- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 14, 2002

On Nov. 16, 1864, Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's army moved out of Atlanta for its March to the Sea. His forces had destroyed everything in the city that could possibly be of value to the enemy.
The army was split into two wings, and included more than 62,000 men, 25,000 horses and mules, 10,000 cattle, 2,500 wagons, 600 ambulances, 65 heavy guns, and complete sets of pontoon bridges. The soldiers were seasoned from earlier battles, and were ready to follow their general in making the people of the South bear their "collective responsibility."
By the time they reached Savannah, Ga., more than a month later, Sherman estimated the damage done by his army at more than $100 million.
"I can make Georgia howl!" Sherman said. The Rebel state did, indeed, howl. In addition to the outright destruction of buildings, factories, railroads, homes and farms, there were incidents of rape, murder and torture. Officially, there were orders to protect innocent citizens. In reality, there were dozens of eyewitness accounts that described Sherman turning a blind eye.
The Confederate army that should have resisted Sherman was in Tennessee, following Gen. John Bell Hood to a senseless destruction. There was no check on Sherman on the legality of his actions. There was no significant military challenge. He did as he wished.
Even some of the ordinary soldiers were troubled by their actions. "Such a day as this one seldom sees and it will not soon be forgotten but this wanton destruction of property would soon demoralize any army I think Sherman intends to devaste [sic] the whole country as he goes," wrote C.C. Platter of the 81st Ohio.
Jack Trammell

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