tv The Civil War CSPAN March 31, 2016 10:00pm-10:56pm EDT
>> every election cycle we're reminded how important it is for citizens to be informed. c-span is a vehicle for empow empowering people to make good choices. it really is like you're getting a seven-course gourmet five-star meal of policy. and boy do i just sound like a nerd right there, but it's true. >> to me, c-span is a home to political junkies and track the government as it happens, whether it's on capitol hill or the agencies. >> most staffers seem to have a television on their desk and c-span is on. i think it's a great way for us to stay informed. >> i urgely colleagues to vote for this amendment. there are a lot of c-span fans on the hill. my colleagues, when i go back today, they're going to say i saw you on c-span. >> you can get something like the history of grain elevators in pennsylvania or landmarks supreme court decisions. . >> i believe believe that we will when!
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on c-span is great. you never know what you're going to get. >> you're right i'm from down south. >> oh, god, it's mom. >> i'm your mother. i disagree that all families are like ours. i don't know many families that are fighting at thanksgiving. >> and welcome to book tv's live coverage of the 32nd annual miami book fare. >> on the weebds, it becomes book tv. >> it's been a wonderful way of accessing the work of thosewrit books. >> c-span tv becomes american history tv. if you're a history junkie, you've got to watch. >> whether we're talking about a congressional hearing or we're talking about an era in history, there's so much information that you can convey. if you've got that kind of programming. >> whether it's at the capital or on the campaign trail, they
have a camera, they're capturing history as it happens. it brings you inside of these chambers, inside of the conversations on capitol hill. and lets you have a seat at the table. you can't find that anywhere else. >> i'm a c-span fan. >> i'm a c-span fan. >> i'm a c-span fan. >> yes, i am a c-span fan. >> and that's the power of c-span. access for everyone to be part of the conversation. >> next author and prof sor mark grimsley compares the conduct of u.s. military towards southern civilians versus native americans during the civil war and reconstruction periods. he argues that union troops in the civil war were, quote, merciful, end quote, towards white southerners. and while property was sometimes destroyed, civilian casualties were typically unintentional and few in number. by contrast, u.s. military
attacks on native americans in the west frequently left entire villages destroyed with large numbers of women, children and the elderly among the dead. this hour-long talk was part of a day-long symposium held at the library of virginia in richmond. >> ladies and gentlemen, our next speaker is dr. mark grimsley. mark is an associate professor of history, as the football players always say it on tv, the ohio state university. he has received three distinguished teaching awards. he received the 1995 lincoln prize for his first book "the hard hand of war -- union military policy towards southern civilians." it was after he wrote that book i first met him, he came to the chicago civil war round table where i was a member. and talked about the book.
he maintains the war historians.org website, focusing on military history and national security affairs and won the 2005 cleopatra award for the best individual blog for his wonderfully titled, quote, blog them out of the stone age, end of quote. in other words, mark grimsley is an award-whenning historian in free media. in addition to his books on civil war topics, which are listed in your program, mark has written and taught more generally on military history. an essay he wrote for his coed dited book, civilians in the path of war, is the basis for his talk today. his talk today is entitled rebels and redskins. so sir, you can get your question answered from dr. grimsley. rebels and redskins, u.s. military conduct towards white southerners and native americans in comparative perspective.
mark is no stranger to the museum's programs. he spoke in this auditorium, as a matter of fact, 12 years ago as part of the museum's evening series lectures on hard war. we are very pleased to welcome back to this stage dr. mark grimsley. [ applause ] >> it's a pleasure to be here this afternoon. oh good, we have this all set to go up on the screen. i'm talking today about the civil war and about the final war against native americans on the far west. and yet, i am neither a civil war historian, nor an historian of the far west, military histori historian.
and the way in which -- don't worry, i still know a lot about the civil war. but i self-identify as a military historian. and the way that i actually came to the subject of my first book, which i'll be talking about some today, actually was by way of being interested in the question of moral judgment in war. the kinds of moral judgments that we ought to make in wartime. that was the genesis of the book that became the hard hand of war because i was sfwresed in the northerly judgments that kwun i don't know officers and union soldiers made toward southern civilians in the path of war during the american civil war. so that's where they came from. however, having written that book, i have formed apparently a
career long association with william t. sherman. and so people seem to think i'm an expert on sherman as well. and i've come to know a fair amount about sherman, too. mostly in self-defense. but i can tell you the times are changing with regard to sherman. and as with many things. in the summer of 2014, an organization called public policy polling did conduct a poll of georgians asking them for their opinion of william t. sherman. you might imagine they have opinions on the sunt given sherman's famous urban renewal project there in 1864.
