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History is closer than we might think – Count on it


When combatants aren’t protected by the rules of war, atrocity becomes a way to send a message.

There must have been a reason the original preface was blocked from this essay, but I am still puzzled at it’s disappearance.

In summary, it basically stated that these stories can play out much the same on both sides. If America continues its journey on the same path politically, stories such as these will be much more common in its future. What Americans are seeing and hearing presently may very well lead them into the same type of destructive bloody conflicts and fratricide as those from the past, perhaps that is it’s underlying purpose. Will the people once again be duped into falling for the same type of deceptions and divisiveness? One would hope not, unfortunately after observing the nation’s current social vacuum, the most likely answer is going to be, “Probably ,” if not absolutely. Can it be that was what that “fundamental change” meme was and in reality is leading the people to?  Why is it the people are seeing and experiencing nothing but one side of aggression (so far) and absolutely no positive indication that it’s about to change? Will history repeat itself, only this time with a vengeance? If nothing else, it is very important to understand exactly what “winning” a war actually entails. The reality of it, that many purposely deny and conveniently cast aside, is that warfare itself is notable for its inhumane horror and savagery. Delegating death from a far away point of safety and out of harms way looks far, far different than some misperceived idea of “courageous restraint” when in the heat of flesh destroying combat and on the bloody fields of battle.

War Crimes Against Southern Civilians

This book by Walter Cisco, is riveting in that, if ‘history is prelude’, what the federals will do when things get really ugly will make common understanding of the ‘Yankees’ pale in comparison to their actions against the civilian population.

In a series of concise and compelling chapters, Cisco chronicles the “St. Louis Massacre,” where Federal authorities proceeded to impose a reign of terror and dictatorship in Missouri. He tells of the events leading to, and the suffering caused by, the Federal decree that forced twenty thousand Missouri civilians into exile. The arrests of civilians, the suppression of civil liberties, theft, and murder to “restore the Union” in Tennessee are also examined.

Women and children, black and white, were robbed, brutalized, and left homeless in Sherman’s infamous raid through Georgia. Torture and rape were not uncommon. In South Carolina, homes, farms, churches, and whole towns disappeared in flames. Civilians received no mercy at the hands of the Union invaders. Earrings were ripped from bleeding ears, graves were robbed, and towns were pillaged. Wherever Federal troops encountered Southern Blacks, whether free or slave, they were robbed, brutalized, belittled, kidnapped, threatened, tortured, and sometimes raped or killed by their blue-clad “liberators.”

Carefully researched, largely from primary sources, the book includes notes and illustrations. This untold story will interest anyone exploring an alternative perspective on this period in American history. Readers who may want to further educate themselves about Sherman’s  “March to the Sea,” or to get a glimpse into the mindsets they could be dealing with in both the government and military spheres of influence, will certainly want to read this book. It is guaranteed to be a very sobering and enlightening experience.

Related: Jack Hinson’s One-Man War; A Civil War Sniper

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

Excerpt from: Champ Ferguson: An American Civil War Rebel Guerrilla

The four-year quasi-military career of Champ Ferguson came to an end on May 26, 1865, when he was taken into Federal custody in Sparta. Ferguson claimed he had surrendered, while Colonel Joseph Blackburn of the 5th Tennessee Mounted Infantry claimed to have captured him.

Ferguson thought he would be paroled, as were other guerrillas who surrendered. What he did not realize was that the Federal government had singled him out, specifying that any attempt by him to surrender should be refused. He was taken to prison in Nashville and soon became the focus of a sensational military trial. He was charged with being a guerrilla and a murderer.

On October 10, Ferguson was found guilty and sentenced to hang.

… ‘I was a Southern man at the start,’ Ferguson said in his final statement. ‘I am yet, and will die a Rebel. I believe I was right in all I did.’ He reiterated that he had killed only those who had intended to kill him and that he had treated prisoners the way his own men had been treated by the enemy. ‘I repeat that I die a Rebel out and out, and my last request is that my body be removed to White County, Tennessee, and be buried in good Rebel soil.’

Ferguson was hanged on October 20.

… many of his contemporaries were no better than he, including some men on the pro-Union side, yet they escaped similar retribution. Beaty (one of Ferguson’s accsers) admitted he had taken up arms for the Union government without pay, which by definition made him a guerrilla. He could have suffered the same fate as Ferguson. Clearly, a double standard was being applied. Indeed, when pro-Union newspapers in Nashville covered the Ferguson trial, they referred to the defendant as ‘the monstrous criminal’ and Beaty as ‘the celebrated Union scout.’

… The irony of the similarities between Beaty and Ferguson could not have escaped Ferguson’s defenders. The same deeds that made a man a criminal could make him a hero if his side won.

This article was written by Troy D. Smith and originally published in the December 2001 issue of Civil War Times Magazine.


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