American Civil War

The Civil War lasted four years (1861-1865) between the United States and 11 Southern states that seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America. The main causes of the civil war were the contradictions between the system of wage labor and slavery, complexity of economic relations between northern and southern states as well as the intensification of the struggle between North and South by the western lands and political power in the state. After Abraham Lincoln was elected as President, the war between the Confederates and Union began. The Union General William T. Sherman, who became famous as one of the most talented generals of the Civil War, fought on Lincoln’s side. (Weber and Warren n. pag.).

On November 15, 1864, Sherman’s famous “March to the Sea” began. That was a key event in the Civil War of the United States. The starting point of the campaign was Atlanta. When the Sherman troops entered Atlanta, there was nothing to seize. The defense of southerners undermined the wagons of ammunition which they could not take with them. As a result, a huge fire broke out. Despite the efforts of southerners, Atlanta was conquered by the Union troops (

During the siege of Atlanta, the townspeople suffered seriously. The city was densely riddled with shots and missiles. Some families dug caves in their gardens, adapting them for housing, and during the bombing many of them were living in those caves. But those inevitable costs of war did not change the fact that was confirmed by documents: Sherman did not want to bring hardship and harm to the civilian population of the South. Fearing that the presence of a peaceful population in a virtually front-line town would condemn him to new sacrifices and deprivations, Sherman notified the townspeople that they had to leave Atlanta in the shortest time possible in the direction they would choose (Bancroft n. pag.). Such a step caused a storm of protests in the South and pathetic accusations addressed to Sherman. Mayor of Atlanta wrote to the general about the difficult condition of the people of Atlanta, especially women and children who had no relatives and no place to go, he told about the horrors and the suffering that waited for them. But Sherman did not care. He did what he thought was right by notifying the councilmen about the danger. He believed that war was a war and not a pursuit of popularity.

At first sight, it seems that the Mayor of Atlanta and the councilmen were worrying about their people, their needs, and fate. However, I suppose they just wanted to protect their own interests and hoped to stop Sherman’s army. It is very likely that being on the side of Confederates, they counted on their support and intended not to let the troops into the city by all means. Consequently, the civilians were only a tool for manipulation.

Since General Sherman strived for peace and justice, which stood in the first place for him, the letter written to Atlanta City Council demonstrated that he wanted to end the war with as few victims as possible, secure liberty, and ensure the peaceful future of the people and the country. Sherman knew that the battle for Atlanta would be frustrating for the city and its residents would have enormous losses. To stay in meant to lose lives.

Sherman’s soldiers destroyed railroad tracks, burned cotton warehouses, his army brazenly plundered and burned down the surrendered state center of South Carolina – Colombia, the population of which was subjected to violence by soldiers. From November 15 till December 21, the 60,000-strong army of northerners passed from Atlanta to Savannah, destroying everything that could be destroyed on their way. Sherman ordered the systematic bombardment of military and industrial facilities of the city. Although he was a caring person and had sympathy to his enemies, he was also a perfect commander doing his best to preserve lives of his troops (Berlin and Simpson n. pag.). The general forced the captive southerners to dig out anti-personnel mines with shovels, saying that otherwise his soldiers would die, and as a military man he was not obliged to regret enemies. In spite of having to do, so he would say: “War is cruelty and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out.” (Sherman n. pag.). Therefore, he considered such cruelty necessary or permissible only during the war and after Lincoln’s murder, he with his subordinates took measures to protect the civil inhabitants against the acts of revenge.

Although I am an ardent opponent of war, and will never fully justify the violence, destruction, and life losses it brings, I am on Sherman’s side because I think that he was not only a great commander but also quite a wise man. As his correspondence proves, despite his tough actions during the war, Sherman was a humanist and a person understanding the value of life and peace, which is supported by his attempts to avoid victims, protect people and justice, as well as restore people’s rights and freedoms.

In conclusion, although the bloody war brought much harm to all the citizens of the USA, the victory of the North opened the opportunities for the development of market economy and contributed to the future establishment of America in the leading position in the world. The elimination of slavery, granting African Americans the right to vote, and the approval of democracy stimulated the consolidation of the American nation.

Works Cited

Weber, Jennifer L., and Warren W. Hassler “American Civil War in United States History.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 5 Nov. 2016, Accessed 26 Mar. 2017.

Bancroft, Hubert H. The Great Republic: General Sherman’s March To The Sea (Vol. 3). Publicbookshelf.Com, 2017, Accessed 27 Mar. 2017.

“Sherman’S March.”, Accessed 27 Mar. 2017.

Berlin, Jean V., and Brook D. Simpson. Sherman’s Civil War: Selected Correspondence of William T. Sherman. 1860-1865. University of North Carolina Press, 1999, 707-709.

William T. Sherman. “Message to theAtlanta City council.” University College London, 1864,