however, 60% of georgians had no opinion of sherman. only 26% reported disliking sherman. in comparison, 63% reported that they disliked reality tv star honey boo boo. so apparently our image of sherman is shifting over time. you know, something that has begun to interest me over the past year or so has been to take seriously the concepts of the american civil war as an american iliad, and by that, i mean to say it is an episode in american history that we have certain stories that we tell ourselves that come out of the american civil war that have a
kind of mythic resonance for us in the same way there are mythic tails that come out of homer's iliad that tell us about life, that tell us about who we are, what it means to be aing a. -- human being. the people who are interested in the american civil war often approach it as a kind of american iliad. and i'll give you an example of this. one of my first columns was on the relationship of abraham lincoln and george b. mcclellan. i'm sure most of you know something about the relationship. it is passed into our culture to such an extent that during the iraq war period, there were over 100 references in american newspapers op-ed columns and so forth to the len con mcclellan
relationship, usually to condemn a general that wasn't doing well or extolling a general that was doing well and so on. in my column i told it in american iliad way. what i said in the final paragraph is that mcclellan wasn't all that bad of a general. i just said he doesn't deserve the excoriation that he gets. that one paragraph got any number of letters to the editor sent. and i got two letters myself from aggrieved readers type script single space pages
explaining how mcclellan was the worst general in the civil war. not up with of the worst, but the absolute worst. i so i zrnt a hard time explaining why we hate mcclellan that much. now, moving to my topic today, one of the things i was thinking about is this american iliad, does it half -- it has stories in it about grant at shilo. general petraeus during the darkest moments of the surge told his staff on several occasions about grant's remark on the evening of the first day of the battle of shilo where sherman comes up to him and says well, grant, we've had the devil's own day, haven't we? and grant's response is, yep, lick them tomorrow, though.
anticipate general petraeus used that to buck up his staff and soldiers. that is an image that comes out of the american iliad. stonewall jackson at first manassas is also a tale of an american iliad. what kind of tales do we have that touch upon the things we've been discussing today -- reconstruction and the ugliness of it. these are stories that we don't want to look at in a mythic kind of way. the exception to this would be sherman's marches. people do know about sheridan in 1804. if people know anything the hard war operations, it's sherman's madge to the sea.
and we all know that it was a december lating march, 220 miles from atlanta to savannah, 60 miles wide in which sherman's troops destroyed absolutely everything in their path. and there is a thriving folklore business in georgia there to explain why, given that this occurred, why the particular town that so and so, that a certain person lives in, you know, why that particular town was spared when every other town was annihilated. and these folklore tales usually have something to do with sherman had an old girlfriend in town. and maybe. sherman was a mason and somebody gaye t save the masonic sign of distress and the town was spared for that reason. there's a kind of iliad tale of sherman's mark. but the idea of this all-december lating fury, this is something i caulk talked about in "the hard hand of war" and largely debunked.
and so what i would like to do this morning is to begin with two mornings, three years apart. the first is a mild winter day in coastal south carolina on the flat tidal plane of the savannah river. blue-coated soldiers have entered the little village of barnville. officially their orders are to pass through the town and seize or destroy only certain classes of public property. in brutal fact, they believe their commanding officer wants them to wreck everything in their path as they invade the state south carolina that nurtured and created the carnage of the civil war that has consumed the lives of them and their comrades for years. and so union soldiers set fire to the town, public buildings, residen residences, everything. then they leigh, telling each other with grim satisfaction
that the town ought properly be rechristened burnwell. the civilians in their wake are aghast and shocked. that's the first morning. the second morning is a chill autumn dawn in the former indian territory now oklahoma. blue-coated soldiers have surrounded a nameless village on the river. officially their orders are to surround and capture native american raiders and also to wreck everything in their path. they open fire, the blou coats open fire. unlike barnwell, this little makeshift village is defended but the inhabitants have been taken by surprise and within minutes, the settlement has been overrun. while a recovering force scream against the possibility of a koubt attack against other
indians in the decision, the soldiers systematically level the indian lodges, shooting the 900 ponies in the village and giving most of the indians possessions to the flames. afterward, there are no indians left behind in the village to e bewail the attack because all have been made prisoners and escorted into captivity. all of them, mostly old men, women and children are dead. now, it's commonly agreed that 19th century america had two experiences with total war. the first against the southern confederacy, the second against the western planes indians. a number of historians have noticed similarities in the military methods employed, particularly the emphasis on the edestruction of supplies and attacks on noncombatants. such commonalities imply that however potent racial views may have been in white america's overall stance toward native
america, the role of race in the final contest in native america was not central. the photograph of civil war devastation of atlanta will reveal his style of war. yet in fact, sherman and his counterparts in the union army did behave with considerably more mercy towards southern whites than white america showed in its final wars with native america. they lay at the extreme end of the spectrum of civilians.
