U.S. General William T. Sherman's 1864 "March to the Sea" was a campaign through the Confederate state of Georgia, starting in Atlanta and ending about a month later in the port city of Savannah, above. (The "sea," of course, was the Atlantic Ocean.)
Photograph courtesy Library of Congress

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  • On December 22, 1864, United States General William Tecumseh Sherman sent a message to President Abraham Lincoln: “I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.”
     
    The capture of the rich port city of Savannah ended Sherman’s rampage through the state of Georgia, which began with the burning of Atlanta six weeks earlier. Sherman practiced a “scorched earth policy” on his campaign. “We are not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war,” Sherman wrote. To force Georgians to feel the “hard hand of war,” Sherman and his troops destroyed hundreds of kilometers of railroads, bridges, and telegraph lines. They burned crops and confiscated livestock
     
    Sherman and his troops traveled east from Atlanta without secure supply lines or even reliable methods of communication. They were escorted by a cavalry unit made up of Southerners loyal to the Union, and were joined by thousands of refugees—most of them former slaves.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    ammunition Noun material fired, scattered, dropped, or detonated from a weapon, including bombs and bullets.
    bale Noun

    bundle of cotton weighing 227 kilograms (500 pounds).

    campaign Noun

    activities designed to achieve a social, political, or military goal.

    cavalry Noun

    military unit that serves on horseback.

    city Noun

    large settlement with a high population density.

    communication Noun

    sharing of information and ideas.

    confiscate Verb

    to take or seize by some authority.

    crop Noun

    agricultural produce.

    Encyclopedic Entry: crop
    destroy Verb

    to ruin or make useless.

    disaster Noun

    terrible and damaging event.

    escort Verb

    to accompany or guide.

    hostile Adjective

    confrontational or unfriendly.

    livestock noun, plural noun

    animals raised for sale and profit.

    organize Verb

    to coordinate and give structure to.

    port Noun

    place on a body of water where ships can tie up or dock and load and unload cargo.

    Encyclopedic Entry: port
    present Verb

    to formally offer or submit.

    railroad Noun

    road constructed with metal tracks on which trains travel.

    rampage Noun

    somewhat uncontrolled, violent behavior.

    refugee Noun

    person who flees their home, usually due to natural disaster or political upheaval.

    reliable Adjective

    dependable or consistent.

    scorched earth policy Noun

    a military strategy which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area.

    secure Verb

    to guarantee, or make safe and certain.

    slave Noun

    person who is owned by another person or group of people.

    supply Noun

    amount of a product that is available to consumers.

    telegraph Noun

    system of communication involving devices connected through electrical wires.

    troop Noun

    a soldier.

    Union Adjective

    having to do with states supporting the United States (north) during the U.S. Civil War.

    war Noun

    large-scale armed conflict.