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General William Tecumseh Sherman field orders collection

Collection number: ahc.MSS1027

Scope and Content

This collection contains fifty-two special field orders (SFOs) handwritten by General Sherman from the 1864 Atlanta Campaign of the Civil War. The bulk of these orders pertain to troop movements of the Military Division of the Mississippi (Union) as it moved through northern Georgia en route to Atlanta. Also contained herein are special instructions for railroad destruction (Sherman's "neckties"), proper placement of military hospitals, treatment of "stragglers and skulkers," the occupation and evacuation of the city of Atlanta, and provisioning of the armies for the March to the Sea. Chronologically, the collection begins with SFO 3 written in Resaca, Georgia, on May 21, 1864. It concludes with SFO 114 from November 4, 1864, which was written in Kingston, Georgia. Other places from which Sherman issued field orders include Dalton, Allatoona Pass, Acworth, Dallas, Big Shanty, Kennesaw Mountain, Marietta, Chattahoochee River, Cross Keys, Decatur, Atlanta, Lovejoy, Jonesboro, Rome, Ships Gap, Chattooga Creek, Summerville, Georgia, and Gaylesville, Alabama.


  • 1864


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.

Administrative/Biographical History

William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) was born and raised in Lancaster, Ohio. The son of Mary Hoyt and lawyer Charles R. Sherman, he was named after the Shawnee chief and ally of the British during the War of 1812. After his father died in 1829, he was raised by Thomas R. Ewing, another lawyer in Lancaster. It was Ewing's wife who insisted that a "Christian appendage," William, be added to Tecumseh Sherman's name. The well-connected Ewing (later serving as Secretary of the Interior under presidents Taylor and Fillmore) got "Cump" Sherman into the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1836. Immediately after graduating in 1840, Sherman served in the 3rd Artillery during the 2nd Seminole War and also served in the Mexican War of 1846-1848. In 1850, he married Eleanor Boyle "Ellen" Ewing (1824-1888) with whom he had eight children: Maria Ewing (1851-1913); Mary Elizabeth (1852-1925); William Tecumseh, Jr. (1854-1863); Thomas Ewing (1856-1933); Eleanor Mary (1861-1919); Rachel Ewing (1861-1919); Charles Celestine (1864); and Philemon Tecumseh (1867-1941). His non-military career began in 1853 when he took a position managing a San Francisco bank - Lucas, Turner, and Company. After struggling with a career in banking he returned to army service in 1861. Sherman served as a colonel in the First Battle of Bull Run (July 21, 1861) and was then promoted to brigadier general. Later he succeeded Ulysses S. Grant as the commander of all Union forces in the Western theater. In April 1865, he accepted the surrender of Joseph E. Johnston in Durham, North Carolina. President Grant appointed him commanding general of the United States Army in 1869. In 1884, he retired from the Army and moved to New York City. where he died in 1890.

The Atlanta Campaign was part of General Ulysses S. Grant's strategy to press the Confederate military into conflicts in multiple places and prevent them from concentrating forces in any one area. The campaign began in May 1864 as Sherman's Division of the Mississippi invaded northern Georgia. The Battle of Atlanta occurred on July 22; however, Sherman was unable to declare the city "ours [the Union's] and fairly won" until September 2, 1864. For two months, Sherman engaged with Hood's forces before deciding to focus on the unprotected Georgia interior. In November 1864, Sherman began his "March to the Sea," leaving a wide swath of destruction and devastation through Georgia before reaching Savannah on December 21, 1864.


0.417 linear ft. (one document case)



Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase 2005 with subsequent additions.

Existence and Location of Copies

A transcription for each order is located in folder 53.


America's Turning Point: Documenting the Civil War Experience in Georgia received support from a Digitizing Historical Records grant awarded to the Atlanta History Center, Georgia Historical Society, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the Digital Library of Georgia by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Description Control

This collection is arranged chronologically by order date.

General William Tecumseh Sherman field orders collection
Melanie Stephan
July 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305