Sherman Sherman and Andersonville

coltshooter1

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Southwest Virginia
My professor in the Civil War class at college made an interesting point today. Why did Sherman not make an effort to the free the POW's at Andersonville during his run through Georgia? My answer was that he could not spare the supplies, time and troops to raid the prison and continue the March to the Sea. Also how could he have transfered the weakened POW's to northern territories and continued to move on the rebels? Any ideas?
 

Baggage Handler #2

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
May 6, 2008
Location
Old Northwest Territory
My professor in the Civil War class at college made an interesting point today. Why did Sherman not make an effort to the free the POW's at Andersonville during his run through Georgia? My answer was that he could not spare the supplies, time and troops to raid the prison and continue the March to the Sea. Also how could he have transfered the weakened POW's to northern territories and continued to move on the rebels? Any ideas?
Yes. Yours are sound I think.
Add to that list that Sherman only had rumors of the conditions, many of the prisoners were removed (albeit temporarily) when Wirz thought the march was headed his way, and the location of Andersonville posed some logistical and planning problems (Does Sherman send the whole army? Where does he go next if a large number of Rebs interject themselves between A'ville & Savannah, etc.).

Finally, ask your prof sometime if, during the course of an essay answer on a test, (s)he'd like a short treatise on polar bears. (S)he would not, of course, because that is an entirely different question. Sherman's focus was on getting his troops to Savannah, and to pull that off, every effort had to be directed toward achieving Savannah.
 

johan_steele

Regimental Armorer
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
South of the North 40
Actually Sherman did; while Stoneman's attempt was a failure it was an attempt. There was also an attempt at the POW camp outside Millen GA during the March to the Sea.
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Near Kankakee
Your reply was spot on, coltshooter. The March was not the romp through the park as it is often portrayed. He couldn't afford a pitched battle at the risk of running out of ammo. He couldn't afford to be stopped, as his food supply would be quickly depleted. And he didn't have the resources to transport the thousands of debilitated prisoners.

As Johan mentioned, Sherman did make an effort in the person of Stoneman, but that was for relief (and possibly guilt) and not for packing up prisoners and bringing them along.

Possibly, sending Stoneman towards Andersonville was a reaction to seeing the conditions at the camp near Millen (which was emptied).

Sounds like your instructor is a little shy on scholarship and long on shoulder chips.

Do add to your reading list Trudeau's "Southern Storm." It's a day-by-day account of what each wing and each corps and each division encountered on the March. Eye-opening.

Ole
 

coltshooter1

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Southwest Virginia
With Stoneman as a Cavalry commander, it did lead to terrible work being done by the Federal cavalry under his command. How did Sherman get stuck with him? I wonder how relieved Sherman really was when he managed to get captured?
 

M E Wolf

Colonel
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 9, 2008
Location
Virginia
Dear ColtShooter1;

I responded to another posted topic; in regard to Andersonville, Georgia.

The lack of success by the Union in getting to the prisoner of war camps, is that the Confederates had intelligence that the Union Army was approaching and they would move the entire population of prisoners to another location.

I don't consider it a total failure on Stoneman's part when, the enemy is very determined to hide the horrorable condition of the prisoners at Andersonville and other prisoner of war camps.

