March to the Sea

Barrycdog

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General William T. Sherman and 62,000 men of the Army of the Tennessee leave Atlanta on the #MarchtotheSea. On its way out of the city Sherman’s army destroyed all rebel war-making capabilities, tore up the railroads connecting #Atlanta to what remained of the shrinking #Confederacy, and left large portions of Atlanta in smoking ruins. Sherman’s army foraged liberally on the bounty of the land and created a sixty-mile wide swath of destruction across Georgia.
 

ole

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General William T. Sherman and 62,000 men of the Army of the Tennessee leave Atlanta on the #MarchtotheSea. On its way out of the city Sherman’s army destroyed all rebel war-making capabilities, tore up the railroads connecting #Atlanta to what remained of the shrinking #Confederacy, and left large portions of Atlanta in smoking ruins. Sherman’s army foraged liberally on the bounty of the land and created a sixty-mile wide swath of destruction across Georgia.
A touch distorted, but not that bad.

Sherman's army wasn't always 60 miles wide. He had four corps that marched along different roads toward Savannah. The farthest apart they got was 60 miles which doesn't exactly equate to a 60-mile wide swath of destruction.

For the most part, they marched on roads. Now, how far from a road would the foragers roam? Five miles? Ten?
 

E_just_E

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For the most part, they marched on roads. Now, how far from a road would the foragers roam? Five miles? Ten?

Not that far, because if they roam that much, they will not make it back. 300 mile march from Atlanta to Savannah. Started 11/15, reached the outskirts of Savannah 12/10. That's about an 11-12 mile a day pace. If the foragers roam 5-10 miles on a direction different than the main column's, there is a problem...
 

ole

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Not that far, because if they roam that much, they will not make it back. 300 mile march from Atlanta to Savannah. Started 11/15, reached the outskirts of Savannah 12/10. That's about an 11-12 mile a day pace. If the foragers roam 5-10 miles on a direction different than the main column's, there is a problem...
Precisely. Thank you.
 

cash

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A touch distorted, but not that bad.

Sherman's army wasn't always 60 miles wide. He had four corps that marched along different roads toward Savannah. The farthest apart they got was 60 miles which doesn't exactly equate to a 60-mile wide swath of destruction.

For the most part, they marched on roads. Now, how far from a road would the foragers roam? Five miles? Ten?

Exactly. There are plenty of myths surrounding Sherman's March, and the "swath of destruction" is one of the biggest.
 

ole

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Exactly. There are plenty of myths surrounding Sherman's March, and the "swath of destruction" is one of the biggest.
If the army was marching ten miles per day, moving 10 miles sideways would mean the foragers would have to do about 30 miles per day. A bit too much ground to cover if you wanted to get to sleep by midnight.
 

TerryB

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William C. Davis showed the same thing re Sheridan in the valley in 1864. The records show they generally halted at crossroads and rarely went far off the roads. As in Georgia, there were both regular Confederates and varying bands of partisans/guerrillas lying in wait.
 
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hrobalabama

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A touch distorted, but not that bad.

Sherman's army wasn't always 60 miles wide. He had four corps that marched along different roads toward Savannah. The farthest apart they got was 60 miles which doesn't exactly equate to a 60-mile wide swath of destruction.

For the most part, they marched on roads. Now, how far from a road would the foragers roam? Five miles? Ten?
Well most people lived on roads or had access to them.
 

ole

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Well most people lived on roads or had access to them.
There are roads and there are lanes connecting to the roads.

Some of these plantations were huge -- two or three or four square miles. At that size, the buildings are going to be a ways off the main road. Some are going to be closer to the main road but, let's face it, quite a few of them were too far away from the main road to bother with.

The consideration here is how far off the road could foragers travel and still keep up with their column? Seems like five miles would have been the close to the limit.
 
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hrobalabama

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There are roads and there are lanes connecting to the roads.

Some of these plantations were huge -- two or three or four square miles. At that size, the buildings are going to be a ways off the main road. Some are going to be closer to the main road but, let's face it, quite a few of them were too far away from the main road to bother with.

