War Against Southern Civilians

(June 3, 2018) Adult and independent Civil War student, Shane Anderson, provides the list below of Southern Towns burned by the Union Army. He adds that the list keeps lengthening as he occasionally learns of new additions as a byproduct of his general studies.

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Osceola, Missouri, burned to the ground, September 24, 1861 – The town of 3,000 people was plundered and burned to the ground, 200 slaves were freed and nine local citizens were executed.
Platte City – December 16, 1861 – “Colonel W. James Morgan marches from St. Joseph to Platte City. Once there, Morgan burns the city and takes three prisoners — all furloughed or discharged Confederate soldiers. Morgan leads the prisoners to Bee Creek, where one is shot and a second is bayonetted, while the third is released. ”
Dayton, Missouri, burned, January 1 to 3, 1862
Columbus, Missouri, burned, reported on January 13, 1862
Bentonville, Arkansas, partly burned, February 23, 1862 – a Federal search party set fire to the town after finding a dead Union soldier, burning most of it to the ground
Winton, North Carolina, burned, reported on February 21, 1862 – first NC town burned by the Union, and completely burned to the ground
Bledsoe’s Landing, Arkansas, burned, October 21, 1862
Hamblin’s, Arkansas, burned, October 21, 1862
Donaldsonville, Louisiana, partly burned, August 10, 1862
Athens, Alabama, partly burned, August 30, 1862
Randolph, Tennessee, burned, September 26, 1862
Elm Grove and Hopefield, Arkansas, burned, October 18, 1862
Fredericksburg December 11–15, 1862 – town not destroyed, but the Union army threw shells into a town full of civilians
Napoleon, Arkansas, partly burned, January 17, 1863
Mound City, Arkansas, partly burned, January 13, 1863
Hopefield, Arkansas, burned, February 21, 1863 – “Captain Lemon allowed residents one hour to remove personal items, and the men then burned every house in the village.”

Eunice, Arkansas, burned, June 14, 1863
Gaines Landing, Arkansas, burned, June 15, 1863
Bluffton, South Carolina, burned, reported June 6, 1863 – ”
Union troops, about 1,000 strong, crossed Calibogue Sound and eased up the May River in the pre-dawn fog, surprising ineffective pickets and having their way in an unoccupied village. Rebel troops put up a bit of a fight, but gunboats blasted away as two-thirds of the town was burned in less than four hours. After the Yankees looted furniture and left, about two-thirds of the town’s 60 homes were destroyed.”
Sibley, Missouri, burned June 28, 1863
Hernando, Mississippi, partly burned, April 21, 1863
Austin, Mississippi, burned, May 24, 1863 – “On May 24, a detachment of Union marines landed near Austin. They quickly marched to the town, ordered all of the townpeople out and burned down the town.”
Columbus, Tennessee, burned, reported February 10, 1864
Meridian, Mississippi, destroyed, February 3 to March 6, 1864 (burned multiple times)
Washington, North Carolina, sacked and burned, April 20, 1864
Hallowell’s Landing, Alabama, burned, reported May 14, 1864
Newtown, Virginia, May 30, 1864
Rome, Georgia, partly burned, November 11, 1864 – “Union soldiers were told to burn buildings the Confederacy could use in its war effort: railroad depots, storehouses, mills, foundries, factories and bridges. Despite orders to respect private property, some soldiers had their own idea. They ran through the city bearing firebrands, setting fire to what George M. Battey Jr. called harmless places.”
Atlanta, Georgia, burned, November 15, 1864
Camden Point, Missouri, burned, July 14, 1864 –
Kendal’s Grist-Mill, Arkansas, burned, September 3, 1864
Shenandoah Valley, devastated, reported October 1, 1864 by Sheridan. Washington College was sacked and burned during this campaign.
Griswoldville, Georgia, burned, November 21, 1864
Somerville, Alabama, burned, January 17, 1865
McPhersonville, South Carolina, burned, January 30, 1865
Barnwell, South Carolina, burned, reported February 9, 1865
Columbia, South Carolina, burned, reported February 17, 1865
Winnsborough, South Carolina, pillaged and partly burned, February 21, 1865
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, burned, April 4, 1865

14 thoughts on “War Against Southern Civilians

  1. josepharose

    During General U.S. Grant’s overland advance over northern Mississippi, his troops burned much of Holly Springs, Coffeeville, and Oxford, Mississippi. David Hunter burned large parts of the Valley of Virginia and Virginia Military Institute, including its library and other educational buildings. Sherman is infamous for burning many towns and cities, especially in South Carolina, including in that state, Robertsville, Cheraw, and Society Hill. He lied about his responsibility for the burning of Columbia.

