Black and white photo of William T. Sherman.

Major General William T. Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign of 1865 was the last major Union offensive in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. [Wikimedia Commons]

Carolinas Campaign Facts

February 1–April 26, 1865

Key facts about the American Civil War Carolinas Campaign.

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Date and Location

  • February 1, 1865–April 26, 1865
  • North and South Carolina

Timeline of the Carolinas Campaign

These are the main battles and events of the Carolinas Campaign in order.

Principal Union Commanders

Principal Confederate Commanders

Union Forces Engaged

  • Army of the Tennessee
  • Army of Georgia
  • Army of the Ohio

Confederate Forces Engaged

  • Army of the South
  • Army of Tennessee

Number of Union Soldiers Engaged

  • Roughly 90,000

Number of Confederate Soldiers Engaged

  • Roughly 20,000 to 25,000

Estimated Union Casualties

  • 4,000+ (killed, wounded, captured/missing)

Estimated Confederate Casualties

  • 5,400 (killed, wounded, captured/missing), 89,270 surrendered at Bennett’s Place in Hillsborough, North Carolina

Result

  • Union victory

Significance

  • Major General William T. Sherman, correctly believed that Carolinas Campaign would cut off supplies and reduce any remaining hopes for reinforcement of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, which was under siege at Petersburg, Virginia.
  • Major General William T. Sherman, correctly believed that Carolinas Campaign would further demoralize Southerners, much as the March to the Sea had done.
  • On February 17, 1865, Major General William T. Sherman’s troops occupied Columbia, South Carolina.
  • On the night of February 17, 1865, roughly two-thirds of Columbia, South Carolina went up in flames. The source of the fire remains undetermined. Unionists claimed that the inferno was started by retreating Rebel soldiers ordered to burn Columbia’s cotton stores to keep them from falling into enemy hands. Some Columbia residents maintained that drunken Union soldiers initiated the blaze, perhaps in revenge for South Carolina’s role in launching the war.
  • On March 23, 1865, Major General William T. Sherman’s forces united with Major General John Schofield’s Army of the Ohio, at Goldsboro, North Carolina, swelling the size of Sherman’s command to roughly 90,000 soldiers.
  • On April 13, 1865, Major General William T. Sherman’s forces occupied Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • On April 16, 1865, Confederate General Joseph Johnston contacted Major General William T. Sherman on March 16 to discuss capitulation.
  • On April 18, 1865, Confederate General Joseph Johnston surrendered the 89,270 troops under his command in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida to Major General William T. Sherman. The agreement the two men signed was the largest surrender of Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War.
  • Radical Republican leaders in Washington, embittered by President Lincoln’s assassination on April 14, 1865, rejected the accord reached between Confederate General Joseph Johnston and Major General William T. Sherman on April 18, because it went beyond strictly military issues.
  • On April 26, 1865, Major General William T. Sherman and General Joseph Johnston met again at Bennett Place and signed a new surrender document using the same terms Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee had agreed to at Appomattox Court House.
  • Although the campaign took place entirely in Carolinas, it is considered part of the Western Theater because it was a continuation of an offensive by the western armies under Sherman (the Military Division of the Mississippi), starting in Tennessee in 1864.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Carolinas Campaign Facts
  • Coverage February 1–April 26, 1865
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 31, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 6, 2021
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