Samuel Hawkins Marshall Byers was serving as a lieutenant in the Fifth Iowa Infantry when he was captured by Confederate forces and sent to a prisoner of war camp in Columbia, South Carolina. During his arduous confinement, he kept up his spirits by reading smuggled-in accounts of General William T. Sherman's bold march through Georgia following the fall of Atlanta in 1864. Byers penned a poetic tribute to the Union general, which captured not only the fancy of the public but Sherman's as well (he was said to have preferred it to the better known "Marching Through Georgia").

Although a million copies of the song were sold by several different publishers (set to a variety of tunes), Byers received only $5 in royalties from the original publisher.

To hear one of the many alternate melodies to which this song was sung, click here.

"When Sherman Marched Down to the Sea"

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Last modified 16-April-2001