the difference are eflekts the salience of race and culture in the latter struggles. the contrast between the wars against the confederacy and native america are compelling. they begin with the basic legal principles by which the two struggles were conducted. one applicable to war against another nation and one applicable to insurrections and iner is junecys. the american sil war was an insurrecti insurrection. it was an insurgency. the way the united states conducted that war treated the confederate states of america as
if it were a foreign nation. what that meant was that the conventions of laws and customs of war were observed. prisoners of war were taken. sur rernds were gwynn and accepted and so on. had the united states chosen to stop the insurgency, everybody who was taking would have been shot, hanged, you know, out of hand. they were guilty of treason. they had no rights anyone needed to respect. the american civil war was treated as a defacto contest between nations. with regard to wars against nate i americans, though, the insurrectionaire principle was followed.
this opened up more of a scope of lethal treatment of people who would be classed as noncombatants. now, during their clashes with western indians, u.s. forces quickly discovered it was almost impossible to destroy a native american war party in open combat. since indians noted battle under favorable conditions and their small numbers and high mobility made them hard to locate amid the vastness of the far west. one of the favorite tactics with us to swoop down at dawn. this tactic practically guaranteed casualties among native american women, children and the elderly. two well known examples of this were the battle of the wachita and the mariah's river massacre
in january of 1870 in which major edward m. baker and two squadrons of the u.s. second cavalry killed 173 indians including 53 women and children, many of them ill with smallpox. sheridan defended the tactics against criticism by eastern humanitarians, saying it was no different than what had been practiced during the american civil war. did we cease to throw shells into vicks burg or atlanta because women and children were there? this is disingenuous. hardly any southern civilians were killed in this fashion. vicksburg and atlanta produced few civilian casualties. many of us could name the lone silian death that occurred
during the battle of gettysburg, jenny wade. we also know the one woman who died in the battle of first manassas, judith henry. so that's how rare those occasions are. so he's being disingenuous when a he says this. by contrast, the success of the western village attacks depended on native americans not knowing of the enemy's approach and whereas the presence of noncombatants in vicksburg and atlanta were incidental to operation against the con federal armies defending those cities, the presence of noncombatants in a native american village was of central importance. because the greatest opportunities for victory would occur when warriors were forced into the position of having to protect the elderly women and children. and finally, while the union
army could readily discriminate between mill tar and civilian targets, during a village attack, combatants and noncombatants were hopelessly intermingled. the result predictably was a level of noncombatant casualties far higher than anything seen during civil war military operations, including sieges. in short, sheridan was cloaking a morally dubious act in the mantle of one more easily defensib defensible. this is michael walzer. he is a professor emeritus at princeton university and author of any number of books. but there's one that i would recommend to you. it's called just and unjust wars, a moral argument with historical illustrations published in 1977. i read it as a college freshman. it has been through five editions since then, and it is the single most lucid and
intelligent sudden dis of the ethical aspects of war that i can commend to you. michael walzer talks about the principle of double effect. this is a concept that really goes back before michael walzer. but he offers a good modern formulation that is relevant to what it is that i'm talking about today. double effect, walzer writes is a way of exercising the absolute prohibition against attacking noncombatants with a legitimate conduct of military activity, which may unavoidably expose noncombatants to harm. its key condition is that the intention of the actor is good. that is to say, the actor, or the person who is responsible for making this particular
attack is aiming narrowly at the acceptable effect, that is to say the death of combatants. the evil effect, death or injury to noncombatants is not one of his ends, nor is it a means to his ends and aware of the evil involve, he seeks to minimize it except accepting costs to himself. causing harm to him was neither his objective nor his means to his objective. t the presence of women and children was an important means to ensure the vulnerability of
elusive american warriors. a soldier must take careful aim at nonmilitary targets. he cannot kill civilians. the u.s. armies resorted to attacks on native americans, villages only if it were prepared to take significant steps to avoid noncombatant casualties, for example, by using forces sufficient to surround the village, offering the native americans an opportunity to surrender and permitting noncombatants the opportunity to lead the battle area. although this conclusion cannot be said, it is perhaps only fair to point out that the army found itself chronically short-handed during most of the campaigns. and that even surprise attacks
were fraught with considerable risk. at the battle of the big hole in montana august 9, 1877. a column under colonel john gibbons surprised an encampment but failed to prevent the escape of most warriors who found cover and shot down fully a third of the gibbons men. but as usual, many of those killed in the opening attack were women and children. estimates of indian losses are notoriously hard to establish reliably but the evidence suggests that as many as 2/3 of the 80 to 90 dead were noncombatants. when i began working on "the hard hand of war" you begin with a limited war of army against
