General Grant's original plan had been to bring Sherman's army - once it reached the Atlantic coast - by ship to Virginia, where it would join with Federal forces already there to crush Robert E. Lee. But after Sherman's occupation of Savannah, Grant changed his mind, authorizing Sherman to march through South and North Carolina to Virginia. Sherman was to destroy Lee's supply base and wage psychological war against the South.
On February 1 Sherman began the march through South Carolina, his army of 60,000 divided into two wings: the left, under General Slocum; the right under Howard. Regarded by many Unionists as "the cradle of secession," South Carolina was "punished" by the soldiers with vindictive delight; they looted, ransacked, and burned, meeting little Confederate resistance. The climax came at Columbia, the state capital, which was largely destroyed by fire on the night of February 17.
Early in March, Sherman entered North Carolina, where a makeshift force of about 21,000 Confederates, under General Joseph E. Johnston, opposed him. In an attempt to prevent Schofield's 30,000 Federals at Wilmington from joining Sherman, Johnston first sent 8,500 men under General Bragg to attack the vanguard of the Federal army at Kmston. The attack delayed its advance.
Johnston then tried to attack Sherman's left wing, under Slocum, as it moved toward Goldsboro. The result was the battle of Averasboro on March 16, in which 11,000 Confederates checked Slocum until forced to retreat to avoid being outflanked. This engagement was followed by the battle of
( ~\ j Feb 1: Sherman begins march north from
Savannah into South Carolina
(2) Feb 17: Sherman occupies Columbia
Feb 18: Confederates evacuate Charleston, which is then occupied by Federals
(Yj Feb 22: Following ils evacuation by the Confederates, Schofield occupies Wilmington
^ "provisional corps" of Schofield's any heads west from New Bern toward Goldsboro
March 3: Sherman reaches Cheraw
March 8-10: Bragg checks Schofield's corps at Kiriston (see map above)
'g March 11: Sherman occupies Favetteville
March 9: Hampton's and Wheeler's cavalry make surprise night attack on Kilpatrick's cavalry near Solemn Grove, and almost capture Kilpatrick
March 21: Johnston orders retreat in the face ofovmklmiit^ odds (see map left)
lee's Confederates bold il they withdraw to avoid see map left)
12 March 23: Shrnn.in and Scbolield link ■ at Göldsboro
April 13: Sherman ncaipic1, Raleigh, capiulo0iöfth'Carolina
■ailable Confederate ate at Benuwville and cum. In .the'utisuing :dérate fokçî lose over ble men (see map left I
Greensboro Bennett house • ', du J,AM ' • Chaçelviu.
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