O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXV/1 [S# 65]
JANUARY 1-NOVEMBER 13, 1864.--Operations in Charleston Harbor and Vicinity, S.C.
No. 9.--Reports of Brig. Gen. Rufus Saxton, U.S. Army, commanding Northern District, of operations in September.
HDQRS. NORTHERN DISTRICT, DEPT. OF THE SOUTH,
Morris Island S.C., September 17, 1864.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that there is no material change in the status of affairs in this command since my last report. The enemy seems very active along their lines and have recently received a large number of negroes from the interior, who are at work on their batteries.
[excerpt]
Our batteries act entirely upon the defensive, except the one gun on Charleston. I have' issued the inclosed (confidential) orders(*) to the field and staff officers of this command, to be observed in case of an attack for the purpose of rescuing the prisoners now in our hands. The rations for them are regulated in accordance with the ration list you sent me. The deserters report that our prisoners from Andersonville, Ga., are being moved to Charleston, and that 10,000 of our soldiers are now in the city. I cannot express too strongly my own convictions of the great importance of having all the materials sent here to place the forts and batteries with their armament and magazines in complete order for service.
I am, general, with great respect, yours, truly,
R. SAXTON,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.
Maj. Gen. J. G. FOSTER,
Commanding Department of the South.
---------------------------------------------------
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXV/2 [S# 66]
CONFEDERATE CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN SOUTH CAROLINA AND FLORIDA AND ON THE GEORGIA COAST, FROM MARCH 1 TO NOVEMBER 13, 1864.--#5
HDQRS. DEPT. OF S. CAROLINA, GEORGIA, AND FLORIDA,
Charleston, S. C., April 22, 1864.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: I have had the honor to receive extracts from Special Orders, No. 89, War Department, C. S., ordering the First and Fifty-fourth and Fifty-seventh Regiments Georgia Volunteers to proceed to Dalton, Ga., to relieve the Fifth, Forty-seventh, and Fifty-fifth(*) Georgia Regiments; also the Sixty-third Georgia Volunteers to proceed to the headquarters of the Department of Northern Virginia.
I would respectfully beg leave to substitute the Sixty-fourth Georgia Regiment, now returning from Florida, for the First Georgia Regiment, for the following reasons: This latter regiment is serving as artillerists at the principal batteries on which we rely for the defense of Savannah, namely, the Savannah River batteries, Fort Bartow, lines and batteries on Whitemarsh Island, and at Fort McAllister. Their military training has been as heavy artillerists, and I have none to replace them. It has been necessary also to assign the colonel (C. H. Olmstead) to the command of the Third Military District of South Carolina. I therefore earnestly suggest that the substitution of the Sixty-fourth Georgia Regiment for the First Georgia Regiment be authorized. The Sixty-third Georgia Regiment has been serving also as heavy artillerists, but I can supply their places in part by the Twelfth Georgia Battalion, which was originally organized for an artillery battalion. The Fifty-seventh Georgia Regiment has been sent, as ordered, to relieve the Fifth Georgia Regiment, in guarding prisoners at Andersonville. The Fifty-fourth Georgia Regiment will move as ordered at the earliest practicable moment; also the Sixty-third Georgia Regiment.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
SAM. JONES,
Major-General, Commanding.
-----
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXV/2 [S# 66]
CONFEDERATE CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN SOUTH CAROLINA AND FLORIDA AND ON THE GEORGIA COAST, FROM MARCH 1 TO NOVEMBER 13, 1864.--#8
CHARLESTON, S.C., June 8, 1864.
Maj. Gen. L. McLAWS, Savannah, Ga.:
It is apprehended from information received that enemy is fitting out large raiding party at Port Royal to go to Augusta, destroy powder mills, thence to Andersonville and release prisoners. The President has directed Generals Johnston and Cobb to send me some State reserves. Keep a vigilant lookout, and if the raid moves through Third Military District of South Carolina, take direction of affairs there yourself, and send there from Savannah all force you can. General Robertson will re-enforce you if necessary. To save time, I have telegraphed direct to Colonel Colcock. Keep me informed.
SAM. JONES,
Major-General.
------------------------------------------------------
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXV/2 [S# 66]
UNION CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN SOUTH CAROLINA AND FLORIDA AND ON THE GEORGIA COAST, FROM MARCH 1 TO NOVEMBER 13, 1864.--#9
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,
Hilton Head, S.C., August 4, 1864.
Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Chief of Staff, Washington, D.C.:
GENERAL: The information given by our prisoners of war, now liberated, and by deserters, also by the late rebel papers, represent that our soldiers now prisoners at Andersonville, Ga., are destitute of comforts and necessaries, and are rapidly dying. The number of deaths per day varies, according to reports, from 30 to 70. I do not know what the wishes of the Government may be, but if it desire that our imprisoned soldiers may be exchanged, so as to relieve them from their distress, I can easily have the matter arranged with the Confederate authorities so as to effect an exchange here. The exchange can be made by way of the Savannah River, and we can easily arrange to guard any number of prisoners on our islands here, and to supply them at least as bountifully as our men are supplied that are in the hands of the enemy.
I think the Confederate authorities are very desirous to have an exchange effected, both of officers and of men. The insecure position in which our prisoners have been confined probably causes this desire. They have already been obliged to remove our officers from Macon, and 600 of them have already arrived in Charleston and the others are to follow; this from its being the only secure place and the hope that it may induce to a still further exchange.
