War Crimes During the Civil War

Discussion in 'Education' started by Kevin_Kennedy, Apr 13, 2009.

  1. Kevin_Kennedy
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    Kevin_Kennedy Defend Liberty

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    A discussion I had earlier this morning prompted me to create this thread. During the War for Southern Independence Lincoln and his generals used the strategy of total war to fight the Confederacy. In other words, no southern civilian be they man, woman, or child or any southern slave was safe from northern aggression.

    Targeting Civilians
     
  2. slackjawed
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    While what they did may be considered war crimes today, there was no Geneva Conventions until 1864. The treaties affecting treatment of civilians during wartime were not adopted until 1949. It wasn't against international law until then. The USA had been placed under martial law, so the law was basically what Lincoln said it was.
    So technically speaking, there were no war crimes during the civil war.
    The discussion of the loss of states rights, loss of individual rights and the federal power grab is more interesting. These issues are directly related to the topic you posted.
     
  3. Kevin_Kennedy
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    Kevin_Kennedy Defend Liberty

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    That's ridiculous. War crimes are war crimes, and the law was not "basically what Lincoln said it was." Lincoln had no jurisdiction over the Confederate States. Destroying southern towns and murdering, raping, and pillaging southern slaves and civilians are war crimes.
     
  4. slackjawed
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    Technically means just that. There were no laws against attacking civilians, Lincoln was bound only by 'moral' law.
    From Lincoln's point of view, the Confederate states were still part of the Union, that's kinda why they fought a war.
    During times of martial law, the executive in chief makes the rules. The law was whatever Lincoln said it was once he declared martial law. Martial law was one of the political/legal means he used to make the war "legal".
    If Obama declared martial law today, whatever he decided was best would be law, and enforced by the military. Check the constitution.
     
  5. jillian
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    jillian Princess Supporting Member

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    Thank heaven for google... What possible credibility should some revisionist who calls Abraham Lincoln "dishonest Abe" have? Answser: None. Thanks anyway.

    BTW, it was the Civil War... not the war for southern independence; not the war against northern aggression....

    wanna go there? we could call it the "war against southern traitors".

    And another word to the wise: NOTHING is a crime unless a law makes it illegal. You can talk about ethics; you can talk about morality; you can even opine about the wonders of philosophy...

    but a war CRIME is only a CRIME if a law has been written against it.

    And if I sound a bit harsh? It's because I REALLY hate bogus scholarship and revisionist history.
     
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  6. slackjawed
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    Jillian, my grandmother was from Alabama and called it the war of the vanities.....
     
  7. Kevin_Kennedy
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    Kevin_Kennedy Defend Liberty

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    Well I happen to agree with Prof. DiLorenzo when he calls Lincoln "Dishonest Abe," but that's not important.

    It would be more appropriate to call it the "war against southern traitors" than to call it a Civil War, though I would disagree that the southern states were traitors. The Confederates were not fighting to take over the government, they were fighting for their own self-government. The same way the colonies fought for their independence against Great Britain.

    Killing innocent civilians remains a war crime regardless of how you want to spin it.
     
  8. slackjawed
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    "Killing innocent civilians remains a war crime regardless of how you want to spin it."

    Your right, it's been a crime since 1949.....
     
  9. Kevin_Kennedy
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    Kevin_Kennedy Defend Liberty

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    Well, I hate to bring it up, but under that thinking any Jews killed by Nazis during WW2 must have simply been casualties of war and it wasn't really a tragedy. Right?
     
  10. Iriemon
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    Iriemon Senior Member

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    Aside from this obviously biased source, do you have reliable evidence that Lincoln knew about civilians being raped and murdered and that he condoned or permitted such behavior?
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2009
  11. slackjawed
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    Not that it wasn't a tragedy, it wasn't illegal.
    What world events would you suppose would prompt the WORLD to pass laws regarding the treatment of civilians during wartime AND outlaw genocide in 1949?

    If it had been illegal, as it is now, Germans would have been tried for genocide, as they are today. They couldn't try them then because there was no law to charge them with violating.
    That doesn't mean it was right, or that it wasn't a tragedy. It simply wasn't against any existing laws.
     
  12. slackjawed
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    There are various historical sources that detail civilian injury, death and property losses.
    Grant's autobiography is one of the best, along with the ghost written autobiography of Sherman.
     
  13. cenantua
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    cenantua Rookie

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    It seems rather curious that only those "crimes" committed in the South by Union soldiers are remembered when, in fact, there were some just as nasty inflicted by Southerners on Southerners. I suppose the worst part of this is when some of these same Southerners could have been considered neighbors. Union soldiers did not corner the "market" on incidents of horror inflicted on Southern civilians during the Civil War, Confederate soldiers and officials can also be added to the list of perpetrators.
     
  14. Kevin_Kennedy
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    Kevin_Kennedy Defend Liberty

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    Did you have any incidents in particular you wanted to share with us?
     
  15. slackjawed
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    Andersonville Prison
     
  16. Kevin_Kennedy
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    Kevin_Kennedy Defend Liberty

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    Well the claim was southern crimes against other southerners, but you do bring up a good point. The P.O.W. policy of the Civil War was atrocious on both sides. Had Lincoln been willing to exchange P.O.W.'s, however, many of the men at Andersonville may not have died there.

