Sherman?s March

There were several reasons why the civil war was won by the North and not the South, and perhaps the most important factor in the defeat of the South was due to the brilliant intelligence of General William T. Sherman. Sherman had managed to obtain force and began a campaign for a march just as the war began to be at its worst. He utilized great military understanding that some believe was a mark of true genius. His efforts to eliminate supplies and weapons of the South brought a long war to and at the end saved many lives as a result.

William T Sherman motivated General, motivated by self determination to destroy the south and give President Lincoln another win in the Civil war decided to do so by way of Atlanta Georgia, and onward to North Carolina destroying everything in his path. Sherman grew exasperated at the fact that he was fighting in a defensive mode during the war and persuaded General Grant to head south in an offensive style of combat.(McPherson pg.808)
?Sherman's "scorched earth" campaign began on November 15th when he cut the last telegraph wire that linked him to his superiors in the North. He left Atlanta in flames and pointed his army south. No word would be heard from him for the next five weeks. Unbeknownst to his enemy, Sherman's objective was the port of Savannah. His army of 65,000 cut a broad swath as it lumbered towards its destination. Plantations were burned, crops destroyed and stores of food pillaged. In the wake of his progress to the sea he left numerous "Sherman sentinels" (the chimneys of burnt out houses) and "Sherman neckties" (railroad rails that had been heated and wrapped around trees.). (http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/sherman.htm )
Sherman was taking his mentality of total war to the south, creating a 25- 60-mile-wide path of burning bridges and homes and destruction from Atlanta to Savannah, which his army reached on December 20. Sherman then sent a telegram to President Lincoln with the message ?I beg to present a Christmas gift? the gift was Savannah. The psychological impact of that march and that Sherman's determination to make the South feel the pain of war in all its totality would remain a part of the southern mindset long past the end of the war. (McPherson 1988) pg.811

The campaign began in late November 1864, but due to the strong resistance by Gen. Wheeler's Cavalry, Sherman's first troops did not cross the river into South Carolina until 15 January 1865. He had reported to his superiors that he expected the Carolina march to last 4 to 5 weeks, but in fact it was late March before his troops passed out of South Carolina into North Carolina. He later reported that his march had not begun until the end of January. (http://www.researchonline.net/sccw/scsec006.htm)

Sherman and Grant did not have to look far to find a better use for Sherman?s army. Just over the Savannah River was South Carolina, the first state to secede and the site of the first fighting at Fort Sumter. Many in Sherman?s army felt that South Carolina had caused the war and should be punished. The foraging in South Carolina was to be markedly more severe than it had been in Georgia. The mood of the army was not improved by taunting messages they had been sent from South Carolina promising a sterner fight in that state.

Gen. Sherman's march through South Carolina began in early January, 1865. By March 9th, his troops had passed out of the state into North Carolina - leaving behind a path of total destruction 100 miles wide and extending the entire length of the state. Federal troop strength was 60,000 consisting of the 14th, 15th, 17th, and 20th Army Corps plus a Cavalry Corps of 4,000. The total Confederate troops involved were 33,400, although not all of them were available to defend the state in the early part of the campaign. In reality there was little resistance in South Carolina. General Beauregard, now commanding the resistance to Sherman, could field 22,500 men. Sherman still had his 60,000 men. On 1 February 1865 the offensive began.

Beauregard?s best hope was that the appallingly wet winter weather would combine with the dozens of rivers in his path to stop Sherman. This was to underestimate the skills of the Union army. Despite all the obstacles in their