“War is hell”

This photo of Union General William T. Sherman is one of the exhibits in the Visitors Center at the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park just outside Atlanta.  A friend and I stopped there about midway of a 5-mile walk-run.  The exhibit reminded me of the letter that Sherman wrote to the Mayor and City Council of Atlanta.  The Mayor and Council had asked Sherman to retract his order to burn Atlanta.   In his answer, Sherman wrote, “War is cruelty and you cannot refine it.”  The Major General’s letter spells out in detail his reasoning for not withdrawing the order.  It reminds me of a decision that President Harry Truman made more than 80-years later to drop the A-bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Sherman believed that in the long-term, lives would be saved.  He also believed burning Atlanta would achieve peace and reunite the United States.  His reasoning, however valid,  was lost in the flames that laid waste to 37 percent of Atlanta’s  buildings, both factories and homes.

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