Major General William T. Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign spanned the final months of the Civil War, when the Confederacy faced an extremely bleak military situation North Carolina and South Carolina. In Virginia, Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was
desperately trying to prevent the capture of Richmond, the Confederate capital,
and the vital rail junction at Petersburg. In December 1864, Gen. John B.
Hood’s Army of Tennessee had met with disaster at Nashville at the hands of
Union Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas’ Army of the Cumberland, leaving Hood’s
once-mighty army a ghost of its former self. Sherman had only recently
presented the captured city of Savannah, Georgia, to President Abraham Lincoln
as a “Christmas gift.” Although the fall of Savannah was a tremendous blow to
Southern morale, it was Sherman’s drive to that coastal city from Atlanta that
proved serious to the Confederacy’s economic war effort. Sherman’s march had
sliced through the Confederate heartland and had disrupted the vital logistical
resources that Georgia had provided to the Southern cause. Sherman’s successful
march to Savannah defined how he expected to conduct future operations in the
Sherman hoped to accomplish two key strategic goals in the Carolinas, both of which would have serious consequences for Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. First, a march through the Carolinas would break the back of the Confederate
logistics system, depriving the Confederacy of its ability to sustain Lee’s army in Virginia. Second, Sherman’s concept of “hard war” would have an even more devastating psychological effect on those Carolinians serving in the Army of
Northern Virginia. Some units nearly dissolved overnight as anxious men deserted in hopes of reaching their families and homes, which lay in the path of Sherman’s army.In designing his expedition through the Carolinas, Sherman drew upon the invaluable experience gained during the March to the Sea. He would cut loose from his army’s logistical base at Savannah and subsist his army off the land as it moved. Sherman would employ a simple concept for supplying his army: “where other people live we can, even if they have to starve or move away.”
In designing his expedition through the Carolinas, Sherman drew upon the invaluable experience gained during the March to the Sea. He would cut loose from his army’s logistical base at Savannah and subsist his army off the land as
it moved. Sherman would employ a simple concept for supplying his army: “where other people live we can, even if they have to starve or move away.”
As his army drove north, eviscerating the Carolinas, Sherman planned for his army to link up with other Union forces, which would advance from the coast of North Carolina. These forces would merge at Goldsboro, a key railroad junction in the Tar Heel State. These combined armies would then be linked to the-occupied coast by rail.
The above introduction is from my book “No Such Army Since the Days of Julius Caesar” Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign: Fayetteville to Averasboro co-authored with Mark A. Smith. I encourage those wishing to learn more about the campaign to visit several of the battlefield visitor centers located here in our state (see Links page) or take a moment to review my suggested reading list found on the bottom of this page. There is a wealth of information for one to explore. In an effort to broaden the publics knowledge of the campaign I have listed on this page additional links covering aspects not typically covered in detail by previous authors.