to enjoy an unsullied reputation and escape the reproach of cruelty and inhumanity.
You may, indeed, waste and destroy provisions and forage which you cannot carry away, and which, if left, would materially assist the operations of your enemy. But Vattel prescribes that even this must be done with "moderation and according to the exigency of the case." Those who tear up the vines and cut down the fruit trees are looked upon as savage barbarians, unless they do it with a view to punish the enemy for some gross violation of the laws of nations."
You cannot legitimately devastate and destroy by fire, or ravage the country of your enemy, except under the stress of stern necessity; that is, as measures of retaliation for a brutal warfare on his part. If you do so without an absolute necessity, such conduct is reported as the "result of hatred and fury." Savage and monstrous excess," Vattel terms it.
Ravaging and burning private property are acts of "licentiousness, unauthorized by the laws of war, and the belligerent who wages war in that manner must justly," says Vattel, "be regarded as carrying on war like a furious barbarian."
The pillage and destruction of towns, the devastation of the open country, setting fire to houses, the same publicist expressly declares to be measures, "no less odious and detestable when done without absolute necessity." This, Vattel expressly says," is equally applicable to the operations of a civil war, the parties to which are bound to observe the common laws of war." Even the Duke of Alva was finally forced to respect these laws of war in his conduct toward the "confederates in the Netherlands."
Wheaton is no less explicit than Vattel on all these points. He declares that private property and land can only be taken in special cases; that is, when captured on the field or in besieged places and towns, or as military contributions levied upon the inhabitants of hostile territory. (See page 395, Law of Nations.)
The pages of the American publicist furnish the most striking condemnation of the acts of your soldiery on the Combahee, and at Jacksonville, Bluffton, and Darien, in connection with the burning, by the British, of Havre de Grace, in 1813, the devastations of Lord Cochrane on the coast of Chesapeake Bay, and in relation to some excesses of the troops of the United States in Canada.
The destruction of Havre de Grace was characterized at the time by the Cabinet at Washington as "manifestly contrary to the usages of civilized warfare." That village, we are told, was ravaged and burned, to the "astonishment" of its unarmed inhabitants, at seeing that they derived no protection to their property from the laws of war.
Further, the burning of the village of Newark, in Canada, and near Fort George, by the troops of the United States, in 1813, though defended as legitimate by the officers who did it, on the score of military necessity, yet the act was earnestly disavowed and repudiated by the Government of the United States of that day. So, too, was the burning of Long Point, concerning which a military investigation was instituted. And for the destruction of Saint David's by stragglers, the officer who commanded on that occasion was dismissed the service without trial for permitting it. (Wheaton on the Law of Nations, page 399.)
The Government of the United States, then under the inspiration