Civil War (detail of painting 'First Battle of Bull Run' by Kurz & Allison)

Sherman’s March

In March 1864, William T. Sherman assumed command of the Union Army in the West, and in May, he began a destructive march through the Southern heartland.

Sherman had a different view of warfare than his contemporaries Grant and Lee. In his mind, wars were not between armies, but between people. Winning did not mean destroying the enemy’s army, but crushing the people’s will to fight. As Sherman marched south from Tennessee, he focused on making Southerners feel the horrible cost of war.

By July he had fought his way to Atlanta, and the city fell on September 2. Sherman continued his campaign with a brutal march to the sea, spreading out his army and cutting swaths of destruction. Reaching Savannah in December, he presented its capture to Lincoln as a “Christmas gift.”

General William Sherman
Union soldiers
Ruins on Broad Street, Charleston
Shell-damaged Potter house, Atlanta
Chevaux-de-frise; a spike defense on Marietta Street, Atlanta
Southerners fleeing their homes
Wreckage of ammunition train burned during the evacuation of Atlanta
Destroyed railroad tracks
Ruins of Savannah houses
Ruins of Charleston
Sherman’s telegram to Lincoln

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