November 15,1864..“Sherman’s March to the Sea“
General William T. Sherman has destroyed Atlanta and is confident he can break his supply lines and march his 60,000+ army east to the sea at Savannah, Georgia.
Sherman will live off the land and “make Georgia howl”, inflicting the demoralization to the state that he knows will break the south. Lincoln’s concern for the possible failure of the plan devised by Grant and Sherman is expressed clearly.
Less of a battle than a movement of an army of soldiers 60 miles wide that will forage and steal with terror and violence encountering resistance in several small battles that did little to stall the main advance that had been split into columns, confusing the Confederate cavalry as to the Federals final destination of Macon, Augusta or Savannah.
Practicing a “scorched earth” policy, Sherman’s “bummers” will burn and kill livestock and stores they cannot carry with them. Infrastructure that could assist the Rebel army such as buildings and bridges are destroyed. Railroads are torn up and tracks twisted into ” Sherman’s bowties”.
He will reach the outskirts of Savannah on December 15, opposing a 10,000 man CSA force and rice fields flooded to slow his advance. He will punch through to reach the U.S Navy under Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren, finally being resupplied after 5 weeks of marching and fighting.
Over 300 miles and one month later he will arrive in Savannah. The basic strategy and tactics of the plan are a success.
December 21,1864.. Sherman wires President Abraham Lincoln “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the City of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty guns and plenty of ammunition, also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.”