General Sherman’s army prepared for the March to the Sea on November 14, 1864. The March to the Sea began on November 15, 1964.
The planned route for the 17th Corps was to march from White Hall to Stockbridge, McDonough, Jackson, Monticello, and Gordon and encountered Confederate regiments from Kentucky at the Battle of Stockbridge. To the west, one or two Kentucky regiments engaged the 15th Corps in another skirmish. [E]arlier that morning, Maj. Gen. Henry Slocum had led the 20th Corps eastward out of Atlanta with instructions to follow the Georgia Railroad eastward to Decatur, Lithonia, Covington, and Madison, tearing up the railroad along the way.
With three of his four columns on the road, Gen. Sherman remained in Atlanta with the 14th corps to oversee the destruction of anything with possible military value to the Confederacy. The next day, they would then proceed east on the road to Lithonia, then in a southeastern direction to Milledgeville, where the 20th and 14th corps would reunite in seven days.
On November 16, 1864, Sherman left Atlanta in smoking ruins.
A 2010 Wired article argues that Sherman’s rampage through Georgia and the Carolinas changed modern warfare.
Vengeance aside, the real objective of Sherman’s march was to cut the Confederacy in two, cripple Southern industrial capacity, destroy the railroad system and compel an early Confederate surrender. It was also intended to break Southern morale — in Sherman’s words, to “make Georgia howl.”
Sherman was vilified for his barbarism, but the Union commander was a realist, not a romantic. He understood — as few of his contemporaries seemed to — that technology and industrialization were radically changing the nature of warfare.
It was no longer a question of independent armies meeting on remote battlefields to settle the issue. Civilians, who helped produce the means for waging modern war, would no longer be considered innocent noncombatants. Hitting the enemy where he ate and breaking him psychologically were just as important to victory as vanquishing his armies in the field.
Sherman grasped this and, though he wasn’t the first military proponent of total war, he was the first modern commander to deliberately strike at the enemy’s infrastructure. The scorched-earth tactics were effective. The fragile Southern economy collapsed, and a once-stout rebel army was irretrievably broken.
Meanwhile, the marshals of Europe watched Sherman’s progress with fascination. And they learned.
On November 14, 1944, the Constitutional Convention working on a revised document for Georgia reversed its position on home rule that had been adopted the previous day on the motion of Governor Ellis Arnall
Three astronauts with connections to Georgia – Eric Boe, Robert Kimbrough, and Sandra Magnus – were aboard the space shuttle Endeavor when it lifted off on November 14, 2008.
Earlier this week, a new monument commemorating the beginning of Sherman’s March to the Sea was placed on the grounds of The Carter Center in Atlanta. Walter Jones of Morris News brings the details.
The Georgia Historical Society is to unveil its latest monument today in a small ceremony on the grounds of the Carter Presidential Library, a quiet, tree-studded sanctuary that was the site of Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s departure from Atlanta along a nearby road. He had seized that city after a series of summer battles and then systematically destroyed its factories, banks and railroads to prevent their continued use in support of the Confederate army. His next destination would be Savannah, but Southerners didn’t know that at the time because he divided his troops and sent some toward Macon and others toward the munitions factories in Augusta to hide his true target.
Cities along the way that resisted were destroyed as Atlanta had been. Those that surrendered peacefully were spared.
The campaign would become the subject of songs, family tales, history books and military instruction. Modern commanders would copy it in the bombings of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Hanoi for its demoralizing effect on civilians.
“What scholars have discovered is that the families along the route of the march, and those who feared they were along the route of the march, wrote to their husbands and said ‘come home,’” said Todd Groce, president of the Historical Society. The resulting flood of desertions crippled the crumbling rebel army.
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