The Story of Soldiers and Civilians During Sherman's Campaign
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 A highly readable and insightful account of Sherman's infamous march to the sea. Kennett (History/Univ. of Georgia; G.I.: The American Soldier in World War II, 1987) provides a ground-level view of the ``March through Georgia'' and the events leading up to it. After his appointment as commander of all Union forces in 1864, Ulysses S. Grant consulted with his friend William Tecumseh Sherman, whom he had chosen to spearhead the invasion of Georgia. In May of that year, leading an army of 100,000, Sherman launched the offensive. Atlanta fell on September 1, and the Federal force began its slash- and-burn march to the sea, culminating with the capture of Savannah four days before Christmas. Though he often puts the reader at the side of the generals, revealing their innermost thoughts, Kennett is less concerned with grand strategy and tactics than with the campaign's effects on ordinary people: the residents of Georgia and common soldiers on both sides. Based largely on letters, diaries, memoirs, and contemporary newspaper accounts, the book achieves its goal. How many other such volumes would discuss, for instance, the rampant wartime inflation that caused eggs to sell for $3.00 a dozen when the simple soldier earned only $11.00 a month? Or that a quartermaster in Atlanta informed of Sherman's orders for evacuation of that city replied, ``Tell Cump Sherman for me that this order won't read well in history''? The author also treats readers to vivid character sketches: Sherman, a racist who believed slavery would endure and who admired the Southern fighting spirit but fought for the survival of the Union; and Joe Brown, the governor of Georgia, who liked to lecture Jefferson Davis on policy and reveled in his title of commander in chief of his state's army and navy. Well researched and compelling, appealing to buffs but with enough social history to interest the casual reader as well.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-06-016815-3
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995