Paths of Destruction: Sherman’s Final Campaign, commemorates the 150th anniversary of Sherman’s march through the Carolinas and the burning of Columbia in February 1865. Following the completion of his March to the Sea, General William T. Sherman led his Federal armies on one last campaign. This campaign was particularly brutal to the inhabitants of the South Carolina as it was meant to cripple the first state to secede and force the Confederacy to surrender. Sherman’s march, an example of what he termed Hard War, illustrated little differentiation between military and private entities, left a lasting impact on the Carolinas and, officially ending April 26, 1865, was one of the final campaigns of the war.
“Paths of Destruction” focuses on the march’s impact on the people of South Carolina and its significance in the development of the concept of total war and the ethics involved by examining multiple aspects of the campaign. Artifacts include Union and Confederate weapons and accoutrements, ammunition, POW pieces, uniforms, excavated relics from locations along Sherman’s path, and flags. Highlights of the exhibit are a life-size diorama depicting Columbia after the burning, audio segments of first-person accounts during the campaign, and a pre-and-post burned Columbia interactive map.