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A Legion of Devils

Sherman in South Carolina
Narrated by: K.S. Redhawk
Length: 4 hrs and 16 mins
Categories: History, American
4.5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The war crimes committed by General William T. Sherman and his men against Southern civilians and their means of sustaining life are a huge stain on the American national character. Sherman's crimes are routinely denied or minimized (by those who don't actually celebrate them), although they are as heavily documented, from Northern as well as Southern sources, as any event in history. Sherman's campaign through Georgia and South Carolina is even cited as a brilliant military feat. In fact, it was not a military feat at all. There was very little fighting. It was a massive campaign of terrorism against civilians. It violated international law and hypocritically deviated widely from officially-declared US policy.

A Legion of Devils: Sherman in South Carolina adds more very interesting original sources to the published record of US war crimes. The audiobook also features a timeline documenting most of the significant incidents of January through March 1865, when South Carolina's home front became a war front for thousands of civilians.

Charlestonian Karen Stokes enjoys unsurpassed knowledge of the first-hand sources that document South Carolina during the war between the states. She has been prolific in sharing her knowledge both as historian and novelist. Her works of both kinds give a rich picture of the "faith, valour, and devotion" of the South Carolinians who, in time of ruthless invasion, steadfastly endured the greatest sacrifice and suffering that any large group of Americans have ever experienced.

Stokes’s previous books (history and fiction) include Faith, Valor, and Devotion; A Confederate Englishman; Honor in the Dust; The Immortals: A Story of Love and War; Days of Destruction; South Carolina Civilians in Sherman’s Path; The Immortal 600; The Soldier’s Ghost: A Tale of Charleston; Belles: A Carolina Love Story; and Confederate South.

©2017 Karen Stokes (P)2018 Shotwell Publishing LLC

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Overwhelming Eyewitness Testimony

A war crime is "a crime committed in wartime in violation of the accepted rules and customs of war." This has traditionally included prohibitions against targeting civilian populations and noncombatants, especially women, children, the feeble, and the aged, and avoiding, as much as possible, doing damage to homes, nonmilitary businesses, and places of worship.

Denial of war crimes is a characteristic of societies that, for ulterior motives, want to rewrite history by covering up the truth about their past. Such is the case with the record of William T. Sherman's infamous march through Georgia and the Carolinas and especially with the destruction of Columbia, S.C.

Karen Stokes has masterfully compiled and thoroughly documented the case for war crimes against the civilians of South Carolina by Sherman and his troops. She has done so using, not the opinions of politically correct modern revisionist historians and Lincoln apologists, but firsthand accounts of eyewitnesses to the atrocities as recorded in journals, diaries, sworn affidavits, and other reputable primary sources. No surprise there, considering that Stokes is an archivist for the South Carolina Historical Society.

Her stream of credible eyewitnesses includes not only the residents one might expect to hear but also--and most notably--many Union soldiers and even foreign diplomats, who had no ax to grind for either side. The result is a convincing case against Sherman and his troops. It reveals Sherman's tendency to deny, to shift blame, to look the other way, and to rationalize the committing of war crimes. He first denied any involvement by Yankee soldiers, blaming instead the troops of Wade Hampton (for allegedly firing bales of cotton) and the citizens of Columbia (for allegedly giving liquor to Yankee troops). Then he acknowledged his troops' involvement but denied that he had ordered the firing, blaming instead a handful of unruly (drunk) soldiers. The evidence, however, clearly indicates otherwise and indicts him for at least tacit approval by his failure to end it when he became aware of it and at worst actually ordering it. Even if he did not provide a written order for the burning of the city, his attitude toward the city and the South generally was widely known and acted upon. It also shows his unblinking ability to meet with civilian leaders of the city, promise them peace and safety and protection from property destruction, and then to do nothing to prevent the opposite when it happened.

This book chronicles Sherman's campaign of wanton hatred and destruction against not armies of belligerents (Hampton's army consisted of not more than about 400 at the time, a negligible number and certainly no threat to Sherman's thousands) but against innocent civilians, both black and white, male and female, young and old, and against property regardless of its use, including houses of worship. It reveals the outworking of the Union army's General Orders No. 100 (see Lincoln's Code by John Fabian Witt). It is a must-read source for everyone who wants to know the truth about Sherman's march through the Southern states.