Question of the Week: 2 March


In the midst of the Sesquicentennial, which march was more important and why:┬áMaj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s “March to the Sea” or his march through the Carolinas?

7 Responses to Question of the Week: 2 March

  1. I would also say the March to the Sea, because A) It was the Civil War’s most thorough example of a “total war” approach combining destruction of Confederate forces AND the economic resources required to wage war; B) It had a profound psychological impact on Confederate morale (though hitting South Carolina in the other march certainly drove the point home even further); C) Sherman’s Special Field Order #15 inspired the “40 acres and a mule” concept of land and resource redistribution to freed slaves (even though it was soon countermanded by Andrew Johnson) that contributed to the folklore of reconstruction; and D) The March to the Sea set up the ensuing march through the Carolinas.

  2. I’m gonna throw in a curve and say his march to Washington, D.C., so his army could then march in the Grand Review, which finally allowed Easterners to see who really won the war.

    1. I think they did come out in larger numbers to see these Westerners. As to the question, I go along with the March to the Sea.

  3. I believe they’re equally important in their own separate ways. The March to the Sea showed Southern civilians and the Confederate government that a Federal army in the field could operate for a prolonged period of time in Confederate territory at will. It also denied important agricultural resources to Lee’s army, further limiting already scarce rations and supplies necessary to keep the Army of Northern Virginia operating in the field.

    The march through the Carolinas brought Sherman’s army within striking distance of the Richmond and Lee’s army, but it also had a much broader punitive impact than the march through Georgia. Many accounts left by Sherman’s men document the nearly gleeful destruction of South Carolina as the results of “creating” the secession crisis and the war.

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