Chapter 20: the March to the sea — from Atlanta to Savannah.
November and December, 1864.
On the 12th of November the railroad and telegraph communications with the rear were broken, and the army stood detached from all friends, dependent on its own resources and supplies.
No time was to be lost; all the detachments were ordered to march rapidly for Atlanta
, breaking up the railroad en route
, and generally to so damage the country as to make it untenable to the enemy.
By the 14th all the troops had arrived at or near Atlanta
, and were, according to orders, grouped into two wings, the right and left, commanded respectively by Major-Generals O. O. Howard
and H. W. Slocum
, both comparatively young men, but educated and experienced officers, fully competent to their command.
The right wing was composed of the Fifteenth Corps, Major-General P. J. Osterhaus
commanding, and the Seventeenth Corps, Major-General Frank P. Blair
The left wing was composed of the Fourteenth Corps, Major-General Jefferson C. Davis
commanding, and the Twentieth Corps, Brigadier-General A. S. Williams
The Fifteenth Corps had four divisions, commanded by Brigadier-Generals Charles R. Woods
, W. B. Hazen
, John E. Smith
, and John M. Corse
The Seventeenth Corps had three divisions, commanded by
Major-General J. A. Mower
, and Brigadier-Generals M. D. Leggett
and Giles A. Smith
The Fourteenth Corps had three divisions, commanded by Brigadier-Generals W. P. Carlin
, James D. Morgan
, and A. Baird
The Twentieth Corps had also three divisions, commanded by Brigadier-Generals N. J. Jackson
, John W. Geary
, and W. T. Ward
The cavalry division was held separate, subject to my own orders.
It was commanded by Brigadier-General Judson Kilpatrick
, and was composed of two brigades, commanded by Colonels Eli H. Murray
, of Kentucky
, and Smith D. Atkins
, of Illinois
The strength of the army, as officially reported, is given in the following tables, and shows an aggregate of fifty-five thousand three hundred and twenty-nine infantry, five thousand and sixty-three cavalry, and eighteen hundred and twelve artillery — in all, sixty-two thousand two hundred and four officers and men. (See
table for December 1st.)
Recaptitulation — Atlana to Savannah
|arm.||November 10.||December 1.||December 20.|
The most extraordinary efforts had been made to purge this army of non-combatants and of sick men, for we knew well that there was to be no place of safety save with the army itself; our wagons were loaded with ammunition, provisions, and forage, and we could ill afford to haul even sick men in the ambulances, so that all on this exhibit may be assumed to have been able-bodied, experienced soldiers, well armed, well equipped and provided, as far as human foresight could, with all the essentials of life, strength, and vigorous action.
Effective Strength of the Army commanded by General W. T. Sherman during the March from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia, 1864
|commands.||November 10.||December 1.||December 20.|
|Commissioned Officers.||Enlisted Men.||Commissioned Officers.||Enlisted Men.||Commissioned Officers.||Enlisted Men.||Commissioned Officers.||Enlisted Men.||Commissioned Officers.||Enlisted Men.||Commissioned Officers.||Enlisted Men.||Commissioned Officers.||Enlisted Men.||Commissioned Officers.||Enlisted Men.||Commissioned Officers.||Enlisted Men.|
|Fifteenth Army Corps||724||14,568|| || ||11||376||750||15,144|| || ||17||362||753||14,441|| || ||12||367|
|Seventeenth Army Corps||420||10,667||2||43||5||266||418||11,314||2||30||10||318||436||11,293||2||30||7||278|
|Fourteenth Army Corps||556||12,397|| || ||11||388||623||13,339|| || ||11||443||621||13,170|| || ||11||434|
|Twentieth Army Corps||602||12,862|| || ||25||607||638||13,103|| || ||22||529||631||12,910|| || ||24||526|
|Total--Left Wing||1,158||25,259|| || ||36||995||1,261||26,442|| || ||33||972||1,252||26,080|| || ||35||960|
|Kilpatrick's Cavalry|| || ||244||4,672||4||95|| || ||251||4,780||4||96|| || ||201||4,351||4||96|
The two general orders made for this march appear to me, even at this late day, so clear, emphatic, and well-digested, that no account of that historic event is perfect without them, and I give them entire, even at the seeming appearance of repetition; and, though they called for great sacrifice and labor on the part of the officers and men, I insist that these orders were obeyed as well as any similar orders ever were, by an army operating wholly in an enemy's country, and dispersed, as we necessarily were, during the subsequent period of nearly six months.