Born February 8, 1820 Lancaster, Ohio Died February 14, 1891 New York, New York
Led the capture of Atlanta, Georgia, then took his forces on the destructive "March to the Sea"
William T. Sherman was one of the most controversial generals of the Civil War. He rose through the military ranks to become commander of the Union forces in the West (the area west of the Appalachian Mountains). In September 1864, his troops captured the important Southern industrial city of Atlanta, Georgia. Sherman ordered all civilians (people who are not part of the army, including women and children) to leave the city and then burned it down. Afterward, the general marched his Union troops across Georgia to the city of Savannah on the Atlantic coast. During this famous "March to the Sea," Sherman's army lived off the countryside, taking whatever food and supplies they could use and destroying everything else.
Southerners were shocked and angered by Sherman's actions. Before this time, the Civil War was mostly fought between armies on battlefields. Sherman was one of the first leaders to attack civilians and their property under a new strategy known as "total war." He felt that defeating the Confederate Army on the battlefield was not enough to ensure a lasting peace. He thought it was also necessary to break the spirit of
"There is many a boy . . . who looks on war as all glory, but boys, war is all hell."
the civilian population that supplied the army and supported the war effort. Sherman believed that by showing ordinary Southerners the destructive power of war, he could make them want to surrender.
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