The Final Struggles: September 1864 to April 1865

Sherman’s Plan

When did Sherman cut loose from his base?

On November 10, 1864, Sherman headed south-by-southeast, moving toward the coast. His brigade and division commanders understood their orders, which were simple and to the point. They were to destroy whatever infrastructure they saw—houses, barns, factories: anything that could contribute to the Confederate war effort was to be wrecked. One of Sherman’s aides described the scene as they departed:

“A brigade of Massachusetts soldiers are now the only ones left in the town: they will be the last to leave it. To-night I heard the really fine band of the Thirty-Third Massachusetts playing ‘John Brown’s soul goes marching on,’ by the light of the burning buildings. I have never heard that noble anthem when it was so grand, so solemn, so inspiring.”


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