"War is Hell"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 16 02:00:12 UTC 2009

I understand that this is of no particular value, but, according to a
biography of Sherman from some time in the last century, of which I
have no other memory, what he actually said was something like,

"There are those fools who reckon war a glorious and heroic
undertaking. But I have seen war, and it is hell."

Or something more-or-less to that effect.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

On Thu, Jan 15, 2009 at 8:17 PM, Baker, John <JMB at stradley.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Baker, John" <JMB at STRADLEY.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "War is Hell"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>        Google Books has this example, which pushes the attribution to
> Napoleon back to 1835, or at any rate to 1854.  This is from an essay on
> the life of the Rev. Charles Brooks, of Massachusetts (1795-    ), in
> John Livingston, Portraits of Eminent Americans Now Living 483 (1854):
>        <<In 1835, he published his views of war and the means of
> preventing it.  His statement was this--". . . . Bonaparte said,--'War
> is hell.'  It surely is a suspension of the laws of God.">>
>        The text doesn't seem to give any further indication of where
> and how Brooks published his views in 1835.  Incidentally, what Brooks
> sought was a high Court of Nations to resolve disputes.
>        Google Books also has an 1850 example, not referring to
> Napoleon, in George McHenry, The Helleniad, An Epic Poem 66 (1850):
>        <<Preferring hell to heaven: for war is hell,
>          And peace is heaven even in this world.>>
> John Baker
> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
> Of Jonathan Lighter
> Sent: Thursday, January 15, 2009 11:41 AM
> Subject: Re: "War is Hell"
> FWIW, I have found no online evidence that Napoleon Bonaparte ever wrote
> or said the words, "La guerre, c'est l'infer."
> Ah, well; as one might have expected.
> JL
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