To Make Georgia Howl


On October 9, 1864 Sherman was still in pursuit of Hood but he recognized the futility of such operations to protect his railroad supply lines, as he made clear in a telegram to Grant on that date:


It will be a physical impossibility to protect the roads, now that Hood, Forrest, Wheeler, and the whole batch of devils, are turned loose without home or habitation. I think Hood’s movements indicate a diversion to the end of the Selma & Talladega road, at Blue Mountain, about sixty miles southwest of Rome, from which he will threaten Kingston, Bridgeport, and Decatur, Alabama. I propose that we break up the railroad from Ohattanooga forward, and that we strike out with our wagons for Milledgeville, Millen, and Savannah. Until we can repopulate Georgia, it is useless for us to occupy it; but the utter destruction of its roads, houses, and people, will cripple their military resources. By attempting to hold the roads, we will lose a thousand men each month, and will gain no result. I can make this march, and make Georgia howl! We have on hand over eight thousand head of cattle and three million rations of bread, but no corn. We can find plenty of forage in the interior of the State.

Sherman had learned in his march to Meridian, Mississippi how easy it was to live off the land in the dead of winter in February 1864 in an agriculturally rich country.  How much easier to do so after the harvest had just been gathered, as would be the case in a fall march across Georgia.  Union military operations had been hampered and limited since the outset of the War by the necessity of maintaining and protecting Union supply lines in the teeth of aggressive Confederate raiding.  Now Sherman realized that such protection of supply lines was not necessary if the goal was to destroy rather than to hold territory.  He had a war winning theory, and he would soon get to put it into practice.

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  1. Gen’l Sherman was a military genius. He held an interesting opinion regarding the press.

    “I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast.”

  2. Sherman also said that the meaning of military glory was being killed in battle and having your name misspelled in the newspapers the next day.

    Ironically Sherman became friends with both Generals Hood and Johnston after the War. Hood died before Sherman, but Johnston caught a fatal bout of pneumonia serving as a pallbearer at Sherman’s funeral. When he was warned that the weather was blustery and he should put his hat on, Johnston refused, saying that if Sherman had been a pallbearer at his funeral, he would have had his hat off.

  3. I’m not really sure what the point of this post is. I’m from the south, where we still refer to him as “that low-life bastard, Sherman.” Sherman abandoned his honor by striking at civilian property and turning a blind eye to the crimes of his soldiers.

  4. The point is history Judy. This blog covers both the Church and the country and I do many posts on American history and the Civil War. Sherman did not turn a blind eye to crimes committed by his soldiers as you contend, and in my eyes he is a brilliant general and a hero who helped save the Union which I cherish and love. However, I understand he is always controversial, almost as controversial as Nathan Bedford Forrest, another Civil War general I have often written about and who I admire.

  5. Echoing Judy’s comments, how will this blog help non-Catholic Southerners find the true religion with posts like this? If I can bring more Southerners to the Catholic Church by bringing up history, I would do it. If I can bring more Southerners to the Catholic Church by not bringing up history, I would do it.

    In my opinion, bringing back memories of Sherman and his ilk does nothing to promote the Catholic Faith in the South. It’s already an uphill battle, don’t make it any harder with Sherman on your back.

  6. I’m not sure if Mico and Judy are new to this blog, but there’s probably a Civil War post on this site just about every week, if not more frequently. Don and myself are both history buffs, and then some, as are many of the people who read this blog. Removing the Civil War posts from this blog would be like removing the movie reviews from Ace of Spades.

  7. “[B]ringing back memories of Sherman and his ilk does nothing” – not to nit pick but I cannot help it; were you even alive to have said memories? No, then you have no memories of Sherman and his ilk. You do have memories of what you were taught be it correct or not.

  8. “Echoing Judy’s comments, how will this blog help non-Catholic Southerners find the true religion with posts like this?”

    The name of the blog is The American Catholic Mico. We cover both American topics and Catholic topics. You have been around the blog long enough to realize that, and you should also know that my sympathies are with the boys and blue, while giving full respect to the boys in gray who engaged in a heroic lop sided struggle for four years.

  9. Judy and Mico: Southern plantation owners were civilian collateral collaborators. Andersonville was worse, if that is possible, than any concentration camp run by Hitler. Had the South fed the Union prisoners of war at Andersonville, the South would not have incurred Sherman’s March to the Sea. There was enough food for everybody. The Southerners refused to share. The South’s lack of humanity brought the wrath of God down on their heads.
    See also:
    February 27, 1864: First Union Prisoners Arrive at Andersonville
    Published Thursday, February 27, A.D. 2014 | By Donald R. McClarey

    One hundred and fifty years ago Union prisoners began arriving at the Andersonville prison camp. A blot on American honor is the callous way in which many prisoners of war were treated during our Civil War, north and south. (For a Union prison camp that had a death rate of 25%, google Elmira prison camp, or as the Confederates imprisoned there referred to it, Helmira.) 45,000 Union soldiers would be held at Andersonville and 13,000 of them would die through starvation, bad water, no sanitation and disease. Accounts of what went on inside Andersonville beggar description. Jesus wept, sums up the reaction of any decent soul to this abomination. See the accompanying post for today for the grim details, and for a shining example of humanity by a man motivated by God’s love to love his enemies.
    – See more at:

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