SHERMAN'S MARCH by Burke Davis


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A vigorous, extremely well-researched reconstruction of that terrible campaign across Georgia and South Carolina with only one disappointing feature: Davis minimizes Grant's part in encouraging Sherman's terror tactics. In 1864, Grant gave Sherman and his men a threefold mission: defeat the forces of Confederate General Joseph Johnston, get to the interior of the Southland, and inflict all possible damage on rebel war resources. Sherman's obsession with the last aspect left a legacy of bitterness that persists to this day. Davis observes that Sherman, the hero of Shiloh, had always had discipline problems; he'd never been able to keep his men from pillaging. But on his March to the Sea, with Union troops who thought that South Carolina had started the war, Sherman's directive--""The army will forage liberally""--was all the justification that his men needed. Each brigade detailed foragers to run off livestock and confiscate farm produce; and these undisciplined riders (soon dubbed ""bummers"") turned to looting and burning. Since the Feds also blamed Negroes for causing the war, they raped and, at times, murdered slave women. And Davis notes, without bias, that Sherman's march to Savannah went virtually unopposed--this despite the dire predictions of military men everywhere who ""shared an apocalyptic vision of the fate awaiting Sherman's army, surrounded in swamps and woodlands, fired on from fences and hedgerows, and bled to death by Georgia guerrillas."" Actually, the Confederacy had only old men and boys left to face Sherman, sporadic Southern resistance resulted in swift reprisals: civilian hostages were taken, houses burned. With this sharp, comprehensive account of the fratricidal combat, Davis outguns all his predecessors.

Pub Date: May 27th, 1980
Publisher: Random House