Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size
Login

Military Photos



General Sherman sacks Columbia, South Carolina, February 17, 1865

(331 total words in this text)
(5072 Reads)  Printer-friendly page
The soldiers from Union General William Tecumseh Sherman's army ransack Columbia, South Carolina, and leave a charred city in their wake.

Sherman is most famous for his "March to the Sea" in the closing months of 1864. After capturing Atlanta in September, Sherman cut away from his supply lines and cut a swath of destruction across Georgia on his way to Savannah. His army lived off the land and destroyed railroads, burned warehouses, and ruined plantations along the way. This was a calculated effort--Sherman thought that the war would end quicker if civilians of the South felt some destruction personally, a view supported by General Ulysses S. Grant, commander of all Union forces, and President Lincoln.

After spending a month in Savannah, Sherman headed north to tear the Confederacy into smaller pieces. The Yankee soldiers took particular delight in carrying the war to South Carolina, the symbol of the rebellion. It was the first state to secede and the site of Fort Sumter, where South Carolinians fired on the Federal garrison to start the war. When General Wade Hampton's cavalry evacuated Columbia, the capital was open to Sherman's men.

Many of the Yankees got drunk before starting the rampage. General Henry Slocum observed: "A drunken soldier with a musket in one hand and a match in the other is not a pleasant visitor to have about the house on a dark, windy night." Sherman claimed that the raging fires were started by evacuating Confederates and fanned by high winds. He later wrote: "Though I never ordered it and never wished it, I have never shed any tears over the event, because I believe that it hastened what we all fought for, the end of the War." Belatedly, some Yankees helped fight the fires, but more than two-thirds of the city was destroyed. Already choked with refugees from the path of Sherman's army, Columbia's situation became even more desperate when Sherman's army destroyed the remaining public buildings before marching out of Columbia three days later.
Military History
Forum Posts

Military Polls

Which branch of the armed forces did you serve?

[ Results | Polls ]

Votes: 134

This Day in History
1862: Confederates broke through the Union lines at the Battle of Gaines’ Mill on the third day of the Seven Days Battle in Virginia.

1864: Union General William T. Sherman launches a major attack on Confederate General Joseph Johnstons army at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in Georgia.

1916: The 4th Marine Regiment defeated Dominican rebels in a stand-up bayonet attack.

1927: The U.S. Marines adopted the English bulldog as their mascot.

1940: The Germans set up two-way radio communication in their newly occupied French territory, employing their most sophisticated coding machine, Enigma, to transmit information.

1944: American forces of 7th Corps (part of US 1st Army) complete the capture of Cherbourg.

1945: On Luzon, units of the US 37th Division, part of US 1st Corps, reach Aparri, on the north coast.

1945: The American carrier USS Bunker Hill is struck by a Kamikaze plane, killing 373 men.

1950: President Harry S. Truman announces that he is ordering U.S. air and naval forces to South Korea to aid the democratic nation in repulsing an invasion by communist North Korea.

1950: Just two days after communist North Korean forces invaded South Korea, the United Nations Security Council approves a resolution put forward by the United States calling for armed force to repel the North Korean invaders.