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

Page 408

  Another who was spokesman for a large number of fellow-slaves said to an aide-de-camp of the General’s, “Ise hope de Lord will prosper you Yankees and Mr. Sherman because I tinks and we’se all tinks dat you’se down here in our interests.” At Milledgeville the negroes in their ecstasy shouted, “Bress de Lord! tanks be to Almighty God, the Yanks is come! de day ob jubilee hab arribed.” 1 “Negro men, women and children joined the column at every mile of our march,” reported the commander of the left wing. The desire to realize their freedom at once was keen and the number would have been far greater had not Sherman discouraged the negroes from following the army, as all but the young and able-bodied, who were put to use, were a serious drawback, increasing the number of mouths to be fed and causing constant apprehension lest they should hamper the movement of the troops in the event that the enemy were encountered in formidable array. But the tidings that President Lincoln had proclaimed them all free was spread far and wide.  10   The moral effect of the march to the sea was very great. “Sherman’s campaign has produced bad effect on our people,” wrote Jefferson Davis. 2 At first it was popularly supposed at the South that the operation was hazardous and that the Union Army might be checked or even destroyed. The Union force was underrated; the Confederate means of defence were estimated too high, especially as they were so disposed as to be ineffective. The marching columns met with little resistance. The victorious progress of “this modern Attila,” as Sherman was called, brought out indications that many people in the South were tired of the war.  11   During the thirty-two days when the world lost sight
Note 1. Nichols, 56, 60. [back]
Note 2. O. R., XLV, Pt. 2, 778. [back]