All governments are empires of lies. As Murray Rothbard wrote in his essay, “Anatomy of the State,” tax-funded political payoffs to political supporters is never sufficient to sustain governmental power. In addition to that, states must pound into the brains of citizens that their government is good, wise, and at least inevitable — if not the will of God.
At the same time they must constantly warn of the deadly dangers of a free society with its free enterprise, free speech, rule of law (and not of politicians), its civil society, freedom of religion, its rights to protect one’s own life with firearms, its preferences for peace over war, opposition to government brainwashing of children, and its constitutions. Hence, states must employ “intellectuals” as “court historians” to spread such propaganda far and wide and to censor alternative views as much as possible.
This is nowhere more prevalent than in discussions of the state’s wars, war being the very health of the state – of all states – and the lynchpin of all of its powers. Nothing grows the state, its tax revenues, and its powers over populations than war.
In the case of the American state, war propaganda is no more egregious, and the court historians more notorious, than with the Lincoln cult and its Official Version of the American “Civil War.” Everything about Lincoln and his war must be described as good, wise, and inevitable and any dissenters tarred as slavery defenders and enemies of civilized society. Historical facts be damned. As Robert Penn Warren wrote in The Legacy of the Civil War, the Official Version of the war created a “treasury of virtue” for the American state, allowing it to declare that everything it does is virtuous by virtue of the fact that it is the American state that is doing it. One problem with this, wrote Warren, is that one must forget almost all of the true history of the war and of Lincoln in order to believe it. One must believe the Lincoln cult’s war propaganda instead.
For more than a century and a half the Lincoln cult has defended what can only be described as terrorism and the torture and mass murder of Southern civilians that was ordered and administered by Lincoln himself, the Union Army high command, and sanctioned by the U.S. Congress. These lies and cover-ups are the foundation of the treasury-of-virtue myth. Mountains of lies have been carefully constructed over the generations to whitewash the biggest acts of barbarism ever perpetrated in American history.
Now along comes Dr. Jeffrey F. Addicott, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel who has debunked all of the supposed justifications for the acts of terrorism waged against Southern civilians in 1861-1865 in a new book, Union Terror: Debunking the False Justifications for Union Terror Against Southern Civilians in the American Civil War. It’s hard to imagine a man more qualified to write such a book. Dr. Addicott, who is now a professor of law and director of the Warrior Defense Project at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, spent part of his military career as the senior legal advisor to the U.S. Army’s Special Forces. He is an internationally recognized authority on terrorism law and the laws of war.
In Union Terror Dr. Addicott writes that “the Union military hierarchy intentionally engaged in the vile practice of terror on innocent civilians, inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering on a massive scale . . . war crimes were committed on an unprecedented scale.” Lincoln not only knew about it but approved of every bit of it. “Lincoln allowed his generals to employ a scorched-earth policy of terror aimed directly at innocent women, children, and elderly of the South.” Not invading foreign armies, mind you, but defenseless women, children and elderly men who were fellow citizens. The book debunks the eight primary defenses, such as they are, of this massive orgy of terrorism, theft, rape, arson, and murder that the benighted court historians of the Lincoln cult have invented and continue to event.
“Terrorism against civilians is a tactic that is fully embraced by all totalitarian/authoritarian regimes but strongly rejected by democratic nations,” writes the former legal advisor the U.S. Army Special Forces, including the Green Berets. But it is exactly what the Union Army did in the American South.
The Union Army endorsed the international laws of war of the day with its “Lieber Code,” named after German immigrant Francis Lieber, an outspoken hater of the Jeffersonian, decentralist tradition in America, who Lincoln employed to write the laws of war for his army. The hypocrisy of how the Lincoln administration said one thing with its code and then did the exact opposite is breathtaking. As for Lincoln, Dr. Addicott proves that he openly approved of the theft and destruction of the private property of civilians (not slaves) by saying in a letter that anything goes if it “hurts the enemy.” Anything except “the massacre of vanished foes and noncombatants, male and female.” How magnanimous and statesmanlike. What an act of grace on the part of “Father Abraham,” as the Straussian wing of the Lincoln cult is fond of calling him.
One of the more interesting facts in the book is this one, stated on page 29: “[T]he loyal Union States had about 430,000 slaves while the Confederacy had about 260,000 free blacks in their general population.” Lincoln’s armies of terrorists were populated with some 800,000 foreigners, mostly recent German and Irish immigrants, many of whom were promised free land under the Homestead Act. A German general in Lincoln’s army (Franz Sigel) who barely spoke English would march his troops into New Market, Virginia in 1864 to supposedly teach the sons of Virginia, including a young descendant of Thomas Jefferson (Thomas Garland Jefferson, the great man’s great grand nephew and a cadet at the Virginia Military Institute who was killed in the Battle of New Market), what it meant to be an American. Lincoln’s newly-invented version of what it means to be an American, that is.
Dr. Addicott is a world-renowned expert in the laws of war, and he labels the Lincoln cult’s defenses of Union Army terrorism as “sophomoric.” One justification was contrived by defining literally everything under the sun as a “war resource.” This was a slick alteration of traditional terminology such as “military resources” which would include arms stockpiles or military bases, which are legitimate targets. Armed with this Lincolnian twisting of the English language, the “soldiers” in Sherman’s army, known as “bummers,” knew that they had permission to steal or destroy everything. Sherman himself used this language to effectively give his bummers permission to steal or destroy everything.