    1. Phil Leigh Post author

      Thanks for sharing.

      Could you elaborate about Sherman’s lies regarding the burning of Columbia, South Carolina?


      1. josepharose

        My book (Grant Under Fire) states:

        William Sherman, who pronounced during the Vicksburg Campaign that “this universal burning and wanton destruction of private property is not justified in war,” now did his best to shift culpability. The morning after, he told the Ursuline mother superior of “his regret at the burning of our convent, disclaimed the act, attributing it to the intoxication of his soldiers.” He admitted elsewhere that “our men have burnt Columbia,” blaming residents who had given them liquor. Lyman heard him boast at City Point headquarters: “Columbia!—pretty much all burned; and burned good.”

        But Sherman’s report to Halleck instead emphasized his orders to spare private property, Hampton’s guilt, and the efforts his generals made to extinguish the blaze, while imagining that “general good order prevailed.” Sherman falsely swore, “I declare in the presence of my God that Hampton burned Columbia, and that he alone is responsible for it,” wholly ignoring his army’s innumerable transgressions.

        Actually, Sherman lay in bed when the downtown fires broke out that evening and could not have known their origin firsthand, and he testified only that “I always supposed that it originated in that burning pile of cotton.” Sherman disclosed his motive for lying in his autobiography: “I distinctly charged it to General Wade Hampton, and confess I did so pointedly, to shake the faith of his people in him, for he was in my opinion boastful, and professed to be the special champion of South Carolina.”8

        The footnote is:
        OR 47:1:20–22; Cornelia P. Spencer, The Last Ninety Days of the War in North Carolina (New York: Watchmen, 1866), 155; W.T. Sherman, et al., Who burnt Columbia? 76–77; Sherman, Memoirs, 2:281, 287; Edwin J. Scott, Random Recollections of a Long Life, 1806– 1876 (Columbia, S.C.: Charles A. Calvo, Jr., 1884), 183–84; W.T. Sherman, Home Letters, 260; U.R. Brooks, Butler and His Cavalry, 460; Agassiz, Meade’s Headquarters, 327.

  2. Michael Bradley

    Clifton, Tennessee–burned January 1863
    Paint Rock, Alabama–burned May 1862
    Maj. Gen. Robert Milroy ordered the burning of over 50 homes in the vicinity of Tullahoma, Tennessee from June 1864 to the end of the war. Milroy also issued written orders, preserved in the Records of the Provost Marshal, U.S. Army at the National Archives, for the execution without trial of approx. 500 civilians in Coffee, Franklin, Grundy, Warren, and Lincoln counties in Tennessee. He also executed ten Confederate POW’s in April 1865, recorded in a letter to his wife.

  3. Unreconstructed Fenian

    It could very well be argued that these same troops invaded Iraq and now illegally occupy parts of Syria.

      1. Unreconstructed Fenian

        “Total War”, as with Sherman, and the following imperialism of an out of control Federal government now has us imposing “democracy” wherever we choose. The US is not in Syria in any way legally, and has even threatened the legitimate government of Assad with retaliation if it moves against ISIS. Sounds like Yankees to me.

      2. Unreconstructed Fenian

        “The consolidation of the States into one vast empire, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of ruin which has overwhelmed all that preceded it.”- Robert E. Lee

      3. Phil Leigh Post author

        The North’s victory in the Civil War vastly strengthened the Federal Government which the Northern-dominated Republican Party used for seventy years to promote the prosperity of their region.

  4. Robert Grizzle

    Reblogged this on Southern Fox Fire and commented:
    This is an extensive list of communities that were destroyed during the American War Between the States. It may prove informative to those who are curious why old resentments die hard in the deep South.

    1. Phil Leigh Post author


      It’s also a good list to have handy when James McPherson acolytes condemn Southerners for burning Chambersburg, Pennsylvania in July 1864 as retaliation for the wasteland left by Union armies in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

      1. Robert Grizzle

        Very true. I have run into people in my knack of the woods in GA that do not understand why I despise Sherman. The only reason he didn’t destroy my home town, the people pulled up the planks on the converted bridge into town.

      2. Phil Leigh Post author

        Georgia is a fine state. Is she going to elect the gubernatorial candidate that pledges to sand-blast the Stone Mountain memorial?

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