General William T. Sherman rarely purveyed the milk of human kindness. He was infamous for ‘scorched earth’ tactics against the Confederate South in the Civil War. Graduating to Indian warfare, he advocated pursuit of the Sioux with ‘vindictive eagerness…even to their extermination, men, women and children’. But this flinty-hearted warrior was ‘visibly moved’ by the Navajos’ plight when he visited their place of exile, Bosque Redondo (1868). So much so, that he ordered their return west to their homelands. Six years earlier, legendary frontiersman Kit Carson had been ordered by the US commander in New Mexico to execute his own ‘scorched earth’ campaign against the Navajo. Facing starvation, the Navajo sued for peace, and 8,500 were rounded up at Fort Defiance and force-marched in mid-winter 1,000 miles to the desolate Bosque Redondo. The water was alkali, the soil barren: many died, before an unlikely saviour appeared in William T. Sherman.
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