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Carolina Story: Virtual Museum of University History

Confederates failed to stop Sherman in Fayetteville, sketch of battle on March 11, 1865

After marching across Georgia in 1864, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman turned north, intending to join Union forces in Virginia. He earned a fierce reputation for his practice of "total war," attacking the South's economic resources and civilian population as well as its army. When Sherman's forces entered Columbia, South Carolina, a combination of advancing Federals, retreating Confederates, and drunken civilians set the town ablaze, nearly destroying the campus of the College of South Carolina. Residents of Chapel Hill grew increasingly worried as Sherman approached the town.