Sherman's March To the Sea: Background information when reading Fallen Land

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Fallen Land

by Taylor Brown

Fallen Land by Taylor Brown X
Fallen Land by Taylor Brown
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2016, 288 pages
    Jan 2017, 288 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers

Buy This Book

About this Book

Sherman's March To the Sea

This article relates to Fallen Land

Print Review

Fallen Land is set during the end of the Civil War and describes a landscape in the aftermath of Major General William Tecumseh Sherman's clamp-down of Georgia through which he delivered one of the definitive end points of the war between Union and Confederate forces.

Fallen Land describes the ravages wrought by the General's tactics, writing that deeply affected at least one reader who said, "the writing by Mr. Brown made me feel like I was along for the ride, following along behind Sherman's cursed troops as they left their scar across the South. Yes, I am Southern, born and bred and yes, it does anger me that Sherman felt he had to destroy innocent women and children this way."

Sherman's March to the Sea While this description of Sherman's destruction, labeled "total warfare," fits in with the general image most Americans have of him as a cold, unthinking brute who wantonly unleashed death by annihilating any and everything in his troop's path, a fair number of historians claim that Sherman's campaign was a systematically thought-out approach to limit the number of casualties. The goal here was to cripple the enemy by cutting off supply lines. One tactic was to disable the railroads by ripping up rails from the train tracks, heat them on a bonfire until red hot and then wrap them around a tree, thus rendering the entire train route ineffective and giving rise to the term "Sherman's Bowties."

What was Sherman's "March to the Sea?" The Confederate forces in the South were already under pressure from Union forces in the north so Sherman's plan, once he captured Atlanta, was to travel further south, all the way to the sea, and then do what in essence would be a U-turn pinning the Confederate forces from both sides. This path to the sea was not without resistance from Confederate forces and tactics were employed to execute both the march and quell resistance from other quarters.

While much of Atlanta's war machinery was taken down and telegraph and railway lines dismantled, not all of the city was burned to the ground by Sherman's troops as many popular narratives suggest. The troops lived off the land and raided food along the way. Their unsupervised looting of houses and larders gave them a reputation of being unpredictable and worse, dangerous savages.

Weeks after a battle in Griswoldville, Georgia, Sherman's troops, by now systematically routing access and supply units to cripple the Confederate forces, reached Savannah on the ocean and delivered the city to the Union.

Although remembered as a brutal commander, Sherman was generous when enemies surrendered. Despite its reputation, the number of casualties from Sherman's Great March to the Sea was around 3,000 (of which about two-thirds were Union soldiers) a number significantly smaller than the approximate 8,000 killed in three days at the Battle of Gettysburg.

This approach of psychological warfare as advocated by Sherman and executed on a much smaller scale, was one that would be adopted by the United States in future war efforts. It was implemented most notably in the "Shock and Awe" campaign in the Iraq war.

Picture of Sherman's March to the Sea depicting Union soldiers destroying telegraph poles and railroads, and freeing slaves assisting Union soldiers in making their way to safety, from Library of Congress

This "beyond the book article" relates to Fallen Land. It originally ran in January 2016 and has been updated for the January 2017 paperback edition.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Inflamed Mind
    The Inflamed Mind
    by Edward Bullmore
    It is common knowledge that depression diminishes the quality of sufferers' lives, but few people ...
  • Book Jacket: The Adults
    The Adults
    by Caroline Hulse
    Things have already fallen apart on the first page of The Adults. The novel opens with an emergency ...
  • Book Jacket: News of Our Loved Ones
    News of Our Loved Ones
    by Abigail DeWitt
    The Delasalle family of Abigail DeWitt's News of Our Loved Ones are no strangers to the dark specter...
  • Book Jacket: My Sister, the Serial Killer
    My Sister, the Serial Killer
    by Oyinkan Braithwaite
    While the title of the novel gives away the plot, My Sister, the Serial Killer is essentially a ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Force of Nature
by Jane Harper

As atmospheric, tense, and explosive as her New York Times bestselling debut, The Dry!

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Golden Child
    by Claire Adam

    A deeply affecting debut novel set in Trinidad, following the lives of a family as they navigate impossible choices.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Uncommon Type

Uncommon Type
by Tom Hanks

Surprising, intelligent, heartwarming, and a must-have for Tom Hanks fans!


Word Play

Solve this clue:

Tell I T T M

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.