A Celebration of Women Writers

"Part VII, Chapter 90." by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall (1876-)
From: This country of ours; the story of the United States by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall (1876-) New York, George H. Doran company, 1917.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


CHAPTER 90
LINCOLN–SHERMAN'S MARCH TO THE SEA–LINCOLN RE-ELECTED PRESIDENT

GRANT'S plan of action was twofold, and while he was fighting Lee Sherman was fighting the second Confederate army under General J.E. Johnston. At the beginning of the campaign Sherman's army was at Chattanooga in Tennessee, and while Grant was fighting the battle of the Wilderness, he began his march to Atlanta, Georgia. Fighting all the way, the Confederate army always retreating before him, he slowly approached Atlanta. At length on September 2nd he entered and took possession of it.

Sherman takes Atlanta, Sept. 2nd;

Here for a few weeks the soldiers rested after their arduous labours. Then preparations for the next campaign began. All the sick and wounded, extra tents and baggage, in fact every one and everything which could be done without, was sent back to Tennessee. For the order had gone forth that the army was to travel light on this campaign. None but the fit and strong were to take part in it, and they were to carry with them only three weeks' rations.

 

Where they were going the men did not know. They did not ask. There was no need to trouble, for Sherman was leading them, and they knew he would lead them to victory.

 

After Richmond, Atlanta had supplied more guns and ammunition and other war material for the Confederacy than any other town, and before he left it, Sherman determined to destroy everything which might be of use to the enemy. So he emptied the town of all its inhabitants, and blew up all the gun and ammunition factories, storehouses, and arsenals. He tore up the railroads all around Atlanta also, and last of all cut the telegraph which linked him to the North. Then cut off as it were from all the world with his force of nearly sixty-six thousand men, he turned eastward, toward the sea.

the march to the sea begins, November 15th;

The army marched in four divisions, taking roads which as nearly as possible ran alongside each other, so that each division might keep in touch with the others. Every morning at daybreak they broke camp and during the day marched from ten to fifteen miles. And as they passed through it they laid waste the land. Railroads were torn up and thoroughly destroyed. The sleepers were made into piles and set alight, the rails were laid on the top of the bonfires, and when hot enough to be pliable were twisted beyond all possibility of being used again. Telegraph wires and poles were torn down, factories were burned, only private homes being left untouched.

 

Foragers quartered the country, sweeping it bare of cattle, poultry, fodder and corn. For both man and beast of the great army fed upon the land as they passed through it, the rations with which they had come provided being kept in case of need. Indeed the troops fed so well that the march, it was said, was like a "continuous Thanksgiving." What they did not eat they destroyed.

 

Thus right across the fertile land a stretch of waste and desolation was created about sixty miles wide. Yet it was not done in wantonness, but as a terrible necessity of war. It clove the Confederacy from east to west as thoroughly as the Mississippi clove it from north to south. It rifled and well-nigh exhausted the rich granary which fed the Confederate army, and by destroying the railroads prevented even what was left being sent to them. Grant meant to end the war, and it seemed to him more merciful to destroy food and property than to destroy men.

 

Through all this great raid there was little fighting done. And as the army marched day by day through the sunny land a sort of holiday spirit pervaded it. The work was a work of grim destruction, but it was done in the main with good temper. The sun shone, the men led a free and hardy life, growing daily more brown and sinewy, and at the end of the march of nearly three hundred miles, far from being worn out, they were more fit and strong than when they set forth.

 

By the second week in December the goal was reached–Savannah and the sea. Here the army joined hands with the navy. Fort McAllister, which defended the south side of the city, was taken by a brilliant assault, and Sherman prepared for a siege of Savannah both by land and water. But in the night the Confederates quietly slipped out of the city, and retreated across the swamps. When their flight was discovered they were already beyond reach of pursuit, and with hardly a blow struck, the city of Savannah fell into the hands of the Federals.

Savannah is reached;

The great march had ended triumphantly on December 21. "I beg to present to you, as a Christmas gift," wrote Sherman to Lincoln, "the city of Savannah with a hundred and fifty-nine heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton."

Federals enter Savannah, 21st Dec.

This news followed hard on the news of another victory. For on December 15th and 16th the Federals under General George H. Thomas had fought a great battle at Nashville, Tennessee, in which the Confederates had been defeated. By this battle their strength beyond the Alleghenies was practically crushed, so as the year 1864 closed, the hopes of the Federals rose high.

Battle of Nashville, Dec. 15th and 16th.

Early in 1865 still another victory was recorded in the taking of Fort Fisher in North Carolina. This was the last port in the possession of the Confederates. With it, they lost their last link with the outside world, and the blockade which Lincoln had proclaimed nearly four years before was at length complete.

Fort Fisher taken, Jan. 15, 1865

All hope of success now utterly vanished for the Confederates. Even Lee knew it, and he might have advised the South to lay down arms, but Jefferson Davis, the Southern President, doggedly refused to own himself beaten. So the war continued.

 

On the 1st of February, Sherman set out from Savannah on a second march. This time he turned northward, and carried his victorious army right through the Carolinas. The march was longer by more than a hundred miles than his now famous march to the sea. It was one too of much greater difficulty. Indeed, compared with it, the march to the sea had been a mere picnic.

Sherman marches through the Carolinas

The weather now was horrible. Rain fell in torrents, and the army floundered through seas of mud. Along the whole way too they were harassed by the foe, and hardly a day passed without fighting of some sort. But, like an inexorable fate, Sherman pressed on, destroying railroads, and arsenals, creating a desert about him until at length he joined forces with Grant.

 

In the midst of this devastating war while some states were fighting for separation, another new state was added to the Union. This was Nevada. Nevada is Spanish and means snowy, and the state takes its name from the snowy topped mountains which run through it. It was formed out of part of the Mexican territory. Like West Virginia, the other battle-born state, it was true to the Union. And scanty though the population was, it raised more than a thousand men for the Union cause.

Nevada is admitted to the Union

Now too, in the midst of war in November of 1864 came the time of electing a new President. Many people were tired of the war. They had expected it to last for a few months, and it had lasted for years, and some of them were inclined to blame Lincoln for it. So they wanted a new President. But for the most part the people loved Lincoln. He was Father Abe to them. And even those who wanted a change agreed with Lincoln himself when he said that "it was not well to swap horses when crossing a stream."

 

So Lincoln was triumphantly elected and on March 4th, 1865, he was inaugurated for the second time. He made the shortest speech ever made on such an occasion, and he closed this short speech with the most beautiful and unforgettable words.

Lincoln re-elected President

"With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and for his orphan–to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

 

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

This book has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK Initiative at the
Celebration of Women Writers.
Initial text entry and proof-reading of this book were the work of volunteers at
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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom