General William Tecumseh Sherm War Hero Or Criminal?
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A.P United States
25th January, 2015
General William Tecumseh Sherman: War Hero or Criminal?
Throughout the entirety of United States history, no conflict form the Revolution to Vietnam, was more deadly in terms of American lives lost, then the Civil War. Fought over the very principles of states’ rights, exclusively in the form of slavery, this conflict would cost over 600,000 lives and the devastation of the southern landscape and economy for many years to come.1 Under the capable leadership of President Abraham Lincoln, the Union was to be his utmost priority, and he would do all that was in his power to maintain its integrity. Lincoln relayed this authority to his generals, allowing them virtually…show more content… This judgment, as to whether or not he should be deemed a war criminal, must stem from modern institutions such as the Red Cross, as well as, other bodies that have dictated the protocols of war.2 Though it is easy to either glorify or chastise a historical figure from our past, a more difficult task that we must look towards, is to truly understand whether or not General Sherman’s actions shall be deemed inhumane in terms of modern societal norms and accepted agreements.
Firstly, we must look towards Sherman’s initial actions, beginning in 1862 when Sherman was having trouble dealing with Confederate snipers who were pestering Union gunboats on the Mississippi River near Memphis, Tennessee. He then determined that he would follow his theory of “collective responsibility” which would allow him to “justify” the attacking and execution of innocents as retribution for any Union attacks. One such instance of this would be when he had the entire rural town of Randolph, Tennessee burned as until nothing was left. He also determined that the civilians would either be taken as hostages or worse executed. As he progressed onwards through former Confederate territory he also burnt Jackson and Meridian, Mississippi to the ground, even though these cities offered no organized defense and there was no Confederate garrison stationed there. His soldiers would progress onwards looting what they could and destroying