The March to the Sea and Beyond: Sherman's Troops in the Savannah and Carolinas Campaigns
In November, 1864, Major General William Tecumseh Sherman led an army of veteran Union troops through the heart of the Confederacy, leaving behind a path of destruction in an area that had known little of the hardships of war, devastating the morale of soldiers and civilians alike, and hastening the end of the war. In this intensively researched and carefully detailed study, chosen by Civil War Magazine as one of the best one hundred books ever written about the Civil War, Joseph T. Glatthaar examines the Savannah and Carolinas Campaigns from the perspective of the common soldiers in Sherman's army, seeking, above all, to understand why they did what they did.
Glatthaar graphically describes the duties and deprivations of the march, the boredom and frustration of camp life, and the utter confusion and pure chance of battle. Quoting heavily from the letters and diaries of Sherman's men, he reveals the fears, motivations, and aspirations of the Union soldiers and explores their attitudes toward their comrades, toward blacks and southern whites, and toward the war, its destruction, and the forthcoming reconstruction.
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Reviewed April 2007
Glatthaar breaks down Sherman's campaign into readable sections beginning with a discussion of the army and how it interacted with blacks, and southern whites. The author gives a full chapter to a discussion of how the army felt about the Union cause. Then Glatthaar discusses the nuts and bolts of army life. What it was like at camp or marching. How the army survived by foraging and how and why the army destroyed and pillaged. And finally a chapter on the army in battle.
Sherman's army was made up mainly of hand chosen veteran volunteers. These men were selected for their independence strength and experience. They were proud to be part of this army. As the army marched through the south they took whatever was needed and made southerners understand that the Confederacy could not protect them. In South Carolina mostly they burned everything they could, bringing the war home to them. They hoped to make the South understand the pain of war, and never wish for it again.