Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Today In Technology History (2 days late): Nov. 15, 1864: Sherman’s Infrastructure Destruction Changes Tactical Warfare

"1864: Union troops under Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman burn the heart of Atlanta to the ground and begin their March to the Sea. By the time they’re done, the tactics of warfare will be changed forever.

After driving the Confederates out of Atlanta, Sherman entered the city in early September and remained until Nov. 15. Sparing only the churches, courthouse and the city’s private residences, Sherman’s troops cut the telegraph wires and burned everything else of consequence: warehouses, train depots, factories."

"Sherman was vilified for his barbarism, but the Union commander was a realist, not a romantic. He understood — as few of his contemporaries seemed to — that technology and industrialization were radically changing the nature of warfare.

It was no longer a question of independent armies meeting on remote battlefields to settle the issue. Civilians, who helped produce the means for waging modern war, would no longer be considered innocent noncombatants. Hitting the enemy where he ate and breaking him psychologically were just as important to victory as vanquishing his armies in the field.

Sherman grasped this and, though he wasn’t the first military proponent of total war, he was the first modern commander to deliberately strike at the enemy’s infrastructure. The scorched-earth tactics were effective. The fragile Southern economy collapsed, and a once-stout rebel army was irretrievably broken..."

Wired Mag - Nov. 15, 1864: Sherman’s March to the Sea Changes Tactical Warfare


Total warfare. Destruction of infrastructure. Infrastructure and technology as an integral part of the military equation.

That's why this article is being posted on a technology, freedom, and privacy blog.


Picture credit: Wired Mag - Nov. 15, 1864: Sherman’s March to the Sea Changes Tactical Warfare

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