Book Reviews Lincoln on Trial: Southern Civilians and the Law of War. By Burrus M. Carnahan. (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2010. Pp. 165.) For years, neo-Confederates accused the Lincoln administration of committing war crimes. They claimed that Union soldiers indiscriminately burned houses, robbed civilians, and stole property, particularly on Sherman's March to the Sea. Burrus Carnahan's tightly focused yet effective Lincoln on Trial disagrees. The author, a former military lawyer and current law professor, argues that Lincoln conscientiously employed reason in following military law as it was understood in the 1860s. Carnahan views the conflict from the president's perspective, covering his approach to southern civilians. In 1861, confusion reigned as Lincoln applied federal law on land by calling for militia, while employing international law at sea by declaring a blockade. Enemy soldiers became prisoners of war, while sailors faced piracy charges. The issue of military necessity resolved this dispute. Equipped with German American scholar Francis Lieber's law code of 1863, Lincoln gave his commanders the authority to win the war, including powers to seize property, forage for supplies, and levy fines on civilians for supporting guerillas. He intervened only in specific cases, mainly to avoid malicious behavior
West Virginia History: A Journal of Regional Studies – West Virginia University Press
Published: Mar 31, 2011
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