In my last blog I mentioned Stephen Goldfarb’s interesting article “The Scourge of War” in the Spring issue of American Heritages Magazine. Goldfarb discusses two book, one of which I mentioned previously. Today I want to mention the second, “War Upon the Land” by Lisa M. Brady.
According to Goldfarb, Brady seems to think one reason for the defeat of the South was as follows: “It required not just the defeat of the armies and the subjugation of the civilian population, but also the conquest of the Southern countryside.” A case in point: Northern armies modified the landscape in the Mississippi Valley by cutting a canal to bypass a fortified stronghold.
This was so successful, they tried it again around Vicksburg, but the waters of the Mississippi made it impossible to construct a workable canal there, and the Federals had to resort to the traditional way of taking the city by siege.
. During the campaign against Vicksburg however, Grant revived the “chevauchee”, the process of living on the resources of the land rather than supplies provided by the troops. This was applied successfully there and later in the Shenandoah Valley under Federal General Sheridan and most successfully in Georgia and South Carolina under Northern General William T. Sherman.
Brady, according to Goldfarb, makes the case for the War causing two important results: the establishment of National Cemeteries for the fallen Union soldiers, and in the 1880s the establishment of National Parks. Goldfarb says, “The idea that the government was responsible for not only the burial of the dead, but also for preserving at least some of the fields of battle, was a new idea at the time, and one that has endured up to the present”.