SHERMAN'S MARCH by Richard Wheeler


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In another of his eyewitness histories (We Knew Stonewall Jackson, The Siege of Vicksburg) Wheeler links excerpts from diaries, memoirs, newspapers, etc., into a coherent narrative of General William Tecumseh Sherman's campaign south through Georgia to the sea and north through the Carolinas. Though adequate as to military strategy, the book's real strength is its portrayal of the human side of the great march: the everyday life of the general's 60,000 troops; the mood in an overnight encampment; the terror and anger of Southern victims of both authorized and unsanctioned depredations; and the exultation of liberated blacks. Sherman is sharply etched as a man of personal compassion but also of cool, single-minded dedication to his chosen--and in this case destructive--public course. Wheeler, who inserts brief commentary between documents, contends that Sherman saved lives by attacking the South's material resources rather than seeking out Confederate armies. However, this judgment avoids the moral issue raised by the looting and burning of purely personal property, which Sherman sometimes expediently sanctioned and rarely discouraged. But since the documents highlight rather than hide both the carnage and Sherman's view of it, and since Wheeler's editorial intrusions are minimal, no bias emerges. The book stands as an absorbing, dramatic account of the famous march.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1978
Publisher: T. Y. Crowell