Sherman's Definition Of Total War

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In the fall of 1863 General William T. Sherman started planning for the next portion of his battles across the southern states and ending in the Carolinas to try and finally end the Civil War. The campaigns and battles proceeding the spring of 1864 had been conventional warfare, hand to hand and geared more directly at the troops, ships, battery emplacements, and key military facilities. Sherman left Vicksburg February 3, 1864 giving explicit orders to destroy the railroad tracks across Mississippi, as well any facility or establishment that could be utilized in helping or supporting the Confederate war efforts. Sherman continued this reign of destruction the Carolina’s. The definition of Total War given by Hugh Bicheno a historian that…show more content…
With the definition varying slightly of what is all inclusive to be classified as total war, with not every aspect of the terms being met can Sherman’s march across the south eventually ending in the Carolinas with the end of the Civil War, still be classified as a total war? The different variations of definitions on the term total war all have the basic premise of war, whether it is total annihilation, genocide or total destruction across the land, Chickering mentions total war as containing all aspects of modernity. Chickering goes onto further state, “Total War is fought heedless of the restraints of mortality, custom, or international law, for the combatants are inspired by hatreds born of modern ideologies.” Another example of total war by Sallagar states that “total resources” have to be used, no clear indication of what the “total Resources” are limited to or governed by. Sallagar also references the fact that one side has restraint by not using all resources, granted he is referring to the use of poison gas during World War II, however this is a clear example that not all aspects of the definition of total war may be required in claiming total war. As vague as most definitions are, you can argue that total use of troops, fighting techniques on all fronts to…show more content…
Sherman stepped off on February 3rd, destroying the tracks as he entered Jackson; Smiths primary mission was destroying all means of communication along the Mobile & Ohio tracks from Okolona to Meridian. Sherman gave explicit orders to Smith, not to be concerned with the little objects along the way, but instead worry about the big items; like bridges, railroad trestles and unwanted corn. Smith met small groups of guerrilla forces along his route, eventually not making it to Meridian; Sherman met little resistance along his path entering the streets of Meridian, on 14 February. Sherman left a path of destruction behind his Army, essentially burning most of the town of Meridian to the ground. Sherman and his forces tore up tracks burnt down the town of Meridian, crippling the main supply hub and rail depot for the Confederates, Sherman also showed compassion for the civilians along the route by saving some of the homes from the farmers that where just trying to survive. Sherman had Hurlbut and McPherson destroy tracks in four different directions, heading away from Meridian for up to 120 miles; the troops

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