Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sesquicentennial of America's greatest War Criminal

Image via el Wik
2014 is the 150th anniversary of a whole lot of Georgia history, all of it unpleasant.  Moving here from Yankeeland has made me realize the extent that the history of that era as taught today consists of little more than red, white, and blue cardboard.

The events are disconnected in a quite striking manner.  Events just sort of happened, you see?  But since the desired outcome was reached, there's no sense in dwelling on things, and those that do are sore losers.

For example, the charming town where I reside includes a monument:

The concentration camps didn't start in Nazi Germany, or even the Boer War (as is often presented).  They began right here on these shores, started by one William T. Sherman's personal order.  But this is just an isolated event in the colorful cardboard history.

As is Sherman's march to the sea and his order to "make Georgia howl".  No pattern to see here, move along.  It's not that Sherman learned the tactic of destroying the crops to starve the women and children as a way of bringing the men to submission: the Second Seminole War was just another disconnected event:
The Army worked to find the Seminole camps, burn their fields and stores of food, and drive off their livestock, including their horses.[53]
The disappearance of the great herds of plains bison is also taught as a disconnected event - greedy hunters inflicting an environmental outrage.  Stupid greedy hunters!

What's never discussed is who else was in the picture:
As the U.S. government and its restless people looked to expand westward after the Civil War, they started to infringe upon Indian lands. During the Plains Indian Wars, as the U.S. Army attempted to drive Indians off the Plains and into reservations, the Army had little success because the warriors could live off the land and elude them—wherever the buffalo flourished, the Indians flourished.


General William Tecumseh Sherman, who had broken the back of the South during the Civil War with his ruthless March to the Sea, helped negotiate the Fort Laramie and 1867 Medicine Lodge treaties that were supposed to end U.S. hostilities with northern and southern tribes. But that’s when officers started thinking about a new strategy. Sherman knew that during the Civil War the Confederates’ means and will to fight were extinguished by his brutal—and brutally effective—”scorched earth” policy that decimated the infrastructure of the South. Why couldn’t the same strategy be applied to Indians and their buffalo? Greymorning said, “The government realized that as long as this food source was there, as long as this key cultural element was there, it would have difficulty getting Indians onto reservations.”
And so the bison had to go, their carcasses to rot by the million.  And Sherman's plan worked, just like it had in Georgia and Florida.
The end came quickly—less than 400 wild bison were left by 1893. And the Plains Indians were just about pushed off the Plains as well—their warriors had fought valiantly against the Army in spite of their inferior numbers, but they now felt inadequate because they were unable to provide for their families. Those proud warriors were confined to reservations, told to farm and wait for the government to provide rations. “It’s really hard to force another culture to recognize what your attributes are for being an upstanding man. They were told, ‘A good farmer is the best thing you can be in our culture,’?” said Jim Stone, a Yankton Sioux and the executive director of the Intertribal Bison Cooperative. “To force that sedentary lifestyle on somebody who was out living on the adrenaline rush of hunting buffalo—either on horse or foot—I don’t know if we can fully comprehend what that would feel like. They had been the caretaker of the buffalo, and suddenly there were no more. From the cultural side, they had failed in their role as humans. I don’t know how I would deal with that.”
But somehow this isn't taught in schools these days.  Sherman is a hero, painted on the schools' red, white, and blue cardboard curricula.  And anyone who objects - a Seminole, or a Georgian, or a Sioux - why they're just sore losers.  Actually, only the Georgians are the sore losers, because a good Progressive would never be so declassé as to say that to a Native American.  Just to a southerner.  After all, the Progressive has his Approved™ red, white, and blue cardboard to back him up.  Where nothing is connected unless it's Useful.

This sesquicentennial is so not Useful.


Chickenmom said...

Good post, Borepatch. I learned so much from Brock Townsend of Free North Carolina. He has opened my eyes to a whole new world of truth that we were never taught (or weren't supposed to know about). All the lies have come to see the light of day finally-for me and anyone else that wants to take the time to learn.

Divemedic said...

Research the term "deadline" and see where it came from. All most people know about the War Between the states is the narrative that the south was in rebellion because they wanted to have slaves, and Lincoln, the magnanimous benefactor, freed the slaves.

