On this day in history, his supply line cut by the Union Army, Confederate General John B. Hood withdrew his troops from Atlanta and set fire to military supplies and installations including some 81 railroad cars loaded with ammunition. These fires spread into the city of Atlanta causing serious difficulties for Rhett and Scarlett in their effort to blow town.
On September 2, 1864 Atlanta Mayor James Calhoun and along with members of Atlanta's City Council surrendered the city to representatives of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman.
Having been notified some days later of Sherman's intention to evacuate the residents of Atlanta from the city, Mayor Calhoun sent a letter asking the General to reconsider this decision.
Both that letter and Sherman's famed response follow.
We would encourage you to read both letters but for damn sure read the second as General Sherman's response represents the coldest and most stark analysis imaginable of one of mankind's most favored pastimes, and as such is one of the more important documents in all of history.
Atlanta, Georgia, September 11, 1864.
Major-General W. T. Sherman.
SIR: We the undersigned, Mayor and two of the Council for the city of Atlanta, for the time being the only legal organ of the people of the said city, to express their wants and wishes, ask leave most earnestly but respectfully to petition you to reconsider the order requiring them to leave Atlanta.
At first view, it struck us that the measure would involve extraordinary hardship and loss, but since we have seen the practical execution of it so far as it has progressed, and the individual condition of the people, and heard their statements as to the inconveniences, loss, and suffering attending it, we are satisfied that the amount of it will involve in the aggregate consequences appalling and heart-rending.
Many poor women are in advanced state of pregnancy, others now having young children, and whose husbands for the greater part are either in the army, prisoners, or dead. Some say: "I have such a one sick at my house; who will wait on them when I am gone?" Others say: "What are we to do? We have no house to go to, and no means to buy, build, or rent any; no parents, relatives, or friends, to go to." Another says: "I will try and take this or that article of property, but such and such things I must leave behind, though I need them much." We reply to them: "General Sherman will carry your property to Rough and Ready, and General Hood will take it thence on." And they will reply that: "But I want to leave the railroad at such a place, and cannot get conveyance from there on."
We only refer to a few facts, to try to illustrate in part how this measure will operate in practice. As you advanced, the people north of this fell back; and before your arrival here, a large portion of the people had retired south, so that the country south of this is already crowded, and without houses enough to accommodate the people, and we are informed that many are now staying in churches and other out-buildings.
This being so, how is it possible for the people still here (mostly women and children) to find any shelter? And how can they live through the winter in the woods -- no shelter or subsistence, in the midst of strangers who know them not, and without the power to assist them much, if they were willing to do so?
This is but a feeble picture of the consequences of this measure. You know the woe, the horrors, and the suffering, cannot be described by words; imagination can only conceive of it, and we ask you to take these things into consideration.
We know your mind and time are constantly occupied with the duties of your command, which almost deters us from asking your attention to this matter, but thought it might be that you had not considered this subject in all of its awful consequences, and that on more reflection you, we hope, would not make this people an exception to all mankind, for we know that no such instance ever having occurred -- surely never in the United States -- and what has this helpless people done, that they should be driven from their homes, to wander strangers and outcasts, and exiles, and to subsist on charity?
We do not know as yet the number of people still here; of those who are here, we are satisfied a respectable number, if allowed to remain at home, could subsist for several months without assistance, and a respectable number for a much longer time, and who might not need assistance at any time.
In conclusion, we most earnestly and solemnly petition you to reconsider this order, or modify it, and suffer this unfortunate people to remain at home, and enjoy what little means they have.
James M. Calhoun, Mayor
E.E. Rawson, Councilman.
S.C. Wells, Councilman.
Headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi, in the Field, Atlanta, Georgia, September 12, 1864.
James M. Calhoun, Mayor, E.E. Rawson, S.C. Wells, representing City Council of Atlanta.
