December 18, 2018

“The Question was One of Supplies.”  – The Logistics for William T. Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign – Greg Biggs

December 18, 2018

No army in history moved without a secure line of supplies especially if it moved into enemy territory.  If an army got cut off from its supplies then calamity usually followed often ending in defeat and/or destruction.  When William T. Sherman set his sights on Atlanta he prepared for the supplying of his army in a manner that surpassed every other Civil War general.  Rebuilding railroads and confiscating locomotives and cars to haul supplies, Sherman set a daily goal for shipments to his forward base in Chattanooga. Ruthless in making sure that only supplies got on the cars, Sherman also had to worry about protecting the line of rails that ran back to Louisville, Kentucky from Confederate raiders.  Building on a system begun by William S. Rosecrans, Sherman’s engineers built forts and blockhouses and prepared pre-fabricated trestles for replacing those brought down by Confederate raiders.  While his preparations were masterful and thorough, they were not without some flaws.  This program will examine the nuts and bolts of these logistics and cover the errors that were also made.  In the end, his supply line performed as expected and Atlanta was captured.  This set the stage for two more campaigns that Sherman would undertake before the war ended in April 1865 as well as logistics for more modern wars.

Greg Biggs has studied military history for over 50 years.  He is a former Associate Editor of Blue & Gray magazine, which has published several of his articles.  He has also been published in Civil War Regiments, North-South Trader and Citizens’ Companion and in Sons of Confederate Veterans programs in Tennessee.  He has presented in programs across the country for Civil War Roundtables and other history groups, museums and conferences.  He has conducted numerous tours of the Fort Donelson Campaign, the Tullahoma Campaign, Chickamauga Campaign, Where The River War Began campaign and the Atlanta Campaign. Greg is a Civil War tour guide for campaigns of the Western Theater for the U.S. Army and Civil War groups and is President of the Clarksville Civil War Roundtable.