Warnings & Admonitions!!
Continuing the blog series, extracts with commentary from the E. L. Doctorow novel "The March".
Many persons in the path of the Army of the West, those Southerners of aristocratic mien or planters, persons of wealth, fleeing at the approach of the Yankee, panic stricken in some cases no recourse or amelioration to the situation possible.
Here Letitia Pettibone, a woman of the South and also of substance both issues a warning to all that will listen.
"Letitia would not come down from her carriage, there was no time, she said. She was a badly frightened woman with no concern for her horses, as John saw and quickly ordered buckets to be brought around, as the woman cried, Get out , get out, take what you can leave, and seemed to be roused to anger as they only stood listening with some of the field hands appearing now around the side of the house with the first light, as if drawn into existence by it. And I know Him! she cried. He has dined in my home. He has lived among us. He burns where he has ridden to lunch, he fires the city in whose clubs he once gave toasts, oh yes, someone of the educated class, or so we thought, though I never was impressed! NO, I was never impressed, he was to spidery, too weak in his conversation, and badly composed in his dress, careless of his appearance, but for all that I thought quite civilized n having so little gift to dissemble or pretend what he not feel. And what a bitter gall is in my throat for what I believed was domesticated man with a clean love for wife and children, who is not more than a savage with not a drop of mercy in his cold heart."
HIM! HE! General William Tecumseh Sherman of course.
Sherman in that period just prior to the commencement of the American Civil War a known figure to some in the American South. A career serving military officer and in 1860 the Superintendent of the Louisiana Military Academy. Sherman a man of the North his observations most prescient almost in the manner of an Old Testament prophet!!
"You people of the South don't know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don't know what you're talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it… Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth — right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail."
- Comments [of W.T. Sherman] to Prof. David F. Boyd at the Louisiana State Seminary (24 December 1860);