This is coolbert.
Here with an extract from the "infamous order" No. 120.
The March to the Sea.
William Tecumseh Sherman, the plan of march for an army of 50,000 men, totally devoid of organized supply, foraging freely off the land.
Widely believed in some circles to have a "march" of apocalyptic proportions, predations upon the locals something that would have done an Attila the Hun or a Genghis Khan proud. A legend and a myth both, but again, widely believed in some circles.
You have to decide this one. My extracted portion highlighting those instructions to the troops that were most controversial:
"Sherman's Special Field Orders, No. 120"
"IV. . . . Soldiers must not enter the dwellings of the inhabitants, or commit any trespass"
"V. To army corps commanders alone is intrusted the power to destroy mills, houses, cotton-gins, &c., and for them this general principle is laid down: In districts and neighborhoods where the army is unmolested no destruction of such property should be permitted"
VI. "the cavalry and artillery may appropriate freely (horses, mules, wagons) and without limit, discriminating, however, between the rich, who are usually hostile, and the poor or industrious, usually neutral or friendly . . . In all foraging, of whatever kind, the parties engaged will refrain from abusive or threatening language . . . and they will endeavor to leave with each family a reasonable portion for their maintenance."
* "must not enter . . . commit any trespass"
* "Corps commanders alone . . . general principle . . . no destruction"
* "discriminating between . . . refrain from . . . endeavor to leave"
There you have it. NOT wanton and indiscriminate and totally unwarranted destruction. The orders, the instructions, the INTENTION was to destroy that of MILITARY VALUE, and to the greatest extent possible spare for the civilian populace that which was needed by them - - UNLESS resistance was encountered. And leaving the locals what they needed also for their own sustenance and survival, again, to the greatest extent possible. But the desire and intention at least, WAS NOT to behave as the barbarian, murderers, pillagers, arsonists, rapists.
Violations of intent obviously occurred and we would be surprised if such instances did not occur, but the INTENT was not that of the barbarian!