James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
to whom he ascribed a large part of the irregular acts. Some of the pilfering was undoubtedly due to the uncontrollable American desire for mementos of places connected with great events. Moreover, while three and one-half years of civil war had built up an effective fighting machine, they had caused a relaxation in the rules of orderly conduct among its members so that it had come to be considered proper to despoil anyone living in the enemys country; but the commander and his officers sincerely desired to restrain the soldiers within the limits of civilized usage. The lofty personal character of most of the men in high command and the severity of the punishment threatened for breaches of discipline are evidence of this; nor should it be overlooked that much of the plundering charged to Shermans men was actually done by Confederate bands. From my general characterization of the Union officers one notable exception must be made. Kilpatrick, the commander of the cavalry, was notorious for his immorality and rapacity, and his escapades, winked at by Sherman on account of his military efficiency, were demoralizing to the army at the time, and have since tended to give it a bad name. With no purpose of extenuation it is pleasant to record some of Shermans words which should be read in the light of his honesty of soul and truthfulness of statement. I never heard, he wrote, of any cases of murder or rape.1
Shermans campaign struck slavery a staggering blow. Everywhere the negroes received the Northern soldiers with joy. Near Covington an old gray-haired negro said to Sherman that he had been looking for the angel of the Lord ever since he was knee-high and he supposed that the success of the Northern army would bring him freedom.