Saturday, June 8, 2013

The March IV.

This is coolbert:

"forage freely off the land" - - W.T. Sherman.

The bummers!!

Having made the decision to march to the sea unencumbered with impedimenta to the greatest degree possible, and eschewing all customary and normal supply as understood at the time, Sherman and the Army of the West moving toward Savannah the plan being to obtain all necessary supply and sustenance from the local communities in the path of the army, FORCIBLE CONFISCATION OF ALL EDIBLES AND DRAFT ANIMALS.

Those foraging parties platoon in size referred to as "the bummers".

"Bummers was a nickname applied to foragers of Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's Union army during its March to the Sea and north through North Carolina and South Carolina during the American Civil War. The designation bummers', although originally used to describe soldiers officially appointed to foraging duty by the Army, was used, both by soldiers and civilians, to describe Sherman's soldiers, official and unofficial, who requisitioned food from Southern homes along the route of the Army's march"

As described by E. L. Doctorow in his novel "The March":

"Clarke [lieutenant in command of a platoon sized foraging element] had in his foraging party a two-man wagon train, a string of three extra mules, and twenty men mounted. General orders specified no fewer than fifty men. He was several miles off the column, and so coming upon the plantation, he resolved to make quick work of it."

"As they rode onto the ground he immediately saw, and ignored, the slaves standing there. He shook his head. They had their old cracked drummers's cases and cotton sacks tied up with their things on the ground beside them. He posted his pickets and set the men to work. In the yard behind the outbuildings, the fodder stack was a smoking pile, flakes of black ash blowing off in the breeze. There were three mules with their heads blown all to hell. His orders were to respond to acts of defiance commensurately. Nor was he less determined when the men marched out of the dairy with sacks of sugar, cornmeal, flour, and rice on their shoulders. In the smokehouse, the shelves sagged with crocks of honey and sorghum. Hanging from hooks were the sides of bacon and cured hams the Massah didnt' have time for the taking. And one of the bins were filled with a good two hundred pounds of sweet potatoes."

"The men worked with a will. They slaughtered the sows but somehow, from someone's incompetence, the chickens flew the coop. There commenced a holy racket - - enough to bring the Negro children running . . . Everyone is having a good time, Clarke thought. It's a happy war, this."

That march terminating in Savannah requiring less than a month, the Army of the West almost thriving along the route, that harvest just brought in from the fields an abundance, the Yankee soldiers not subject to privation it would seem of any sort.

Resistance to the bummer foraging seems to have been minimal at best, the psychological trauma to the Southern population in the path of the Army of the West accentuating the futility of further warfare.


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