GENTLEMEN: I have your letter of the 11th, in the nature of a petition to revoke my orders removing all the inhabitants from Atlanta. I have read it carefully, and give full credit to your statements of the distress that will be occasioned, any yet shall not revoke my orders, because they were not designed to meet the humanities of the case, but to prepare for the future struggles in which millions of good people outside of Atlanta have a deep interest. We must have peace, not only in Atlanta, but in all America. To secure this, we must stop the war that now desolates our once happy and favored country. To stop war, we must defeat the rebel armies which are now arrayed against the laws and Constitution that all must respect and obey. To defeat those armies, we must prepare the way to reach them in their recesses, provided with the arms and instruments which enable us to accomplish our purpose. Now I know the vindictive nature of our enemy, that we may have many years of military operations from this quarter; and, therefore, deem it wise and prudent to prepare in time. The use of Atlanta for warlike purposes is inconsistent with its character as a home for families. There will be no manufactures, commerce, or agriculture here, for the maintenance of families, and sooner or later want will compel the inhabitants to go. Why not go now, when all the arrangements are completed for the transfer, instead of waiting till the plunging shot of contending armies will renew the scenes of the past month? Of course, I do not apprehend any such thing at this moment, but you do not suppose this army will be here until the war is over. I cannot discuss this subject with you fairly, because I cannot impart to you what we propose to do, but I assert that our military plans make it necessary for the inhabitants to go away, and I can only renew my offer of services to make their exodus in any direction as easy and comfortable as possible.
You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace. But you cannot have peace and a division of our country. If the United States submits to a division now, it will not stop, but will go on until we reap the fate of Mexico, which is eternal war. The United States does and must assert its authority, wherever it once had power; for, if it relaxes one bit to pressure, it is gone, and I believe that such is the national feeling. This feeling assumes various shapes, but always comes back to that of Union. Once admit the Union, once more acknowledge the authority of the national Government, and, instead of devoting your houses and streets and roads to the dread uses of war, I and this army become at once your protectors and supporters, shielding you from danger, let it come from what quarter it may. I know that a few individuals cannot resist a torrent of error and passion, such as swept the South into rebellion, but you can point out, so that we may know those who desire a government, and those who insist on war and its desolation.
You might as well appeal against the thunder-storm as against these terrible hardships of war. They are inevitable, and the only way the people of Atlanta can hope once more to live in peace and quiet at home, is to stop the war, which can only be done by admitting that it began in error and is perpetuated in pride.
We don't want your negroes, or your horses, or your houses, or your hands, or any thing that you have, but we do want and will have a just obedience to the laws of the United States. That we will have, and, if it involves the destruction of your improvements, we cannot help it.
You have heretofore read public sentiment in your newspapers, that live by falsehood and excitement; and the quicker you seek for truth in other quarters, the better. I repeat then that, by the original compact of Government, the United States had certain rights in Georgia, which have never been relinquished and never will be; that the South began war by seizing forts, arsenals, mints, custom-houses, etc., etc., long before Mr. Lincoln was installed, and before the South had one jot or title of provocation. I myself have seen in Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi, hundreds of thousands of women and children fleeing from your armies and desperadoes, hungry and with bleeding feet. In Memphis, Vicksburg, and Mississippi, we fed thousands upon thousands of families of rebel soldiers left in our hands, and whom we could not see starve. Now that war comes home to you, you feel very different. You depreciate its horrors, but did not feel them when you sent car-loads of soldiers and ammunition, and moulded shells and shot, to carry war into Kentucky and Tennessee, to desolate the homes of hundreds of thousands of good people who only asked to live in peace at their old homes, and under the Government of their inheritance. But these comparisons are idle. I want peace, and believe it can only be reached through union and war, and I will ever conduct war with a view to perfect and early success.
But, my dear sirs, when peace does come, you may call on me for any thing. Then I will share with you the last cracker, and watch with you to shield your homes and families against danger from every quarter.
Now you must go, and take with you the old and feeble, feed and nurse them, and build for them, in more quiet places, proper habitations to shield them against the weather until the mad passions of men cool down, and allow the Union and peace once more to settle over your old homes at Atlanta. Yours in haste,
W.T. Sherman, Major-General commanding.
On November 15, 1864, General Sherman gave orders to burn all public buildings, machine shops, depots, and arsenals in the city of Atlanta. When the fires finally died out there remained only some four hundred building standing in all of Atlanta.
