Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sherman's March to Be Remembered; Historical Marker at Carter Library to Be Unveiled in Small Ceremony

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sherman's March to Be Remembered; Historical Marker at Carter Library to Be Unveiled in Small Ceremony

Article excerpt

Byline: Walter C. Jones

ATLANTA | A new monument commemorates the start, 150 years ago this week, of a powerful army's sweep across Georgia, bringing liberation to slaves and devastation to the families of rebellious soldiers.

The Georgia Historical Society is to unveil its latest monument Wednesday in a small ceremony on the grounds of the Carter Presidential Library, a quiet, tree-studded sanctuary that was the site of Union Gen. William T. Sherman's departure from Atlanta along a nearby road.

He had seized that city after a series of summer battles and then systematically destroyed its factories, banks and railroads to prevent their continued use in support of the Confederate army. His next destination would be Savannah, but Southerners didn't know that at the time because he divided his troops and sent some toward Macon and others toward the munitions factories in Augusta to hide his true target.

Cities along the way that resisted were destroyed as Atlanta had been. Those that surrendered peacefully were spared.

The campaign would become the subject of songs, family tales, history books and military instruction. Modern commanders would copy it in the bombings of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Hanoi for its demoralizing effect on civilians.

"What scholars have discovered is that the families along the route of the march, and those who feared they were along the route of the march, wrote to their husbands and said 'come home,'" said Todd Groce, president of the Historical Society. The resulting flood of desertions crippled the crumbling rebel army.

After 3 1/2 years of fighting and a half-million casualties with no resolution, Sherman was intent on erasing the civilian will to continue the war, Groce said.

The Savannah-based society wanted to erect the monument to summarize the war's next phase after the Battle of Atlanta and to set the record straight about Sherman's motivations. He ordered that only the highest commanders could put a home to the torch, and he did not condone rape or murder. …

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