Sherman's March Through South Carolina

66 Days of Hell

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Indeed, the confederate forces were a motley crew, but they had hearts of steel. The Mayor of Columbia reported that "there were not 1,400 able bodied men left in the entire state of South Carolina to defend against Gen. Sherman's march."2 Indeed, by this time, South Carolina had lost over 20,000 of her men to the war - fully one third of the men between ages 16 and 50 having been killed for the cause.

When they left Savannah, Federal troop strength was 60,000 consisting of the 14th, 15th, 17th, and 20th Army Corps plus a Cavalry Corps of 4,000. Each of the Federal Army Corps consisted equally of about 13,000 men. Throughout the march, each army took a slightly different route in a swath 100 miles wide from Savannah and Beaufort, SC to Columbia, then northeast towards Fayetteville, NC.

The total Confederate troops involved were 33,400, although not all of them were available to defend the state in the early part of the campaign. I estimate that at most about 5,000 Confederate forces were in the state in early January, 1865. The remnants of the Hood's Army were in Tennessee following the terrible loss at Nashville on 15 - 19 DEC 1864. Gen. Hood resigned on 13 JAN 1865, and Gen. Johnston once again resumed command and led the men from Tennessee to South Carolina. The troops passed through Augusta in late January, repairing the railroad as they went, and by late January had approx 30,000 troops in the mid-state with about 20,000 being fit for battle.

The loss of life both to the Confederate and Federal armies, and the population at large was relatively light in view of the destruction of property. In his report, the Surgeon for the Federal Forces, D. L. Huntington, puts their losses at 106 deaths and 697 wounded. A tally of the first hand accounts indicates a much higher number - something approaching 1,000 deaths. Confederate casualties are unknown for this period. There is a report of some 200 civilians being massacred in the upstate above Columbia, and something less than 20 killed when Columbia was burned, but the records are virtually non-existent as Sherman burned almost everything in his path. The tallies made by the federal officers would indicate approx. 300 confederate troops died.

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