Dontinga, Randy. “Southern Storm.” Christian Science Monitor 4 Sept. 2008. 1 Dec. 2008. http://features.csmonitor.com/books/2008/09/04/southern-storm/
Southern Storm provides a historical overview of the Union Army’s destructive and infamous “March to the Sea” under General William Sherman that left much of Georgia in ruins during the American Civil War. In an interview with Civil War historian Noah Andy Trudeau, author Randy Dontinga provides a distinction between with is true and what is myth surrounding General Sherman’s notorious march. According to Trudeau, popular belief tends to paint General Sherman’s quest through Georgia as a lawless and moral-less tromp that left the Old South crippled and ruined. While Trudeau concedes that the Union Army did torch homes, confiscate crops, and destroy railroads, American mythology on the whole paints a “much grimmer” picture of General Sherman’s March than history suggests. Perhaps one of the most striking misunderstandings surrounding the Union invasion of Georgia surrounds the Northern Army’s treatment of the local population. Dontinga’s article suggests that as opposed to being destructive monsters, Union soldiers were “often respectful and even polite to Southerners, and spent most of the time admiring local women.” Although Sherman’s actions resulted in the fracture of the Southern economy and spirit, Dontinga and Trudeau illustrate that Sherman may not deserve his villainous, destructive reputation.
A historical account of General Sherman’s March to the Sea is valuable in assessing the historical accuracy of Gone With the Wind, as many of the novel’s most memorable scenes depict the destruction of Scarlett’s “world” at the hands of the Union Army during Sherman’s march through Georgia. The film’s infamous fire scene, along with the depiction of the total destruction of Twelve Oaks and Scarlett’s deadly encounter with a rogue Union soldier all provide the viewer with a villainous perception of the Union forces under Sherman’s command. According to Dontinga’s article, the Union forces’ torching of homes and confiscation of crops illustrated in Gone With the Wind are historically accurate. However, the wicked depiction of the Northern forces is not necessarily historically accurate, but is rather reflective with popular Southern mythology in the wake of their loss in the Civil War.