economic conditions existing in the Southwest
was preeminently fitted to undertake the task of breaking to pieces the weakening South
He was a great strategist if not so successful as a tactician; he won more by marches than others by fighting; he had a genius for large conceptions, and with his clear comprehension of Southern conditions he was able to strike with irresistible force at the weak points in the defense.
Thus it was, according to Robert E. Lee
, that he was enabled to give the Confederacy
a mortal wound before any of its armies surrendered.
One feature of Sherman
's campaigns, after leaving Atlanta
, has been severely criticised.
Much of the destruction of private property in Georgia
and South Carolina
, it is held, was not only unnecessary but amounted to cruelty in depriving the population of the necessities of life.
says of the work of the armies under Sherman
's command: ‘They had devoted themselves to destruction and the stripping of the land they crossed with a thoroughness and a care for details hardly to be matched in the annals of modern warfare— each soldier played the marauder very heartily.’
himself intimated that the march would ‘make Georgia
howl,’ and would ‘make its inhabitants feel that war and ruin are synonymous terms.’
The most intense feeling on the subject still exists in the communities over which Sherman
marched in 1864-65, a feeling which does not exist against any other commander on either side, nor against Sherman
himself in the regions over which he fought before 1864.
himself did not intend to go beyond the limits of legitimate warfare is clear, and the unfortunate excesses were due mainly to the somewhat demoralized discipline of the troops, to the fact that they were in the midst of a hostile country, to the increasing bitterness that had developed as the war progressed, to the natural development of the permitted ‘foraging’ into reckless plundering, and in part to certain characteristics of Sherman
himself, which probably affected the