    Point Lookout and Camp Douglass represent two cases of the Union's mistreatment of southern P.O.W.'s, and, unlike in the Confederacy, there was no lack of food or medicine in the Union. Also, the Confederate commander of Andersonville Prison, Henry Wirz, was tried and hanged for his "war crimes." Neither of the two Union commanders of Point Lookout or Camp Douglass received similar punishments.
     
  17. editec
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    editec Mr. Forgot-it-All

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    Standard operating procedure in modern war.


    War crime.



    Another war crime, but sadly the above is typical of wars since time began.

    I'm not excusing it, merely noting that it was (and still is) a fairly routine fact of war that soldiers steal from civilians and rape and routinely kill civilians who get in their way.



    Not a war crime...unless of course you're willing to admit that ALL WAR is a CRIME. This is SOP for war.

    Burning down houses, crops, factories, blowing up bridges and on and on and on...all perfectly legitmate acts of war according to the ways wars are done now, and were always done in the past, too.

    Basically, while I understand the outrage, what I do NOT understand is why this outrage is so limited to THIS WAR.

    Hell america (and pretty much every other army in the world) has destroyed the enemies capacity to conduct war by destroying the infrastructure of the nation (and that ALWAYS INCLUDES CIVILIAN PROPERTY) since time began.

    So let's recap, shall we?

    Destroying or OFFICIALLY CONFISCATING civilian infrastructure?

    Not a war crime.

    Raping or killing innocent civilians?

    WAR CRIME

    Individual soldiers STEALING civilian property for personal use?

    War crime.


    Do I or any of YOU doubt that War crimes happened duing EVERY WAR that Americans EVER fought?

    I surely don't.





     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2009
  18. Kevin_Kennedy
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    Kevin_Kennedy Defend Liberty

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    I have no doubts, war is another form of accepted and state sanctioned murder.

    As to your question why the outrage is limited to this war, it's certainly not. However, too many people have false pre-conceptions about the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, the "moral north," and the "evil south."
     
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  19. Cary
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    Cary Rookie

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    Reply to post by Cary.......
    Andersonville was a tragedy to be sure but if one wants to point out malice, cruelty, and inhuman treatment of prisoners Ft Douglass (I believe it was just outside of Chicago) bears mention. As bad as Andersonville was the Confederate authorities had little to give the Federal prisoners there and even less to deny them. The trial and death sentance for the Andersonville Commandant Henry Wirz was a travesty full of denied fairness and outright lies brought forth by the victors against the vanquished. The Federal Government in general and the Commandants of Ft Douglass in particular were far more deliberate, cruel, and inhuman in that they actually had access to adequete food, medicene, stores, and care yet they chose to withold as much as possible of the aforementioned not to mention engaged in barbarism, cruelty, and torture that surpassed just about everthing at Andersonville, unless one wants to bring up the incidents of Union prisoners viciously preying upon each other.

    The American Civil War (ACW) was a terrible bloody event in our nation's past. In my opinion describing the ACW as the War for Southern Independance can be correctly argued as accurate. Having said that calling the ACW the war for the Preservation of the Union is equally descriptive and true. I do not subscribe to Dr DiLorenzo's mostly derogatory portrayal of Lincoln. Although I do wish to draw attention to the fact that the Federal government has increased exponentially in size and power since the Spring of 1865.

    As to war crimes many were committed by both sides. I offerThe most famous example of total war as Sherman's mostly unopposed march through Georgia and the Carolinas. Much has been written about Sherman's march but the rape of white women was actually a rare occurance the yankee soldiers were much more likely to rape a slave woman. The destruction of and theft of personal property was immense and that is the way Sherman and his officers wanted it. Debate still rages over the burning of Columbia South Carolina but let it be said that burning fit the tempo and theme of Sherman's march.

    War Crimes per say in the ACW are often and perhaps best charged or held in the heart and mind of the student of the time period. I ask any reader of this post if they would consider artillery bombardment of civilians as a war crime? How about torture, scalping, hanging, outright murder and of course theft and destruction of personal property? I am not a big fan of General Sherman in fact all my ACW ancestors wore gray uniforms but total war was defined by Sherman in one of his famous quotes. Sherman said war is hell and many remember him for stating such. The second part of the quote however is not quite as well known. It went something like this. "War is Hell... you can not refine it."

    Displays of outstanding valor and heroism were quite common in both the Federal and Confederate Armies. I personally subscribe to the practice of studying and appreciating history through the eyes and thoughts of those who lived it. Year 2009 judgemental conclusions based upon the mores, feelings, and political positions of today are in my opinion poor appreciation of historical events often becoming outright ludicrous if compared to what came after. I know a published scholar who I hold in very high regard who summed up the study of history very well. My learned friend said "It only happened one way, one time and that is what we should strive to learn and teach."

    Cary
     
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  20. Kevin_Kennedy
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    Kevin_Kennedy Defend Liberty

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    Very detailed post Cary, and you're correct that it was slave-women that were in the majority of those raped by Union soldiers. My only question is why do you describe Prof. DiLorenzo's portrayal of Lincoln as "derogatory?" In my opinion DiLorenzo's "portrayal" of Lincoln is extremely accurate.
     

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