I shall notify Maj. Gen. Samuel Jones that no more exchanges will be made through Charleston Harbor, and that if any are authorized by the Government they will be made by the Savannah River. The effect of this is to induce them to remove our officers from Charleston to Savannah, so that our fire may be continued on the city without the risk of hurting our friends. I have, however, taken pains to ascertain where our prisoners were confined so as to direct the fire to the other parts.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. G. FOSTER,
Major-General, Commanding.
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O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXVIII/1 [S# 72]
MAY 1-SEPTEMBER 8, 1864.--The Atlanta (Georgia) Campaign.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Atlanta, Ga., September 15, 1864.
GENERAL: I have heretofore from day to day by telegraph(+) kept the War Department and General-in-Chief advised of the progress of events, but now it becomes necessary to review the whole campaign which has resulted in the capture and occupation of the city of Atlanta.
On the 14th day of March, 1864, at Memphis, Tenn., I received notice from General Grant, at Nashville, that he had been commissioned Lieutenant-General and Commander in Chief of the Armies of the United States, which would compel him to go East, and that I had been appointed to succeed him as commander of the Division of the Mississippi. He summoned me to Nashville for a conference, and I took my departure the same day and reached Nashville, via Cairo, on the 17th, and accompanied him on his journey eastward as far as Cincinnati.
[excerpt]
I shifted General Stoneman to our left flank, and ordered all my cavalry to prepare for a blow at the Macon road simultaneous with the movement of the Army of the Tennessee toward East Point. To accomplish this I gave General Stoneman the command of his own and General Garrard's cavalry, making an effective force of full 5,000 men, and to General McCook I gave his own and the new cavalry brought by General Rousseau, which was commanded by Colonel Harrison, of the Eighth Indiana Cavalry, in the aggregate about 4,000. These two well appointed bodies were to move in concert, the former by the left around Atlanta to McDonough, and the latter by the right on Fayetteville, and on a certain night, viz, July 28, they were to meet on the Macon road near Lovejoy's and destroy it in the most effectual manner. I estimated this joint cavalry could whip all of Wheeler's cavalry, and could otherwise accomplish its task, and I think so still. I had the officers in command to meet me, and explained the movement perfectly, and they entertained not a doubt of perfect success. At the very moment almost of starting General Stoneman addressed me a note asking permission, after fulfilling his orders and breaking the road, to be allowed with his command proper to proceed to Macon and Andersonville and release our prisoners of war confined at those points. There was something most captivating in the idea, and the execution was within the bounds of probability of success. I consented that after the defeat of Wheeler's cavalry, which was embraced in his orders, and breaking the road he might attempt it with his cavalry proper, sending that of General Garrard back to its proper flank of the army.
Both cavalry expeditions started at the time appointed.
I have as yet no report from General Stoneman, who is a prisoner of war at Macon, but I know he dispatched General Garrard's cavalry to Flat Rock for the purpose of covering his own movement to McDonough, but for some reason unknown to me he went off toward Covington and did not again communicate with General Garrard at Flat Rock. General Garrard remained there until the 29th, skirmishing heavily with a part of Wheeler's cavalry and occupying their attention, but hearing nothing from General Stoneman he moved back to Conyers, where, learning that General Stoneman had gone to Covington and south on the east side of the Ocmulgee, he returned and resumed his position on our left. It is known that General Stone-man kept to the east of the Ocmulgee to Clinton, sending detachments off to the east, which did a large amount of damage to the railroad, burning the bridges of Walnut Creek and Oconee, and destroying a large number of cars and locomotives, and with his main force appeared before Macon. He did not succeed in crossing the Ocmulgee at Macon, nor in approaching Andersonville, but retired in the direction from whence he came, followed by various detachments of mounted men under a General Iverson. He seems to have become hemmed in, and gave consent to two-thirds of his force to escape back, while he held the enemy in check with the remainder, about 700 men and a section of light guns. One brigade, Colonel Adams', came in almost intact; another, commanded by Colonel Capron, was surprised on the way back and scattered. Many were captured and killed, and the balance got in mostly unarmed and afoot, and the general himself surrendered his small command and is now a prisoner in Macon. His mistake was in not making the first concentration with Generals McCook and Garrard near Love-joy's, according to his orders, which is yet unexplained.
[end of excerpt]
============================================
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXVIII/3 [S# 74]
May 1-September 8, 1864.--THE ATLANTA (GEORGIA) CAMPAIGN
No. 713.--Reports of Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler, C. S: Army, commanding Cavalry Corps, of operations 6-31 and July 17-October 9.
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY CORPS,
October 9, 1864.
COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following brief report of the operations of my command from the date General Hood assumed command of the Army of Tennessee to the present time:
[excerpt]
Thus ended in most ignominious defeat and destruction the most stupendous cavalry operation of the war. As was acknowledged by the brigade commanders captured, their plan was to unite these columns on the railroad north of Macon, destroy the railroad, then move rapidly upon and release the 30,000 prisoners of war we held at Andersonville. In this he was thoroughly thwarted at the cost of about 5,000 men, with their horses, arms, equipments, colors, cannon, &c. The force which was sent on this expedition numbered as follows, all picked cavalry:

