Thursday, December 22, 1864

Savannah, Georgia

The tug Red Legs brought me to Fort McAllister before dawn where I mounted my horse and rode to the rice mill. After some initial business, I rode into the city of Savannah, already occupied by our troops.

I am very much disappointed that Hardee escaped with his garrison, and must content myself with the material fruits of victory without the cost of life which would have attended a general assault. The substantial results will be more clearly set forth in the inventory of heavy ordnance and other public property acquired. The important city of Savannah, with its valuable harbor and river, were the chief object of the campaign. With it we acquire all the forts and heavy ordnance in its vicinity, with large stores of ammunition, shot and shells, cotton, rice, and other valuable products of the country. We also gain locomotives and cars, which, though of little use to us in the present condition of the railroads, are a serious loss to the enemy; as well as four steam-boats gained, and the loss to the enemy of the iron-clad Savannah, one ram, and three transports, blown up or burned by them the night before.

I received this note from the Mayor:

SAVANNAH, December 21, 1864.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding U. S. Military Forces near Savannah:

SIR: The city of Savannah was last night evacuated by the Confederate military and is now entirely defenseless. As chief magistrate of the city I respectfully request your protection of the lives and private property of the citizens and of our women and children.

Trusting that this appeal to your generosity and humanity may favorably influence your action, I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
R. D. ARNOLD, Mayor of Savannah.

Formal demand having been made for the surrender, and having been refused, I contend that everything within the line of intrenchments belongs to the United States, and I shall not hesitate to use it, if necessary, for public purposes. But inasmuch as the inhabitants generally have manifested a friendly disposition, I shall disturb them as little as possible consistently with the military rights of present and future military commanders, without remitting in the least our just rights as captors.

I sent the following message to the President:

SAVANNAH, GA., December 22, 1864.
His Excellency President LINCOLN:

I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, near Savannah, GA., December 22, 1864. 5 a.m.
Brigadier-General KILPATRICK, Commanding Cavalry Division, Army of Georgia:

GENERAL: The General-in-chief has just returned to his headquarters, having been somewhat delayed on his way back from Port Royal by high winds. You are no doubt already aware that the enemy has evacuated Savannah, and our troops are in full possession of the city. For the present, however, supplies will continue to be received via Ogeechee River and the King’s Bridge road. The general directs me to say that he wishes you, until further orders, to continue to guard the depot of supplies at King’s Bridge with your cavalry, on the west of the river, in connection with the brigade of infantry remaining between Big and Little Ogeechee. He is anxious to hear as soon as possible from General Mower’s force, sent down the Gulf railroad; also from your cavalry sent toward the Altamaha; and desires that you will at once send him all information you have or may obtain from them. He will himself go into Savannah this morning, and remove his headquarters thither, and will send you further orders after going there.
I am, General, respectfully, your obedient servant,
HENRY HITCHCOCK, Major and Assistant Adjutant-General

In the Field, Savannah, GA., December 22, 1864.

Major-General FOSTER, Commanding Department of the South:
We are now in full possession of Savannah and all its dependencies. Hardee is supposed to be about Hardeeville, and General Sherman directs me to say that he suggests you take a strong defensive position about the head of Broad River. If you need any help he will furnish you all assistance speedily. Hardee has from 15,000 to 20,000 men. As we are in possession, the proposed co-operation will not be required or necessary, but if you need help it will be at once sent you on notice. Please forward to the lieutenant-General the accompanying dispatch, by request of General Sherman.
I am, General, with respect,
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp

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Wednesday, December 21, 1864

On Board The Harvest Moon, Wassaw Sound, Near Savannah, Georgia

On my return from General Foster’s Headquaters at Hilton Head, strong winds and rough seas delayed my return. We proceeded through the inland channels into Wassaw Sound, and thence through Romney Marsh. But the ebb tide caught the Harvest Moon and she was stuck in the mud. After laboring some time, the admiral ordered out his barge; in it we pulled through this intricate and shallow channel, and toward evening we discovered, coming toward us, a tug, called the Red Legs, belonging to the Quarter-master’s Department, with a staff-officer on board, bearing letters from Captain Dayton:


DEAR GENERAL: I have sent you two dispatches via Fort McAllister in hopes of reaching you. General Slocum reports enemy gone from his front and he has got eight guns-this report at 4 a. m. He is also gone from this front and General Howard reports Leggett near the city, and no enemy. General Woods also got six guns. General Slocum is moving and General Howard the same and I have no doubt both are in Savannah now. I will ride with General Howard, at his request, and leave our camp until the matter is more definite and you make orders.

