Library of Congress
"…to eat out Virginia clear and clean as far as they go, so that crows flying over it for the balance of this season will have to carry their provender with them." General Ulysses S. Grant
"Do all the damage to railroads and crops you can. Carry off stock of all descriptions… so as to prevent further planting. If the war is to last another year, we want the Shenandoah Valley to remain a barren waste." General Ulysses S. Grant
The dynamics of war had changed in 1864 under the direction of General Grant. The Civil War had gone from a limited war, military vs. military, to a total war, military vs. the civilian population. The mission was to make the civilian population so sick of war they would cry out for an end. It was also a tactic to destroy whatever agricultural supplies were reaching the Confederate forces. Over the course of 13 days, Sheridan would lay waste to the Shenandoah Valley. This action by Union troops embittered the Valley residents for generations.
"The poor, alike with the rich, have suffered. Some have lost their all. The wailing of women and children, mingling with the crackling of flames, has sounded from scores of dwellings. I have seen mothers weeping over the loss of that which was necessary to their children's lives, setting aside their own; their last cow, their last bit of lour pilfered by stragglers, the last morsel that they had in the world to eat or drink.. Young girls with flushed cheeks, or pale with tearful or tearless eyes, have pleaded with or cursed the men whom the necessities of war have forced to burn the building reared by their fathers, and turn them into paupers in a day. The completeness of the desolation is awful." Northern news correspondent traveling with Sheridan
Did You Know?
Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historical Park commemorates a decisive Civil War battle and protects a plantation house once occupied by James Madison's sister. More...