Illinois Regiments in the March to the Sea
(Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia)
(May 6 - September 2, 1864)


Following the capture of Atlanta, Maj. Gen. Sherman proposed a daring strike into the heart of the Confederacy. Following Grant's example in the Vicksburg campaign, Sherman proposed to cut loose from his supply lines and move his army across Georgia to Savannah on the coast. His forces would live off the land and destroy anything of value to the Confederacy in their path.

Sherman left approximately 30,000 troops under Thomas to defend Tennessee against the Confederate Army of Tennessee under General John Bell Hood. (However, Sherman was very generous in describing all of the troops left behind as combat troops.) Sherman moved up all the ammunition supplies he would need to Atlanta, and then proceeded to burn anything in Atlanta that he didn't need or that could be of use to the Confederacy.

On November 15, 1864, Sherman's Army of 70,000 men organized into four corps started across Georgia. Farms were looted for food, houses and farms burned, railroads torn up and destroyed. Sherman's March to the Sea was the first example of "modern war" taking the war to the supporting population and destroying the will of the population to resist. Sherman's goal was to demonstrate that he could take a large Union army at will through the heart of the south and do whatever he wanted, and he did.

Sherman's forces arrived at Savannah in late December and after a brief siege, occupied the city. Sherman announced his success to President Lincoln in his famous telegram, "I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton."

The Illinois regiments which took part in the March to the Sea are listed below. The links will take you to the regimental pages.

Source: Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Dyer's Compendium

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