The Civil War, Day by Day

Sherman Marches to the Sea

Sherman Begins “March to the Sea”

To deceive the rebels, Sherman divided his 62,000-man army into two wings. One side headed toward Macon, while the other wing marched in the direction of Augusta. As Sherman predicted, the Confederates reinforced both cities in anticipation of battle. . . unaware that the lines would later converge in an unprotected region.

Although Sherman had only 20 days worth of rations for his men, he knew they would not go hungry. He ordered his soldiers to “forage liberally” throughout the Georgia countryside and seize any livestock they could find. If the men met with any resistance, they were to “order and enforce a devastation more or less relentless. . . houses, barns and cotton gins must be burned.” Imperious to the rigors of their march, Sherman’s men happily complied with his orders. One soldier considered himself fortunate to be part of “the most gigantic pleasure excursion ever planned.”

After encountering little organized resistance, Sherman achieved his objective. On December 22, 1864, he sent President Lincoln a message: “I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah.”

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All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.