Review In Brief: To The Sea: A History and Tour Guide of Sherman’s March

Civil War Books on the Atlanta Campaign & Sherman’s March

To The Sea: A History and Tour Guide of Sherman’s March
by Jim Miles

In addition to doing my Back-To-Back Books and taking notes on other books, I’ll also be reading books without taking detailed notes. After reading these books, I hope to give “Reviews In Brief”. My purpose is to give readers an idea of the content and quality of the books reviewed in this way. The first book I’ll cover is Jim Miles’ Campaign History / Tour Guide of Sherman’s March entitled To The Sea. Mr. Miles has authored numerous books in this format, but the only other one I’ve read is Fields of Glory: A History and Tour Guide of the Atlanta Campaign. I read that book a long time ago, and from what I remember of it I enjoyed it.

In November, 1864, William Tecumseh Sherman and 60,000 of his finest veterans, divided among the Army of Georgia (XIV Corps and XX Corps) and the Army of the Tennessee (XV Corps and XVII Corps), set off from Atlanta for Savannah, Georgia and the Atlantic Ocean. Over the course of the next six weeks, Sherman and his men foraged off of the land liberally, committing some atrocities along the way. Just how many atrocities these men committed and the gravity of the situation seems to fluctuate the farther north or south of the Mason-Dixon line you go, so I’ll leave it at that. Savannah was captured in late December, and the next Spring Sherman marched north through the Carolinas. South Carolina was ravaged as Sherman’s men wreaked havoc on the state they believed had caused the war. Columbia, South Carolina was almost wholly burned in an extremely controversial event. The book ends with a description of the battles in North Carolina, especially Bentonville, and Johnston’s surrender to Sherman at Bennett Place in late April 1865. The books in Jim Miles’ series are intended to provide a solid introduction to the information while also providing solid information for potential tours of these campaigns. Miles succeeds in this with To The Sea. As I mentioned above, Sherman’s March is a very controversial topic, and Miles does a good job of providing the reader with a non-biased introduction. The reader may wish to pursue some of these controversies, especially the burning of Columbia, South Carolina, by referring to other more detailed studies. The maps of the campaign are sub-par, but I do not mind this too much because the book is not meant to be a detailed description of the entire March. There are no notes, which I’m never fond of. You have no way of finding out where Miles got his information and on what specifically he bases his conclusions. All in all, this is a decent book to get if you are new to these events. It provides the starting point for tours of these places, and should lead those interested into further study of the material.

192 pp., 31 maps

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