Garrard's division 4,000
McCook's division 3,200
Stoneman's division 2,200
Total 9,400
===============================================
Reports speak for themselves.

But, this is not the same 'Stoneman's Raid'--that was in 1863; but often confused.

Respectfully submitted for consideration,
M. E. Wolf
 

M E Wolf

Colonel
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 9, 2008
Location
Virginia
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXVIII/5 [S# 76]
UNION CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN, FROM JULY 1, 1864, TO SEPTEMBER 8, 1864.(*)--#15
NEAR ATLANTA, GA., August 4, 1864.
(Received 10.20 p.m.)
Lieut. Gen. U.S. GRANT, City Point:
General Stoneman had only 2,300 men; 900 have got in. I fear the balance are captured as related in your dispatch. General Stoneman was sent to break railroad, after which I consented he should attempt the rescue of our prisoners at Andersonville.
W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General.
-----
NEAR ATLANTA, GA., August 4, 1864--1.30 p.m.
(Received 9 p.m. 5th.)
Lieut. Gen. U.S. GRANT, City Point:
I have your second dispatch about General Stoneman. I have newspapers with dates from Macon of the 1st, speaking of Stoneman's capture as a rumor, but not as a fact. He started from here in connection with two other parties that have got back. He had 2,300 men, and after breaking the Macon road, he was to make an effort to rescue our prisoners. Colonel Adams, with 900 of his men, got back to Marietta to-day and telegraphs me he was attacked at Clinton, Ga., by overwhelming numbers, and they fear he is captured. It may be so, but I hope he may, like McCook, dodge and get in. Washburn is moving from Holly Springs on Columbus, Miss. He thinks that Forrest is dead of the wound received in his battle with General Smith. The country in which I am operating is very difficult for a large army, and the defensive positions very strong and hard to circumvent, but perseverance will move mountains. I ought to be better advised of your plans and movements. I hear you have blown up the outer bastion of Petersburg, but don't know how near you are to getting full possession of the place, or its bearing on Richmond. Hood uses his militia to fill his lines, and shows a bold front wherever I get at him.
W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General.
-----
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXVIII/5 [S# 76]
UNION CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN, FROM JULY 1, 1864, TO SEPTEMBER 8, 1864.(*)--#17
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, near Atlanta, Ga., August 7, 1864.
Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Chief of Staff, Washington, D.C.:
GENERAL: In order that you may have a proper understanding of the recent cavalry operations from this army that terminated somewhat unsuccessfully, I will explain. On the 25th of July I had driven the enemy to his inner intrenchments of Atlanta, and had by Garrard's division of cavalry broken the road leading to Augusta about the branches of the Ocmulgee, forty miles east, and had by McPherson's army taken up two sections of rails of about five miles each, near Stone Mountain and Decatur. I then proposed to throw the Army of the Tennessee rapidly round by the right, so as to approach the only remaining railroad left to the enemy, leading due south for six miles, and then branching to Macon on the one hand and West Point, on the Chattahoochee, on the other. To accomplish this I placed General Stone-man with his own division of cavalry, 2,300 strong, and Garrard's division, about 3,500, on my left near Decatur, and on the right General McCook with a small division of about 1,300, and a part of Harrison's, just arrived under Rousseau, from the raid to Opelika. This force was about 1,700. Both expeditions started punctually on the 27th, and acted under my written orders, No. 42, a copy of which is inclosed.