The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865

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Cambridge University Press, Feb 28, 1997 - History - 260 pages
3 Reviews
The Hard Hand of War explores the Union army's policy of destructive attacks upon Southern property and civilian morale--how it evolved, what it was like in practice. From an initial policy of deliberate restraint, extending even to the active protection of Southerners' property and constitutional rights, Union armies gradually adopted measures that were expressly intended to demoralize Southern civilians and to ruin the Confederate economy. Yet the ultimate "hard war" policy was far from the indiscriminate fury of legend. Union policy makers promoted a program of directed severity, and Professor Grimsley demonstrates how and why it worked. This volume fits into an emerging interpretation of the Civil War that questions its status as a "total war" and instead emphasizes the survival of political logic and control even in the midst of a sweeping struggle for the nation's future: the primary goal of the Federal government remained the restoration of the Union, not the devastation of the South. Intertwined with a political logic, and sometimes indistinguishable from it, was also a deep sense of moral justice--a belief that, whatever the claims of military necessity, the innocent deserved some pity, and that even the guilty should suffer in rough proportion to the extent of their sins. Through comparisons with earlier European wars and through the testimony of Union soldiers and Southern civilians alike, Grimsley shows that Union soldiers exercised restraint even as they made war against the Confederate civilian population.

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User Review  - Muscogulus - LibraryThing

William Tecumseh Sherman may have been too candid for his own good. The red-haired general had a habit of reflecting in unsparing terms on the frights and hardships that war in general, and the Civil ... Read full review

Review: The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865

User Review  - Josh Liller - Goodreads

This book's is about exactly what the subtitle says: how did the Union military treat Southern civilians, why did it treat them as they did, and why did the answer to those two questions change as the ... Read full review


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About the author (1997)

Mark Grimsley is an associate professor of history at Ohio State University. He is the author of "The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865" and coauthor of "The Collapse of the Confederacy" (Nebraska 2001). Clifford J. Rogers is an associate professor of history at the United States Military Academy. He is the author of "War Cruel and Sharp: English Strategy under Edward III, 1327-1360" and editor of "The Military Revolution Debate: Reading on the Military Transformation of Early Modern Europe,

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