| This Country of Ours|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Stories from the history of the United States beginning with a full account of exploration and settlement and ending with the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. The 99 chapters are grouped under 7 headings: Stories of Explorers and Pioneers, Stories of Virginia, Stories of New England, Stories of the Middle and Southern Colonies, Stories of the French in America, Stories of the Struggle for Liberty, and Stories of the United States under the Constitution. Ages 10-14 |
LINCOLN—SHERMAN'S MARCH TO THE SEA—LINCOLN RE-ELECTED PRESIDENT
 GRANT'S plan of action was twofold, and while he was fighting Lee Sherman
was fighting the
second Confederate army under General J.E. Johnston. At the beginning
of the campaign Sherman's army was at Chattanooga in Tennessee,
and while Grant was fighting the battle of the Wilderness, he began
his march to Atlanta, Georgia. Fighting all the way, the Confederate
army always retreating before him, he slowly approached Atlanta.
At length on September 2nd he entered and took possession of it.
Here for a few weeks the soldiers rested after their arduous labours.
Then preparation for the next campaign began. All the sick and
wounded, extra tents and baggage, in fact every one and everything
which could be done without, was sent back to Tennessee. For the
order had gone forth that the army was to travel light on this
campaign. None but the fit and strong were to take part in it, and
they were to carry with them only three weeks' rations.
Where they were going the men did not know. They did not ask. There
was no need to trouble, for Sherman was leading them, and they knew
he would lead them to victory.
After Richmond, Atlanta had supplied more guns and ammunition and
other war material for the Confederacy, than any other town, and
before he left it, Sherman
deter-  mined to destroy everything which
might be of use to the enemy. So he emptied the town of all its
inhabitants, and blew up all the gun and ammunition factories,
storehouses, and arsenals. He tore up the railroads all around
Atlanta also, and last of all cut the telegraph which linked him
to the North. Then cut off as it were from all the world with his
force of nearly sixty-six thousand men, he turned eastward toward
The army marched in four divisions, taking roads which as nearly
as possible ran alongside each other, so that each division might
keep in touch with the others. Every morning at daybreak they broke
camp and during the day marched from ten to fifteen miles. And as
they passed through it they laid waste the land. Railroads were
torn up and thoroughly destroyed. The sleepers were made into piles
and set alight, the rails were laid on the top of the bonfires, and
when hot enough to be pliable were twisted beyond all possibility
of being used again. Telegraph wires and poles were torn down,
factories were burned, only private homes being left untouched.
Foragers quartered the country, sweeping it bare of cattle, poultry,
fodder and corn. For both man and beast of the great army fed upon
the land as they passed through it, the rations with which they had
come provided being kept in case of need. Indeed the troops fed so
well that the march, it was said, was like a "continuous Thanksgiving."
What they did not eat they destroyed.
Thus right across the fertile land a stretch of waste and desolation
was created about sixty miles wide. Yet it was not done in wantonness,
but as a terrible necessity of war. It clove the Confederacy from
east to west as thoroughly as the Mississippi clove it from north
to south. It rifled and well-nigh exhausted the rich granary which
fed the Confederate army, and by destroying the railroads prevented
even what was left being sent to them. Grant
 meant to end the war,
and it seemed to him more merciful to destroy food and property
than to destroy men.
Through all this great raid there was little fighting done. And
as the army marched day by day through the sunny land a sort of
holiday spirit pervaded it. The work was a work of grim destruction,
but it was done in the main with good temper. The sun shone, the
men led a free and hardy life, growing daily more brown and sinewy,
and at the end of the march of nearly three hundred miles, far
from being worn out, they were more fit and strong than when they
By the second week in December the goal was reached—Savannah and
the sea. Here the army joined hands with the navy. Fort McAllister,
which defended the south side of the city, was taken by a brilliant
assault, and Sherman prepared for a siege of Savannah both by land
and water. But in the night the Confederates quietly slipped out
of the city, and retreated across the swamps. When their flight
was discovered they were already beyond reach of pursuit, and with
hardly a blow struck the city of Savannah fell into the hands of
The great march had ended triumphantly. "I beg to
present to you, as a Christmas gift," wrote Sherman to Lincoln,
"the city of Savannah with a hundred and fifty-nine heavy guns and
plenty of ammunition, and also about twenty-five thousand bales of
This news followed hard on the news of another victory. For
on December 15th and 16th the Federals under General George H.
Thomas had fought a great battle at Nashville, Tennessee, in which
the Confederates had been defeated. By this battle their strength
beyond the Alleghenies was practically crushed, so as the year 1864
closed, the hopes of the Federals rose high.
Early in 1865 still another victory was recorded in the taking
of Fort Fisher in North Carolina. This was the
 last port in the
possession of the Confederates. With it they lost their last link
with the outside world, and the blockade which Lincoln had proclaimed
nearly four years before was at length complete.
All hope of success now utterly vanished for the Confederates.
Even Lee knew it, and he might have advised the South to lay down
arms, but Jefferson Davis, the Southern President, doggedly refused
to own himself beaten. So the war continued.
On the 1st of February, Sherman set out from Savannah on a second
march. This time he turned northward, and carried his victorious
army right through the Carolinas. The march was longer by more
than a hundred miles than his now famous march to the sea. It was
one too of much greater difficulty. Indeed compared with it the
march to the sea had been a mere picnic.
The weather now was horrible. Rain fell in torrents, and the army
floundered through seas of mud. Along the whole way too they were
harassed by the foe, and hardly a day passed without fighting of some
sort. But, like an inexorable fate, Sherman pressed on, destroying
railroads, and arsenals, creating a desert about him until at length
he joined forces with Grant.
In the midst of this devastating war while some states were fighting
for separation, another new state was added to the Union. This was
Nevada. Nevada is Spanish and means snowy, and the state takes its
name from the snow-topped mountains which run through it. It was
formed out of part of the Mexican territory. Like West Virginia,
the other battle-born state, it was true to the Union. And scanty
though the population was, it raised more than a thousand men for
the Union cause.
Now too, in the midst of war in November of 1864 came the time of
electing a new President. Many people were tired of the war. They
had expected it to last for a few months, and it had lasted for
 years, and some of them were inclined to blame Lincoln for it. So
they wanted a new President. But for the most part the people loved
Lincoln. He was Father Abe to them. And even those who wanted a
change agreed with Lincoln himself when he said that "it was not
well to swop horses when crossing a stream."
So Lincoln was triumphantly elected and on March 4th, 1865, he was
inaugurated for the second time. He made the shortest speech ever
made on such an occasion, and he closed this short speech with the
most beautiful and unforgettable words.
"With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in
the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to
finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care
for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and
for his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and
lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
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