When Sherman Marched North from the Sea: Resistance on the Confederate Home Front

By Jacqueline Glass Campbell | Go to book overview

1 : SAVANNAH HAS GONE UP THE SPOUT

On December 22, 1864, William T. Sherman offered President Abraham Lincoln a special Christmas gift, namely the city of Savannah. When the Yankee press published the news, it made for a particularly joyous holiday in the North and earned Sherman the title of the “Military Santa Claus.”1 The fact that Sherman offered such a gift to the Union president, neatly tied up and conveyable, suggests a tidy transfer of a city from Confederate to Union hands. This picture is underscored by the fact that Confederate troops under General William J. Hardee had evacuated during the night, and Mayor Richard Arnold had surrendered the city. The March to the Sea was over, and the Union soldiers felt a growing confidence in their ability to end the war. An officer from New Hampshire wrote to his sister of the “satisfaction in being with a victorious army.” Unlike his experience in the Army of the Potomac, where it was “always defeat, except at Gettysburg,” under Sherman's command, victory was the norm.2

On the surface, the Georgia campaign had ended in an easy victory, and the orderly interaction between citizens and the Union army in Savannah tends to support this image of a “subjugated” people in Georgia. A closer examination of the month-long hiatus of Sherman's troops between their glorious march through Georgia and their ongoing campaign through the Carolinas reveals other aspects of the invasion—the complacent mood of the soldiers, the difficulties of families living on the outskirts of the city, who were subjected to repeated raids by foraging troops, and the resentments and acts of resistance of civilians who felt both anger and humiliation at the Federal occupation.3

For many Union soldiers, the Georgia campaign had seemed “easy, comfortable and jolly.” A Captain Divine described it as a “gay old

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When Sherman Marched North from the Sea: Resistance on the Confederate Home Front
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 3
  • 1: Savannah Has Gone Up the Spout 8
  • 2: Rocking the Cradle of Secession 31
  • 3: The Most Diabolical Act of All the Barbarous War 58
  • 4: God Save Us from the Retreating Friend and Advancing Foe 75
  • 5: With Grief, but Not with Shame 93
  • Epilogue 105
  • Notes 111
  • Bibliography 145
  • Index 167
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