Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The March I.

This is coolbert:

Here begins a series of blog entries, extracts from the E. L. Doctorow novel "The March" with commentary. Thanks to E. L. Doctorow in all cases.

That "march" of course Sherman's March.

Also variously referred to as:

* "Sherman's March to the Sea."

* "The Savannah Campaign.

* "Sherman's March to Savannah by the Sea."

The "march" events as transpired at the very end of the American Civil War. Events often described in an apocalyptic manner and that have assumed an almost mythological status within American history.

"Sherman's March to the Sea is the name commonly given to the Savannah Campaign conducted through Georgia from November 15 to December 21, 1864 by Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army in the American Civil War. The campaign began with Sherman's troops leaving the captured city of Atlanta, Georgia, on November 16 and ended with the capture of the port of Savannah on December 21 . . . Sherman 'defied military principles by operating deep within enemy territory and without lines of supply or communication'."

E.L. Doctorow an author of acknowledged significance in modern American literature, this particular novel having won awards when first published and released to the general public.

"The March is a 2005 historical fiction novel by E. L. Doctorow. It won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (2006) and the National Book Critics Circle Award/Fiction (2005)."

"The March is a historical fiction novel set in late 1864 and early 1865 near the conclusion of the American Civil War. Central to the novel is the character of General William Tecumseh Sherman as he marches his 60,000 troops through the heart of the South, carving a 60 mile wide scar of destruction in their wake."

And from the jacket to the book:

"In 1864, after Union general William Tecumseh Sherman burned Atlanta, he marched his sixty thousand troops east through Georgia to the sea and then up into the Carolina's. The army fought off Confederate forces and lived off the land, pillaging the Southern plantations, taking cattle and crops for their own, demolish cities, and accumulating a borne-along population of freed blacks and white refugees and until all that remained was the dangerous transient life of the uprooted, the dispossessed and triumphant."


* NO! Sherman  did not burn Atlanta to the ground. NOR did Sherman burn Columbia, South Carolina to the ground. Atlanta and Columbia large portions of both cities "burned to the ground" indeed BUT NOT AS A RESULT OF OVERT, CONSCIOUS AND MALICIOUS ACTIONS ON THE PART OF SHERMAN.

* The March often thought of as those three corps size columns proceeding in parallel through Georgia but also including that further "march" through South Carolina and North Carolina after reaching Savannah That "march" through Georgia meeting little if any resistance, only six hundred men lost from an army of sixty thousand troops!

* That Army of the West [Union] very workman-like. Experienced and hardened campaigners march twelve to fifteen miles a day, break camp, accomplish the mission and objective for the day, make camp, repeat the process over and over.

* Having broken off all lines-of-communication [LOC] and organized supply, Sherman having exhorted his men to "forage freely off the land" confiscation of edibles and draft animals from the local populace allowing for prolonged sustainment. That destruction of Confederate war making potentiality, railroad lines, telegraph lines, factories, etc., retribution and retaliation against the civilian population ONLY if resistance met!

* With regard to organized supply, that Army of the West [60,000 men] normally would have required 1,500 wagon loads of supplies per day under normal conditions not even during times of combat.

To be continued.


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