To quote Major General William Tecumseh Sherman on numerous occasions, in numerous speeches, most notably on June 19, 1879 at the graduation excercises of the Michigan Military Academy on the grounds of it's Orchard Lake campus, which campus is now home to Orchard Lake St. Mary Prep.
Out of probably forty total responses, thirty nine disagreed (mostly strenuously) about that part having to do with returning our troops to our shores, and retiring from providing military for the rest of the world's defense.
My very, very long time friend Terry D. was my single supporter.
Which made me laugh out loud, as I had told my secretary not more than a month ago that I could think of only one issue in over 35 years where Terry and I had not been in complete agreement ..... that exception of course being his first wife.
He did come around to my way of thinking on that one sometime after it was just too damn late.
His defense on this particular subject consists mostly of his accusation that all I had to say amounted to just a lot of "mumbling under my breath" and that had I felt that strongly about it, I should have just manned up and spoke out on the subject, and ..... in light of that fact that I didn't, I need to just shut up.
But I digress.
My personal chef, Kelly doesn't want nuclear weapons to fall into the wrong hands as that could result in disaster.
Dougy F. wasn't totally disagreeing, but he did worry that if we scrapped out the offensive weaponry, "we will need it when the rest of the world falls into total chaos." Then, "after a couple of years we can go in and clean up whatever is left and run it right".
T.G. finds the idea of "surrendering" to Islam to be unthinkable.
Tommy ? believes my plan would leave a vacuum, which as we all know nature abhors, that would likely be filled by the Chinese.
I mostly don't disagree with that one.
I also mostly don't care.
Japan, Russia and India have a lot of history with China.
All three of them will almost instantaneously start to rethink the way they go about their business.
Japan in particular will most likely get after developing a military that can deter Chinese aspirations.
Getting out of Europe is the best thing that can happen to us, if for no other reason than instead of supporting continental economies with American tax dollars, we will be supporting the local communities that are home to our military people.
You guys want a European Union?
Your gonna need to throw in the cost of defending it.
I'll admit to a twinge of guilt with regards to the British.
They are a great friend and ally (pretty much from the day they stopped attacking us).
Leaving them with the French seems cold.
But alas .....
What about Israel?
I'll cheerfully sell them missiles and warheads sufficient to roast anyone, anywhere that might think they want a go.
It's called "mutually assured destruction" and it's been working like a charm .............. so far.
Here's the issue as I see it.
We have within our capabilities the power to win any war we fight.
Including this war with Islam (not radical Islam) (or terror) that we are presently involved in.
The way to win it is to decide to win it.
I'll say it again.
The way to win this war is to decide to win it.
Understand now, this means going to war with the intent of killing everybody you can find and breaking everything you see until your enemy surrenders under your terms.
Wanna take Kandahar (Qandahar) Province?
Carpet bomb Kandahar (Qandahar) City.
Kill em all, break everything there (that's about 470,000 people, about 40 times that in sheep and goats), reduce it to rubble, then make that rubble bounce.
When you're finished there, move on up the road to Spin Bolduk.
Can you imagine the uproar?
The UN would be going nuts, people would be screaming about war crimes.
They'd spend hundreds of hours happily debating language for the non binding resolution condemning the action.
Now, just to make the point that you're no longer fooling around, move north to Khost (only about 160,000 people), continue the proceedure.
Every couple days, take the morning off from the bombs, and drop leaflets around the rest of Afghanistan which read as follows.
Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior?
Kidding ..... sort of.
Send copies to Mahmoud Ahmadinijad, Mullah Ali Khamenei, the entire Iranian Parliment, Bashar al-Assaad (President of Syria), Hamas and Hezballah.
When the calls come in wanting to negotiate some peace, forget to return them for a couple of days.
Set up the appointment for sometime around the end of next month.
Then stay busy.
You've just won your war.
And here's the best part, not one American mother's son has been lost.
I offer a series of letters from the month of September 1864 between Generals Hood, Halleck and William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army and the Mayor and members of the Atlanta City Council prior to the destruction of Atlanta.
