"Stealing Reduced to Science," Raleigh Daily Confederate, March 31, 1865
The Raleigh Daily Confederate, a pro-Confederate newspaper, published its views on the raiding conducted by Sherman and his bummers as they were in North Carolina during the month of March. The account differed greatly from items published by the pro-Union newspapers in the state, like the Wilmington Herald of the Union (Items 298 and 300). The bummers, the individuals that carried out most of the raiding in Sherman’s army, were referred to as a “thieving crowd,” that had surpassed “London pickpockets in their profession.” The Confederate newspaper did not see these men as carrying out a novel military strategy, but as thieves. This interpretation of Sherman’s military strategy was a key in changing Confederate perspective. The bummers were stealing from citizens, an illegitimate form of warfare to many in the South. The thievery by Sherman’s men influenced some to renew their Confederate support.
Stealing Reduced to Science
It is said that Sherman’s thieving crowd surpass London pickpockets in their profession. They have thoroughly mastered their trade, that it is a thing next to impossible to conceal articles so that they cannot find them. It is useless to bury articles, especially metal, as it is said that it is no uncommon thing to see a rogue going about a man’s premises trying every hole and corner with his ramrods in search of silver plate.
We are not informed by what means they find other articles, but presume their success is generally the result of long habit in their . . . . Sherman’s “army with banners” is not such a terrible thing, but from Sherman’s robbing corps the people may well pray, “Lord deliver us.”
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