Blue and Gray Trail
Civil War Encyclopedia
Civil War in Georgia
On the Blue and Gray Trail
Civil War by state
Today in the Civil War
This year in the Civil War
March to the Sea
Civil War Encyclopedia >> Campaigns
On November 10, 1864, two days after the reelection of Abraham Lincoln, General William Tecumseh Sherman launched one of the most daring campaigns in the history of warfare, The March to the Sea. Receiving permission to begin the advance while chasing John Bell Hood, Sherman ordered all businesses that could aid the Confederate war effort destroyed, and his first target was Rome, Georgia. He then advanced to Cartersville, Etowah, and Marietta, burning significant infrastructure in all three North Georgia cities. In Atlanta, Sherman regrouped, splitting his force into a Left Wing and Right Wing.
The two wings had two different objectives. The Left Wing was ordered to advance as if to threaten Augusta, while the Right Wing was to threaten Macon. The object was to keep the remaining Confederate forces in a defensive position until the Armies were gone. The plan worked - by the time the Confederates realized what was happening, the Union Army was past their positions.
The Left Wing ended up in Milledgeville, Georgia's capital at the time, where the troops held a mock legislature before joining the Right Wing at the Ogeechee River south of the town. Divided by the river, but threatened only by Joe Wheeler's cavalry, the Union Army pressed forward to another objective, pesky Fort McAllister on Genesis Point. Built with sand palisades, the fort was quickly rebuilt following Union attacks, even with rifled cannon. Sherman sent a division to overrun the fort manned by 230 Rebels.
That evening he made contact with the United States Navy off the coast of Georgia. For 6 weeks some 60,000 Union soldiers had been without news or letters from home. There was much celebrating around Union campfires.
After completing the March to the Sea, Sherman turned his attention to Savannah. This is frequently considered to be part of the March to the Sea simply because it is convenient. General William Hardee, put in charge of defending the city, chose to withdraw just before Sherman completely invested the city. On December 21, 1864 Sherman wired Lincoln, presenting him Savannah for Christmas (In addition to being his Commander in Chief, Sherman considered Lincoln to be a friend).
Links appearing on this page:
March to the Sea was last changed on - November 12, 2006
Battles | Places | Events by year | Events by date | Feature Stories |
Bookstore | Links | Who We Are |