Reggentin will speak at the museum about Sherman’s March to the Sea
Presentation will be Wednesday
August 18, 2017
For one month in the winter of 1864, Union Major General William T. Sherman led 60,000 soldiers from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia, in what historians call the March to the Sea or the Savannah Campaign.
The march that ran from Nov. 15 to Dec. 21, was done without supply lines for the troops, said Steve Reggentin, who will give a lecture about the march at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, the Park City Museum.
"It was Sherman's idea to take off with no supply line," Reggentin told The Park Record. "He had to convince Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant that he could pull this off, but he knew he could."
Sherman took 60,000 soldiers, of which 55,000 were infantry and 5,000 were Calvary.
"He only took those who were fit," Reggentin said. "Sherman also took the 14,000 of his best horses, the sturdiest wagons and 600 ambulances, which he really didn't need, because at the end, there weren't a lot of casualties."
The march was done in two stages.
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The first stage was defeating Confederate General John B. Hood in Atlanta, on Sept. 2. After Hood abandoned Atlanta and moved his troops to Tennessee, Sherman wanted to continue south, because the Confederate army strongholds were scattered.
"Sherman and his troops took a two week break in Atlanta," Reggentin said. "Grant wanted to pull them up to help with fighting [General Robert E.] Lee's Confederacy troops in Virginia, but Sherman wanted to continue into South Carolina."
Reggentin will expand on Sherman's March as well as the impact it had on then President Abraham Lincoln.
"Because the war had dragged on for three years by that time, there was a lot of sentiment in the North to just left the people in the South go because there were so many casualties on both sides," Reggentin said. "In fact, Lincoln's reelection in 1864 was very much in doubt."
Reggentin will discuss how Sherman's March saved Lincoln's campaign, and helped the Union win the war and freed nearly 3.5 million slaves.
"There is some opinion by some scholars that the slaves really freed themselves, but if you really look into this, you will find when Lee surrendered to the Union, 85 percent of the slaves were still slaves," he said.
Reggentin will also talk more about Sherman.
"He, of course, was an interesting character," Reggentin said. "He went to West Point when he was 16 years old and finished fourth in his class, in spite of the fact that he had a 150 demerits in one year. It was my understanding that he liked to go to town and bend his elbows a little bit.
"The interesting about Sherman was that he hated war. He just wanted it to be over."
Reggentin, a part-time Parkite from Saddlebrook, Arizona, has always been interested in history.
"All my classmates were bored to tears when I was in school, but I was fascinated by it," he said.
When he retired and moved to Saddlebrook, located at the north end of Tucson, he joined the Civil War Club.
"If you come for Saddlebrook, you will find a club for everything — model airplanes, knitting, you name it," he said. "I've been a member of the Civil War Club for a number of years, and we feel an obligation to take portions of the Civil War and do presentations."
Reggentin said he enjoys being in the club because the things they talk about are fact-based.
"We're all trying to get at the truth, you know, what really did happen," he said. "It was easy for me get involved with the Civil War Club because I know a lot about the war, and it's nice to talk about various things."
Historian Steve Reggentin will present at free lecture titled "Lincoln and Sherman's March to the Sea," at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, at the Park City Museum, 528 Main St. For information, visit http://www.parkcityhistory.org.