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[214]
I only regarded the march from Atlanta to Savannah as a “shift of base,” as the transfer of a strong army, which had no opponent, and had finished its then work, from the interior to a point on the sea coast, from which it could achieve other important results. I considered this march as a means to an end, and not as an essential act of war. Still, then as now, the march to the sea was generally regarded as something extraordinary, something anomalous, something out of the usual order of events; whereas, in fact, I simply moved from Atlanta to Savannah, as one step in the direction of Richmond, a movement that had to be met and defeated, or the war was necessarily at an end. --General W. T. Sherman, in his Memoirs.

The march to the sea, in which General William T. Sherman won undying fame in the Civil War, is one of the greatest pageants in the world's warfare — as fearful in its destruction as it is historic in its import. But this was not Sherman's chief achievement; it was an easy task compared with the great campaign between Chattanooga and Atlanta through which he had just passed. “As a military accomplishment it was little more than a grand picnic,” declared one of his division commanders, in speaking of the march through Georgia and the Carolinas.

Almost immediately after the capture of Atlanta, Sherman, deciding to remain there for some time and to make it a Federal military center, ordered all the inhabitants to be removed. General Hood pronounced the act one of ingenious cruelty, transcending any that had ever before come to his notice in the dark history of the war. Sherman insisted that his act was one of kindness, and that Johnston and Hood themselves had done the same — removed families from their homes — in other places. The decision was fully carried out.

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