Thank you for “Sherman’s War.” I have lived in Virginia eighteen years and been continuously subjected to the cult of Robert E. Lee. It does my heart good to hear the other side of the story.
I grew up in Massachusetts and had three ancestors serve in the American army during that war. One was terribly wounded at Fredericksburg and another killed at Gettysburg. The third died of yellow fever not long after the war. Yet in history class I remember being repeatedly told what a great American Lee was and how Grant won in spite of his drinking. More than once I heard Grant called “the butcher.” We were even told that Lee was such a master of war that his plans were studied by the German general staff. (Were that true—which it is not—it would go a long way in explaining why Germany lost both world wars.)
However, far more serious is the current attempt to spread the use of the so-called Confederate battle flag with the slogan “Heritage Not Hate.” Often now I see the flag with a profile of Lee at the center. Apparently we are supposed to believe that the heritage of that banner has nothing to do with slavery, the Klan, Jim Crow segregation, and all the beatings, rapings, and lynchings that consumed the century following the formal abolition of slavery. Increasingly we are told that the issue of 1861 was States’ Rights, as if those rights had nothing to do with slavery. What utter nonsense!
Sherman was no great champion of civil rights for either black or aboriginal Americans, but he hardly deserves the hatred he has received from some of my fellow Americans across the years.