Sherman's Ghosts: Soldiers, Civilians, and the American Way of War

Sherman's Ghosts: Soldiers, Civilians, and the American Way of War

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 1595589554

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

“To know what war is, one should follow our tracks,” General William T. Sherman once wrote to his wife, describing the devastation left by his armies in Georgia. Sherman’s Ghosts is an investigation of the "tracks" left by the wars fought by the American military in the 150 years since Sherman's infamous “March to the Sea.”

Sherman’s Ghosts opens with an epic retelling of General Sherman’s fateful decision to turn his sights on the South’s civilian population in order to break the back of the Confederacy. Acclaimed journalist Matthew Carr then exposes how this strategy became the central preoccupation of war planners in the twentieth century and beyond, offering a stunning and lucid assessment of the impact Sherman’s slash-and-burn policies have had on subsequent wars, including in the Philippines, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and even Iraq and Afghanistan.

In riveting accounts of military campaigns and in the words and writings of American fighting men and military strategists, Carr finds ample and revealing evidence of Sherman’s long shadow. Sherman’s Ghosts is a rare reframing of how we understand our violent history and a call to action for those who hope to change it.

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Caesar,” but it was facilitated by poor judgment by General Beauregard, the overall commander of Confederate forces in the Carolinas. As Major George Nichols, one of Sherman’s staff officers, observed, “Beauregard committed the gross error of attempting to defend cities of no strategic importance” instead of using the terrain to his advantage and concentrating his forces along the Salkehatchie River.25 Having crossed the river, Sherman’s forces now proceeded to inflict on South Carolina the

munitions air-launched or ground-launched against Iraqi cities, in addition to some 9,200 combatant casualties. But the most violent phase of the war began after the iconic toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue on April 9. Baghdad was subjected to a different form of “wanton physical destruction” as a result of the security vacuum created by the collapse of the Iraqi state. On April 10, crowds of looters robbed, stripped, and sometimes burned offices, shops, former Baathist headquarters, and

shockingly violent and unpredictable guerrilla war. In August 2006, a military court investigating the killing of three Iraqi prisoners at Samarra by soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division’s Third Brigade heard testimony from a member of the unit who described “a culture of racism and unrestrained violence” encouraged by its commanding officer, Colonel Michael Steele, who reportedly gave knives to his troops as rewards for their kills in an attempt to foster a competitive body count of

see the Iraqi people the way we see them. They view them as Untermenschen?”14 Whether such bigotry was rare or rampant, destruction also had a strategic purpose. During the second assault on Fallujah, an anonymous Pentagon official told the New York Times reporters Thom Shanker and Eric Schmidt, “If there are civilians dying in connection with these attacks, and with the destruction, the locals at some point have to make a decision. Do they want to harbor the insurgents and suffer the

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