This Day in Georgia Civil War History
November 14, 1864
Final Preparations for March to the Sea
Union General William T. Sherman and a portion of his forces arrived back in Atlanta. The day was spent in last minute preparations in getting the 62,000-man army ready to depart on the March to the Sea. Over one million rations were distributed to the troops, enough to last almost three weeks. A herd of beef cattle was also assembled to accompany the army. Knowing these rations would be insufficient for the march, Sherman days before had issued instructions that his army could “forage liberally on the country during the march.” As for Atlanta, Sherman later recalled in his memoirs a special assignment he gave for this day.
“I reached Atlanta during the afternoon of the 14th, and found that all preparations had been made…Colonel Poe, United States Engineer, of my staff, had been busy in his special task of destruction. He had a large force at work, had leveled the great depot, round-house, and the machine-shops of the Georgia railroad, and had applied fire to the wreck. One of these machine shops had been used by the rebels as an arsenal, and in it were stored piles of shot and shell, some of which proved to be loaded, and that night was made hideous by the bursting of shells, whose fragments came uncomfortably near Judge Lyon’s house, in which I was quartered. The fire also reached the block of stores near the depot, and the heart of the city was in flames all night, but the fire did not reach the parts of Atlanta where the court-house was or the great mass of dwelling-houses.” Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Marching Through Georgia: William T. Sherman’s Personal Narrative of His March Through Georgia (New York: Arno Press, 1978), pp. 146-147.