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Lincoln on TrialSouthern Civilians and the Law of War$
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Burrus M. Carnahan

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780813125695

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813125695.001.0001

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“Can you get near Enough to Throw Shells into the City?”

“Can you get near Enough to Throw Shells into the City?”

Personal Injury to Civilians

(p.100) (p.101) 5 “Can you get near Enough to Throw Shells into the City?”
Lincoln on Trial

Burrus M. Carnahan

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter looks at Abraham Lincoln's policy toward the deliberate killing of civilians, the hallmark of twentieth-century “total war.” Maryland did not secede and Baltimore was not bombarded. It was not until more than a year later that Lincoln again considered the bombardment of a hostile city. In war, there may be other reasons to kill civilians aside from revenge. Lincoln could overcome his visceral aversion to killing reprisal prisoners if a military commander convincingly asserted a military necessity to carry out the execution, as General Rosecrans did in Missouri. The political and military disadvantages of killing Jefferson Davis and burning Richmond clearly outweighed the insubstantial benefits, as both Lincoln and Stanton would have seen. All the survivors of Colonel Ulric Dahlgren's band of raiders insisted he had never actually told them to kill Davis or burn Richmond.

Keywords:   Abraham Lincoln, policy, killing, total war, Jefferson Davis, Richmond, Ulric Dahlgren

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