The consideration here is how far off the road could foragers travel and still keep up with their column? Seems like five miles would have been the close to the limit.
Regardless of how large a plantation was, there has always been an element of pride that the "grand house" could be seen by as many as possible. Through the years, I have visited so many antebellum houses and they were always built where they could be seen by as many as possible.
 

Patrick H

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Mar 7, 2014
I have never been anywhere near the path of Sherman's army and I have a serious question: Roughly (in very general terms) how many of the antebellum homes survived the march of his army? I'm not fishing for a number. Just a general term like "most" or "many" or "dozens" or "only a few".

I ask this because I'm trying to get a comparative handle on Sherman's march versus Ewing's General Orders Number 11 out here in Missouri. Ewing's soldiers not only depopulated the better part of 4 counties, but they burned most of the homes, too. Only a comparative handful of antebellum homes survive in what was known as "The Burnt District".

I have a hunch Ewing's men were not as disciplined as Sherman's. I am pretty sure the discipline of some of Sherman's men was a little dicey, too, but I have been led to believe that they truly focused on destruction of the southern war machine--foraging from civilians, to be sure, but not burning them out. I'm asking because I just don't know if my understanding is correct and I would like to know for sure.
 

cash

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Right here.
I have never been anywhere near the path of Sherman's army and I have a serious question: Roughly (in very general terms) how many of the antebellum homes survived the march of his army? I'm not fishing for a number. Just a general term like "most" or "many" or "dozens" or "only a few".

I ask this because I'm trying to get a comparative handle on Sherman's march versus Ewing's General Orders Number 11 out here in Missouri. Ewing's soldiers not only depopulated the better part of 4 counties, but they burned most of the homes, too. Only a comparative handful of antebellum homes survive in what was known as "The Burnt District".

I have a hunch Ewing's men were not as disciplined as Sherman's. I am pretty sure the discipline of some of Sherman's men was a little dicey, too, but I have been led to believe that they truly focused on destruction of the southern war machine--foraging from civilians, to be sure, but not burning them out. I'm asking because I just don't know if my understanding is correct and I would like to know for sure.

“David J. de Laubenfels, a geographer at the University of Georgia during the 1950s, was a very different sort of traveler from the others. A member of his family had a journal that had been kept by Captain John Rziha, chief topographical engineer of Sherman’s XIV Corps. The maps in the journal covered a sixty-mile section of the March in Georgia, from just east of Covington to Louisville, which is southeast of Milledgeville (with a six-mile gap around Eatonton). In the summer of 1955, de Laubenfels retraced the path in Rziha’s journal and then published two scholarly articles about his findings. Rziha’s maps were notable for their level of detail–he included information about topography, homes, barns, and other outbuildings, fields and forests and roads. De Laubenfels found the maps to be ‘exceedingly accurate, it being possible to find the hills, roads, streams, and even houses exactly where he mapped them for most of the route.’ He did not, however, fall into the trap of believing that the landscape had remained static for ninety-one years, noting that the composition of fields and forests had changed considerably, and that many new roads had sprung up. De Laubenfels was struck by how many of the houses that Rziha had marked in 1864 were still standing in 1955, and he realized that his findings had implications for the myth that Sherman’s men burned everything in their path. He was able to find seventy-two houses between Covington and Milledgeville, including three that Rziha had marked as ‘ruined’ or ‘on fire’ on his map. At least twenty-two were still standing when de Laubenfels came looking, and he received confirmation that at least nine others had been destroyed since the end of the Civil War. He also found another twenty-seven sites that had new buildings on them; he could not pinpoint with certainty what happened to the original buildings, but assumed that at least some of them had survived Sherman. While the landscape and the patchwork of fields and farms had changed considerably over the intervening decades, he attributed those changes to broader structural shifts in Southern agriculture, rather than the ephemeral impact of the March.” [Anne Sarah Rubin, Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman's March and American Memory, pp. 166-167]
 