These letters should be read by every citizen of this country.
Hell, they should be read by every citizen of the world.
They are reasonably short, to the point and with regards to General Sherman's final reply to Mayor Calhoun (go ahead, just scroll to the end), contain extraordinary wisdom.
Click on the gears.
Do it now, you're not doing anything important.
Now, it is my strongly held opinion that we are unwilling to do any of that.
And I say, that if we are unwilling to do what's necessary to win, and by win I mean force an unconditional surrender on our enemy, completely on our terms, what the hell is it that we are sacrificing the lives of our children for?
Our thinking here is that by invading someone else's country and keeping our military there to enforce our will, our enemy will soon grow fond of us, and want to become just like us.
Dwell on that one for just a moment.
Let's say just for fun someone else had the military power to successfully invade America with the same thinking.
What would you likely do.
My opinion is that a mess of people would roll over in the beginning, but another group would make it their personal business to kill and/or maim every foreigner they stumbled across ..... and then hide.
That's called Guerilla War.
It works pretty good.
Which of course would include and subsequently enrage them that had previously rolled over.
Which would ultimately cause unacceptable casualties among the invaders as the formerly rolled over, now join in.
Which would ultimately result in your foreigner's withdrawal after an enormous toll was extracted from everyone.
Whoa whoa whoa .... wait a minute, isn't that exactly what you're proposing above?
Aren't you advocating indiscriminate killing out of frustration?
Nope, I'm just sayin' that if you want to win this thing, you're gonna have to get brutal.
If you're unwilling to get brutal, your gonna lose, and a bunch of your own will have been sacrificed for nothing.
My idea with regards to war is simple.
I'm disinterested in my enemy learning to like me, admiring me, or wanting to grow up to be just like me.
In this particular instance, I have little interest in walking off into the sunset arm in arm with my Muslim brother.
I think the entire concept of "nation building" is stupid.
After this is over, I'll be glad to do some business if he wants ... and there's a profit in it.
My idea is simply to make sure that everybody understands, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if you attack America, we're gonna come by for a visit, f&#$ you up real bad, and then leave.
Here's my ......
Whoa Whoa aren't you gonna piss off them that would have rolled over anyway?
The difference here is that there aren't any Americans hanging around town waiting to be killed in retribution.
If I go, I'm "raining death and destruction" and then going somewhere real double tough for my enemy to get at me .... home.
The only guys hanging around to vent on will be the very guys that started the whole mess in the first place.
Poetic, ain't it.
Hey, they're just gonna attack us here.
Maybe, but they're doing that now.
And if/when they do, whether they are successful or thwarted, I would spend some time looking into who's responsible, and/or profited, and when my list is complete, go ape-shit crazy on everything they know.
The notion of "proportional response" should become, as they say, "another casualty of war".
The only real edge Islam has is the fact that everybody is pretty damn sure they're crazy.
Print a cartoon, they cut off your head.
Proportional doesn't register in the Islamic mind.
And for that reason, pretty much everybody is scared of em.
I believe it's a good thing when your enemy thinks you're crazy.
Makes em think twice ..... if not thrice.
My clear preference is to have my enemy think I'm crazy.
And the best part is, I'm going to have almost all my guys here at home where they belong, playing defense and helping out with thwartation.
You get only two choices with any chance of success in this kind of business.
Go to win, or don't even start.
Unfortunately we have attempted the "third way".
Just ask yourself here. "What do we really want?"
What I really want is for Islam to stop attacking the World Trade Center and killing innocent people.
I'd prefer it if Islam would play nice with Israel, but if Islam doesn't want to, the consequences are theirs.
If Israel chooses to make certain of it's survival as a jewish state?
(Should jewish be capitalized?)
Well ..... I can certainly understand that one.
Our decisions up to now have only resulted in the tragic destruction of our very best young people and a colossal waste of our resources.
If you're gonna fight the damn war, the idea is to effect the tragic demise and colossal waste on your enemy, and his resources.
If you're not up to it, leave it alone.
Apologies for the very long post, I'm well rested.