William Tecumseh Sherman wrote that “War is cruelty and you cannot refine it” and he is also credited with originating the title phrase of this post. A brilliant General, he foresaw the entire course of the war before a single shot was fired. Writing before the war he explained how wars are won and lost in this brilliant piece, which should be studied by anyone contemplating war. Wars are won by economics and logistics, not by derring-do:
“You people of the South don’t know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don’t know what you’re talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it… Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth — right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.”
Comments to Prof. David F. Boyd at the Louisiana State Seminary (24 December 1860); quoted in The Civil War: A Narrative (1986) by Shelby Foote, p. 58.
Wars are bad, but Civil Wars are worse. Brother against brother, neighbour against neighbour. All knowing the personality and the value of those they are slaying. Such as this example:
“On Sunday, 16 August, a few hours after the murder of his brother-in-law, Manuel Fernández Montesinos, the mayor of Granada, he was seized by a former deputy of the CEDA, Ramón Ruiz Alonso, who later asserted that Lorca ‘did more damage with his pen than others with their guns’. He was accompanied by Luis García Alix, secretary of Acción Popular, and the Falangist landowner Juan Luis Trescastro, the perpetrator of the crime, who would say later: ’We killed Federico García Lorca. I gave him two shots in the arse as a homosexual.’ H.G. Wells, the president of PEN, demanded details on the fate of Lorca as soon as the news reached the outside world, but the nationalist authorities denied any knowledge of his fate. Lorca’s death remained a forbidden subject in Spain until the death of Franco in 1975.”
Beevor, Anthony (2007), The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939, Chapter 9 Page 103. ISBN: 978-0-7538-2165-7
Adivinanza De La Guitarra; Federico García Lorca
En la redonda
Tres de carne
y tres de plata.
Los sueños de ayer las buscan
pero las tiene abrazadas
un Polifemo de oro.
My (rough) translation:
Upon a rounded crossroads, six maidens dance.
Three of flesh and three of silver.
Pursued by dreams of the past,
but held in the embrace of a golden Polyphemus.