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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

January 31, 1865

Richmond Editorial Claimed Sherman Unfit to Command

The Richmond Times Dispatch printed an editorial on in Union General William T. Sherman in Savannah, and his statements about not being able to control his men in South Carolina; the editors concluded that if he could not do so, he was not fit to command.

General Sherman and Savannah. Accounts of refugees from Savannah, heretofore published in this paper, concur in stating that General Sherman has publicly declared that he may not be able to restrain his troops when he invades South Carolina, and he does not know that he shall attempt to. Every-one knows what the rank and file of invading armies are most composed of. They are, in general, the refuse of society, the scum of the nations, outcasts, outlaws and Pariahs of the earth. Even the few of them who before were respectable citizens, become demoralized by their removal from the social and moral influences of home and the evil associations and temptations of their new mode of life. That the Yankee armies are no exception to this rule, is manifest from the hideous crimes and hard track of desolation which, even when professedly restrained by their commanders, have signalized their march through the South. What human imagination can compass the horrors which the removal of all restraint from such armies means? It means the burning of every house, the dishonor of every woman, the indiscriminate murder of old and young from one end of South Carolina to the other. That is what it means; nothing more, nothing less. General Sherman need not say that he cannot restrain his troops.–If he cannot, he is unfit for his position. Any general, who chooses, has at his disposal ample means of enforcing discipline and good behavior. When Sherman intimates his doubts whether he shall attempt to restrain his soldiers, he gives us the only reason why he cannot. It remains to be seen whether our own military authorities will be able, or be inclined, to restrain the vengeance with which such dispositions should be resisted and punished.