"Sherman's route could be traced by solitary chimneys where happy homes once stood”


Sergeant Major
Aug 6, 2016

General Sherman’s “March to the Sea”
Now he enters North Carolina
(Public Domain)
By March 8, 1865, General Sherman and his entire army had crossed the Pee Dee River and now brings his fight to North Carolina. This will be the last Southern state he will lead his troops into battle. After weeks of terrorizing the ladies of Georgia and South Carolina, Sherman gave this order:

“I want all to be easy on the citizens . . . Deal as moderately and fairly by the North Carolinians as possible, and fan the flame of discord already subsisting between them and their proud cousins of South Carolina.

There never was much love between them. Touch upon the chivalry running away, always leaving their families for us to feed and protect and then on purpose accusing us of all sorts of rudeness.”

On March 10, Generals Kilpatrick and Hampton faced off at Monroe’s Crossroads delaying the Union advancement into Fayetteville. The occupation of the city occurred the next day and is best told by the ladies who witnessed the events.

Josephine Bryan Worth was a schoolgirl in March of 1865. On the 8th she sees Hardee’s corps enter her hometown. At her tender age she has been taught to love the South and an unbounded faith they will prevail with a victory. As she realizes Hardee is in retreat her faith remains in the Confederate army. All night long she hears the moving of men, horses cannons and wagons. In a few days she’ll see new sights as she writes:

“the third day after he entered the place - we saw a large body of men, seemingly armed with a new kind of weapon, coming from the Arsenal. On closer inspection we saw that each had a fragment of the ornamental wood-work that surrounded the building to make their fires with. Soon the work of breaking down the walls began. Bars of railroad iron were suspended by chains from timbers set up in the shape of an X; with these they battered down the walls, pecking first a small hole which grew larger as they swung the iron against them. There were several such rams at work simultaneously around the same building. When the walls were sufficiently weakened the roof would fall in with a loud crash, the bands would strike up and the men would cheer as if they really enjoyed the work of destruction.”

She continues to write of what she is witnessing - - -

“While this was going on the wagons, cattle, sheep, negroes and camp-followers were passing through, almost in an unbroken stream, such a scene so seldom witnessed. Carriages containing negroes and their "things," piano covers and curtains thrown over horses, bedquilts, looking-glasses, even chairs, on the wagons; negro women dressed in their mistresse's clothes. I saw a negro man with a ladies' hat on trimmed with blue ribbon, another walked off with a velvet cloak on belonging to one of my acquaintances. Each night the sky was lurid with the flames from the burning homestead, but it has passed into a proverb that Sherman's route could be traced by solitary chimneys where happy homes once stood.

In town there were several buildings burned besides the factories, namely, the State bank, several large warehouses belonging to a factory company, two dwellings and the office of the Fayetteville Observer. Outside the town, where no guards were placed, the soldiers "ran amuck" through everything. At my uncle's place, four mires from here, they tore up, smashed and stole everything they could lay their hands on; they cut up the parlor carpet into saddle cloths, broke the mirror over the mantel, broke up the clock and the sewing machine, carried off the books from the library, even the family Bible was not sacred; one of them opened it and spread it over a mule's back and rode off on it for a saddle. Finally they finished by tearing up clothing, pamphlets, feather-beds, &c., and pouring peanut oil over the debris.” {3}

An anonymous diary entry described the hours that residents faced when they saw Sherman’s army. All had heard accounts of what had been done to the fellow citizens from Georgia and South Carolina. This woman decides the Yankees can take everything but they will never take away her “love of my country as long as life will last”. {2} The Yankees in her town only increased her patriotism for the Confederacy.

For the residents the end has arrived. Mrs. Anne K. Kyle had served as a nurse during most of the war. She describes Sherman’s arrival:

“I had been in the hospital only about a half hour when an officer came up the steps and said: ‘Ladies, if you have a home and children you had better go to them, as Sherman is entering the town.” I finished binding up the arm of a soldier, and when I got to the door I found the street crowded with men. I said to the officer: ‘Sir, mount your horse and fly;’ but he replied, ‘I will see you safely across the street.’ He was captured by a Yankee just as we got across the street. I made every effort afterwards to find out the brave officer's name, but was unsuccessful.” {3}

They stayed for five days. General Sherman’s promise of being “easy” on the citizens, in many of the ladies opinions, did not prove true. As one wrote on March 22, 1865:

“There was no place, no chamber, trunk, drawer, desk, garret, closet or cellar that was private to their unholy eyes. Their rude hands spared nothing but our lives, and those they would have taken but they knew that therein they would accomplish the death of a few helpless women and children-they would not in the least degree break or bend the spirit of our people.

Squad after squad unceasingly came and went and tramped through the halls and rooms of our house day and night during the entire stay of the army. They took from old men, women and children alike, every garment of wearing apparel save what we had on, not even sparing the napkins of infants!”

The hardest event recalled by the schoolgirl Josephine was when she watched - - -

“The main body of Sherman's army now began to pass by in martial array, with flags flying, the field officers on horseback prancing at the head of the column, the soldiers proudly keeping step to the music of the band! and the very first band that went by played "Dixie." This was too much - the drop that over-ran our already brimming cup; one and all we burst out crying, and sat around pouring out floods of tears as if our hearts would break.” {3}


As the troops were leaving after five days, one of the “barbarians” [as she referred to them] inquired what she would live upon now? Her response: she’d live upon her patriotism her love of the Confederacy.

General Sherman left behind much property destruction but little in the way of violence (at least compared to his early days of marching). On May 10, 1902 the Cumberland County Confederate Monument was unveiled. Miss Sarah Ann Tillinghast wrote a poem for the occasion she titled “Carolina’s Dead” {3}. ​


Their memory to us is dear;
Virginia too should love them,
For with their blood her fields are soaked,
Tho' now so green above them.
Where they were needed, there they came,
Lee ‘could not do without them’
And never on a fair fought field
Could foreign valor rout them.

On Tennessean hillsides fair,
Alas, how thick they're lying!
And Pennsylvania's rocky heights
Witnessed their faith undying -
Faith in their cause, which made their wills
So strong they ne'er did falter
In giving life - 'twas all they had -
To lay on freedom's altar.

Beyond the Mississippi's flood,
The grass is o'er them springing,
And 'neath Atlantic's sullen roar,
They hear the mermaids singing.
Do these need stones, to keep their deeds
Fresh in the hearts left behind them?
Alas! alas! the young must learn
While we can still remind them.

Then raise your monumental stone
To tell the grand old story
How splendidly her soldier boys
Fought for the old State's glory!
And let the little children know
The flag their fathers died for,
Teach them the cause they loved in vain,

The principles they tried for.


* * * * *

1. Memoirs of General William T. Sherman
3. https://docsouth.unc.edu/fpn/chapter/chapter.html
4. “Through the Heart of Dixie Sherman’s March and American Memory”, by Anne Sarah Rubin
6. http://www.americancivilwar101.com/battles/650310-monroes-crossroads.html
First Photo under “Carolina’s Dead “:
{Fallen of the mighty conflict - graves of Confederate soldiers, Charleston, S. Carolina)
Second Photo:
Unknown Dead Monument, Salisbury National Cemetery, North Carolina
All Photos Public Domain

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