Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign and March to the Sea



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Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign and March to the Sea

Part 1: Atlanta Campaign

After the North recaptured Chattanooga (after their loss in Chickamauga), General William T. Sherman took the northern armies and began a campaign towards Atlanta. Atlanta was important because of its industries and the fact that it was a railroad hub.

This campaign for Atlanta lasted nearly two months. Before reaching the city, smaller skirmishes took place in Dalton, Resaca, Allatoona, and Kennesaw Mountain. The southern armies were short on men and supplies, and were forced to keep retreating further south into the state of Georgia. As they retreated, they burned bridges and blockaded roads to slow Sherman and the northern armies down.

Eventually, southern troops were forced to concentrate themselves in Atlanta. The two armies fought a series of small battles, but eventually the North overpowered the southern armies and bombarded the city with cannon fire. The south retreated, and northern troops now occupied the city of Atlanta.

Sherman stayed in the city for two months planning his next move: the march to the sea. During these two months, many businesses, factories, and railroads in Atlanta were burned. The capture of Atlanta gave the North more hope that they could win this war. It also helped Abraham Lincoln win his second election in 1864.

1. Why did Sherman target Atlanta?

2. Why were the southern troops struggling?

3. What tactics did southern troops use to slow down Sherman’s progress?

4. How did the North eventually capture Atlanta?

5. What happened to Atlanta while it was occupied by the North?

Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign and March to the Sea

Part 1: Atlanta Campaign

After the North recaptured Chattanooga (after their loss in Chickamauga), General William T. Sherman took the northern armies and began a campaign towards Atlanta. Atlanta was important because of its industries and the fact that it was a railroad hub.

This campaign for Atlanta lasted nearly two months. Before reaching the city, smaller skirmishes took place in Dalton, Resaca, Allatoona, and Kennesaw Mountain. The southern armies were short on men and supplies, and were forced to keep retreating further south into the state of Georgia. As they retreated, they burned bridges and blockaded roads to slow Sherman and the northern armies down.

Eventually, southern troops were forced to concentrate themselves in Atlanta. The two armies fought a series of small battles, but eventually the North overpowered the southern armies and bombarded the city with cannon fire. The south retreated, and northern troops now occupied the city of Atlanta.

Sherman stayed in the city for two months planning his next move: the march to the sea. During these two months, many businesses, factories, and railroads in Atlanta were burned. The capture of Atlanta gave the North more hope that they could win this war. It also helped Abraham Lincoln win his second election in 1864.

1. Why did Sherman target Atlanta?

2. Why were the southern troops struggling?

3. What tactics did southern troops use to slow down Sherman’s progress?

4. How did the North eventually capture Atlanta? What happened to Atlanta while it was occupied by the North?

5. Name two ways this battle was significant for the country.

Part 2: Sherman’s March to the Sea

After leaving a smoldering Atlanta behind, Sherman continued his march through Georgia. His goal was to end this war as quickly as possible. After 4 years of fighting battles, Sherman knew a different strategy was needed. During the march, Sherman’s northern army created a path of destruction that was 300 miles long and 60 miles wide. Many of the soldiers lived off of civilian (non-military) food supplies and took anything of value.

Sherman burned buildings and factories, and in some cases, he destroyed towns. One town, Griswoldville, was a victim of this “total war” campaign. A militia made up of men too old and boys too young to fight in the regular army tried to attack Sherman’s army. By the end of this battle, 650 Georgians were killed and only 62 Union troops were killed.

Sherman marched all the way to Savannah. The city of Savannah, not wanting to receive the same bombardment and destruction as Atlanta, surrendered to Sherman without a fight. Sherman wrote to Lincoln that Savannah was his “Christmas present.” The march took a little over a month, with the men leaving Atlanta on November 15th and entering Savannah on December 21st, 1864. The end of the Civil War was in sight.

1. What new tactics were used by Sherman and the northern army in his March to the Sea?

2. What is the purpose of “total war?”

3. Compare and contrast the ways in which Atlanta and Savannah were captured.

4. What negative impacts will the South experience now that Sherman has completely captured and destroyed Georgia?

Part 2: Sherman’s March to the Sea

After leaving a smoldering Atlanta behind, Sherman continued his march through Georgia. His goal was to end this war as quickly as possible. After 4 years of fighting battles, Sherman knew a different strategy was needed. During the march, Sherman’s northern army created a path of destruction that was 300 miles long and 60 miles wide. Many of the soldiers lived off of civilian (non-military) food supplies and took anything of value.

Sherman burned buildings and factories, and in some cases, he destroyed towns. One town, Griswoldville, was a victim of this “total war” campaign. A militia made up of men too old and boys too young to fight in the regular army tried to attack Sherman’s army. By the end of this battle, 650 Georgians were killed and only 62 Union troops were killed.

Sherman marched all the way to Savannah. The city of Savannah, not wanting to receive the same bombardment and destruction as Atlanta, surrendered to Sherman without a fight. Sherman wrote to Lincoln that Savannah was his “Christmas present.” The march took a little over a month, with the men leaving Atlanta on November 15th and entering Savannah on December 21st, 1864. The end of the Civil War was in sight.

1. What new tactics were used by Sherman and the northern army in his March to the Sea?

2. What is the purpose of “total war?”

3. Compare and contrast the ways in which Atlanta and Savannah were captured.



4. What negative impacts will the South experience now that Sherman has completely captured and destroyed Georgia?


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