The March to the Sea: Sherman’s Total War Strategy to Save the Union
Depending on geography, William T Sherman has gone down in the annuals of history as either one of the most hated or most respected generals of the Civil War. Through his March to the Sea, he became the first general in the nineteenth century to use total war against an opponent. He knew civilian anger was inescapable in wars and decided to not only use the outrage for the best military outcome, but also for the psychological and emotional effect. Therefore, the March to the Sea not only left behind in its wake a demoralized and defeated people, but also introduced a new war strategy, which would save the nation.
After his assignment to the southern states as a young military officer Sherman’s exposure to the secessionist movement helped him to understand the Southerner’s will to fight against the North. This assignment also provided Sherman with the complete knowledge of major Southern strongholds. Sherman even warned President Lincoln not to underestimate the will of the South and to his disappointment; Sherman felt the administration failed to take the threat Southern secession seriously and did not make the proper preparations to deal with it.
When devising his plan for The March to the Sea, Sherman knew that he not only must capture military targets, but also hurt the South psychologically as to break the will of the Southern people. Sherman’s plan involved less combat and concentrated more on the