History of War

THE MARCH TO THE SEA

“AS WELL AS THE DRAWN-OUT CAMPAIGN AGAINST ATLANTA, ULYSSES S. GRANT WAS BOGGED DOWN IN TRENCH WARFARE AT PETERSBURG. THE WAR SEEMED TO BE DRAGGING ON WITH NO END IN SIGHT”

The struggle for Atlanta had been a cagey, cat-and-mouse affair, dragging on through the summer of 1864. Confederate forces under General Joseph E. Johnston had repeatedly withdrawn in the face of William Tecumseh Sherman’s Union army, and frustration was growing on both sides.

War-weariness was a genuine concern in the North. The procession of costly battles – names like Shiloh, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Chickamauga still resonate today – showed no signs of coming to an end. Half a million men had died in the fighting so far.

As well as the drawn-out campaign against Atlanta, Ulysses S. Grant was bogged down in trench warfare at Petersburg, Virginia. The war seemed to be dragging on with no end in sight. Adding pressure was a presidential campaign, with Abraham Lincoln seeking re-election. Democratic candidate George Brinton McClellan, a former commander-in-chief of Union forces, was running against Lincoln on a so-called ‘peace-platform’ and there was real fear that Lincoln might be defeated and a negotiated settlement reached.

The Confederate armies had their own worries to contend with. Johnston seemed unwilling to stand and fight and it looked as if he might eventually give up Atlanta without a battle. Despite his success in dragging out the campaign at this critical juncture, the Confederate leadership could not stomach a seemingly endless defensive. Johnston was replaced as commander of the Army of Tennessee by the firebrand John Bell Hood, who immediately embarked on a series of costly and unsuccessful offensives. The battered Confederate army was forced to evacuate Atlanta, providing a shot in the arm

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