Sherman's March

Sed Sligh : To The Sea

When & Where ?

  • From November 15 until December 21, 1864, Union General William T. Sherman led some 60,000 soldiers on a 285-mile march from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia.
  • The purpose of this “March to the Sea” was to frighten Georgia’s civilian population into abandoning the Confederate cause.
  • Sherman’s soldiers did not destroy any 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.


  • General Sherman’s troops captured Atlanta on September 2, 1864. This was an important triumph, because Atlanta was a railroad hub and the industrial center of the Confederacy.
  • It had munitions factories, foundries and warehouses that kept the Confederate army supplied with food, weapons and other goods. It stood between the Union Army and two of its most prized targets
  • the Gulf of Mexico to the west and Charleston to the East. It was also a symbol of Confederate pride and strength, and its fall made even the most loyal Southerners doubt that they could win the war.

Total War

  • Sherman’s “total war” in Georgia was brutal and destructive, but it did just what it was supposed to do, it hurt Southern morale, made it impossible for the Confederates to fight at full capacity and likely hastened the end of the war.
  • “This Union and its Government must be sustained, at any and every cost,” explained one of Sherman’s subordinates.
  • “To sustain it, we must war upon and destroy the organized rebel forces,–must cut off their supplies, destroy their communications…and produce among the people of Georgia a thorough conviction of the personal misery which attends war, and the utter helplessness and inability of their ‘rulers’ to protect them.
  • If that terror and grief and even want shall help to paralyze their husbands and fathers who are fighting us…it is mercy in the end.”