Another “word game,” writes Addicott, was to claim that the theft or destruction of all the food supplies in the entire Shenandoah Valley along with the burning down of all the houses and businesses there was a “military necessity.” This included killing all farm animals, and stealing furniture, clothing, and valuables like silverware. But the Union Army was so well equipped it is a wonder that every soldier did not gain at least thirty pounds. For example, Sherman’s army marched 100 miles without having to slaughter a single one of the 10,000 cows they brought with them for beef. Nevertheless, “what was not stolen was burned or killed and left to rot.” Some military “necessity.” Why was it all destroyed if it was so “necessary” for the Union Army?
The most ludicrous justification for the Union Army’s war of terrorism on Southern civilians, as Dr. Addicott explains, is to argue that it was not as bad as say, Hitler or Genghis Khan. I have run across this argument numerous times myself in my readings. In his book Constitutional Problems Under Lincoln James Randall detailed myriad breaches of the Constitution and other illegal acts by the Lincoln administration in hundreds of pages, and then excuses them all with the “He wasn’t as bad as Hitler or Stalin” argument.
Another “sophomoric” argument in defense of Sherman’s terrorism is the “I can’t control my army” argument. This in an army that was ordered by Lincoln to control desertion by shooting deserters on a daily basis about half way through the war. The same court historians who write entire books about the supposedly marvelous discipline of Grant and Sherman’s armies claim that when it came to rape, pillage, plunder, arson, and murder, the same soldiers were somehow out of control. The same court historians who write biographers about the “military genius” of Sherman also claim that he had no idea what his soldiers were up to when the committed war crimes, day and night, for weeks or months at a time. Court historian James McPherson boasted about Lincoln’s supposedly brilliant micromanagement of the war while at the same time arguing that Lincoln was ignorant of all the war crimes his armies committed. Dr. Addicott disputes the label of “genius” attached to Sherman’s military strategy, explaining that his only “strategy” was terrorism against unarmed and defenseless civilians. Is that what he was taught at West Point in strategy class?
Sexual assaults, especially of black women, were common during Sherman’s celebrated, “glorious” march to the sea, and are documented in Union Terrorism. Why would anyone expect otherwise? “Viewed by many racist Northerners as sub-human, blacks were generally the first to be robbed, abused, and sometimes raped or killed,” writes Addicott. Union soldiers sometimes “greeted” black Southerners with “unprovoked shootings, sexual assaults, forced labor, and even drownings.”
Yet another feeble, sophomoric excuse for all of this abominable behavior concocted by the Lincoln cult is that Sherman supposedly could not afford the manpower to guard over and discipline his “bummers” just in case a Confederate army “hiding in the tall grass,” as Dr. Addicott sarcastically writes, should appear. The truth, as every historian knows, is that there was never any Confederate Army anywhere near Sherman’s “march to the sea.”
Sherman himself argued that there is no such thing as law or constitutionalism during war, something that Dr. Addicott debunks with references to history going all the way back to the Roman Empire, the government’s own Lieber Code, the Torah, the Bible, and the body of international law that existed in Sherman’s time and which was taught to him at West Point.
Perhaps the flimsiest defense of Sherman’s war crimes is the argument that, well, he did not personally set fire to any houses, rape any Southern women, shoot any cows or family pets, or steal jewelry, furniture, and clothing. And neither did Lincoln. It has been well established for a very long time, Addicott explains, that a commander who orders or who is knowledgeable of such behavior and does nothing to stop it is indeed as guilty as the direct perpetrators. Otherwise, the buck stops nowhere, ever and the laws of war are meaningless.
Finally, Sherman is defended with the ends-justify-the-means argument. The ends, by the way, as stated by Lincoln on numerous occasions and by the U.S. Congress in its 1861 War Aims Resolution, was to “save the union” and not to disturb slavery. Read Lincoln’s first inaugural address and his famous letter to Horace Greeley stating just that. Perpetual obedience to the central state in Washington, D.C. was always the very clearly stated purpose of the war and General Sherman, a genuine psychopath, was violently obsessed with enforcing this quintessentially anti-American creed.
The ends-justifies-the-means notion is also a hallmark of all totalitarian societies. If Joseph Stalin did not actually say “you have to break some eggs to make and omelet” in reference to the millions of suspected dissenters to communism that his government murdered, he certainly could have. And he was preceded by Sherman, described by Addicott as “the first of the modern totalitarian generals” who “made terror the linchpin of his strategy.”
Three months after Lee surrendered at Appomattox Sherman was put in charge of the Indian wars, which was essentially a twenty-five-year campaign of genocide against the Plains Indians “to make way for the [government-subsidized] railroads,” as Sherman once said. Some 45,000 Indians were killed, many thousands more maimed for life, and the rest placed in concentration camps called “reservations.” Ex slaves joined the US. Army to participate in the slaughter of another colored race and are celebrated today in books and movies as the ”buffalo soldiers” (so named by Plains Indians who thought their hair resembled buffalo hair). During that time Sherman and his sidekick General Phil Sheridan were known for their quip, “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.” I suppose the Indian Wars were Part II of Lincoln’s “new birth of freedom.” (On this topic see my online Independent Review article, “Violence in the American West: Myth vs. Reality”).
Union Terror goes a long way in explaining how the U.S. government would go on to build more mountains of lies about its aggressive military interventions including the unprovoked war with Spain, the killing of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos during the Philippine Insurrection, the false flag operations that “justified” entry into World War I, Vietnam, Iraq, and myriad others, up to the present day. Read in conjunction with War is a Racket by Marine Corps General Smedley Butler, one will understand a major part of the motivation for such outrageous and prolific Official Lies. Hint: Follow the money is always a good guide in studying the motivations for war.