But that is the vocal point of this argument. Is it right to just randomly make war against a civilian population for no purpose other than to punish them?
We comdeam Quantrill for his actions in Kansas, and then praise Sheridan in the Shanandoah Valley and Sherman in Georgia and South Carolina. To what Military purpose is there, during the War for Southern Independence, to burn down courthouses and libraries, or to throw the dead carcass of animals down a well? Certainly the southerners were not shipping books and records, or barrels of drinking water to Richmond. It doesn't take a brilliant mind to figure out that the purpose was to destroy the past and poison the wells to make them unfit for drinking and to create disease. If the actions of Sheridan and Sherman were just conduct of a war against a people, then by extention so were the actions of any Confederate Forces which acted outside those same realms of accepted conduct.
There was a reason why after the war, in the South, people from the north are called Yankee's and even "Damned Yankee's". They didn't come here as friends and benevolent conquerors. They came as surpressors and oppressors far outside the normal realm of common warfare between combative armies, simply because they had the might and the power to do so. And then to compare the restraint and conduct of Lee's Army to that of Sheridan's or Sherman's armies to justify those actions?