James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.

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  out with military precision. Each brigade sent out a party of about fifty men on foot who would return mounted, driving cattle and mules and hauling wagons or family carriages loaded with fresh mutton, smoked bacon, turkeys, chickens, ducks, corn meal, jugs of molasses and sweet potatoes. As the crop was large, and had just been gathered and laid by for the winter, and as the region had never before been visited by a hostile army, the land was rich in provisions and forage. While Sherman and his officers sincerely endeavored to have the foraging done in an orderly way, the men were often riotous in seizing food on their own account. “A soldier passed me,” so related the General, “with a ham on his musket, a jug of sorghum—molasses—under his arm and a big piece of honey in his hand, from which he was eating and, catching my eye he remarked in a low voice to a comrade, ‘Forage liberally on the country.’” Sherman reproved the man as he did others when similar acts of lawlessness fell under his observation, explaining that “foraging must be limited to the regular parties properly detailed.” 1 Full of pride in his soldiers and elated at their manifestations of confidence in him, he had for them after the completion of the march only this mild censure, “A little loose in foraging they ‘did some things they ought not to have done.’” 2 A spirit of fun pervaded the army which exhibited itself in innocent frolics, typical of which was the meeting of some officers in the Hall of Representatives at Milledgeville where they constituted themselves the Legislature of the State of Georgia, elected a speaker and after a formal debate repealed by a fair vote the Ordinance of Secession.  7   Destruction was a part of the business of the march, especially as Lee’s army drew its supplies of provisions
Note 1. W. Sherman, II, 181. [back]
Note 2. Jan. 1, 1865, O. R., XLIV, 14. [back]