Borepatch said...

Chickenmom, he has left some comments here that frankly were the seed for this post.

Divemedic, that's pretty interesting.

Glen Filthie said...

Ya gotta watch it. That crap about the bison is just that:


There simply weren't enough hunters to slaughter the animals in the numbers reported. But it plays well to the self hating liberals and brain dead victim politics.

To kill animals in those numbers you need a pandemic. This is not to make sport of the other tragedies and ... but sheesh...a little accuracy in our history would be muchly appreciated.

Borepatch said...

Glen, we did the same with the passenger pigeon, at the same time period. Unlike millions of bison, there were billions of birds. Gone now.

And if you had a hunter shoot 3 bison a day, that's 1000 in a year. 1000 hunters makes a million bison a year.

The Sharps 50/90 would easily take 3 a day.

Goober said...


There is more to the bison story.

The government programs were not the reason the bison were killed. i wrote about this recently over at my place.

No, the bison were already having a pretty rough time of it before the government started encouraging the kill off. The reason being one little bug that the bison carried called brucellosis (or at least, that's what we think it was).

The brucellosis wasn't really killing the bison, but it WAS killing the livestock of the ranchers and pioneers out west. That, and the fact that the vast herds of shaggies left a trail of destruction in their wake whenever they moved through an area. The bison kept moving, while the rancher was tied to his land; land which often took months and months to heal after a herd moved through, while the rancher's cattle (and later, his family) starved and died due to undernourishment and disease.

So what did they do?

They started killing them, as would any reasonable man faced with starvation. Back in the 30's, 40's, and 50's. Throughout the 60's. By the 1870s (when Sherman came up with this idea) and 1880s, they were mostly gone, and it had nothing to do with government policy. it had everything to do with brute survival.

This is a little government-centric line of thinkng that won't die. Many people don't think that organic movements, with no central leadership, could possibly have srpung up and effectively killed off the bison herds, and so they point to the government program as the reason. But the government only knew that bison reduction would be a hardship on the native Americans because IT ALREADY WAS.

Goober said...


i disagree. There is no evidence of a pandemic in bison populations. The evidence supports the herds being killed off by motivated buffalo hunters, ranchers, and white settlers.

The herds were being picked at 24/7/365 by anyone with a gun, because no one, and I mean NO ONE, liked the bison once the frontier had been established and they were no longer necessary as a food source.

Goober said...

By the by, I'm pretty sure that's a picture of US Grant, not Sherman, that you posted there.

quizikle said...

Me thinks I detect the plaintive note of yet another Confederate Yankee.

ASM826 said...

Sherman wrote a letter to the New York Times that was published December 18, 1890. In it, he said that were it not for "civilian interference," his army would have "gotten rid of them all" and killed every last Indian in the U.S.

Read that any way you want. His own name for the war he waged with the Sioux was the "final solution".

And don't try to say that the bison were anything but exterminated. There was photography by the 1870s and there is plenty of photographic evidence of the systematic slaughter, here's one:
How many skulls in that pile? One pile.

Here's a quote from the General himself: “Let them kill, skin, and sell until the buffalo is exterminated, as it is the only way to bring lasting peace and allow civilization to advance.” ~ General Sherman

Goober said...


I never claimed that the bison were anything BUT exterminated. I'm just arguing that it wasn't the government, or a government program, that did it.

It was a diffuse, organic movement with no leader and no direction, all with the same goal:

Kill them all.

Goober said...

By the by, I'm pretty sure that's a picture of US Grant, not Sherman, that you posted there

And I was wrong. Sorry. It looked like some of the younger pictures of Grant.

Roy said...

"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 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 tittle of provocation." [...]


William T. Sherman - Letter to the city council of Atlanta, September 12, 1864.

Ken O said...

As a proper Southerner, one of my life's greatest ambitions is to visit his final resting place and piss on him.

Goober said...

Sherman used the excuse that the south shot first to justify a lot of what he did.

Too bad, really, in hindsight, that they did. That and slavery were the two irreconcilable problems that the Confederacy had, which I think damaged their popular support, and consequently lost them the war (at least in part).