His name is cursed in Georgia, almost a century and a half after the famed march from the smoldering ruins of Atlanta to Savannah and the sea. It went exactly as Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman announced it would, in his proposal to Union command:
"I can make the march, and make Georgia howl."
Sherman's March to the Sea spanned one month, three hundred miles, and $100 million in destruction, a blow from which the Confederacy would never recover. It was a seemingly unstoppable campaign of "total war" in which private and commercial property were equally subject to destruction along with railroads and other Confederate infrastructure. In Southern Storm, Noah Andre Trudeau examines the movements and decisions made by Sherman and his subordinates, later to become legendary in the annals of battlefield strategy. But Southern Storm also includes personal letters and diaries written by soldiers who made the march, uncovering evocative details from the miserable weather to encounters with seething Confederate civilians and jubilant, newly-freed slaves.
In Trudeau's recounting, the man at the center of the march is filled with a holy fury at the "sin" of secession from a nation meant by God to flourish; he is not without compassion for families whose homes were destroyed, but he is resolved that "war, like the thunderbolt, follows its laws and turns not aside even if the beautiful, the virtuous and charitable stand in its path."
Noah Andre Trudeau is a former executive producer at National Public Radio and the author of six books, including Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage. He has won the Civil War Round Table of New York's Fletcher Pratt Award and the Jerry Coffey Memorial Book Prize for his work.
DVD 2008-09-11: Noah Andre Trudeau
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