This week marks the 150th anniversary of the final leg of General William T. Sherman’s victorious “March to the Sea,” which concluded with the Union army’s capture of the all-important port city, Savannah, on 21 December 1864. Sherman’s troops tore across the deep South, ravaging cities from Atlanta to Savannah and overwhelming Southern soldiers and civilians. In The Smell of Battle, the Taste of Siege: A Sensory History of the Civil War, historian Mark M. Smith considers Sherman’s march according to each of the five senses, recalling the sight of 60,000 men charging across Georgia, the sound of cannon fire and hoof beats, and the smell of burning villages. Here, we chart the course of Sherman’s devastating advance and share Smith’s sensory insights into the Union’s storied March to the Sea.
Headline image credit: Sherman’s men destroying railroad in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by George N. Barnard. Library of Congress.