Patrick H

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Mar 7, 2014
“David J. de Laubenfels, a geographer at the University of Georgia during the 1950s, was a very different sort of traveler from the others. A member of his family had a journal that had been kept by Captain John Rziha, chief topographical engineer of Sherman’s XIV Corps. The maps in the journal covered a sixty-mile section of the March in Georgia, from just east of Covington to Louisville, which is southeast of Milledgeville (with a six-mile gap around Eatonton). In the summer of 1955, de Laubenfels retraced the path in Rziha’s journal and then published two scholarly articles about his findings. Rziha’s maps were notable for their level of detail–he included information about topography, homes, barns, and other outbuildings, fields and forests and roads. De Laubenfels found the maps to be ‘exceedingly accurate, it being possible to find the hills, roads, streams, and even houses exactly where he mapped them for most of the route.’ He did not, however, fall into the trap of believing that the landscape had remained static for ninety-one years, noting that the composition of fields and forests had changed considerably, and that many new roads had sprung up. De Laubenfels was struck by how many of the houses that Rziha had marked in 1864 were still standing in 1955, and he realized that his findings had implications for the myth that Sherman’s men burned everything in their path. He was able to find seventy-two houses between Covington and Milledgeville, including three that Rziha had marked as ‘ruined’ or ‘on fire’ on his map. At least twenty-two were still standing when de Laubenfels came looking, and he received confirmation that at least nine others had been destroyed since the end of the Civil War. He also found another twenty-seven sites that had new buildings on them; he could not pinpoint with certainty what happened to the original buildings, but assumed that at least some of them had survived Sherman. While the landscape and the patchwork of fields and farms had changed considerably over the intervening decades, he attributed those changes to broader structural shifts in Southern agriculture, rather than the ephemeral impact of the March.” [Anne Sarah Rubin, Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman's March and American Memory, pp. 166-167]
Really interesting, Cash. Many thanks. It would appear from this that many houses survived--at least into the 1950s. Perhaps most of them did. That's excellent. Of course, some old houses just seem to die a natural death if they aren't constantly maintained, but that happens everywhere. A survey of historic buildings was undertaken in my home town during the 1930s and many old buildings were photographed and documented. Some of those have since been removed, but more than 400 of them are still in use. Only a few houses nearby were destroyed during the war. But farther west in Missouri.....OMIGOSH! I'm glad the houses of Georgia fared better.
 

AndyHall

Colonel
Joined
Dec 13, 2011
David J. de Laubenfels, "With Sherman Through Georgia: A Journal (Georgia Historical Quarterly 41:3 September 1957), 288-300.
 

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Read Andrew J. Boies diary at Civilwardigital.com. Boies was with the 33rd Mass Voluteer Infantry He marched from Atlanta to Savannah. Boies description of Major-General Slocum, “ He is our leader he is a man of fine appearance, his manner attracts all that beholds him. In hi we have all confidence. He is Sherman’s left hand bower; Howard is his right and Thomas is trump. It is his discipline that has brought the 20th corps to the state of perfection, that has given it a national reputation. One thing we do know, he has not left us in the two campaigns, so we believe he will not forsake us in the third and last one of all.” Boies also wrote, “ While at Millen, Ga., we beheld a sight which fevered the blood of our brave boys. It was a hideous prison pen used by the rebels for the confinement of our prisoners of war. A space of ground about 300 feet square, enclosed by a stockade, without a cover, was a damnable hole where thousands of our boys had been confined for months past, exposed to heavy rain, dew and hard frost not so much as a board or tent to protect them after the rebels had stolen their clothing from them. Some had dug holes in the ground into which they had crept to shelter themselves. Hundreds had died there.” Seems fake news isn’t new ! In his diary he speaks of false news coming into the camps. War is awful and both sides suffered horribly there are always a few bad but most of the men where good God fearing men. Pray we never have another war on our soil.
 

Peace Society

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Sherman says he set a 15 mile maximum per day. Foragers, tho they set out on foot, always came back by wagon, and were usually waiting ahead, so they could slot their full wagons in and take out empties without loosing their place in the column. Anyone who fell out of line were required to bring up the rear. They also got very good at unloading on the move.
 

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