“The last act of barbarism I saw Sherman’s soldiers commit was near Bentonville, N.C., on the morning of the last great battle for Southern independence. On the preceding night Gen. Joseph E. Johnston . . . quietly moved his army from Smithfield and threw it directly across Sherman’s path at Bentonville. Gen. George G. Dibrell’s cavalry division, composed of his own brigade of Tennesseans and Col. Breckinridge’s Kentuckians, was falling back in front of one of the advancing Federal columns, the writer of this commanding the rear guard, closely followed by the enemy’s advance.
We had just crossed a narrow swamp . . . and passed by a neat, comfortable-looking farmhouse, occupied by women and children. Halting some distance beyond and looking back, we saw Federal soldiers enter the house. Presently women were heard screaming, in a few minutes the building was in flames, and another family was homeless.
Sherman’s raid was ended, and he was a great hero. With his great army of veterans, almost unopposed, he had overrun and desolated the fairest sections of the South, burning cities, towns, and country-dwellings; had wantonly destroyed many millions of dollars’ worth of property, both public and private; had made homeless and destitute thousands of women and children and aged men by burning their house and destroying their means of subsistence. And it was to glorify him and for these deeds of barbarism that “Marching Through Georgia” was written, and it is for this it is sung.”
(What Marching Through Georgia Means, Milford Overly, Confederate Veteran, September 1904, pg. 446)