At 9 a.m., 150 years ago this morning, a signal gun and triggered the procession of Major-General William T. Sherman’s command on their Grand Review in front of cheering crowds in Washington D.C.
Sherman and Major-General Oliver O. Howard lead the procession with their staffs. Behind them came Major-General John Logan and the Fifteenth Corps.
Behind them, Major-General Frank Blair and the Seventeenth Corps.
After the Right Wing passed, Major-General Henry Slocum lead the Left Wing on review:
The Twentieth Corps, led by Major-General Joseph Mower, came next in the line.
As I like to mention, the Twentieth Corps had its roots in the east – formed of the Army of the Potomac’s Eleventh and Twelfth Corps. As such it provided the link between the Armies of the Tennessee and the Potomac.
The next formation in the review also offered a link – however to an army not present on parade that day. Major-General (a brevet that was soon to be disallowed) Jefferson C. Davis led the Fourteenth Corps. And, you should know that the Fourteenth Corps had its roots as the Army of the Cumberland.
I’ve always felt their presence was somewhat representative of that “other” great Federal army of the western theater.
For the photos above, I’ve relied upon the Library of Congress captions to identify the units. As we well know, those captions have their errors. So please take the identification with a grain of salt. If the captions are correct, the troops of the Twentieth Corps received a good bit of attention from the photographers:
Remarkable that all four of the corps which conducted the Great March were photographed on this day 150 years ago. We have scant few photographs from the Great March (Altanta to Savannah to Columbia to Goldsboro to Raleigh to Washington). Aside from a number of photos taken at Fort McAllister in December 1864, the majority of the photos of the Great March come on the last day of the movement.
And just as the Great March’s conclusion was captured in photos, the veterans cemented the memory of the Grand Review in their minds and … even 150 years later … in the public’s mind. This shaped our impression of the event to the point it becomes the “victory parade” after which similar festivities are modeled to celebrate the end of more recent wars. Keeping with that notion, allow me to close with the somewhat definitive “lore” of the Great March by George W. Nichols:
On the 24th of May, Sherman’s Army passed in review before the President of the United States in Washington. It was the last act in the rapid and wonderful Drama of the four gallant corps. With banners proudly flying, ranks in close and magnificent array, under the eye of their beloved Chief, and amid the thundering plaudits of countless thousands of enthusiastic spectators, the noble army of seventy thousand veterans paid their marching salute to the President of the Nation they had helped to preserve in its integrity – and then broke ranks, and set their faces toward Home. This was the farewell of Sherman’s Army! So, too, ends the Story of the Great March.
(Citation from George Ward Nichols, The Story of the Great March from the Diary of a Staff Officer, New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1865, page 322.)