Sherman’s March and America

Anne Sara Rubin is hard at work on a new digital project on Sherman’s March. I first heard about the project at last year’s SHA in New Orleans. It looks to be quite interesting.

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17 comments… add one

  • msimons Oct 19, 2009

    The only mans grave my Grandma said she would spit on was Gen Sherman's. She cursed him to the Bowels of Hell on numerous occasions. But you have to remember Her Grandfather was a Civil War Vet Army of Northern VA and a Spartenburg County SC native. Sherman was guilty of crimes against humanity and a vile person. His march to the sea was only bested by Hitlers blitzkrieg in destruction of property and acts against noncombatants. Of all Union Generals I dislike Sherman the most. I will be looking forward to see what this Video shows us.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 19, 2009

      I have no interest in debating Sherman's moral worth, but comparing him with Hitler's blitzkrieg seems like a stretch.

      • msimons Oct 20, 2009

        I am trying to make the point the the level of distruction the South received from Sherman was the greatest in the History of war until the Blitzkrieg in WW2. I in no way am implying that Sherman was a evil as Hitler.
        Sorry Kevin every thing in life has some Moral worth tied to it. History, I believe can not be properly interpeted without looking at the Morality of the actions recorded.

        • Kevin Levin Oct 20, 2009

          I certainly agree that much of our life is infused with moral questions. I just fail to see how comparing Sherman's March with Blitzkrieg helps us in any way.

        • Harry Oct 20, 2009

          “the level of distruction the South received from Sherman was the greatest in the History of war until the Blitzkrieg in WW2″

          I don't think that's true. The history of war is long, and was long already in 1864-65. Persians, Greeks, Romans (ever hear of Carthage?), Goths, Visigoths, Vandals, Huns, Mongols Muslims, Crusaders. Geez, you even left out all of WWI.

          Regardless of how it contributes to the conversation, it's just plain not a true statement. But one that would fit in nicely in some books;-)

          • Kevin Levin Oct 20, 2009

            You make a good point. One of the interesting aspects of Grimsley's analysis is the way he places Sherman's March within the broader context of previous wars. Rather than looking ahead to the twentieth century we should appreciate the extent to which Sherman's policies reflected a continuation of previous wars.

        • Lizzie Oct 22, 2009

          I think if one wants to apply the term Blitzkrieg to the Civil War (which I don't think it should not be applied at all), you may want to look at the Valley Campaign of Stonewall Jackson, for instance, instead of Sherman's March. In it's simplest definition, Blitzkrieg is highly mobilized warfare such as attacking the enemy with lightening fast precision- which defines the strategy of Jackson I think, more so than Sherman.

          Plus, the type of warfare that Sherman employed aimed to destroy the Confederate ability to wage war (as in destroy the Confederate economy) and to hurt Southern morale (destroy psychologically, mind you, not physically destroy the people).

          And as a self-proclaimed WWI scholar, I am personally offended that left out the Great War in your total war analysis :-)

          Anyway, I see your point, but I would be careful in making generalized statements such as this.

  • jfe Oct 19, 2009

    Actually, if you read a serious study of Sherman's March (I would recommend the books by Trudeau or Kennett) you will see that, while hardly a picnic for the citizens in his path, it wasn't much worse than what Pennsylvania experienced in the summer of 1863. Some worse, yes, but not horribly so.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 19, 2009

      These kinds of claims are completely meaningless and fail to place either Sherman and the campaign in its proper context. I would also recommend Mark Grimsley's _Hard Hand of War_ for a thorough analysis of the campaign and its place within the broader evolution of Union war policy.

      • jfe Oct 19, 2009

        I should have included Mark's book—my error.

  • acwresearcher Oct 19, 2009

    Sherman and Grant have both been maligned (perhaps an understatement, but I'm trying to be kind) for their efforts to win the war; however, that is exactly what their assignment was — win the war. I know that does not help the feelings of those directly affected by their actions or the descendants of those persons, but the fact remains that was their job. Was Lincoln to keep selecting generals who would cat-and-mouse the Confederate armies down the east side of the country for four more years just to satisy later assessments of his Presidency? Lincoln's reelection in 1864 was as much a result of their successes in the field as of any policy he came up with during his first term. Northern sentiment was bent for victory and maintaining the Union, and to the devil how it was accomplished. To paint Grant or Sherman with the same brush as Hitler denies that any white Southerner sympathized with Confederate intentions had it won the war. It further denies that open rebellion of the seceded states is vastly different than attacking a group of people whose only cause for being attacked was simply being in the way. It also assumes something Lincoln and his advisors were never successful in finding — massive pockets of Unionist sentiment in the South to combat the rebellion from the inside.

  • Craig Oct 20, 2009

    Has anybody read E. L Doctorow's 'The March'? The structure is quite cinematic with roles that look like they could have been written with Halle Berry and Will Smith in mind. It's astonishing to me that Hollywood hasn't turned it into a movie yet.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 20, 2009

      I rarely read Civil War fiction, but I did read this one and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    • Harry Oct 20, 2009

      I dunno, Craig. I have trouble picturing Smith as Sherman.

  • Craig Oct 21, 2009

    I picture Smith as the photographer's assistant who impersonates his boss and finds himself photographing Sherman at a critical moment. Doctorow's take on the march is to focus on fairly ordinary Americans who were along on the march without any awareness that they were taking part in an historical event, one that would still be remembered a century or two later. His Sherman is smaller than life. His ordinary people are much more vivid, interesting and full of life than those who made history.

    • Harry Oct 21, 2009

      And I picture Sherman wearing a T-shirt tuxedo, 'cause it's formal, but at the same time it says “I'm here to party”. Hat tip to Cal Naughton, Jr.

  • Lizzie Oct 22, 2009

    I think if one wants to apply the term Blitzkrieg to the Civil War (which I don't think it should not be applied at all), you may want to look at the Valley Campaign of Stonewall Jackson, for instance, instead of Sherman's March. In it's simplest definition, Blitzkrieg is highly mobilized warfare such as attacking the enemy with lightening fast precision- which defines the strategy of Jackson I think, more so than Sherman.

    Plus, the type of warfare that Sherman employed aimed to destroy the Confederate ability to wage war (as in destroy the Confederate economy) and to hurt Southern morale (destroy psychologically, mind you, not physically destroy the people).

    And as a self-proclaimed WWI scholar, I am personally offended that left out the Great War in your total war analysis :-)

    Anyway, I see your point, but I would be careful in making generalized statements such as this.

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