Teaching through our historic sites

March to the Sea (November 1864 – December 1864)

The Savannah Campaign of the Union army is often called the March to the Sea. On September 2, 1864, after a six-week siege, Atlanta fell to Union forces under the command of Gen. William T. Sherman. Federal forces occupied Atlanta for two months before turning their attention towards Savannah. On November 15, Sherman and his troops left Atlanta and advanced toward Savannah. He implemented a "scorched earth" policy, a military strategy which involved destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy. He destroyed not only the industry, commercial buildings, and roads, but also the personal property of southerners in his path. This demoralized the population of the area and affected those beyond, as word of the destruction spread. Southerners, already war-weary, began to lose the will to continue fighting in the face of such devastation.

Sherman arrived at and captured Savannah on December 21, 1864. From there, he turned his attention north. In the spring of 1865, Sherman began his Carolinas Campaign, with the intention of inflicting similar destruction northward through South Carolina and into North Carolina. His ultimate goal was to join Union forces in Virginia to defeat Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

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March to the Sea

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