army, and then eventually, you see this war expand to something approximating a total war in which southern civilian property, private property and public property was also fair game. it was partly political, conciliatory policy was applied because it was thought that this would bring white southern civilians back into their former allegiance more easily than other means. and as matters became harsher, it was driven by the fact that union armies found it difficult to destroy rebel armies in the field. and historically, what happens when you're unable to achieve direct military effects, you tend to go after -- you tend to
go for civilians instead. there's book you should all buy a copy of "civilians in the path of war." if that book has a moral to it, that's it. you can't effectively defeat an enemy through purely military means. you go for civilians. the armies found it necessary to take supplies from the country side and by extension to deny them to the enemy. a number of union commanders foraged aerial denial. it requires little imagination to realize if the civil war had
never taken place. the military problems of a war against the much the same way president the way the officers learn the techniques that then applied to indians and the post civil war period is a dog that won't hunt. they solved problems in practical kinds of ways. if you didn't have the civil war, they still would have had the same problems they dealt with in native americans and they would have solved the problem in the way that they did. although southern barns and outbuildings might be destroyed, it was relatively uncommon for union soldiers to burn private dwellings. but u.s. troops in the west routinely burned entire native american villages.
villages in official orders and actual practices was to leave white southerners enough to get guy. the pattern during the civil war was to distinguish between union, secessionist and passive civili civilians. in the west, distipgs were seldom paed. after the war, a southern claims mission gave compensation to those who could demonstrate their loyalty. this is a mural, a work in progress association mural.
it's in a post office in preston idaho which occurs in january of 1863. a lot of us have heard of the sand creek massacre in november of 1864. we are talking about an incident of 250 northwestern indians were slaughtered. and women were raped even as they lie dying in the snow from their wounds. what we're looking at here is racism, yes.
what is going on beneath the surface. what is the significance of this? >> i think what's going on here that is of significance is this. in the context between white americans, the american civil war there was the entire point of the war really was to restore political community. and i think the more that in wars, the more that there is a sense of a common political community that has been temporarily sundayered but is going to be restored the more likely you are to have what we would think of as the laws and customs of war obeyed. but in instance where is there
can be no community, no coming together, those are the kinds of circumstances under which you see atrocities. what you will find is there's a distinction in the way the armies were against native americans. the bear river massacre was carried out not by u.s. army troops but by first california regiment, a volunteer regiment. the sand creek massacre in november of 1864 was carried out
again not by a regular troops but by the third colorado cavalry, which was enlisted for 100 days only attacked the black kettle settlement in sand creek in its first and only engagement. slaughtered men, women, elderly, children. festooned with the genitalia of men and women on their uniforms. the american civil war was a hard war out of the west of nate i americans. i'll stop there and take whatever questions you have.
there's a funny duelism in the way in which white americans have regarded nate i americans historical historically. looking at native americans as savages and, but there is another way, the kind of romanticizes native americans. and kind of a rosy view of spiritual practices of native americans. you get this kind of dualism. so actually to the extent that whites paid attention to this spiritual practices of native americans, they saw in a kind of favorable sort of way. it's kind of a strange sort of double thing. attitudes toward native americans exist side by side.
>> did your research on the native americans involve any way that the native americans tribe treated each other and their type of warfare? is that looked at or considered? >> yeah, i can talk a little bit more about that. western indians practiced mutilation as a matter of course. within native american culture,
this kind of mutilation had a cultural significance and understanding that. when native americans practiced the kind of mutilations that they did against one another on white soldiers, this is the kind of thing that drove white soldiers into a fury. does that address your question? >> can you tell me about the lib a code? >> yeah, what you're talking about is is a code name for francis lieber, a
german-american jurist who was named to head a committee that put together the world's first official guidelines for the ethical conduct of an army in the field. as far as i can tell, nobody read it, referred to it, anything like that. i tell you something, if you follow the letter of what was allowed in lieber's code, what you were allowed to do legally,
you know, was some pretty scary stuff. sharp wars are brief. it was not a gentle kind of document at all. but no, in terms of civil war, it doesn't seem to have been applied very much. that comes later. >> indian father, white mother, the very, very difficult time that the rebels in texas had in dealing with indian tribes,
apac apache, camanchee and so forth, because they were called east to fight in your look at this whole issue. the rebels and redskins, was it sort of an interest of maybe self aggrandizement or self-interest that people like stan waite to raise indian confederate troops. what did you find out about the american indians life.
