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As the war entered its last stage in the years 1864-1865, the Union's new general in chief, Ulysses S. Grant, planned two offensive campaigns that would finally end the Civil War. One army would confront Robert E. Lee's army in Virginia. The Union's western army, under the command of William Tecumseh Sherman, would plunge deep into the heart of Confederate territory in an attempt to capture Atlanta and destroy any resistance that they might encounter. Sherman's men would wreak havoc upon southern infrastructure and lead to Sherman's controversial nickname as the greatest villain of the Civil War.
William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman


Taking Atlanta
As Sherman and his troops marched through Georgia toward Atlanta the encountered relatively
"Atlanta is ours, and fairly won."
"Atlanta is ours, and fairly won."
little resistance. The Confederate forces in the area, composed of 60,000 men, hesitated to directly confront Sherman's army of 90,000. The only major battle occured at Kennesaw Mountain on June 27, 1864. Although southern forces, led by Josheph Eggleston Johnston, won a suprising victory, they did not prevent Sherman from reaching Atlanta. After the battle, President Jefferson Davisdismissed Johnston with John B. Hood. Hood's efforts couldn't stop the Union forces who entered Atlanta on September 2, 1864. The troops razed the city, demoralized the Confederacy and exciting the Union.

After Atlanta
After Hood's army was defeated at the Battle of Nashville, Sherman left Atlanta. His army began to move across Georgia, supplying
Sherman's men marching
Sherman's men marching
themselves by living off the land; anything that they couldn't make use of was destroyed. This tactic was meant to break the will of the Confederates. On December 20, 1864 Sherman's army reached Savannah, Georgia, leaving a 60 miles of destruction in their wake. Savannah surrendered on the 22nd and Sherman gave the city to President Abraham Lincoln as a Christmas Gift. Sherman spared Savannah the same fate as Atlanta, leaving most of the city untouched. In January, 1865 Sherman left Savannah and proceeded to march as far north as North Carolina.
Sherman's campaign
Sherman's campaign

"War is All Hell"
Sherman believed that war should be avoided at all costs. He also thought, however, that if battle was unavoidable it should be as miserable as possible for the enemy. Sherman lived up to this mantra with his infamous "march to the sea." This campaign was the first time that southern civilians had ever been exposed to the horrors of the Civil War. It served to weaken southern resolve. It also damaged the economy and hurt the war effort by destroying all of the railroads and war supplies that he could. This damage was irreparable and accelerated the end of the war.external image american-flag.gif