Originally Posted by Cheetah772
I know this thread is about the book on Sherman, but I want to take it further to the next level.
Obviously Sherman accomplished his goal as he made both Georgia and South Carolina howl. However, I have to wonder on some level perhaps Sherman overdid it. Even after defeat, the South remained stubborn and kept the bitterness of Sherman's march alive by using that as a proof of who was the real villain in the Civil War -- the North and its vile generals.
Look at us, we're still fighting the war all over again 150 years later even if it's only words, not with bullets flying over our heads.
The war was obviously over by then, so was it really necessary for Sherman to go on his infamous march? We'll never know the answer to that question, but likewise we'll never know if the reconciliation process would have gone much smoother if not for his March to the Sea. But we do know that Lincoln very much wanted a speedy reconciliation process with lenient terms for the losing side. In the end, I suppose we should be grateful for Lincoln's conciliatory frame of mind, otherwise the aftermath might turn out uglier for the South.
Shermans ultimate goal was Richmond where he would reinforce Grant, so a simple march made sense.
Destroying anything that could support the war, like railroads, barns, and food would also make sense, but at that time the effect would be felt by Southern citizens as much as armies.
Destroying homes is tough to say. At first it just looks cruel, but many soldiers deserted the ANV in order to go home and help their families, and the time they spent rebuilding their lives was time not spent resuming the rebellion.
If it could somehow be proved that his destruction ended the war sooner and saved lives on both sides when the war was all but over (which I'm inclined to believe), then I think it was the right move. But if not, then it was just cruel and unusual. Like the saying goes, the difference between genius and madness is success.