>> there was a situation to revolt, to rebel. as far as the cherokee indian territory, they were slave holders. when federal agents went to the indian territory to try to enlist native americans on the confederate side, one of the reports they said is these people are like us. they're our kind of people.
that? >> what drives the train on these? >> yeah. you said this is the way to do it. >> yeah. >> before the 1860s, there was a sense that -- 1830s when the indian removal act was passed, the policy then becomes removing native americans left in mississippi. and there's a sense that -- what's west of the mississippi? the great american desert? you know? it's all grassland. native americans can have that in perpetuity. we don't care. after the american civil war, turned out white america did want the policy that changed.
it's within of cultural extinction of trying to break up sort of the glue that kept any communities together. he thought in terms of killing the indians to save the man. and the reason why i mentioned him is because many regular army officers had a certain ambivalence about the mission that they were being asked to carry out. the policy of their country was to place indians on reservations to punish those who tried to get off reservations. this was a duty that many of them liked having to carry out.
>> two questions. in your research. any connection to those policies transferring to west of the mississippi. the same question is this idea of coming together. if there's no sense. >> the idea vs consciously took their experience from the civil war and transferred it to the west is not something that i found evidence for any more than
i found evidence for them taking the experience of the colonial feed bites or the wars -- or the conduct of the war towards seminole yips or the wars of the 1830s and transferred that to the american civil war. as i said before, and i think this is pretty much on target. the way that american people are practical people. they sort of tend to solve the practical problem sitting in front of them. they might be gratified, they might be gratified to know that's the case. what you're dealing with there is the denial of any kind of
political community full stop, end of story. the official with that's this. the official confederate policy was to reenslave captured uscts on the assumption they had all been slaves, but if you follow the official policy and re-enslave them, the union would retaliate in kind against union soldiers. you couldn't hold african-american soldiers as prisoners. that wasn't policy. and you couldn't re-enslave them because that was policy. so the best solution was just to not have any prisoners. and that is one of the reasons why you get the massacres, the most famous one is at fort pillow, but there are other ones too. i'll say something else, too,
about these episodes between confederate troops and u.s. colored troops. most atrocities take the form of -- william callie's platoon carried out the massacre under orders from captain ernest medina. what's interesting about the way confederate soldiers treated u.s. colored troops is they slaughtered u.s. colored troops without any goading from higher authority. they did it spontaneously. to me, someone who is an historian of these kinds of things, it's striking to me that that was, in fact, the case.
>> were there any episodes of u.s. colors troops encountering native americans in native american warfare? >> that's not something that i explored. really, if i take another look at this at some point, that is something i will look at. i can answer this question. when u.s. colored troops had the opportunity to slaughter confederates, did they? that seems not to be the case. the only instance in which this may have occurred is at fort blakey outside of mobile, alabama in the closing days of the civil war, and that's the only instance in which i've been able to find a hint of something like that occurring. >> let me ask one more while i have the microphone. you talked about political community and george rable's
book on "damn yankees" notes the hatred of southerners towards northerners. there's much more hatred today than we appreciate. with that in mind, what's going on? can we then conclude that race is the only or primary factor in all this? if george is right there is a loss of feeling in the political community as a result of fighting the war and even before the war, do we lay it there that race alone accounts for these differences? >> the race -- the united states in that period has tended to organize things in terms of race and racialization. what's interesting is that
nowadays we think of there being a caucasian race. there was a time, though, when we would have -- what we now think of as caucasian would have been subdivided into nordic and mediterranean. the reason you can do this is because race doesn't exist. we invent it and we can uninvent it. what seems to be going on during the civil war is when confederates talk about how much they dislike the damn yankees r whatever, the language that they use is a racialized language. i think in an article some years ago i suggested if the civil war had gone on along enough, you
might have had a wholesale racializing of the north -- you'd begin to see some steps in that direction, but the end of the civil war cuts that off. all right. [ applause ] friday night on "american history tv" road to the white house rewind. at 8:00 p.m. eastern, the 1960 west virginia democratic primary department between john f. kennedy and hubert humphrey. at 11:00 p.m., a 1968 film about richard nixon's campaigning in the new hampshire primary. "american history tv" in