Looking to do some reading on William T. Sherman’s March to the Sea? We asked Bennett Parten, a professor of history at Georgia Southern University who is completing a book on the history of emancipation in the wake of Sherman’s March, for his five essential books on one of the war’s most consequential campaigns. Below are his selections.
1. Noah Andre Trudeau, Southern Storm: Sherman’s March to the Sea (Harper Perennial, 2009)
Trudeau is a masterful historian of military campaigns. He has a knack for following Sherman’s army—day-by-day, town by town—as it moves through Georgia. It’s an exhaustive history with an equally as impressive bibliography, making it a boon to readers and researchers alike.
2. Joseph T. Glatthaar, The March to the Sea and Beyond: Sherman’s Troops in the Savannah and Carolinas Campaigns (UNC Press, 1995)
The March to the Sea and Beyond is all about the common soldier’s experience. It takes the reader into the campaign, offering a view into topics such as how the soldiers foraged, why they fought, what camp life was like, and even how they interacted with enslaved people. For readers interested in the ins-and-outs of soldiering, this is the book for you.
3. Lisa Tendrich Frank, The Civilian War: Confederate Women and Union Soldiers During Sherman’s March (LSU Press, 2015)
The Civilian War offers something new—a view of the March to the Sea from the other side. With a keen focus on southern women and their interactions with Sherman’s men, Frank seamlessly blends gender history into story of the Sherman’s March, showing how southern women sat at the very heart of the campaign.
4. Anne Sarah Rubin, Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman’s March and American Memory (UNC Press, 2014)
This book moves beyond the campaign. As the title suggests, Rubin documents how the Savannah Campaign lived on in American memory. She does an excellent job explaining how the history of Sherman’s March shaped (and still shapes) American culture.
5. Henry Hitchcock, Marching with Sherman: Passages from the Letters and Campaign Diaries of Henry Hitchcock, Major and Assistant Adjutant General of Volunteers, Nov. 1864–May 1865 (Bison Books, 1995), edited by M.A. De Wolfe Howe
This collection of excerpts taken from the diaries and letters of Major Henry Hitchcock, one of Sherman’s adjutants, may well be the most important first-hand account of the March. Hitchcock was not only well placed (he once jokingly described himself as Sherman’s scribe), he also proves to be an observant diarist, relating incidents and insights into the campaign that readers would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.