Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

C. L. Grant



The following study is in some ways not a traditional treatment of the American Civil War. Consequently, it is the purpose of this introduction to prepare any potential reader for what lies ahead. Civil War historians have long written of the "American Iliad," as it is sometimes called, as if it simply appeared, from a military perspective, out of nowhere, with no preceding experiences which influenced its course nor any consequences which resulted from it. In short, "tunnel vision" has been a characteristic trait of many chroniclers of the War of the Rebellion.

This work, therefore, attempts to go beyond the usual limits of Civil War history to examine what effects the preceding three hundred years of European and American military history had on the effort of General William Tecumseh Sherman to feed, clothe, arm, and accoutre his bluecoats during the Atlanta Campaign of 1864. And further, the results of this experience on later attempts by Americans and Europeans to feed their armies in time of war are briefly traced through World War One, when all western armies came to rely on their own internally administered and organized supply systems to fill their armies' material needs.

Because this study endeavors to take the so-called long view of the Atlanta Campaign and how it fits into the whole of western military history, it may be helpful to read it in a certain order. Read the first chapter in its entirety, and then peruse the last four pages of the text. In this way, the long view will become apparent. Next, go back and read all of chapters two through six. The result should be a much clearer understanding of the supply of Sherman's armies during the Atlanta Campaign.

And finally, to all but the most dedicated of military historians, a logistical study would seem to be endlessly boring and inconsequential. In truth, however, logistics or supply has had more effect on military history than is commonly recognized, and the first few pages of chapter one should firmly establish that fact. Hence, it is a further purpose of this work to dispel some of the widely held myths concerning the way in which Sherman's blue columns were provisioned on their march to Atlanta and how the ultimate Union victory was in one way at least due greatly to a superb supply network.

(c) J. Britt McCarley


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