I’m Masud Olufani for the Atlanta History Center.
It is the final week of 1864.
In seven months, Sherman’s armies have marched across the state of Georgia.
Atlanta – industrial hub of the deep South – is in ruins.
The march to the sea shatters Georgia – and with it, the Confederacy.
By Sherman’s own estimate, the financial devastation totals nearly $100 million in 1864 dollars.
Bridges, cotton, factories, telegraph lines, and hundreds of miles of railroads are destroyed -
tens of thousands of horses, mules, and cattle are confiscated, along with tons of corn and other provisions.
Through it all, Sherman battled the Southern will to wage war, writing:
“We are not only fighting armies, but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war. …”
Sherman proves the Confederacy cannot protect its home front.
And popular confidence in the Confederate government collapses.
In Savannah, Sherman plans the final blow–
to march his army through the heartland of secession, South Carolina … and beyond.
He will move North to Virginia to unite with Ulysses S. Grant, who is fighting Robert E. Lee outside the Confederate capital of Richmond.
- if the war lasts that long.
I’m Masud Olufani and this is week thirty-six.