George W. Pepper
Sherman's triumphal march to the sea is the most stupendous movement of this or any other age. Never, perhaps, did the name of any one of our great generals so widely and deeply stir the public mind. The wheels of commerce, hard to stay as the sun upon his march, stood still; the strifes of party, restless as the sea, and unmanageable as the winds, were calmed; people of all countries and tongues were drawn to one spot.
The spectacle was most inspiring, as the stream of the long, long procession came flowing out of the Gate City with their flags waving in the winds of Heaven, and swords and bayonets glistening in the sun. The splendid regiments of Slocum's column, moved as if on parade, with waving banners and strains of martial music. The whole programme comprised a magnificent pageant, beautiful to behold. The bronzed countenances of the men who carried muskets were suffused with one expression, and the thoughts and feelings were so much alike that it might be said the hearts of thousands were as the heart of one man.
The order for the expedition was issued on the 8th of November from Kingston, northwest from Atlanta, around which place the army was again concentrated. In this order Sherman says: "It is sufficient for you to know that it involves a departure from our present base, and a long and difficult march to a new one. All the chances of war have been considered and provided for as far as human sagacity can...."
Sherman, starting out from Atlanta with his army at this season of the year, is an event of the largest suggestiveness. He proposed, after gathering sufficient supplies at Atlanta, to abandon the railroad from Chattanooga to Atlanta, and start with a movable column on a winter tour of the Cotton States. Two of his army corps will be left at Chattanooga to watch Hood's movements, while the rest of the corps will cut loose from all lines of supply and push across the States of Georgia and the Carolinas. He will take with him such supplies as can be carried conveniently, and when these are exhausted, will live upon the country. Of his destination nothing is known.
GEORGE W. PEPPER, Personal Recollections of Sherman's Campaigns in Georgia and the Carolinas ( Zanesville, Ohio, 1866), Chs. xvii-xix.