Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Sherman's March from Andromeda Encyclopedic Dictionary of World History

Union General William T. Sherman's 1864 advance through central Georgia during the American Civil War - a pitiless destruction of the southern infrastructure and of the people's will to resist. Determined to “make Georgia howl”, he moved in from the northwest to burn Atlanta, then marched east to capture Savannah. He laid waste to South Carolina in 1865.


Summary Article: Atlanta campaign
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

May–Sept., 1864, of the U.S. Civil War. In the spring of 1864, Gen. W. T. Sherman concentrated the Union armies of G. H. Thomas, J. B. McPherson, and J. M. Schofield around Chattanooga. On May 6 he began to move along the railroad from Chattanooga to Atlanta against Dalton, Ga., c.30 mi (48 km) southeast, where Gen. J. E. Johnston had a smaller Confederate force. Sherman had a twofold objective: the destruction of Johnston's army and the capture of Atlanta, c.140 mi (225 km) southeast. Since Johnston was strongly entrenched, Sherman turned his left flank, forcing him back to Resaca, c.12 mi (19 km) south. The campaign continued in this way—Sherman outflanking Johnston, who withdrew to previously fortified positions—until June 27, when Sherman tried a direct attack at Kennesaw Mt., c.25 mi (40 km) NW of Atlanta, and was repulsed. He then reverted to flank operations. By July, Johnston had withdrawn to the south bank of the Chattahoochee River, where he prepared to fight on his own terms. On July 17, the day Sherman crossed the Chattahoochee, John Bell Hood replaced Johnston. Following Johnston's plan, Hood unsuccessfully attacked Sherman's divided army (July 20) as it crossed Peach Tree Creek, a small tributary of the Chattahoochee. In the battles of Atlanta (July 22) and Ezra Church (July 28), Hood again failed to stop the Union advance; he then retired behind the strong works of Atlanta, which Sherman soon had under bombardment. The Union lines were gradually extended until the Confederate line of communications south of the city was broken on Sept. 1. Hood abandoned Atlanta that night and Sherman occupied it on Sept. 2, 1864, and burned it.

  • See Hoehling, A. A., Last Train from Atlanta (1958);.
  • Carter, S., The Siege of Atlanta, 1864 (1973);.
  • Castel, A., Decision in the West: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864 (1992).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

Related Articles


Full text Article RESACA, BATTLE OF (14-15 May 1864)
Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History

The battle of Resaca represents a series of firsts: the first major battle in the Atlanta campaign, the first occasion in Georgia in 1864 of...

Full text Article GEORGIA
Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History

Georgia voters, like those in other Southern states, were deeply divided over the issue of secession. In his definitive study Toward a...

Full text Article HAZEN, WILLIAM BABCOCK (1830-1887)
Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History

Union general William Babcock Hazen was born in Vermont, but his family moved to Ohio, from where he received his appointment to the U.S....

See more from Credo