From November 15 until December 21, 1864, Union basic William T. Sherman led some 60,000 soldiers ~ above a 285-mile march indigenous Atlanta come Savannah, Georgia. The purpose of Sherman’s March come the Sea was to surprised Georgia’s civilian populace into abandoning the Confederate cause. Sherman’s soldiers did not destroy any type of of the towns in their path, but they stole food and livestock and burned the houses and barns of people who tried to fight back. The Yankees were “not just fighting enemy armies, but a hostile people,” Sherman explained; as a result, they essential to “make old and also young, rich and also poor, feeling the hard hand that war.”

The autumn of Atlanta

General Sherman’s troops recorded Atlanta ~ above September 2, 1864. This was vital triumph, since Atlanta to be a railroad hub and also the industrial center of the Confederacy: It had munitions factories, foundries and warehouses that preserved the Confederate army supplied through food, weapons and also other goods. It stood in between the Union Army and two that its most prized targets: the Gulf that Mexico to the west and Charleston come the East. The was also a symbol of Confederate pride and strength, and also its autumn made even the many loyal Southerners doubt that they might win the war. (“Since Atlanta,” southern Carolinian mary Boykin Chestnut created in she diary, “I have actually felt together if…we are going to it is in wiped off the earth.”)

Did you know? In theyears afterthe polite War, fighting forces about the civilization have made usage of Sherman’s “total war” strategy.

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March to the Sea

After they shed Atlanta, the Confederate army headed west right into Tennessee and Alabama, attacking Union supply lines together they went. Sherman to be reluctant to set off on a wild goose chase across the South, however, and also so he split his troops into two groups. Significant General George thomas took some 60,000 guys to meet the Confederates in Nashville, while Sherman take it the staying 62,000 on an offensive march through Georgia to Savannah, “smashing things” (he wrote) “ come the sea.”


Sherman thought that the Confederacy acquired its toughness not indigenous its fighting forces yet from the material and moral support of sympathetic southern whites. Factories, farms and railroads provided Confederate troops through the points they needed, the reasoned; and if he can destroy those things, the Confederate war effort would collapse. Meanwhile, his troops could undermine southerly morale by do life so unpleasant because that Georgia’s civilians the they would need an end to the war.

To that end, Sherman’s troops marched south toward Savannah in 2 wings, around 30 mile apart. On November 22, 3,500 Confederate mounties started a skirmish v the Union soldiers at Griswoldville, however that finished so badly–650 Confederate soldiers were killed or wounded, contrasted to 62 Yankee casualties–that southerly troops initiated no much more battles. Instead, lock fled south ahead that Sherman’s troops, wreaking their very own havoc together they went: lock wrecked bridges, chopped down trees and also burned barns filled with provisions before the Union military could with them.

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The Union soldiers were simply as unsparing. They raided farms and also plantations, stealing and also slaughtering cows, chickens, turkeys, sheep and also hogs and also taking as much other food–especially bread and potatoes–as they could carry. (These groups of foraging soldiers to be nicknamed “bummers,” and also they burned whatever they might not carry.) The marauding Yankees essential the supplies, however they also wanted come teach Georgians a lesson: “it isn’t therefore sweet to secede,” one soldier created in a letter home, “as believed it would be.”

Sherman’s troops come in Savannah ~ above December 21, 1864, about three main after they left Atlanta. The city was undefended once they gained there. (The 10,000 Confederates that were supposed to it is in guarding that had currently fled.) Sherman presented the city of Savannah and its 25,000 bales of noodle to chairman Lincoln together a Christmas gift.Early in 1865, Sherman and his guys left Savannah and also pillaged and burned their way through southern Carolina come Charleston. In April, the Confederacy surrendered and also the war was over.

Total war

Sherman’s “total war” in Georgia was brutal and destructive, yet it did simply what that was claimed to do: that hurt southerly morale, do it impossible for the Confederates to fight at complete capacity and likely accelerated the end of the war. “This Union and its federal government must it is in sustained, in ~ any and also every cost,” described one that Sherman’s subordinates. “To sustain it, we need to war upon and also destroy the arranged rebel forces,–must cut off their supplies, destroy their communications…and produce amongst the civilization of Georgia a thorough conviction the the an individual misery i m sorry attends war, and the utter helplessness and inability of your ‘rulers’ to safeguard them…If that terror and grief and even desire shall aid to paralysis their husbands and also fathers who space fighting us…it is mercy in the end.”