I am, General, &c.,
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp

Admiral Dahlgren proceeded up the Vernon River in his barge, while I transferred to the tug, to go to Fort McAllister.

I sent a message to Foster to inquire about the force sent to block Hardee’s retreat on the causeway. I am anxious to hear the full events.

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Tuesday, December 20, 1864

Hilton Head, South Carolina

General Foster welcomed me ashore at Hilton Head. I learned that General Easton had left for Fort McAllister yesterday morning on the steamer Mayflower. We discussed the Port Royal force and the need to command the Union causeway leading North from Savannah. I was displeased to learn that Hatch did not control the road as Foster had intimated. Hatch was ordered to get his force astride the causeway to close that route to Savannah. I had some concern because the force was small and could be overwhelmed if Hardee should leave Savannah and turn his whole force upon it.

Tonight, I went on board the admiral’s flag-ship, the Harvest Moon, which put to sea in high winds. The seas were rough, the pilot judged Ossabaw Bar impassable, and ran into Tybee.

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Monday, December 19, 1864

Near Savannah, Georgia

The ground here is difficult, and, as all former assaults have proved so bloody, I have concluded to make one more effort to completely surround Savannah on all aides, so as further to excite Hardee’s fears, and, in case of success, to capture the whole of his army. We have completely invested the place on the north, west, and south, but there remains to the enemy, on the east, the use of the old dike or plank-road leading into South Carolina. Hardee likely has a pontoon-bridge across the river. On examining my maps, I thought that the division of John P. Hatch, belonging to General Fosters command, might be moved from its position at Broad River, by water, down to Bluffton, from which it could reach this plank-road, fortify and hold it, though at some risk, of course, because Hardee could avail himself of his central position to fall on this detachment with his whole army. I do not want to make a mistake like “Ball’s Bluff” so, taking one or two of my personal staff, I rode back to Grog’s Bridge, leaving with Generals Howard and Slocum orders to make all possible preparations, but not to attack, during my two or three days’ absence; and there I took a boat for Wassaw Sound, whence Admiral Dahlgren conveyed me in his own boat, the Harvest Moon. We expect to Hilton Head tomorrow, where I will represent the matter to General Foster.

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Sunday, December 18, 1864

HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, near Savannah, GA., December 18, 1864. 8 p.m.
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT, City Point, Va.:

GENERAL: I wrote you at length by Colonel Babcock on the 16th instant. As therein explained my purpose, yesterday I made a demand on General Hardee for the surrender of the city of Savannah, and today received his answer, refusing. Copies of both letters are herewith inclosed. You will notice that I claim that my lines are within easy cannon range of the heart of Savannah, but General Hardee claims we are four miles and a half distant. But I, myself, have been to the intersection of the Charleston and Georgia Central railroads, and the three-mile post is but a few yards beyond, within the line of our pickets. The enemy has no pickets outside of his fortified line, which is a full quarter of a mile within the three-mile post, and I have the evidence of Mr. R. R. Cuyler, president of the Georgia Central Railroad, who was a prisoner in our hands, that the mile posts are measured from the Exchange, which is but two squares back from the river. But by tomorrow morning I will have six 30-pounder Parrotts in position, and General Hardee will learn whether I am right or not.

From the left of our line, which is on the Savannah River, the spires can be plainly seen, but the country is so densely wooded with pine and live oak, and lies so flat, that we can see nothing from any other part of our lines. General Slocum feels confident that he can make a successful assault at one or two points in front of the Twentieth Corps, and one or two in front of General Davis’ (Fourteenth) Corps. But all of General Howard’s troops, the Right Wing, lie behind the Little Ogeechee, and I doubt if it can be passed by troops in the face of an enemy; still, we can make strong feints, and if I can get a sufficient number of boats I shall make a co-operative demonstration up Vernon river or Wassaw Sound.

