December 12, 2013

HIS TERRIBLE SWIFT SWORD:

Nov. 15, 1864: Sherman's March to the Sea Changes Tactical Warfare (Tony Long, November 15, 2010, Wired)

In a 62-day campaign of destruction, the 62,000-man Union force cut a ruinous, 60-mile-wide swath through Georgia: tearing up railroads, firing factories, destroying bridges, burning plantations, seizing livestock and freeing slaves. The army lived off the land, sacking the unfortunate homesteads and plantations that lay along the line of march.

After Savannah fell Dec. 22, Sherman paused only long enough to secure the seaport before swinging north into the Carolinas. The destruction wrought by the Federals in South Carolina -- the first Southern state to secede from the Union -- was even worse than it had been in Georgia.

Vengeance aside, the real objective of Sherman's march was to cut the Confederacy in two, cripple Southern industrial capacity, destroy the railroad system and compel an early Confederate surrender. It was also intended to break Southern morale -- in Sherman's words, to "make Georgia howl."

Sherman was vilified for his barbarism, but the Union commander was a realist, not a romantic. He understood -- as few of his contemporaries seemed to -- that technology and industrialization were radically changing the nature of warfare.

Contemporaries?  The two sides in WWI didn't understand it. Posted by at December 12, 2013 4:58 PM
  
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