indiscriminately along with the white population of the South, and Sherman did nothing to stop it.

A favorite pastime of Sherman’s "bummers" was to tie a black man up by his thumbs until he told them where any valuables might be hidden. Sometimes they were hung by the neck instead, and quite often killed in that way. "They tied me up by my two thumbs and try to make me tell where I hid the money and gold watch and silver, but I swore I didn’t know," said a former slave, quoted by Cisco from The Slave Narratives.

There is nothing truly consensual about government. It is always and everywhere based on force, intimidation, and violence. When the founding generation formed a confederacy with the Articles of Confederation, and later the Constitution, it was at least a voluntary union of the states. The citizens of each state understood that their state, and all others, was free and independent and sovereign. They were free to participate in the union, or not.

The union of the founders was destroyed in 1865. War Crimes Against Southern Civilians explains in great detail how, in addition to killing some 300,000 dissenters to rule by Washington, D.C. on the battlefield, the U.S. Army, under the micromanagement of Abe Lincoln, also murdered tens of thousands of Southern civilians, including thousands of slaves and free blacks, while stealing tens of millions of dollars of their private possessions as well. None of it was necessary, of course, for the purpose of ending slavery; all other countries on earth ended slavery peacefully during the nineteenth century. This included the British, Spanish, French, Dutch, and Danish colonies, where 96 percent of all the slaves in the Western Hemisphere once existed. The purpose of the war was to finally realize the Hamiltonian dream of a consolidated, monopolistic government that would pursue what Hamilton himself called "national greatness" and "imperial glory." The purpose of the war, in other words, was a New Birth of Empire, one that would hopefully rival the Europeans in the exploitation of their own citizens in the name of the glory of the state.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mail] professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, (Three Rivers Press/Random House). His latest book is Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe (Crown Forum/Random House).

Thomas DiLorenzo Archives at LRC

Thomas DiLorenzo Archives at Mises.org

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