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An Army travels on its stomach

By Lane Hartill / June 27, 2000



Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, in an effort to demoralize and split the South, marched his 112,000 troops from Chattanooga, Tenn., to Atlanta in the summer of 1864. The march and its tactics are still controversial, but there is no arguing with the logistics of his task. He had to move 60,000 animals and 254 guns some 137 miles, all on dirt roads. Each of his eight army corps needed at least 600 food wagons. The troops required 180 tons of food (not to mention 50 million rounds of ammunition); the horses needed 350 tons of forage and 250,000 horseshoes.

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All this was loaded on 4,800 wagons hauled by 28,000 mules. Each man, Sherman figured, needed three pounds of food a day, each horse and mule 20 pounds of feed daily. That added up to 400 wagonloads (600 tons) a day!

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society