I have a Theory, only a theory, as to why the Federal government under Lincoln permitted their army to do the terrible inhumane things to Southern civilians that they did.
Numerous hundreds of uncivilized acts were ordered and carried out, from burning houses, barns, stored grain that was food for the family, destruction of farm plows, rakes and the implements used to plow, sew and gather crops that were non military. The looting of individual personal property of civilians and many rapes of Southern women.
Now, no one is naive enough to think that I do not suspect some individuals in any army of tens of thousands of men, did not violate orders and violate laws on both side, North and South, but I am speaking only about the deliberate, approved crimes, that the North perpetrated on the Southern civilians. This was wrong, illegal, Immoral, uncivilized criminal acts that were never punished.
In addition to the above, then their was the strategy of shelling towns and cities, where homes, schools, churches, business, and the buildings were occupied with civilians, not soldiers, and were Bombarded with cannon fire, killing civilians, and destroying their property. Who paid for these crimes, who re-reimbursed the owners of the house, barns, buildings, injuries caused, deaths caused, loss of livelihoods, and all that went with these actions by the Federal government against civilians.
Cities were deliberately torched, 36 square blocks in Columbia South Carolina were deliberately burned by Federal troops under orders. Atlanta, Petersburg, Charleston, Vicksburg, Memphis, Fredericksburg, and scores and scores more were destroyed, deliberately as ordered.
So why would they have done this?
My theory is as follows, They knew enough about the culture of the South, and in particular of the Southern Gentlemen who led the Confederate Government and it’s army, to feel very comfortable, that these men of honor would not do these things to the Northern civilian population, even if it was being done to their own people.
Again, this is my theory, I have no real way of knowing the minds and thoughts of Lincoln, Sherman, Sheridan, Hunter and many others who did these things.
But what I do know is this, it was wrong, and it should have been redressed, men should have been held accountable, tried and imprisoned, and property owners re-paid for the damage to property and persons.