I should like very much indeed to take Savannah before coming to you; but, as I wrote to you before, I will do nothing rash or hasty, and will embark for the James River as soon as General Easton, who has gone to Port Royal for that purpose, reports to me that he has an approximate number of vessels for the transportation of the contemplated force. I fear even this will cost more delay than you anticipate, for already the movement of our transports and the gun-boats has required more time than I had expected. We have had dense fogs, and there are more mud banks in the Ogeechee than were reported, and there are no pilots whatever. Admiral Dahlgren promised to have the channel buoyed and staked, but it is not done yet. We find only six feet water up to King’s Bridge at low tide, about ten up to the rice mill, and sixteen to Fort McAllister. All these points may be used by us, and we have a good strong bridge across Ogeechee at King’s, by which our wagons can go to Fort McAllister, to which point I am sending the wagons not absolutely necessary for daily use, the negroes, prisoners of war, sick, &c., en route for Port Royal.

In relation to Savannah, you will remark that General Hardee refers to his still being in communication with his War Department. This language he thought would deceive me, but I am confirmed in the belief that the route to which he refers-namely, the Union plank road, on the South Carolina shore-is inadequate to feed his army and the people of Savannah; for General Foster assures me that he has his force on that very road near the head of broad river, and that his guns command the railroad, so that cars no longer run between Charleston and Savannah. We hold this end of the Charleston railroad, and have destroyed it from the three-mile post back to the bridge-about twelve miles.

In anticipation of leaving this country I am continuing the destruction of their railroads, and at this moment have two divisions and the cavalry at work breaking up the Gulf railroad from the Ogeechee to the Altamaha; so that even if I do not take Savannah, I will leave it in a bad way. But I still hope that events will give me time to take Savannah, even if I have to assault with some loss. I am satisfied that unless we take it the gun-boats never will, for they can make no impression upon the batteries which guard every approach from the sea; and I have a faint belief that when Colonel Babcock reaches you, you will delay operations long enough to enable me to succeed. With Savannah in our possession at some future time, if not now, we can punish South Carolina as she deserves, and as thousands of people in Georgia hoped we would do. I do sincerely believe that the whole United States, North and South, would rejoice to have this army turned loose on South Carolina to devastate that State, in the manner we have done in Georgia, and it would have a direct and immediate bearing on your campaign in Virginia.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

HDQRS. DEPT. OF S. CAROLINA, Georgia, AND FLORIDA, Savannah, GA., December 17, 1864
Major General W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding Federal Forces, near Savannah, GA.:

GENERAL: I have to acknowledge receipt of a communication from you of this date, in which you demand “the surrender of Savannah and its dependent fort,” on the ground that you have “received guns that can cast heavy and destructive shot into the heart of the city,” and for the further reason that you “have for some days held and controlled every avenue by which the people and garrison can be supplied. ” You add that should you be “forced to resort to assault, or to the slower and surer process of starvation, you will then feel justified in resorting to the harshest measures, and will make little effort to restrain your army,” &c. The position of your forces, a half a mile beyond the outer line for the land defenses of Savannah, is, at the nearest point, at least four miles from the heart of the city. That and the interior line are both intact. Your statement that you “have for some days held and controlled every avenue by which the people and garrison can be supplied” is incorrect. I am in free and constant communication with my department. Your demand for the surrender of Savannah and its dependent forts is refused. With respect to the threats conveyed in the closing paragraphs of your letter, of what may be expected in case your demand is not complied with, I have to say that I have to say that I have hitherto conducted the military operations intrusted to my direction in strict accordance with the rules of civilized warfare, and I should deeply regret the adoption of any course by you that may force me to deviate from them in future.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. J. HARDEE, Lieutenant-General.

HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, near Savannah, GA., December 18, 1864.
Major General O. O. HOWARD, Commanding Army of the Tennessee:

GENERAL: The General-in-chief has just returned from General Slocum’s, where he made a demand or the surrender of Savannah, &c., which was denied. He wishes you to make the necessary preparations at once for assaulting the place. He wishes to know if the crossing of the creek is practicable, and if you can make a diversion about Rosedew. General Slocum has received his orders, and General Davis and General Williams are ready, or nearly so.
I am, General, with respect, &c.,
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE, Near Savannah, GA., December 18, 1864
Major General W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:
GENERAL: Your letter of date just received. Major-General Blair thinks he can make a lodgement in his front, and has been directed to proceed as rapidly as possible with the preparations. If I can get the water transportation from General Foster in time I believe the diversion just beyond Beaulieu to be practicable-that is, with one division.

O. O. HOWARD, Major-General

CONFIDENTIAL.] HDQRS. MILITARY DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, near Savannah, GA., December 18, 1864. 8 a.m.

Major General J. G. FOSTER, Commanding Department of the South:

GENERAL: In compliance with the plan I indicated to you some days since, I made a demand during yesterday on General Hardee for the surrender of the city of Savannah and its dependent forts, and today received his answer declining to accede. You are aware that I am ordered to carry this army to Virginia by sea, but I hope still to be able to get possession of Savannah before sufficient transportation can be had to enable me to comply with General Grant’s orders. The 30-pounder Parrotts which you sent me are now being hauled to batteries prepared for them, and in about two days’ time, if we can possibly get the ground to stand upon, we shall assault the enemy’s lines at four or more points. It is all important that the railroad and telegraph wire should be broken between the Savannah River and Charleston, and the very best point is where your force is represented to be, near the Tullifinny. It seems to me that our operations here, especially long the Savannah River, must have drawn away every man from that quarter that they could possibly spare, and a bold rush on the railroad would probably develop a weaker force there than is supposed to be; or it may be that you could diminish that force and use the balance in a small detachment east of the Tullifinny over about Old Pocotaligo. I merely throw out these ideas, and merely reiterate that it would aid us very much in this quarter if that force of yours be kept most active, more especially if you succeed in breaking the railroad and the telegraph wire-the farther toward Charleston the better. Even if nothing better can be done, let them whale away with their 30-pounder Parrotts and break the road with cannon balls. It is possible, as a part of the general movement, that I may send a force, in co-operation with the navy, toward the Union plank-road, in the direction of Bluffton. I will go over and see the admiral again tomorrow, and it may be that I will see you, as in your last note you said that you would return again.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

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Saturday, December 17, 1864


A number of 30-pounder Parrott guns reached King’s Bridge today. I proceeded in person to the headquarters of Major-General Slocum, on the Augusta road, and dispatched (by flag of truce) into Savannah, by the hands of Colonel Ewing, inspector- general, a demand for the surrender of the place:


General WILLIAM J. HARDEE, commanding Confederate Forces in Savannah.
You have doubtless observed, from your station at Rosedew that sea-going vessels now come through Ossabaw Sound and up the Ogeechee to the rear of my army, giving me abundant supplies of all kinds, and more especially heavy ordnance necessary for the reduction of Savannah. I have already received guns that can cast heavy and destructive shot as far as the heart of your city; also, I have for some days held and controlled every avenue by which the people and garrison of Savannah can be supplied. I am therefore justified in demanding the surrender of the city of Savannah, and its dependent forts, and shall wait a reasonable time for your answer, before opening with heavy ordnance. Should you entertain the proposition, I am prepared to grant liberal terms to the inhabitants and garrison; but should I be forced to resort to assault, or the slower and surer process of starvation, I shall then feel justified in resorting to the harshest measures, and shall make little effort to restrain my army: burning to avenge the national wrong which they attach to Savannah and other large cities which have been so prominent in dragging our country into civil war. I inclose you a copy of General Hood’s demand for the surrender of the town of Resaoa, to be used by you for what it is worth. I have the honor to be your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF TENNESSEE, In the Field, October 12, 1864.
SIR: I demand the immediate and unconditional surrender of the post and garrison under your command, and should this be acceded to, all white officers and soldiers will be paroled in a few days. If the place is carried by assault no prisoners will be taken.
Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. B. HOOD, General