(*) The day before starting General Stoneman addressed me a note, (+) a copy of which is inclosed, asking leave, after fulfilling his orders, to push on and release our prisoners known to be confined at Macon and Andersonville. I gave my consent in a letter,(+) a copy of which is also inclosed. Nothing but the natural and intense desire to accomplish an end so inviting to one's feelings would have drawn me to commit a military mistake, at such a crisis, as that of dividing and risking my cavalry, so necessary to the success of my campaign. Stoneman ordered Garrard to move to Flat Rock, doubtless to attract the attention of the enemy while he passed behind him and on to McDonough and the railroad about Lovejoy's, where he would have met McCook, but for some reason he did not go to McDonough, but to Covington, and down on the east side of Ocmulgee to Clinton, when he sent detachments that burned the Oconee bridge, seventeen locomotives, over 100 cars, tore down telegraph wire, and damaged the railroad east of Macon considerably. He attempted to get into Macon; shelled the town, but fell back to Clinton. Finding the enemy gathering in too large a force, he seems to have turned back, but the roads were obstructed, and he fought till his ammunition was exhausted, and he seems to have given up. He told his brigade commanders, Adams and Capron, he would with 700 men engage the attention of the enemy, while they might escape. Adams has come in with his brigade, 900 strong; Capron is not in, and I think the bulk of his command were captured. About forty stragglers of it have got in. I have no doubt Stoneman surrendered in the manner and at the time described by the Macon paper I sent you yesterday. Garrard remained at Flat Rock until the 29th, and hearing nothing of Stoneman he came in without loss or serious opposition. McCook crossed the Chattahoochee at Rivertown, below Campbellton, by a pontoon bridge, which he sent back, intending to come in by a circuit east and north. At 2 p.m. of the 28th he left the banks of the Chattahoochee and struck the West Point branch at Magnolia Station, which he burned and tore up track. He then by a rapid night march pushed for Fayetteville, where he found the roads and by-ways full of army wagons belonging to the army in Atlanta, embracing the headquarters teams of all the generals. All were burned good, and about 800 mules sabered. He then pushed on for the railroad at Lovejoy's, where he destroyed full two miles of track, the depot, a lot of cotton and stores, and carried off five miles of telegraph wire. Up to that time he had not encountered any opposition, for Stoneman's and Garrard's movements out from Decatur had attracted the enemy's cavalry. Having, as he supposed, broken the road enough, and supposing his best way back was by Newnan, he turned in that direction. He had 73 officers and 350 men prisoners, mounted on all sorts of horses and mules; still he reached Newnan, where the enemy began to gather about him and oppose him. He thinks two brigades of dismounted cavalry, acting as infantry, had been stopped en route from Mississippi for Atlanta by the break he had made in the railroad and happened there. These, in addition to two divisions of cavalry, headed him off whichever way he turned. He fought hard for five hours, until he exhausted his artillery ammunition, when he chopped up the wheels, spiked and plugged the guns. He then kept Harrison's brigade, and directed the smaller ones, commanded by General Croxton and Colonel Torrey, to cut out. He continued to fight until near night, when he dashed through an infantry line, reached the Chattahoochee, crossed his men, and got in. Harrison is a prisoner, I think; of Croxton I can hear nothing. But nearly all the men not killed and wounded are in. McCook left his prisoners free, and his wounded in charge of his surgeons. His management was all that could be expected throughout.
With great respect,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General.
-----
Respectfully submitted,
M. E. Wolf
 
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