Sherman's March to the Sea

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 Sherman Heads for Atlanta
  • 2:01 The Election of 1864
  • 3:07 Sherman's March to the Sea
  • 4:33 Lesson Summary
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Alexandra Lutz

Alexandra has taught students at every age level from pre-school through adult. She has a BSEd in English Education.

In 1864, General William T. Sherman began his Atlanta campaign. His success assured Lincoln's re-election in 1864. Sherman then began his destructive March to the Sea in order to capture Savannah.

Sherman Heads for Atlanta

'We are not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war.' - William Tecumseh Sherman

Sherman reached Atlanta successfully by going around Confederate lines.
Sherman Heads to Atlanta Map

In 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant planned a two-part offensive to capture Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy and win the war. One part of that plan was for Grant to wear down Confederate General Robert E. Lee's army in a war of attrition, reducing his ability to keep fighting in the east. The second part was for General William Tecumseh Sherman to leave Chattanooga, Tennessee, and capture Atlanta. The two arms of the Union army began their campaigns almost simultaneously in early May 1864.

Soon after Sherman's Atlanta campaign began, Confederate General Joseph Johnston entrenched himself in Sherman's path. But Sherman, having learned the lessons of the eastern army, avoided deadly frontal confrontations. Instead, he moved around the Southern lines, forcing Johnston to continually retreat into another prepared line. This advance lasted for three months, incorporating seventeen engagements with two different Southern commanders. But by late July, he was within sight of Atlanta and dug in for a month-long siege, warning the residents of the city to evacuate. They sent him a letter, begging him to change his mind. This is part of his reply:

'Those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out… You might as well appeal against the thunder-storm as against these terrible hardships of war… Now you must go, and take with you the old and feeble, feed and nurse them, and build for them, in more quiet places, proper habitations to shield them against the weather until the mad passions of men cool down, and allow the Union and peace once more to settle over your old homes in Atlanta.'

The Election of 1864

Lincoln chose a Southerner to run with him in the election of 1864.
Presidential Candidates 1864

On September 2nd, Sherman did capture Atlanta. It was good news for President Abraham Lincoln, who was in a hotly contested bid for re-election. For more than three decades, no incumbent had won a second term. Plus, the public was tired of war and death, and Lincoln had many opponents. Besides the Democrats, who nominated former Union commander George McClellan, Radical Republicans formed a third party to challenge him, nominating John Frémont. In a move to attract more voters, Lincoln dumped his former vice president and selected Andrew Johnson, a War Democrat from Tennessee - the only Southerner to remain in the United States Senate - to be his running mate. However, when Sherman captured Atlanta, nothing else mattered. Public morale soared, Frémont dropped out of the race, and Lincoln won an electoral landslide in the election of 1864. (Of course, none of the Southern states participated.)

What came next was most aptly described by Sherman himself: 'War is Hell.'

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher
What is your educational goal?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 49 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Click "next lesson" whenever you finish a lesson and quiz. Got It
You now have full access to our lessons and courses. Watch the lesson now or keep exploring. Got It
You're 25% of the way through this course! Keep going at this rate,and you'll be done before you know it.
The first step is always the hardest! Congrats on finishing your first lesson. Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
Way to go! If you watch at least 30 minutes of lessons each day you'll master your goals before you know it. Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
Congratulations on earning a badge for watching 10 videos but you've only scratched the surface. Keep it up! Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
You've just watched 20 videos and earned a badge for your accomplishment! Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
You've just earned a badge for watching 50 different lessons. Keep it up, you're making great progress! Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
You just watched your 100th video lesson. You have earned a badge for this achievement! Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
Congratulations! You just finished watching your 200th lesson and earned a badge! Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
Congratulations! You just finished watching your 300th lesson and earned a badge! Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
You are a superstar! You have earned the prestigious 500 video lessons watched badge. Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
Incredible. You have just entered the exclusive club and earned the 1000 videos watched badge. Go to Next Lesson Take Quiz
You have earned a badge for watching 20 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 50 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 100 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 250 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 500 minutes of lessons.
You have earned a badge for watching 1000 minutes of lessons.