Further reconnaissances from our left flank demonstrated that it is impracticable or unwise to push any considerable force across the Savannah River, for the enemy holds the river opposite the city with iron-clad gun-boats, and could destroy any pontoons laid down by us between Hutchinson’s Island and the South Carolina shore, which would isolate any force sent over from that flank. I therefore ordered General Slocum to get into position the siege guns, and make all the preparations necessary to assault, and to report to me the earliest moment when he could be ready, whilest I should proceed rapidly round by the right, and make arrangements to occupy the Union Causeway from the direction of Port Royal.

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Friday, December 16, 1864

Near Savannah, Georgia

SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, near Savannah, GA., Numbers 133. December 16, 1864

I. Captain O. M. Poe, chief engineer, will cause all the railroads leading out of Savannah to be most thoroughly destroyed, the Charleston road as far as and, if possible, including the bridge over Savannah River; the Macon road as far as Station 1 1/2; and the Gulf road as far as and including the Ogeechee River bridge

II. Major-General Howard will dispatch two divisions, without wagons, to destroy the Gulf road as far as the Altamaha River bridge, and exhaust the country in that direction of supplies. General Kilpatrick with his cavalry will cover this working force, and co-operate with it.

III. The depot of supplies is for the present at King’s Bridge. General Easton, chief quartermaster, may use his discretion in landing supplies at Fort McAllister and the rice mill.

IV. Army commanders will forth with send to General Easton, chief quartermaster, at King’s Bridge, all negroes, horses, mules, fan wagons rendered surplus by our change in operations, or to such points on the Ogeechee River as General Easton may indicate, in order that they may be sent to Port Royal Island, where they can be more easily supplied; they will also avail themselves of the present favorable Weather to bring forward ten days’ food, and will reserve for that purpose enough wagons to handle them; all other wagons must be sent to the Ogeechee River as soon as possible.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:

Major General W. T. SHERMAN:
GENERAL: The mail-boat and General Foster’s steamer, neither capable of carrying any freight, a re the only vessels that have arrived here as yet. these boats reports only six sweet water on the bars below this place at low tide. I fear the steamers and other vessels below, which contain our supplies, draw too much water to get up. I will go down the river in the morning and lighten up the transports, and do everything else that can be done to get supplies to this point.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
L. C. EASTON, Chief Quartermaster


Transports with rations have arrived below the fort. I have ordered one to be brought to the fort wharf. If any command is pressed they can send by land via King’s Bridge.

I directed the vessels having supplies for this army be sent to King’s Bridge. General Easton and Colonel Beckwith are here to receive them.

Steamer Nemaha, Ogeechee River, GA., December 16, 1864.
Major-General SHERMAN, Commanding:

GENERAL: On my way up today I sounded the river, obtained two good pilots, one of whom is on the Island City, and removed a pier and the burnt rubbish of the railroad bridge so as to permit vessels to pass. Between that bridge and this point there is only seven feet of water at high water; up to the railroad bridge from the mouth of the river there is ten feet of water at low water. All the vessels with supplies may come to the railroad bridge, but from there to this point lighters must be used, except at high water, when the light-draught steamers may be used, except at high water, when the light-draught steamers may come up. The siege battery of 30-pounder Parrotts is in the river; three pieces on the steamer Sylph and three more on another steamer. Forage is also here on vessels, both steam and sailing. Two large steamers and one schooner with commissary stores are also in the river coming up. In going down I will endeavor to pick up on the plantations pilots enough to place one on each vessel, if possible, and hurry them up. All of them should arrive at the railroad bridge at noon to-morrow. The Sylph is of light-draught, and can come directly here and land the 30-pounder Parrots at the landing. I shall leave as soon as the water rises sufficiently to proceed directly to Hilton Head, to send a steamer to Fortress Monroe with Lieutenant-Colonel Babcock. After that I shall return at once.
Respectfully, yours,
J. G. FOSTER, Major-General, Commanding

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