When Sherman Marched North from the Sea

Resistance on the Confederate Home Front

By Jacqueline Glass Campbell

192 pp., 5.5 x 8.5, 1 map, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5659-8
    Published: August 2005
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-7679-4
    Published: May 2006

Civil War America

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Home front and battle front merged in 1865 when General William T. Sherman occupied Savannah and then marched his armies north through the Carolinas. Although much has been written about the military aspects of Sherman's March, Jacqueline Campbell reveals a more complex story. Integrating evidence from Northern soldiers and from Southern civilians, black and white, male and female, Campbell demonstrates the importance of culture for determining the limits of war and how it is fought.

Sherman's March was an invasion of both geographical and psychological space. The Union army viewed the Southern landscape as military terrain. But when they brought war into Southern households, Northern soldiers were frequently astounded by the fierceness with which many white Southern women defended their homes. Campbell argues that in the household-centered South, Confederate women saw both ideological and material reasons to resist. While some Northern soldiers lauded this bravery, others regarded such behavior as inappropriate and unwomanly.

Campbell also investigates the complexities behind African Americans' decisions either to stay on the plantation or to flee with Union troops. Black Southerners' delight at the coming of the army of "emancipation" often turned to terror as Yankees plundered their homes and assaulted black women.

Ultimately, When Sherman Marched North from the Sea calls into question postwar rhetoric that represented the heroic defense of the South as a male prerogative and praised Confederate women for their "feminine" qualities of sentimentality, patience, and endurance. Campbell suggests that political considerations underlie this interpretation--that Yankee depredations seemed more outrageous when portrayed as an attack on defenseless women and children. Campbell convincingly restores these women to their role as vital players in the fight for a Confederate nation, as models of self-assertion rather than passive self-sacrifice.

About the Author

Jacqueline Glass Campbell is assistant professor of history at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.
For more information about Jacqueline Glass Campbell, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"A worthy addition to the burgeoning literature focusing on the social and cultural aspects of the Civil War. Concise yet thoroughly researched, it contributes fresh, thought-provoking insights into a long-neglected area of study: the interaction between General William T. Sherman's soldiers and southern civilians, black and white, male and female, during his march through the Carolinas."--The South Carolina Historical Magazine

"Offers new insights into civilian reaction to Sherman's campaign and in the process challenges the Lost Cause image of Confederate women."--Civil War News

"Anyone interested in a well-researched account of Confederate women's responses to Sherman's march will find this study rewarding."--American Historical Review

"[Campbell's] book is well worth reading for its insights on gender, race, and what she calls the cultural politics of war."--H-Civil War

"Jacqueline Glass Campbell here blends military and social history with . . . sophistication and subtlety. . . . When Sherman Marched North from the Sea deserves a front-rank place in this field of our war's literature."--Blue & Gray Magazine

"Short but illuminating. . . . Campbell's work not only fills a void in the phase of Sherman's advance often neglected but offers thought-provoking insights, leaving readers with the desire to know more about the impact of war on civilians of any era."--Florida Historical Quarterly